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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.