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