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6 of the Best Bikes for Sportives from Triban, Specialized, Genesis, Cannondale, Ribble and Canyon

Sportive bikes are more comfortable versions of race-orientated road bikes. They have slightly more relaxed handling, frames tuned to smooth the ride and capacity for wider tyres. They could also make you faster. Here are six of the best.

Ok, a road race bike might look cool, and come with fancy-sounding aero claims, but a sportive bike won’t beat you up as much, and that can make a big difference to your energy levels towards the end of a long ride. So, if you’re in the market for a new bike, check out our top picks.

And if you'd like an even bigger selection of top sportive bikes, check out our buyer's guide. It is packed with even more brands and covers a huge range of prices so whatever your budget, we've got you covered with some great suggestions.

Ribble Endurance SL Disc

Ribble Endurance SL - riding 1.jpg

First in our selection is the Ribble Endurance SL Disc. This is one that Liam rode and he got to choose a custom spec on this bike through Ribble’s bike builder and as we were aiming to build a sportive bike, the end result fits our selection quite nicely.

This bike is more at the road-race bike end of the spectrum, so if you are comfortable with a low front end then this could be the bike for you. But how did it ride?

> Review: Ribble Endurance SL Disc

Well, if weekend group rides and sportives are your thing then this is going to be ideal. You have a fair bit of speed to play with, but you get it along with fantastic comfort levels. A lot of that is coming from the wheels. The low-profile Mavic hoops that we had on our bike were perfect for the job. They were speedy enough on the flats, climbed well and we felt comfortable riding over properly potholed stretches of road. 

Ribble Endurance SL - drivetrain.jpg

That Ultegra R8020 groupset is also a brilliant choice for sportives. It’s plenty light enough, the shifting is brilliant and there is loads of power in the brakes.

Triban RC 520

Best road bikes under £1000

Next up is one of our favourite entry-level bikes of all time. The Triban RC 520 Disc costs just £849.99 and it offers so much for your money with bags of versatility and brilliant kit for the money.

> Review: Triban 520 Women's Disc

What surprises most about the Triban 520 is just how nice the ride is. It is easy to ride at moderate speeds and cruising along is a joy. Cornering in any situation is confidence-inspiring, and it rolls incredibly smoothly too. It takes poor road surfaces in its stride, with a good amount of all-around compliance keeping things comfortable, and as long as you stay in the saddle it climbs moderately well too.

Triban RC 520 - head tube.jpg

The geometry thing is a really important point here. With the Triban 520, it's all about a functional position aimed right at tourers and regular commuters at one end of the spectrum, and endurance roadies at the other.

> Review: Triban 520 Disc

With a super-tall head tube and compact top tube, the bike sits you upright relative to your general entry-level race bike, or even a fair chunk of the endurance-specific market too. It fully justifies its do-it-all tag for everyone except budding racers.

Cannondale Synapse

2022 Cannondale Synapse 2 RL - riding 5.jpg

Cannondale’s Synapse just couldn’t be left off a list of the best sportive bikes. It’s a classic. The 2022 range runs from £1,600 right up to £9,000 and we think that the sweet spot is this 2 RL Disc model which will set you back just under £4,000.

New for 2022, the latest Cannondale Synapse has seen some major changes over the previous model, not only in terms of frame shape and detailing but also with the inclusion of their integrated SmartSense system which includes lights, speed sensors and even Garmin's Radar detection system on some models. At its heart though is still an excellent frameset that offers a great ride quality and loads of stiffness.

2022 Cannondale Synapse 2 RL - riding 2.jpg

You can really ride the Cannondale hard and fast. It deals well with off-camber technical bends without feeling flustered, and we wouldn't say it gives a lot away in terms of steering speed to more race-orientated bikes.

> Review: Cannondale Synapse 2 RL Disc

It's not all pedal mashing and heavy braking into the bends though. The geometry allows you to sit just a little bit more upright than on a bike with a slammed front end, which reduces pressure on the lower back and wrists. That makes the Synapse an efficient mile muncher.

2022 Cannondale Synapse 2 RL - smart sense battery unit 2.jpg

The SmartSense tech, with a host of potential electronic integration in the future, is something that we’re really interested in, but if it isn’t for you, then just disconnect it. 

