The best £900 to £1,000 road bikes

There's a huge choice of bikes available at this price. Here are six to consider

by David Arthur @davearthur   August 13, 2012  

There's never been a better time to buy a road bike, and £900 to £1,000 is a competitive price bracket - really, you're spoilt for choice. You're guaranteed a lightweight and great handling bike at this price that won't disappoint, whether it's your first road bike or you're upgrading from an entry-level bike.

It's a price-point that has been popularised by the Cycle To Work scheme, which has seen a rise in popularity with the success of Bradley Wiggins in the Tour de France and Olympics. With over 1,800 participating bike shops, the cost of the bike is paid through your gross salary (so disregarding tax), and employers also benefit from National Insurance contribution savings.

If it's your first road bike, our Buying Basics – Buying your first road bike guide is worth a read, packed as it is with useful advice.

What to look for

Shimano are the dominant groupset (the gears and brakes) choice, and their Tiagra and 105 groups are popular sights on bikes at this price. SRAM and Campagnolo offer an alternative choice.

Frame material is predominantly aluminium. It's been around long enough that most manufacturers have advanced the construction process with hydroforming and other techniques that the frames are light and very stiff. Look for touches like butted and profiled tubes, tapered head tubes and carbon-fibre forks.

Wheels influence the ride quality of any bike massively and nowhere is this better witnessed than on a bike at this price. Look for recognised wheel brands and don't skimp on the wheels and tyres. Reduced rolling weight is the easiest way to a faster riding bike.

Show me the bikes

So, what are your options? It’s a lot of money and a serious investment, so needs some careful consideration. Here are six of the top contenders.

Cannondale Caad 8 £899.99

Cannondale are one of the most recognisable brands available and their bikes have been iconic for many years. They're getting more affordable (as we saw recently) and the Caad 8 is a great choice, which for 2013 is £150 cheaper than before.

Packing an advanced aluminium frame with the company's famous huge diameter down tubes with double-pass smooth welds, taper-butted tubes, assymetric chainstays, horizontally ovalised top tube and SAVE vibration-reducing stays ensure it's a frame that will offer a great ride. It's equipped with a Shimano Tiagra groupset with an FSA Omega BB30 chainset.

Caad 8 review

Specialized Allez Elite £900

When we tested the Allez Comp earlier this year, we found it to be a “reliable, value-packed road bike that puts in a strong performance across the board,” and that's precisely what you're seeking at this price.

An A1 Premium aluminium frame with geometry borrowed from the company's race-orientated road bikes means if you're a budding racer, the Allez is an ideal introduction.

A carbon fibre fork is topped with a neat adjustable stem. Its four positions should make it a doddle to find a good fit on the bike without buying a new stem. Shimano's Tiagra 10-speed groupset is complete with a compact 50/34 chainset. DT's Axis 1.0 wheels are a good choice with Specialized Espoir Sport tyres.

Read our review of the Allez Comp

Giant Defy 1 £999.99

As one of the largest bike brands in the world, it's no surprise that Giant's Defy 1 is packing some serious punch. The Aluxx SL aluminium frame has a tapered OverDrive headset for increased steering precision, and PressFit bottom bracket bearings feature as well. And it's one of the few bikes with a Shimano 105 (the next level up from Tiagra) groupset.

More details

Kinesis Racelight T2 Tiagra

While the Specialized Allez is perfect if you want to get into road racing, the Racelight T2 is spot on if you want added versatility. The double-butted 7005 aluminium frame sports a racy geometry but the addition of mounts for mudguards and racks means it can handle winter commuting, touring and winter training.

See if we rate it in our review.

Scott Speedster S30 £950

Coming in just under a £1,000, the Speedster S30 from Scott is a serious contender with a simply elegant double-butted 6061 frame, all wrapped up in a smart paintjob. The geometry is very nearly identical to their race-ready Foil, although a slightly taller head tube and shorter top tube make it less stretchy for a more relaxed ride position. Shimano's Tiagra groupset is partnered with Scott's own-brand brake callipers, and the finishing kit is respectable for the money.

Read our Speedster S30 review.

Carrera Virago £999

Available from Halfords, the Carrera Virago is the only bike here to offer a carbon fibre frame and fork. And, with a Shimano 105 groupset, all for under a £1,000, it's apparent no shortlist should be complete without giving the Virago a look over.

With a carbon frame the Virago is one of the lightest bikes here (a claimed weight of 8.6kg) which gives it great climbing ability. There's some modern details like the BB30 bottom bracket, which makes for a stiffer frame and better power transfer. Superb value.

Read our review of the Virago.

So there you go: a seriously impressive shortlist of bikes that offers fantastic value for money.

28 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Planet x pro carbon?

Ribble Sportive Bianco?
Ribble Pro Evo?
Ribble Stealth?

All available for under £1000

Not to mention the second hand market.

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1734 posts]
13th August 2012 - 11:56


It's hard to get an accurate price for a second hand bike and in most cases if you're looking at your first bike in this price range you'll want a 'brand' and something new.

