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Best budget road bikes: Entry-level road bikes that punch well above their weight

Best budget road bikes
(Image credit: Giant)

Cycling is a wonderfully democratic form of transport, but getting into road cycling as a sport can be a dauntingly expensive prospect. Luckily, we've rounded up our pick of the best budget road bikes to help you onto two wheels without spending more than you can afford. 

It’s easy to get sucked into the idea that the more you spend, the faster you’ll go. While you can quite literally purchase a certain amount of speed with aerodynamic bikes, aero helmets and accessories, ultimately what really matters is how hard you can turn the pedals. 

Furthermore, the rate of improvement in road bike technology and the subsequent trickle down from the high to low ends of the sport, means even today's best road bikes on a budget are, in many ways, better than the bikes available to riders at the pinnacle of the sport only a few years ago.

Besides, is there anything better than showing that guy on your local club run with the £10,000 super-bike a clean pair of heels on your entry-level workhorse?

This list will focus on the best budget road bikes, but if you’re looking for something more versatile, we’ve also compiled a list of the best budget gravel bikes for those seeking off-road adventures. 

We've chosen to limit this guide to the best road bikes under 1000 (dollars and pounds). Of course, to account for the discrepancy between those two values, we've decided to split the guide into two. 

With that in mind, use the jump links below to head to your preferred territory: 

If you're in the USA, you'll want to skip to the best road bikes under $1000

And if you're in the UK, head to the best road bikes under £1000

Best budget road bikes

USA: Best road bikes under $1,000

Budget road bikes

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Trek Domane AL 2

Trek's budget-friendly Domane promises plenty of comfort with its IsoSpeed technology

RRP: $999.99 | Weight: 9.57kg | Groupset: Shimano Claris R2000 | Wheels: Bontrager Tubeless Ready rims on Formula Hubs | Frame Sizes: 47-62cm

Great-looking with two colours to choose from 
Huge range of sizes
28mm tyres on tubeless-ready wheels
IsoSpeed fork damps vibrations
Front and rear thru-axles
There's an exposed section of cable along the chainstay that will need more maintenance

Usually known for its more pricey bikes, it's a surprise to us all that Trek has managed to make a road bike with this type of spec for under $1,000. It offers great value for money, considering the inclusion of the brand's IsoSpeed decoupler technology, which builds compliance into the carbon fork to absorb vibrations from the road and make for a more comfortable ride.

The Shimano Claris R2000 8-speed groupset, despite not being quite top of the range, offers a smooth shifting experience and is easy to maintain and fettle. Providing the stopping power is alloy dual-pivot rim brakes, while the Bontrager tubeless-ready wheels roll on 28mm wide Bontrager R1 Hard-Case tyres.

Finally, with eight sizes to choose from, plus two colour options, it should be plenty easy to find the right Domane for you without breaking the bank.

Giant Contend 1 2021

(Image credit: Giant)

Giant Contend 1

Unsurprisingly Giant has put together a superbly well-rounded bike at a great price

RRP: $950.00 | Weight: 9.5kg | Groupset: Shimano Sora R3000 | Wheels: Giant S-R3 | Frame Sizes: S-XL

Full carbon fork
D Fuse technology
Impressive sub 10kg weight
Arguably a little dull

Pretty much everything on the Giant Contend 1 other than the groupset and brakes comes from Giant. That’s no bad thing though, as it’s all good quality stuff. You get a decent set of wheels and 28mm tyres from Giant, along with a D Fuse alloy seatpost, which Giant says increases comfort by allowing greater flex in desired directions, without sacrificing stiffness in others.

The frame is made from ALUXX-Grade aluminium, with Giant’s iconic compact frame design and a full carbon OverDrive fork. The groupset is Shimano’s Sora R3000, and you get an almost complete package of components – the only non-Shimano substitute is the Tektro TK-B177 rim brakes but these are good performers nevertheless, so it’s not a huge loss.

It also has mounts for mudguards and a rack, extending its usefulness into the winter months or for commuting/touring. Our only criticism is that it’s arguably a little bit dull, compared to some other bikes listed here.

