10 of the best road bikes under £1,000
We pick some of the best mens and womens road bikes for under £1,000
So you’ve got around a £1,000 to spend on a road bike, but not sure what to look for? We’ve rounded up 10 interesting road bikes for you at a range of prices from £700 up to £1,000 to give you an idea of what you can expect for your money. Just because you've got a thousand pounds to spend that doesn't mean you have to spend it all on the bike go a bit lower and you can get still get a bike and one that will help you stretch your budget to some choice upgrades or some extra kit. It's all about finding the right bike for your riding needs and your riding budget.
If you think your budget might stretch to slightly more than £1,000 check out our guide to road bikes under £1500 - which features bikes from between £1,000 and £1,500. If you're not sure your budget will stretch all the way up to £1,000 check out our guide to road bikes for under £700 which concentrates on machines costing betwen £700 and £500, and for good measure our guide to 2014's hottest bikes between £500 and £900 is alwo worth a look.
Some manufacturers are starting to shy away from the idea of separate men's and women's road bikes and simply offer a standard model. All of the bikes in our roundup will work for women riders, but where a manufacturer does offer a female specific alternative we've included that too.
What can you expect for your money?
In this price range you get a very capable, lightweight and potentially very fast road bike. Whether it’s for getting into road racing, diving in to the world of sportives, riding to work or college, or simply for getting fit at the weekends, these 10 road bikes all offer a high level of performance and should deliver years of cycling enjoyment.
Traditionally bike makers choose one of two tactics when building a bike for a particular price point - use a cheaper frame with a higher spec of componentry, which should deliver a good bike at an eye-catching price, but limits upgrade potential. Or, go for a better quality frame, but down-spec some of the componentry to bring the complete package in under the desired price point on the basis that the buyer can replace parts as they wear out with better quality ones more in keeping with the frame.
Both approaches have their merits it's up to you to decide which one works best for you. Just to complicate things further this isn't a rigid rule, some manufacturers are able to deliver the best of both worlds. Purely online operations and retailer own brands have the advantage of of saving on distribution costs and they often pass that saving on to the customer. Some other big manufacturers also have the benefit of economies of scale when buying components and again will sometimes pass that saving on to make their products more price competitive.
It's all in the frame
As this roundup shows, most - but not all - bikes at this price feature aluminium frames. The latest generation of aluminium bikes offer a fantastic combination of performance and value. It's a cliché because it's true that when it comes to bangs per buck performance you can't beat an aluminium bike. It's a very good material for bike frames, both light and stiff, two very desirable features in a bike frame. Modern aluminium frames are also comfortable too - gone are the days when you would expect a harsh ride from an alu bike.
Look for a frame with double, or triple, butted tubes, as these are lighter and offer slightly better ride performance than non-butted plain gauge tubes.
It is possible to get carbon fibre at this money, and we’ve included two examples. Carbon costs more than aluminium so you will typically sacrifice the quality of the components, with a lower tier groupset, wheels and finishing kit common.
A carbon frame is likely to be lighter and stiffer than aluminium though, and does offer good upgrade potential so you could replace parts as they wear out.
Another point to consider is will you want to to fit mudguards to your bike? Some bikes here will feature concealed mudguard eyelets so you can easily add mudguards, which can be invaluable for winter riding and daily commuting.
Groupset and parts
All the bikes here use groupsets - the collective term for a bike's gears, brakes and controls - mainly or entirely based on components from Japanese company Shimano. Most feature either the cheaper Tiagra or more expensive 105 or a combination of the two.
Shimano 105 is a bit lighter and offers slightly better performance, but Tiagra has been upgraded recently and is very good for the money. You should also expect to see a smattering of parts from Italian component maker FSA - instead of speccing their bikes entirely from Shimano parts many bike manufacuters will look to save a bit of money by going fitting a different crankset - usually an FSA one. That isn't necessarily a negative - FSA components have a very good reputation for quality and performance.
Both Shimano groupsets are 10-speed with most bikes here using a compact (50/34) double ring chainset providing 20 usable gears. A triple chainset is an option on some bikes and provides more low and high gears, useful for climbing.
You can also expect to see some own brand components at this price point - again that isn't necessarily a negative, bike manufacturers fit own brand componentry to their bikes right the way through their price ranges - usually re-badged items from one of the big component manufacturer's ranges.
Own brand wheels and components give way to branded parts the more you spend. As wheels and tyres have a big impact on a bikes performance, look for a bike that doesn’t skimp on these parts.
