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BUYER'S GUIDE

The 10 best road bikes under £1,000

There are plenty of excellent bikes for under a grand — here's how to choose the right one

So you’ve got around £1,000 to spend on a road bike, but not sure what to look for? We’ve done the hard work for you, testing hundreds of road bikes over the years. These are the best road bikes under £1,000 that you can buy in 2022.

In picking the best road bike under £1,000, you've a big variety of bike styles to chose from, ranging from entry-level race bikes to gravel bikes, touring bikes and high-end hybrids; we're looking at drop-bar bikes here.

Narrow your options by coming up with a list of features you want: mudguard clearance, disc brakes, rack mounts and so on.

A grand is no longer a hard financial barrier with the widening of the Cycle To Work scheme, but it's still a significant psychological point.

The best road bikes under £1,000

Best road bike under £1,000: Triban RC 520

triban rc520 disc road bike

Its friendliness, versatility and high-quality spec makes the Triban RC520 our overall best road bike under £1,000; the only thing it won't readily turn it hand to is road racing. Built around Decathlon's comfort-orientated 6061 aluminium frame, the RC 520 gives you most of a Shimano 105 R7000 groupset and TRP HY/RD disc brake calipers. These have a hydraulic stage to do the tricky bit of turning the braking force though 90° and are significantly more powerful and easier to modulate than cable-only disc brakes.

The Triban RC 520 also has tubeless-ready wheels and Decathlon's own Resist+ 28mm tyres. It's a super-steady, confident ride and excellent value for money.

Tester Ash wrote: "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 – aside from the budding racers, who will be better off opting for an equivalently priced Specialized Allez or similar, even with the downgrade of kit that comes with it.

"What surprises most about the Triban RC 520 is just how accessible the ride is; how easy it is to pedal the bike at moderate speeds and feel like you're just cruising along. It was a consistent characteristic whether I was using the bike for a 5km commute down one of Bath's hills to the road.cc offices, an ascent back home, or a 40km spin around the country – in each situation, it's a supremely easy bike to get on with."

Read our review of the Triban RC 520
Find a Triban dealer

Best road bike under £1,000 for women: Triban Women’s RC 520

triban rc520 women's disc road bike

The Triban RC 520 Women's Disc road bike is incredibly versatile, offers a comfortable ride on our increasingly rough roads and is quite simply serious value for money. If you're looking for a bike that can handle the daily commute as well as take on some gravel trails and a bit of touring, the Triban is the best women's road bike under £1,000. Just be aware that it's not a racing machine.

Tester Emma was pleasantly surprised by the RC520, despite it being a couple of kilos heavier than her race bikes. She writes: "When I got it out on the road, though, I was genuinely surprised. It rolls along really well once up to speed, and getting it there isn't as arduous as you might expect, with gearing to help on the hills.

"The ride and position are perfect for commuting, endurance rides and adventures away from asphalt.That makes the Triban a versatile bike that will appeal to a very wide market. I've used it for wet rides, commuting, gravel riding and touring. Aside from road racing, there's not much it can't cope with.

"The 28mm tyres help hugely with the comfort of the ride. I ran them at 70psi and found them to be pretty forgiving on the rough lanes and potholed roads around the Cotswolds."

Read our review of the Triban Women’s RC 520
Find a Triban dealer

Best gravel bike under £1,000: Sonder Camino AL Apex1

sonder camino al gravel bike road bike

The latest iteration of the Sonder Camino brings two major developments: a full-carbon fork with luggage mounts, and internal routing through the down tube. What hasn't changed is the whopping tyre clearance that's the Camino's headline claim to fame. Big tyres mean comfort, grip and confidence on rough descents, all signature traits of a bike designed for adventure.

Tester Mike writes: "The frame stats speak to a confident ride over rough, loose surfaces, but with chainstays and a BB drop that makes twisting through trees on windy trails fun. A relatively long head tube gives a more comfortable upright ride, and makes matching with a wide gravel-friendly bar such as Ritchey's Comp Venturemax XL easy to do. With its long wheelbase, I found the Camino ridiculously stable at high speed on gravel – even loaded with bikepacking kit."

Read our review of the Sonder Camino AL frameset

Best fast road bike under £1,000: Merida Scultura 200 Disc

Merida Scultura 200 Disc road bike

The Merida Scultura Disc 200 may look like it is an entry-level machine on paper but the frame and fork are absolutely top notch and massively upgradable. It's yet another example of just how good alloy frames are right now. If you have more of a need for speed, then this is the best fast road bike under £1,000.

