Looking for a £500 to £750 road bike? Welcome to our guide to the best road bikes you can buy in that price bracket.
The price range where bike quality really takes off, with often no more than a change of tyres needed to make them perform almost as well as bikes costing hundreds more
Frames are almost all aluminium, occasionally steel. Look for 'double-butted' tubes which have thinner walls in the middle to save weight and improve the ride
Shimano's Claris, Sora and Tiagra components are the dominant gear systems, providing 16, 18, and 20 gear ratios respectively.
This category encompasses a wide range of bike niches from an almost-pure race bike like the Specialized Allez to gravel bikes like the Merlin Malt-G1 and everything in between
Take the time to have the shop set up the bike properly for you; it makes a big difference to how enjoyable riding is
Previously we’ve looked at the best bikes costing under £500, now it is time to have a close look at the bikes you can buy for between £500 and £750, and see what spending a couple of hundred pounds more really gets you. You can generally expect lighter frames, carbon fibre forks and higher quality components.
At this price range you an expect lighter aluminium frames with double and triple butted tubes - saving weight and offering improved ride performance - and carbon fibre forks (but with aluminium steerer tubes) again to save a bit of weight. Many of these frames feature a geometry that places the handlebars a little higher than a race bike along with a shorter top tube which can make them more comfortable, especially if you’re new to road cycling.
Shimano is the predominant groupset brand with Claris and Sora common on bikes costing between £500 and £750. Most bikes will feature compact chainsets - that's two chainrings with 50 and 34 teeth respectively - that should make spinning up even the steepest hills a little easier. Some bikes even have triple chainsets - three chainrings between the pedals - that will make climbing anything much easier. Shimano's excellent Tiagra groupset starts to get a look in the closer you nudge to £750 and you might just find the occasional bike with Shimano's 11-speed 105 groupset.
Expect own-brand wheels, tyres, handlebars, stem and saddles on most of these bikes as manufacturers aim to keep the bikes within budget. Most own-brand components are of an excellent quality these days as most brands have really raised the standard over the past 10 years. That means you’re getting really well finished bikes ready to ride and race from the shop.
If this is your first road bike and you want some more useful advice for buying your first road bike, then make sure you have a read of the road.cc Buying Basics: Buying your first road bike guide. It’ll arm you with all the important advice you need to know before making a decision.
The Merlin Malt-G2 is an aluminium gravel/all-rounder bike that puts in a solid performance on both asphalt and hard-packed roads and offers exceptional value for money.
The Malt-G is a versatile proposition, able to handle a variety of different types of riding with assuredness. We used this bike a lot for the commute into work – a 14-mile trip on mainly country lanes with a couple of miles of urban roads at the end – and although it lacks the all-out speed of a full-on road bike, it's comfortable and confident across the tarmac. When we fancied mixing it up with a bit of towpath, that was cool too, the Malt-G having semi-slick tyres that provide sufficient grip and enough low gears to cope with more draggy surfaces.
Boardman's SLR 8.8 is a long-standing favourite of riders who want a sporty but friendly road bike for commuting and hitting the lanes at weekends. This latest version gets mechanical disc brakes in place of rim brakes.
Boardman sticks to the triple-butted, hidden weld 6061 aluminium frame and C7 Carbon fork with tapered steerer which features space for 28mm tyres and has mounting points for mudguards and a pannier rack.
It’s not all the same spec as last year and Boardman are keen to point out that the groupset has been upgraded to Shimano’s Tiagra 10-speed groupset with a 50/34 FSA Vero chainset paired with an 11-32T cassette at the back.
This is the cheapest of Trek's entry-level, aluminium-framed Domane bikes. They all share the spendier bikes' all-day geometry, clearance for 28mm tyres and eyelets for rack and mudguards, but lack the shock-absorbing IsoSpeed decoupler in the rear.
Drawing on frame design features from the more expensive Allez models in the range, the Allez is built around an E5 Premium aluminium frame with smooth welds and carbon fibre fork with a Shimano Claris groupset. Comfort is taken care of with 25mm Specialized Espoir Sport tyres with a double BlackBelt puncture protection, which should help ward off flat tyres.
For the latest incarnation of the Allez Specialized has taken its aluminium race bike and slackened off the angles a little, raised the front end, extended the wheelbase and given it mudguard mounts, to create a bike that is set up perfectly for commuters or winter training. It achieved all of this without losing the Allez's fun and appealing ride. Good work.
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.
In terms of ride feel the Attain is up there with our benchmark inexpensive performance bikes, the Specialized Allez and Vitus Razor. It's really comfortable with no harshness or road buzz resonating through your hands like aluminium frames of yesteryear; the experience is very impressive. On long rides over a range of road surfaces tester Stu came back home without any feelings of discomfort or fatigue at any of his contact points.
The Vitus Razor is always worth a look if you're after a slightly racy bike that's also excellent value, and so it is with this year's incarnation of the disc-braked version.
The double-butted 6061 aluminium frame takes through-axle hub for stiffness and the fork is all carbon fibre. Shimano Claris derailleurs do the shifting and there are mudguard mounts if you'd prefer not to get wet when it rains.
The Day One 10 from UK brand Genesis is something a bit different from the usual run of sporty multi-geared bikes in this category. For a start it has just one gear, so the transmission is almost as simple and fuss-free as it can be (only a fixed-wheel setup is simpler but you need to know what you're doing before you take to the streets without the ability to freewheel). And not only does it have room for mudguards between its chromoly frame and 35mm tyres, but Genesis even fits them a standard so you won't get a wet bum when it rains. Those 35mm tyres also bring the ability to point and laugh at potholes and rough roads, making the Day One the definitive UK winter and commuting bike.
For this women's edition of their aluminium race bike, Decathlon take the Ultra AF frame and dress it with a complete Shimano Tiagra groupset and a finishing kit tailored to suit a woman rider.
[The Van Rysel Ultra RCR AF Tiagra Women's is currently showing as out of stock, but that it's still on Decathlon's website suggests there'll be more along soon.]
Built around Decathlon's new 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 amazing value for money.
The RC 520 stands out as the enthusiast-grade version of the Triban RC range, but two other bikes deserve a mention. The Triban RC 500, with Shimano Sora components and disc brakes for £550 is an amazingly nice bike for the money, while the rim-braked women's equivalent, just named the Women's Intermediate road bike, is very impressive for £500.
This is one of the cheapest disc-braked gravel/adventure bikes on the market. You get an alloy frame, hung with Shimano Sora components and, in the kind of thoughtful speccing that's rare on an inexpensive bike, a 48/32 chainset with 11-34 cassette for gears lower than you usually find on general-purpose road bikes.
With a responsive, simple frame, surprisingly fun ride characteristics and nicely balanced handling, Pinnacle's Laterite 3 is a great package for those of you who are looking to spend less than a grand on their first or next bike. With its mudguard mounts, deep drop brakes and a smattering of Shimano's 105 groupset, I don't think you can really go wrong for the money.
The Avail 1 is second up in Giant women's range, known as Liv. It uses Giant’s ALUXX aluminium with a shape and size designed to be comfortable to ride whether it’s for longer adventures, sportives or commuting to the office. It’s available in four sizes down to XS. It’s equipped with a Shimano Sora 18-speed groupset and Tektro brakes.
Giant do a large range of bikes for men and women. In the men’s range the Contend 2 is the most affordable model. It has an aluminium frame with a carbon fibre fork, a Shimano Claris 16-speed drivetrain and comfortable 28mm tyres. There are also mounts for mudguards if you want to add some rain protection for winter riding.
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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.