If you value comfort, then look for a bike with 25mm tyres, rather than 23mm, as they offer a bit more cushioning and are no slower than narrower tyres anyway.
Just under £1,000
Yes okay technically this isn't just below £1,000, but If you can stretch to £999, we reckon you can stretch to the extra quid to put the Hoy Sa Culobra 03 on your list. Like a number of the aluminium bikes here it delivers a level of handling and performance that you’d usually have to pay a lot more to achieve in carbon. It impressed us enough to make it in to our Bike of the Year Top 10.
Designed with input from Sir Chris Hoy the emphasis is on build quality and ride performance - this may be the most expensive bike on our list but it also has a frame that is eminently upgradeable as parts wear out. That’s not to say you don’t get a good kit package from the get go. The Sa Culobra comes with Shimano 105 gear mechs and shifter, Shimano RS10 wheels with 25mm Continental Ultrasport tyres, brakes are Tektro RS40s - the rest of the finishing kit is Hoy branded and good quality. Read our review of the Hoy Sa Culobra 03 here.
Buy it here
When it comes to bange per buck, it definitely pays to see what former Olympic champions have in their bike ranges at this price point. Boardman offer exceptional value for money in the shape of the Road Team Carbon, featuring a full carbon fibre frame and fork. The main benefit of the carbon frame over aluminium alternatives here is the lower weight, and that’s something you’ll notice on the hills.
Boardman still manage to fit a mix of Shimano 105 and Tiagra onto the frame which is impressive. 25mm Continental Ultra Sport II tyres are fitted to Mavic CXP22 wheels, brake calipers are Tektro R540 and Boardman’s own brand E4P bars, stem, post and saddle. So while there are some obvious downgrades to account for the more expensive carbon frame, it still stacks up well on paper, and if anything offers good upgrade potential.
Find out more here
One of the new breed of disc braked road bikes, which truly is a performance road bike with disc brakes rather than a re-engineered hybrid or cyclocross bike. If you want a bike for getting from a to b quickly all year round, and that can cope with whatever the British roads and weather can throw at it this could be for you. We were very impressed when we reviewed it earlier this year.
At it's heart is a well designed, well put together aluminum frame with lots of nicely detailed touches - you can easily fit mudguards (always a plus) and the ride and handling is right up there with the best of the new breed of aluminium road bikes. Shimano's Tiagra groupset provides most of the drivetrain plus the controls, the brakes are Pro Max mechanical discs and wheels are Alex Rims with 28mm Maxxis Detonator tyres. It's definitely a frame that would repay the investment in upgraded componentry as parts wore out.
Buy it here
Cannondale is a company with lots of experience making aluminium frames, not so long ago this CAAD8 aluminium frame was used in professional road racing, before the advent of carbon fibre. That means you’re getting a very well designed frameset for the money and some good racing heritage.
That high quality frame impacts the build kit, with only a Shimano Tiagra 4600 10-speed groupset, with an FSA Omega 50/34 chainset fitted into the oversized BB30 bottom bracket - the only bike here to feature this oversize standard. Maddux rims on Formula hubs with Schwalbe Lugano 23mm tyres make the wheelset, and Cannondale’s C4 handlebars, stem, seatpost and saddle finish the package.
Buy it here
Another British designed bike, the Volant 20 uses a combination of 6061 and 6069 triple butted aluminium tubes along with a huge 44mm diameter head tube to create a road bike that is stiff and fast, making it ideal for anyone looking to get into road racing. This is definitely a bike that can hold its head high in any race.
A Shimano Tiagra 4600 groupset with a compact 50/34 chainset gives loads of climbing gears so even the steepest climbs will be no obstacle. Meanwhile 25mm wide Continental Ultra Sport tyres provide extra cushioning without impacting the speed, and Genesis branded parts complete what looks like a very tidy package.
Buy it here
The Cube Peloton Pro is one of the few bikes here with a triple chainset (three front chainrings) offering 30 usable gears, and that can come in very handy for getting up steep hills and mountains. A stylish aluminium frame with double butted tubes and internal cable routing is available in seven sizes and uses a carbon fibre fork.
A mixed Shimano 105 and Tiagra groupset with Fulcrum Racing 7 wheels and 25mm Schwalbe Lugano tyres complete an impressive build.
Buy it here
The Axial WLS is Cube's female equivalent of the Peloton Pro - it is second in a range of Axial models with a list price of £899. And the big difference between it and the Peloton Pro? Well, it's got a different paint job and saddle, and shorter cranks - 170mm as opposed to 175mm. In every other respect, including geomotry it would appear to be identical - oh except that on quoted weight the Axial is lighter, but that may be because Cube are quoting the weight for the smalles size and the Axial WLS Pro starts at a 47cm frame size as opposed to the Peloton Pro's 50cm. Those shorter cranks mean that smaller men are probably better off on the Axial WLS than the Peloton Pro.
