13 of the Best Road Bike Bargains for under £500

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good road bike, as this collection of affordable options shows

by David Arthur   December 3, 2014  

2015_Giant_Defy_5

If you're keen to get into road cycling, whether for the fitness benefits or as a form of transport for getting to work, it is possible to buy a road bike for under £500. In fact, we've found 13 bargains starting from just £100, proving you really don't need to spend a fortune to get a good road bike these days.

It’s quite likely that if you’re reading this you’re looking at buying your first road bike. You’ll probably have a lot of questions. A good place to start is always a well stocked bike shop where you can view the bikes in your budget and get a good idea of what is offered.

The second place is road.cc’s Buying Basics: Buying your first road bike guide. It’s packed with useful advice from where to start, frame materials, sizing, bike fit and other important considerations. So, have a read of that too. We've previously looked at the best £500 to £900 road bikes so, if you're considering spending a bit more, check that out as well.

Road bikes priced under £500 often feature light and stiff aluminium or steel frames with good quality gears and brakes. Japanese firm Shimano is the predominant component choice at this end of the market, and the good news is that a lot of the technology seen higher up the ladder eventually trickles down to the entry level. 

Weight is the main area where entry-level bikes suffer. However, with compact or triple chainsets, and the wider range of gears they offer, getting up steep hills is made easier. As a general rule, the more you spend the lighter the bike will be. Closer to £500 and you can expect carbon fibre forks which saves weight and offers improved performance over the steel and aluminium forks on cheaper bikes.

£200 and under…

If your budget is this tight looking for a second hand bargain is something you should seriously consider, but if it has to be new if you shop around for discount bargains during the winter you might find something. 

Tesco Vertigo Piccadilly 21" Unisex Road Bike £100

Supermarkets make up much of the sales for bikes at this price and from Tesco is the Vertigo Piccadilly 21" Unisex Road Bike. At a current price of just £100, it’s the most affordable road bike we could find.

There aren't a lot of details about it, but we know it has a aluminium frame with a steel fork with a 14-speed Shimano groupset. A downside is that it's only offered in one size, a 53cm, which it reckons is good for 14 years upwards, though at that age height can vary so much you might want to take a closer look at the size instore.

It's worth bearing in mind that you'll probably have to assemble the bike yourself so you don't have the peace of mind that comes from buying it already set up from a specialist bike shop or online retailer, or indeed the big chains like Decathlon or Halfords - neither will you get that first free service that most shops chuck in as standard. Even so, if you're on a really tight budget and you don't want to explore second-hand options then this might be worth a look. 

Apollo Fusion Road Bike £199

Head to Halfords and you can get this Apollo Fusion Road Bike costing just £199. Compared to the Tesco offering, this bike is available various sizes which is immediately far more appealing, as getting the right size bike is so important to cycling happiness. 

It features a nice lightweight aluminium frame with Shimano 14-speed gearing and Halfords will build the bike for you, and they also throw in a free 6-week service as well. Halfords will also assemble the bike for you as well so you can wheel it out of the shop.

£200-£300

Spend just a bit more and you buy a whole lot more bike. Lighter, better equipped, and we're willing to bet nicer to ride too. This is a price point where the big specialist retailers are really able to flex their buying muscle for your benefit, and combine it with design know to deliver the maximum bang for your buck.

It's no coincidence that both Decathlon and Halfords in-house brands figure strongly here. This is also a price point at which you can pick up a really good discount bargain at the right time of the year - something we've reflected in our pick of bikes here.

Decathlon B'TWIN Triban 300 £279.99

 

One of the most popular and common affordable road bikes is B'Twin's Triban, and this is the new Triban 300 (it replaced the previously popular Triban 3). The bikes features an aluminium frame with a triple chainset and 24-speeds and is available in a range of sizes - and rather smartly there is also a smaller 650b wheelsize option with a further range of sizes, down to 43cm. 

Carrera Karkinos II Limited Edition Road Bike 2015 £299

There are plenty of bikes costing under £500 at Halfords, and pick of the bunch is this Carrera Karkinos II Limited Edition Road Bike at just £299. It uses an aluminium frame with a steel fork, dual pivot brakes for stopping quickly and 14-speed Shimano gears. It's available in two sizes, 51 and 54cm.

