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BUYER'S GUIDE

Best road bikes 2022 — find your perfect drop bar bike whatever your budget

From £300 right up to £7,000, browse our pick of the best road bikes from this super broad category and decide which type is best for you

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The topic of the best road bikes used to be a relatively simple one; but where once round, steel tubes dominated and most road bikes were made purely for racing and fast riding on the road, there's now there’s a huge variety to suit every budget and every need.


Off the top of our slightly sweaty post-ride heads, on road.cc alone there’s the best endurance road bikes, best aero road bikes, best sportive bikes, best carbon road bikes… the list is endless! 

The bad news is that inflation has seen road bike prices rise over the past couple of years.. but the good news is that they’ll still save you huge money over an automobile, are better for the planet and will improve your health.

The road bike market is a confusing one, with frame materials, geometry and components all influencing road bike design. Whereas the endurance road bikes might have a more relaxed geometry for many comfortable miles in the saddle, the best aero road bikes will have a greater focus on cutting drag and boosting speed by using aero tubing, and will often come with deeper wheels for more aero gains. 

You need to ask yourself many questions on your road bike buying journey. The biggest one, of course, is what’s your budget? Then it’s questions like: what will I be using my road bike for? Commuting, long Sunday morning rides, the occasional shorter midweek sojourn with friends? Is weight important? Do you need disc brakes? Is a carbon frame a need or a must?

We're under no illusions that crowning the 'best road bike' is pretty much impossible, because as we've explained already, the road bike genre is a very broad one. If you're just dipping your toe into cycling, then consider this guide as a useful introduction to road bikes with a wide selection of top picks from our bulging reviews archive, plus some handy advice under our selections. Some might be wildly out of your price range, others you may not like the look of... but whatever you're after, we're hoping there should be something here for you. Then, if your budget is, say, around three grand but you want to see a wider selection, you can refine your search and check out our guide to the best road bikes under £3,000

Capiche? Check out our choices and hopefully, the perfect road bike for you is amongst them!

The best road bikes: our top picks

Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 8 Di2

Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 8 Di2 2023

8
Best all-rounder for racing
Buy now for £6449 from Canyon
Well-balanced speed, handling and comfort
Spec is perfect
Loads of easy position adjustability
Not the bargain that it once was

The Ultimate has been designed as a race bike and, if you have the legs, Canyon’s absolutely correct – this is one fast bike. Upon this carbon beauty, you can sprint, climb and descend swiftly and with style. The test model came in at 7.27kg but if that’s not light enough for you, an even higher-spec model comes in at 6.8kg.

But what of the spec of the Ultimate CF SLX 8 Di2? Well, as you can tell from the title, it’s equipped with Shimano’s electronic groupset, this time in the form of its 12-speed Ultegra. It works wonderfully and you’d have to be a real shifting pedant to look to upgrade to the more expensive and ever-so slightly lighter Dura-Ace Di2.

Wheels come in the form of DT Swiss’ ARC 1400s and they complement the bike nicely, though they will suit rolling roads a little more than properly hilly routes. The 50mm depth can be nudged slightly by sidewinds, but these are one of the easiest wheels to get along with in gusty conditions. Mounted onto these wheels are Schwalbe Pro One Skin tyres that perform well.

Rocketing bike prices mean Canyon isn’t the value-packed brand it once was. But with the Ultimate CF SLX 8 Di2, that doesn’t matter. It’s comparable price-wise with its contemporaries (or better than) and it delivers a fantastic ride, one that’s fast and comfortable. If you have the money, you can’t go wrong.

Read our review: 
Triban 100 Road Bike

Triban 100 Road Bike

8
The most affordable road.cc-recommended road bike
Buy now for £299.99 from Decathlon
Stable handling
Functional components ideal for the beginner
Weighty steel fork
Bottom gear too high for beginners

French retailer Decathlon has forged a reputation for fine-value sports gear, but this is next level. At £300 (£50 more than when we reviewed the older B'Twin-branded version, but still a right bargain) the Triban RC100, from Decathlon’s own Triban brand, is cheaper than some shoes we’ve tested. And that price doesn’t come totally at the expense of ride quality, as this is one comfortable and smooth bike that also comes in a women’s option.

