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Got your heart set on a carbon fibre road bike? You don't have to spend a fortune

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.

Read more: Great road bikes for under £1,000

Boardman SLR 8.9c — £1,000

2018 boardman slr 8.9c

2018 boardman slr 8.9c

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.

Cannondale Synapse Carbon Tiagra — £999

2018_cannondale_synapse_carbon_tiagra.jpg

2018_cannondale_synapse_carbon_tiagra.jpg

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.

Eastway Zener D3 Tiagra — £849.99

Eastway Zener D3 Tiagra.jpg

Eastway Zener D3 Tiagra.jpg

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.

Read our review of the Eastway Zener D1

Eastway Emitter R3 105 — £894.99 (limited sizes)

Eastway Emitter R3 105.jpg

Eastway Emitter R3 105.jpg

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.

Dolan L'Etape 105 — £999.99

Dolan l_etape-blue-orange.jpg

Dolan l_etape-blue-orange.jpg

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.

Read our review of the Dolan L'Etape 105

Raleigh Criterium Comp Carbon 2016 — £1,000

Raleigh-Criterium-Comp-2016-Road-Bike-Road-Bikes-Silver-Clearance-RCRC54TI.jpg

Raleigh-Criterium-Comp-2016-Road-Bike-Road-Bikes-Silver-Clearance-RCRC54TI.jpg

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.

Planet X Pro Carbon — from £799.99

Planet X Pro Carbon Tiagra.jpg

Planet X Pro Carbon Tiagra.jpg

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.

Ribble Sportive Racing — from £999

Ribble Sportive Racing.jpg

Ribble Sportive Racing.jpg

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.

Calibre Nibiru 2.0 — £1,000

Calibre Nibiru 2.0.jpg

Calibre Nibiru 2.0.jpg

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.

Boardman Road Team Carbon — £800 (limited sizes)

Boardman Road Team Carbon 2017.jpeg

Boardman Road Team Carbon 2017.jpeg

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.

Merlin Fuse 105 — £1,000

25564_merlin_fuse_105_road_bike_2017.jpg

25564_merlin_fuse_105_road_bike_2017.jpg

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.

About road.cc Buyer's Guides

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.

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Road.cc buyer's guides are maintained and updated by John Stevenson. Email John with comments, corrections or queries.

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.

7 comments

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ChrisB200SX [721 posts] 1 year ago
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Calibre Nibiru 1.0 is £799.99, Sora equipped and obviously heavier. 99% sure it's exactly the same frame as my MEKK Poggio 1.6

Plenty of other carbon bikes below £1000 when discounted, always worth shopping around.

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ChrisB200SX [721 posts] 11 months ago
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Planet X Pro Carbon goes all the way down to Sora now, pretty cheap for a carbon bike.

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JD84 [1 post] 10 months ago
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DeltaFoxtrot [1 post] 10 months ago
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The Planet X Pro Carbon actually comes with Vision Team 35 wheels, as in the photo.

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technone [9 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

I've got a Ribble Sportive Racing with a 105 set and slightly deep section wheels. I got it on discount so it was only 1100 quid. It was on discount so I couldn't customise it, which is a bummer because I'm stuck with a 12-25 cassette and a 39-53 chainring set until they wear out or I shell out early. Yeesh. The Team 35 Comp wheels look crazy cool in the photo with a black semi-deep section but what you'll learn about aluminum wheels is the different colour finish on the braking surface won't last more than a couple 50km rides. The freehub body is also a massive bish to get to.

I'm about 800km in and there's some issues with the rear dropout. I almost rounded off a bolt trying to see what was wrong with it, the damn things look seized and rusted. Taking it to a bike shop and having them replace it and the screws under warranty should end up being pretty cheap.

Keep in mind that the bike does not support higher than 25mm tyres, which is what's going to eventually lead me to getting a whole other bike a few years down the road. If you're buying a cheap carbon bike just to bling it up with higher spec stuff as you go along (ie just the frame but rideable), look at something that can do 28mm. Looks like a lot of these bikes have the same problem.

Look up the tyres the bike comes with online, see if they have any puncture resistance. If they don't advertise any puncture resistance at all, steer clear or account a pair of puncture resistant tyres into the price. I'm not talking about GatorSkins here, even the Conti 4000SII have puncture resistance. The UltraSports tyres have no puncture resistance at all. That was a good lesson to get when it comes to how effective even a little puncture resistance is. I ended up getting 3 Conti GrandPrix 4-seasons because I slashed a tyre sidewall on a rock with about 200km in the new tyres .

Knowing why you'd get a cheap carbon bike is essential. If you'll be racing it, the extra stiffness does not outweigh the extra weight from the worse groupset. If you'll be training or just riding on it, learn how to replace parts yourself so that upgrades are cheaper. 

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JumpingJalapeno [5 posts] 1 month ago
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One of the issues I'm finding with getting a Sale bike on CTW is the retailers seem to add 10-20% which then makes them fall outside the £1000 mark. 

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peted76 [1081 posts] 1 month ago
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JumpingJalapeno wrote:

One of the issues I'm finding with getting a Sale bike on CTW is the retailers seem to add 10-20% which then makes them fall outside the £1000 mark. 

Although C2W is an amazing deal for consumers, it's not so great for shops who have to wait quite a while to get paid and have pay admin for the privilege also.. which is why you didn't used to see many 'sale bikes' on C2W schemes, or as you say, the price rises by £100, which I'm told is about what it costs a shop or rather what they 'lose' on a sale.