Great bikes for between two and three grand in carbon, aluminium, titanium and even steel

Two grand is clearly a lot of money to spend on a bike but it can get you a very good, well-equipped machine. At this price there’s a vast choice of brands offering very high-quality road bikes, whether it’s for racing or sportive riding.

Carbon fibre dominates frame materials at this level, and you’re looking at advanced high-quality carbon frames that benefit from technological trickle-down effect from the very top end. You'll also encounter titanium frames that bring that unique aesthetic and ride quality that only titanium can offer.

And don’t discount steel. While similarly uncommon, the latest Reynolds and Columbus tubesets build into splendid frames, especially if outright stiffness isn’t top of your list of priorities, and you value the traditional look of a skinny tubed steel bike.

Aluminium frames are now rare in this price bracket, but there are some very good ones out there, and choosing the cheaper frame material can pay dividends elsewhere in the spec. You may be able to go up a level in groupset quality or add a power meter without busting the budget.

While the frame still makes up a large chunk of the price, you can expect groupsets of the Shimano Ultegra level and even some smattering of Dura-Ace. SRAM’s Force and Campagnolo Athena and Chorus are alternative choices. Electronic shifting? It's possible.

As for finishing kit, you can expect branded components from well established brands that specialise in handlebars, stems, seatposts and saddles. Carbon starts to replace aluminium for items like handlebars and seatposts, but don’t automatically assume carbon is better — some aluminium components can actually be lighter than carbon.

Giant Propel Advanced 1 Disc 2019 — £2,999

2019 Giant Propel Advanced Disc 1

The Giant Propel Advanced Disc is an efficient, firm-feeling road bike with aerodynamics designed specifically with disc brakes in mind. It's not the lightest bike available for this kind of money but it's fast whether you're soloing off the front or sprinting for the line.

The Propel Advanced Disc might not lurch forward like some lightweights do when you accelerate out of a slow turn, but that's not what aero road bikes are all about. It's designed with efficiency in mind, both in terms of aerodynamics and stiffness. The aero side of things is difficult to discern but this bike certainly feels stiff when you stamp on the pedals, with very little flex to speak of even when you're standing up and giving it everything you have.

You'd have to say that the Propel Advanced Disc provides quite a firm ride, and that might or might not be to your taste. By that I don't mean that it's uncomfortable – it's not that – but it is, yeah, firm. This isn't a gran fondo or endurance bike, it's a race bike (even if you don't race it) and that comes through in the feel.

That said, we got on fine with Giant's Contact Forward saddle with a composite base that flexes enough to take the edge off things, and Giant's own 25mm Gavia Race 1 tyres are set up tubeless so you can run them at lower pressures than you otherwise would without the danger of pinch flatting if you hit a pothole.

Read our review of the Giant Propel Advanced Disc
Find a Giant dealer

Orro Terra C 105 Hydro — £2,099.99

Orro Terra C.jpg

The Orro Terra C 105 Hydro is a stable carbon bike that's quick on the road, with the strength and confident handling required for heading on to gravel and other hard-packed trails with the appropriate tyres. Mudguard and rack mounts make this a versatile option that can cope with everything from commuting to adventure biking.

The Terra C 105 Hydro that we have here is the same price as the Adventure model (£2,099.99) and it, too, is built up with a Shimano 105 groupset and Fulcrum R700 DB wheels. This time, though, you get a compact chainset (with 50-tooth and 34-tooth chainrings) and an 11-28t cassette (rather than 11-32), a Deda Zero 1 handlebar with a round drop, and smooth Continental Grand Sport Race tyres in a 32mm width.

One of the most noticeable characteristics of the Orro Terra C 5800 Hydro is its stability, and that's apparent whether you're tackling uneven roads or negotiating busy traffic. I've been riding it a lot in both environments – for blasts out in the sticks and for commuting to the office – and it has a settled, confident feel with enough agility to handle more technical situations.

Read our review of the Orro Terra C 105 Hydro
Find an Orro dealer

Whyte Wessex One — £1,999


The Whyte Wessex One is a fast and comfortable endurance bike with lots of practical details. The easy and simple 1x11 gear shifting has all the range needed for tackling hills and flat roads. It's a really good all-season bike at a very good price.

