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There are plenty of excellent bikes for under a grand — here's how to choose the right one

[This article was last updated on November 28, 2017]

  • The most common credit limit on Cycle To Work Scheme purchases makes this a very popular and competitive price point

  • You've a big variety of bike styles to chose from, ranging from entry-level race bikes to gravel bikes, touring bikes and high-end hybrids; we're looking at drop-bar bikes here

  • Narrow your options by coming up with a list of features you want: mudguard clearance, disc brakes, rack mounts and so on.

  • Women are well-served too; there are some excellent women-specific bikes at this price

So you’ve got around £1,000 to spend on a road bike, but not sure what to look for? We’ve rounded up a selection of interesting road bikes for you at a range of prices from £680 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.

triban 540.jpg

triban 540.jpg

If your budget won't stretch this high, then have a look at our best bikes at £500 roundup or our guide to bikes costing under £750. Want to spend a bit more? We've got that covered too, with our guide to road bikes under £1500.

Women's bikes

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 round-up will work for women riders, perhaps with a change of saddle, 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 road bikes all offer a high level of performance and should deliver years of cycling enjoyment.

Hoy Sa Calobra - seat tube junction

Hoy Sa Calobra - seat tube junction

Traditionally bike makers choose one of two tactics when building a bike for a particular price point. Some use a cheaper frame with better components, which should deliver a good bike at an eye-catching price, but limits upgrade potential. Others go for a better quality frame, but down-spec some of the components 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 on-line 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 round-up 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 aluminium 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. Most bikes here feature weight saving and vibration-reducing carbon fibre forks.

It is possible to get carbon fibre at this money. 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.

cannondale supersix evo 105 5-002

cannondale supersix evo 105 5-002

Shimano 105 is a bit lighter and offers slightly better performance, but Tiagra has been upgraded recently and is very good for the money. However, 105 has become quite rare on bikes designated model year 2017 because the pound has dropped against the US dollar since the EU referendum vote, and bikes are paid for in dollars.

You should also expect to see a smattering of parts from Italian/Taiwanese component maker FSA. Instead of speccing their bikes entirely from Shimano parts many bike manufacturers will look to save a bit of money by 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.

One difference between Tiagra and 105 is that Tiagra is 10-speed, 105 11-speed. That means you get one more rear sprocket with 105, giving you closer gaps between gears for more consistent pedalling.

Most bikes here use a compact (50/34) double ring chainset providing 20 gears with Tiagra, 22 with 105. A triple chainset is an option on some bikes and provides more low and high gears, useful for climbing.

Disc brakes are now very common in this price range. They provide better stopping in the wet, and make it much easier for a frame to accommodate tyres fatter than 25mm. They also mean the braking is unaffected by the rim being a bit out of true, and you never need worry about your rims wearing out.

Hoy Sa Calobra - bars 2

Hoy Sa Calobra - bars 2

You can also expect to see some own brand components in this price range. Again that isn't necessarily a negative. Bike manufacturers fit own brand components to their bikes right the way through their price ranges and they're often just as good as name-brand parts from third-party manufacturers.

Own brand wheels and components give way to branded parts the more you spend. As wheels and tyres have a big impact on a bike's performance, look for a bike that doesn’t skimp on these parts.

If you value comfort, then look for a bike with 25mm tyres, or even bigger, rather than 23mm, as they offer a bit more cushioning and are no slower than narrower tyres anyway.

At this time of year dealers often dramatically reduce prices on 'current' models to make way for the following year's bikes, and those bikes start to creep into the shops. We've identified a couple of bikes we think are major bargains and picked out some of the most interesting bikes of the 2018 model year.

Recommended bikes

Vitus Bikes Zenium SL Disc 105 2017 — £1,000

Vitus Zenium SL Disc.jpg

Vitus Zenium SL Disc.jpg

Vitus Bikes has kicked another goal with the Zenium SL, a fast endurance bike with the superior stopping power of disc brakes, a fun and fast frame and an excellent-value spec.

The Zenium's ride will make you smile. It's a big orange bundle of fun that's quick on the flat, grin-inducingly swoopy on twisty descents, and civilised on climbs. You don't expect an almost-9kg bike to fly up hills, but the Zenium doesn't feel sluggish climbing, just calm and measured, and it's plenty stiff too.

It's quick without being harsh or hairy, and rolls beautifully on its Michelin Pro 4 Service Course tyres. Until they were replaced by the Power Competition model, these were Michelin's top high-performance tyres. They provide excellent grip and roll quickly and smoothly thanks to their supple casing.

