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Ready to move up a notch? This is the price/performance sweet spot

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.

GT Grade Carbon Expert — £1,999.99

GT Grade Carbon Expert.jpg

Highly capable, with a performance that shines on any surface as it smooths out bumps with the skinniest of skinny rear stays – and a very competitive price – the new GT Grade Carbon Expert is a top choice in an increasingly crowded gravel bike market.

The Grade is brilliant at being fast and comfortable on rough roads, and right at home on forest trails and gravel roads. The new frame, with its 'floating stays' design, is impressively smooth at the saddle. Rough tracks, jagged roots and rippled fields are soaked up exceptionally well thanks to the seat post flexing backwards. It's freer to do this on the new frame since the seat tube can bow forwards, unhindered by the seat stays.

GT makes no claim for how much flex there is, and it’s obviously not tuneable, plus variables like rider weight and aggression influence just how much you get. However the stays actually flex visibly, either when you press hard down on the saddle with your elbow, or look down when you’re riding. At the worldwide launch event in Girona, riding next to another Grade revealed that it's even noticeable from afar.

Geometry defines a gravel bike, with stability a key focus. The new Grade gets a lower bottom bracket across the size range, along with 15mm longer chainstays, and feels extremely surefooted on any terrain at any speed.

Read our review of the GT Grade Carbon Expert
Find a Gt dealer

Ribble CGR AL Shimano Ultegra — £1,799.00

2020 Ribble cgr alloy 105

Ribble's CGR AL is a hugely versatile and superb value bike for everything from gravel bashing to cyclocross and road commuting. The aluminium frame isn't overly compliant and the kit needs a few tweaks if you intend to mostly stick to dirt, but that's easy enough to custom spec it to your heart's content when you order. (That's the £1,400 105-equipped version in the pic by the way; the Ultegra version is available in the same screaming orange.)

The CGR bit of the name stands for Cyclocross, gravel and road, which tells you pretty much everything you need to know about where this bike is pitched, namely as a do-it-all drop bar bike. The impressive thing is that it actually delivers on this promise, having taken in everything from gravel rides, road Audaxes and tow-path bashing commutes.

The aluminium frame is really nicely made with flattened welds, there are 12mm through axles at either end with flat mount disc brakes, loads of guard, cage and rack mounts and the paint job is smooth and smart - orange is available as well as this blue - and it generally gives off the vibe of being a much more expensive machine than it is. It scores extra points for having a proper, tapered steerer on the carbon forks where many rivals still have a straight item too.

Read our review of the Ribble CGR AL

Specialized Allez Sprint Comp Disc — £1,900.00

2020 Specialized Allez Sprint Comp

The Specialized Allez Sprint Comp is an aluminium alloy masterpiece. The ride quality is impressive and the stiffness is right up there with some of the most overbuilt carbon wonder bikes.

Specialized describes the Sprint Comp as a 'crit-racing weapon', a fast bike that is going to give you plenty of thrills and excitement when you just want to get out and smash the pedals.

The Sprint has an unbelievably stiff frame brought about, Specialized says, by its use of D'Aluisio Smartweld Sprint Technology. Basically this means the welds have been moved at some of the most stressed sections of the frame, most noticeably at the head tube and bottom bracket junction.

Acceleration and sprinting are epic against pretty much every alloy bike we've ridden, and powering out of corners whether on the race track or on your favourite section of road will see you grinning like a deranged nutter.

Read our review of the Specialized Allez Sprint Comp Disc
Find a Specialized dealer

Cube Attain GTC SL Disc 2020— £1,999

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL Disc

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.

Find a Cube dealer

Van Rysel RR 920 CF Ultegra — £1,999.99

2019 Van Rysel RR 920 CF

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." Decathlon has since rebranded these bikes as Van Rysel, but the sentiment reminds solid.

Read our review of the B’Twin Ultra 900 CF

Cannondale CAAD13 Disc 105 2020 — £1,900

Cannondale CAAD13 Disc 105.jpg

Proving that composites don't quite reign supreme, Cannondale's meticulously engineered CAAD13 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.

The CAAD13 includes a stack of refinements over the previous, much-loved CAAD12 with tweaks to the aerodynamics and dropped seatstays to improve comfort.

Find a Cannondale dealer

Giant Defy Advanced 2 2020 —  £1,898.99

2020 Giant DEFY ADVANCED 2

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 was 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. Those improvements carry on into the 2020 models.

The 2019 Defy bikes also get tubeless-ready wheels and 32mm tyres, and the Defy Advanced 2 has Shimano's 105 R7000 shifting with an 11-34 cassette for a 1:1 low gear.

Read our review of the Giant Defy Advanced SL
Read our review of the Giant Defy Advanced 3
Find a Giant dealer

Trek Émonda SL5 2019 — £1,295

2019 Trek Emonda SL 5

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.

