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Best endurance road bikes: Drop-bar bikes for all-day comfort

Cyclist riding one of the best endurance road bikes through a desert road
(Image credit: Giant Bicycles)

The best endurance road bikes were originally designed for use only on the road and have long been popular among fondo or sportive riders. However, as riding habits have changed and the advent of gravel-specific bikes came to the fore, the endurance road bike category found itself filling the gap between road-only bikes and gravel bikes. They are still designed primarily for road cycling use, but with wider tyre clearances and increased compliance, the latest crop of endurance road bikes are able to handle a wider range of surface types, many of which are marketed as 'road plus' bikes. So if your riding habits regularly involve a mix of soft gravel, paved trails, long climbs and bumpy city streets, or you simply want a bike capable of covering long distances with ease, then the best endurance road bikes will provide a perfect fit for you.

The latest and greatest endurance riding machines come with vibration absorption technology to help dampen the harshness of the road, and some bikes even offer built-in storage for those extra-long days in the saddle. Almost all endurance road bikes sold nowadays come with disc brakes, and while race tech isn’t a necessity for most endurance riders, many of the best endurance road bikes also come with electronic shifting and integrated power meters. 

But, of course, not all bike riders are professionals – thus, you don’t need a slammed stem and ultra-aero frame just to get from Point A to Point B, or the latest and greatest ultra-light carbon layup technology just to finish your regional fondo. Endurance road bikes are built for the masses, for people who love to ride bikes but aren’t necessarily interested in racing. They’re built for cyclists who want to be comfortable in the saddle, and while they are capable of covering long distances, you don't need to be riding for hours on end to enjoy the benefits of an endurance bike. 

To help you find your next dream bike, we have a number of different guides to help you find the perfect fit for you in each category of bike. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of the best endurance road bikes, from the elite options with the fanciest technologies to the most affordable options and bikes with the best value. 

Read on for our picks of the best endurance road bikes available today. Alternatively, if you're unsure of exactly what to look out for, head to the bottom for our guide on how to choose an endurance road bike

And for other types of bike, we have separate guides for the best road bikes, as well as the best gravel bikes, best hybrid bikes, and best electric bikes.

Best endurance road bikes

Giant Defy Advanced Pro 1

(Image credit: Giant)

Giant Defy Advanced Pro 1

Best overall: Carbon wheels and electronic shifting make for a bike that'll compete with the best

Frame: Advanced-grade composite carbon | Brakes: Disc | Weight: 8.5kg | Sizes: XS-XL | RRP: £5,499.00 / $6,300.00 / $6,699.00 / €4,900.00 | Max tyre clearance: 35mm

Front and rear D-Fuse tubing increases compliance
Wireless shifting
Carbon fibre wheels
Tubeless-ready wheels and tyres from the factory
Heavier than comparable frames
Second-tier carbon layup

The Giant Defy has been around since 2009, but that doesn’t mean this bike is old. In fact, the Defy was already breaking down barriers when it became the first bike to be offered exclusively with disc brakes. The bike’s geometry has remained much the same over the years, while other improvements have been bordering on major. 

Giant designed the D-Fuse seat post and handlebars system to absorb shocks and vibrations from the road, and in the Defy Advanced Pro 1, has expanded the D-Fuse system to both the front and rear of the bike. The amount of flex can even be customised by simply rotating the bar in the stem. Additionally, the oversized and tapered OverDrive 2 steerer tube improves cornering precision, and the MegaDrive downtube and PowerCore bottom bracket add to the bike’s precise handling and fantastic pedalling efficiency.

The only major downside is Giant’s choice to use its second-tier carbon, adding weight to the Defy Advanced Pro 1, and seeing it come up a little short in the performance department, but the spec choice of carbon-fibre wheels help to offset that. In the UK, the Advanced Pro 1 is shod with SRAM Force eTap, while in other territories it's complete with Shimano Ultegra Di2. They each have their pros and cons, but they are both fantastic groupsets with impeccable shifting performance. 

Cervelo Caledonia 5 eTap

(Image credit: Cervelo)

Cervelo Caledonia 5 Force eTap

Best all-rounder: An aero endurance road bike that can handle the rough stuff

Frame: Cervelo Caledonia-5 | Brakes: Disc | Weight: 8.5kg | Sizes: 48-61cm | RRP: £7,299.00 / $7,300.00 / AU$10,500.00 / €7,199.00 | Max tyre clearance: 34mm

Good spec level
Included power meter
Rugged capability
Mudguard mounts
Heavier than similarly-priced competitors
High price

The Caledonia 5 is marketed as a bit of a jack of all trades. It's frameset is constructed using aerodynamically optimised tube shapes, but they're put together in a way that creates relaxed geometry, making it suitable for endurance riding. Cervelo then specced it with enough clearance for 34mm tyres and the ruggedness to handle gravel roads. 