Merlin Performance Road PR7  £299.99

We tested the Performance Road PR7 from Merlin Cycles recently and were stunned by its performance. Unfortunately it sold out straight away, but they're expecting more stock in January. It looks one of the best equipped budget bikes we've ever seen, with an aluminium frame and carbon fibre fork, and Shimano Claris gears, an excellent groupset. You can read the review here and find out what we though it of it.

Barracuda Corvus I £299.95

Barracuda's Corvus I is the entry-level in their range and cost £299.95. It features an alloy frame with a smart paint finish and decals, with a 14-speed groupset comprising a Shimano Tourney chainset and rear mech. It uses Shimano's rarely seen A050 bar-mounted shifters, a 7-speed system, that places the shifting levers within easy reach on top of the handlebars.  

£300 to £500

Step up to this price bracket and the choice suddenly increases, with some of the bigger manufacturers now coming into contention, especially the more you approach the £500 mark. Most of the bikes at this price, though not all, will feature an aluminium frame, which makes for a lighter bike. Get closer to £500 and you can expect to see the fork be upgraded to a carbon firbe fork, saving further weight and improving the performance. 

B'Twin Triban 500 SE road bike  £379.99

Probably one of the best performance and value bikes in this whole price range, the B'TwinTriban 500 SE road bike   costs just £379.99 and for that you get a clean looking aluminium frame, steel fork and 3 x 8 Microshift drivetrain, for an all up weight of 10.08kg (22.4lb). There are no unwelcome shortcuts in the finishing detail and it rides much like a race-bred bike, making it an ideal first road bike for anyone with sporty intentions. You can read our review to find out how much we rated it.

Felt F95 Sora Wiggle Exclusive £399.97

This Felt F95 Sora is available through Wiggle for £399.78. It's made with Felt's own 'Superlite' 6061 alloy tubing, butted and shaped in key places, and is finished in a custom matte gun metal grey with subtle green details. The fork is carbon fibre, including the steerer tube, which ensures this bike stands out in this roundup as the only bike with a carbon fork. A Shimano Sora 9-speed transmission is a highlight with an FSA Tempo compact chainset and Alex R500 rims on Felt branded hubs.

Mango Bikes Black Series 18-speed road bike £449

From a brand that started out with a singlespeed offering comes this latest 18-speed road bike. It builds a steel frame and fork up with a MicroShift R9 groupset with aluminium deep section rims and 25mm tyres. Most appealing of all perhaps is the abililty to completely customise the appearance, you can choose the colour of every single part of the bike, down to the tyres, rims, frame, saddle, the whole lot. We took a closer look in this article. 

Vitus Bikes Razor VR Road Bike £419.99

From Chain Reaction Cycles comes this Vitus Raz0r, a brand with a lot of pedigree - Sean Kelly achieved many of his race victories on a Vitus. This bike is very well appointed, a 6061-T6 aluminium frame with a carbon fibre fork (with alloy steerer) provides a lightweight chassis and is built with a Shimano Claris and Sora 16-speed groupset with a compact 50/34 chainset and 11-28 cassette. It weighs a claimed 10kg (22.1lb).  

Pinnacle Dolomite One 2015 Women's Road Bike £450

 

Pinnacle is the in-house brand of retailer Evans Cycles, and the Dolomite is their entry-level road bike, starting at £50 under the £500 mark. You get a 6061 aluminium frame and fork with road race geometry. A Shimano Tourney A070 groupset combines a compact chainset with a 12-28t cassette for a wide spread of gears. A nice detail of this bike is that is has space for 28mm tyres, and you can even fit mudguards (though maximum tyre size drops to 25mm with mudguards fitted). That gives it quite a bit more versatility than many of the other bikes on this page, and makes it ideal for regular commuting if you want to stay dry.

Boardman Road Sport £449.99

It's fair to say the Boardman Road Sport is a bike that impressed us a great deal when we reviewed it. Enough in fact that it was our Budget Bike of the Year 2013-14 and came third in the overall Bike of the Year Awards. You get a 7005 double-butted aluminium frame with a Shimano 2300 groupset and FSA Tempo compact chainset.

