"You can buy a car for that!" It’s a comment we hear a lot when the subject of expensive road bikes comes up.
You certainly can spend the price of a small hatchback on a bicycle these days. To see just what exotica is out there for a price of a new Peugeot 108 and just for a bit of fun, we’ve rounded up some of the most expensive road bikes currently available.
Materials: all these bikes have carbon fibre frames, and usually carbon fibre almost-everything-else. That's no surprise: if you're trying to make the ultimate bike, you want it to be feather-light and that means very high-strength composites
Components: SRAM Red eTap AXS, Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 and Campagnolo Super Record EPS are the high-zoot groupsets of choice here, all of them electronic
Looks: if you've got it, flaunt it, right? Colnago and Wilier certainly think so with their Ramato and art decor paint jobs, and Trek will paint your Project One bike in pretty much any colour scheme you can imagine, but many others are surprisingly modest
The cheapest bike here costs nine grand while the most expensive is almost twice that - and with a perfect storm of a global pandemic and Britain leaving the EU on 1st January affecting supply, many of them have gone up in price even more since our last update. Most of these bikes fall foul of the UCI's increasingly daft 6.8kg weight limit, but we don't think anyone who can afford one of these is going to care very much.
These aren’t crazy one-off bikes with expensive paint jobs, oh no, they're all standard production road bikes that you can buy online or from your local bike shop, though we doubt many shops will carry any of these bikes in stock.
Specialized says the frame of its Aethos flagship featherweight weighs just 588g in a 56cm, a gram-count achieved by eliminating "lazy plies" — the layers of carbon fibre in a conventional frame that aren't really doing much aside from adding mass.
The objective, according to Specialized, wasn't to make a super-competitive race bike, that's the Tarmac SL7, but to improve ride quality for riders "that yearn for more than racing, that see the experiences of the open road as an equivalent to toeing a start line". And, of course, who have a pretty hefty pile of spare cash to spend on a new bike, a combination that's led to even more snarking about dentists than is usual when a major manufacturer launches a superbike.
Still, it's a hell of an achievement and when reviewer Liam tested the pauper's edition (costing £7,250 with Shimano Ultegra shifting) he was mightily impressed with how it performed on the back roads of Wiltshire, Somerset and the Mendip hills.
Specialized made an S-Works Aethos Founders Edition for £13,000 in an edition of just 300, but they seem to be all sold out, so you'll just have to content yourself with this cheap version.
Merida's Reacto Team-E road bike is a race thoroughbred that excels on flat and rolling terrain. The straight line speed, stiffness and handling are all brilliant, but the ride may be too firm for some. This is unapologetically a race bike. Comfort is the last thing on the Reacto's mind, with the focus being entirely on speed. Kick the pedals round and the bike reacts with a surge befitting the superbike price.
Back in 1985, at a bike show in London, Bianchi showed one of the prettiest bikes ever, the Centenario, finished in glorious dark chrome and hung with Campagnolo's finely-polished Record C components. I turned to my mate Pete and said "If I put that on my shoulder and run, how far do you think I'd get?" He said "I'll hold them off for you."
With its black carbon finish and just a hint of Bianchi's signature celeste blue, this version of the 2021 Specialissima Super Record EPS stirs similar larcenous feelings. It's a bike you'd surely have to ride like you stole it, so you might as well.
If you've got it, flaunt it, right? That maxim doesn't seem to have reached the ears of Giant's design team. They've chosen to hide the light of the new TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc under a stealthy grey bushel. It could only be less noticeable if it had a Klingon cloaking device.
And that's a pity because this is an absolutely stunning bike, in the words of our own Mat Brett. "Chuck the bike around, brake hard, do whatever you want, you won't cause it to waver or fluster. It's more than confidence inspiring, it's almost freaky," he wrote.
It comes fully decked out with SRAM's latest Red eTap AXS wireless groupset including a Quark power meter and Giant’s own carbon fibre wheels and finishing kit.