They say jack of all trades is often a master of none, and the claim does ring true here. The Caledonia 5 isn't as aero as a dedicated aero bike, it's not as comfortable as a dedicated endurance bike, and it's not as capable as a dedicated gravel bike. But if you're in the market for a one-bike solution that can handle everything from base miles to road races and a bit of off-road fun in between, the Caledonia 5 is the best endurance road bike for the job. 

We recently reviewed the Cervelo Caledonia 5 and came away impressed by what it brings to the best endurance road bike category.

Cube Agree C62

(Image credit: Cube)

Cube Agree C:62

Best value: One of the best all-round endurance road bikes on the market, the Agree is ready to handle anything you can throw at it

Frame: C:62 Advanced Twin Mold Technology | Brakes: Disc | Weight: 7.8kg | Sizes: 50-62cm | Price: £2,999.00 / $TBC / AU$TBC / €2,499.00 | Max tyre clearance: 28mm

Feels like a road racing bike
Good value for money
Carbon wheels
Polarising looks
Carbon layup is Cube's second-tier
Limited tyre clearance

The Cube Agree C:62 is one of the best value endurance road bikes on the market, with a carbon-fibre frame, Shimano's well-renowned Ultegra groupset and Newmen carbon fibre wheels. There's little we'd upgrade. Fast, agile, and comfortable, the C:62 is a great endurance machine. It doesn’t even look like an endurance frame – outfitted with aerodynamic tube shapes and a tapered head tube. The C:62 is fast, too, but the downside is an aesthetic that you'll either love or hate. 

A carbon seatpost will absorb road buzz like so many of the other frames on this list, and the price of the Cube Agree C:62 is quite reasonable. Cube designed the frame and handlebar setup to match an endurance road bike fit, but even so, it handles like a dream. If you were so inclined, you could happily race on the Agree C:62, or take it for a six-hour spin in the mountains. Either way, the Agree C:62 will be up to the task, and outperform a number of other bikes at even higher price points. 

Liv Avail Advanced 1

(Image credit: Liv)

Liv Avail Advanced 1

Best for women: Great road feel, with plenty of tyre clearance for serious off-road adventures.

Frame: Advanced-Grade Composite | Brakes: Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc | Weight: 8.8kg | Sizes: XXS to L | RRP: £2,499.00 / $3,500.00 / AU$TBC / €2,700.00 | Max tyre clearance: 35mm

Comfortable fit
Fantastic handling and ride feel
Tubeless-ready wheels and tyres from the factory
Large tyres for a road bike

Aside from its praised ‘unicorn-esque’ paint job, the Liv Avail is an all-round endurance machine. Its women-specific design doesn’t sacrifice any of the fantastic handling and road feel that you get on the Giant Defy Advanced 1. In fact, the two bikes nearly share an identical spec sheet. The Avail Advanced 1 uses a mix of Ultegra and GRX components that give you the most bang for your buck.

Like Giant's endurance road frame, the Liv Avail uses a D-Fuse seatpost to absorb shocks from the road and improved overall ride feel, while the carbon fork includes the OverDrive steerer which adds some stiffness for out of the saddle efforts. The Liv Avail also includes the PowerCore bottom bracket that helps make for its class-leading pedalling efficiency. 

The Liv Avail can handle tyres up to 35mm wide. The Advanced 1 comes fitted with 32mm tyres from Giant's in-house Gavia range. They are great for riding over bumpy roads or on gravel paths, but those riding primarily on the road may find them a little slow going. 

We've previously answered the question of 'can women ride men's bikes?' in depth, and while it's definitely possible, there's a lot to be said for a bike designed by women, specifically for women, and the Liv Avail is our pick as the best endurance road bike in that category. Its only problem is as easy to solve as swapping a pair of tyres. 

Want more women's options? Check out our guide to the best women's road bikes.

