"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
Disc brakes rule okay? Not quite — there are several rim-braked bikes here because they're still the stoppers of choice if you're speccing with a gram scale
The cheapest bike here costs just under seven and a half grand (trust Canyon to make a value-for-money superbike) while the most expensive is over twice that. 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.
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 brand spanking Red eTap AXS 12-speed groupset.
Pinarello says the latest Dogma "achieves the best aerodynamic efficiency values of any Dogma model to date" and comes in two distinct versions for rim and disc brakes.
SRAM's new 12-speed wireless Red eTap AXS group features at or near the top of many manufacturer's ranges, but none have garnered as much attention as Wilier's glorious Cento 10 with its sparkling iridescent Ramato paint. It's ten grand, but we can't think of a bike we'd rather have as a companion for long days in Italian mountain sunshine.
Canyon is usually associated with value for money bikes, but with the Ultimate CF Evo 10.0 Ltd 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 Ultimate CF SLX, but a more advanced and costly carbon fibre layup. The result is a 665g frame and 270g fork.
There's a SRAM Red eTap AXS transmission hung on that feathery frame though unlike the previous version, this Ultimate CF Evo Disc 10.0 LTD uses otherwise sensible components instead of ultra-light carbon exotica, making this the cheapest of the current crop of top-of-the-range bikes.
Swiss manufacturer BMC has stepped up a notch with its top model for 2020, a design BMC says is "lightweight, fast, and incredibly integrated". It leads — literally — with BMC's sleek Integrated Cockpit System bar and stem that routes the brake hoses and gear wires routed almost-invisibly through the frame.
"The aerodynamic efficiency is what dictates the aesthetics to a large degree. So even though the visual integration of the bottles is a nice side effect, that specific integration is all about reducing drag,” says BMC.
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 C64 is handmade in Colnago's workshop in Cambiago. This version is fitted with Campagnolo's top groupset, Super Record EPS, and has one of the stunning special paint jobs for which Colnago is renowned.
Go to Trek's Project One customisation website and you can have the new Madone 9 SLR in an array of wild colours, including this 'Refliptive' finish that's a different colour depending which direction you look at it from.
The Addict RC is Scott's super-lightweight racing platform, and this is the latest top-of-the-range version with Zipp 202 NSW wheels and a one-piece carbon fibre Syncros aero handlebar and stem. Like many 2020 top-end bikes it has SRAM's 12-speed Red eTap AXS wireless electronic shifting and disc brakes.
It may not be blessed with looks, but if you’re into pure speed, the triathlon-specific Cervelo P5X is probably as fast as it gets. This is not a bike for riding to the cafe on, that’s for sure. It's a full carbon fibre construction with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 gears and hydraulic disc brakes, and DT Swiss wheels.
Specialized says it's shaved an impressive 200g off the frame of the Tarmac SL6 compared to the previous SL5; a 56cm Tarmac SL6 frame weighs just 733g, which is pretty staggering. The Tarmac's aerodynamics has also been tweaked so it's now claimed to be 45 seconds faster over 40km than similarly-feathery road bikes.
And if you're going to ride Specialized's flagship speedster, then you'd have to go for the special edition designed in collaboration with multiple world champion Peter Sagan.
If you want an Italian-bred performance bike the Specialissima puts in a stunning performance, and this massive price tag gets you a frame equipped with Campagnolo Super Record and Fulcrum Zero Nite wheels.
Need a bike to match your Aston Martin Vantage? Storck's got you covered. No guide to the most expensive road bikes could be complete without a Storck, but here the Germans have gone completely bok, outfitting its top-of-the-line Fascenario.3 Platinum with ultra-kight carbon fibre components including carbon fibre cranks, THM brakes and Storck's own carbon bars and stem.
Cannondale's flagship aero bike looks understated but is packed with high-end tech, including high-modulus carbon fibre, Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 shifting with hydraulic disc brakes and a Power2Max NG Eco Powermeter.
This beauty is Giant’s most expensive offering, and the first Giant to bang up against the ten grand mark. 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.
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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.