The aluminium alloy frame and entry-level components mean it’s a relatively weighty number (11.61kg), with much of that extra bulk down to the steel forks and rudimentary wheels. But, perhaps surprisingly, it doesn’t feel sluggish. It’s a comfortable ride, helped by the 32mm tyres, which have a bit of knobbly tread on the sidewalls, so are ideal for hardpacked towpaths and bridleways. Handling’s good and it’s plenty stable enough through corners and when descending.

The drivetrain’s a bit of a mish mash but it all works. The seven-speed Shimano gear shifter is operated by your thumb. Shifting across the range is fine albeit a little clunky. The calliper brakes do a solid job, especially in the dry.

Overall, this is a good package for very little money.

Read our review:
Boardman SLR 8.8

Boardman SLR 8.8

8
Best road bike under £1,000
Buy now for £850 from Halfords
Great value for money
Decent spec list
Easy-to-control handling
A bit weighty

 

As prices continue to rise, Boardman has done a sterling job to keep a bike of this quality and componentry under the £1,000 mark. The SLR 8.8 delivers a fine ride via a no-nonsense frame and fork with well-balanced handling to suit beginners or those who want to exploit its all-weather capabilities.

The triple-butted 6061 alloy frame and slender tube profiles serve up a tasty ride, transferring power proficiently without feeling harsh. The SLR 8.8 primarily uses a Shimano Tiagra groupset that’s based around a 10-speed system. However, the chainset is FSA Vero Compact, while the brakes switch to Tektro. It’s a cornucopia of components but it does the job.

Boardman’s-branded SLR rims are laced to Formula DC-20 (front) and DC-22 (rear) hubs and are a solid set of wheels. They’re not light but they are dependable. Vittoria’s Rubino G2.0 28mm tyres are great for high-mileage riders who aren’t obsessed by top speed. Grip levels are reassuring, especially in the wet.

At £850, this bike is an absolute bargain.

Read our review: 
Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7

Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 Dura-Ace Di2 2021

9
Best money-no-object road bike for racing
Buy now for £13199 from Sigma Sports
Wheel rim profiles make a massive difference to aerodynamics
Impressive weight for a disc brake-equipped bike
Wheels aren't tubeless compatible
Top-end price tag

We described the price of the top-of-the-range S-Works Tarmac from Specialized as "eye-watering" when we reviewed it with the previous generation of Shimano's Dura-Ace; and after a couple of years of inflation, supply chain issues and the addition of the all new 12-speed Shimano Dura-Ace 9200, that price tag is now considerably higher! 

What do you get for your 13-14 grand? Specialized' highest grade FACT 12R carbon fibre, full internal cable routing for a super clean look and superior aerodynamics and lightweight combined. When it launched the new Tarmac caused a stir by being aerodynamically optimised and bang on the UCI's 6.8kg minimum bike weight limit. This led to the "one bike to rule them all" moniker, and if you are after one race bike that will handle sprints as well as climbs, the Tarmac SL7 would be our choice. 

If your pockets aren't quite so deep there are trickle-down versions with less expensive groupsets and wheels, albeit for a slight weight penalty over this top-end model. If you want the best of the best, though, this bike should be high up your wishlist. 

Read our review:
Merida Scultura 300

Merida Scultura 300

8
Best road bike for affordable comfort
Buy now for £1050 from Merida Bikes
Great ride quality from the frame and fork
Balanced handling that works for beginners and seasoned riders alike
Limited tyre clearance
Brake pads need an upgrade

At around the £1,000 price point, the Scultura 300 goes to show you don’t need to remortgage your home to buy a new bike. It’s a capable and comfortable performance road bike that’ll give you many hours and miles of joy. Okay, it’s not the lightest out there, hitting the scales at 9.26kg when we reviewed the 2020 model, but that doesn’t hold the 300 back on anything but the steepest of climbs. It handles nicely, making this a strong contender for your first road bike or a quality upgrade from bikes at around the £500 mark.