Specialized S-Works Roubaix eTap in green

(Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized S-Works Roubaix eTap

Best money-no-object: An adjustable future shock creates a balanced and comfortable ride atop one of Specialized’s best endurance race frames

Frame: FACT 11r carbon | Brakes: Disc | Weight: 7.5kg | Sizes: 49cm-61cm | RRP: £11,200.00 / $12,500 / AU$15,500.00 / €11,999.00 | Max tyre clearance: 33mm

Adjustable future shock that can be locked out
Compliant seat post
High price
Maintenance complicated by future shock

First launched in 2004, the Specialized Roubaix was the first commercially available endurance road bike. Earlier versions used Zertz inserts, which were said to “absorb road buzz,” while the latest versions feature Future Shock which provides 20mm of travel inside the head tube of the frame. Riders can even adjust the compression and rebound damping of the Future Shock, tailoring their ride to be as comfortable as possible no matter the terrain. 

Because of its relaxed geometry, the S-Works Roubaix is not as stiff or responsive as the S-Works Tarmac which is designed for racing. However, the S-Works Roubaix is much more comfortable over rough terrain, such as rough city streets, dirt trails, and of course, cobblestones. With all that said, the S-Works Roubaix is not a slow bike, by any means. According to Specialized, it tested faster (more aerodynamic) in its ‘Win Tunnel’ versus the Tarmac SL6. 

You’ll have to spend a pretty penny in order to get one, but the Specialized S-Works Roubaix is our pick of the best overall endurance road bike out there. There are various tiers available, too, so if the top-tier S-Works model is too much of an investment, then the more budget-friendly models offer slightly heavier builds with a cheaper carbon fibre layup, whilst still offering great performance. 

Maintenance of the Future Shock can be a bit complicated, but the ride feel it provides is like no other. All Roubaix models come with disc brakes, and feature unisex geometry, with the only difference between the men’s and women’s bikes being the touchpoints, such as the saddle. 

Fuji Sportif 1.3 Disc road bike in blue

(Image credit: Fuji)

Fuji Sportif 1.3 Disc Road Bike

Best budget: Perfect for beginner cyclists and those looking to increase their weekly mileage

Frame: A2-SL alloy | Brakes: Disc | Weight: 10.1kg | Sizes: 46-61cm | RRP: £1,349.99 / $1,499.99 / AU$TBC / €1,279.99 | Max tyre clearance: 32mm

Durable components
Mechanical disc brakes
It's quite heavy

The Fuji Sportif is not meant to go fast but rather more comfortable – and on that, Fuji delivers. With a wide-ranging 11-32T rear cassette and compact gearing, you can take the Sportif 1.3 up the steepest hills in town. The chainrings are from Praxis Works, a product you typically find on higher-end bikes, so with the affordability of the Sportif 1.3, it is a nice add-on. 

Most bikes on this list come with hydraulic disc brakes, whereas the Sportif 1.3 comes with Promax cable disc brakes, which will require more ongoing maintenance to keep them working optimally. 

The entire frame is heavier than most, and sprinting on the Sportif 1.3 doesn’t feel great, but what does feel great is taking it out for a long day in the saddle. The relaxed geometry, 28mm tyres, and tight wheelbase make for a very comfortable riding position, perfect for commuting, exploring, and just simply enjoying the ride. 

Trek Domane SL 6

(Image credit: Trek)

Trek Domane SL 6

Best for comfort: With an eye on both performance and durability, the Domane SL 6 will keep you comfortable, even after the road ends

Frame: 500 Series OCLV Carbon | Brakes: Disc | Weight: 9.3kg | Sizes: 44cm-60cm | RRP: £3,700.00 / $4,099.99 / $5,799.99 / €3,099.00 | Max tyre clearance: 38mm

Enormous tyre clearance
Lightweight carbon frame
Internal storage built into the down tube
IsoSpeed decouplers front and rear offer loads of bump absorption
Seat mast limits adjustability
Lightweight doesn’t mean it’s fast uphill

For less than half the price of Trek’s top-end Domane SLR 9, the Domane SL 6 delivers a reliable product, with many of the same features and fantastic versatility. With front and rear IsoSpeed decouplers, the Domane SL 6 delivers a super comfortable ride on a variety of terrain.  

As with every new generation of road bike ever, the latest Domane SL 6 is said to be faster than its predecessor - in this case, over a minute faster per hour, which probably isn't something you'll notice when riding it, but it's reassuring to know that Trek didn't ignore aerodynamics when maximising the comfort and compliance of the latest Domane. 

And with a lighter frame thanks to Trek's 500 series OCLV Carbon, the Domane SL 6 is high-performing on all sorts of terrain; with one caveat: it’s still a bit sluggish uphill. The versatile frame, internal storage, and wide tyre clearance are great for touring and comfortability, but it does struggle when the road points up.