The Filante SLR is Wilier's entry into the aero-but-lightweight-too stakes and tester Mat Brett found that it delivers on its brief. He wrote: "The Filante's acceleration is really impressive. From a standing start, getting up to speed after a tight turn, or simply when you're trying to put some daylight between you and the rest of the bunch, you're rewarded with easy speed when you flick the pedals. Let's not over-egg it, but this bike feels taut and keen when you hit the power, rather than sloppy and reluctant. If someone tries to get the jump on you, they'd better have planned it well because the Filante is up for getting on their wheel in an instant.
"You definitely can't judge bikes on the scales, but when a disc brake bike in an XL size weighs just a whisker over 7kg – and Wilier claims a weight of 870g for the frame and 360g for the fork – you'd be mad not to take notice, especially when it's an aero bike."
That was the version with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2; if your pockets are really deep then you'd have to go for Campagnolo Super Record EPS surely.
Canyon is usually associated with value-for-money bikes, but with the new Aeroad CFR Disc the German direct sales specialist has pulled out all the stops to create a stunning superbike. It has the same design and tube shaping as the regular Aeroad CF SLX, but uses Toray M40X carbon fibre for a claimed 140g weight saving.
You can have the Aeroad CFR with SRAM, Shimano or Campagnolo's top-end groupsets, but if you're going for maximum bank balance damage, then you want Shimano's latest 12-speed Dura-Ace 9200 with a power meter, in the colours of for Alpecin–Fenix rider and cyclocross world champion Mathieu van der Poel.
It's ten years since BMC rolled out their first Teammachine, a bike solely focussed on racing, but with enough tuned-in compliance that riders would reach the end of the race less fatigued than their rivals. It certainly seemed to go down well with the riders, as the following year Cadel Evans won the Tour de France aboard a Teammachine SLR and in 2012 Philippe Gilbert took the world championship.
BMC say they're now taking aerodynamics into account in the development process for the Teammachine, and as a result the new Teammachine with cables tucked away inside the bar and stem, and bottle cages that nestle into the downtube and seat tube, is "the fastest Teammachine SLR ever designed."
For their 2022 top model Trek have taken the OCLV 800 carbon fibre developed for the latest Émonda and used it to build the Madone SLR frame, shaving 80g off the weight in the process. The new bike also gets the new Madone adjustable aero VR-CF handlebar and stem, and Bontrager Aeolus RSL 51 wheels. A classic case of a bike that looks 100mph standing still!
Cannondale's flagship aero bike is packed with high-end tech, including high-modulus carbon fibre, Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 shifting with hydraulic disc brakes and a newly-refined frame that Cannondale says reduces drag over the previous version. And here's the EF Education First team replica in collaboration with Rapha.
If you meld modern materials with traditional Italian frame-building and design, this is what you get. The C64 is a deeply-refined carbon fibre frame that's constructed by bonding tubes into lugs. That might not sound as sophisticated as moulding a frame in one piece, but it makes possible a wide range of frame sizes for a better fit, and it allows incremental refinements like the C64's new one-piece seat tube and lug without scrapping an expensive mould.
The Addict RC is Scott's super-lightweight racing platform, and this is the latest top-of-the-range version with Zipp 303 Firecrest wheels and a one-piece carbon fibre Syncros aero handlebar and stem. Like many 2021 top-end bikes it has SRAM's 12-speed Red eTap AXS wireless electronic shifting and disc brakes.
Cervelo made just 63 of this special-edition R5, in a paint job inspired by the Aventador SVJ car. The size of the production run comes from the year Lamborghini was founded, 1963. It's dressed in a full Campagnolo Super record EPS but even so you're paying handsomely for the paint job and the exclusivity.
With the ten grand psychological barrier well and truly smashed in the last couple of years, brands like Pinarello are taking off into the financial stratosphere with ultra-high-tech frames and the latest electronic shifting, in this case SRAM's Red eTap AXS 12-speed groupset.
Pinarello says the latest Dogma has the "optimal blend of handling, responsiveness, comfort and aerodynamics to become the ideal choice for any rider on any parcours" and comes in two distinct versions for rim and disc brakes.
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.
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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.