Top 10 Road Bikes
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- Things to Consider When Buying a Road Bike
- Best Budget Road Bikes (up to £1000)
- Best Mid-Range Road Bikes (£2000-£4000)
- Ultimate Premium Road Bikes (£££££)
Repeated lockdowns and the subsequent stubborn refusal of Covid-19 to go away have resulted in a real popularity boost for road cycling. Some people turned to it during lockdown as a way to explore the local area during their daily permitted exercise and others have discovered (or rediscovered) it more recently, as offices start reopening for business and commuting on crowded buses and trains seems even less appealing than it ever did.
Things to Consider When Buying a Road Bike
There are a lot of other things to consider when planning to buy a new road bike, including - but not limited to - the following:
- What are you going to use it for? As a general rule speed and performance come at the cost of comfort, because racing riding style puts your head and shoulders much lower, closer to the handlebars. This will help to keep you streamlined if you are chasing faster race times, but doesn’t make for a very comfortable commute or weekend leisure ride. If you are looking for a bike with a more upright seated position, look for bikes with ‘sportive’ or ‘endurance’ in their description.
- Do you want to ride your road bike exclusively on tarmac? A number of road bikes now come with wider tyres and lower gears, allowing you to take them on unsurfaced cycle trails and gravel tracks. Put these things on your checklist if you are keen to explore more varied terrain.
- What size bike do you need? The majority of bikes come in a range of sizes and you need to select the one that feels comfortable and allows you to put both feet flat on the floor when standing over the crossbar. Refer to the size guide for the particular make and model you are interested in, to establish which one will be your best bike fit.
- Do you have the time and skills to care for your bike yourself? As a general rule, the more expensive the bike, the greater number of moving parts and the higher the running cost. If you are not able to look after the bike yourself, factor in the on-going cost of employing a professional to regularly service it.
Whether you are new to road riding or a seasoned cyclist looking to upgrade your bike to something more performance-focused, we want to help you find the right road bike for your specific requirements. One of the most prescriptive aspects of your new bike checklist is likely to be budget, so we have broken our top 10 down by price range to help you navigate to your perfect road bike more quickly. Our focus is on initial outlay price, but buying a bike is the beginning of a partnership between person and machine and you will need to consider the price of replacement parts and how much your bike will cost to service and upgrade in future.
Best Budget Road Bikes (Up to £1000)
If you are a recent convert to the joys of cycling or coming back to it after years off the saddle, it is probably not worth spending thousands on your first bicycle. Bikes at an entry-level price point tend to have a more upright seated position than expensive bikes engineered for serious racing, which many people find a lot more comfortable.
Budget bike retailers keep their costs down by including less carbon fibre in the bike frame and by mixing and matching components (i.e. the brakes and the gears may be made by different manufacturers). The brakes on entry-level road bikes are likely to be rim brakes and although some do feature disc brakes, they will probably be mechanical disc brakes with cable-operated callipers, not the fully hydraulic systems found on more costly cycles. Without further prevarication, here are our top three budget road bikes to help you cycle into 2022 with a smile on your face:
If you are serious about getting into road biking and want change from £1000 from your road bike purchase so you can get a helmet and a bit of new cycling kit too, then Trek’s Domane AL 2 may be just what you need. Featuring an IsoSpeed Carbon fork and 16-speed Shimano drive train, this is an entry-level bike is easy to accessorise and fun to ride, so you won’t outgrow it too quickly.
Easy to customise
Lightweight bike (approx. 9.6kg)
Comfortable endurance bike geometry
Not much to complain about at this price point, though you may want to pay extra to upgrade the rim brakes to disc brakes for greater reliability and efficiency.
Triban RC520 (Disc Brakes) Decathlon - £849.99
Touted as the most comfortable bicycle Decathlon has ever designed, this aluminium-framed touring bike features comfort-oriented geometry, a carbon fork to filter frontal vibrations, ergonomic handlebars and an ErgoFit, hammock design saddle to make riding long distances as comfortable as possible.
Great value for money
Cable operated hydraulic disc brakes as standard
Comes with front and rear lights and bell
Weight (Size M - 10.6kg without pedals)
The relaxed geometry won’t suit racers
Boardman SLR 8.9 Carbon 2021 - £989.99 - £1100
OK, so the upper price bracket for this road bike is over £1000, but the Boardman SLR 8.9 does so well in reviews that we have to include it in the list of the best cheap road bikes. If your budget is tight, it may be worth looking at the 2020 model of this bike, as reviewers rated it even before the upgrades were made for this 2021 version.
The 2021 version of this bike is a bit like gold dust at the moment and getting hold of one may be a matter of getting on a retailer’s waiting list and praying to the bicycle gods. But good things come to those who wait (and if you really can’t wait, you may be able to pick up an older model on Ebay for around £750).
Responding to cyclist feedback, the most recent version of the Boardman SLR 8.9 features an 11-speed Shimano 105 groupset, which offers smoother gear changes. It is also lighter and a more ergonomic design. Cycling Plus asserts that this latest incarnation of the Boardman SLR ‘offers one of the smoothest rides of any bike at this price’. The perfect bike for fitness riding, commuting, training and sportives, we think it’s worth nudging your budget over 1K to enjoy the additional comfort offered by the upgraded features.