Set up with hydraulic disc brakes and the ability to fit tyres as wide as 38mm, the Domane SL 6 has a range that few other manufacturers and bikes can match. The bike also uses Trek’s H2 Endurance Fit, which leads to a comfortable ride and more upright position compared to their H1.5 and H1 fits. Don’t let the price scare you away – the Domane SL 6 is built to last a lifetime, and keep you rolling fast and comfortable on a variety of terrain in all sorts of weather conditions. 

BMC Roadmachine One

(Image credit: BMC)

BMC Roadmachine One

Best for racing: The Roadmachine One is ideal for those looking for a race bike dressed like a Gran Fondo rider

Frame: TCC Endurance Premium Carbon | Brakes: Disc | Weight: 7.55kg | Sizes: 47cm-61cm | RRP: £4,700.00 / $5,299.00 / AU$7,299.00 / €4,999.00 | Max tyre clearance: 33mm

More aggressive geometry resembling a traditional road bike 
Mounts for handlebar bag built into integrated cockpit
Tyre clearance limited to 33mm
High price

The BMC Roadmachine enters our list as the best endurance road bike that doesn’t look like an endurance road bike. Some might mistake the Roadmachine for the race-ready Teammachine that you'll regularly see on the start line of pro races. But upon closer inspection, the Roadmachine has a shorter reach and a higher stack - meaning the handlebars are closer and higher up - and more tyre clearance compared to the Teammachine. Put that all together, and you’ll have a much softer ride on the Roadmachine, the latest endurance road bike from BMC. 

Made with TCC (Tuned Compliance Concept) Endurance lay-up material and Angle Compliance technology, the Roadmachine is built for a comfortable ride, and you can feel the effects of flex built into the fork, seatstays, and seatpost. 

An integrated cockpit make the Roadmachine as ‘pro-looking’ as it gets, without the slammed stem and extended reach. Mounts for a top tube bag are included, too, which is a nice touch, and often-needed for most endurance cyclists. 

However, even with the added tyre clearance, the Roadmachine can only fit up to 33mm wide tyres, putting it on the lower end of the spectrum for an endurance road bike. Clearance of 33mm is still plenty big for a road bike, but it’s a far cry from the 38mm offered by the Trek Domane SL 6, so if you're looking to really push the envelope of off-road capability, the Roadmachine might come up short. But if you want a pro look and capable endurance bike that's ready to race, the pricey BMC Roadmachine One is a great option to have. 

Cannondale Synapse 105

(Image credit: Cannondale)

Cannondale Synapse 105

Best mile muncher: Classic aesthetics with workhorse components

Frame: BallisTec carbon | Brakes: Disc | Weight: 8.9kg | Sizes: 51-61cm | RRP: £2,500.00 / $3,000.00 / AU$4,300.00 / €2,799.00 | Max tyre clearance: 32mm

Durable components
Hidden fender mounts
Lightweight frame
Little aerodynamic consideration

To be classed as the best bike for munching away at the miles in a guide to endurance road bikes is no mean feat. The Synapse earns that accolade thanks to its lightweigh, powerful pedalling platform and selection of durable workhorse components. 

One of those comes in the form of Shimano's 105 groupset, which is well known for striking the balance between performance, price and longevity. It then adds Cannondale's own aluminium wheels, built on Formula hubs and wrapped in Vittoria's seemingly immortal Zaffiro Pro tyres in a road-smoothing 30c width. 

What's more, if you're planning on tapping out those miles all year round, the frame comes with hidden fender mounts, to protect your drivetrain (and you, of course) from the worst of the weather, helping it to last even longer. 

How to choose the best endurance road bike for you

While traditional road bikes and endurance road bikes look nearly identical, there are number of significant differences that completely change how the bike feels and what it is capable of.   

As we have seen throughout this list, endurance road bikes are designed with more relaxed geometry, disc brakes, and wider tyre clearance compared to traditional road bikes. Many come with integrated mounts and suspension which allow you to take your bike well off the beaten path.

In this article, we’ve covered a wide range of endurance road bikes, from the top-end contenders, to some great fits for an even better value. Now let’s help you find the best endurance road bike for you. 

Everyone has different riding habits, tastes, budgets and requirements from their bike, so the best endurance road bike for you is unlikely to be the same for the next person, so when choosing the right bike for you, you'll need to consider what it is you want to get out of the bike.

