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 £800 up to £1,200 to give you an idea of what you can expect for your money.
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
The Ribble R872 Disc Tiagra is a highly impressive carbon fibre road bike that's built to a sportive-friendly geometry and it offers a much higher performance than you've a right to expect at this price. Plus, there's the bonus that you can tweak the spec to suit your taste and budget.
Tester Mat Brett writes: "The feature that surprised me most about the Ribble R872 Disc's ride is the front end stiffness. In this respect it feels like a bike costing way more than this. Haul on the alloy handlebar and everything is absolutely rock solid. The frame is almost as stiff elsewhere, giving the feeling that none of your energy is going to waste. It really is hugely impressive for the money, made with T700 carbon fibre and boasting a tapered head tube, neat internal cable routing and compatibility with Di2 electronic shifting – indeed, Ribble will supply the bike built up with Shimano Ultegra Di2 if you like. The fork is full carbon too.
"By the standards of most endurance bikes, this frame is built to quite an aggressive geometry. It's suitable for sportives, for example, and other long, pacy rides, but the setup isn't as relaxed as you'll often find elsewhere.
"Overall, the Ribble R872 Disc offers an exceptional carbon fibre frame that's suited to tackling long rides at pace, and a strong components package that you can adjust to your requirements. It has to be a contender if you're after a sportive-style road bike that offers high value for money, especially if you want something that's upgradable over time."
The Triban RC 520 Women's Disc road bike is incredibly versatile, offers a comfortable ride on our increasingly rough roads and is quite simply serious value for money. If you're looking for a bike that can handle the daily commute as well as take on some gravel trails and a bit of touring, the Triban is well worth considering. Just be aware that it's not a racing machine.
Tester Emma was pleasantly surprised by the RC520, despite it being a couple of kilos heavier than her race bikes. She writes: "When I got it out on the road, though, I was genuinely surprised. It rolls along really well once up to speed, and getting it there isn't as arduous as you might expect, with gearing to help on the hills.
"The ride and position are perfect for commuting, endurance rides and adventures away from asphalt.That makes the Triban a versatile bike that will appeal to a very wide market. I've used it for wet rides, commuting, gravel riding and touring. Aside from road racing, there's not much it can't cope with.
"The 28mm tyres help hugely with the comfort of the ride. I ran them at 70psi and found them to be pretty forgiving on the rough lanes and potholed roads around the Cotswolds."
At its heart, the Bergamont Grandurance is an excellent gravel/endurance bike and we really liked its big brother, the Grandurance 6. To keep the price down, this version uses Shimano's dependable Sora 9-speed components, so there's considerable upgrade potential here.
Over on our sister site off.road.cc tester Rachael described the Grandurance as "a classic endurance road bike with allowances for gravel tyres, mudguards and racks. It’ll make any owner a great weekend gravel adventure bike that will commute with ease on the weekdays too.
"Riding the Bergamont Grandurance I get exactly the kind of feeling I expect to get from an all-road bike, it’s capable, tough and will happily turn a wheel to most situations. The tyres are really built for the road or at least dry fire roads, and the position isn’t particularly aggressive, think endurance road bike rather than mountain bike-esque. The head tube length is a bit shorter than other bikes in its class but there was plenty of room left on the steerer to choose your bar height, something I left rather high to prevent me feeling too tipped over the front, giving the feeling of better balance and control on off-road descents. The parts complement each other and this bike is a brilliant jack of all trades, it gives you the option to stray from the beaten track and widen your route horizons!
"The Bergamont Grandurance is an ideal bike if you are going to be commuting, exploring the back lanes and occasionally bikepacking. To make it truly, truly versatile, I'd like to be able to fit up to 40mm tyres in there but as an all-rounder, it’s hard to fault."
There aren't currently very many carbon-framed bikes under a grand thanks to massive demand during Covid-19 lockdown, but Boardman has come up with this value for money gem.
Tester Stu Kerton was as impressed with the latest SLR 8.9 as tech editor Mat Brett had been with its predecessor. "It's brilliant!" he wrote.
"It's a comfortable frameset to ride. I did a couple of long rides – four hours or so – on the 8.9 and it's a smooth ride. There's no harshness to speak of, and I found the riding position well thought out.
"I could get a relatively stretched aero position, with a decent drop from the saddle to the bar, that wasn't too extreme to hold for mile after mile.
"This makes it a quick and efficient bike to ride, especially as the front end geometry is on the lively side of neutral. Technical descents can be taken at speed, not only because of the planted feel, but also thanks to the stiff fork and rigid, tapered head tube and steerer."