Budget road bikes

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Liv Avail AR 4

An entry-level road bike built by women, for women

RRP: $1,000.00 | Weight: 10.77kg | Groupset: Shimano Claris | Wheels: Giant S-R2 Disc | Frame sizes: XXS-L

Designed using women's body dimension data
Tubeless-ready wheels
Good range of sizes
Would benefit from a groupset upgrade

While some people are still asking the question, 'can women ride men's bikes?', Liv Cycling just goes ahead and creates high-performing bikes for women's specific needs. Designed by women, engineered by women, and tested by women, using women-only body dimensions data, it's fair to say that many women will find the Liv Avail AR 4 an incredibly comfortable road bike on a budget. 

Liv's own ALUXX-Grade aluminium frame is a lot more compliant and comfortable than most would expect, while the Advanced-Grade carbon composite fork reduces the overall weight and keeps the front end of the bike light and snippy. 

In terms of spec, the Avail AR 4 matches what many of the other bikes in this list have to offer, with Shimano Claris gearing, mechanical Tektro disc brakes, and tubeless-ready wheels. 

Specialized Allez 2021

(Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized Allez

Specialized racing DNA can be seen even at the $1,000 price point

RRP: $1,000.00 | Weight: 9.73kg | Groupset: Shimano Claris R2000 | Wheels: Specialized Axis Sport | Frame Sizes: 44-61cm

Well finished frame with a choice of colours
Good quality components
Tektro brakes aren’t quite as good as Shimano’s

If you were inspired by the antics of riders such as Julian Alaphilippe or Mark Cavendish when watching the Tour de France, you might be lusting after a Specialized bike. Luckily, its entry-level Allez isn’t as far removed from the S-Works Tarmac SL7 as you might expect.

Even at this price, Specialized still specs a full carbon fork and the E5 alloy frame has butted tubes to save weight, dropped seat stays and internal cable routing. It comes with a set of quality Specialized components and has a Shimano Claris R2000 groupset.

A choice of three paint options plus mounts for mudguards and a rack finish off a tidy, good-value package.

Budget road bikes

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Fuji Sportif 2.3

An entry-level alloy road bike inspired by the Gran Fondo

RRP: $849.99 | Weight: 10.13kg | Groupset: Shimano Claris or microSHIFT R8 | Wheels: Alex Vera alloy rims with formula hubs | Frame sizes: 46-61cm

Surprisingly capable and comfortable over long mileage
Curved seat stays offer excellent compliance
Superb price
Brakes aren't amazing
Fairly heavy compared to others listed here

If you're in the market for a mile-munching road bike with endurance geometry, compliance built into the frame, that costs significantly less than $1,000, look no further because you've found it.

Fuji's Sportif 2.3 costs less than $850, meaning you'll have plenty of spare change to spend on other road cycling essentials, yet it delivers a surprisingly comfortable all-day ride. It's built with a high front end, which will put the rider in a fairly relaxed and upright position, ideal for long hours in the saddle. Meanwhile Fuji's 'Wave' seat stays have a curve built into them, which adds some flex into the alloy frame to absorb some of the road chatter and smooth out the ride.

The frame offers internal cable routing for a tidier look, mounts for a rear rack and fenders, and comes with a choice of either a Shimano Claris groupset, or a microSHIFT R8 group instead.

Budget road bikes

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Diamondback Haanjo 2

A versatile do-it-all bike ideal for commuting, touring, and recreational road rides

RRP: $925.00 | Weight: 11.34kg (claimed) | Groupset: Shimano Claris | Wheels: Diamondback Equation rims on unbranded hubs | Frame sizes: XS/47 - XL/59

Super versatile for one bike to do it all
Gravel-capable
Lots of mounting options, including the fork
Heavy

The Diamondback Haanjo 2 may appear to be a better fit for our guide to the best budget gravel bikes, and it certainly comes with gravel capabilities, but first and foremost it's designed to be a do-it-all bike that can perform all the main functions needed without the need to own a quiver. If you're short on storage space and need something affordable that can be used for road riding, commuting, touring and recreational off-road stints, the Haanjo is the one.