Tester Stu writes: The Scultura Lite-BSA Disc frame has a very enjoyable ride feel; there is no harshness or irritating amounts of road buzz coming through to your contact points, even with the 25mm tyres pumped up to my preferred high pressures. This makes the Scultura a fun bike to ride and you can really cover some miles tapping away on the pedals while taking in the scenery.

"The handling is pleasingly neutral, which is reassuring for those new to road riding – the Scultura is, after all, priced nicely in that 'first proper road bike' category. While purists might find it a little heavy on climbs, you can really pick up some decent amounts of speed on the way down. Steering through the corners is reasonably tight and the Scultura CF2 disc fork gives plenty of feedback about what the front wheel is up to."

Read our review of the Merida Scultura 200 Disc
Find a Merida dealer

Boardman SLR 8.8

boardman slr 8.8 road bike

In a world of price rises caused by demand and supply issues, delivering a bike of the calibre of the Boardman SLR 8.8 is a masterstroke – not only for less than a grand, but for a cracking £850.

With things like triple butting and slender tube profiles where it matters, the SLR 8.8 gives a great ride feel. It's firm, and as stiff as it needs to be, while taking the edge off the high-frequency buzz coming up from the surface of the road. It makes the Boardman feel like a much more expensive bike when you're riding it.

The geometry is slightly more relaxed than a race bike, with the front end slackened off enough to take a bit of speed out of the steering without muting it too much that it lacks excitement at speed – you can still have fun tackling a fast section of road or your favourite downhill. It's your typical 'endurance' setup. The top tube is a touch shorter for the bike's nominal size and the head tube a little taller. It gives you a less extreme, more relaxing position on the bike while still allowing you to get a bit aero in the drops when you want.

Tester Stu writes: If you are in the market for a road bike and the budget is tight, whether you're a novice or a seasoned rider, the SLR 8.8 is a very positive, confidence-inspiring machine – something that's worth as much, if not more than the spec list. I'd sacrifice the next level up the component tree over ride quality ever day of the week."

Read our review of the Boardman SLR 8.8
Find a Boardman dealer

Trek Domane AL2 Disc

Trek Domane AL2 Disc road bike

Trek's aluminium Domane bikes are quintessential all-rounders, especially since Trek revamped them a couple of years ago with extra tyre clearance so you could use them on easier dirt roads and crumbling back lanes. This is the cheapest disc-equipped Domane and while a couple of the components have clearly been chosen with an eye on the bill of materials, you're getting a very good frame that'll stand later upgrading as components wear out.

The Domane AL 2 has through-axle wheels, clearance for 32mm tyres with mudguards, and handy features like Trek's Blendr stem that makes it easier to add accessories like lights and computers.

Find a Trek dealer

Genesis CDA 20

Genesis CDA 20 road bike gravel bike

The Genesis CDA 20 is part of the company's adventure bike range and it really is rather good. Based on the Croix de Fer but with an aluminium alloy frame rather than steel, it's relaxing to ride on and off the road, comes well equipped for the money and will take full mudguards and a rack for commuting.

Tester Stu writes: "Taking the CDA out for its first spin, I was convinced the frame was steel. It just has that beautiful ride quality where there is a softness to it that filters out any road buzz and harshness. With the tyres pumped up hard for a bit of a 'shakedown' road ride to make sure everything was set up correctly, I caught a glimpse of a bit of gravel that I'd never ventured down before. Barrelling off down the rutted and rocky track, the CDA was unbelievably comfortable.

"Something else that is also pretty pleasing with the CDA is its handling. With a slack head angle of 71.5 degrees (size medium), a trail figure of 65mm (most race bikes are around 55mm) and lengthy 430mm chainstays with corresponding wheelbase, the CDA is a very stable, neutral handling machine. Exactly what you want for the style of riding it's aimed at."

Read our review of the Genesis CDA 20
Find a Genesis dealer

Specialized Allez E5

2022 Specialized Allez road bike

The latest version of Specialized's entry-level aluminium speedster is a little softer and kinder than the race bikes that used to carry the Allez name, but still a barrel of fun to ride. Because it could be picked up for less than the old £1,000 Cycle to Work cap, the Allez became a commuter's favourite, with many taking on the daily haul to and from work in all weathers and conditions. The last set of tweaks reflected this, with the Allez frame now able to take full mudguards and a rear rack while still maintaining the ability to wear 28mm tyres.