The Road Sport comes in a slightly more relaxed, sportive-friendly geometry than a full-on race bike; the top tube is a little shorter and the head tube is a little longer - not massively but enough to add extra comfort without sacrificing too much efficiency. You get mounts for mudguards too so it's very versatile. This is a seriously impressive bike for the money - not just a good bike for £450 but a good bike full stop. 

Giant Defy 5 £499

Giant are one of the biggest and most well-known bike brands in the world, and £499 marks their most affordable road bike. This Defy 5 costs £499 and thanks to technology trickling down from their more expensive models, this one is packed full of potential. It offers an Aluxx aluminium frame with a aluminium fork, Shimano Claris 16-speed groupset and FSA Tempo compact chainset and 25mm tyres for extra comfort. The Defy range of bikes are modelled around bikes that have handlebars for a more comfortable riding position, nice if you're just getting into cycling.

93 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

First new bike I ever had was a 5 speed Universal that I had for Christmas. Think it was made of mild steel gas pipe but I loved it

posted by richcc [45 posts]
25th March 2014 - 20:38

37 Likes

My 2 cents: Do not buy cheap bikes like these but buy a good second hand one with with better specs but older parts, if in proper condition they will probably last longer and ride better.

(in holland we have the saying: you have to learn it on an old bike > meaning you are not worth new or expensive stuff until you have learned the tricks an pitfalls of the trade- this saying does not only apply to bicycles)

posted by KnightBiker [46 posts]
25th March 2014 - 20:59

5 Likes

I work at Go Outdoors, and the Viking bikes are a mixed bag. The Jetstream (renamed Race Pro for 2014) is a right bag of shite. Far to heavy (18kg) and a steel frame. Right shonky components and not grand geometry.

But move up the range and they do get better as a first Road bike.

The Vuelta as a much better opening gambit as it has an aluminium frame and a better shimano gearset.

The Peleton is the same bike but with the addition of carbon forks.

The ladies Elyesee is the same bike as the Vuelta but with a more female orientated paint job.

But talking about Go Outdoors do bear in mind the Calibre range of bikes. The two mountain bikes that were launched last summer were both given five out of five from MBUK, and we are getting a full carbon bike in the next month that will cost less than £800 plus a hybrid and a town bike, all with the same ethos in components and price...

And God said "Come forth to receive eternal life".

But I came fifth and got a toaster.

posted by Dalai Farmer [3 posts]
25th March 2014 - 21:33

28 Likes

My first bike was an all-steel Raleigh Record. 14kg! Rode it so much as a teenager I eventually totally wore out the 5-speed cluster even though the cogs were 1/8" inch thick solid steel. I still have it in working order and have come to enjoy cycling in the slow lane.

Since I rebuilt the hubs last year I got my fastest ever speed downhill, on 32mm tyres. All that iron pulling downhill helps I guess.

drmatthewhardy's picture

posted by drmatthewhardy [414 posts]
25th March 2014 - 23:13

36 Likes

The merlins and the Decathlons are the lowest prices road bikes I'd recommend to anyone. Go below that i.e the Tesco bike or anything priced less than the Decathlon bike, and you're getting something that basically is essentially unfit for purpose that if you ride regularly you'll almost certainly be replacing quite soon. Take one of those in any bike shop for a repair/service and they'll say "best to get a new bike"- Guaranteed.

posted by pmr [175 posts]
26th March 2014 - 9:18

32 Likes

I'm surprised the Giant Defy 5 isn't listed. Another good contender would have been the Forme Longcliffe 5.0. Both retail at £500.

posted by FatCycleRider [20 posts]
26th March 2014 - 9:46

26 Likes

I was in the market recently for a winter/commuting cheap bike and ended up finding 2nd hand bikes a better deal than new low spec'd ones. You just have to have patience and budget spare for a service.

Leodis's picture

posted by Leodis [239 posts]
26th March 2014 - 10:59

41 Likes

I got into road cycling last year, never having ridden a road bike in my life, thanks to a cycling mad friend.