The aluminium frame is paired with a steel fork, which admittedly does put it at the heavier end of the spectrum. However, with plenty of mounting options including on the fork, you can set it up however you wish to, and switch things up whenever you need to take the Haanjo for a different kind of ride.

Driven by a Shimano Claris 2x8-speed drivetrain and controlled with Tektro Lyra mechanical disc brakes, the Haanjo 2 comes stock with plush 40mm Vee Rubber Speedster tyres for a super comfortable ride and reduced rolling resistance when fully inflated.

UK: Best road bikes under £1,000

Cannondale Synapse Sora

(Image credit: Cannondale )

Cannondale Synapse Disc Sora

Cannondale's Synapse is a worthy platform to upgrade when you demand more performance

RRP: £1,000.00 | Weight: 10.4kg | Groupset: Shimano Sora | Wheels: RD rims on Formula Hubs | Frame Sizes: 48-61cm

High-quality frame and full carbon fork 
Front thru-axle
Expensive when compared to other equally specced budget road bikes

At face value, the Cannondale Synapse Disc Sora might seem a little expensive in this company, and right at the top of the sub-£1,000 limit, but Cannondale is providing a high-quality platform that is capable of growing with you as a rider. The bike is built around a tidy SmartForm C2 alloy frame and full carbon fork, both of which have Cannondale’s SAVE (Synapse Active Vibration Elimination) technology built-in to increase comfort.

The disc brakes are cable-actuated, but the frame has internal cable routing, through both the frame and fork. The Shimano Sora groupset borrows technology from the Shimano's previous top-end drivetrain generations, making for a high performing workhorse-like groupset. Likewise, the Vittoria Zaffiro tyres aren’t the best road bike tyres on the market, but they are from a recognisable, well-regarded brand, and handily come in a 28mm size for extra grip and comfort. 

Cube Attain Pro

(Image credit: Cube)

Cube Attain Pro

Cube has put together a cheap road bike with some nice frameset details usually reserved for premium models

RRP: £999.00 | Weight: 10.3kg | Groupset: Shimano Sora | Wheels: Cube RA 1.9 Aero Disc | Frame Sizes: 47-62cm

Full carbon fork
Colour matched finishing kit
Thru-axle front and rear
Matte finish frame not as pretty as the competition

German brand Cube isn’t the most well-known maker of road bikes but the company is known for its progressive designs – often bucking the trend for ‘boring black bikes’. Weighing in a touch above 10kg is impressive for a bike that costs under £1,000 and has disc brakes, as is the fact that the Cube Attain comes with a full carbon fork, internal cable routing and nicely colour-matched finishing kit, meaning it looks more expensive than it is.

The durability of Shimano's Sora groupset makes for good value at this price; it all functions perfectly well, offering a slick shifting experience. Cube does a cheaper Attain model, however this Pro version offers some significant upgrades that make its £150 premium easily justifiable.

B’Twin Triban RC 520 Disc

(Image credit: B’Twin)

Triban RC 520 Disc

Triban RC 520 offers smooth Shimano 105 drivetrain at an incredible price

RRP: £849.99 | Weight: 10.4kg | Groupset: Shimano 105 R7000 | Wheels: Triban Tubeless Ready Light | Frame Sizes: XS-XL

Shimano 105 R7000 groupset
Tubeless-ready wheels and clearance for up to 36mm tyres
Cable-operated hydraulic disc brakes
Workhorse looks

It’s pretty rare to see Shimano 105 R7000 on a bike that costs under £1,000, let alone one that comes in at under £850, but that’s exactly what the Triban RC 520 Disc offers. And it’s not just a pricey groupset at the expense of everything else either – you get a modern styled frame with dropped seat stays for extra comfort and heaps of tyre clearance (slick tyres up to 36mm will fit). 

