BUYER'S GUIDE

15 of the best 2020 road bikes under £1,000

There are plenty of excellent bikes for under a grand — here's how to choose the right one
  • You've a big variety of bike styles to chose from, ranging from entry-level race bikes to gravel bikes, touring bikes and high-end hybrids; we're looking at drop-bar bikes here

  • Narrow your options by coming up with a list of features you want: mudguard clearance, disc brakes, rack mounts and so on.

  • Women are well-served too; there are some excellent women-specific bikes at this price

  • A grand is no longer a hard financial barrier with the widening of the Cycle To Work scheme, but it's still a significant psychological point

So you’ve got around £1,000 to spend on a road bike, but not sure what to look for? We’ve rounded up a selection of interesting road bikes for you at a range of prices from £680 up to £1,000 to give you an idea of what you can expect for your money.

Just because you've got a thousand pounds to spend that doesn't mean you have to spend it all on the bike go a bit lower and you can get still get a bike and one that will help you stretch your budget to some choice upgrades or some extra kit. It's all about finding the right bike for your riding needs and your riding budget.

If your budget won't stretch this high, then have a look at our best bikes at £500 roundup or our guide to bikes costing under £750. Want to spend a bit more? We've got that covered too, with our guide to road bikes under £1500.

Women's bikes

Some manufacturers are starting to shy away from the idea of separate men's and women's road bikes and simply offer a standard model. All of the bikes in our round-up will work for women riders, perhaps with a change of saddle, but where a manufacturer does offer a female specific alternative we've included that too.

What can you expect for your money?

In this price range you get a very capable, lightweight and potentially very fast road bike. Whether it’s for getting into road racing, diving in to the world of sportives, riding to work or college, or simply for getting fit at the weekends, these road bikes all offer a high level of performance and should deliver years of cycling enjoyment.

Traditionally bike makers choose one of two tactics when building a bike for a particular price point. Some use a cheaper frame with better components, which should deliver a good bike at an eye-catching price, but limits upgrade potential. Others go for a better quality frame, but down-spec some of the components to bring the complete package in under the desired price point on the basis that the buyer can replace parts as they wear out with better quality ones more in keeping with the frame.

Both approaches have their merits; it's up to you to decide which one works best for you. Just to complicate things further this isn't a rigid rule, some manufacturers are able to deliver the best of both worlds. Purely on-line operations and retailer own brands have the advantage of of saving on distribution costs and they often pass that saving on to the customer. Some other big manufacturers also have the benefit of economies of scale when buying components and again will sometimes pass that saving on to make their products more price competitive.

It's all in the frame

As this round-up shows, most — but not all — bikes at this price feature aluminium frames. The latest generation of aluminium bikes offer a fantastic combination of performance and value. It's a cliché because it's true that when it comes to bangs per buck performance you can't beat an aluminium bike. It's a very good material for bike frames, both light and stiff, two very desirable features in a bike frame. Modern aluminium frames are also comfortable too — gone are the days when you would expect a harsh ride from an aluminium bike.

Look for a frame with double, or triple, butted tubes, as these are lighter and offer slightly better ride performance than non-butted plain gauge tubes. Most bikes here feature weight saving and vibration-reducing carbon fibre forks.

It is possible to get carbon fibre at this money. 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.

Another point to consider is will you want to to fit mudguards to your bike? Some bikes here will feature concealed mudguard eyelets so you can easily add mudguards, which can be invaluable for winter riding and daily commuting.

Groupset and parts

All the bikes here use groupsets — the collective term for a bike's gears, brakes and controls — mainly or entirely based on components from Japanese company Shimano. Most feature either the cheaper Tiagra or more expensive 105 or a combination of the two.

Shimano 105 is a bit lighter and offers slightly better performance, but Tiagra has been upgraded recently and is very good for the money. However, 105 has become quite rare in the last few years because the pound dropped against the US dollar after the EU referendum vote, and bikes are paid for in dollars.

You should also expect to see a smattering of parts from Italian/Taiwanese component maker FSA. Instead of speccing their bikes entirely from Shimano parts many bike manufacturers will look to save a bit of money by fitting a different crankset, usually an FSA one. That isn't necessarily a negative — FSA components have a very good reputation for quality and performance.

One difference between Tiagra and 105 is that Tiagra is 10-speed, 105 11-speed. That means you get one more rear sprocket with 105, giving you closer gaps between gears for more consistent pedalling.

Most bikes here use a compact (50/34) double ring chainset providing 20 gears with Tiagra, 22 with 105. You used to occasionally see triple chainsets at this price but they have almost vanished with the advent of wide-range doubles. 

Disc brakes are now very common in this price range. They provide better stopping in the wet, and make it much easier for a frame to accommodate tyres fatter than 25mm. They also mean the braking is unaffected by the rim being a bit out of true, and you never need worry about your rims wearing out.