I went for Halfords Carrera TDF (2013) as it had good reviews and I didn't want to spend a lot if I didn't like road biking. I think I'm very lucky because I managed to nab the bike new during the Tour de France for only £250!

My biggest ride has been 70miles and that's a lot for someone who hasn't ever ridden more than 20 miles locally.

I've fallen in love with road cycling and I'm looking forward to saving up cash now to buy something better! The TDF has been an amazing bike and can really take some knocks as I've fallen off three times already!

Worth noting that you might want to upgrade the chainset to a compact one as I've done. The original is a killer on hills unless you're very fit!

posted by Heinrich Ferreira [1 posts]
26th March 2014 - 12:10

35 Likes

Another Merlin recommendation. Solid bikes.

posted by gummo [17 posts]
26th March 2014 - 14:42

29 Likes

I have a Carrera TDF for commuting on during the winter, Its not been bad you know. My wife thought it was nice to buy me it as i was complaining i didn't want use my bike through winter, my normal bike wasn't a fortune either (Specialized Allez Sport) but is my pride and joy, but the TDF has been enjoyable. The gear change is easily on par with my other bike, would recommend to anyone looking for something of that standard. I'm no expert mind and I'm only a year old cyclist this March!!

posted by mickcee [38 posts]
26th March 2014 - 16:29

1 Like

Heinrich Ferreira wrote:
II went for Halfords Carrera TDF (2013) as it had good reviews and I didn't want to spend a lot if I didn't like road biking. I think I'm very lucky because I managed to nab the bike new during the Tour de France for only £250!


I bought one of these as well for the same price. I was looking for something to run on the turbo trainer over the winter. I was pleasantly surprised. I had very low expectations give my summer ride is a top end Specialized Roubaix. I needed to get the TDF set up right as it was a bit of a pigs ear direct from Halfords. A full re-adjustment of the gears and moving the brake hoods on the bars, centralising the brakes, removing and refitting the cranks to stop the creaking and I got it pretty serviceable. I replaced the saddle with a spare I had for my summer bike as I have very narrow sit bones and the standard saddle was a bit on the wide side. A little later I added an adjustable stem so that I could get the bars set to the same hight as my summer bike which I had fitted. I'm an old git so benefit from less bar drop. On the trainer it is fantastic and feels just like my summer bike. It has had about 3000 miles on it this winter. On a long rolling road ride it would be as good as anything much more expensive. I wouldn't like to take it up a mountain though.

People mention upgrading gears etc but the best place to start with these budget bikes is actually with the tires. A small investment is some decent rubber will make a world of difference to the ride and feel of the bike. The tires that were on the TDF were not even round, which was obvious on the turbo. I also put Specialised Roubaix bar tape on when I repositioned the brake levers instead of the hard plastic bar tape it came with and it makes for a much more plush feel.

Small low cost changes over a period of time can turn one of these super low cost bikes into something quite reasonable to ride.

posted by paulrbarnard [147 posts]
26th March 2014 - 20:47

1 Like

backflipbedlem wrote:
Super Domestique wrote:
If you want an even cheaper Tesco bike there is this:

http://www.tesco.com/direct/vertigo-piccadilly-21-road-bike-unisex/211-7006.prd?pageLevel=&skuId=211-7006


I've always wanted to get in to road cycling, but having 4 kids I couldn't afford or justify a super expensive bike.
I got the Vertigo Picadilly from Tesco for £125 as an early birthday present from my parents, after reading nearly 200 good reviews about it on their site.

I know this isn't the best bike, but for an entry level bike, you really can't fault it. In my first month of riding, I managed to ride 500km, and have had no problems with it.
It's not that much heavier than other entry level bikes (14kgs), and in my mind, I'm getting stronger having to pedal the extra couple of kilos up and down the surrey hills.
I've upgraded the brake pads as lots of reviews said they could be better, and will soon be adding clipless pedals to improve my efficiency.

Once my cycling becomes a regular habit, then I might be able to justify spending a bit more on my second bike.
But for people who just want to see if road cycling is for them, then they shouldn't have to spend £500 on a bike.

I bought the Vertigo Piccadilly from Tesco last year and I think it is very good value for the money. The bike was listed at £125. I happened to have £35 in Clubcard vouchers and with the 'double up' offer I paid only £55 cash for it.

