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Affordable-but-excellent road bikes from Specialized, Ribble, Vitus, Boardman, Giant, B'Twin and more

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.

Vitus Zenium Disc Tiagra — £680

2018 Vitus Zenium Disc Tiagra

2018 Vitus Zenium Disc Tiagra

Vitus bikes are decent value at their standard prices, but when the end of season sale hits at Chain Reaction Cycles, they often become amazingly good deals. That's the case with the Zenium Disc Tiagra, reduced from £900 to under £700. That's a great price for a bike with a 6061 aluminium frame, full-carbon fork, Shimano Tiagra groupset and disc brakes.

Boardman ADV 8.8 — £750

boardman_adv_8.8.jpg

boardman_adv_8.8.jpg

Boardman's adventure bike has an impressive ride on and off the road, at a very competitive price. With the ADV 8.8, Boardman has continued its theme of offering great performing bikes at a sensible price. Well made, well specced and fun to ride, this latest adventure machine covers plenty of bases, from blasting the local gravel byways to year-round commuting. It's a lot of bike for not a lot of money, lighter and cheaper than many rivals, with excellent tyres as standard.

As Boardman points out, we don't have thousands of miles of unsurfaced gravel roads so the company hasn't gone down that route specifically, instead taking the fast-rolling features of a road bike with slightly more forgiving geometry for multi-terrain use.

The ADV 8.8 never feels twitchy on loose surfaces, with similar steering and handling off-road to Boardman's SLR Endurance on tarmac, which is confidence-inspiring, especially if you dart between the two terrains mid-ride.

On the road the ADV loses some of its steering sharpness but it never really feels ponderous through the bends. If you commute in all weathers this slower steering benefits in dodgy weather conditions like heavy rain or greasy, salt-covered winter roads.

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

VooDoo Nakisi — £550

Voodoo nakisi.jpeg

Voodoo nakisi.jpeg

As far as we know, this is the cheapest disc-braked gravel/adventure bike on the market, and Halfords has just lopped fifty quid off the price, bringing it into our price range here. 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.

Calibre Dark Peak — £549

Calibre Dark Peak gravel bike.jpg

Calibre Dark Peak gravel bike.jpg

With a solid spec that wouldn’t look amiss on a bike the next price bracket or two up, the Dark Peak is a super value for money gravel-cross-adventure-do-it-all bike that is also reliable and fun to ride. Specced with branded components throughout and built around a double-butted 6061 aluminium frame with carbon forks, if you are looking at dipping your toes into riding dirt roads on a budget, then this is a great place to start.

Read our review of the Calibre Dark Peak

Pinnacle Laterite 3 — £700

Pinnacle Laterite.jpg

Pinnacle Laterite.jpg

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.

Read our review of the Pinnacle Laterite 3

 

Trek Domane AL 3 2018 — £750

2018 Trek Domane AL 3

2018 Trek Domane AL 3

One of the first of 2018's bike crop, this is the top model of three entry-level Domane bikes that 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.

Find a Trek dealer

Specialized Dolce 2019 — £599

2018 Specialized Dolce

2018 Specialized Dolce

There aren't many women-specific bikes for much less than a grand, but Specialized and Trek both offer them at these sensible price points. The Dolce has an aluminium frame with endurance geometry tailored for women and tweaked details like a woman's saddle and the right bar, stem and crank dimensions for a female rider.

Read our review of the Specialized Dolce Sport
Find a Specialized dealer

Jamis Ventura Comp 2018 — £660

2018 Jamis Ventura Comp.jpg

2018 Jamis Ventura Comp.jpg

If yu want a versatile disc-braked endurance bike, it's hard to go past the sheer value for money on offer here. The Ventura Comp has a double-butted aluminium frame and all-carbon fork, with a mix of Shimano Sora, FSA and Tektro parts making it go and stop. It comes with 28mm tyres and there's room — and fittings — for mudguards and a rack.

Liv Avail 1 2018 — £599

2018 Giant Avail 1 White.jpg

2018 Giant Avail 1 White.jpg

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.

Find a Liv dealer

Specialized Allez E5 2019 — £599

2018 specialized allez e5.jpg

2018 specialized allez e5.jpg

Drawing on frame design features from the more expensive Allez models in the range, the Allez Sport 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. There are mounts for mudguards so it would make an ideal weekday commuter, and strip them off for the Sunday morning ride. Allez models are currently subject to a fork recall, so we expect them to be available again soon, when the defective forks have been swapped out.

Find a Specialized dealer

Ribble 7005 Winter Audax — £699

Ribble Winter Tiagra.jpg

Ribble Winter Tiagra.jpg

Ribble always gets a good mention in any buyer's guide about affordable road bikes, so here's the 7005 Winter. The Ribble website features a bike builder that lets you specify your own build, from the groupset and wheels down to details like the handlebar and even the headset spacers; this is the deservedly popular base spec and price of the 7005 Winter.

The 7005 aluminium race frame comes with a carbon fiber fork and is hung with a Shimano Tiagra 10-speed groupset. The wheels are Shimano RS010 with Continental tyres, and there's an Deda bar and stem and Selle Italia X1 Flow saddle.

