You’ve an abundance of riches in the £1,500 to £2,000 price band, with bikes that are light, well-equipped and great value for money.
You also have a big range of choices. Carbon fibre frame, or the latest ultra-sophisticated aluminium? Caliper brakes or discs? Racing geometry, more upright for comfort or something in between? How about taking the the byways and bridleways on a gravel bike? Whatever type of riding you have in mind, there’s a bike in this price range that’ll suit you perfectly.
The Vitus Energie CRX cyclo-cross bike is an absolute blast to ride thanks to sharp, fun handling along the trails or around tight, technical muddy circuits. It's great for a day out on the gravel, and you can chuck mudguards on it too if you fancy a high-speed, year-round commuter.
If you want to ride fast off-road without the benefits of suspension then this Vitus is one of the best bikes to have a play on. The racy geometry and low-slung position mean you can really get down and drop that centre of gravity to benefit the handling when the terrain is tough, and the way it responds to the slightest shift in body weight is very impressive.
How does Cube manage to make a carbon fibre endurance bike with Ultegra equipment and hydraulic discs for under £2,000? Well, they've swapped out the Ultegra brakes and shifters for 105 R7000 units, which saves a bunch on the price tag without substantial detriment to performance.
The Attain GTC SL Disc is very much a mile-eating all-rounder, with clearance for mudguards so you can keep going through winter without getting drenched.
You don't get many bikes in this price range with Shimano Ultegra R8000 components and with its superb frame and Mavic Cosmic carbon wheels that makes this eminently raceable speedster superb value for money.
When he tested the 105-equipped version, which has the same frame, Stu Kerton said it was "further evidence, if any was needed, that B'Twin knows how to build awesome-riding race bikes which offer excellent stiffness, handling and speed while also managing to be unbelievably comfortable."
Proving that composites don't quite reign supreme, Cannondale's meticulously engineered CAAD12 frame wrings every last gram of performance potential out of aluminium. Cannondale combines that frame with Shimano 105 shifting, its own HollowGram Si chainset and Shimano 105 hydraulic disc brakes for a thoroughly modern fast road bike.
Giant's Defy line is one of the most popular bikes in the endurance and sportive sector, and is the company's best-selling model, combining smart geometry with a full range of competitively priced builds. It's been revamped for 2019 with a frame that will take up to 32mm tyres, some tweaks to the cable routing, and the addition of Giant's new D-Fuse buzz-reducing handlebar.
The 2019 Defy bikes also get tubeless-ready wheels and 28mm tyres, and the Defy Advanced 2 has Shimano's new 105 R7000 shifting with an 11-34 cassette for a 1:1 low gear.
Part of Trek's line of Émonda lightweight race bikes, the SL5 demonstrates one of two approaches to speccing up a bike in this range. Trek takes the second-lightest of its Émonda frames and equips it with Shimano's midrange 105 group for a bike that doesn't cost the earth but has plenty of upgrade potential.
The Genesis Datum 10 will take pretty much whatever you can throw at it, on or off-road. The spec represents excellent value and the ability to jump between town and country use positions it as a sound contender for an 'only bike' that you won't be sheepish about getting muddy on, while being worthy of a shine-up for the Sunday morning group ride.
At launch two years ago, Dave rated the Di2 11-speed Datum 30 at 4.5/5, finding it a 'hugely capable bike that is loads of fun over all sorts of terrain'. Later that year it won our Sportive Bike of The Year Award, with only the Shimano Di2-influenced price holding it back from taking overall honours. At £3,200 in 2015 money, the Di2 version was a hefty price to pay, so this time around it's the base model £1,899 10-speed Tiagra model on test. Again, for this spec it's not a class-leadingly cheap bike, but the overall package is worthy of inclusion on anyone's to-be-considered list.
It's always worth checking out what Canyon has to offer, and this combination of the light, quick but comfortable Endurace CF SL frame and Shimano 105 components is decent value, and — if the women's equivalent is any guide — a superb all-day mile-eater. And the 2019 model is £100 cheaper than last years!
Merida's dramatic take on the gravel bike genre is as close as a bike gets to being a mountain bike without becoming the bailiwick of our sister site off.road.cc. It has the long head tube and top tube that's a feature of many contemporary mountain bikes, and single-chainring gearing. It keeps its feet on the Tarmac with 35mm tyres, but if you wanted to get adventurous there's room to go plenty bigger.
With Raleigh's aluminium-framed Mustangs, carbon Rokers and steel Mavericks the Big Heron jumped into gravel bikes with both boots a couple of years ago. Raleigh's folks say they started revamping their endurance road range, then realised that for a lot of British riding a bike with a long wheelbase and fat tyres was better able to cope with back roads trashed by the combination of bad winters and hacked road maintenance budgets. The Mustang Comp has SRAM hydraulic brakes and 11 speed SRAM Apex 1 gears.
If you want to put that race licence to good use, smash those Strava KOMs or just want a fast, comfortable, easy-to-ride road bike, then the Boardman SLR 9.2 needs to be on your shortlist. With a full-carbon frameset, Shimano Ultegra R8000 groupset, and Boardman's own tubeless-compatible wheels, the SLR is a real contender even before you take the price into account – and that challenges even the direct-to-consumer specialists.
Specialized's Tarmac Elite is a smart looking and well packaged bike that offers the sort of fast and engaging ride that will suit budding racers, along with sportive cyclists who favour a less upright position than is provided by the company's Roubaix model.
Rose claims an impressive 7.9kg for the Team GF 4 Disc 105 and given that its predecessor the Xeon CDX-4400 comes in at 7.5kg (16.6lb), we believe it. The ride is quick, easy to live with and delivers a lot of fun miles. It's a cracker of a machine ready to be ridden flat out or cruising the lanes.
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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.