Home
Planning some long days in the saddle? With improved comfort and steady handling, the latest sportive bikes are just the job
  • These bikes are tailored for mass-start, non-competitive events: sportives, gran fondos and Audax rides. They’re great for general road riding like club runs and longer commutes too.

  • Sportive bikes are designed to be more comfortable for long rides by cyclists who don’t have pro-level flexibility and team masseurs.

  • A wider and lower gear range than you’ll find on a race bike is almost universal, with compact chainsets standard.

  • There’s room for at least 25mm tyres to improve shock absorption and grip, and many recent sportive bikes will take 28mm tyres.

  • Disc brakes are becoming increasingly common because they offer improved stopping power, and are less affected by rain and wheel misalignment.

Sportive bikes — also known as endurance bikes — are 'softer', more comfortable versions of race-orientated road bikes. They have slightly more relaxed handling, frames tuned to smooth the ride and capacity for wider tyres along with a less stretched-out riding position. They’re ideal for events and long distance rides where the extra comfort is a valuable benefit.

That makes them ideal for British riding conditions. Extra comfort from the frame and larger volume tyres (25mm and up) smooth out rough roads, the longer wheelbase makes them more stable, and the higher handlebar position reduces the strain on your back and neck. Some bikes also have shorter top tubes to bring the handlebars closer to the saddle.

Bianchi Infinito CV Disc - front disc

Bianchi Infinito CV Disc - front disc

One of the big changes occurring on bikes in this category is the rapid adoption of disc brakes. Discs offer increased stopping power, better all-weather performance and lower maintenance. Disc brakes really suit endurance and sportive bikes as these are the sort of bikes likely to encounter a myriad of weather and road conditions, whether in a sportive or if you simply ride year-round. And as these bikes are unlikely to be used in a road race, they don't have to conform to the rules that currently forbid disc brakes on race bikes.

An endurance bike to suit all budgets

As the list below shows, many manufacturers now offer an endurance road bike and many more are adding models to their ranges all the time. Some of the big bike manufacturers have a wide range of endurance machines with the lowest priced here starting from £500 and rising to over £8,000, so there is a bike for everyone.

Giant Defy Advanced SL - head tube

Giant Defy Advanced SL - head tube

At the more affordable end you can expect alloy frames and Shimano Sora giving way to Shimano 105 groupsets and carbon fibre and ever lighter compoents and wheels as you work your way up through the price ranges.

Many frames share key features across price points though so often you’re getting the same comfort enhancing benefits and a degree of upgrade potential too.

What makes an endurance road bike?

In essence, an endurance road bike is very similar to a road race bike, but with geometry, specification and frame materials tuned to make them more comfortable over longer rides and rough roads.

A longer wheelbase is common, both to create space for the wider tyres and also to produce a more stable ride, especially useful over choppy surfaces. Many endurance road bikes also have a taller head tube and shorter top tube to create a more comfortable fit over longer distances. There is no fixed formula though, and details differ between manufacturers. Some offer much taller and short frames while offers opt for longer top tubes with marginally taller head tubes, so you've a wide range of choices.

Rose Xeon Team GF - seat tube

Rose Xeon Team GF - seat tube

Many offer frames designed to provide a smooth ride, through the carbon fibre layup, tube shaping or both. Taking things a step further Specialized and Lapierre incorporate elastomers in their endurance bike frames to help smooth the ride. Trek have taken things further still with the Domane's IsoSpeed decoupler, which makes the back end of the bike 'active' over rough terrain.

All these bikes have space for wider tyres. Most are sold with 25mm tyres as standard, but many will take a 28mm tyre which offers far more cushioning than a 23mm tyre. You can run them at lower pressures and benefit from a smoother ride without sacrificing speed.

Whether you’re planning a daily commute, a sportive or charity event, or just long Sunday rides, an endurance road bike is probably ideal for you. Unless you’re racing, there’s little compromise in choosing an endurance road bike and taking all the benefits they offer.

Because this category is so competitive, there are literally dozens of very good bikes to choose from. The following list includes many bikes we've tested and liked, starting with some recent additions . You can't go wrong with any of them.

Pinnacle Dolomite 4 — £1,100

pinnacle-dolomite-4-2017-road-bike-stealth-black-EV275636-8500-1.jpg

pinnacle-dolomite-4-2017-road-bike-stealth-black-EV275636-8500-1.jpg

The Pinnacle Dolomite 4 is an excellent dal, with hydraulic disc brakes on a road bike at not much over £1,000. It's a pretty likeable machine that could serve as a commuter or winter bike, and rides well enough to be an enjoyable companion for all-day outings.

