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.
The Liz C is the women's version of Ridley's well-liked Fenix all-rounder, so it's suitable for sportives and day rides and even a bit of racing.
The frame geometry is identical to the Fenix; Ridley's women's bikes have different saddles, stems, bars and seatposts to tailor the fit for a woman's shape.
For a – relatively speaking – piffling £1,000, the Dolan L'Etape is a full carbon fibre road bike 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.
Like many budget carbon fibre bikes the Dolan l'Étape is available with a Shimano 105 groupset, but if you want something a little less run-of-the-mill, consider this option with Campagnolo's Centaur components.
Here's an end-of-line bargain for less tall riders with an endurance-orientated carbon fibre frame, a full Shimano 105 groupset and Fulcrum Racing Sport wheels.
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.
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.
The 2020 version is due in December and will also be under a grand. In keeping with the trend for lower gears to make life easier on the hills, it has a 50/34 chainset and 11-32 sprockets, versus the 2019 bike's 52/36 and 11-28.
The SLR 8.9c is the value-for-money sweet spot in the Boardman range, with a full-carbon frame and fork,and a Shimano Tiagra groupset except for the brakes and tubeless-ready wheels. It's great value and it's versatile too: there are mudguard mounts so you can keep dry when it gets a bit damp.
The Planet X Pro Carbon just shouts value for money, with SRAM Force or 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.
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.
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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.