It’s also got mounts for racks and mudguards, the wheels can be converted to tubeless, and Decathlon offers a lifetime warranty on the frame, stem and handlebars. Another interesting spec choice is the TRP HY/RD mechanical actuated hydraulic disc brakes. While most bikes at this price point get rim or mechanical disc brakes, the HY/RD offer a significant improvement in power and control. They do require a little more maintenance and certainly add on some weight but the performance benefit is worth it if you are frequently riding in poor weather conditions. 

So what’s the catch? Well, the looks are a little workhorse-like – not bad per se, but just nothing to set your heart fluttering. The externally routed cables also mean you need to be careful with keeping the exposed sections clean and in good condition, to keep everything working smoothly, though this does make for simple maintenance when the time comes. 

Budget road bikes

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Specialized Allez Sport

The Allez Sport Specialized's best road bike under £1000, offering all-round performance

RRP: £999.00 | Weight: 9.16kg | Groupset: Shimano Fora | Wheels: Specialized Axis Sport | Frame Sizes: 44-61cm

Good-looking frame with two colour options
Comfortable contact points
Good quality spec
Tektro brakes let it down a little

At the entry-level of its road range sits the Specialized Allez Sport, a sub-£1,000 road bike with an aluminium frame, carbon fork, rim brakes, and 9-speed Shimano Sora shifting. If you're looking to get into road cycling, whether it's for racing, sportives or just general enjoyment at the weekends, this would make an excellent first road bike.

Forget what you always thought you knew about aluminium road bikes, because Specialized's Allez Sport, with its FACT carbon fork and plush contact points, does a great job of absorbing road chatter and leaving you feeling comfortable as you munch up the miles.

If we had to complain about anything, we'd prefer to see Shimano brakes over the Tektro ones, which just aren't as a good.

Trek Domane AL 3 Disc

(Image credit: Trek)

Trek Domane AL 3 Disc

Trek's budget Domane promises miles of comfort thanks to its IsoSpeed fork

RRP: £995.00 | Weight: 10.54kg | Groupset: Shimano Sora R3000 | Wheels: Bontrager Affinity Disc rims on Formula Hubs | Frame Sizes: 44-61cm

Great-looking frame with a choice of colours and a large range of sizes
32mm tyres and tubeless-ready wheels
Vibration absorbing IsoSpeed fork
Front and rear thru-axles
The exposed section of cable along the chainstay will require more maintenance

Trek is usually renowned for making bikes that are on the pricier end of the spectrum, so you might be surprised to see one on this list, especially at this price. The Trek Domane AL 3 packs in plenty of value though, with a nicely finished 100 Series Alpha Aluminium frame and Trek’s clever IsoSpeed carbon fork – which swoops forward before the dropout to increase compliance without affecting wheelbase length.

The groupset is Shimano Sora R3000 with Tektro C550 dual-piston mechanical flat mount disc brakes. You get comfortable 32mm tyres and tubeless-ready Bontrager wheels, which is seriously impressive at this price point. There are also eight different size choices, so you can really narrow down the frame size to find the perfect fit.

Liv bikes

(Image credit: Liv)

Liv Avail 1

A women's specific road bike fine-tuned for the female physique

RRP: £948.99 | Weight: 9.6kg | Groupset: Shimano Sora | Wheels: Giant S-R3 | Frame sizes: XS-M

Specifically built by women, for women
Comfortable and versatile
Accelerates quickly
No large size

No longer just a sister-brand to Giant, Liv Cycling stands on its own as a women-for-women cycling brand that focuses all its energy on creating bikes that women will love. The Avail 1 is its endurance road bike offering, which is versatile enough for long-distance rides as well as weekend sportives and Sunday club rides. 

Rolling along with Shimano's Sora groupset and Giant S-R3 tubeless-ready wheels, the Avail 1 offers reliable and smooth shifting, with a decent range of gears to tackle most terrains.

The spec is excellent at this price point, making the Liv Avail 1 a choice entry-level road bike for anyone hoping to fall in love with the sport. The only drawback is that there's no size large available, so tall women will have to look elsewhere.