It's constructed from tripled-butted 6066 grade aluminium alloy, which flows into a carbon fork that dampens down vibrations from turbulent UK terrain nicely. 

The finishing kit’s mainly Merida’s own brand including the Comp SL wheels. They’re solid and durable but do add weight, so you might want to treat yourself to some sprightlier hoops come the summer. Maxxis supply the tyres. This is one of the only let-downs as they’re not the most supple and mute the ride somewhat. Another upgrade would help here.

Still, despite those minor tweaks, there’s a lot to love about the Merida Scultura 300. It’s comfortable, stiff and will cope with the worst of the UK weather. If you want a bit more stopping power, there's also a hydraulic disc brake version, but you'll pay a little more. 

Read our review:
Fairlight Strael 3.0

Fairlight Strael 3.0

10
Best steel road bike
Buy now for £3099 from Fairlight Cycles
Excellent ride quality
Clever design details
Massively versatile

One of the few bikes to receive a 10/10 score from road.cc and a road.cc Recommends Bike of the Year winner, the Fairlight Strael 3.0 is even better than the versions before it and wowed our reviewer with its stunning ride quality, genius design and versatility. 

It takes everything brilliant from its predecessor but includes some updates that not only improve the ride quality but also give the Strael an even smoother, more refined look. The forming and butting of the chainstays on this model have been reshaped to work better with forces in all directions, and this results in a very stiff bike that responds almost as well as a carbon superbike. It's comfortable and well-balanced too, meaning this bike is at home in races, on sportives or even the commute if you're after a luxury mile-munching bike. 

The attention to detail on the Strael 3.0 is second to none, and with so many mounts for extra gear, it can be anything you want it to be.

The price we've quoted is for a build with Shimano's Ultegra groupset at the time of writing. The frameset currently starts at £1,399, and you can completely customise your build with Fairlight when ordering. 

Read our review:
Mason Definition

Mason Definition

9
Best aluminium road bike
Buy now for £3665 from Mason Cycles
Excellent attention to detail
Ride quality is second to none
Fun to ride regardless of speed

Mason's Definition pushes the boundaries of what you think an aluminium frameset can be, and in terms of looks, ride quality and craftsmanship, it equals and even surpasses many carbon fibre bikes. 

Receiving high praise for many years on road.cc, our reviewer described the current version built with Campagnolo's Chorus groupset as "a jack of all trades, yet amazingly a master of all." As an all-round road bike it's one of the best out there full stop, not just among aluminium bikes, and the ride quality and geometry work both at speed or when cruising along – and that's whether you're crossing town, the county, or even the country. The build quality and finish are flawless too thanks to Mason's skilled Italian makers, putting many alloy bikes with their fugly welds in the shade. 

In the Chorus build our test bike weighed 8.6kg, and all the cables and wires are run internally using Mason's Multiport system. The build quality and paint finish is impeccable, and as we've already mentioned, the ride sublime.

The price we've quoted is for the build with the Chorus groupset and Mason x Hunt 4Season wheels, though you can pay between £3,045-£6,045 in numerous different builds. 

Read our review:
Van Nicholas Ventus

Van Nicholas Ventus

8
Best value titanium road bike
Buy now for £2799 from Van Nicholas
Beautiful ride quality
Plenty of stiffness for hard efforts
Good value for a titanium bike
Standard wheels add a fair chunk of weight

Incredibly, the Ventus is classed as Van Nicholas’ entry-level option, but the way it performs is anything but. In short, it’s great fun to ride, as well as looking rather beautiful to boot. It’s designed for speed, whether that’s racing or lively group riding.

Much of that lively attribute comes down to the geometry, which is rather aggressive compared to many modern bikes. It sends you into a good aero position that helps you to capitalise on the titanium frame that maximises every pedal stroke.

