Six affordable* pro race bikes

Bikes like the pros ride from Specialized, Trek, Canyon, Giant, Pinarello and Cannondale... but a bit cheaper

by David Arthur   May 9, 2013  

Perhaps one of the most elegant attractions of cycling is the opportunity to be able to ride the very same bicycle that Mark Cavendish sprints to victory on, or like the one Bradley Wiggins rode to Tour de France success last year. You really can walk into a bike shop and ride away on bike that's almost identical. Try doing that in Formula One...

The one small - okay, large - caveat with this is the very high prices such bikes usually command. Happily, however, it is possible to get bikes that are very similar, not only in appearance but also in construction, to the ones the stars of cycling ride, but at cheaper prices. Okay, before anyone says it, these bikes aren't cheap, but they are cheaper. It's all relative, isn't it?

To see what is available, we've had look at six manufacturers - Cannondale, Trek, Specialized, Giant, Caynon and Pinarello - to show that you can realistically get a bike that can trace its DNA directly up the chain to those that the professional cyclists are racing. We've focused on bikes that share the same frame and keep the cost a little more achievable with less posh components. Aside from parts like wheels, transmission and handlebars and stems, these bikes are essentially the same as the WorldTour bikes.

Specialized

So you want to get your hands on Mark Cavendish’s bike? Who doesn’t? It’s one of the fastest on the peloton (with Cav piloting it, of course; not sure we’d have the same turn of speed). He rides Specialized’s Venge, a slippery aero number. The entry-level model is the Venge Comp which costs £2,500.

The frame is nearly identical. It has the same aerodynamic design but makes a concession with a less expensive grade of carbon fibre: FACT 10r carbon versus FACT 11r. Carbon aside, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference externally. This bike is built with Shimano’s 105 groupset and an FSA Gossamer Pro chainset, functionally very similar to Shimano’s more expensive offerings, and finished with DT Axis 4.0 wheels and Shimano finishing kit.

Pinarello

Sir Bradley Wiggins is riding Pinarello’s flagship Dogma 65.1 Think 2, the latest state-of-the-art model from the Italian brand that uses a new carbon layup not seen in their range before. They don’t come cheap. A Dogma 65.1 Think 2 with Campagnolo Super Record EPS will set you back a cool £9,275, and even the Dogma 2, the bike Brad actually raced most of last season aboard, costs £3,950 just for the frame, so if you really want a bike that's almost identical to Brad's, you’d better start saving.

So we’ve instead picked Pinarello’s entry-level carbon fibre mode, the FPUNO Carbon Veloce. Admittedly, there’s little shared between this and the top-end bikes, but you do get a bike that looks very similar to Team Sky’s bikes with those distinctive curved fork legs and seatstays.. And it's £1,999 for the complete bike with a Campagnolo Veloce groupset and MOst (Pinarello’s in-house parts label) wheels, tyres and finishing parts.

Canyon

Canyon supply Katusha this season and the German bike manufacturer has made big inroads into the UK with its direct-to-consumer business model meaning the bikes are very well priced. They’re also excellent bikes - we should know, we gave their Ultimate AL 9.0 Di2 the coveted road.cc bike of the year award in 2012.

The team race both the aero Aeroad CF or the lighter Ultimate CF SLX. We’re testing the latter at the moment, and with a full SRAM Red groupset and Mavic R-Sys wheels, giving a low weight of just 6.08kg, it costs £3,689. That’s an extraordinary good looking price for a bike that is considerably lighter than the ones the professionals race, as stipulated by the UCI’s 6.8kg minimum weight limit.

So that’s a very good looking bike, but you can also get the Ultimate CF SLX 7.0, which shares the same frame, but with a Shimano Ultegra 6700 groupset, Mavic Ksyrium wheels and Ritchey and Selle Italia finishing kit, for £2,559.

Cannondale

Cannondale’s SuperSix Evo is the choice of - you'll never guess - the Cannondale Pro Cycling team with the irrepressible Peter Sagan pedalling it to many victories in the past couple of seasons. The team race the Hi-Mod version, and last year Cannondale introduced a lighter nano version, the Evo Black, and a slightly heavier but more affordable Evo Carbon. Sharing the same tube shape and construction method,but substituting a less expensive intermediate modulus carbon, the frame weight is just 950g.

The entry-level SuperSix Evo Red costs £3,499 and comes with a SRAM Red groupset and SRAM S951 compact chainset, Mavic Ksyrium Equipe S wheels plus Yksion Pro 23mm tyres and Cannondale’s own C2 finishing kit. It comes in two colourways, a matte black and red or a white/blue/green option that echoes the team livery.

Trek

The bike of choice for Radioshack-Leopard is the Madone 7.9. This latest version of their flagship race bike incorporates aero design features for the first time, most noticeably with the shaped head tube and down tube and the rear brake being located behind the bottom bracket. We’ve reviewed the 6-series version and found it light, very fast and comfortable, a real super-high performance bike.