It ticks the practicality boxes, too, with mudguard and rear rack compatibility, and also has some unexpected modern touches such as internal cable routing.

Read our review of the very similar 2016 Pinnacle Dolomite 5
Find a Pinnacle dealer

Kona Wheelhouse — £1,695

kona wheelhouse 2017.jpg

kona wheelhouse 2017.jpg

The Kona Wheelhouse is a quality steel do-it-all machine, with the latest tech, put together in a package sure to impress. It isn't the fastest, but it's stable and fun. And with dual thru-axles, disc brakes and wide tyre clearance, it has utility written all over it.

With Shimano Tiagra shifters and mechs, FSA chainset and KMC chain, it's a bitser certainly, but it should all still hang together nicely. The only disappointment compared to the 2016 equivalent is that the brakes are cable-actuated not hydraulic. The Roadhouse, meanwhile, has had a major upgrade to a full Ultegra group and fillet-brazed frame.

Read our review of the very similar 2016 Kona Roadhouse
Find a Kona dealer

Verenti Technique Tiagra — £494.98

Verenti Technique Tiagra.jpg

Verenti Technique Tiagra.jpg

The Verenti Technique Tiagra may look like a nineties throwback thanks to its paintjob but the spec list is bang up to date with a hydroformed alloy frameset, tapered headtube, full carbon fibre fork and Shimano's latest Tiagra 4700 groupset. You can even bung full guards on it too and all for under five hundred quid.

Read our review of the Verenti Technique Tiagra

Wilier GTR endurance — £1,849-2,399

Wilier GTR Team Disc.jpg

Wilier GTR Team Disc.jpg

Wilier's four-bike GTR endurance range includes bikes with Shimano's 105 and Ultegra groups, plus one with the Campagnolo Potenza group. Three have rim brakes, but the one of the two 105-equipped bike gets discs, and we were impressed when we tested its 2016 equivalent. It's a quick and smooth endurance bike that offers the assured performance of Shimano's hydraulic disc brakes.

If you want something lighter, the GTR SL bikes are built around a frame that's 200g lighter and start at £2,699.

Read our review of the Wilier GTR Team Disc Ultegra Endurance
Read our review of the Wilier GTR Team Endurance 105
Find a Wilier dealer

Genesis Datum 30 — £2,500

genesis-datum-30-2017-adventure-road-bike-red-black-EV289576-3085-2.jpg

genesis-datum-30-2017-adventure-road-bike-red-black-EV289576-3085-2.jpg

The Genesis Datum joins a class occupied by the brilliant Cannondale Synapse and Giant Defy, but while both those bikes limit tyre size to 28mm – and lack mudguard eyelets – the Datum accommodates 33mm tyres and has mounts for full-length mudguards. Add a beautifully finished carbon fibre frame and fork, a slick shifting Shimano Ultegra drivetrain with hydraulic disc brakes, 32mm Clement Strada USH tyres, and you have a hugely capable bike that is loads of fun over all sorts of terrain. We loved the 2016 version; for 2017 the Datum 30 gets a major price cut thanks to a switch to mechanical Ultegra gears.

Read our review of the 2016 Genesis Datum 30

Find a Genesis dealer

Mango Bikes Point R — £649.99

Mango Point R 1

Mango Point R 1

The Mango Point R is a likeable road bike with really accessible handling and performance regardless of your level of road cycling experience. The great handling, smart looking frame, and most of a Shimano 105 groupset are highlights. For the price it’s an excellent deal, a really fun bike to ride and will suit anyone new to cycling or looking to upgrade from a cheaper first road bike.

Read our review of the Mango Bikes Point R

Eastway Zener D1 Ultegra — £1,350

Eastway Zener.jpg

Eastway Zener.jpg

The D1 is the top-end model in Eastway's Zener endurance range. It looks great on paper, with a carbon fibre frameset, full Shimano Ultegra groupset, hydraulic disc brakes and Mavic wheels, all for £1800, and that positivity is carried through to the road. Under the monochrome paintjob lurks a colourful ride. It’s an excellent value endurance machine with performance intentions: an awesome sportive-cum-club run bike

Read our review of the Eastway Zener D1 Ultegra

Giant Defy & Contend — £525 - £5,999

2017_GIANT_DEFY_ADVANCED_2_BLACK_RED.jpg

2017_GIANT_DEFY_ADVANCED_2_BLACK_RED.jpg

For 2017, Giant has split the previous best-selling Defy line in two. The Defy name continues in three sub-families of carbon fibre-framed bikes, Defy Advanced, Defy Advanced Pro and Defy Advanced SL, all with disc brakes and starting with the Defy Advanced 3 at £1,499. The new Contend range replaces the aluminium-framed Defy bikes of 2016 with a six-bike line-up from the £525 Contend 2 to the Contend SL 1 Disc at £1,149.