Do I need an endurance road bike?

This might seem like an odd question given we're 2000 words deep into a guide for the best endurance road bikes, but the first thing to question when buying one is whether it's actually the right choice for your needs. 

The answer will depend mostly on you and your riding habits. It goes without saying that if you were going to ride up a mountain, you'd choose a lightweight road bike over a downhill mountain bike. The mountain bike could absolutely make it up the mountain, but it wouldn't be the best tool for the job. 

The same theory can be applied to more closely related bicycle types. For example, if your riding is 90 per cent off-road and you enjoy tackling rougher terrain, then you'll probably find a more suitable steed among the best gravel bikes. Similarly, if you're only ever going to ride on tarmac, and you can comfortably do so in a more aggressive position, then you might find the best aero road bikes offer a better match. 

However, if you ride a mix of terrain, like to dabble in gravel, prefer a more relaxed position on the bike, or simply want a bike that can do a bit of everything, then the best endurance road bikes are probably right for you. 

How much tyre clearance does my endurance road bike need?

Once again, the answer here is 'it depends'. If you're planning on pushing the limits of the bike's capability off road, then you probably want larger tyres to add grip and cushioning. If you're only planning on using it on smooth roads, then you'll probably be happy using 25 or 28c tyres, so don't need quite as much clearance. 

With that said, there's little trade-off on bikes with larger clearances, so if you're torn between two bikes, then opting for the one with wider clearance will give you a little more versatility down the line. 

My budget is limited, what should I not compromise on?

In this list alone, we’ve seen a huge range of prices. From afar, all of these endurance road bikes do basically the same thing: with wide tyre clearance, disc brakes, and endurance-specific geometry, these bikes are built to tackle a variety of terrain. But of course, the higher-spec bikes will offer a more refined ride compared to the entry-level models which will feel sluggish and slow in comparison.

If like most of us, you don't have the unlimited pockets of cash to spend on an endurance road bike, you'll need to make compromises to save money. So to do this whilst still getting the right bike for your needs, consider how often you’ll be riding it, what kind of adventures lie on the horizon, and what you want to get out of your endurance road bike. 

We tend to tackle this with a list of 'needs', 'wants', and 'nice-to-haves', and then check those off when shopping. 

For example, if you're looking to ride the bike off road, your 'needs' column might include wide tyre clearance and bump-absorption technology. Conversely, if you're a cycle-commuter, your 'needs' column will probably have mounts for fenders and perhaps even a pannier rack. 

A carbon frame, electronic shifting and carbon wheels will probably fit into the 'wants' column for most of us. However, also consider future upgrades and whether that's something you're likely going to want to do. It's much easier to upgrade to carbon wheels down the line than it is to swap out a groupset. 

Are proprietary suspension technology and integrated mounts important to you? If not, you don’t need to spend the extra money on an endurance road bike with all the fixings. The add-ons might fall into the 'nice to have' column, but sometimes they can add weight and maintenance complexity.

If you’re concerned about performance, most of these extras add a significant amount of weight to the bike. Suspension is great and all, but if you’re riding on pavement 95 per cent of the time, it’s mostly just slowing you down. 

What size endurance road bike do I need? 

With the different geometries and sizing cut-offs offered by each brand, it's not always as simple as needing the same size across all brands. However, the manufacturer of all of the best endurance road bikes will offer some sort of size guide or geometry chart on their website, which will help you decide the best size for that specific bike for your body's proportions. 

To help you make sense of the geometry charts, check out our handy explainer, aptly entitled 'what size bike do I need?'. From there, to dial in the bike's fit, you might need to make some adjustments such as saddle height, and perhaps even swap out components to adjust the fit. Our bike fit guide explains how to do this and what to expect.  

Zach is a freelance writer, the head of ZNehr Coaching, and an elite-level rider in road, track, and Zwift racing. He writes about everything cycling-related, from product reviews and advertorials, to feature articles and power analyses. After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science at Marian University-Indianapolis, Zach discovered a passion for writing that soon turned into a full-fledged career. In between articles, Zach spends his time working with endurance athletes of all abilities and ages at ZNehr Coaching. After entering the sport at age 17, Zach went on to have a wonderful road racing career that included winning the 2017 Collegiate National Time Trial Championships and a 9th place finish at the 2019 US Pro National Time Trial Championships. 

Nowadays, Zach spends most of his ride time indoors, competing on RGT Cycling and racing in the Zwift Premier League with NeXT eSport.