Read our review of the Vitus Bikes Zenium SL Disc 105

Specialized Diverge E5 Sport 2018 — £1,000

2018 Specialized Diverge E5 Sport.jpeg

2018 Specialized Diverge E5 Sport.jpeg

At first glance, a thousand quid for a Shimano Sora-equipped bike is a bit steep. But when you look closer you see that your money goes into the frame and fork, so there's lots of scope for upgrades when this well-thought-out gravel bike tempts you to really broaden your horizons.

The frame is Spcialized's lightweight E5 aluminium, with a new version of Speccy's bump-absorbing Future Shock fork and clearance for 42mm tyres. The components are all reliable and the details sensible too, with a 32/32 low gear from the Praxis Alba chainset and wide-range cassette, and flat-mount disc brakes for easy upgrade to Shimano hydraulics ata later date.

Find a Specialised dealer

Cube Attain Race Disc 2017 — £823.99

cube-attain-race-disc-2017-road-bike.jpg

cube-attain-race-disc-2017-road-bike.jpg

End-of-season sales are bringing some great bikes into the sub-£1,000 bracket, including this Tiagra-equipped ride from Cube. You don't see hydraulic disc brakes on many bikes at this price, so that feature makes this bike excellent value at this price.

Genesis Equilibrium 10 2018— £1,000

2018 Genesis Equilibrium 10.jpg

2018 Genesis Equilibrium 10.jpg

The Equilibrium range from British brand Genesis is deservedly popular with fans of steel-framed bikes. This is the least expensive of the collection with a frame in Genesis' own Mjölnir double-butted chromoly steel and Shimano's 2x10-speed Tiagra groupset.

Read our review of the original Genesis Equilibrium

Trek Émonda ALR 4 2017 — £900 (limited sizes)

Trek Emonda ALR 4 red

Trek Emonda ALR 4 red

We were very impressed with the Émonda ALR 6 when we reviewed it; this Tiagra-equipped model has the same lightweight, hydroformed aluminium frame as the ALR 6 and so looks like a great deal for a grand (the 2017 model is currently reduced to £900) if you're looking for something distinctly racy. Features include an all-carbon fork, Bontrager tubeless-ready wheels and slot for Trek's DuoTrap S ANT+ sensor.

Find a Trek dealer

Canyon Endurace AL 7 2018 — £999

2018 Canyon Endurace Al 7.jpg

2018 Canyon Endurace Al 7.jpg

Canyon's Endurace follows the design of the carbon Endurace first introduced in 2014, but its aluminium frame is longer in the wheelbase and taller in the head tube, to create a more comfortable position.

The aluminium frame is partnered with a carbon fibre fork with a 27.2mm seatpost and a complete Shimano 105 groupset, with a compact 50/34 chainset. Mavic Aksium One wheels and Continental Grand Prix SL tyres, and claimed 8.4kg according to Canyon.

If your budget doesn't quite stretch to £1,000, Canyon also offers the Tiagra-equipped Endurace Al 5 for £799 and there are women's versions of both, the unsurprisingly named Endurace Wmn Al 7 and Endurace Wmn Al 6.

Giant Contend SL 2 Disc 2018 — £999

2018 Giant Contend SL 2 Disc Charcoal.jpg

2018 Giant Contend SL 2 Disc Charcoal.jpg

Contend is Giant's new name for the aluminium-framed bikes previously known as Defy (that name is now reserved for carbon-fibre bikes). The Contend range has a disc option on several models and the Contend SL 2 Disc looks to be the sweet pick from the collection, with Giant's ALUXX SL aluminium frame in an endurance geometry, Shimano Tiagra transmission, Giant SR2 disc wheels and Giant Conduct hydraulic disc brakes.

Find a Giant dealer

Rose Pro SL 105 — around £953*

Rose Pro SL 105.jpg

Rose Pro SL 105.jpg

By not selling bikes in shops in the traditional way, this German online retailer can pass on some pretty good savings to the customer if you’re prepared to shop online. This attractive £953 Pro SL 105 features a triple butted 7005 aluminium frame and carbon fibre fork with a Shimano 105 11-speed groupset, making it better appointed than many similarly priced bikes in this roundup. A Shimano 105 compact chainset provides a usable low range spread of gears, and the Mavic Aksium Elite wheels and tyres are fast and responsive.

Rose Pro SL 105 Lady — around £953*

Rose Pro SL 105 Lady.jpg

Rose Pro SL 105 Lady.jpg

The Rose Pro SL 200 Lady is the women's 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 the finishing kit — it has narrower handlebars, and a women's specific saddle.

*Rose prices are set in Euros so vary with the exchange rate.

GT Grade Alloy 105 2017 — £750 (limited sizes)

2017 GT Grade AL 105.jpg

2017 GT Grade AL 105.jpg

BARGAIN KLAXON! Reduced from £1,149.99.