Giant offers a large choice for women, in the Avail range, with alloy, composite and carbon versions.

The Defy has lay-up and tube profiles that make it a comfortable and involving bike to ride. Critically, Giant has retained the exact same geometry as the previous Defy, so if you're upgrading from an old Defy to a new model, you'll find the fit and position the same.

All the Defy models share similar frame features, with the D-Fuse seat post (and integrated seat mast on the top models), new top tube and seatstays, all contributing to a smoother ride when the road surface gets rough and bumpy. The frame also features a hugely oversized head tube and bottom bracket to ensure it provides good stiffness for responsive handling.

2017_GIANT_CONTEND_SL_2_DISC.jpg

2017_GIANT_CONTEND_SL_2_DISC.jpg

The Contend models are so new we've not had a chance to ride any of them yet, but the £999 Contend SL 2 Disc stands out as bike with hydraulic disc brakes for a price under the common Cycle To Work Scheme threshold.

Read our review of the 2016 Giant Defy Advanced SL 0
Find a Giant dealer

Cube Agree — £1,799-£3,299

878400_light_zoom.jpg

878400_light_zoom.jpg

In 2016 Cube gave its popular carbon-framed Agree sportive bike range an aero makeover, with some models getting disc brakes too. Disc brake skeptics will be along in a moment to point out that puts you back to square one in aero terms, but at least you'll be able to stop in the square if it's wet. The 2017 range carries on in the same vein, with three disc-braked models and two with rim brakes.

Read more: Cube adds new Agree C:62 SL aero road bike to 2016 range, with a disc brake option

Rose Xeon & X-Lite — £1,331.10 - £4,161.91*

Rose X-LIte.jpg

Rose X-LIte.jpg

German direct-to-consumer brand Rose launched the Xeon Team GF as a brand new bike in 2014, combining a choice of aluminium or carbon fibre frames with 'marathon' geometry, which includes a taller head tube, shorter top tube and longer wheelbase.

Rose's Marathon range now comprises 26 models in aluminium and carbon fiber, with lots of disc-braked options and some of the most keenly-priced bikes with Di2 electronic shifting.

On the rim-braked bikes, Rose have put the rear brake on the chainstays. That allows the seatstays to be exceptionally skinny to provide some vertical deflection. A neat touch is the easy adjustment of the head tube height, as instead of regular spacers, spacers screw directly into the head tube below the upper bearing.

Read our review of the £1733.64 Xeon Team GF-3100

*Note: Rose prices vary with the Euro/Sterling exchange rate

Merida Ride — £524.99 - £2,400

Merida has been offering endurance road bikes for some time. The Ride range encompasses some 18 models starting from just over £500, including women's models, and, of course, includes disc-braked models. The Ride bikes have a shorter top tube and a longer head tube than the Reactos (Merida's race bikes) for a slightly more upright ride position.

The Ride bikes have several features to absorb vibrations and smooth the ride. The seatstays meet the seat tube low down. The flattened chainstays and skinny seatpost contribute a degree of vertical deflection. The top-end model uses flax fibres woven into the carbon to add even more smoothness, while the fork has F-Flex technology, small cut-outs in the lower fork, to damp vibrations.

The Ride range starts at £524.99 for the Ride 88, and tops out at £2,400 for the Ride 7000.

Read our review of the Merida Ride 5000
Find a Merida dealer

Read our review of the Merida Ride Disc 5000

Boardman Road Sport — £450
Boardman Road Team Carbon — £900

Boardman Sport 2016.jpeg

Boardman Sport 2016.jpeg

It's not sold as an endurance bike as such, but the Boardman Sport is a bike that has impressed us hugely. It won the road.cc Budget Bike of the Year 2013-14 and it’s worth including because it has what Boardman call sportive geometry. It’s a bit racier than many of the bikes here, with a longish top tube and short head tube which isn’t mega-tall for the size. It does have space for wider tyres and it comes with 25mm tyres already fitted. The frame does feature curved wishbone seatstays which Boardman claim flex slightly to increase comfort.