The original Wessex brought together a lot of trends then emerging in the road bike market – wide tubeless tyres on wide rims, disc brakes, endurance geometry, optional mudguards – and combined them into a very cohesive package. And now there is another new trend to add to that list: 1x11.

The combination of a 44-tooth chainring and 10-42 cassette gives a wide gear range that's plenty for flat roads and hills alike (28.3 to 118.8 gear inches, which is a shade lower than a 34/32 low on a compact system, and a shade higher than a 50/12). The gearing's a tiny bit gappier than a double, but you gain ease-of-use.

As with the original Wessex, the ride is both fast and stable, thanks to the stiff carbon fibre frame and fork and the geometry, which is longer and slacker than a race bike. It provides fast and flighty performance when you spin the cranks up, yet there's adequate comfort from the 30mm tyres to ensure you're not going to be battered and left all achy after a couple of hours tackling ruinously potholed and cracked UK roads.

Read our review of the Whyte Wessex One
Find a Whyte dealer

Canyon Endurace WMN CF SL Disc 8.0 — £1,979

Canyon Endurace WMN CF SL Disc 8.0.jpg

Canyon's Endurace WMN CF SL Disc 8.0 is a really tempting option if you want to travel fair distances in comfort at a decent speed. It's a tiny bit heavier overall – 490g – than the same size and similarly specced non-disc unisex version, losing a very slight degree of that excellent bike's 'twitchiness', but that could be seen as a bonus as much as a drawback, depending on how you like your ride.

Tester Tass felt immediately at home on the CF SL Disc. Not in a boring way, but an easy-to-live-with, ride-all-day, into the sunset, forever, kind of way. A ride with no surprises – with that being very definitely a good thing.

Compared with the non-disc model, the handling feels more solid and planted, more 'endu' than 'race'. Don't get us wrong, it's still a fast bike with loads of zip, and still light enough to move around when you need it to, it just feels slightly less 'flickable', less twitchy.

Read our review of the Canyon Endurace WMN CF SL Disc 8.0

Mason Definition 105 Hydro — £2,795


The Mason Definition2 is simply a superb machine, crafted with attention-to-detail to give a ride sensation that almost defies logic. It's lively yet relaxed, delicate yet you'd take it anywhere, and is just really fun to ride. Tester Jack was sure he'd never get bored of it, and found it put any other alloy bike he'd ridden firmly in the shade.

The Definition2 has seen some subtle alterations that bring it up to date with the latest and most popular disc brake standards, namely the flat-mount and thru-axle formation. This meant a change to the rear dropouts, which Mason worked hard to design itself with its Italian frame makers – rather than stick on a part from a third-party that might not work with the chainstay design.

The Definition2 is a real triumph and represents the pinnacle of what can be done to date with an aluminium frame. A massively responsive ride, the latest disc brake standards accommodated successfully, and plenty of tyre clearance with no discernible disadvantage other than some weight penalty and, of course, a price premium. But you are really getting the best of everything with the Definition2, so the outlay goes much further.

Read our review of the Mason Definition Ultegra Hydro

Trek Domane SL 5 Disc 2019 — £2,350

2019 Trek Domane SL 5

One of the smoothest endurance bikes out there, the latest incarnation of Trek's Domane platform has the company's IsoSpeed bump-absorbing feature front and rear. When he reviewed the SL 6's lighter sibling, Dave Arthur called it "incredibly smooth".

A common complaint with the original Domane centred around the front end feeling much stiffer than the compliant rear end.

To solve this, Trek integrated an IsoSpeed decoupler into the head tube, allowing a specially shaped carbon fibre steerer tube to bend slightly between the two headset bearings. We're only talking a very small amount of deflection, with rider weight and stem length being a factor in the bending range. The SL6 also has Bontrager's Race Lite IsoZone VR-CF handlebar with foam pads on the tops to deal with road buzz.

Read our review of the Trek Domane SLR 6
Find a Trek dealer

Focus Paralane 9.8 2019 — £2,759

2019 Focus Paralane 9.8

Focus's Ultegra-equipped endurance rig offers a fast and comfortable ride with a healthy dose of practicality and versatility.

