Previously we’ve looked at the best bikes costing under £500, now it is time to have a close look at the bikes you can buy for between £500 and £750, and see what spending a couple of hundred pounds more really gets you. You can generally expect lighter frames, carbon fibre forks and higher quality components.
At this price range you an expect lighter aluminium frames with double and triple butted tubes - saving weight and offering improved ride performance - and carbon fibre forks (but with aluminium steerer tubes) again to save a bit of weight. Many of these frames feature a 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.
Shimano is the predominant groupset brand with Claris and Sora common on bikes costing between £500 and £750. Most bikes will feature compact chainsets - that's two chainrings in 50 and 34-tooth ratios - that should make spinning up even the steepest hills a little easier. Some bikes even have triple chainsets - three chainrings between the pedals - that will make climbing anything much easier. Shimano's excellent Tiagra groupset starts to get a look in the closer you nudge to £750 and you might just find .
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.
At the time of writing (early October 2016) 2017 bikes are arriving in the shops, but there are plenty of great deals around on 2015 bikes, so our selection contains both.
The Point R from British brand Mango Bikes offers a smooth looking aluminium frame with internal cable routing and a carbon fork. It's available at four prices, starting from £549 and rising to £879.
The Point R has a splendid looking frame. It's made from 6061 aluminium with a shapely down tube and top tube which both combine to give the bike a sporty appearance, with the down tube flaring into a tapered head tube. The majority of the welds are smooth, giving the appearance of a more expensive carbon frame when viewed from a distance.
It's a fun bike to ride. The colourful paint job certainly helps (other colours are available) but there's just something inherently playful about the Point R. It's not a racing bike, it's not pretending to be, but it doesn't lack in performance if you're really starting to get into cycling in a big way and want a bike that can match your ambition.
The Avail 1 is second up in Giant women's range, known as Liv. It uses Giant’s ALUXX aluminium with a shape and size designed to be comfortable to ride whether it’s for longer adventures, sportives or commuting to the office. It’s available in four sizes down to XS. It’s equipped with a Shimano Sora 18-speed groupset and Tektro brakes.
Drawing on frame design features from the more expensive Allez models in the range, the Allez Sport is built around an E5 Premium aluminium frame with smooth welds and carbon fibre fork with a Shimano Sora groupset. Comfort is taken care of with 25mm Specialized Espoir Sport tyres with a double BlackBelt puncture protection, which should help ward off flat tyres. There are mounts for mudguards so it would make an ideal weekday commuter, and strip them off for the Sunday morning ride.
Ribble always gets a good mention in any buyer's guide about affordable road bikes, so here's the 7005 Winter. 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 the deservedly popular base spec and price of the 7005 Winter.
The 7005 aluminium race frame comes with a carbon fiber fork and is hung with a Shimano Sora 9-speed groupset. Just £40 more gets you Shimano's Tiagra group, while the 105-equipped bike is still amazing value at £710. The wheels are Rodi Airline Evo Clinchers with Yaw Nitro tyres, there's an ITM bar and stem and Selle Italia X1 Flow saddle.
Giant do a large range of bikes for men and women. In the men’s range the Contend 2 is the most affordable model. It has an aluminium frame with a carbon fibre fork, a Shimano Claris 16-speed drivetrain and comfortable 25mm tyres. There are also mounts for mudguards if you want to add some rain protection for winter riding.
The Synapse was completely redesigned a couple of years ago to make it an even more comfortable bike, and the carbon version has been raced successfully in races like Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders. Racing aside, all that engineering is condensed into this aluminium model with SAVE Plus tube profiles and carbon fork legs to increase comfort, along with the skinniest seatpost - 25.4mm - of any bike here. It's intended to increase comfort. The frame is topped off with a Shimano Clasis groupset and 25mm Schwalbe Lugano tyres.
Cannondale also offer the Synapse for women. The Cannondale Synapse Al Clasris Women's also costs £700 and uses a similar aluminium frame and carbon fork with many of the same design features intended to improve comfort, and with a geometry aimed at people who value comfort for longer rides.
If you've been thinking about dabbling in cyclo-cross, or just getting a cyclo-cross bike for its ability to take fatter tyres and so ward off the depredations of potholed roads, here's a great chance. Chris Boardman says the cyclo-cross bikes are his favourites from his range and with Shimano Sora components and Tektro Lyra disc brakes the CX Comp is well priced.
Bike shop own brands are a great source of amazingly well-equipped bikes that don't cost much money. The wizards at Merlin Cycles have come up with this great-value combination of a triple butted aluminium frame and Shimano 105 11-speed gears, rolling on well-regarded Fulcrum Racing 7 LG Wide wheels and Continental tyres. For the price, it's magic. [That's enough bad gags riffing on 'Merlin' — Ed.]
Decathlon’s B’Twin line of road bikes receive much attention at the budget end, with the cheaper Triban a hugely popular model, but if you have a budget of £650, the Triban 540 is a very good proposition. With an aluminium frame and carbon fibre fork and largely 11-speed Shimano 105 specification, it’s a bit of a bargain. The frame features triple butted tubes, to save weight, and a relaxed geometry that places the handlebars a bit higher and closer to you so it’s more comfortable, ideal for riding to work or embarking on some sportives. It's a really good bike,one of the best specced in this guide, for not a lot of money.
The 2017 Verenti Technique Tiagra has a sharper look than the 2016 version thanks to a new paint job, and the spec list is very good for the money with a hydroformed alloy frameset, tapered headtube, full carbon fibre fork and Shimano's Tiagra 4700 groupset. You can even bung full guards on it, so you won't get as wet when it rains.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.