GT’s Grade is a gravel/adventure bike, or as GT has it an EnduRoad bike, with the capability to tackle more than just smooth roads. With its relaxed geometry and bigger tyres, the Grade is as happy hurtling through the woods on a thin slither of singletrack as it is chasing wheels on the Sunday club run. Fit some mudguards and it can be pressed into service as a daily commuter.

If you don't race and want a bike that's a more versatile all-rounder than most regular race-inspired road bikes, the Grade might just be for you. This 105 and TRP HY/RD disc brake-equipped model provides a lot of fun for not a lot of outlay, and really impressed us.

We really liked the 2015 version of this bike; this version has the 105 groupset with gear cables tidily under the bar tape, but there are no other major differences.

Read our review of the GT Grade Alloy Tiagra

Find a GT dealer

Cannondale Synapse Alloy Tiagra Disc 2018 — £1,000

2018 cannondale synapse disc tiagra.jpg

2018 cannondale synapse disc tiagra.jpg

We think the colour scheme of this disc-braked endurance bike is going to be a bit Marmite; you'll either think it's handsome and understated or find it boring. Under the paint, the Synapse is the US company's endurance bike, designed primarily to be comfortable, so making it ideal for sportives, riding to work and club runs.

The frame's highly-manipulated aluminium tubes are a mix of 6061 and 6069 alloys and shares many of the styling cues of the more expensive carbon fibre Synapses. It's built up with a Shimano Tiagra transmission, FSA Gossamer chainset and Promax Render R mechanical disc brakes. You can fit bigger tyres in the Synapse than most regular race bikes, up to 28mm, and this model takes advantage of that with Vittoria Zaffiro 28mm tyres.

Find a Cannondale dealer

Raleigh Mustang Sport 2018 — £800

Raleigh Mustang Sport.jpg

Raleigh Mustang Sport.jpg

We really liked the Raleigh Mustang Elite when we tested it; this is the less-spendy version of the same idea. It does everything a regular road bike does, but it does it with the added comfort of the big tyres. It's part of Raleigh's three-bike range of gravel/adventure bikes and a great example of the booming category. Its 6061 double butted aluminium frame is designed for both on and off road riding so if you're getting tempted by your local dirt roads and trails, or a canal towpath commute, it'll take it in its stride.

Along with a off-road-specific and Promax disc brakes, it has Shimano's Claris transmission with a twist: instead of the usual 50/34 compact double chainset there's an FSA Tempo chainset with 46/30 chainrings to provide lower gears for winching up steep dirt roads.

Read our review of the Raleigh Mustang Elite
Find a Raleigh dealer

Specialized Dolce Elite 2018 — £999

specialized-dolce-elite-e5-2017-womens-road-bike-black-EV279884-8500-1.jpg

specialized-dolce-elite-e5-2017-womens-road-bike-black-EV279884-8500-1.jpg

The Dolce Elite is Specialized's female equivalent of the Allez Elite, although it doesn't map directly across. The Dolce is designed as a more of an all rounder, similar to the Trek Domane or Specialized's own Roubaix, whereas the Allez definitely has racing in its DNA.

The Dolce has an aluminium frame and FACT carbon fork with Zertz inserts in the fork and rear stays, intended to provide more comfort. You get a Body Geometry Women's Riva Sport Plus saddle and Specialized Roubaix gel bar tape to add further comfort. The parts list includes a 10-speed Shimano Tiagra drivetrain with a wide range 11-32 cassette, and Specialized Espoir Sport 25mm tyres.

Find a Specialized dealer.

Boardman Road Team Carbon — £900

Boardman Team carbon.jpeg

Boardman Team carbon.jpeg

When it comes to bang per buck, it definitely pays to see what former Olympic champions have in their bike ranges at this price. 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.

You get Shimano Tiagra shifting, with an FSA chainset. 25mm Vittoria tyres are fitted to Mavic CXP22 wheels, brake calipers are Tektro R540 with Boardman’s own brand E4P bars, stem, post and saddle. While there are some obvious downgrades to account for the more expensive carbon frame, it still stacks up well on paper, and offers good upgrade potential.

Some Halfords branches still have the 2016 model for £800, but you'll have to collect it.

Whyte Dorset 2018 — £999

2018 Whyte Dorset.jpg

2018 Whyte Dorset.jpg

This is truly 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 the 2014 version.

At its heart is a well designed, well put together aluminium 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. There are 28mm Maxxis Rouleur tyres and the Shimano Sora groupset with TRP Hy/Rd mechanical disc brakes.

