What to expect for your money in the best-value road bike sector, plus your guide to the best bikes for under £500, under £750 and under £1,000

One of the great strengths of the bike trade is the idea of ‘trickle down’ technology: the idea that what might be currently found on only premium products will one day be available on even entry-level bikes in years to come. History has proven this idea again and again — aelatively low-cost road bikes today include technology that would have been unthinkable in that price range even a few years ago.

Component brands are particularly adept at passing down the innovations of higher model ranges to its cheap road bikes range in following seasons. Take Shimano, for example. Whenever the Japanese giant brings out a new version of the Tiagra groupset it tends to bear an uncanny likeness to the older version of the higher-end 105 groupset.

Meanwhile, public demand for carbon-fibre bikes has pushed down aluminium in people’s estimations, meaning that some extraordinarily well-engineered and beautifully designed aluminium frames are now on sale at staggeringly low prices.

That all combines to produce a great situation for the canny bike buyer: if you’re not obsessed with composite frames, brand names, or posing, there are a huge number of incredibly able, high-performing bikes available below £1,000.

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What to expect: less than £500

While £500 might seem a lot of money for a road bike to non-cyclists, to more — ahem — ‘fussy’ and experienced riders it also seems far too little to buy anything with potential. Both trains of thought are utterly wrong — for less than £500 you can buy some fully-fledged drop-bar bicycles that are perfectly able to cope with everything from winter training, to commuting, to even sportive riding. In fact, brands such as B’Twin, Merlin, Calibre, Sensa and even some bigger names have great options from as little as £300.

What to look for…

  • A total weight of around 10kg
  • A modern aluminium frame
  • Shimano Claris or Sora gears, although some brands fit Microshift components at this price
  • Sturdy wheels
  • Unbranded dual-caliper brakes or Tektro products on higher-quality bikes
  • Own brand bars, stem and saddle
  • Steel fork at low end; carbon fork nearer £500

Our pick of the best road bikes for under £500

>>> B’Twin Triban 500 Flat Bar road bike – £260
>>> B’Twin Triban 500SE – £379.99 (now £349.99)
>>> Verenti Technique – £399
>>> Carrera Crossfire 2
>>> Radial Revere 2.1 – £499.99 (now £449.99)

Btwin Triban 500 road bike

B’twin Triban 500 road bike

What to expect: £500-£750

As we head past the £500 point, two significant things happen. First, the big household name brands such as Giant, Specialized, Trek, Scott and Cannondale enter the market with their entry-level aluminium road bikes, which normally offer slightly less exotic groupsets and components, but tend to feature very well-engineered frames. The second thing is that smaller specialist brands, such as Ribble, Verenti or Planet X, begin to offer very capable all-year bikes or winter training bikes, sometimes made of steel with excellent ride qualities. These machines may not have all the luxuries and speed of top-end models but do provide enough ride comfort and performance to satisfy even hardened, experienced road riders.

What to look for…

  • A total weight of 9-10kg
  • An aluminium frame with some design niceties such as internal cable routing, or even a mass-produced steel frame
  • On big brand models expect Shimano Claris (on bikes circa £500), Sora (c. £650) and Tiagra (c. £750) components; with specialist value brands expect anything up to Shimano 105 or SRAM Apex parts
  • Possibly Shimano groupset brakes, or more likely Tektro calipers
  • Own-brand wheels or Alex rims on aluminium hubs
  • Own brand bar, stem and saddle
  • Carbon fork

Our pick of the best road bikes for under £750

>>> Scott Speedster 50 – £599
>>> Merida Ride 90 – £599.99
>>> Sensa Umbria Sora Special – £599.99
>>> Specialized Allez – video review – £600
>>> Hoy Sa Calobra .001 – £635
>>> Kinesis Racelight Aithein – £649.99
>>> Lapierre Audacio 200 – £679.99
>>> Giant Defy 3 – £699
>>> Boardman Performance Comp – £699.99
>>> B’Twin Alur 700 – £749.99

Boardman Performance Comp

Boardman Performance Comp

What to expect: £750-£1000

As we head towards the magic £1,000 mark, all bets are off. The dedicated bargain hunter can find almost any product in this price range, including carbon-fibre frames. Be careful with carbon bikes sub-£1k, though — there are some good composite frames available, but there are also some shockers. Conversely, aluminium bikes at this price can be extraordinarily good, and may also come fitted with mid to upper-range gears and brakes. There is also a growing trend among manufacturers to fit mechanical disc brakes at this price point, too.