You can also expect to see some own brand components in this price range. Again that isn't necessarily a negative. Bike manufacturers fit own brand components to their bikes right the way through their price ranges and they're often just as good as name-brand parts from third-party manufacturers.

Own brand wheels and components give way to branded parts the more you spend. As wheels and tyres have a big impact on a bike's performance, look for a bike that doesn’t skimp on these parts.

If you value comfort, then look for a bike with 25mm tyres, or even bigger, rather than 23mm, as they offer a bit more cushioning and are no slower than narrower tyres anyway.

Recommended bikes

Bergamont Grandurance RD 5 — £959

At its heart, the Bergamont Grandurance is an excellent gravel/endurance bike and we really liked its stripped-down big brother, the Grandurance 6. This version is dressed for the long haul with a rack, mudguards and built-in dynamo lights, the latter spec both unusual and welcome if you're going to use the Grandurance RD 5 for commuting as well as exploring the lanes at weekend.

Read our review of the Bergamont Grandurance 6
Find a Bergamont dealer

Vitus Zenium Tiagra — £999.99

You don't find many carbon fibre bikes in this price range, so one with disc brakes is very impressive.

We've always liked the various Zenium bikes we've had in for test. This model is configured for long days out at pace, with a full Tiagra groupset, 50/34 chainset and 11-32 cassette.

Merida Scultura Disc 200 — £549

The Merida Scultura Disc 200 may look like it is an entry-level machine on paper but the frame and fork are absolutely top notch and massively upgradable. It's yet another example of just how good alloy frames are right now, offering a very comfortable ride and plenty of stiffness to boot.

The Scultura Lite-BSA Disc frame has a very enjoyable ride feel; there is no harshness or irritating amounts of road buzz coming through to your contact points, even with the 25mm tyres pumped up to my preferred high pressures. This makes the Scultura a fun bike to ride and you can really cover some miles tapping away on the pedals while taking in the scenery.

The 2020 Merida Scultura Disc 200's RRP is £950, but you'd be mad to pay that when you can get the 2019 bike at this discounted price.

Read our review of the Merida Scultura Disc 200
Find a Merida dealer

Specialized Allez Sport 2020 — £848.99

The Allez Sport boasts an excellent aluminium frame and all-carbon fork with rack and mudguard mounts for versatility. The latest Allez frame is a bit less racy than its predecessors, making for a bike that is set up perfectly for commuters or winter training without losing the Allez's fun and appealing ride. It was well worth a look at its £850 RRP; at this sale price it's an absolute bargain.

This incarnation of the Allez has Shimano's nine-speed Sora groupset, which on the face of it sounds a bit basic, but the gears actually flick lightly from sprocket to sprocket and with your eyes closed it's not easy to tell that you're not using the more expensive Tiagra or 105 components. And the Allez frame is more than nice enough to justify upgraded tyres, wheels and other components down the track.

Read our review of the Specialized Allez
Find a Specialized dealer

Merlin ROC Disc 105 — £999

Merlin is offering a decent package here with its ROC Disc 105. An alloy frame, carbon fork, hydraulic discs and a Shimano 105 groupset all for less than a grand is impressive against some of its big brand opposition. It's a bit on the weighty side but it offers a very good ride quality to offset that.

The ROC makes for a decent commuter or day-long tourer. It has that kind of 'unflustered' style about it – just get on it and pedal and it'll carry you for miles with little demand for concentration, you can just enjoy the scenery.

Read our review of the Merlin ROC Disc 105

Triban RC 520 — £729.99

Built around Decathlon's new comfort-orientated 6061 aluminium frame, the RC 520 gives you most of a Shimano 105 R7000 groupset and TRP HY/RD disc brake calipers. These have a hydraulic stage to do the tricky bit of turning the braking force though 90° and are significantly more powerful and easier to modulate than cable-only disc brakes.

The Triban RC 520 also has tubeless-ready wheels and Decathlon's own Resist+ 28mm tyres.

It's a super-steady, confident ride and amazing value for money.

Read our review of the Triban RC 520

Read our report on the launch of the Triban RC 520

Planet X Pro Carbon Force 22 Special Edition — £900

The Planet X Pro Carbon has always been a popular entry-level carbon fibre bike. This is an excellent price for a bike with 11-speed gearing; most manufacturers use Shimano's 10-speed Tiagra or even 9-speed Sora to build a carbon fibre bike under a grand.

Boardman SLR 8.9a — £1,000

There's an argument that modern, mid-priced aluminium frames are massively under-rated thanks to all the attention paid to 'budget' carbon fibre, and Boardman tested that argument when they launched two versions of the SLR 8.9, one with a carbon fibre frame and Tiagra components and this bike, which has an aluminium frame and Shimano 105 components.

