So you’ve set your heart on a carbon fibre road bike, but you’ve got a budget of £1,000? You’re in luck, as huge advances in carbon fibre manufacturing and the economies of scale have meant that carbon road bikes are now far more affordable than they were just 5 or 10 years ago.
Most bikes at this price normally feature aluminium frames. That’s because it costs less to make a frame out of aluminium than carbon fibre. There’s nothing wrong with aluminium, we’re fans of the material especially with the advances that have been made recently.
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.
Recent rises in the prices of anything purchased by suppliers in dollars (which is basically everything in the bike industry) has pushed up the price of even the best bargains in carbon bikes, but there are still a few out there.
Boardman has just announced a new range of bikes, and this is the sweet spot model: a new full-carbon frame and fork, a Shimano Tiagra groupset except for the brakes and tubeless-ready wheels. As you'd expect from Boardman, it's great value and it's versatile too: there are mudguard mounts so you can keep dry when it gets a bit damp.
One of the most highly-regarded sportive bikes out there, the Synapse boasts a refined carbon fibre frame that combines speed and comfort in a way very few bikes can rival. Evans has just lopped £300 off the price of this Tiagra-equipped version, bringing it into our scope here, and also well into the category of bargain.
Chain Reaction Cycles has several models of Eastway bike on special at the moment, including this racy disc-braked endurance bike, reduced from its usual £1,500. There's a high-quality frame under that red paint, so it would be worth grabbing this bike at its bargain price and upgrading the parts as they wear out. We'd start with the brakes: upgrade them to hydraulics from the fitted cable discs.
Like the Zener D3, above, the Emitter has a high-quality carbon fibre frame that offers good upgrade potential, though a spec of Shimano 105 and Mavic wheels is pretty damn good to start with at this price.
For a – relatively speaking – piffling £1,000, the Dolan L'Etape 105 is a full carbon fibre road bike with a full Shimano 105 groupset that offers excellent road manners and sporty handling. If you really crave a carbon fibre bike but don't want to spend a fortune, this is one of the best affordable carbon bikes you are likely to find anywhere.
With a spec that's mostly Shimano 105 and Raleigh's very good all-carbon frame and fork, this 2015/6 model is a bargain at this price, and we don't expect they'll last long.
The Planet X Pro Carbon just shouts value for money, with Shimano Sora or Tiagra components or SRAM Rival, all attached to a very smart looking frame. The company has designed the geometry of the frame to provide a happy balance between aggressive and endurance, which means it should flit quite happily between road racing and sportive conquering.
Pick a Shimano Tiagra groupset and the cheapest wheels and stem on Ribble's bike builder and you can put together Ribble's all-carbon endurance bike for just under four figures, but it's worth keeping an eye on Ribble's site for specials with a better spec. Either way, this is a well-liked frame that's worth upgrading when budget allows.
A full carbon frame and fork and most of a Shimano 105 groupset mean this this black-and-yellow offering from Go Outdoors is a startlingly good deal, with Shimano RS11 wheels, Continental tyres and Ritchey finishing kit with Selle Royal Seta saddle. There's also a version with Shimano's 9-speed Sora groupset for just £800.
There's a new range from Boardman Bikes, which means the older models can be had at very good prices. Halfords has small, medium and extra-large sizes of the Road Team carbon. There’s no doubting its performance, but the frame is versatile, with eyelets for mudguards making it a dependable winter and commuting choice.
Usually £1,400, this own-brand ride from Merlin Cycles looks like a staggering bargain with its full Shimano 105 groupset and Fulcrum wheels. It's clearly being discounted to make way for 2018 bikes, but Merlin still have all four sizes (XS to L) in stock.
The aim of road.cc buyer's guides is to give you the most, authoritative, objective and up-to-date buying advice. We continuously update and republish our guides, checking prices, availability and looking for the best deals.
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As far as possible that means recommending equipment that we have actually reviewed, but we also include products that are popular, highly-regarded benchmarks in their categories.
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.