We’d recommend you really do your homework and read our tests. It’s not a case of general product quality — at this area of the market most bikes are very decent. However, there is the matter of specialisation. By the £1,000 point manufacturers have started to tailor their bikes to fulfill certain specific abilities. So whether you want an all-day comfort machine, or a speedy rocketship, almost any requirements can be filled. Just make sure you know what you want and pick wisely.

What to look for…

  • A total weight of 9kg or possibly less
  • A degree of model specialisation for particular ride criteria
  • A top-quality aluminium frame with details such as internal cable routing, general tube manipulation, specific elements designed for comfort, strengthened bottom bracket for power delivery, tapered head tube for better handling
  • Possibly even low-end carbon-fibre frame from specialist value brands (but be discerning when it comes to value carbon!)
  • Mainly Shimano Tiagra or 105 components, although the occasional piece of super-plush Shimano Ultegra also appears. SRAM Apex or Rival, and even Campagnolo Veloce have also been spotted below £1,000
  • Matching groupset caliper brakes or mechanical disc brakes
  • Lighter, own-brand wheels or respected third-party wheelsets
  • Mainly own-brand bar, stem and saddle — occasionally a third-party saddle
  • Carbon fork

CA Winter bike test by Chris Catchpole (18)

Our pick of the best road bikes for under £1000

>>> B’Twin Ultra 700 AF 105 – £750
>>> Raleigh Criterium Sport – £750
>>> Trek 1.5 – £750 

>>> Raleigh Revenio 2 – £750
>>> Dawes Clubman – £849.99
>>> Merida Scultura 903 – £849.99
>>> Vitus Venon – £879.99
>>> KTM Strada 1000 CD – £929.99
>>> Tifosi CK7 Gran Fondo Campagnolo Veloce – £999.99
>>> Verenti Insight 0.4 – £950
>>> Ribble Evo-Pro Carbon – £999
>>> Giant Revolt 1 – £999
>>> Kinesis Racelight T2 – £999.99
>>> Radial Revere 1.1 Apex – £999.99
>>> Planet X London Road – £999.99
>>> Trek Madone 2.1 – £1000
>>> Pinnacle Dolomite 5 – £1000
>>> Marin Gesalt 2 – £1000

Verenti Insight 0.4

Verenti Insight 0.4

Let us know if we’ve missed any bikes, and check back for regular updates to the lists.

As we test bikes throughout the year a range of season specific models will also be added, including winter bikes.


Thought about trying MTB?


One to keep an eye on…

>>> B’Twin Ultra 720 AF (video) – £1050

It’s presently just over the ‘bikes under £1000’ threshold, but this is a great value machine.

  • Chris Buckley

    Fuji Roubaix 1.1 2016 – been at sale price of £975 so long it should be considered standard price point.

    Lots of Ultegra on it. Nice frame.

  • James Watling

    Just a quick note, the BTwin 500 SE is currently down at £299 online.

  • Florin-Catalin Grec

    Is Giant Defy 5 (2015) better than Scott speedster 50 (2015) and Verenti 2015? Thanks

  • Florin-Catalin Grec

    What about Giant Defy 5 (there are on sale now for 300 pounds)? Is it better than Verenti? or Scott Speedster 50 ’15? Thanks

  • TechniColourCoatedKlingon

    Triban 500, 500SE & 520 included but no 540???? I have a 540 and its a great bike!

    try and find a **NEW** bike that comes with Mavic Aksium One wheels, Carbon Forks, & a 105 groupset for £600 – Compared to the 540, a lot of Specialized or Cannondale bikes that are priced £200-300 higher only come with Sora’s & if youre lucky then maybe a Tiagra groupset,

  • Roland Lawrence

    I have the Boardman bike and have to say its been a dream. Im a commuter not a racer and its done me proud. Comfortable ride and easy gearing. I like the shape and the price was good too. I bought my girlfriend the b’twin bike for christmas and have to say that is also a very nice ride too.