Find a Whyte dealer

Pinnacle Dolomite 3 2017 — £720

pinnacle-dolomite-3-2017-road-bike-deep-orange-black-EV275635-2000-1.jpg

pinnacle-dolomite-3-2017-road-bike-deep-orange-black-EV275635-2000-1.jpg

The Pinnacle Dolomite 5 was something of a watershed in 2016. It's gone up in price — and out of the sub-£1,000 bracket — but the Dolomite 3 is still worth a look. With the same 6061 aluminium tubes and a carbon-bladed fork the ride should be virtually identical to the Dolomite 5, which we found to be a pretty likeable machine. The Dolomite 3 could certainly serve as a commuter or winter bike, and will ride well enough to be an enjoyable companion for all-day outings.

It's practical, too, with mudguard and rear rack compatibility, and also has some unexpected modern touches such as internal cable routing.

Read our review of the Pinnacle Dolomite 5

Find a Pinnacle dealer

B'Twin Triban 540 — £679

btwin-triban-540-riding-4.jpg

btwin-triban-540-riding-4.jpg

B'Twin's Triban 540 is a real joy to ride, with an incredible spec at a low price point.

The triple-butted aluminium frame feels fast, comfortable and responsive, without much of the buzzy feeling you sometimes get from aluminium. The carbon fork also effectively absorbs bumps in the road. There's little to complain about, comfort-wise. It has front and rear rack and mudguard mounts, so you can load it up for weekend tours or all-year-round commuting.

Despite being £350 under the price threshold, the Triban 540 is our 2016/7 sub-£1,000 bike of the year for its combination of excellent ride, practical features and superb value for money. If you have £1,000-worth of Cycle To Work voucher to spend, it gives you lots left over for clothing, mudguards, rack, panniers and so on.

Read our review of the B'Twin Triban Sport.

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.

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.

12 comments

Avatar
trohos [52 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

Can anyone tell me if the mekk still exist, in the past i had seen many good bikes from them at these price range.

Avatar
huntswheelers [108 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
Avatar
pjm60 [30 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
huntswheelers wrote:

http://www.mekkbicycles.com

 

 

When their 2016 bikes have "just arrived" it makes you think otherwise. They also haven't posted on facebook or interacted with customers since last June...

Avatar
littletel [10 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes

Editor... the title is called "top choices for Cycle To Work scheme buyers".....can you really get a Canyon or a Rose on the Cycle to Work Scheme....Unless I am wrong, me thinks not!!!

And why is the Boardman listed at £1000.....in the under under £900....

Better to have an article...best British bikes under £1000 for the Cycle to Work scheme and support  our industry, Mango, Dolan, Ribble etc ...just saying!

 

Avatar
Saintlymark [19 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

Worth pointing out Canyon don't take part in the cycle to work scheme, as great a bike as the endurance is! 

Avatar
urbanautomaton [4 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
littletel wrote:

Editor... the title is called "top choices for Cycle To Work scheme buyers".....can you really get a Canyon or a Rose on the Cycle to Work Scheme....Unless I am wrong, me thinks not!!!

You can if your company runs its own C2W scheme, I think - my previous employer didn't care where I made the purchase, I just handed them the receipt and they took care of it (not that I bought from Canyon, in the end). Dunno how prevalent this is, though.

Avatar
kil0ran [653 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes
littletel wrote:

Editor... the title is called "top choices for Cycle To Work scheme buyers".....can you really get a Canyon or a Rose on the Cycle to Work Scheme....Unless I am wrong, me thinks not!!!

And why is the Boardman listed at £1000.....in the under under £900....

Better to have an article...best British bikes under £1000 for the Cycle to Work scheme and support  our industry, Mango, Dolan, Ribble etc ...just saying!

 

 

This. So many British options out there;

Planet X

Evans

Ribble

Fairlight

Boardman

Pinnacle

Eastway

Verenti

etc. etc. etc.

 

 

Avatar
lokesh_m [1 post] 4 months ago
2 likes

Funny, the B'twin Ultra 700 is on the cover photo but not in the actual list! If the Triban can be on the list then the new Ultra 900 totally deserves to be. 

 

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mart85 [14 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Sloppy... Really sloppy. You guys are supposed to be the ones in the know about bikes.

You don't get the future shock feature on a £1000 diverge... Future shock is only available on £1500 model and above. It's no wonder I take these articles with a pinch of salt.

Avatar
macbob [42 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

This. So many British options out there;

Planet X

Evans

Ribble

Fairlight

Boardman

Pinnacle

Eastway

Verenti

 

 

In what sense are these "British" bikes. Are the frames made in the UK from UK sourced material ?

Are they hung with British made components ?

Painting an English word down the frame doesn't make them British.

Avatar
Prosper0 [116 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

Or. For us other people. The £1000 cycle to work scheme can also buy you a new single rear Zipp 404 wheel. 

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CanyonChloe [12 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

Unfortunately at the moment we do not participate in any of the available Cycle to Work schemes in the UK, however this is is something we are working on and hope to offer in the near future!

Thanks!

CanyonChloe