It's just had a facelift, but remains fundamentally the same very nice bike, and excellent value.

If it's carbon you're after the Boardman Team Carbon is essentially the Sport, but in carbon and with better wheels and an uprated groupset and for the current price of £799.20 it's a killer deal.

Read our review of the Boardman Sport
Find a Boardman dealer

Cannondale Synapse — £700 - £8,000

Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ultegra Disc

Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ultegra Disc

The Synapse is Cannondale's distance and sportive offering, and it had a major update just a couple of years ago. To provide the necessary smoothness customers demand from such bikes, Cannondale has used a combination of design features — a skinny 25.4mm seatpost, sculpted stays and shock-damping carbon layup — that together produce a buttery smooth ride.

As well as that super skinny seatpost, Cannondale has integrated the seat clamp into the top tube so there is more exposed seat tube to flex. The head tube is 2.5cm taller than the racier SuperSix Evo and the wheelbase is longer, while the reach is about the same as the Evo.

For 2016 Cannondale has expanded its disc-braked Synapse range to ten bikes priced from £849 all the way up to £5,999. The £2,499 Synapse Ultegra Disc won the road.cc Bike of the Year 2014/15 Awards.

Read our review of the Cannondale Synapse Ultegra Disc
Find a Cannondale dealer

Look 765 — £2,549

look-765.jpg

look-765.jpg

The latest incarnation of Look's 765 endurance bikes incudes of flax fibres in the layup of the frameset.

“A layer of linen fibre has been positioned between the carbon thicknesses on the fork and chainstays to encourage the dissipation of vibrations,” says Look.

Read our review of the Look 765

B'Twin Triban 540 — £650

B'Twin Triban 540.jpg

B'Twin Triban 540.jpg

Decathlon’s B’Twin Triban bikes have more relaxed geometry than other models higher up the B'Twin range, placing the bars higher so the should be ideal for racking up the big miles. The 540's frame is made from 6061 aluminium and built with a largely Shimano 105 spec — recently upgraded to 11-speed — which for the asking price is very good value for money.

Read our review of the B'Twin Triban 520
Find a B'Twin stockist

Trek Domane — £1,100 - £10,500

Trek Domane 4.0 Disc.jpeg

Trek Domane 4.0 Disc.jpeg

The bike that Fabian Cancellara has been riding to such success in the past couple of years really needs little introduction — he even prefers to ride it when he's not racing over cobbles. The really clever aspect of the Domane’s approach to smoothing the ride is the IsoSpeed Decoupler, which separates the seat tube from the top tube so it’s free to move back and forth. Trek says this means the Domane has 35mm flex at the back end.

Geometry for the Domane features a shorter top tube than you get on Trek’s standard road bikes and the head tube is taller, and of course there is a longer wheelbase.

Since its launch Trek has expanded the Domane range to include less ex0ensive models with aluminium frames starting with the Domane ALR 4 at £1,100. We tested the £1,200 Domane 2.3 last year. The Isospeed technology is still used but it doesn’t provide quite as much compliance as its carbon sibling. Carbon fibre Domanes start at £1,400 with the Domane S 4.

Trek also offers a range of nine Silque women's bikes which have the Isospeed decoupler but aren't quite "women's Domanes". Rather, the frame's stiffness and weight distribution is tailored to better suit the way a woman's body produces power.

Read our Trek Domane SLR 6 review
Read our Trek Domane 2.3 review
Find a Trek dealer

Canyon Endurace — £799 - £5,099

Canyon Endurance CF 9.0 SL.jpg

Canyon Endurance CF 9.0 SL.jpg

The range of German Internet specialist Canyon includes the Endurace bikes, which offer a more relaxed geometry than the Ultimate and Aeroad race bikes. However, where some sportive bikes have radically tall head tubes, the Canyon approach is more conservative. It's more relaxed compared than the race bikes, but is lower than something like the Specialized Roubaix below.

Offered in aluminium or carbon fibre, Canyon's Endurace VCLS (Vertical Comfort Lateral Stiffness) technology is baked into the fork and seatpost, and it's also used in the carbon frame. Canyon spec each bike with wheels featuring wider rims and tyres, so the 25mm tyres on the bike we tested recently actually measured 27mm across. That bigger volume contributes to the smoother ride.