  • J1

    They can’t feature every bike that fits into each category, there’s too many to list and they do feature a lot of British based manufacturer’s on their pages, but maybe they didn’t think some of them were good enough to feature on some of the lists.
    You would get people complaining if they didn’t feature the big bike brands too, so you can’t please everyone as you can’t feature everything.

    Anyway, there’s a strong British presence here; Kinesis, Boardman, Hoy, Dawes, Tifosi, Vitus, Ribble and Radial.

  • J1

    Get a new club!

  • J1

    Rose are another example of that.

  • reippuert

    some of the items on the lists are frameset only!

  • István Fedor

    Veloce components are typically for sub1000 euro (750 GBP) alloy bikes. For 1000 GBP, you can even get a crabon GTR with 11spd athena. at least here 🙂

    Best value bikes IMHO those, which offer the best frame with reliable components. I’d pick a better frame with lesser components, rather a harsher-less refined frame with better components.

    Would stay away from heavy-no name hub wheelsets though, as well as square tapered BB-s and no brand calipers.

    would pick the most comfortable handlebar and a skinny 27.2mm seatpost, the seat will be replaced anyway, so that’s not a concern of mine: 🙂

    would stay away from triples on a road bike, keep that for tourers-randonneurs. In a roadie, I’d opt for 50-36 chainset with a 12-25t cassette, albeit, the 10speed 12-25 cassettes do not have 18t cog, which can be annoying when cruising ät flats..

  • Gogrilla Mincefriend

    They do seem to ignore a lot of bikes. I purchased a Mekk Poggio 1.5, full Carbon Frame and Fork, Sora group set all around with internal cable routing and Shimano r500 wheel set for a ridiculous £649 a year and a half ago from Rutland Cycling. The bike weighs 8.6kg stock. I quickly upgraded to Shimano 105 groupset just for bling value and this bike has now covered over 6k miles with absolutely no problems at all, I have not even had to retrue the wheels. Some people in the bike club I am in take the piss out of the Mekk branding whilst sitting astride their Cubes, Giants and Specialized but the laughing doe s stop when I can outmatch them turn for turn.

  • wadi

    I bought Rose Pro 2000 for 805£ with full shimano 105, Mavic Aksium wheels and weight 7.9 kg /ionized black/, bumpy ride I eliminated with Bioflex sport saddle for another 24£ and even my friends on flashy carbonfibre bikes for almost 2000£ said WOW. One do not need big money for good bike

  • kjb

    Having done my homework and just bought a Cube peloton SL, I can’t figure out why it’s not on your list. At £999 and fitted with a combination of shimano ultegra and 105 components, 6061 ally frame, carbon forks,internal cabling, MAVIC Aksium Wheels, MAVIC Aksion tyres
    and 8.75 kg
    It seems to me you need to revise your list

  • Bob

    Yes got one at incredible value a year ago

  • Tommaso Gazzoni

    I bought a CANYON road bike for less than €1000: alu 6061 frame, Shimano 105 and Mavic Aksium wheels. Unbeatable value for money , the power of online Business to Consumer approach.

  • kamoteQ

    Depending on where one lives, I would replace the crankset with a ‘big’ 46 chainring, either double or triple. I’m assuming those buying it are not going into competition.

  • Namothy

    I got the 2014 Genesis Volant 20 for £599 in September. Surprised its successor the Volant 30 isn’t on the list for under £1000.

  • Jack

    This misses out the amazing value Felt z95 – Less than £400 for a bike with Sora and a carbon fork. Can’t be beat.

  • Kathryn White

    At the beginning of the summer I bought a Dolan Prefissio bike, my second road bike. It cost me £630 (approx.) and came with many features that the article above doesn’t acknowledge. It has a full Shimano Sora groupset, with shimano shifters and wheels, Deda bars and stem, and a Selle saddle. Much better value than the bikes you’re suggesting. I think it pays to avoid the major bike brands when buying a cost-effective bike. Just as a suggestion: maybe the magazine could feature more of these smaller, and importantly British, companies rather than pointing out yet another Trek or Specialized.

  • Gary Purcell

    Shouldn’t that be “public” in the third paragraph? Or am I missing something?