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

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 £650 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.

BTwin Triban 540.jpg

BTwin 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 either a bigger range or 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 bikes 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.

£1,000 and under

Trek Émonda ALR 4 — £1,000

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. 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 6.0 — £1,000

2017 Canyon Endurace Al 6.jpg

2017 Canyon Endurace Al 6.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. The bottom bracket is actually upgraded to an Ultegra item. Mavic Aksium One wheels and Continental Grand Prix 4000s II tyres, and claimed 8.2kg 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 5 and Endurace Wmn Al 6.

Giant Contend SL 2 Disc 2017 — £999

2017_GIANT_CONTEND_SL_2_DISC (2).jpg

2017_GIANT_CONTEND_SL_2_DISC (2).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 (not the cable discs in the pic above).

Find a Giant dealer

Cube Axial WLS Race 2017 — £999

cube-axial-wls-race-2017-womens-road-bike-black-orange-EV287954-8520-1.jpg

cube-axial-wls-race-2017-womens-road-bike-black-orange-EV287954-8520-1.jpg

The Axial WLS is Cube's female equivalent of the Attain SL, (one notch above the Attain Race, below). It sits in a range of three aluminium-framed bikes, two with rim brakes and one with discs. Cube doesn't go in for different geometries for its women's bikes instead changing components like the saddle to fit women. In every other respect, it is identical, and it gets the same 20mm taller head tube and the same Shimano 105 groupset and Mavic Aksium Elite wheels with 28mm tyres.

The 2016 model is still available for a very keen £800.

Find a Cube dealer

Rose Pro SL-2000 — around £893*

Rose SL-2000 2016.jpg

Rose SL-2000 2016.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 £800 Pro SL-2000 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 200 Lady — around £975*

ROSE PRO SL-200 LADY

ROSE PRO SL-200 LADY

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 Tiagra 2017 — £999.98

GT-Grade-AL-Tiagra-2017-Adventure-Road-Bike-Road-Bikes-Black-G11427M1051.jpg

GT-Grade-AL-Tiagra-2017-Adventure-Road-Bike-Road-Bikes-Black-G11427M1051.jpg

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 £950 Tiagra and TRP Spyre 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 Tiagra 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 2017 — £1,000

cannondale-synapse-alloy-tiagra-disc-2017-road-bike-orange-black-EV280320-2085-1.jpg

cannondale-synapse-alloy-tiagra-disc-2017-road-bike-orange-black-EV280320-2085-1.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, this model comes fitted with Schwalbe Lugano 25mm tyres.

Find a Cannondale dealer

Raleigh Mustang Elite 2017 — £1,000

Raleigh Mustang Elite 2017.jpg

Raleigh Mustang Elite 2017.jpg

We really liked the Raleigh Mustang Elite when we tested it. 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 expanded four-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 an all-carbon fork with through-axle and TRP HY-RD Semi Hydraulic disc brakes, it has SRAM's Rival 1X transmission with a single 44-tooth chainring and wide-range 10-42 11-speed cassette. It's the ultimate Keep It Simple, Stupid derailleur gear system and just the thing for a do-it-all bike.

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

Specialized Dolce Elite — £1,000

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.

Under £900

Vitus Bikes Energie GR — £850

Vitus Bikes Energie GR Bike - Tiagra 2017.jpeg

Vitus Bikes Energie GR Bike - Tiagra 2017.jpeg

The gravel/adventure bike category is booming because these machines with road race bikes, touring bikes and cyclo-cross bikes in their ancestry are both versatile and tough enough for the craterscapes the last few winters have made of our rural and inner-city roads.

The Vitus Energie GR has a 6061 frame with rack and mudguard mounts, full-carbon fork and 15mm through-axle. There's a full Shimano Tiagra 10-speed transmission and TRP Spyre disc brakes. For £850 it looks like a great way to get started playing on dirt roads and bridleways.

Boardman Road Team Carbon — £1,000

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.

Whyte Sussex 2017 — £850

Whyte Sussex.jpg

Whyte Sussex.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 of its big brother, the Dorset.

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 new Shimano Sora groupset with ProMax Decode R Dual Pull mechanical disc brakes.

The 2017 version of the Dorset has gone up to £1,060, so it's out of the price range we're looking at here, though it's still an excellent bike, but the Sussex is an excellent choice for £850.

Find a Whyte dealer

Under £800

Pinnacle Dolomite 3 2017 — £800

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

Cube Attain Race 2017 — £799

Cube Attain Race.jpg

Cube Attain Race.jpg

The Cube Attain Race succeeds Cube's popular Peloton race in the Dutch manufacturer's range, but retains the revised geometry (a 20mm taller head tube) intended to provide a more comfortable position on the bike. It has a double butted 6061Superlite aluminium frame with modern details like a tapered head tube, internal cable routing and 3D forged dropouts, and a Cube CSL carbon fibre fork. It's built up with a complete Shimano Tiagra groupset, with a very wide 11-34 cassette and compact 50/34 chainset, and Fulcrum Racing 77 wheels and 25mm Continental Ultra Sport 2 tyres.

Find a Cube dealer.

B'Twin Triban 540 — £650

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.

Raleigh Criterium Sport — £800

Raleigh Criterium Sport (1).jpg

Raleigh Criterium Sport (1).jpg

The Raleigh Criterium Sport is proof that you don't need to spend a huge amount of money on a road bike. It offers a well designed aluminium frame, a carbon fibre fork and a full Shimano Tiagra groupset, which all comes together to provide a brilliant ride. This is a cracking bike for the money, and one that isn't easily embarrassed by more expensive rivals.

The first thing that strikes you is how smooth the ride is. There's an old notion that aluminium bikes are harsh and rattly, but that's not the case at all with the Raleigh. It's very compliant over any sort of road surface, and doesn't deteriorate into harshness on really gravelly roads. In fact, it has a more composed ride over our local roads than many more expensive carbon fibre bikes we've tested over the years.

Read our review of the Raleigh Criterium Sport

Find a Raleigh dealer

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.

6 comments

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trohos [31 posts] 1 week ago
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Can anyone tell me if the mekk still exist, in the past i had seen many good bikes from them at these price range.

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huntswheelers [86 posts] 1 week ago
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pjm60 [6 posts] 1 week ago
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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...

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littletel [8 posts] 1 week ago
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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!

 

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Saintlymark [17 posts] 1 week ago
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Worth pointing out Canyon don't take part in the cycle to work scheme, as great a bike as the endurance is! 

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urbanautomaton [4 posts] 1 week ago
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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.