10 of the best £500 to £750 road bikes
We pick some bargain bikes from Trek, B'Twin, Boardman, Ribble, Giant, Specialized, Mekk, Cube, Cannondale and Genesis
Road bikes in this price category will share many common features, and one of the main ones is an alloy frame. Aluminium is an excellent material for bicycles in that it’s relatively cheap and it’s very light and stiff, and most modern alloy frames offer a very good ride. Many of these frames feature geometry that places the handlebars a little higher than a race bike along with a shorter top tube which can make them more comfortable, especially if you’re new to road cycling.
Japanese firm Shimano is the predominant component choice and we see mostly 2300 and Claris groupsets at the more affordable end, and the closer you get to £750 the more you can expect to see Sora. Tiagra, one peg above Sora, might feature on some bikes in this price bracket. Compact chainsets with two chainrings (50/34-tooth) are most popular but some of these bikes do a have a triples (three chainrings) that are useful if you want some really low gears for getting up the hills.
Expect own-brand wheels, tyres, handlebars, stem and saddles on most of these bikes as manufacturers aim to keep the bikes within budget. Most own-brand components are of an excellent quality these days as most brands have really raised the standard over the past 10 years. That means you’re getting really well finished bikes ready to ride and race from the shop.
If this is your first road bike and you want some more useful advice for buying your first road bike, then make sure you have a read of the road.cc Buying Basics: Buying your first road bike guide. It’ll arm you with all the important advice you need to know before making a decision.
Boardman Road Sport £499.99
A good place to start is the bike we featured as the most expensive in our £140-500 buyer's guide, the Boardman Road Sport. We've been so impressed with the performance and value of this bike that it won our Budget Bike of the Year 2013-14 and came third in the overall Bike of the Year Awards. The Road Sport gets a smartly finished 7005 double-butted aluminium frame and it's well appointed with a Shimano 2300 groupset and FSA Tempo compact chainset.
Ribble 7005 Race £579.95
Ribble always get a good mention in any buyer's guide about affordable road bikes, so here's the 7005 Race. Instead of lots of stock models, the Ribble website features a bike builder that lets you specify your own build, from the groupset and wheels down to details like the handlebar and even the headset spacers. This is a their cheapest build on a 7005 aluminium race frame, with a Shimano Tiagra 4600 groupset, Rodi Airline 4 wheels and Yaw Nitro 23mm tyres, ITM bars and stem and a Selle Italia X1 saddle.
B'Twin Triban 7 £599.99
Decathlon's own-brand B'Twin generally offers great value for money and this Triban 7 is no exception. You get an aluminium frame with carbon-fibre seatstays, the only bike here that does, along with a carbon-fibre fork. It's one of the better specced bikes on paper in this list with Shimano's Tiagra groupset, featuring a compact 50/34 chainset and 12-27 cassette. It's finished with B'Twin branded wheels fitted with Hutchinson Equinox tyres, and the handlebars, stem, seatpost and saddle are all from the B'Twin stable too.
The Specialized Dolce X3 women’s specific road bike uses the company’s A1 Premium alloy tubeset with a FACT carbon fork featuring Zertz inserts, which are claimed to provide a vibration absorption when bumping over rough roads. It’s built with a Shimano Claris groupset with a triple chainset and Tektro dual pivot brakes. It’s finished with shallow bend handlebars and a Body Geometry Riva Sport, and rolls on Specialized Espoir Sport 25mm tyres fitted to AXIS Classic wheels.
Giant Defy 3 £699.99
The Giant Defy range consists of road bikes designed with comfort in mind and features a geometry tailored towards a short reach and higher handlebar position. This model gets an ALUXX-Grade aluminium frame paired with a carbon fork and is available in six sizes. The groupset is Shimano Sora with Tektro TK-R312 brakes and a compact 50/34 chainset. All the finishing parts are Giant Sport branded, and it’s fitted with a pair of Giant S-Elite C wheels and 25mm Giant S-R4 tyres.
Mekk Pinerolo AL 1.0 £699.99
Mekk are relatively new to the market but they’ve made quite an impact with well-designed road bikes at affordable prices, and the Pinerolo AL 1.0 is a bike that looks to deliver a good package. It’s built around an alloy frame, but where Mekk differ from many brands is that they’ve invested in a very high quality frame, this one uses triple butted seamless tubes. This gives it good upgrade potential. It’s built a carbon fibre fork, Shimano Sora 9-speed groupset and Mekk chainset, Shimano R500 wheels and Vittoria Zaffiro 23mm tyres.
You can read our review of the Pinerolo AL 1.0 here.
Cube Peloton £699.99
German brand Cube have risen to prominence in the UK in recent years with well designed and good value road bikes. Their entry-level road bike is the Peloton, which builds a Shimano Sora 24-speed groupset onto an aluminium frame with double butted tubes and internal cable routing. It’s available in seven sizes right from 50cm all the way up to 64cm. It’s finished with Cube’s own wheels and 25mm Schwalbe Lugano tyres which will offer a bit more comfort over 23mm tyres.
The Synapse is Cannondale’s latest ‘endurance’ road bike, designed for comfort whether you’ve got a sportive or charity ride in your sights, or just for long Sunday rides. The 6061 alloy frame features Cannondale’s SAVE PLUS technology borrowed from the carbon fibre versions: profiled seatstays, chainstays and a fork that are all intended to offer a little extra comfort when riding over rough roads. It is also higher than normal at the front with a taller head tube and has a shorter top tube, meaning you won’t be so stretched out for a more comfortable fit. It’s built with a Shimano Sora groupset, Cannondale’s own C4 wheels and handlebars and saddle, with Tektro brakes. The frame also has mounts for mudguards and racks giving it added versatility.
Genesis Volant 10 £749.99
British brand Genesis have a fine reputation for steel race and touring bikes, but you might like to know they also do some nice alloy road bikes too. This is the Volant 10 which has a ALX-8 6061/6069 triple butted frame and an oversize 44mm head tube to increase front end stiffness - that’s something we’re only used to seeing on much more expensive road bikes. It has a carbon-fibre fork and is built with a Shimano Sora groupset with a compact 50/34 chainset and Claris 2400 wheels with Continental Ultra Sport II 25mm tyres and is topped off with Genesis 0.2 handlebars, stem, seatpost and a Madison Prime saddle.
Trek 1.2 £750
This is Trek’s entry-level road bike which shares some of the aero tube shaping of the far more expensive carbon fibre Madone that the Trek Factory Team races in the WorldTour, but in an Alpha Aluminum 100 series tubeset. The H2 fit features a taller head tube to put you in a more relaxed position so you don’t put as much strain on your back. Hidden rack and mudguard mounts mean you can use the bike for commuting as well as tackling a sportive. A Shimano Sora and FSA Vero groupset, Bontrager wheels and 23mm tyres and finishing kit complete the Trek 1.2.