So you’ve set your heart on a carbon fibre road bike, but you’ve got a budget of £1,000? You’re in luck, as huge advances in carbon fibre manufacturing and the economies of scale have meant that carbon road bikes are now far more affordable than they were just 5 or 10 years ago.
Most bikes at this price normally feature aluminium frames. That’s because it costs less to make a frame out of aluminium than carbon fibre. There’s nothing wrong with aluminium, we’re fans of the material especially with the advances that have been made recently.
Carbon costs more than aluminium so you will typically sacrifice the quality of the components, with a lower tier groupset, wheels and finishing kit common. A carbon frame is likely to be lighter and stiffer than aluminium, though and does offer good upgrade potential so you could replace parts as they wear out.
Recent rises in the prices of anything purchased by suppliers in dollars (which is basically everything in the bike industry) has pushed up the price of even the best bargains in carbon bikes, but there are still a few out there.
The first of two end-of-season deals from WiggleCRC's Vitus brand is this racy little number that's discounted from £1,600. You get a light, all-carbon frame, a complete Shimano 105 groupset and DT Swiss wheels for a package that could easily see you line up for your first race or just go whooshing round the lanes.
This is the budget version of Vitus' carbon-fibre endurance platform, which had something of an overhaul this year, making it a bit friendlier, but losing none of teh speed that characterised the previous Venon. The Tiagra groupset is solid, dependable stuff and while the brakes are cable-actuated on this model, it wouldn't be absurd to upgrade them to partially or fully hydraulic stoppers down the track.
Merckx's original asking price of two grand for this disc-equipped endurance bike was perhaps a shade optimistic, but under a grand for a carbon bike with hydraulic discs is a proper bargain. Along with a women-specific full-carbon frame and Tiagra groupset you get a women's Prologo Kappa Space STN saddle and Deda stem, bars and seatpost.
Boardman has just announced a new range of bikes, and this is the sweet spot model: a new full-carbon frame and fork, a Shimano Tiagra groupset except for the brakes and tubeless-ready wheels. As you'd expect from Boardman, it's great value and it's versatile too: there are mudguard mounts so you can keep dry when it gets a bit damp.
One of the most highly-regarded sportive bikes out there, the Synapse boasts a refined carbon fibre frame that combines speed and comfort in a way very few bikes can rival. Several dealers have lopped £400 or more off the price of this Tiagra-equipped version, bringing it into our scope here, and also well into the category of bargain.
For a – relatively speaking – piffling £1,000, the Dolan L'Etape 105 is a full carbon fibre road bike with a full Shimano 105 groupset that offers excellent road manners and sporty handling. If you really crave a carbon fibre bike but don't want to spend a fortune, this is one of the best affordable carbon bikes you are likely to find anywhere.
With a spec that's mostly Shimano 105 and Raleigh's very good all-carbon frame and fork, this 2015/6 model is a bargain at this price, and we don't expect they'll last long.
The Planet X Pro Carbon just shouts value for money, with Shimano 105 components, all attached to a very smart looking frame. The company has designed the geometry of the frame to provide a happy balance between aggressive and endurance, which means it should flit quite happily between road racing and sportive conquering. Cheaper options with SRAM Rival components or Shimano Sora or Tiagra are often available.
Pick a Shimano Tiagra groupset and the cheapest wheels and stem on Ribble's bike builder and you can put together Ribble's all-carbon endurance bike for just under four figures, but it's worth keeping an eye on Ribble's site for specials with a better spec. Either way, this is a well-liked frame that's worth upgrading when budget allows.
Usually £1,400, this own-brand ride from Merlin Cycles looks like a staggering bargain with its full Shimano 105 groupset and Fulcrum wheels. It's clearly being discounted to make way for 2018 bikes, and Merlin only has sizes S and L left in stock.
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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David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.