As tester Stu put it: "Everything feels tight under hard cornering and braking, that's for sure, and thankfully it hasn't come at the cost of comfort. The entire frame manages to take out the worst of the road buzz and I never once felt like I'd taken a battering."

Good as the Allez is, it hurts somewhat to be recommending a bike that's gone up from £650 to £950 in the last couple of years with no improvement in spec. Comparable bikes from other manufacturers have better components, even if it's just a two-part crankset instead of the Allez's square-taper cranks, or disc brakes. You are getting a very good frame here that'll stand substantial component upgrading, and everyone's prices have gone up 20% or so since 2020, but £950 still borders on taking the piss.

Read our review of the Specialized Allez E5
Find a Specialized dealer

Cube Attain

Cube Attain road bike

Based around a comfortable aluminium alloy frame and carbon fork, the Cube Attain is an enjoyable bike to ride at speed or just cruising along, making it ideal for those just beginning their adventures in the world of road cycling. A competitive weight and impressive finishing kit go some way towards justifying the price tag, but there are cheaper options out there.

Tester Stu writes: The alloy frame we have here is really comfortable to ride. There is no harshness or road buzz resonating through your hands like aluminium frames of yesteryear and the experience is very impressive. I headed out for longer rides over a range of road surfaces and came back home without any feelings of discomfort or fatigue at any of my contact points. In fact, I didn't really notice the bike that much, to be honest, unless I needed to, and that is no criticism of the Cube: it's just that it is so easy to ride.

"The way the Attain behaves is just right for the type of rider it's aimed at, those who are possibly new to road riding and would find something more race orientated a little twitchy."

Read our review of the Cube Attain
Find a Cube dealer

Giant Contend 1

Giant Contend 1 road bike

Giant's always excelled at balanced, decent-value road bikes that'll cope with just about any kind of riding you care to try, whether it's zooming round the lanes, joining a club, riding sportives and audaxes or even entry-level racing. The Contend 1 continues that tradition.

Riding the very similar Contend 1 SL, which has a slightly lighter frame, tester John wrote: "This is an absolutely spot-on all-day ride. It's a comfortable and versatile sportive/endurance bike with a dependable feel that encourages you to keep going and just do those extra few miles.

"It takes whatever it encounters in its stride with an unflappable assurance that's just what you want in a bike for long rides, handling everything from twisty descents on smooth surfaces to tatty dirt roads, Belgian cobbles and even singletrack trails with equal aplomb."

The Contend 1's frame is made from the aluminium alloy that Giant calls ALUXX, but Giant keeps the price down with a 2x9 Shimano Sora groupset. It's reliable stuff, and provides a wide gear range with a 1:1 low ratio for hills.

A 2022 model is nominally available, but it's another £50 for no spec improvement and you'll be waiting until September for it.

Read our review of the very similar Giant Contend SL 1
Find a Giant dealer

FAQ: Everything you need to know about road bikes under £1,000

Just because you've got a thousand pounds to spend that doesn't mean you have to spend it all on the bike. For a bike less you can still get one of the best road bikes under £1,000 but have some cash left for some choice upgrades or some extra kit. It's all about finding the right bike for your riding needs and your riding budget.

If your budget won't stretch this high, then have a look at our best bikes at £500 roundup or our guide to bikes costing around £750. Want to spend a bit more? We've got that covered too, with our guide to road bikes for about £1,500.

What can you expect for your money?

In this price range you get a very capable, lightweight and potentially very fast road bike. Whether it’s for getting into road racing, diving in to the world of sportives, riding to work or college, or simply for getting fit at the weekends, the best road bikes under £1,000 all offer a high level of performance and should deliver years of cycling enjoyment.

Hoy Sa Calobra - seat tube junction

Traditionally bike makers choose one of two tactics when building a bike for a particular price point. Some use a cheaper frame with better components, which should deliver a good bike at an eye-catching price, but limits upgrade potential. Others go for a better quality frame, but down-spec some of the components to bring the complete package in under the desired price point on the basis that the buyer can replace parts as they wear out with better quality ones more in keeping with the frame.

Both approaches have their merits; it's up to you to decide which one works best for you. Just to complicate things further this isn't a rigid rule, some manufacturers are able to deliver the best of both worlds. Purely on-line operations and retailer own brands have the advantage of of saving on distribution costs and they often pass that saving on to the customer. Some other big manufacturers also have the benefit of economies of scale when buying components and again will sometimes pass that saving on to make their products more price competitive.