This 2019 model is usually £1,800, but there are plenty around at this reduced price.

Read our review of the Trek Emonda SL5
Find a Trek dealer

Genesis Datum 10 — £1,439.99 (limited sizes)

2018 Genesis Datum 10.jpg

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 a few 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 at RRP, though it's a very good deal at this sale price.

Read our review of the Genesis Datum 10
Find a Genesis dealer

Canyon Endurace CF SL Disc 7.0 2020 — £1,849

2020 canyon endurace cf 7.0

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.

Read our review of the Canyon Endurace WMN CF SL Disc 8.0

Merida Silex 700 2020 — £1,900

2020 Merida Silex 700

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, with Shimano's new GRX groupset providing wide-range gearing. It'll go just about anywhere on its 38mm tyres, and if you wanted to get really adventurous there's room to go bigger.

Read our review of the Silex 600's carbon fibre big brother, the Merida Silex 9000
Find a Merida dealer

Raleigh Mustang Comp — £1,200

2017 Raleigh Mustang Comp.jpeg

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.

Find a Raleigh dealer

Boardman SLR 9.2 Ultegra — £1,549

2019 Boardman SLR 9.2 Ultegra

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.

Read our review of the Boardman Road Pro Carbon SLR

Rose Team GF 4 Disc 105 — £1,995.74

2018 Rose Team GF 4 Disc 105.jpg

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.

Read our review of the Rose Xeon CDX-4400

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.

Our guides include links to websites where you can buy the featured products. Like most sites we make a small amount of money if you buy something after clicking on one of those links. We want you to be happy with what you buy, so we only include a product in a if we think it's one of the best of its kind.

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.

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.

8 comments

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Jamminatrix [204 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Does the Merida come with an extra spoke for that rear wheel, or do I have to buy it?

*One comment I want to make about Giant bikes is their online ordering system (may be only applicable to USA), which tracks showroom inventory.* I ordered a bike online, it showed which local shop had it, went to pick it up, and the bike had seen some big use already. I guess it had been on a few extended test rides. Kind of a bummer when you think you are ordering a new bike going to be built out of a box, but in actuality it is whatever model is sitting on the showroom floor.

Avatar
John Stevenson [464 posts] 2 years ago
5 likes

Jamminatrix wrote:

Does the Merida come with an extra spoke for that rear wheel, or do I have to buy it?

Ha! Well spotted! A photoshopping fail on my part while cleaning up the original image. Here's the missing spoke:

smiley

Avatar
DrG82 [263 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

My god that Raleigh Mustang frame is ugly, and the welds look like something I could have done.

Avatar
DrG82 [263 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

My god that Raleigh Mustang frame is ugly, and the welds look like something I could have done.

Avatar
Jamminatrix [204 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

As a follow-up, and to those reading this recently:

I just saw on CRC the Cube Agree C:62 is £350/$500 cheaper than the Giant Defy Advanced 2, and comes with name brand Fulcrum wheels and actual 105 crank instead of a non-series crank like the Giant. Geometry looks very comparable. Had I known, I probably would have got that instead and spent extra money on other things.

Avatar
cdean [64 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Jamminatrix wrote:

As a follow-up, and to those reading this recently: I just saw on CRC the Cube Agree C:62 is £350/$500 cheaper than the Giant Defy Advanced 2, and comes with name brand Fulcrum wheels and actual 105 crank instead of a non-series crank like the Giant. Geometry looks very comparable. Had I known, I probably would have got that instead and spent extra money on other things.

 

I bought the 2017 Defy Advanced 2 (the orangey one at the top of the article, which is more red in real life) recently at an end of season bargain price. Unlike the 2018 model it has a proper 105 crank and the actual Shimano hydraulic shifter brakes rather than the Giant hybrid thing that allows cable shifters to be connected to hydraulic brakes, so it looks like the 2017 model is a better spec than the 2018 one. Another victim of the reduction in value of the pound! The wheels feel alright and I like the way they look with the bike (oh, vanity) but there's definitely scope to upgrade them in future.

Avatar
efail [163 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

The Boardman bike does not weigh 7kg. I've weighed one in the shop, with all of the tat removed, including the pedals, and it weighed 7.8kg, and that was a SMALL. Don't know where you got yours.

Avatar
pockstone [329 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

 

... Another victim of the reduction in value of the pound! 

[/quote]

I bought a Cube Attain 2017 model with 105 . The next model up was just beyond my budget and seemed to equate to the model you have reviewed above. It had a full Ultegra groupset (apart possibly from non-series hydraulic discs) and DT Swiss wheels rather than the Fulcrum 77s .

It seems everyone is cutting back/reducing spec. to try and hit price points.

I can recommend the Attain though, despite the less than robust Fulcrums. Wish I'd gone for the model above, then I wouldn't be crossing my fingers for a win in the Road CC wheel raffle.