BUYER'S GUIDE

8 of the best carbon fibre road bikes for under £1,000

Got your heart set on a carbon fibre road bike? You don't have to spend a fortune

Carbon fibre road bikes under £1,000 are fairly rare so to save you scouring the web, we've rounded them up for you. 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 10 or so years ago, but inflation and a plunging pound have reduced the number of carbon fibre road bikes under £1,000, Here are all the ones we can find.

  • Why carbon fibre? Even on a bike under £1,000 you can get carbon fibre's mixture of power transfer and a slightly 'soft' ride

  • Nevertheless, a carbon fibre frame may not be lighter than an equivalent aluminium frame; but if weight matters that much to you, you'll probably want to spend a bit more

  • Almost all these carbon fibre road bikes are retailer own brands; cutting out a layer of distribution helps keep the price down

  • Rim brakes still rule in this category, with only two of our eight bikes boasting discs

  • Want more options? Check our guide to the best road bikes for under £1,000

8 of the best carbon fibre road bikes under £1,000 for 2020

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.

Sensa Lombardia 105 — £999

2020 sensa lombardia 105 side view on white

Merlin Cycles has made a bit of a speciality of keenly-priced carbon fibre bikes from European brands such as Ridley and Sensa. This is the pick of the current range as not only does it have a carbon fibre frame and Shimano 105 groupset but Merlin has a full range of sizes in stock.

Carrera Virago — £700

2020 Carerra Virago side view on white

Currently the cheapest carbon fibre road bike you can buy, this Halfords bargain comes with Shimano Sora gears rather than the Tiagra or 105 that are more common in this round-up, but for the price you can hardly complain. To help you up hills there's a wide-range cassette with a 32-tooth largest sprocket and Halfords claims the all-up weight is under 10kg.

Ridley Liz C 105 Mix — £899

2019 Ridley Liz C

The Liz C is the women's version of Ridley's well-liked Fenix all-rounder, so it's suitable for sportives and day rides and even a bit of racing.  

The frame geometry is identical to the Fenix; Ridley's women's bikes have different saddles, stems, bars and seatposts to tailor the fit for a woman's shape.

Dolan l'Étape Campag Centaur — £984.98

2020 Dolan l'Etape Campag Centaur

For a – relatively speaking – piffling £985, the Dolan L'Etape is a full carbon fibre road bike that offers excellent road manners and sporty handling. If you really crave a carbon fibre bike but don't want to spend a fortune, this is one of the best affordable carbon bikes you are likely to find anywhere.

Like many budget carbon fibre bikes the Dolan l'Étape is available with a Shimano 105 groupset, but if you want something a little less run-of-the-mill, consider this option with Campagnolo's Centaur components.

Read our review of the Dolan l'Étape

Merlin Cordite SL Ultegra R8000 Mix — £899

Merlin Cordite SL

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. You can't be too tall, though; Merlin only has sizes XS to M left.

Vitus Zenium 2020 — £999.99

2020 Vitus Zenium side view on white

This is the budget version of Vitus' carbon-fibre road platform, which had something of an overhaul last year with room in the frame for tyres up to 30mm. In keeping with the trend for lower gears to make life easier on the hills, this 2020 version has a 50/34 chainset and 11-32 sprockets. 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.

Boardman SLR 8.9c — £900

2018 boardman slr 8.9c

The SLR 8.9c is the value-for-money sweet spot in the Boardman range, with a full-carbon frame and fork,and a Shimano Tiagra groupset except for the brakes and tubeless-ready wheels. It's great value and it's versatile too: there are mudguard mounts so you can keep dry when it gets a bit damp.

Ribble R872 Tiagra — £999

Ribble r872 tiagra

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.

Explore the complete archive of reviews of road bikes on road.cc

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

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.

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