10 budget 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   March 26, 2014  

Decathlon B-Twin Triban 3

Last year's guide to finding a road bike for under £500 was one of the most read articles on the site - so we've updated it to look at what's our there for under £500 in 2014. We said it then and we'll say it again now, you really don't need to spend a fortune to get a good road bike these days, as this roundup of 10 bikes shows. 

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 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. Their 2300 is the most prevalent drivetrain, and you might spot a bit of next-level-up Sora.

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.

£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 - the best deal we could find when we were updating this feature (March 2014) was a Viking Jetstream on sale at Winstanleys for £138.99, eighty quid off list price.

However if it definitely, incontrovertibly, has to be a brand new undiscounted machine first in a field of one is this beauty.

Tesco Reflex Circuit £140

Supermarkets make up much of the sales for bikes at this price and from Tesco is the Reflex Circuit 700c road bike. It’s the most affordable road bike we could find There are few details about it, but we do know it combines an alloy frame with a 14-speed Shimano groupset, mixing Tourney with A050 bar-mounted shifters. It has a claimed weight of 12.2kg (26.89lb). 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 reallky tight budget and you don't want to explore second-hand options then this might be worth a look. 

£200-£300

Spend just a £100 more - okay, that's still almost double what the Tesco Reflex cost - 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 3 £249.99

One of the most popular and common affordable road bikes is B'Twin's Triban 3. Normally it retails for £299.99 but it's currently on offer for £249.99, that's because it's soon to be replaced by the Triban 300. So best to hurry up if you want one of these bargains.

Rather smartly the company uses 650B wheels for the three smaller sizes (45-51cm) and regular 700c wheels for the four larger sizes (54-63cm). A 24-speed Shimano groupset with a Ounce chainset is bolted to a red alloy frame with B'Twin's own caliper brakes and finishing kit.  

If you're wanting to spend a little bit more, we're currently testing another option in the rang the £379.99 Triban 500 SE that launches in April and is available only in the UK. The Triban range goes on up to £500 with the Triban 5 - although that's heavily discounted too at the moment ahead of the launch of the Triban 500. 

Carrera Zelos Limited Edition £269.99

There are plenty of bikes costing under £500 at Halfords, and pick of the bunch is this Zelos, currently reduced from £599 down to £269. It offers a 7005 aluminium frame with a steel fork built up with a Shimano Tourney 14-speed groupset, including Tourney STI shifters, with a compact 50/34 chainset. All in it's a respectable build and weighs a claimed 11.7kg (25.79lb).

Barracuda Corvus I £299.95

Barracuda's range of bikes have been updated for 2014 and this Corvus I is the entry-level model in the lineup. It costs £299.95 and 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.  

 

£400 to £500

Yes, yes the Felt DOES cost under £500, but only 22p under so it can much in with the bikes costing 22p more and up. Actually the Felt is £49.22 cheaper than the next bike on the list which ironically is from Vitus - Chain Reaction Cycles' house brand. Both look to be very good value for money and underline that as you approach the £500 mark the choice on offer increases markedly and again 

Felt F95 Sora Wiggle Exclusive £399.78

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.

Vitus Bikes Razor £449

From Chain Reaction Cycles comes this Vitus Razar, 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 2400 16-speed groupset with a compact 50/34 chainset and 11-28 cassette. It weighs a claimed 9.8kg (21.6lb).  

Fuji Sportif 2.5 Compact £470

As you nudge closer to £500, you start to see where the extra money goes. In the case of this £470 Fuji Sportif 2.5, some of the difference is in the double butted alloy frame with hydroformed top and down tubes - differences that will decrease the weight and improve the ride quality. The build kit comprises a Shimano A070 14-speed groupset with a compact 50/34 chainset, Oval alloy handlebar, stem, seatpost and saddle, and Vera Corsa wheels with Vera Helios 35mm tyres. 

Pinnacle Dolomite 1 £475

Pinnacle is the in-house brand of retailer Evans Cycles, and the Dolomite is their entry-level road bike. At £50 under the top-end of our price range, 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 eyelets for mudguards, adding quite a bit more versatility than many of the other bikes on this page.

Scott Speedster 60 Compact £499

At the top-end of this price range is Scott’s Speedster 60, which has a smart double butted 6061 aluminium frame an alloy fork. It gets a Shimano A2350 and A070 groupset with a compact 50/34 chainset, and is completed with Schwalbe Racepac 23mm tyres. 

Boardman Road Sport £499.99

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. For a penny under £500 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 £500 but a good bike full stop. 

79 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

I am looking at buying a bike, Triban 3 for £300, from http://www.decathlon.co.uk/. However I don't know much about bikes so I needs some help that is not bias, the bike worth it as I am a beginner?

posted by Chapj008 [1 posts]
5th July 2013 - 21:57

88 Likes

great article!

posted by fluffy_mike [80 posts]
15th July 2013 - 15:36

75 Likes

As anyone had any experience with the Vikings on offer at Go Outdoors? They have a £369 model with Carbon Forks. Sounds like something else to add to the above group test.