Van Nicholas give you the option of configuring your Ventus to suit your needs and budget. Our test model came equipped with Shimano 105 groupset with hydraulic disc brakes, both of which do a fine job. Shimano also provide the wheels in the form of their WH-RS171 model.  Stiffness is good and they’ll take plenty of abuse. Continental’s Grand Sport Race tyres are decent performers, too.

If you’re looking for some titanium in your life, the Ventus is a compelling way to dip your toes in.

Read our review:
Scott Addict 10

Scott Addict 10

8
Best road bike around £3,000
Buy now for £3149 from Scott Sports
Wide spread of gears
Confidence-inspiring handling
Good value
Standard tyres aren't tubeless
Ride is firmer than most endurance bikes

The Scott Addict 10 is a well-priced endurance bike that delivers a high-performance ride. In fact, it’s one of the firmest rides of an endurance bike that we know of, but stops short of feeling harsh. Overall, it’s as close to a full-on race bike that the majority of us need.

The carbon-fibre frame is shown off in all its glory thanks to the lack of any external cables, hoses or wires. It looks slick and adds an aerodynamic edge. Scott utilises its Evo-Lap technology to maximise the lay-up of the carbon fibres and it seems to work, striking a good balance between stiffness and comfort.

The Addict 10 comes with SRAM’s entry-level wireless electronic-shifting 12-speed Rival AXS groupset. We’ve used this groupset several times before and it’s always impressed. You also have enough gears to cope with the steepest of climbs. SRAM’s hydraulic brakes scrub speed in a nice controlled manner and instil you with confidence.

Scott’s component brand, Syncros, supplies much of the finishing kit including the RP2.0 disc wheels. If you’re looking for all-out speed, look to a deep-rim model, but these perform well in  terms of acceleration and climbing. The impressive tyre clearance means it comes with 32mm  tyres as standard. They’re Schwalbe Ones that roll and grip well.

If you’re after a smooth-handling endurance bike with a racy edge and plenty of stiffness, this could be the bike for you.

Read our review: 
Moda Finale

Moda Finale

8
Best carbon road bike for ride quality
Buy now for £3869 from Moda Bikes
Sweet handling
Impressive stiffness throughout
Short wheelbase makes it feel nimble
Looks great
A bit weighty in this build

The Moda Finale is the company’s flagship road bike, and it’s certainly a looker with its aero tubing, deep red paint job and fully concealed cable routing. Performance is a greater focus than comfort but that doesn’t mean it’s uncomfortable. Let’s just say it’s firm, which is to be expected of many aero bikes.

The frame and fork’s built from uni-directional carbon. It’s beautifully finished and certainly gives the aura of a high-quality product with a claimed frame weight of 1,090g and 410g for the fork. It’s a clean look with internal cable routing throughout.

Moda offers a selection of builds, using various Shimano electronic and mechanical groupsets, plus there are upgrades possible on wheelsets, handlebars and stems. Our test model came equipped with Shimano’s 12-speed 105 Di2 electronic groupset, which is incredibly impressive and virtually matches the performance of the higher-tier Ultegra.

The wheels are Mavic Aksium Discs. At 1,800g they’re not the lightest but they are robust and reliable. Our test bike came shod with Continental Ultra Sport tyres in a 28mm width. They’re good all-rounders offering decent levels of grip and rolling resistance.

The Finale not only looks the business but has the ride quality, handling and stiffness to match. This is a proper aero bike that will simply make you smile.

Read our review:
Trek Emonda SL5 Disc

Trek Émonda SL 5 Disc

8
Best value fully integrated road bike
Buy now for £2295 from Balfe's Bikes
Internal cable routing gives a very clean look
A great all-rounder
Good finishing kit
Not exactly light

The Émonda is Trek's all-round race bike offering, and the higher end models are used by pros on the UCI World Tour. In this build it's solid with great handling, has a stiff platform for performance and a comfortable riding position. It's also clean with no visible cabling. 

