Summary

We round up 12 of the best bikes for under a grand

Products

Verdict

That?s a lot of bikes and a lot of set-up and testing time, so it feels like the end of a long road to finally reach the verdict. Our eclectic brood have all proven themselves worthy of their place but of course, as with any large group, there are always the stronger characters, the ones that stand out from the crowd.

Before we threw a leg over it, the Ribble looked to have wiped the floor with the competition, offering an attractive full carbon frame and fork, plus a delectable black 105 groupset and Mavic wheel and tyre combo that altogether doesn?t seem feasible at this price. Not to mention the fact that it was over three pounds lighter than some. However, the reality was the carbon frame fell short on performance compared with most of the alloy alternatives here. If we were looking only for straight-up top spec and a great aesthetic, it?s a hot pick for sure, but we wanted more.

So, a quartet of bikes drew clear of the bunch, and were firm contenders. The Cinelli delivered a fine performance that enticed us to pick it out from the pile time and again to ride, and the Merckx possessed a quality deserving of the Cannibal?s name. In this quartet, the Kuota was definitely holding its own too. The ride quality was arguably the best of the lot, and for this tester, the SRAM equipment was a huge plus, as the shape of the lever hoods felt preferable, certainly to the bulk of Shimano Tiagra or even 105 designs. When all is said and done, it?s contact points that help build a good relationship with a bike.

The final member of this breakaway group was the Ghost. Well deserving of top marks for intelligent speccing, it got the most important aspects spot-on. Further to that, there was nothing lacking from its ride quality or handling. Plus it was the lightest, helping it feel like it had a spring in its step. And, while not a vital part of the criteria, we think it looks great, too.

But the reality is, in this particular race, the quartet may have escaped the rest of the bunch but they were little more than chasers. A lone bike had already scarpered and was well up the road. We are of course referring to the Boardman. We have to applaud the performance of the frame and fork, which doesn?t pull its punches, delivering a sprightly, racey ride which rewards you with speed and agility while remaining acceptably smooth and stable.

The spec has no gaping holes, and you?ll be getting superb value for money. It?s without doubt the best choice if your intention is ever to pin a number on. The only point to contest is whether the low front end is best suited to its target market, but that of course is entirely down to the individual.

By our reckoning that?s a hat-trick of wins now for Boardman, which shows the brand has great strength in depth, across all markets, having already received top honours in previous aero and race bike tests. Bravo, Chris.

  • Vince

    I’ve done about 3000 miles on mine, charity rides etc, no complaints at all. I have just replaced the gear set but after doing all those miles I decided it should have a birthday.
    People around me have light weight carbon bikes, but when you add the weight they are carrying themselves I come out far lighter being 70kg.
    Love my Bianchi Nirone.

  • Sean

    Got my Merckx AMX1from Peddle Pushes in Grantham, great service, great bike. I have done about 2000 miles this summer and the feel and ride, not to mention looks are good.

    Would recommend the AMX1.

  • David Blackdene

    Bought the Bianchi last September….had it 9 months now and I absolutely love it. Fantastic hill climber, very stiff, comfortable and a piece of art to look at. I have hit hundreds of potholes on our rubbish English roads and amazingly the wheels still run true. I cannot fault this bike. Got mine for £750 at Palace, Carlisle. Best money I’ve ever spent. Get one. You won’t regret it.

  • Stumpy

    I have just completed the first 1000k on an Evo Pro Carbon, and I have had no issues with stiffness at all. I specced it with 105 all round (compact with 11-28 on the back) and the ITM Aero 2.4 Wheels. Compared to my old bike it flies up hills. The Selle Italia X1 saddle although cheap seems to be relatively comfortable and gives me no issues on a 2 hour ride. It is a very comfortable bike, although probably not as much as a sportive frame. I’m very pleased with it and it looks a LOT better in the flesh than on the website. Given I am 45 now, this will do me until I am 60!

  • Jonathan

    I bought an evo pro carbon at the end of last year, very happy with bike, have campag centaur group set, have used on club runs and races and found it to be more than adequate. Only criticism would be the height of the head tube which means it’s harder to get the bars low enough for racing, would suggest going a size down if you’re planning to race, the frame is probably more suited to club riding and sportives, excellent bike, amazing value for money.

  • Macro

    LOTS of negative brand snobbery regarding Raleigh. I have the airlite 300 and it is a excellent winter bike. In fact I’m considering another Raleigh for my summer one.

    The airlite frames are excellent and there’s no flex or sluggish behaviour. I swapped the standard raleigh nova wheels for some 2013 fulcrum racing 5s and its excellent.