Carbon fibre frame and fork
Redesigned saddle and frame make for a comfortable ride
The Tektro brakes aren’t as responsive or efficient as hydraulic disc brakes
Wheels are basic but can easily be upgraded
Best Mid-Range Road Bikes (£2000 - £4000)
If you really do your homework and work out which elements of your road bike you would like to have at top spec and which ones on which you are prepared to compromise on, you should be able to get the high performance you need without the really top end price label. Go to a reputable retailer who really knows their stuff and discuss with them what you need from your new bike. They should know the market well enough to guide you to the most suitable machine for your requirements.
Here are our top 4 mid-range road bikes:
Focus Izalco Max Disc 8.8 2021 - £3,899
If you look longingly at road racing bikes with a £10k+ price tag but cannot justify spending that much money on your next bike, maybe this German-designed racer from Focus is your next bike? At just over 8.5kg it is a bit heavier than its more expensive counterparts, but it benefits from the precision and reliability of Shimano Ultegra shifting and its custom disc brakes ensure safe and reliable braking in even the most British of weather conditions.
Versatile – comfortable enough to ride on day-long adventures as well as on race day
Novatec carbon wheels
Great value for some fantastic premium features, including disc brakes, an aerodynamic frame, race-ready wheels, high-performance stiffness and responsiveness and internally routed cables.
Wheels are not tubeless compatible
The low-slung racing position is not for everyone.
Dolan Titanium ADX Disc - £2799.98
If you are less concerned about time trails and keen to find a bike that will comfortably take you on epic cycling adventures, then the titanium-framed Dolan Titanium ADX Disc bike could be your perfect match. It has a more upright seat position than race orientated road bikes and its titanium frame and relaxed geometry mean you can ride it day after day without getting really uncomfortable.
The price tag
Easy to customise
The stock saddle is basic and you will probably want to upgrade it to something more comfortable.
Ribble have a great range of British-designed endurance road bikes and it is possible to buy the Edurance SL at a lower spec for less than £2000. However, paying the extra few hundred pounds for the Ultegra groupset and disc brakes turn the bike from a reliable, durable, middle-of-the-road mid-range road bike to one worth including in a top 10. If you are looking for a work horse road bike to comfortably take you to work and back every day and step up to look after you on weekend leisure rides and the occasional epic adventure, Ribble has your back.
Customisable build – you can really pick’n’mix with colours and upgraded spec, based on your budget and what is important to you.
Not a thrill-seeking racer’s ideal aero bike
Orro Venturi Evo 105 Carbon Road Bike 2022 - £2199.99
When British brand Orro set out to create this bike they did so with the mission to bring amateur cyclists more speed for less cash. Orro’s premium bike, the Venturi STC, will set you back a lot more than this version but you would be forgiven for thinking that they looked very similar. That’s because they share exactly the same moulds – this version just uses cheaper (but still decent) carbon fibre. This makes it slightly heavier on the road but significantly lighter on the wallet. If you are keen to get into bike racing but don’t want to spend premium racer money, give the Evo 105 a try.
Holds speed like a more expensive model
Steering not the most responsive – this bike is built for speed not agility tests.
The ride position is thoroughly race orientated, which is not to everyone’s liking.
Ultimate Premium Road Bikes (£££££)
At the premium end of the bike market you will find elite “form-follows-function” design and costly materials justifying the high spend. Expect stronger, lighter-weight bicycles made from carbon fibre and accessorised with the best gearing systems and hydraulic disc brakes.
If you favour speed above all else (and have £7,500 to spend on shaving precious seconds from your lap times) then this is the bike for you. Frame, systembar and wheelset work together to offer competition-beating integrated aerodynamics and cutting-edge Ultegra Di2 Shimano gearing and Dura Ace hydraulic disc brakes make this a performance-focused speed machine.
Ascents are easier on this bike than on similar cycles
Faster than other bikes on descents and sprints
Generates the least aerodynamic drag of any road bike on the market
The Giant TCR Advanced SL 0 - £9,999
Voted Bike Radar’s Superbike of 2021, this bike is in its 9th incarnation and is a labour of love and top-level bike racing knowhow. It’s made from 500 individual custom-made pieces of carbon fibre (that’s 120 pieces more than the previous model) expertly strengthened and fused together using Giant’s new carbon-nanotube-infused resin. Finished with a special lightweight paint, this bike weighs in at less than 7kg. If you want a market-leading road racing bike, Giant have pretty much thought of everything and then improved it eight times!
The SRAM Red eTap AXS groupset offers wireless electronic gear shifting and hydraulic disc braking that are easy to operate and can be adjusted using the accompanying app.
Whilst not necessarily negatives, the integrated seat post and exposed brake hoses may not be to everyone’s liking.
You could buy a car for this kind of money, but this is better for the environment!
If you want to be at the forefront of road racing as we head towards 2022, you could pre-order BMC’s latest Teammachine SLR01. This Swiss-made bike has won competitions all over the World, including the Olympics, Monuments, World Championships and the Tour de France and is choc full of market-leading bike tech. It’s very pretty, but not self-indulgently so. Designers at BMC have integrated the frame, fork, stem and handle bars, so there are no unsightly exposed cables. This is not only sleek to look at, it is also makes the bike super aerodynamic to help you achieve those top speeds you are chasing.
Stylish, function-centred aesthetic
Lightweight (approx. 7kg)
The cost is equivalent to half the deposit for a small house (but a terraced former council house in need of renovation looks way less beautiful)
Disclaimer – We have tried our best to include bikes that are in stock in some, if not all available sizes, but the double whammy of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic has increased demand and complicated supply, so we apologise in advance if you find your perfect bike and then end up on a waiting list for it.