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If you want a carbon fibre road bike, there are plenty of choices

Carbon fibre is the wonder material of the cycling world. Once it was exotic and hugely expensive, now it is commonplace and prices have tumbled.

Carbon fibre has rapidly become the most desirable and popular material with performance-minded cyclists. It’s an attractive material because it is extremely light and strong and can build a very stiff frame. It can also be moulded, which has allowed designers to step away from the traditional constraints of round metal tubes.

There’s a bewildering choice of carbon fibre frames these days. From super lightweight climbing bikes to aerodynamic racing frames designed and honed in a wind tunnel, to bikes built to provide comfort for endurance and sportive cyclists, to a growing breed of adventure and gravel bikes, there’s a carbon bike for all riding styles.

There are two key carbon frame construction methods. The majority are made using a mould, with layers of carbon fibre precisely positioned to create the frame, usually in a couple of larger sections, that are then bonded together. The other popular method is tube-to-tube, where tubes are bonded together, sometimes with lugs and sometimes the joints are wrapped with carbon, and is a process favoured by bespoke frame builders as it allows easier customisation.

Not all carbon frames are the same. There are many buzzwords used to describe carbon frames, and many manufacturers have their own names to describe the carbon used in a frame. Typically a manufacturer will use various different grades of carbon fibre depending on what they want to achieve with the frame, or section of a frame, whether it’s the pursuit of stiffness, low weight or a price point.

The more you spend, the better the quality of carbon used to make the frame. Typically higher modulus (stiffer) carbon is used in more expensive frames, which means less material is needed, so the frame weight can be reduced. That's why there is such a range of prices on show in this article.

Carbon manufacturing is complicated, though, and this video explanation by Gerard Vroomen, previously co-founder of Cervélo and now heading up Open Cycle, provides a good description of the business of making carbon frames

Calibre Nibiru 1.0 — £699 

Calibre Nibiru 1.0.jpg

Calibre Nibiru 1.0.jpg

Courtesy of outdoor megastore Go Outdoors, the Nibiru 1.0 is currently, as far as we know, the cheapest carbon fibre framed bike on offer in the UK. The full bike has a claimed weight of 9.8kg, with a Shimano Sora nine-speed groupset, 50/34T chainset and an 11-32 cassette. It has Mavic CXP-22 rims on Formula 32 hubs and comes with Continental Ultrasport 25mm tyres, plus the handlebars, stem and seatpost are from Ritchey, which adds up to a great spec for the money. Currently there are 53cm, 56cm and 59cm frames in stock, so if one of these is your size it's an absolute bargain. 

Ribble Sportive Racing — from £999

Ribble Sportive Racing Special Edition - full bike.jpg

Ribble Sportive Racing Special Edition - full bike.jpg

This is Ribble’s cheapest carbon fibre model, with a range of options starting at £999 for a Shimano Tiagra group on a carbon fibre frameset designed for taming sportives. The benefit of the Bike Builder option is that you can spec exactly what you want.

Read our review of the Ribble Sportive Racing

Giant TCR Advanced 3 2018 — £999

2018 Giant TCR Advanced 3.jpg

2018 Giant TCR Advanced 3.jpg

Giant offer their amazing TCR in a Tiagra 4700 version. The groupset is Tiagra throughout with no cutting corners. Giant supply all the contact points, wheels, tyres, stem and seatpost to bring a bike that really impresses both on the spec sheet and out on the road. It's currently £300 off, which makes it excellent value.

Read our review of the TCR Advanced Pro 0 with Dura-Ace 

Canyon Endurace CF 7.0 — £1,349

canyon endurace-cf-7_c1065.jpg

canyon endurace-cf-7_c1065.jpg

The Endurace is Canyon’s bike for riding long distances in comfort, with a more relaxed geometry than the racier Ultimate, and wider tyres also contributing to the smoother ride this model aims to offer. You get a full Shimano 105 11-speed groupset with this bike, no shortcuts, even the brake calipers and crankset are 105. Quality abounds with Mavic Aksium wheels shod with Continental Grand Prix SL tyres. Canyon claims a bike weight of 7.7kg which, if accurate, is a very respectable weight for a bike of this price.

Read our review of the more expensive Endurace CF 9.0 SL

Merida Scultura 4000 Disc — £2,150

2018 Merida Scultura 4000 Disc.jpg

2018 Merida Scultura 4000 Disc.jpg

Merida is one of the biggest manufacturers of carbon fibre frames, and that experience and expertise show in this Scultura 4000 Disc. As well as a light frame, you get a full Shimano 105 groupset with disc brakes. It has Merida's CF2 geometry, which is less racy than the CF4 layout of Merida's pure race bikes, and there's room in the frame for 28mm tyres.

Read our review of the Merida Scultura

Cannondale SuperSix Evo Ultegra Di2 2019     — £3,200

2018 cannondale supersix evo carbon ultegra di2.jpg

2018 cannondale supersix evo carbon ultegra di2.jpg

'Next year' models are in the shops already and one of the picks of 2018's range is the latest incarnation of Cannondale's SuperSix Evo Ultegra Di2, which packs quite a lot of bike for three grand. The SuperSix Evo frame features Cannondale's BallisTech carbon fibre in a traditional frame geometry. The Ultegra Di2 a very nice balance of perfect shifting and more attractive price point. The semi-compact 52/36 chainset is paired with an 11/28 cassette to give aggressive climbing gearing. The Mavic Askium WTS wheels are a little out of their league on this setup, but you can always treat yourself to some top-flight wheels later and keep them for training.

