If you have £1,000 to £1,500 to spend on a road bike, you really do get a lot for you money. A benefit of spending this sort of money is that the bikes start to get much lighter than those costing half as much, which will have a significant impact on the ride quality and performance, and your times up your local hills.
Shimano 105 and Tiagra are the dominant groupsets in this price range. While there is a lot of own-brand kit for parts like wheels, handlebars and saddles, which is no bad thing (manufacturers have really raised their game with own label components), there is a lot more branded kit from the likes of Mavic and Fizik.
You'll typically find yourself making a decision between an aluminium frame (which range between very good and superb in this price range) with a groupset such as Shimano 105 or a carbon frame with Shimano Tiagra. Which you go for will depend, among other things, on whether you're a parts upgrader or a bike replacer when it comes to future developments.
We're also starting to see some intriguing, innovative thinking in this price range, like the fat-tyred, single chainring Road Plus Whyte Glencoe, if you fancy something more than a bit different.
The Pinnacle Arkose R2 is a great option if you're looking for a versatile aluminium adventure, commuter or winter bike (or indeed all three at once) that is well specced for the price.
Pinnacle has been making the Arkose for a number of years. It was originally created off the back of a cyclo-cross design, and has become more of an adventure/gravel bike over time. It's an excellent all-rounder.
The Planet X Pro Carbon has always been a popular entry-level carbon fibre bike, but it was looking a bit dated. This new version corrects that with modern lines, a new lay-up, and tapered steerer, among other changes, and it's currently available with Shimano's 105 R7000 groupset for the extremely reasonable price of eleven hundred quid.
The Ultra CF 900 is 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. Bung in a sub-£1.5k price tag for a full-carbon frame and fork, Shimano 105 groupset and Mavic wheels, and it really is an exciting package.
With its 'UCI approved for racing' logo on the top tube and its geometry, I was really expecting the Ultra CF 900 to be a no-nonsense speed machine, sacrificing comfort for performance, especially when you take into account those huge tube profiles. In use, though, it is completely the opposite.
The ride is sublime, absorbing pretty much everything the road surface can chuck at it, so you just waft along at a very impressive pace, smashing mile after mile without effort.
This bike is now also known as the Van Rysel RR 900 CF, with the latest Shimano 105 R7000 components and in a full range of sizes.
The Boardman ASR, or "all season road", is a really good value package that offers a relaxed ride with the classic looks and feel of steel, the modern convenience of hydraulic disc brakes, and clearance for wide tyres.
The 8.9 arrives ready for winter, with mudguards fitted to the frame, 28mm Vittoria tyres, plus reflective frame details ticking all the boxes for commuting through the rough British weather. Remove the mudguards and the bike easily has clearance for wider tyres, so it also fits the bill for summer towpath pootling and brief gravel forays.
Riding over rough stuff on my cycle path commute was generally a breeze, and the only real 'problem' I had with it was manoeuvrability. While the stem is shortened in an attempt to make the steering springier, I did find the ASR a bit sluggish when trying to corner quickly, which I'll put down to the relaxed angles of the frame and longer top tube making the bike quite slow to respond.
It does make for really stable handling, though, and it's not really designed to be aggressively chucked around; it's more about finesse than fast and furious. Eating up long, steady miles in comfort is what the ASR does best, and as someone who's prone to head out for a run or carry on riding if the weather's okay when I get home, it was ideal for a period of building base fitness in early spring.
Whyte's Glencoe is a 650B-wheeled Road Plus bike that brings together a lot of the emerging trends in the road bike market into a really compelling package that will appeal to anyone wanting a smooth, comfortable, stable and confidence-inspiring road bike.
The Glencoe combines an aluminium frame and fork rolling on wide profile WTB tubeless-ready rims and WTB Horizon 47mm tyres, and the stop and start are taken care of by an SRAM Apex 1x11 groupset, with an 11-42t cassette and 44T chainring, and TRP HyRd hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors. The finishing kit is all Whyte branded, including the 50cm wide handlebar that is unique to the Glencoe. Yes at 11.56kg (25.48lb) it’s heavy, but weight isn’t everything.
Giant has two families of endurance bikes, the Defy series with carbon fibre frames and disk brakes throughout the range, and the Contend bikes with aluminium frames and a choice of discs or rim brakes. This is the top model in the six-bike Contend family. It has Shimano's excellent-value Shimano 105 11-speed transmission, and Giant's own hydraulic disc brakes. We liked the rim-braked 2017 version, but thought it could use better brakes.
It's usually £1,249, so at this end of year price it's a major bargain.
Cross, Gravel, Road, that's what the CGR initials stand for on Ribble's latest all-rounder. A disc brake-equipped, mudguard-shod 'do a bit of everything' machine that makes a lot of sense for the rider who doesn't always want to stick to the tarmac. Thankfully, this jack of all trades is no master of none.
Thanks to Ribble's online bike builder, you can have any spec you like. The CGR starts from £799 with Shimano Sora; the price here is for the option with Shimano 105 and hydraulic brakes, which gives a good combination of slick shifting and powerful stopping.
When it was launched the CAAD12 set a new benchmark for all-aluminium frames; it still puts a lot of carbon bikes to shame. With a frame weight under 1,100g for the disc brake and regular versions, it's not much heavier than carbon either. Cannondale package the frame with a full Shimano 105 groupset, carbon fibre fork with tapered steerer tube, 52/36 crank, Mavic Aksium wheels and a Selle Royal Seta S1 saddle. You can also have it with disc brakes for an extra £300.
The CAAD12 105's RRP is £1,400 so this is a great end-of-season deal.
German company Canyon has made quite an impression in the UK with its direct-to-consumer business model meaning big savings for those prepared to bypass the bike shop for their next bike purchase. The Ultimate CF SL is produced using the same mould as that the Ultimate CF SLX we tested a while ago, it's just using a cheaper carbon fibre. That keeps the price lower. Although the weight does go up a bit, it's still light at a claimed 940g. This is the entry-level model built with a full Shimano 105 groupset, Mavic Aksium wheels, Continental GP 4000 25mm tyres, Canyon's own bars and stem and a Fizik Antares saddle.
This bike has at its heart the aluminium version of Trek's lightweight Émonda platform, equipped with Shimano's new 105 R7000 groupset.
The Emonda line is Trek's take on making the lightest road bikes it can produce for a given price, which means the frame here is worth upgrading as the parts wear out; it wouldn't be shamed by a Shimano Ultegra groupset.
German direct-sales operation Rose has some very keenly priced bikes, like this disc-braked sportive/endurance model that boasts an aluminium frame with room for 28mm tyres, and a full Shimano 105 groupset with hydraulic brakes. When he reviewed the next bike up in the range, the Ultegra-equipped Rose Pro SL Disc 3000, Stu Kerton said "Thanks to its neutral handling and impressive build spec, the Pro SL is the ideal steed for a day in the saddle with no surprises."
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.
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.