Got your heart set on a carbon fibre road bike? You don't have to spend a fortune

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 10 or so 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.

Read more: Great road bikes for under £1,000

Merlin Cordite SL Ultegra R8000 Mix — £999.95

Merlin Cordite SL

This end-of-year bargain is probably the best value carbon fibre bike you can currently buy, with Ultegra R8000 shifters and derailleurs on a Ridley Helium ISP frame with integrated seatpost. There's even a full range of sizes to choose from.

Vitus Zenium Carbon Disc Tiagra 2019 — £899.99

2019 Vitus Zenium

This is the budget version of Vitus' carbon-fibre road platform, which had something of an overhaul this year with room in the frame for tyres up to 30mm. 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.

Boardman SLR 8.9c — £1,000

2018 boardman slr 8.9c

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.

Planet X Pro Carbon — from £900

Planet X Pro Carbon Tiagra.jpg

The Planet X Pro Carbon just shouts value for money, with SRAM Rival 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.

Ribble R872 Tiagra — £999

Ribble r872 tiagra

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.

Felt FR5 — £999.99 (limited sizes)

2018 Felt FR5

Felt's FR frame is a refined road racing platform, equipped here with Shimano 105 components and a 52/36 Praxis Works Alba chainset.

Wilier GTR Team 105 — £999.99 (size M)

2019 Wilier GTR Team 105

You'll have to be a size medium, and you'll have to move quickly because Wiggle say they haven't got many left, but if you get right in there, this is a very nice Italian-designed endurance frame with a full Shimano 105 groupset for just a grand—£800 off list price.


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Road.cc buyer's guides are maintained and updated by John Stevenson. Email John with comments, corrections or queries.

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.


ChrisB200SX [1011 posts] 2 years ago

Calibre Nibiru 1.0 is £799.99, Sora equipped and obviously heavier. 99% sure it's exactly the same frame as my MEKK Poggio 1.6

Plenty of other carbon bikes below £1000 when discounted, always worth shopping around.

ChrisB200SX [1011 posts] 1 year ago

Planet X Pro Carbon goes all the way down to Sora now, pretty cheap for a carbon bike.

JD84 [6 posts] 1 year ago
DeltaFoxtrot [1 post] 1 year ago

The Planet X Pro Carbon actually comes with Vision Team 35 wheels, as in the photo.

technone [11 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

I've got a Ribble Sportive Racing with a 105 set and slightly deep section wheels. I got it on discount so it was only 1100 quid. It was on discount so I couldn't customise it, which is a bummer because I'm stuck with a 12-25 cassette and a 39-53 chainring set until they wear out or I shell out early. Yeesh. The Team 35 Comp wheels look crazy cool in the photo with a black semi-deep section but what you'll learn about aluminum wheels is the different colour finish on the braking surface won't last more than a couple 50km rides. The freehub body is also a massive bish to get to.

I'm about 800km in and there's some issues with the rear dropout. I almost rounded off a bolt trying to see what was wrong with it, the damn things look seized and rusted. Taking it to a bike shop and having them replace it and the screws under warranty should end up being pretty cheap.

Keep in mind that the bike does not support higher than 25mm tyres, which is what's going to eventually lead me to getting a whole other bike a few years down the road. If you're buying a cheap carbon bike just to bling it up with higher spec stuff as you go along (ie just the frame but rideable), look at something that can do 28mm. Looks like a lot of these bikes have the same problem.

Look up the tyres the bike comes with online, see if they have any puncture resistance. If they don't advertise any puncture resistance at all, steer clear or account a pair of puncture resistant tyres into the price. I'm not talking about GatorSkins here, even the Conti 4000SII have puncture resistance. The UltraSports tyres have no puncture resistance at all. That was a good lesson to get when it comes to how effective even a little puncture resistance is. I ended up getting 3 Conti GrandPrix 4-seasons because I slashed a tyre sidewall on a rock with about 200km in the new tyres .

Knowing why you'd get a cheap carbon bike is essential. If you'll be racing it, the extra stiffness does not outweigh the extra weight from the worse groupset. If you'll be training or just riding on it, learn how to replace parts yourself so that upgrades are cheaper. 

JumpingJalapeno [5 posts] 1 year ago

One of the issues I'm finding with getting a Sale bike on CTW is the retailers seem to add 10-20% which then makes them fall outside the £1000 mark. 

peted76 [1456 posts] 1 year ago
JumpingJalapeno wrote:

One of the issues I'm finding with getting a Sale bike on CTW is the retailers seem to add 10-20% which then makes them fall outside the £1000 mark. 

Although C2W is an amazing deal for consumers, it's not so great for shops who have to wait quite a while to get paid and have pay admin for the privilege also.. which is why you didn't used to see many 'sale bikes' on C2W schemes, or as you say, the price rises by £100, which I'm told is about what it costs a shop or rather what they 'lose' on a sale. 

Ratfink [218 posts] 1 year ago
JumpingJalapeno wrote:

One of the issues I'm finding with getting a Sale bike on CTW is the retailers seem to add 10-20% which then makes them fall outside the £1000 mark. 

Wiggle let you have sale prices on CTW and i think evans do too.

Cam77 [6 posts] 1 year ago

Correct, Evans do include sale prices, and they also include  a discount for an old trade in as well, but that offer may have ended now. I looked at a few of their sale bikes but in the end went for this https://www.cyclerepublic.com/bikes/road-bikes/boardman-elite-sls-9-0-11... with a 10% old bike trade in and paid the £80 supplement in cash.

Pilot Pete [145 posts] 1 week ago
1 like

As this story has been regurgitated it is probably worth mentioning that recent government (HMRC) guidance clarified that C2W is not, and has never been restricted to £1000. I think the cycling press need to emphasise this rather than continue to call £1000 the ‘cycle to work scheme budget’.

HMRC clarified that schemes providing for bikes/ equipment above £1000 simply required a credit broker licence - many schemes now offer this.