Ribble/Planet-X etc are all great for those looking at a bike in this range who already know what they're doing but for a complete newcomer to bikes or someone upgrading from an old mountain bike or cheap-o entry level model these seem to be a decent selection. Plus, you can't walk into your local Evans and get measured up for a Ribble which is probably the main selling point for the Specialized/Cannondale or other major brands for someone who isn't an expert on sizing.

Availabilty at local bike shops is another reason the Ribble's shouldn't be included in a list like this (except possibly as honourable mentions at the end) as if it's your first bike at this range being able to walk down to your local shop, have a look at the bike in person and then try it out will be a massive plus. If you don't know what you're doing spending £1000 on a bike over the internet (unless you live near the Ribble store) isn't something most people would do.

There'll always be some that miss out but the main brands are covered as are a few less well known ones like Kinesis.

Also, I'd quite like a 'best bikes under £900/800' or whatever review as it'd be nice to pick out the best bikes at the entry level price range given that so many are so patchy.

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
13th August 2012 - 12:14


tru dat

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1734 posts]
13th August 2012 - 14:03


Anyone looking to buy might be interested in CW's £1,000 bike group test recently, the Boardman Team wiped the floor.

Also, bear in mind that some 2012 models will be replaced fairly soon as 2013 stock starts to arrive so the canny shopper can sometimes land a bit of a discount. Cube leave it later in the year than most of the others.

Regarding the Carrera, once you get past the brand snobbery it seems to be a decent enough bike and well specced at the price point and is the bike in the 'Tour de Francis' ads on ITV4 during the Tour last month. TBH I don't think Carrera bikes are comparable with the really cheap BSOs from Halfords and elsewhere. I wouldn't be surprised if it attracts a late season discount in a month or two.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2417 posts]
13th August 2012 - 17:02


I owned a Cannondale CAAD8 just like the one featured, over last winter. Sold it to buy a CAAD10 and have regretted it ever since! Amazing bike for the money.

fourstringsisplenty's picture

posted by fourstringsisplenty [71 posts]
13th August 2012 - 17:52


No idea why you regret the upgrade to the CAAD10, I've just bought one (CAAD 10 5) to replace my old winter bike, Loving it, only downside is the wheels but thats expected at this price point.

Really enjoying the ride qulaity and stiffness for the money, will def race on it when the weather isn't great and I don't want to risk my Di2 Felt AR0

posted by x8swift9x [15 posts]
13th August 2012 - 20:09


Where is the Btwin facet 5? Its £999 with a full 105 groupo full carbon frame and decet wheels. It even includes pedals and nice finishing kit like a carbon seat post and prologo saddle. I have one and its fantastic.

posted by jonk [1 posts]
13th August 2012 - 21:21


jonk wrote:
Where is the Btwin facet 5? Its £999 with a full 105 groupo full carbon frame and decet wheels. It even includes pedals and nice finishing kit like a carbon seat post and prologo saddle. I have one and its fantastic.

Just because its got carbon on it and you've got one doesn't make it the best Wink

I get sick of comments along the lines of:

"I've got x bike. its carbon. therefore it must be better than all of the above"

"why haven't you put in this list of bikes with a nice spec on paper"

but I suspect the real reason its not included is that they can't test everything.

posted by ALIHISGREAT [119 posts]
13th August 2012 - 22:02


A certain contributor had the Carrera Virago for a 5 day ride round Italy in May and it somehow developed a crack in the frame. Just saying. And I'm sure they'd sort it if it happened to you.

Sarah Barth's picture

posted by Sarah Barth [1267 posts]
13th August 2012 - 22:36


Sarah Barth wrote:
A certain contributor had the Carrera Virago for a 5 day ride round Italy in May and it somehow developed a crack in the frame. Just saying.

I've known people buy £20,000 cars and they go seriously wrong within weeks.

What is the point you wish to make when you're "just saying"?

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2417 posts]
14th August 2012 - 9:15


Re the Btwin - Decathlon must have a policy of not providing bikes for review. I lived less than a mile from a Decathlon store which became my LBS for 5 years, I commuted in London on a Decathlon bike for 5 years, and I regularly drooled over the Decathlon/Btwin road bikes in Decathlon for 5 years. In France Decathlon is the Tesco of sport shops and they have the economics of scale to offer incredibly high-spec bikes at incredibly low prices when compared with the brands that you see reviewed in magazines month in, month out. But in the UK you have to live near a Decathlon store to appreciate what they do. They have a website, but with no reviews in our impartial press they probably don't get much traffic.

Sanderville's picture

posted by Sanderville [310 posts]
14th August 2012 - 17:02


Confused Confused
The 2012 Cannondale Caad 8 was £950, which is £50 more than the 2013 version, not £150 as quoted above. It was the 105 equipped model that was £1050. Or am I getting my bibs in a twist?

posted by D Edwards [17 posts]
15th August 2012 - 13:49


I would love any of them, my Cannondale got nicked Sigh


posted by thedex [27 posts]
15th August 2012 - 20:25


Not a single steel frame. Is steel totally dead in this price bracket, or just totally dead in general?

posted by wodge [3 posts]
16th August 2012 - 13:40


Wodge, there's hardly any good steel on offer in this price bracket. Plus steel is an acquired taste, not the most obvious choice for a short list like this.