Such is their size that Trek were immediately able to trickle the key changes of this top-end frame right down to the 5-series, and that means you can get an almost identical frame to the pros. The Madone 5.2 costs £3,000 and comes with a lower grade of carbon fibre, but it looks the same. Critically, it shares the same aero shaped tube profiles and the relocated rear brake. It’s built up with a Shimano Ultegra groupset, Bontrager Race wheels and matching finishing kit.

Giant

While Giant have given a few of the Blanco pro team guys their new aero Propel, most are still doing duty on the TCR Advanced SL. One of the frame's standout features is the OverDrive 2 head tube, a 1 1/4-to-1 1/2in tapered steerer tube, to stiffen the front of the bike. That, plus the extra wide bottom bracket and oversized down tube, contribute to a very stiff frame with a weight of around 820g.

The top model you can lay your hands on, with Shimano Dura-Ace 9070 Di2 just like the Blanco bikes (albeit with Giant’s own wheels) will set you back £6,999. Not cheap! Opt instead for the TCR Advanced SL 4, however, with a Shimano Ultegra groupset and Giant’s P-SL0 wheels and it will cost £3,249.

*Relative to the actual bikes the pros race, that is. We know that these aren't cheap.

23 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

on one hand, it's nice to see anything but the highest end, most expensive bikes discussed in an article here.
on the other, this is simply information about 2nd and 3rd tier bikes that anyone can get from an average cycling publication.
I'd much prefer an in depth review of the above bikes, and how they performed and handled on an epic ride of flanders, a queen Giro or Vuelta stage, or even the brutish Paris-Roubaix.
so many articles about spring classics bikes. But if i ever ride the route of P-R, it will be on my current bike, a tarmac pro, not a Roubaix, or Domane or modified cross bike.
I still love this website. Just my opinion.

posted by jhamlin38 [8 posts]
9th May 2013 - 18:05

38 Likes

So, you're criticising something that's not a review for not being a review?

posted by Mat Brett [1927 posts]
9th May 2013 - 18:54

39 Likes

When did Henry Ford start running the bike industry?

"Any colour as long as it's red and black..."

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8401 posts]
9th May 2013 - 19:42

35 Likes

Simon_MacMichael wrote:
When did Henry Ford start running the bike industry?

"Any colour as long as it's red and black..."

Its a proven* fact that a red and black bike is faster and also makes you feel cooler and more superior to anyone else around

*warning, this may not be a proven fact, but a generally accepted (By Gkam84) statement

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9012 posts]
9th May 2013 - 20:04

40 Likes

It does seem that if you go with red/black/white, you are spoilt with matching clothing, shoes, helmets, wheels etc. Go for anything else, (heaven forbid lime green) and you either need to buy matching pro team kit, go with neutral/bland colours, or look like you chose the colours in the dark.

As the saying goes, never sacrifice style for speed.

Talking of reviews, where's the Starley review got to? You don't have a policy of simply not publishing if it's crap, do you?

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3424 posts]
9th May 2013 - 20:35

38 Likes

No Focus Izalco? Just the main brands *yawn*

posted by andyhilton [9 posts]
9th May 2013 - 20:40

44 Likes

notfastenough wrote:
It does seem that if you go with red/black/white, you are spoilt with matching clothing, shoes, helmets, wheels etc.

^ This.

My bike's black and silver with white accents, and I love the way it looks. Being a vain fashionista so and so, most of my bike clothing is black, white or grey, which matches the bike, although some has a little bit of pink accent thrown in IYSWIM Wink

The only red on it my bike is the FSA logo on the OEM stem. I'd like to upgrade some parts, but I don't want red on my bike, and that immediately rules out an awful lot of kit.

Sorry it's OT but I've been building up to a rant on this for a while Smile

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8401 posts]
9th May 2013 - 20:58

41 Likes

jhamlin38 wrote:

this is simply information about 2nd and 3rd tier bikes that anyone can get from an average cycling publication.

you're welcome!

Big Grin

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7470 posts]
9th May 2013 - 21:42

31 Likes

I too can find information on this and other subjects in several bike related publications.

Efforts must be doubled people.

posted by Nick T [838 posts]
9th May 2013 - 22:23

44 Likes

When I think of "affordable race bikes",in my opinion that implies entry level bikes £500-1000. Even prices that high would scare away more than a few people into another sport.

Shut up legs, you don't get a vote.

ridein's picture

posted by ridein [52 posts]
9th May 2013 - 22:26

40 Likes

A friend of mine bought himself a second car just for track day driving. 20k plus all the wheels, fuel etc on top.

Affordability is only a self imposed limit, get yourself over to the weight weenies forum and see what people are willing to spend on the sport they love.

posted by Nick T [838 posts]
10th May 2013 - 5:36

44 Likes

You can pick up a very nice bike from Cannondale & Canyon for just under £1000. Personal choice I'm not a fan of Pinarello (to expensive)Giant or Trek (I've raced both) but the Specialized Venge Comp on 0% for 3 years is a very affordable long term purchase, smart looking machine.

posted by Roberj4 [197 posts]
10th May 2013 - 8:22

44 Likes

Affordable to whom?

posted by oliverjames [17 posts]
10th May 2013 - 8:47

37 Likes

ridein wrote:
When I think of "affordable race bikes",in my opinion that implies entry level bikes £500-1000. Even prices that high would scare away more than a few people into another sport.