    Also, the no-name RSP handlebars are the most comfortable and well-fitting bars I have ever had.

    These are great long distance training bikes and being Raleigh they really do last years.

    So I definitely would recommend. Having a look/ride on the airlites.

    Why are these “reviews” so snobby and negative because it doesn’t have “the name” on the bar?

  • Barney

    I did need the bike for to do my charity last year with friends and i start looking for bike and i dont know how,why but this bike come out first when i type in to search but i keep looking for bike but nearly every 3-5pages i seen this bike and i start quite like it so i decid to go for it and this is now 5months and i still LOVE my bike and i so happy i purchased this so i quite happy to recomend this bike to anybody who like cycling,who like to go up on hills easy,go fast down hill and want to ride easy-fast on straight lines cos this bike does it with no problem
    i am sure u dont want to finish riding if u have this bike!!!1

  • dave bunn

    i`m never sure how independent these reviews are and how much they are dictated by which ever company is pushing a product on a particular time.
    i dont own one this bike….wish i did… but the other reviews for the ribble are amazing and seemingly worth much more than a 7 from the recent cycling weekly poll. see http://m.bikeradar.com/gear/category/bikes/road/product/review-ribble-evo-pro-carbon-10-37562

    make you own mind up

  • Ateve Senior

    Fair review – Purchased one of these in May. Superb frame and geometry, Roberto Corse componentry leaves a little to be desired especially from a quality perspective. Rear spokes kept coming loose on a long cycling weekend with a tube of Lock Tite being the only solution to get me home….. A new set of wheels beckoned!

  • Ollie

    This review of the Evo-Pro Carbon is the only one that I have read that complains about frame flex. Having owned this bike and ridden several other carbon frames of a similar spec, or even better (PRO frame with Di2 ), I would not say the frame is particularly flexible for this level of bike – I found the handling and climbing capabilities to be excellent. I am just under 11 stone, so perhaps this frame favours the lighter rider.

  • Leigh Clulow

    Purchased a Forme 1.0 as I have friends who work for the company, looked at the Moda’s and to be honest couldn’t justify spending the extra as the Forme looked a steal. Becoming more popular by the day and mine has done over 1000 miles and a 4 day trip from Burton 2 Paris and it didn’t miss a beat, cannot remember one miss shift. I did find some buzz came through the pedals on long fast down hill sections over Surrey but it flew over the hills, tracked true round the bends and munched the miles hilly, long and flat, dealt with all the British weather could throw at it. Only once did I have to tighten the front brakes. It did seem I could maintain it less than those riding much more expensive bikes and apart from the one or two riders who you would call super fit and made for cycling I could hang in there all day long, superb pick up of speed and easy to maintain and very sure footed when breaking.

    If I was being critical all I’d say is the paint worked could be better and harder wearing and the holes for holding bottles be of better quality. Also everyone who sees it loves the look of it.

    I would recommend it to anyone starting out. If your 5’8 upwards take the 53/54cm frame size and not the 51cm. Only reason I am selling mine is because I am moving house and also want a Carbon frame in the spring.

  • Andrew Blakesley

    The Forme Longcliffe1.0 is a fantastic bike for the money. Reading this review suggested an unduly sluggish bike but for me at least it gets up to speed quickly and stays there in gears I’d normally avoid. The steering is crisp and the ride comfortable. The kind of bike you could ride all day.

    Forme was not my first choice as I’d set my heart on a Defy but Giants useless supply arrangements meant waiting several months (not an option through a cycle to work scheme). After years of riding Giant it has become impossible to remain loyal to a brand with no UK stock.

    Luckily for me my local dealer had started stocking Forme and rcommended the Longcliffe as excellent value, well specced and finished. I’m now very glad I took the risk with a new British brand and wish Forme every success.

  • pc

    “It fires out of corners and up steep climbs with barely any frame flex to dull its responses, even when you get out of the saddle and on the cranks”. – Bikeradar , you say its flexible they say its stiff ????

  • John_c

    Common guys lets compare apples with apples please. If you get a carbon frame with 105 groupset for sub £1000 is that the same as pay the same price for an ali frame?

    The Ribble Evo Pro Carbon is a very good price and top spec bike, I’ve done over a 1000 miles on mine with no problems.

  • derek mayell

    This review really seems to split hairs making far too much of “FSA square taper chainset and BB ” making it sluggish – come on ?? Anyway so much for the higher rated Boardman with it’s problemattic bottom bracket ! No mention of that. Give me the Bianchi steed any day of the week, fine workhorse ans certainly nippy enough and well handling for me – and looks great.