With almost identical geometry to the SLR 8.9c and the same all-carbon fork, we'd expect the alloy SLR 8.9 to have almost the same sharp, fun handling and according to Boardman it's actually lighter. With the carbon version now out of range at £1,100, this is an excellent package.

Read our review of the Boardman SLR 8.9 Carbon
Find a Boardman dealer

Cube Attain Race 2020 — £999

With a Shimano Tiagra groupset on its 6061 aluminium frame, this is the lightest of Cube's Attain line of go-faster sportive bikes. There's clearance for fat tyres (28mm Conti Ultra Sport 2s are fitted) and a not-too-stretched riding position so it's quick, but you won't need pro-level flexibility to get comfortable on it.

Find a Cube dealer

Pinnacle Arkose D1 2020 — £800

Evans Cycles bills the Arkose as an adventure bike, but acknowledges the category's versatility pointing out that this could be your "one do-it-all drop bar bike". That's definitely what the Arkose bikes have become since starting out as modest soft cyclocross bikes a few years ago. The Arkose D1 has room for 45mm 700C tyres or 53mm 650B tyres, or it will happily take 28mm rubber for zipping along on the road, and has Shimano Sora components.

Canyon Endurace AL 6 2020 — £849

Canyon's Endurace follows the design of the carbon Endurace first introduced in 2014, but its aluminium frame is longer in the wheelbase and taller in the head tube, to create a more comfortable position.

The aluminium frame is partnered with a carbon fibre fork with a 27.2mm seatpost and a complete Shimano Tiagra groupset here, with a compact 50/34 chainset. Fulcrum Racing 900 wheels and Continental Grand Prix SL tyres, and a weight of 8.58kg according to Canyon.

Rose Pro SL 105 — £997.42

By not selling bikes in shops in the traditional way, this German online retailer can pass on some pretty good savings to the customer if you’re prepared to shop online. This attractive Pro SL 105 features a triple butted 7005 aluminium frame and carbon fibre fork with a Shimano 105 11-speed groupset, making it better appointed than many similarly priced bikes in this roundup. A Shimano 105 compact chainset provides a usable low range spread of gears, and the Mavic Aksium wheels and tyres are fast and responsive.

Cannondale Synapse Alloy Tiagra Disc 2020 — £999.99

The Synapse is the US company's endurance bike, designed primarily to be comfortable, so making it ideal for sportives, riding to work and club runs.

The frame's highly-manipulated aluminium tubes are a mix of 6061 and 6069 alloys and shares many of the styling cues of the more expensive carbon fibre Synapses. It's built up with a Shimano Tiagra transmission, FSA Gossamer chainset and Promax Render R mechanical disc brakes. You can fit bigger tyres in the Synapse than most regular race bikes, up to 28mm, and this model takes advantage of that with Vittoria Zaffiro 28mm tyres.

Find a Cannondale dealer

Raleigh Mustang Elite — £880

We really liked the Raleigh Mustang Elite when we tested it. It does everything a regular road bike does, but it does it with the added comfort of the big tyres. It's part of Raleigh's three-bike range of gravel/adventure bikes and a great example of the booming category. Its 6061 double butted aluminium frame is designed for both on and off road riding so if you're getting tempted by your local dirt roads and trails, or a canal towpath commute, it'll take it in its stride.

Along with a carbon fork with through-axle and TRP Spyre disc brakes, the 2018 version, above has SRAM's Apex 1X transmission with a single 40-tooth chainring and wide-range 11-42 11-speed cassette. It's the ultimate Keep It Simple, Stupid derailleur gear system and just the thing for a do-it-all bike.

The Mustang Elite was £1,100, but Raleigh has just dropped the price, which makes it a bit of a bargain.

Read our review of the Raleigh Mustang Elite
Find a Raleigh dealer

Whyte Dorset 2020 — £999

This is truly a performance road bike with disc brakes rather than a re-engineered hybrid or cyclocross bike. If you want a bike for getting from A to B quickly all year round, and that can cope with whatever the British roads and weather can throw at it this could be for you. We were very impressed when we reviewed the 2014 version.

At its heart is a well designed, well put together aluminium frame with lots of nicely detailed touches. You can easily fit mudguards (always a plus) and the ride and handling is right up there with the best of the new breed of aluminium road bikes. There are 28mm Maxxis Rouleur tyres and the Shimano Sora groupset with TRP Hy/Rd mechanical disc brakes.

Find a Whyte dealer

Buying your first road bike?

Our in-depth guide is packed with useful advice to steer you towards choosing the right bike for you, with information on frame materials, components, wheels, groupsets, sizing and fit. Read it here.

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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.

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