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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.