It took less than 20 minutes to remove from packaging and assemble ... then I was flying on my shiny new £55 bike!

The frame and wheels are a bit on the heavy side but also strong. The bikes are made in Bangladesh although the gears are Shimano. The no-name tyres and inners (also from Bangladesh) were rubbish and I got a puncture within the first 30 miles so those were replaced for decent ones almost immediately. The bike is only available in one size and at 5'8" it just happens to fit me absolutely perfectly.

The thumb-shift gears work great although obviously not as convenient as STI ... but that only matters if you are racing. In the 70's I did tens of thousands of miles on a 10-speed bike with down-tube shifters so if anything the Vertigo is a considerable step-up from those days.

Almost embarrassingly I 'accidently' registered a PB on Strava on one of my regular sorties, whilst riding the Vertigo, although that might have had more to do with the 25mph following-wind than the quality of the bike.

I mainly use the bike for short shopping or sports trips when I wouldn't dare leave my 'pride and joy' unattended for any time at all. It's absolutely fine. Bike thieves wouldn't go to much trouble to nick it and, even if they did, it is hardly the end of the world.

I would buy one again and I would recommend the Vertigo Piccadilly to a friend.

posted by Joeinpoole [308 posts]
26th March 2014 - 22:14

1 Like

Giant Defy 5 should be on the list ? x

marillion666's picture

posted by marillion666 [1 posts]
31st March 2014 - 14:02

26 Likes

Halfords have an offer on - spend over £400 get £40 off - so that drops the Boardman Sport down to £460. If you have British Cycling membership you get another 10% off that, so that would take it down to £414. I know lots of people have issues with Halfords, but it sounds like a bargain to me.

posted by average_joe [6 posts]
1st April 2014 - 20:34

26 Likes

Ok mate, well. Technically, yes. The downgrade is the forks, they are no longer carbon. Everything else is the same. The old shimano 2300 groupset has been replaced by a microshift r8 which uses the same mechs, just different shifters; which I personally prefer over the shimano ones; but that's down to the individual.

The loss of the carbon fork is a bummer, makes the bike about 600g heavier depending on your frame size (i ride the 60cm so I believe it's a longer fork than the smaller sizes).

There were claims of "chain rub" which I quite frankly thought was bs from Deca to make people not feel like they've been cheated on.

But truth be told I think they most likely struggled to get a carbon fork in a bike that costs only £300.

But on the plus side, you can pick up carbon forks for around £40. And the new t3a is still the same awesome frame that was in the red t3.

Basically, at the end of the day, at £300 the white t3a is still a great bargain, perhaps not as much so for the red t3 but still wipes away the competitors nontheless. (also, I think the white looks nicer; just saying)

And as for the weight, I've done some upgrades to my bike, without changing the fork and it weighs about 9.6kg right now. I think once I change the fork I can get it down to 9kg like a lot people have been able to do so with their red t3.

hope that helps

posted by thre3aces [3 posts]
18th April 2014 - 7:27

22 Likes

Has anyone tried the Vitus Razor? The specs look very good for the price, but I can't find any proper reviews.

posted by steviewevie [25 posts]
16th July 2014 - 20:29

3 Likes

Top marks to the Carrera Karkinos Branding Team! In Greek Karkinos (καρκίνος) means Cancer..... Silly

posted by Konstantine [17 posts]
3rd December 2014 - 19:50

2 Likes

It's great news you can get a road bike of any kind for less than £500. The more Cyclists out there the better for all of us. Gotta recommend the decathlon B Twins for price and componemtry. Although if you can stretch to the Giant defy 5 that's a bike you could ride and live with for a long time. Value and performance .... Amazing

http://www.tinpony.co.uk/

Tin Pony's picture

posted by Tin Pony [13 posts]
3rd December 2014 - 21:12

0 Likes

Tin Pony wrote:
It's great news you can get a road bike of any kind for less than £500. The more Cyclists out there the better for all of us. Gotta recommend the decathlon B Twins for price and componemtry. Although if you can stretch to the Giant defy 5 that's a bike you could ride and live with for a long time. Value and performance .... Amazing

http://www.tinpony.co.uk/

It's great that you can get good quality for less than you used to but price and availability of bikes is not what's holding people back from taking up cycling.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [910 posts]
3rd December 2014 - 22:17

0 Likes

How can Merlin sell such a nice bike for that price?! Specially if u see the bikes that cost more and have such bad kit.