Additionally,the link to 'buying your first road bike' at the start of your article appears to link to the wrong guide. It links to a review on £500 to £900 bikes and NOT a guide on what to look for when buy a road, as expected.

David Palmer
Milton Keynes

Specialized Secteur Elite 2013
Team Raleigh Road Bike
Carrera Vulcan V-Spec

djpalmer32's picture

posted by djpalmer32 [55 posts]
22nd July 2013 - 13:31

81 Likes

I see that Halfords are now advertising TdFs at £250, can't be many better value bikes.

Crosshouses's picture

posted by Crosshouses [197 posts]
23rd July 2013 - 16:48

93 Likes

Chapj008 wrote:
I am looking at buying a bike, Triban 3 for £300, from http://www.decathlon.co.uk/. However I don't know much about bikes so I needs some help that is not bias, the bike worth it as I am a beginner?

Consistently heard good things about Decathlon's bikes, though I've never ridden one myself.

Spec-wise the Triban 3 seems great value to me, but as a beginner probably the most important thing is to make sure it's the right size for you and has been built and set up correctly. If you're unsure about this you can always take it for a service at your LBS.

Personally I'd also get some super-strength tyres fitted, Schwalbe Marathon Plusses or similar. They'll set you back around £35 and are heavier than normal tyres but to be honest you'll be cycling for fitness at first anyway and Andrew things are as offputting early doors than punctures.

Good luck!

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1098 posts]
30th July 2013 - 10:13

87 Likes

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.

backflipbedlem's picture

posted by backflipbedlem [785 posts]
30th July 2013 - 15:38

84 Likes

Any bike is better than no bike, and all of us started somewhere. Cool

boffo's picture

posted by boffo [31 posts]
3rd August 2013 - 22:11

94 Likes

Also worth a mention is the Raleigh Revenio 1:
http://raleigh.co.uk/ProductType/ProductRange/Product/Default.aspx?pc=1&...
...although the RRP is £550, you may well be able to haggle with your LBS! They're great bikes.

posted by Pierre [81 posts]
5th August 2013 - 8:10

84 Likes

....or hold out for the sales at get an £800 Bianchi down to just over £500.

Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades. (Merckx)

obutterwick's picture

posted by obutterwick [536 posts]
14th August 2013 - 16:09

81 Likes

boffo wrote:
Any bike is better than no bike, and all of us started somewhere. Cool

+1!

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [542 posts]
19th August 2013 - 16:39

76 Likes

If this is a new selection, shouldn't the old comments be removed from underneath the article?

posted by stuartp [61 posts]
25th March 2014 - 17:19

48 Likes

People will only be upset of they know the difference. Without wishing to sound like an old fart, my first bike was a Puch Pacemaker. I think the whole bike was made of mild steel. The seat was hard plastic with no padding. It had 5 non indexed gears and brakes that didn't work that well. I absolutely loved that bike and it ignited my love of cycling. I had loads of adventures on it. I bet the Vitesse would do the same for many people. buying secondhand is a minefield if you don't know what you're doing so isn't an alternative for many people. Also if you we're opening your presents on Christmas Day or your your birthday you would probably be much more excited by your own brand new bike than by a second hand one.

posted by Jerm [39 posts]
25th March 2014 - 19:13

38 Likes

Wiggle did not collaborate with felt. They put a different top cap on which was swapped with another line of felt bikes. They have already had their knuckles wrapped for trying to badge them as 2014 products. Further mistruths from wiggle.

relaxing

PzychotropicMac's picture

posted by PzychotropicMac [82 posts]
25th March 2014 - 19:27

47 Likes

I have a Felt f95. My first road bike and I love it. Have upgraded the saddle, brake pads, tyres and just got some Shimano R501 wheels which have transformed the bike. Been getting lots of miles in and it just keeps getting better. And I paid £518 for it in a sale last year which I thought was a good price then! £400 is a bargain IMHO.

posted by Hensteeth [37 posts]
25th March 2014 - 20:14

49 Likes

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 - 21:38

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 [44 posts]
25th March 2014 - 21:59

37 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 - 22:33

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 [329 posts]
26th March 2014 - 0:13

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 [169 posts]
26th March 2014 - 10:18

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 - 10:46

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 [221 posts]
26th March 2014 - 11:59

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 - 13:10

35 Likes

Another Merlin recommendation. Solid bikes.

posted by gummo [17 posts]
26th March 2014 - 15:42

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 [34 posts]
26th March 2014 - 17:29

26 Likes

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 [131 posts]
26th March 2014 - 21:47

27 Likes

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 [269 posts]
26th March 2014 - 23:14

23 Likes

Giant Defy 5 should be on the list ? x

marillion666's picture

posted by marillion666 [1 posts]
31st March 2014 - 15:02

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 - 21:34

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 [1 posts]
18th April 2014 - 8:27

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 [16 posts]
16th July 2014 - 21:29

3 Likes