At £2,759 it's a good value proposition against other contenders for the endurance bike throne such as the Canyon Endurace, Cervelo C5, Trek Domane and Specialized Roubaix. You're spoilt for choice, but after riding the 2017 model, we have to say that the latest Paralane should definitely be on your shortlist.

Read our review of the Focus Paralane Ultegra
Find a Focus dealer

Reilly Gradient — £2,999

Reilly Gradient.jpg

South Coast-based Reilly Cycleworks has produced the Gradient as a do-everything adventure and gravel bike, with a lovingly finished titanium frame and smart specification. It provides a ride that is as lovely as the bike is to look at, with space for wide tyres for heading off into the wilderness or adding dirt and gravel roads to your route, and a high level of refinement.

Read our review of the Reilly Gradient

Fairlight Strael Ultegra — £2,399

Fairlight Strael.jpg

Fairlight Cycles' new Strael is an absolutely stunning machine to ride, offering four-season adaptability and durability without sacrificing high speed or a racy performance. Intelligent tube choices coupled with a long and low geometry make for a bike you can blast about on all day long and the only muscles that'll ache at the end of it will be from grinning too much.

Read our review of the Fairlight Strael

Orro Gold STC Ultegra — £2,500

2019 orro gold stc disc Ultegra

The Orro Gold STC Ultegra is a gran fondo bike that's as lively and responsive as most road race bikes, with plenty of comfort thrown in.

This is an excellent bike for gran fondos, sportives, and other fast sports rides. It's quick and responsive, essentially a race bike in a slightly more relaxed geometry, and as such it has tons of appeal. The frame is superbly stiff and the Ultegra groupset doesn't lag far behind top-level Dura-Ace in terms of performance.

There's a version with Ultegra Di2 and discs for £3,200 as well.

Read our review of the Orro Gold STC Disc Ultegra
Find an Orro dealer

Cannondale CAAD12 Ultegra Disc 2019 — £1,760

2019 cannondale caad12 disc ultegra

The CAAD12 is the latest in a long series of well-received bikes from Cannondale, most recently its predecessor, the fabled CAAD10. The CAAD12 is lighter, stiffer, more comfortable and available with or without disc brakes. Showing the company's commitment to disc brakes, the disc version was actually designed first, and the new frame is a whopping 206g lighter than the CAAD10 Disc that came out a couple of years ago.

Following the popular and likeable CAAD10 was always going to be a tough act, but Cannondale has succeeded not only in retaining the key qualities of the previous model but also improving the ride quality. It's nothing short of marvellous.

The CAAD12 is a finely honed bike with a level of comfort and refinement that makes you wonder why you would buy anything else. It's so smooth that it outshines many carbon fibre road bikes we've tested over the years.

Read our review of the Cannondale CAAD12 Disc Dura-Ace
Find a Cannondale dealer

Specialized Ruby Sport 2019 — £2,600

2019 Specialized Ruby Sport

Our Lara Dunn tested an earlier version of the Ruby and found a comfortable, fast and stylish bike that proved to be an excellent all-round women’s sportive choice. Specialized use their own FACT 10r carbon to craft the frame and fork with comfort provided by the clever flexible seatpost and 20mm of suspension travel in the head tube to absorb bumps.

The Ruby Sport — like all the 2019 Ruby family — has hydraulic disc brakes. It rolls on DT Swiss R470 wheels with Specialized's Turbo Pro tyres. A Body Geometry Ruby Comp saddle and Specialized Hover Comp short reach/shallow drop handlebar complete the package.

Read our review of the Specialized Ruby Elite.
Find a Specialized dealer.

Canyon Endurace CF SL Disc 8.0 2019 — £2,249

2019 canyon endurace cf sl disc 8

This manufacturer-direct deal from Germany straddles the border between race and sportive bikes. With a carbon fibre frame and full Shimano Ultegra groupset with disc brakes it's excellent value for money at a price that includes shipping from Germany.

The Endurace's riding position is higher than that of a race bike, but not as upright as a canonical sportive bike such as the Specialized Roubaix, the bike that arguably kicked off the whole sportive category. But it's closer to a race bike in its handling, demonstrating race bike speed when you stamp on the pedals and letting you get pretty low on the drops if you're trying to make keen progress into a headwind.

