Six of the best £2,000 to £2,500 road bikes
Great bikes for between £2,000 and £2,500 in carbon and aluminium
Two grand is clearly a lot of money to spend on a bike but it can get you a very good, well-equipped machine. At this price there’s a vast choice of brands offering very high-quality road bikes, whether it’s for racing or sportive riding.
Carbon fibre dominates frame materials at this level, and you’re looking at advanced high-quality carbon frames that benefit from technological trickle-down effect from the very top end. You'll also encounter titanium frames that bring that unique aesthetic and ride quality that only titanium can offer.
And don’t discount steel. While similarly uncommon, the latest Reynolds and Columbus tubesets build into splendid frames, especially if outright stiffness isn’t top of your list of priorities, and you value the traditional look of a skinny tubed steel bike.
Aluminium frames are now rare in this price bracket, but there are some very good ones out there, and choosing the cheaper frame material can pay dividends elsewhere in the spec. You may be able to go up a level in groupset quality or add a power meter without busting the budget.
While the frame still makes up a large chunk of the price, you can expect groupsets of the Shimano Ultegra level and even some smattering of Dura-Ace. SRAM’s Force and Campagnolo Athena and Chorus are alternative choices. Electronic shifting? It's possible.
As for finishing kit, you can expect branded components from well established brands that specialise in handlebars, stems, seatposts and saddles. Carbon starts to replace aluminium for items like handlebars and seatposts, but don’t automatically assume carbon is better — some aluminium components can actually be lighter than carbon.
Our Lara Dunn tested an earlier version of the Ruby Elite and found a comfortable, fast and stylish bike that proved to be an excellent all-round women’s sportive choice. Specialized use their own FACT 9r carbon to craft the frame and fork with comfort provided by the Zertz dampers incorporated into the rear stays.
Specialized has considerable buying power and this shows, with a SRAM Rival 22 groupset including hydraulic disc brakes and DT Axis 2.0 wheels wrapped in Specialized’s own Espoir Elite 25mm tyres. A Body Geometry Lithia Comp Gel saddle and Specialized Women’s Expert short reach/shallow drop handlebar complete the package.
Exclusive to Merlin Cycles, the Sensa Aquila SL has deep reserves of pace, splendid handling and impressive comfort. It's a thoroughly capable race bike that offers fantastic value for money with no shortcuts in the specification. It's ready to race from the box and has the performance to back up the build.
The price here gets you not just the 940g frame, 325g fork and Shimano Ultegra mechanical 11-speed group, but Sensa's own-brand carbon fibre clinchers for an extra turn of speed.
Here's evidence that not only can aluminium still cut it, but if you want state-of-the-art features like electronic shifting and hydraulic brakes, the most affordable way to get them is to put up with the slight weight penalty of modern aluminium over carbon.
Big Dave Atkinson reviewed this bike's predecessor a couple of years ago and loved it, calling it a "cracking" bike and "great fun to ride". He added: "It's a bike designed to go after it, and that's how it's best enjoyed".
This incarnation gets the updated 11-speed of the previous bike's Ultegra components and the finely-tuned stopping power of Shimano's hydraulic disc brakes.
This amazing manufacturer-direct deal from Germany straddles the border between race and sportive bikes. With a carbon fibre frame and full Shimano Dura-Ace groupset it's stunning value for money at a price that includes shipping from Germany.
The Endurace's riding position is higher than that of a race bike, but not as upright as a canonical sportive bike such as the Specialized Roubaix, the bike that arguably kicked off the whole sportive category. But it's closer to a race bike in its handling, demonstrating race bike speed when you stamp on the pedals and letting you get pretty low on the drops if you're trying to make keen progress into a headwind.
Canyon's VCLS 2.0 carbon fibre seatpost and the large-volume tyres keep you comfortable, while the superb Dura-Ace brakes and gears are the pinnacle of Shimano's considerable component design and manufacturing ability.
Our 2015 Bike of the Year and Sportive Bike of the Year, the Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ultegra Disc boasts fast and smooth performance with all the benefits of Shimano's hydraulic disc brakes with mechanical shifters. It's a very attractive bike for the cyclist who likes to ride fast, but doesn't want to race and demands comfort and the option to run wider tyres; it comes with 28mm tyres as standard.
Like the 2014 version this is a super smooth and comfortable distance bike with rewarding handling and fast performance; the hydraulic disc brakes make it an even more compelling package as a year-round bike.
We don't lightly hand out five-star reviews, and in fact this superb machine is the only bike we've ever given our highest accolade.
The Renegade Elite has an intoxicating combination of road lightness and trail toughness plus Shimano's stunning hydraulic disc brakes and a great wheel and tyre package. It offers excellent (if relaxed) road manners and is outrageously good fun off the beaten track too. In fact its depth of off-road ability is simply astonishing.
But this isn't a simple mud-plugger with drop bars. A change of tyres is all that's needed to use it for fast all day road rides or even chaingang lung-busters. Leaving no boxes unticked, it also takes mudguards and a rack, and can accommodate tyres up to 40mm. In short, it's an absolute belter.