Giant Contend 2 2018 — £429

2018 Giant Contend 2 Black.jpg

2018 Giant Contend 2 Black.jpg

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 25mm tyres. There are also mounts for mudguards if you want to add some rain protection for winter riding. It's usually £525, but it's an excellent deal at this price

Find a Giant dealer

Kona Rove 2018 — £699

2018 kona rove.jpg

2018 kona rove.jpg

If you want one bike to do everything from commuting to clubruns to exploring dirt roads, then a gravel/adventure bike with fat tyres like the Kona Rove is the way to go. It's still fairly unusual to see disc brakes on a bike in this price range, but they're worth having for their more-consistent stopping in the wet and the fact that they're unfazed by dinged or dented rims.

Find a Kona dealer

Boardman CX Comp — £500 (limited sizes)

Boardman CX Comp.jpeg

Boardman CX Comp.jpeg

If you've been thinking about dabbling in cyclo-cross, or just getting a cyclo-cross bike for its ability to take fatter tyres and so ward off the depredations of potholed roads, here's a great chance. Chris Boardman says the cyclo-cross bikes are his favourites from his range and with Shimano Sora components and Tektro Lyra disc brakes the CX Comp is well priced.

Find a Boardman dealer

Merlin AXE7 — £549

Merlin AXE7

Merlin AXE7

Bike shop own brands are a great source of amazingly well-equipped bikes that don't cost much money. The wizards at Merlin Cycles have come up with this great-value combination of a triple butted aluminium frame and Shimano Tiagra 10-speed gears, rolling on Mavic wheels, and with the stopping power of disc brakes. For the price, it's magic. [That's enough bad gags riffing on 'Merlin' — Ed.]

B’Twin Triban 540 — £679

B'Twin Triban 540.jpg

B'Twin Triban 540.jpg

Decathlon’s B’Twin line of road bikes receive much attention at the budget end, with the cheaper Triban a hugely popular model, but if you have a budget of £650, the Triban 540 is a very good proposition. With an aluminium frame and carbon fibre fork and largely 11-speed Shimano 105 specification, it’s a bit of a bargain. The frame features triple butted tubes, to save weight, and a relaxed geometry that places the handlebars a bit higher and closer to you so it’s more comfortable, ideal for riding to work or embarking on some sportives. It's a really good bike,one of the best specced in this guide, for not a lot of money.

Read our ride report on the Triban 540's predecessor, the B’Twin Alur 700

Felt FR40 Tiagra — £750

2018 Felt FR40 Tiagra.jpg

2018 Felt FR40 Tiagra.jpg

A racy ride for blatting through the lanes on a sunny day, the FR40 is a good-value way to satisfy your need for speed. There's a 6069 double butted aluminium frame, a full carbon fork, and Shimano Tiagra components, plus tubeless-ready wheels and Schwalbe Durano Raceguard 25mm tyres.

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.

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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.

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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.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

10 comments

Avatar
Luxtrundler [5 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

That Verenti appears to be under £500 now.  That groupset has an RRP of £449! (not that anyone should be paying that). 

Avatar
eddyhall [52 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Luxtrundler wrote:

That Verenti appears to be under £500 now.  That groupset has an RRP of £449! (not that anyone should be paying that). 

Hi - where are you seeing that price? I can only find Sora and Claris versions under £500

Avatar
I am a human [52 posts] 8 months ago
2 likes

That Pinnacle is so much nicer looking than all the other bikes it's not even funny.

Avatar
abedfo [13 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes

Can't beat a Boardman CX comp to be fair

 

Avatar
ibr17xvii [309 posts] 8 months ago
4 likes

Ridiculous that the Ribble which is a full on winter bike doesn't take 28mm tyres.

Avatar
zero_trooper [245 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
ibr17xvii wrote:

Ridiculous that the Ribble which is a full on winter bike doesn't take 28mm tyres.

The winner of the Bikes Etc magazine 'Winter Bikes Group Test' has no mudguard fittings!
A trend?

Avatar
alansmurphy [1851 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
I am a human wrote:

That Pinnacle is so much nicer looking than all the other bikes it's not even funny.

Really? I'd take the Specialized behind the bike shed...

Avatar
ibr17xvii [309 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
zero_trooper wrote:
ibr17xvii wrote:

Ridiculous that the Ribble which is a full on winter bike doesn't take 28mm tyres.

The winner of the Bikes Etc magazine 'Winter Bikes Group Test' has no mudguard fittings! A trend?

It struggles with 25's with mudguards!

Avatar
I am a human [52 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
alansmurphy wrote:
I am a human wrote:

That Pinnacle is so much nicer looking than all the other bikes it's not even funny.

Really? I'd take the Specialized behind the bike shed...

The dropped seatstays are a minus point for me - I prefer the swoopier shape of the old Allez, especially the Smartweld models.

Avatar
Krazyfrenchkanuck [40 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

 "14 of the best 500£ to 750£ road bikes"

How many "best bike" their is ?

Road.cc as become a big ad campaign in the last 12 months.

Makes me want to puke !