Canyon Endurace

2021 canyon endurace cf slx 8 disc

A bike that rides superbly and can also be had at a decent price is the Canyon Endurace. We really like the CF SLX Disc 8.0 eTap. It's quick, offers plenty of stiffness, and comes fitted with the highly efficient gear ratios of the 12-speed SRAM Force eTap groupset. That's a match made in heaven.

With hydraulic disc brakes and wireless mechs, a medium-sized eTap model weighs in at a pretty light 7.77kg, which transfers to the ride. It's very responsive under acceleration and pretty good on the climbs too.

2020 Canyon Endurace CF SLX Disc 8.0 eTap - riding 6.jpg

Stiffness levels are high, which means you can attack the hills either seated or smashing it out of the saddle, and when you’ve only had time for a quick blast of an hour or so it’s easy to enjoy riding the Canyon hard.

> Review: Canyon Endurace CF SLX Disc 8.0

But it's on longer trips where the Endurace really shows its hand, mostly because of how comfortable it is. The first thing you'll notice is the bump-taming properties of the fancy leaf-spring seatpost. It allows a small amount of movement which takes the edge off rough road surfaces and just smooths the ride.

Genesis Equilibrium

2021 Genesis Equilibrium - riding 3.jpg

Speaking of smooth rides, the Genesis Equilibriumis one to have a look at if you fancy something with a steel frame. The Equilibrium has been part of Genesis' lineup for many years now, and this latest version is an absolute corker, thanks to a smooth ride and plenty of tyre clearance. The only thing we’d upgrade at some point is the brakes.

The Equilibrium now has a Reynolds 725 steel frame with a Genesis steel fork and the ride quality is beautiful. These comfort levels mean you can ride this bike for hours without feeling battered or broken. That makes a big difference on something like an audax, riding a challenging sportive, or if you're out touring.

2021 Genesis Equilibrium - top tube.jpg

The Equilibrium achieves all of this while retaining plenty of feedback through its frame and fork, making it a bike you can feel and listen to. The geometry is slightly slacker than a race bike and that brings neutrality to the handling, helped by the longer wheelbase too.

> Review: Genesis Equilibrium

Tyre clearance is good for both frame and fork at 30mm, thanks to the deep section, dual-pivot callipers which also allow you run full mudguards. And can we just touch on the fact that this bike comes in under 2 grand. In fact, you’ll have change left over for stuff like mudguards if you do want to spec this up as an all-weather bike.

Specialized Roubaix

Specialized Roubaix - riding 3.jpg

Our final bike is the Specialized Roubaix. This cobble-crushing race bike was designed for Paris-Roubaix which, if you didn’t know, is a one-day race in northern France that takes in over 50km of the roughest cobblestones you’ve ever seen. This bike’s bump-taming abilities mean that it is rather well suited to a long day on British roads and as it was originally designed as a race bike, you can be sure it’s pretty speedy too.

Specialized completely overhauled the much-loved Roubaix for 2020, saving weight, improving aerodynamics and refining the Future Shock bump-absorbing front suspension.

> Review: Specialized S-Works Roubaix

Granted, this lavishly equipped S-Works model is eye-wateringly expensive, but there are more affordable options in the range that inherit all the key changes.

> Review: Specialized Roubaix Comp

The Future Shock works overtime to smooth out the wrinkles, cracks and holes that are abundant on our local roads, and which on a stiff race bike can lead to a bumpy ride. The 20mm of suspension is buttery smooth and quiet during use. 

Specialized Roubaix Comp - stem.jpg

You don't actually notice it, apart from the smoothness you're feeling through the handlebar and when you look down to see the protective rubber boot being constantly squashed. Thanks to the new Pave seatpost with built-in flex and the dropped seatstays seated comfort is the equal of any other endurance bike on the market, such as the Trek Domane or Canyon Endurace, if not a touch more impressive. Combined with the Future Shock, the result is a very balanced bike that dishes out silky smoothness over the coarsest roads.

We’ve taken a closer look at the Cannondale Synapse that we mentioned earlier. It’s well worth checking out because the SmartSense tech is rather nifty.

Do you agree with our picks? Let us know what bike you use for sportives in the comments below.