If you want your new road bike to offer great value for money and come with disc brakes, an aluminium disc-equipped road bike could be the right choice for you.
There’s a wide range of aluminium road bikes that typically offer really good value for money because less money is tied up with the frame there’s more budget for better components. And many of the latest aluminium frames offer really good performance.
The best aluminium frames give little away to carbon fibre in terms of weight and performance but cost a lot less
Disc brakes — especially hydraulic disc brakes — increase the price of a bike, so going for an aluminium frame is a sensible compromise if you want better brakes
Many of these bikes will take fatter tyres than rim-braked bikes, and still have room for mudguards; disc-braked bikes are versatile
Choose a bike with hydraulic discs if possible, they really do work better than cable-actuated brakes
Disc brakes are increasingly popular and we’re seeing more bike manufacturers releasing disc-equipped aluminium bikes, so thought it would be useful to round up some of the most interesting choices.
If you'd like to compare these disc brake aluminium bikes with rim brake aluminium bikes check out 13 of the best here.
For 2020 Merida offers three bikes on its excellent aluminium Scultura Disc platform, and there are some 2019 bikes still around if you're looking for a bargain. When he reviewed the 2019 version of the entry-level Scultura Disc 200, our STu Kerton said " It's yet another example of just how good alloy frames are right now, offering a very comfortable ride and plenty of stiffness to boot."
For first time bike buyers after an optimum blend of build and price, or experienced riders after a great value winter bike or commuter, at £729 direct from French sports megastore Decathlon, it's hard to look past the Triban 520. What surprises most about the Triban 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.
This is a consistent characteristic for everything from a 5km commute to a 40km spin around the country – in each situation, it's a supremely easy bike to get on with. In fact, it's almost lazy. If you want sharp and direct responses above all else, this aluminium-framed bike most certainly isn't the one for you, but the easygoing manner lends itself to almost any other kind of road rider this side of a gravel specialist.
Cannondale is a brand famous for its dedication to aluminium, with its CAAD series stretching back a couple of decades and being raced in the pro peloton. The CAAD 13 Disc is the latest version, lighter than the CAAD 10 and smoother than the CAAD 12 (don’t ask about the CAAD 11, it never happened). There are three disc versions in the CAAD 13 range, plus a woman's version of the 105-equipped bike, which at £1,899 is the base model. There's an Ultegra-equipped version and at the top a bike with SRAM's Force eTap AXS 12-speed wireless electronic shifting for £4,799.00.
Not to be outdone, Trek has been investing heavily in aluminium and its Emonda ALR with its claimed 1,050g frame is one of the lightest options. The welds are as smooth as anything and there is internal cable routing and many features carried over from the carbon fibre Emonda, such as the tapered head tube and oversized bottom bracket. At £1,650 the ALR 5 Disc is the most expensive model in the range with a Shimano 105 groupset and hydraulic disc brakes, while at £1,400 the ALR 4 Disc features a Tiagra groupset.
German direct-sales brand Canyon is probably best known for offering carbon bikes at a fraction of the price of other mainstream brands but it also understands the value of a really good aluminium road bike. Using its endurance platform the Endurace AL Disc provides a more upright riding position for knocking out big miles in comfort, with a carbon fork and seatpost. The range-topping AL Disc 8.0 gets you a full Shimano Ultegra groupset with hydraulic discs for £1,469, there’s a 105 option at £1,399 or you can pick the new Endurace AL Disc 6.0 with Shimano Tiagra. All three bikes share the same 1,350g frame with internal cable routing and 12mm thru-axles.
The Paralane is one of our favourite endurance bikes for its combination of a really smooth ride, good handling, wide tyre clearance and plenty of versatility options. The good news is that an aluminium version was included right at the beginning of the design process and so this bike carries many of the same key features, such as clearance for 28mm tyres, a skinny seatpost for compliance and mudguard mounts. The aluminium frame also boasts rack mounts which the carbon one doesn’t, making it an ideal commuting and touring option. The 2020 aluminium-frame variant has Shimano 105 components.
First launched in 2015 the Mason Definition is aimed at the cyclist wanting a four-season road bike with stable and surefooted handling with lots of practicality and versatility, with space for wider tyres and eyelets for mudguards and racks. The updated Definition 2 brings a few changes such and as a new fork and thru-axles front and rear. It’s one of the more expensive aluminium bikes here proving that aluminium isn’t a byword for cheap. That price gets you a Shimano 105 or SRAM Rival 1x build with Hunt wheels.
Cube’s Attain model is an endurance and comfort-focused road bike and several models bring disc brakes to the party. The Pro costs £849 with a Shimano Sora groupset or there’s the posher spec of the Attain SL Disc for £1,199 which upgrades the groupset to Shimano 105 along with better wheels and tyres. It’s a smart frame, with slim dropped rear stays to boost comfort, a tapered head tube for precise steering and full internal cable routing giving a very clean appearance.
Spcialized brings its Allez Sprint to the disc-equipped aluminium road bike party. The frame uses a very trick hydroforming and welding construction process that leads to lower weight and improved stiffness, and it’s also aerodynamic with a teardrop shaped seat tube and down tube. There’s just one model available, the Comp, and it costs £1,900 with a Shimano 105 groupset.
Young Brit bike brand Bowman Cycles launched a couple of years ago with a couple of models, but it’s the Weald we’re focused on here. With an aluminium frame, carbon fork, clearance for wide tyres and disc brakes, it’s a really good choice for UK riding. The frame is made from a new 6069 aluminium tubeset with a threaded bottom bracket, internal cable routing and 12mm thru-axles with flat mount brakes. It’ll take up to a 32mm tyre, up from the 30mm of its well-regarded predecessor, the Pilgims. Best thing is it costs just £845 so you can build a complete bike for a pretty reasonable price.
The Contend is basically the aluminium version of Giant’s Defy, the endurance bike that is aimed at cyclists who value comfort as well as performance and speed. The Contend SL features an advanced aluminium frame made from what the company calls Aluxx aluminium combined with features borrowed from the carbon Defy, such as the D-Fuse seatpost, geometry and disc brakes. It’s available in two versions, one with Shimano Tiagra for £1,099, or a Shimano 105-equipped model for £1,399. Both models are shod with Giant’s own Conduct hydraulic disc brake callipers.
British companies sure know the needs of British cyclists well, and nowhere is that truer when checking out the Whyte Dorset. It features an aluminium frame with a carbon fork and space for wide tyres and mudguards, making it a really good bike for getting from home to the office or lazy Sunday rides around the countryside. This model is equipped with a Shimano Sora 9-speed groupset with TRP Hy/RD disc brakes and costs £999. The Suffolk uses the same frame with Shimano 105 and costs £1,350.
The PR SL Disc comes from German company Rose’s marathon line of bikes aimed at delivering more comfort than out-and-out race bikes, and like other direct-sales brands, it offers extraordinary value for money with a customisable build through its website. The aluminium frame weighs a respectable 1,350g with triple butted tubes, an oversized down tube and tapered head tube, and it’s joined by a carbon fibre fork. For a over shade £1,400, you get a Shimano 105 groupset with DT Swiss wheels and a Ritchey cockpit.
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Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson 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 editor 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 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.