It's all in the frame

As this round-up shows, virtually all bikes at this price feature aluminium frames. The latest generation of aluminium bikes offer a fantastic combination of performance and value. It's a cliché because it's true that when it comes to bangs per buck performance you can't beat an aluminium bike. It's a very good material for bike frames, both light and stiff, two very desirable features in a bike frame. Modern aluminium frames are also comfortable too — gone are the days when you would expect a harsh ride from an aluminium bike.

Look for a frame with double, or triple, butted tubes, as these are lighter and offer slightly better ride performance than non-butted plain gauge tubes. Most bikes here feature weight saving and vibration-reducing carbon fibre forks.

Another point to consider is will you want to to fit mudguards to your bike? Some bikes here will feature concealed mudguard eyelets so you can easily add mudguards, which can be invaluable for winter riding and daily commuting.

What about carbon fibre?

It's no longer possible to get carbon fibre at this money. Carbon costs more than aluminium so to sell a carbon fibre bike under £1,000 it would have to use a lower-grade component set, and the bike would almost certainly have to be a vendor's own brand. Up until 2020 there were still a couple of bikes from Boardman and Ribble that fit the bill, but those models are now over £1,150.

In theory a company like Halfords could hang a Shimano Sora groupset on a carbon fibre frame and sell it for just under £1,000; the 2019 Carrera Virago was exactly that, in fact, but it's no longer available.

What equipment should I expect?

Most of the best road bikes under £1,000 use groupsets — the collective term for a bike's gears, brakes and controls — mainly or entirely based on components from Japanese company Shimano. Most feature either the cheaper Sora and Tiagra or occassionally the more expensive 105.

cannondale supersix evo 105 5-002

Shimano 105 is a bit lighter and offers slightly better performance, but Tiagra is very good for the money. However, 105 has become quite rare in the last few years because the pound dropped against the US dollar after the EU referendum vote, and bikes are paid for in dollars.

You should also expect to see a smattering of parts from Italian/Taiwanese component maker FSA. Instead of speccing their bikes entirely from Shimano parts many bike manufacturers will look to save a bit of money by fitting a different crankset, usually an FSA one. That isn't necessarily a negative — FSA components have a very good reputation for quality and performance.

The main difference between Sora, Tiagra and 105 is that Sora is 9-speed, Tiagra is 10-speed, and 105 is 11-speed. More sprockets give you closer gaps between gears for more consistent pedalling.

Most of the best road bikes under £1,000 use a compact (50/34) double ring chainset providing 18 gears with Sora, 20 gears with Tiagra, and 22 with 105. You used to occasionally see triple chainsets at this price but they have almost vanished with the advent of wide-range doubles.

Disc brakes are now very common in this price range. They provide better stopping in the wet, and make it much easier for a frame to accommodate tyres fatter than 25mm. They also mean the braking is unaffected by the rim being a bit out of true, and you never need worry about your rims wearing out.

Hoy Sa Calobra - bars 2

You can also expect to see some own brand components in this price range. Again that isn't necessarily a negative. Bike manufacturers fit own brand components to their bikes right the way through their price ranges and they're often just as good as name-brand parts from third-party manufacturers.

Own brand wheels and components give way to branded parts the more you spend. As wheels and tyres have a big impact on a bike's performance, look for a bike that doesn’t skimp on these parts.

If you value comfort, then look for a bike with 25mm tyres, or even bigger, rather than 23mm, as they offer a bit more cushioning and are no slower than narrower tyres anyway.

Buying your first road bike?

Our in-depth guide is packed with useful advice to steer you towards choosing the right bike for you, with information on frame materials, components, wheels, groupsets, sizing and fit. Read it here.

Explore the complete archive of reviews of road bikes on road.cc

About road.cc Buyer's Guides

The aim of road.cc buyer's guides is to give you the most, authoritative, objective and up-to-date buying advice. We continuously update and republish our guides, checking prices, availability and looking for the best deals.

Our guides include links to websites where you can buy the featured products. Like most sites we make a small amount of money if you buy something after clicking on one of those links. We want you to be happy with what you buy, so we only include a product in a if we think it's one of the best of its kind.

As far as possible that means recommending equipment that we have actually reviewed, but we also include products that are popular, highly-regarded benchmarks in their categories.

Here's some more information on how road.cc makes money.

You can also find further guides on our sister sites off.road.cc and ebiketips.

Road.cc buyer's guides are maintained and updated by John Stevenson. Email John with comments, corrections or queries.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

Latest Comments

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