KoenM's picture

posted by KoenM [31 posts]
3rd December 2014 - 23:43

1 Like

KnightBiker wrote:
My 2 cents: Do not buy cheap bikes like these but buy a good second hand one with with better specs but older parts, if in proper condition they will probably last longer and ride better.

(in holland we have the saying: you have to learn it on an old bike > meaning you are not worth new or expensive stuff until you have learned the tricks an pitfalls of the trade- this saying does not only apply to bicycles)

Agreed, I bought a high specced top of the line Italian race bike from 2012, for the price of a new lower end bike, earlier this year. Payed maybe 25% of what it cost when new.

posted by Aezreth [2 posts]
4th December 2014 - 8:04

0 Likes

Slight erratum for the b'Twin Triban 500 SE , in case any of you are wondering it comes with carbon forks and not steel forks as stated in the article.

b'Twin

btwin's picture

posted by btwin [7 posts]
4th December 2014 - 9:43

0 Likes

Planet X are doing their Alloy RT-58 with a choice of Tiara or Apex for just £500. If I wanted a training bike or a beginner's bike that's what I'd get.

All of their bikes are unbelievable value at the moment.

posted by Hollisharri [41 posts]
4th December 2014 - 11:01

0 Likes

Hi thre3aces,
FYI, the b'Twin Triban 300 (white) is now £279.
http://www.decathlon.co.uk/triban-300-road-bike-white-id_8239800.html

b'Twin

btwin's picture

posted by btwin [7 posts]
4th December 2014 - 11:48

0 Likes

Where did the info come from that the PR7 will be back in stock in January? The Merlin website still says no stock until March 2015.

Him Up North's picture

posted by Him Up North [238 posts]
4th December 2014 - 12:00

0 Likes

It's kind of a shame that Halfords don't still do the TdF they used to sell. It was far better value than their current offerings at it's usual selling price of £250-350. They were higher spec and lower real selling price. (Ignore their nonsense rrps!) In my experience, some of their mechanics are dreadful, though, so get a knowledgeable friend to check it over and maybe don't bother with the first free service. (A friend's TdF was set up with a brake block rubbing the tyre when the brake was applied - a very dangerous piece of negligence imho.) Perhaps it's good they dont have such great deals any more for beginners?!

There is some dodgy advice in this article. The importance of sizing on a road bike is really not emphasized enough, and stating that shifters on the top of the drop bars is convenient is nonsense. This is the last place someone new to drop bars should put their hands when riding.

The Merlin really is a bargain if you can work out what size will fit you.

It's also worth looking at last year's models from local bike shops and online stores (again, deoending on good sizing info). You can often get a very good bike for the money this way.

2nd hand is certainly the best option at the bottom of the price ramge but you need someone who knows their stuff to check bikes for you before buying, and you need to watch out for stolen bikes Sad

DaveE128's picture

posted by DaveE128 [85 posts]
4th December 2014 - 12:13

0 Likes

Merlin at 300 is stunning value. Struggle to get a POC rain jacket for that!

posted by Freddy56 [14 posts]
4th December 2014 - 15:03

0 Likes

No doubt the Tesco number is shocking for everyday use, but I did wonder whether there would be any merit in getting one just to hook up to a basic turbo? Effectively a training 'machine' for about £160 - sure it would be okay for blasting in the garage for half an hour a couple of times a week?

dafyddp's picture

posted by dafyddp [180 posts]
4th December 2014 - 16:55

0 Likes

You can get a Felt F95 cheaper than Wiggle right now at Merlin (mine should arrive tomorrow )

CommotionLotion

posted by CommotionLotion [6 posts]
4th December 2014 - 17:58

0 Likes

"You'll never buy another"....

CommotionLotion

posted by CommotionLotion [6 posts]
4th December 2014 - 18:00

0 Likes