Our reviewer described the ride as firm but balanced, and the makeover it had in 2021 has transformed it from a purely lightweight climbing machine to a bike with some aerodynamic credentials, making it more of an all-rounder. 

We couldn't fault the ride, finding it firm but not too harsh, and it looks great too with large tube junctions that flow smoothly, while the chunky down tube gives a hint at just how stiff the Émonda is.

At 9kg it's not exactly light, and the finishing kit isn't absolutely top-of-the-range at this price point; but this is a bike that will tackle any kind of topography or race and excel. The frameset is great and it can be upgraded over time too.

Kinesis R2 road bike

Kinesis R2 2021

8
Best road bike for all-round practicality
Buy now for £1680 from Kinesis UK
Practical
Comfortable
Pacy
A little heavy

The Kinesis R2 is a no-nonsense aluminium road bike that accommodates fairly large tyres and comes with eyelets for fitting mudguards and a rack, so it’s a good choice as an all-rounder for typical UK conditions.

It’s made from 6061 alloy, which is stiff enough when you put the power down; in fact, it’s really rather quick and not sluggish at all. The groupset is Shimano’s 10-speed Tiagra. Yes, it’s not 11-speed, which some might expect at this price point, but you really don’t miss that extra cassette on UK roads. Hydraulic braking is superb and reliable.

The wheels are Alex Draw 1.9P tubeless-compatible rims and Novatec hubs with decent sealed bearings, laced together by 28 three-cross spokes. They’re not glitzy but, fitting with the character of the bike as a whole, they’re strong and practical and should prove durable. As for the tyres, Continental Grand Sport Races are solid enough performers, although you could enjoy a livelier feel with an upgrade down the line.

The R2 is quick, sure, but it’s also designed to be functional and easy to live with, and you’ll really appreciate that in the long term.

Read our review: 
Specialized Allez Sprint Comp

Specialized Allez Sprint Comp

8
Best aluminium road bike for fast handling
Buy now for £2900 from Sigma Sports
Fast
Brilliant handling
Quite weighty
Price

The 2022 Specialized Allez Sprint Disc is a very fast aluminium road bike that handles superbly. Specialized has used its D’Alusio Smart Weld technology to make the alloy tubes stronger and lighter. It’s certainly had an impact on the scales, though the whole package still comes in at 8.7kg. That’s noticeable on the hills compared to carbon bikes at this price point but fine on the flats. The only disappointment with those tubes is the welding, which is a touch too noticeable for our liking on a bike that price-wise, is in smooth carbon-bike territory.

The geometry’s evolved over previous editions and is a much more stable road racer than the twitchy model of the past. Shimano’s 105 R7020 model takes care of drivetrain duties and performs brilliantly, delivering solid, seamless shifting alongside excellent stopping and control from the hydraulic brakes.

DT Swiss’s R470 wheels are good – they’re tubeless ready and have a decently wide 21mm internal rim width – but a bike of this swift character is crying out for a set of deep-rim wheels. Specialized’s own Turbo Power tyres is fast while offering good levels of grip in all conditions.

The Allez Sprint is a fast bike with excellent handling but might suffer from its strong carbon competition at this price point.

Read our review:

How to choose from the best road bikes

faq-icon
How much should I pay for a road bike?

As you can see from our pick of the best road bikes, you can bag yourself a new road-going steed for as little as £300. However, at the other end of the fiscal spectrum, the sky is the limit really, and an all-singing, all-dancing option can cost upwards of £10,000.

As with anything, paying more won't guarantee you better performance but can often result in a lighter build and higher quality components (wheels, gears and brakes). As you spend more, be wary of diminishing gains. Whilst the difference between a £300 bike and a £1,000 bike will feel significant, don't expect to experience the same performance benefit between, say, a £3,000 and £10,000 bike.

It's also worth remembering that if this is going to be your first road bike, or you're returning to the sport after a significant time off, then you’ll probably also need to budget enough to buy the best cycling helmet for your money plus other bits of clothing and accessories.

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What type of road bike should I buy?