Scott Speedster 50

(Image credit: Scott Sports)

Scott Speedster 50

A low-budget beginner's road bike for recreational rides and sportives

RRP: £698.99 | Weight: 10.5kg | Groupset: Shimano mix | Wheels: Syncros Race 24 | Frame sizes: XXS (47) - XXL (61)

Low price
Huge range of sizes to choose from
Beautiful paint job
Internal cable routing
Cable rim brakes aren't great for steep gradients

For your first ever road bike, a Scott Speedster 50 is a cost-effective and good quality machine that will deliver a fun ride to get you hooked on the sport. The 6061 alloy frame and fork feature internal cable routing for a neat and clean aesthetic, and the 7-speed Shimano drivetrain with double chainset offers a decent number of gears to power you through most entry-level road rides and sportives.

Tektro rim brakes offer efficient stopping power and simple maintenance, while the Syncros Race 24 rims are paired with Formula Comp hubs and Schwalbe Lugano 700cx28mm tyres for smooth rolling and puncture resistance.

If you're willing to spend a little more, you can get Shimano brakes and a full, named groupset, however if you're on a tight budget and want something simple that will help you get out on the road to hone your skills, this is a great value option.

Best road bike under £1000: Vitus Razor Disc 2021

(Image credit: Vitus)

Vitus Razor Disc

Price does not limit the Vitus Razor Disc's stopping power and good looks

RRP: £699.99 | Weight: 10.61kg | Groupset: Shimano Claris R2000 | Wheels: Vitus KT wheels | Frame Sizes: XS-XXL

Classy looks
Disc brakes, 28mm tyres and mudguard mounts
Front and rear thru-axles
Heavier than other bikes listed here
Tyres are slow rollers

The Vitus Razor disc is one of the cheapest ways to get on the disc brakes bandwagon for road bikes.

It has a beautifully finished, double-butted aluminium frame and carbon fork with an anthracite paint job. The Vitus wheels are of a good standard and they also look the part with their all-black rims. The 28mm Kenda Kwick Roller tyres aren't particularly fast-rolling but should provide decent puncture protection, and can easily be upgrade.

The Shimano Claris R2000 groupset is a decent, well-performing kit but the 11-28T cassette could be slightly limiting if you live somewhere very hilly.

Ribble R872

(Image credit: Ribble )

Ribble R872

A true value-for-money contender if your budget can stretch a little

RRP: £1,099.00 | Weight: 9.0kg | Groupset: Shimano Tiagra 4700 | Wheels: Raleigh Mach 1 CFX | Frame Sizes: XS-XL

Full carbon frame and fork
Lightweight
Wheels aren’t the best

Yes we know, the Ribble R872 retails over the £1,000 budget but hear us out on this one. The recently updated Ribble R872 has a thoroughly modern frameset, and both the frame and fork are full carbon, and a chunky downtube and chainstays offer great pedalling stiffness, while slim, dropped seat stays increase compliance and comfort over rough roads. 

If your budget can stretch a little over the £1,000 mark, then this is where we'd spend it. 

At 9kg, it’s decently lightweight (though there are lighter alloy bikes at this price point), but the Raleigh Mach 1 CFX wheels are more suitable for training rather than racing. You do get a full Shimano Tiagra 4700 groupset though, as well as a dependable finishing kit from Level, Ribble’s new in-house brand.

If you absolutely have to have a carbon frame, the Ribble R872 is a great option. Ribble also offers a large degree of customisation through its BikeBuilder tool – meaning you can change key components for size, make upgrades or you go a step further and build a completely custom bike with a custom paint job - if your budget is really flexible.

How to choose the best budget road bike for you

As with most purchases, there's not a single best budget road bike for everyone, and all of the bikes in these lists have their own pros, cons and quirks that make them suitable for different rider requirements. For example, those who ride in wet conditions might prefer a bike with disc brakes and mudguard mounts, while those who need to carry luggage might prioritise a bike with rack mounts. 