Read our review of the 2016 Dura Ace model

Trek Domane SL 6 Disc 2018 — £3,000

2018 Trek Domane SL 6 Disc.jpg

2018 Trek Domane SL 6 Disc.jpg

If comfort interests you most in a carbon road bike, then the latest incarnation of the Domane might be the bike for you. It features a unique system that allows the seatpost to move independently of the frame, which works to smooth out bumps and vibrations generated when riding over a rough road. Or cobbles. The SL also features the same technology at the front and it, along with a new rubber infused carbon handlebar, helps to provide an incredibly smooth and composed ride over any sort of road surface. There are also hidden mudguard mounts for the winter. It's truly a bike for all weathers.

The 2018 model is significantly cheaper than 2017's, and has the latest Shimano R8000 Ultegra groupset, but lacks last year's Vision Metron carbon fibre wheels.

Read our review of the Trek Domane SLR 6

Cipollini NK1K (frame & fork) — £4,699

CIPOLLINI NK1K

CIPOLLINI NK1K

A monocoque frame made in Italy. For many, that fact alone warrants the price tag. If you're not convinced by that alone, the NK1K is made for sprinting. The chap with his name on it was rather good at going fast after all. Build options are up to you and depend on the depth of your pockets.

Read our review of the Cipollini NK1K

Specialized Tarmac SL6 Pro Ultegra Di2 2018 — £5,400

2018 Specialized Tarmac Pro.jpg

2018 Specialized Tarmac Pro.jpg

If you're looking for proven race pedigree, then Specialized's Tarmac series can probably win you a game of Top Trumps. In its various iterations, this frame has won Grand Tours, Classics and rainbow jerseys. The 2018 Di2 version gets the latest 8000 Shimano offering in electronic form. The Roval CL 50 wheels are shod with Specialized Turbo S-Works tyres and a Specialized Toupe saddle sits atop an S-Works carbon seatpost.

Read our review of the Specialized Tarmac Pro 2018

Bianchi Specialissima — from £5,489

Bianchi Specialissima.jpeg

Bianchi Specialissima.jpeg

This Italian brand is one of the most desirable, with its history and iconic celeste paint, and this new Specialissima is its newest creation. It’s a bike designed unashamedly to be as light as possible, but there’s a concession to comfort, without compromising frame stiffness. The carbon layup incorporates the same vibration damping CounterVail technology first seen on the Infinito CV endurance bike a couple of years ago. The Campagnolo Super Record groupset and Bora Ultra wheels produce a complete bike weight that tickles the UCI minimum weight limit. So light that it’s illegal in any UCI race.

Read our review of the Bianchi Specialissima

Scott Addict RC Ultimate Disc 2018 — £8,999

2018 Scott Addict RC Ultimate Disc.jpg

2018 Scott Addict RC Ultimate Disc.jpg

For 2018 Scott has split its Addict road bike line in two, dividing it into Addict endurance bikes and Addict RC race machines; this is Scott's top of the line race bikes. As well as one of the lightest disc-compatible frames around it has SRAM's Red eTap wireless shifting, DT Swiss PRC 1100 Dicut db carbon clincher wheels, Syncros one-piece carbon bar and stem, and Syncros carbon seatpost. Scott claims a weight of 6.7kg, very impressive for a disc-braked bike.

Take a look at our feature on Simon Yates' Scott Addict from this year's Giro d'Italia

BMC Timemachine 01 Road One 2019 — £10,000

2019 BMC Timeachine ROAD ONE

2019 BMC Timeachine ROAD ONE

Swiss manufacturer BMC has pulled a blinder with its top model for 2019, taking the fundamentals of its time trial bikes and using them to build a disk-braked aero road bike that looks like it's powering away from the bunch even when it's standing still. The brain for its Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic shifting is incorporated into the frame and its disc brakes and DT Swiss ARC 1100 carbon fibre wheels make for a thoroughly up-to-date race bike. It's dripping with clever details: BMC's own super-light through axles, the sleek Integrated Cockpit System bar and stem, brake hoses and gear wires routed almost-invisibly through the frame, super-tidy Direct Frontal Flat Mount brake mounts.

Read our review of the BMC Teammachine SLR01 Disc 2

Colnago C64 — £ 10,299.00

Colnago C64 Art Decor Super Record EPS

Colnago C64 Art Decor Super Record EPS

Unlike the majority of carbon frames in this guide that are made using the common moulding process, the C64 is constructed by bonding the tubes together using oversized lugs. It’s the same approach the Italian company has been using on its flagship carbon frames since the C40 some 20 years ago. It gives the frame a more traditional appearance perhaps than the smoother frames, but there’s no doubting the performance and quality of the ride it produces.  

Read our review of the Colnago C64

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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.