Buy it here
German online retailer, by not selling bikes in shops in the traditional way, pass on some pretty good savings to the customer if you’re prepared to shop online.
This attractive £846 Pro SL-2000 offers a triple butted 7005 aluminium frame and carbon fibre fork with a Shimano 105 10-speed groupset, making it a better appointed bike than similarly priced bikes in this roundup. An FSA Omega compact chainset provides a usable low range spread of gears, and the Mavic Aksium wheels and tyres are a fast and responsive wheelset.
Find out more here
The Rose Pro WSL 200 is the women specific version of the Pro SL - again although it's a women's specific bike it may well suit a lot of men. It comes in four sizes compared to the Pro SL 2000's eight, and there are some differences in both the finishing kit - it has narrower Fizik bars, and a women's specific saddle, and the geometry - the Pro WSL has a 1cm shorter wheelbase and slightly steeper geometry at the head and set tubes (the tubes are just that bit more upgright than the Pro SL 2000 - which should make for a slightly nippier, faster handling bike.
Giant offer the Defy, their endurance-orientated road bike, at a variety of prices from just £499 up to £1,199. This model uses an Aluxx aluminium frameset, available in five sizes, and featuring a carbon fork. A Shimano Tiagra groupset with a compact chainset (50/34) and a massive 12-30 cassette should see you up your local hills just fine.
Meanwhile Giant branded S-Elite C wheels with front and rear specific tyres in a 25mm width provide a good level of kit for the money.
Buy it here
Giant's female equivalent of the Defy 2 is the Avail 2 - with a frame made from the same Aluxx aluminium and with the same componentry - bar the women's specific saddle and handlebars. The big difference is in the frame geometry which has a slightly taller headtube, longer wheelbase and and slightly steeper head and seat angles. That should add up to a slightly more upright, riding position and quick but stable handling.
Buy it here
You get a smartly finished aluminium frame, with double butted tubes to save weight, finished with smooth welds and a carbon fibre fork on the Allez Sport, traditionally Specialzied's Allez in its various builds is one of the bikes that acts as a benchmark for mchines under £1,000.
Gears are Shimano Sora with a 9-speed cassette with a 12-27 ratio combining with the compact 50/34 chainset to provide plenty of low gears for getting up the hills. Specialized use an AXIS Classic wheelset with their own Espoir tyres in 25mm width providing extra comfort.
Buy it here
The Dolce Sport EQ X3 is Specialized's female equivalent of the Allez Sport C2 - although it doesn't map directly across in that it is designed as a more of an all rounder whereas the Allez definitely has racing in its DNA.
Like the Allez C2 it is part of a range of Dolce bikes. It shares the same wheels and groupset as the Allez C2 - except the Shimano Sora drivetrain has a triple rather than double chainset at the front - adding an extra 10 gears and more climbing capability and the cranks are shorter too. Like the Allez C2 is made from Specialized A1 aluminium - unlike the Allez though the Dolce's frame has Specialized Zertz inserts. Whether it's the inserts themselves or the holes in the frame in which they fit that bestow the extra comfort - the end result say Specialzied is a more cushioned ride. They also add £120 to the price tag, although you do also get two colour co-ordinated bottle cages and a seat pack as part of the deal.
The other major difference is the frame geometry - a 54cm Dolce has a shorter seat tube and top tube compared to the equivalent sized Allez but a taller headtube for a slightly more upright riding position plua a longer wheelbase for a more stable ride. These differences reflect not just the fact that is is designed for women, but also that it's designed as a road bike to do everything on.
Buy it here
Bonus under £700 bike
While most of the bikes here use aluminium frames, British company Ribble offer a carbon fibre frame and fork for a staggering £699, making it on paper appear a well priced package. It’s a summer special edition so availability is limited.
On top of that you get a Shimano Tiagra 10-speed groupset with Fulcrum sport wheels, Vittoria Rubino 23mm tyres and a high quality Selle Italia SL saddle and Deda Elementi handlebars and stem, signs that there have been few shortcuts in speccing the bike.
Find out more here
Buying your first road bike?
Our in-depth guide is packed with useful advice to steer you towards choosing the right bike for you, with information on frame materials, components, wheels, groupsets, sizing and fit. Read it here.