To help you understand what to look out for when trying to find the best budget road bike for you, we've outlined the key considerations below. 

Frame materials

Aluminium is still the undisputed king of budget frame materials. Lightweight, stiff and cheap, brands are able to build great performing road and mountain bikes out of the metal, at a manufacturing cost that still enables them to spec decent quality parts and finishing kit.

The drawback of aluminium is that it comes in tubes, and compared to carbon fibre, which is built up sheet by sheet into whatever shape a manufacturer wants, it’s difficult to mould it into shapes that are, for example, more aerodynamic, or promote stiffness and compliance concurrently. Although not impossible, as shown by some of the bikes in our roundup of the best aluminium road bikes.

Carbon fibre frames do appear in the budget realm but even in 2021 there are still usually compromises made with these bikes in order to hit these lower price points.

Manufacturers will often use cheaper, lower modulus carbon fibre when building the frame – which leads to a heavier, less stiff frame – or they are forced to spec lower quality components on a good frame.

If you plan to upgrade components in the future though, choosing carbon fibre can make sense, but the aluminium route is rarely a bad choice. Good quality aluminium bikes are better than poor quality carbon fibre ones.

Groupsets

At this end of the market, Shimano groupsets dominate almost completely, but that’s no bad thing as the Japanese giant makes high-quality components at practically every price point.

And though it might seem undeniable that, for example, 11-speed is better than 10-speed, which is better than 9-speed, and so on, you might not actually need all those gears in real life. Yes, tighter-spaced cassettes are a pleasure to use but you can ultimately still achieve the same overall spread of gears with a lower speed groupset, you just miss out on one or two of the middle steps.

Components

Compromises unsurprisingly abound at this end of the market. You can’t have it all, sadly, so you’ll often have to choose between brands that spread the cost more evenly on, for example, a lower-end groupset and better quality components (saddles, handlebars, tyres, etc.), or brands that choose a higher-end groupset and make savings elsewhere on the bike.

Direct-to-consumer brands such as Ribble and Canyon can buck this trend by cutting out the middleman (i.e. your local bike shop) and selling directly to you via the internet.

This is great if you’re trying to eke out as much value as possible but, obviously, if you run into any issues then support isn’t so easily at hand – knowing what size bike to go for can be an issue and swapping parts such as saddles, stems and handlebars for a more personalised fit is a no go.

Brakes

Cable-operated rim brakes are what you’ll find on most budget road bikes. These generally work well, especially in clean and dry conditions but wet-weather performance can leave a little to be desired as rims and pads get contaminated with road grime.

The industry trend is undoubtedly towards disc brakes, and we’re starting to see this technology trickle down to the higher end of budget road bikes but usually only in cable-actuated rather than hydraulic.

Disc-brake bikes have the advantage of a dedicated braking surface that’s moved away from the road and muck, which generally leads to more consistent performance in all conditions. Without the size restrictions of a rim brake calliper, frame manufacturers are also able to build in greater tyre clearance for added grip and comfort.

Mudguard and rack mounts

Unless you live in a part of the world where the weather is exceptionally good all year round, a set of quality mudguards will make a world of difference to your riding during the winter months.

Likewise, rack mounts also give you the option for these bikes to double up as commuter or touring bikes, further increasing their range of uses and therefore value.

Final point: Don't forget to keep it safe and well maintained

Once you've found the best budget road bike and hit the purchase button, your cycling journey is only just beginning. 

If you want to get the maximum value from your investment, you'll need to keep your bike clean and well maintained. Our explainer on how to clean a bike has our top tips on simplifying the process, but if cleaning it after every ride seems like a daunting chore, then at the very least ensure you keep the chain lubricated with the best bike chain lubes.

Also, the last thing you want to happen is for it to be stolen, so ensure you take steps to reduce this risk. First of all, it's worth knowing how to prevent bike theft, but at the very least, ensure you choose the best bike lock, understand how to lock a bike correctly, and compare bicycle insurance so that you are covered by the best bike insurance policy for your riding habits.