Read our review of the Canyon Endurace CF 8.0

Specialized Roubaix — £1,900 - £7,500

Roubaix 2017.jpeg

Roubaix 2017.jpeg

Specialized’s Roubaix was one of the first widely-available endurance bikes. It's been through several iterations, and with the latest Specialized has added a front suspension unit with 20mm of travel to the steerer to directly absorb bumps. To look after your bum, there's the CG-R FACT carbon post from the Diverge adventure bike series. The Zertz inserts in the seatstays and fork legs are gone.

 

Specialized doesn't offer a women's version of the Roubaix, but instead has the Ruby platform which shares many of the same features, including the front suspension, and each model is built with women-specific components.

Find a Specialized dealer

BMC roadmachine — £1,649 - £8,799

BMC Roadmachine-02_Ultegra-Di2.jpg

BMC Roadmachine-02_Ultegra-Di2.jpg

For 2017, BMC has refocussed its roadmachine bikes on endurance riding, equipping them with disc brakes and a new frame that has space for up to 30mm tyres.

The roadmachine is available with frames made from one of two grades of carbon fibre, or aluminium. Maximum tyre width is 30mm on the carbon-framed bikes, and 32mm on the aluminium version; you'll have to go down 2mm if you're fitting mudguards. The mid-range carbon roadmachine 02 has hidden mounts for mudguards, while the aluminium roadmachine 03 takes mudguards and a rack.

All the roadmachines have 12mm through-axles front and rear and use the emerging standard 142mm rear spacing. There's a choice of Shimano spec from Tiagra all the way up to Dura-Ace.

One model of BMC's popular granfondo is still available, the GF02, but BMC clearly sees the roadmachine as the future of endurance bikes.

Find a BMC dealer

Scott Solace — £1,749 - £6,599

Scott Solace 15.jpg

Scott Solace 15.jpg

A relatively new bike for Scott, the Solace is claimed to be 42% more comfortable than the CR1 it replaced. Lofty claims aside, the Solace features slender seatstays that fix to the sides of the seat tube in an apparent attempt to better dissipate vibrations, a move enabled by changing the location of the rear brake so it's now underneath the chainstays. The geometry is more relaxed, with a more upright position.

As well as the regular rim brake models, Scott offers several disc-braked Solaces. They largely look similar to the rim-braked models, but have a fork with a bolt-through axle, rather than a 9mm quick release.

Find a Scott dealer

Bianchi Infinito CV — £3,350 - £6,000

Bianchi Infinito CV.jpg

Bianchi Infinito CV.jpg

One of the most interesting endurance road bikes, because it’s packing some of the latest carbon fibre technology to tame vibrations caused by riding over rough surfaces, gravel or cobbles. At the heart of the Infinito CV is a viscoelastic material incorporated into the carbon fibre layup, which Bianchi call CounterVail Vibration Cancelling Composite Technology. Or CV for short. Bianchi reckon this helps the frame to reduce high-frequency vibrations compared to a regular carbon frame, by as much as 75%.

The geometry has also been adjusted with less of the aggressiveness and savagery of their Oltre XR2 race bike. That means a taller head tube, but it’s still shorter than many other bikes in this roundup, and a longer wheelbase of 100.2cm on the 55cm size. Last year Bianchi added the choice of disc brakes. While the frame looks mostly identical, it has gained 70g and the hoses are very neatly routed internally.

Bianchi Intrepida action.jpg

Bianchi Intrepida action.jpg

Another model in the Bianchi range worth considering is the Intrepida. Crucially, it offers the same geometry as the Infinito, but a lower price point due to a vastly different carbon fibre frame, without the fancy CV technology.

Bianchi reveals new Intrepida endurance bike
Read our review of the Bianchi Infinito CV
Read our review of the Bianchi Infinito CV Disc
Read our review of the Bianchi Vertigo
Find a Bianchi dealer

Lapierre Pulsium & Sensium — £1,499 - £2,699

Lapierre Sensium 600.jpg

Lapierre Sensium 600.jpg

Lapierre has completely revamped the Pulsium for 2017 with a clean new carbon fibre frame. The French company says the gentle curves in the top tube and seatstays provide comfort, and has dropped last year's elastomer inserts.

Up front, the carbon layup of the fork is designed to increase the flex capability and the absorption of vibration. The geometry has a 15mm taller head tube than Lapierre's Xelius EFI race bike, 4mm longer chainstays and plenty of tyre clearance for fatter rubber than the stock 25mm.

Read our review of the Pulsium 700
Find a Lapierre dealer

As well as the bikes here, you could also check out the road.cc Sportive Bike of the Year 2016 Award.

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.