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 latest version of Specialized's entry-level aluminium speedster is a little softer and kinder than the race bikes that used to carry the Allez name, but still a barrel of fun to ride. Because it could be picked up for less than the old £1,000 Cycle to Work cap, the Allez became a commuter's favourite, with many taking on the daily haul to and from work in all weathers and conditions. The last set of tweaks reflected this, with the Allez frame now able to take full mudguards and a rear rack while still maintaining the ability to wear 28mm tyres.
Everything feels tight under hard cornering and braking, that's for sure, and thankfully it hasn't come at the cost of comfort. The entire frame manages to take out the worst of the road buzz and I never once felt like I'd taken a battering.
Cube’s Attain is an endurance and comfort-focused road bike. The Attain SL Disc comes with a Shimano 105 groupset including hydraulic disc brakes, and 28mm Continental Ultra Sport 2 tyres. It’s a smart frame, with slim dropped rear stays to boost comfort, a tapered head tube for precise steering and full internal cable routing giving a very clean appearance.
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 usually the extremely reasonable price of eleven hundred quid with Shimano's 105 R7000 groupset. At the time of writing, however, it's just £987 in keeping with Planet X's policy of seemingly random price changes.
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.
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 Shimano 105 hydraulic disc brakes. We liked the rim-braked 2017 version, but thought it could use better brakes.
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 £999 with Shimano Tiagra; the price here is for the option with Shimano 105 and hydraulic brakes, which gives a good combination of slick shifting and powerful stopping.
Canyon might be best known for its carbon fibre races bikes like the Ultimate and Aeroad, but it does a nice line of aluminium bikes, and they offer excellent value for money. The Endurace is the company’s distance and comfort orientated model, with a taller front end and larger volume tyres to provide more comfort. This is the top of the range, with a full Shimano 105 groupset including the chainset, DT Swiss wheels and Continental Grand Prix SL 28mm tyres. Canyon throws in three months of Zwift so you can start getting fit over the winter, and a torque wrench for proper assembly.
This bike has at its heart the aluminium version of Trek's lightweight Émonda platform, equipped with Shimano's Tiagra groupset including hydraulic disc brakes.
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."
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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.