The large-volume tyres keep you comfortable, while the superb Ultegra brakes and gears are the pinnacle of Shimano's considerable component design and manufacturing ability.

Read our review of the Canyon Endurace CF 9.0 SL

Specialized Diverge Sport 2019 — £2,750

2019 Specialized Diverge Sport

The Diverge is part of what Specialized call their Adventure range. It's a bike that's designed for the road less travelled and long, all-day rides over rough roads and that's something it does incredibly well, fast and with a silly grin on its face.

When he reviewed the original Diverge, Jo Burt liked it so much we thought he was going to propose to it. He wrote: "I bloody love it. I like my road bikes but I also like my cyclo-cross bikes and I like my mountain bikes, and because of this I often find myself on my road bike bouncing around on inappropriate terrain. The Diverge makes this stupidity a lot easier without your riding jollies being jeopardized by the bike being a tedious slug on the road. A friend who borrowed it said it's the sort of bike that makes you want to move house because it opens up a vast web of riding possibilities. Bit of Flanders, section of Strada Bianche, poxed tarmac, random 'where does that go' moments? Bring it on."

Since then, Specialized has completely revamped the Diverge in ways that make it even more capable and versatile. The frame now has room for 42mm tyres and up front gets the Future Shock impact-damping fork from the Roubaix line. Dave Arthur reviewed the top-of-the-line S-Works version and said: "It's a comfortable, long-distance cruising bike on the road, with fantastic poise and cornering ability. Off the smooth stuff and the combination of the big tyres and Future Shock let you attack any rough paths, gravel tracks and technical descents with relish. It's a very accomplished bike and more than most manages to be master of all terrain."

Read our review of the 2018 Specialized S-Works Diverge
Read our review of the Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon
Find a Specialized dealer

Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ultegra Disc 2019 — £2,155


Our 2015 Bike of the Year and Sportive Bike of the Year, the Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ultegra Disc boasts fast and smooth performance with all the benefits of Shimano's hydraulic disc brakes with mechanical shifters. It's a very attractive bike for the cyclist who likes to ride fast, but doesn't want to race and demands comfort and the option to run wider tyres; it comes with 28mm tyres as standard.

This is a super smooth and comfortable distance bike with rewarding handling and fast performance; the hydraulic disc brakes make it an even more compelling package as a year-round bike.

Read our review of the Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ultegra Disc
Find a Cannondale dealer

About road.cc Buyer's Guides

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.

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You can also find further guides on our sister sites off.road.cc and ebiketips.

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

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.


dreamy [38 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

That Rose Xeon looks damaged. I'd be sending it back.

rjfrussell [529 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
dreamy wrote:

That Rose Xeon looks damaged. I'd be sending it back.


at the very least it has had a big thwack from the ugly stick. 


Those seat stays look awful.  Like a footballer hacked from behind collapsing to his knees.

Disfunctional_T... [441 posts] 1 year ago

The Jamis Renegade has been updated since the review. (A giveaway is that the seat clamp is now very clean looking.) 2018 has some really nice color options, a white frame with some stripes and a black frame... both of which look really nice.

Fluffed [141 posts] 1 year ago

Wrong Rose there really, the X-lite 4 is out now and better value, still sub 3k.

hairyderriere [43 posts] 1 year ago

Isn't there a Strael 2, which is even better? Why include the previous model here?



mylesrants [503 posts] 10 months ago

jeepers that Reilly is stunning

BehindTheBikesheds [3322 posts] 10 months ago

1'6 disc braked bikes in the £2-£3k bracket' should be the title..

TonbridgeJon [22 posts] 8 months ago

Is it just me, or are road bikes getting uglier by the year? That Giant is hideous....





....in my opinion.

TonbridgeJon [22 posts] 8 months ago

Is it just me, or are road bikes getting uglier by the year? That Giant is hideous....





....in my opinion.

TonbridgeJon [22 posts] 8 months ago

Also, pretty much all of these have Shimano Ultegra or worse. Where is the far superior SRAM Force?