There was a previous Tiagra-equipped version of this bike, but the latest edition has 11-speed Shimano 105 shifting so you can fit very wide-range gearing if you feel the need. The long-arm brakes provide room for mudguards or 28mm tyres, but overall it's fast fun and distinctly sporty.
Built around Decathlon's 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 excellent value for money.
Tester Ash wrote: "With a super-tall head tube and compact top tube (more details on those below), the bike sits you upright relative to your general entry-level race bike, or even a fair chunk of the endurance-specific market too. It fully justifies its do-it-all tag – aside from the budding racers, who will be better off opting for an equivalently priced Specialized Allez or similar, even with the downgrade of kit that comes with it.
"What surprises most about the Triban 520 is just how accessible the ride is; how easy it is to pedal the bike at moderate speeds and feel like you're just cruising along. It was a consistent characteristic whether I was using the bike for a 5km commute down one of Bath's hills to the road.cc offices, an ascent back home, or a 40km spin around the country – in each situation, it's a supremely easy bike to get on with."
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.
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.
Riding the Allez, which shares the same frame, tester Stu wrote: "The first time I went out for a ride on the Allez, it was just going to be a quick blast around the block to make sure everything was set up right... 20 miles or so and back home. It was so comfortable and fun to ride, though, I was out for three times that, and rolled home with a massive grin on my face. It's simple to ride and easy to control, which meant I could focus on the scenery and just enjoy the experience.
"It's an exciting bike to ride and you'll easily get that little adrenaline giggle when you really push it. If you're confident, you can definitely take a few risks.
"Still think alloy frames are harsh? Well, ride one of these and you'll realise they definitely are not. Specialized has always delivered a comfortable ride from its aluminium bikes and the latest versions of the Allez continue that theme."
With a Shimano Sora groupset on its 6061 aluminium frame, this is the middle 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.
When he tested the Cube Attain, which has the same frame as the Attain Pro, Stu Kerton said: "The alloy frame we have here is really comfortable to ride. There is no harshness or road buzz resonating through your hands like aluminium frames of yesteryear and the experience is very impressive. I headed out for longer rides over a range of road surfaces and came back home without any feelings of discomfort or fatigue at any of my contact points.
"The way the Attain behaves is just right for the type of rider it's aimed at, those who are possibly new to road riding and would find something more race orientated a little twitchy."
As well as a step up to Shimano Sora, the Attain Pro boasts disc brakes which afford better wet-weather braking and room for fatter tyres, plus you can add Cube's own CUbeguard mudguards to fend off the wet.
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.
Tester Stu writes: "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 handling is pleasingly neutral, which is reassuring for those new to road riding – the Scultura is, after all, priced at £1,000, which places it nicely in that 'first proper road bike' category.
"It's worthy of serious upgrades as you develop as a rider so if it is your first road bike you won't be having to being buying a replacement by the end of the season as you have improved as a rider. Some new wheels, and look into improving the brakes, and you'll be left with a lighter and much more responsive machine."
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 8.7kg according to Canyon.
This model has rim brakes but Canyon has still managed to make room for 28mm tyres and frankly, Shiamno's Tiagra rim brakes are pretty good. Yes, the Endurace 6 Disc's hydraulic stoppers have more power, but at a cost of £350 on the price and half a kilogram on the weight, which explains why rim brakes are still really commeon in this price range.
When he tested the Endurace 6 Disc Stu described it as "stiff but comfortable enough to deliver a fun ride with plenty of feedback, whether you are out for a blast or just enjoying the countryside".
He went on: "It's engaging in a way that makes you really feel part of the bike if you want to get a move on. That buzziness you get from an alloy frame is often criticised, but as long as it is controlled – damped to leave just enough via tube diameters and wall thicknesses – it can create a machine that really speaks to the rider. You feel everything that is going on between the tiny contact patch of the tyre and the road, allowing you to react instantly."
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.
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 around £750. Want to spend a bit more? We've got that covered too, with our guide to road bikes for about £1,500.
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.
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.
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.
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 Sora and Tiagra or occassionally the more expensive 105.
Shimano 105 is a bit lighter and offers slightly better performance, but Tiagra 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.
The main difference between Sora, Tiagra and 105 is that Sora is 9-speed, Tiagra is 10-speed, and 105 is 11-speed. More sprockets give you closer gaps between gears for more consistent pedalling.
Most bikes here use a compact (50/34) double ring chainset providing 18 gears with Sora, 20 gears with Tiagra, and 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.
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.
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.
John 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 founder 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. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.