16 comments

Avatar
macrophotofly [317 posts] 1 year ago
4 likes

The Cipollinis are mad, beautiful bikes and whilst I will never own one, I can lust after them

Avatar
Gourmet Shot [177 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
macrophotofly wrote:

The Cipollinis are mad, beautiful bikes and whilst I will never own one, I can lust after them

Same.......very nice bike

Avatar
Thelma Viaduct [83 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

I'd have the Giant, Trek, Specialized, Scott and BMC. The rest, no ta.

Avatar
hari11 [10 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

got to have the Ribble R872 in there surely...?

Avatar
reliablemeatloaf [107 posts] 9 months ago
3 likes

Argon 18 left out AGAIN, even though they had a great year and almost won the Tour.

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds [2271 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

Hmmm, I'm currently in the process of building a sub 7.5kg carbon touring/audax/gravel bike that has pannier rack and mudguard mounts and it'll cost me less than £800 and everything is new including a branded frameset.

some nice bikes above but building your own always saves money and gets you the spec you want, not what someone else wants you to buy/overcharge you for.

Avatar
GerardR [143 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

Hmmm, I'm currently in the process of building a sub 7.5kg carbon touring/audax/gravel bike that has pannier rack and mudguard mounts and it'll cost me less than £800 and everything is new including a branded frameset.

some nice bikes above but building your own always saves money and gets you the spec you want, not what someone else wants you to buy/overcharge you for.

Whose is the frame?  Please tell us more about the other bits.

Avatar
Miller [124 posts] 9 months ago
5 likes
Thelma Viaduct wrote:

I'd have the Giant, Trek, Specialized, Scott and BMC. The rest, no ta.

Get you with your crazy out-there tastes!

Avatar
Karbon Kev [706 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

I wouldn't give you tuppence for that  Cippolini effort, the only decent bike here is the C60.

Avatar
fukawitribe [2542 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

some nice bikes above but building your own always saves money 

Nah.

Avatar
ChrisB200SX [828 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Calibre Nibiru 2.0 was £899 recently and there was a 15% discount code for May too. It's got Shimano 105 except for RS500 chainset. The frame is the same as the MEKK Poggio from 2013 which reviewed well on this site.

Avatar
jerome [49 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

> including a branded frameset.

Bought on aliexpress?

Avatar
iandusud [94 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

What no Rose! Seriously Rose do some great bikes for the money. I love my Xeon CGF.

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds [2271 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
fukawitribe wrote:
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

some nice bikes above but building your own always saves money 

Nah.

Actually yes, show me any retail or even discounted carbon bike and I could build better for less using new parts. I've done this literally hundreds of times for friends and relatives as well as myself as have thusands of other like minded folk, pretty much since bikes came about, it's not a new thing.

Sure you don't get it instantly and you spend a while finding the components but then you get exactly what you want not what a retailer wants to sell you/fob you off with and you'll still end up swapping parts out or spending more upgrading more often than not.

Then there's the satisfaction of putting a bike together and making sure everythig is absolutely bob on.

You should try it.

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds [2271 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
GerardR wrote:
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

Hmmm, I'm currently in the process of building a sub 7.5kg carbon touring/audax/gravel bike that has pannier rack and mudguard mounts and it'll cost me less than £800 and everything is new including a branded frameset.

some nice bikes above but building your own always saves money and gets you the spec you want, not what someone else wants you to buy/overcharge you for.

Whose is the frame?  Please tell us more about the other bits.

NOS Specialized Sirrus Carbon, FACT 9M layup, same as a 2018 £3500 stumpjumper, the S-Works bikes were 11M, the 9M is heavier than the 9R seen on the previous sirrus carbon but it's more robust. £250 from TotalfitnessBath 

Pro XCR carbon flat bar £50 direct from retailer, new from retailer Pro Vibe 7S seatpost £26, Bontrager x-lite stem £1 from LBS (due to missing bolt and was in sale bin)

New Pro Lite Bortola £150 from Wiggle outlet, new 40mm lightweight Corratec tyres £30/pair, New latex wide inner tubes, exchanged for bog std suspension seatpost (call it £10) from CUK member.

New SRAM Apex c/set £60 - SPA cycles

As new Ultegra 2x11 flat bar STIs £69, new shortcage Ultegra 6800 £35, new 105 11-32 cassette, £28, new 105 chain £12. from retrobike

New Avid brake levers £7, new Avid 5 rear caliper £10, mint used Avid 7 front £18

Shimano PD-M530 £19.76 Halfords (using ZEEK discount voucher)

New Madison saddle £20 though I actually settled with a lightly used Arione that set me back £16

Total cost £796, equivalent quality frame and components would set me back well over £2.5k and I've got exactly what I want from an aesthetic and functional POV. In fact it's something that very few manufacturers even sell an equivalent - a robust and high end carbon frame with standard mudguard and pannier rack mounts, that'll take 40+mm tyres WITH guards and can be used for road/off road, commuting or touring and set up as flat bar or drops.

One of the main draws was that it was a rim brake frame not disc.

Avatar
peted76 [1142 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

I'd have the BMC.. that thing looks like it could bomb Korea!