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.
Flagship bike in the value-for-money Calibre range from camping & hiking chain GO Outdoors, the 8kg Calibre Nibiru 2.0 comes with a Shimano 105 11-speed groupset with a compact 50/34T RS500 chainset and an 11-28t cassette. You get Shimano RS11 wheels together with Continental Ultrasport 25mm tyres. As with the Nibiru 1.0, handlebars, stem and seatpost are all Ritchey and there’s the same Selle Royal Seta saddle.
Far and away the cheapest carbon fibre bike anywhere, the Nibiru 1.0 comes with a Shimano Sora 9-speed groupset, with a 50/34 chainset and an 11-32 cassette, so it has a wide gear range for the hills. It's hung with a good selection of brand-name parts including Mavic wheel rims and Ritchey bar, stem and seatpost. The only catch is that it's only available in limited sizes: 53, 56, 58 and 59cm.
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 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.
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.
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.