Dave included this: "Okay, before anyone says it, these bikes aren't cheap, but they are cheaper. It's all relative, isn't it?"

And he said they were affordable: "Relative to the actual bikes the pros race, that is. We know that these aren't cheap."

He can write it but he can't read it out to you, I'm afraid.

posted by Mat Brett [1927 posts]
10th May 2013 - 8:54

40 Likes

Ok, so you like disclaimers at the end of articles which are a contradiction to the headline title. What if the article was titled "Six affordable* pro race cars"? I imagine then the cars would be all over £100,000, but in your eyes affordable relative to a true racing car?

Shut up legs, you don't get a vote.

ridein's picture

posted by ridein [52 posts]
10th May 2013 - 13:56

40 Likes

Are you the guy who complains to Top Gear because they only feature Lamborghinis and Bugattis?

Anyway, these things are well within the realms of affordability if you're willing to sacrifice other things in their favour, so do yourself a favour and get over it. Dropping a ton a week on beers down the local seems to be acceptable to some people, I choose not to indulge like that and invest in cycling. My last build cost me about 4 grand in total and I'm on my way to my friendly neighbourhood Colnago dealer to throw my wallet at him in exchange for a Master. Exclusive? Nah, I just prioritise things that matter to me.

posted by Nick T [838 posts]
10th May 2013 - 14:28

44 Likes

ridein wrote:
Ok, so you like disclaimers at the end of articles which are a contradiction to the headline title.

no, we like to have a laugh. lighten up, eh.

turn up at a big sportive and you'll see that they're plenty affordable to quite a lot of people. they may not be affordable to other people. without some sort of fundamental redistribution of wealth any notion of 'affordable' is plainly subjective. If you want to read about £1k bikes and not these, we're only too happy to help.

http://road.cc/content/news/63270-best-%C2%A3900-%C2%A31000-road-bikes

http://road.cc/content/buyers-guide/71216-best-%C2%A3500-%C2%A3900-road-...

http://road.cc/content/buyers-guide/70802-best-%C2%A31000-%C2%A31500-roa...

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7470 posts]
10th May 2013 - 14:46

39 Likes

Wiggins bought his first racing bicycle using compensation from a broken collarbone in a road accident. It isn't an ideal way to fund purchases, but it also worked for me once upon a time. Black and red? Try black and blue. No pain, no gain.

Agony Guy's picture

posted by Agony Guy [43 posts]
10th May 2013 - 15:07

35 Likes

Dave Atkinson wrote:
ridein wrote:
Ok, so you like disclaimers at the end of articles which are a contradiction to the headline title.

no, we like to have a laugh. lighten up, eh.

turn up at a big sportive and you'll see that they're plenty affordable to quite a lot of people. they may not be affordable to other people. without some sort of fundamental redistribution of wealth any notion of 'affordable' is plainly subjective. If you want to read about £1k bikes and not these, we're only too happy to help.

http://road.cc/content/news/63270-best-%C2%A3900-%C2%A31000-road-bikes

http://road.cc/content/buyers-guide/71216-best-%C2%A3500-%C2%A3900-road-...

http://road.cc/content/buyers-guide/70802-best-%C2%A31000-%C2%A31500-road-bikes

You obviously need to split this site into several different versions:
Bikes up to 1k
Bikes £1-3k
Bikes £3k+
Rapha lovers/haters
Helmet users/non-users
Hi-vis...
Aldi/Lidl...

Any I've missed?

Oh black/white/red haters!

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3424 posts]
10th May 2013 - 15:39

41 Likes

Whats wrong with Lime Green? I love Lime Green:-)

Get out and ride

posted by davidtcycle [62 posts]
10th May 2013 - 17:30

38 Likes

ridein wrote:
Ok, so you like disclaimers at the end of articles which are a contradiction to the headline title. What if the article was titled "Six affordable* pro race cars"? I imagine then the cars would be all over £100,000, but in your eyes affordable relative to a true racing car?

You only had to make it to the second paragraph... Well before the point at which any prices were actually mentioned!

Or scroll down to find out what the massive asterisk in the headline was all about.

posted by Mat Brett [1927 posts]
10th May 2013 - 18:25

39 Likes

davidtcycle wrote:
Whats wrong with Lime Green? I love Lime Green:-)

Nothing except you're limited to black, white or, er, lime green!

I just wish more kit was available in more colours, lime green would be a good start.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3424 posts]
10th May 2013 - 19:32

40 Likes

try Endura Equipe, plenty of lime green accents for the cannondale lovers

posted by simonsays [10 posts]
18th October 2013 - 21:37

29 Likes