Dutchie's picture

posted by Dutchie [66 posts]
16th August 2012 - 14:51


Dutchie wrote:
Wodge, there's hardly any good steel on offer in this price bracket. Plus steel is an acquired taste, not the most obvious choice for a short list like this.

Sticking strictly to the price bracket, it's true that there are more limited options for steel. But the most basic Genesis Equilibrium is just below this bracket and I think the Charge Juicer Mid is too. The next one up of each is usually a little above this bracket, but they are all good bikes.

As for being an acquired taste, I'm not sure about that. I have a Juicer Hi (now off the road for a rebuild) and it's always had loads of comments about how nice it is. The ride is lovely and weight is very reasonable (comparable with alloy frames at the same price point). Same with the several Genesis Equilibrium's owned by clubmates. I reckon anyone testing one at the same time as one of the above would give it serious consideration.

posted by step-hent [718 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 10:24


what about thius, it comes with mavic aksiums and ritchey wcs finishing kit:

posted by jamjam [61 posts]
7th October 2012 - 22:20


CINELLI Experience Veloce would be worth looking at in this price bracket. I've tried one and it felt quick and nimble, and looks classy too.

posted by jdmotion [10 posts]
4th November 2012 - 20:06


I'm waiting on an Experience coming via post. Looked at all the bikes on offer there, and the Experience ticked all the boxes, plus had the 'wow' factor, being nicer looking than the others.

Am moving up from an entry-level Allez to get some decent road miles in this year (which I loved until we t-boned a twat in a Beemer a few weeks back).

posted by Steven_L [48 posts]
6th November 2012 - 15:59


Steel you say? Check out Raleigh's offering: ...

posted by billsdon [35 posts]
14th November 2012 - 20:50


And while I'm at it, this Raleigh Revenio for £900 is worthy of consideration:

posted by billsdon [35 posts]
14th November 2012 - 20:52


felt z85, £925, really nice bike and comfortable ride, should be there as well...

posted by cyclingbanter [27 posts]
14th November 2012 - 21:49


Thinking Like all reviews it tries to hook the reader (like me!) with a catchy title. If it said: 'The best,popular and easily accessible, aluminium road bikes for under £1000'or 'New to cycling or upgrading your first bike? our choice' it would be a more honest description, but not as many would log on!

posted by mike cooper [17 posts]
15th November 2012 - 10:11


Very lame collection of the main stream, what about a bit of imagination people Smile

Get out and ride

posted by davidtcycle [62 posts]
16th November 2012 - 18:51


Agree that lack of mentions for Boardman seems odd, given how popular they are and the almost universal great reviews they've accumulated.

Ditto for Focus - my Cayo cost me £900 a few years back for full carbon, Ultegra and Mavic Aksiums, ludicrous value.

Re: steel at this price, my commuting hack is a beautiful Condor Fratello, which came in at just under £1K with Campag and Aksiums again. Not the lightest maybe and not an out-and-out racer, more audax/fast tourer, but proof that quality iron is available at this price.

posted by Yennings [233 posts]
17th November 2012 - 8:40


Ok, 2 months on and the Cinelli Experience is worth every penny - if you're on the upgrade path with C2W looming, I'd recommend it.

I went from a £550 Allez with Shimano 2300 group, to Cinelli Experience with Veloce group. Ride is unbelievable - so stiff and responsive. The Allez was fast but didn't have anywhere near the torque as you get from this when you put the power down. Short hill sprints are a blast - even climbing isn't a chore. Wheels are excellent too. I'd changed my wheels on the Allez to R501's but the standard Miche Excite are a cut above - they've been on some harsh rides and have stayed true. Tried freewheeling with a mate who was on R501s and the Miche were a lot quicker. Campag - love it. The thumb shifters make shifting into high gear a breeze and it's relatively quiet.

I'd been toying with hanging up the runners and getting into cycling for a long time - this bike has made that choice easy for me. Cycling Ireland licence now applied for, and am looking around for a club at this point, with an eye toward club competitions Smile

posted by Steven_L [48 posts]
27th December 2012 - 13:24


jamjam wrote:
what about thius, it comes with mavic aksiums and ritchey wcs finishing kit:

That was my first thought, too. Way better spec than any of the suggestions, and by all accounts it's a pretty good frame, too.

Unfortunately it doesn't fit the 900-1000 price point, as it's £80 under!

You'd have to be bonkers to pay a grand for that Carrera.

posted by Matt_S [227 posts]
13th January 2013 - 10:29


While we are on the 'what about' line, what about the Bianchi Nirone 7? Lovely frame, but only available in Tiagra or Veloce groups at this price. Widely available from actual shops. Saw a lot of them on the Dunwich Dynamo at the weekend.

drmatthewhardy's picture

posted by drmatthewhardy [584 posts]
23rd July 2013 - 15:16