[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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An intriguing new bike from Evans' own brand, the Arkose X is a single-chainring gravel/adventure bike with hydraulic brakes. Single-chainring transmissions, also known as 1X systems, are simple, fuss-free and with the latest cassette designs, offer usefully wide gear ranges. If you've got dirt roads and byways to explore, this bike looks like lots of fun.
Bargain klaxon! Reduced from £1,600
A 105-equipped bike with a carbon fibre frame for under a grand is a rare beast indeed. We've enjoyed the Eastway bikes we've ridden so don't expect this to be any different. An excellent value first race bike.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.