As we've previously mentioned, there's a vast array of styles of road bikes to suit a plethora of riders and roads. You can start by staring into the mirror and (whilst being very honest with yourself) try to understand what your priorities are as a cyclist. Are you looking to become an out-and-out racer and the next Tadej Pogacar? If so then how mountainous are the roads where you live/will be riding, sprinters and speed freaks will want to check out the best aero road bikes on the market whilst those looking to conquer cols might prefer one of the best lightweight road bikes.

Many of us, however, simply don't put in enough hours on the bike to benefit from the super aggressive position and twitchy/fast handling of machines designed for out-and-out racing. One of the best endurance road bikes is what the vast majority of us should be riding thanks to their more stable handling characteristics and more relaxed geometry such as a higher front end which will most likely result in greater comfort on long rides such as sportives.

Endurance road bikes often also feature wider tyre clearances making them more versatile machines and again boosting comfort on the UK's notoriously dodgy road surfaces.

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Do I need a road bike?

If you’re planning to ride solely on the road, then it’s a no-brainer – go for a road bike, they're by far the most efficient way of cycling, meaning that you can travel further with less effort thanks to aerodynamics and low rolling resistance. 

Then again, if your main journey’s from home to the office, you might be better off choosing a commuting bike for your needs. This could be a hybrid (usually with flat bars and chunkier tyres), a folding bike for easy carrying and storage, or an electric bike for some pedalling assistance so you arrive at the office less sweaty. Road bikes are also fine for commuting though, and offer the advantage of being perfect for longer rides if you fancy riding beyond your commute; at the weekend, for example.

You may have also seen the rise in the popularity of gravel bikes, and as the name suggests these are steeds that can also be taken off-road thanks to a more upright/relaxed position, wider gearing and wider tyre clearances. If on-road speed isn't a priority and you fancy venturing... onto the beaten track, then one of these might be a better bet. You can, of course, keep a set of road wheels to put on it too for extra speed on the tarmac.

faq-icon
What groupset is best?

As a reminder, a groupset, or gruppo, is the collection of parts that make up a bicycle’s drivetrain. The components include the shifters, crankset, bottom bracket, front and rear derailleurs, chain and cassette. It can often also include brakes, whether these be hydraulic disc brakes, mechanical disc brakes or rim brakes. 

Often, the increase in a bike’s price as you go through a brand’s range is heavily down to the quality of the groupset. In many cases, the frame is in fact exactly the same! At the top end, you’ll find 12-speed groupsets, such as Shimano Dura-Ace R9200, Sram Red eTap AXS and Campagnolo Super Record EPS, all of which feature electronic options. Electronic gearing has been a thing for quite a while now, and as such has trickled down into lower groupsets from the big players such as Sram Rival eTap AXS and Shimano 105 Di2.

At the entry level, you'll tend to find groupsets that are weightier, feature fewer gears and with more clunky gear actuation. It’ll also definitely be a mechanical groupset, but if your budget allows and you're running disc brakes then we do recommend opting for hydraulic rather than mechanical in this area. Shimano Claris R2400 is a good example of one of our favourite entry-level groupsets, and it features eight gears at the back.  

For reference, Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo are the three major road-bike groupset manufacturers. You can read more about them in our Shimano groupsetSram groupset and Campagnolo groupset guides.  

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What are the best upgrades I can make to my road bike?

Well, beyond groupsets, which we've mentioned above, the biggest upgrade that you can make is purchasing a set of the best road bike wheels. Swapping out the wheelset can drop a huge amount of weight as often the stock wheels that bikes come with are, well, not the best! If you're after performance then you might want to consider carbon wheels, which can also feature deeper rims for an aerodynamic boost.

Other popular upgrades include saddles, as they're a very personal choice and can vastly improve comfort on the bike by picking the perfect one for you (you can check out our best cycling saddle buyer's guide to see some of your options). There are also some relatively inexpensive upgrades that you can make which can still have a big effect on your riding enjoyment. Changing your tyres or even going for plusher bar tape, to give two examples, can boost confidence, grip and speed.