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What type of road bike should you buy in 2024? What's hot, what's not and all the advice you need to ensure your next bike is ideal for you

Whether you're looking for your next road bike or your first one, we're here to make sure your money goes further and your new bike is future-proofed for the foreseeable with all the bike-buying advice you need

Whether you’re an experienced road cyclist, brand new to the sport, on a tight budget or absolutely minted, buying a new bike can be a bit of a minefield. Well, luckily for you, road.cc is here to help. In this article and video we're taking a look at what's hot and what’s not in 2024, offering handy tips on how to make your money go further and generally giving you all the info you need to ensure that your next road bike is the perfect one for you.  

What type of bikes are hot in 2024?

2023 gravel bike vs allroad bike vs road bike front tyres

In 2024, the lines between bike categories will only be getting more blurred. Whereas there used to be very clear distinctions between road race bikes, endurance bikes and gravel bikes, these days things are well and truly blurred… ‘all-road endurance bikes’ anyone? It is actually a thing, more on those later... 

At the end of the day, a bike's official classification doesn’t make the foggiest bit of difference to you and me out on the road, but it does help with which part of a shop or brand’s website to focus on first when hunting for that perfect steed.

RCCR Orro Venturi STC Custom-1

There are plenty of outliers, but the general rule is that road race bikes such as the Giant Propel, Specialized Tarmac and Orro Venturi have the skinniest tyres and clearances, endurance bikes like the Specialized Allez, Giant Defy and Canyon Endurace are a bit more relaxed and can take bigger rubber, and all-road bikes such as the Ridley Grifn take that one step further. Gravel bikes are the most laid back, but when fitted with skinnier rubber they can still be very capable on tarmac.

Try to think about what kind of rides you’ll be doing most, and remember it’s always easier to make a bike more aggressive than more relaxed. We’d argue that the majority of riders will be a lot happier on an endurance road bike than a bike designed for racing. Despite what the marketing might tell you, you’ll probably be faster on one too!

> Should I buy a race bike or an endurance bike?

This does seem to be an idea that bike manufacturers are finally coming around. Alongside the Trek Emonda, which seems to be getting a race-inspired update if leaked pictures are anything to go by, we reckon there’ll be plenty of new endurance bikes and all-road bikes to choose from.

Getting the right size is always in fashion

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - frame size.jpg

This one sounds trivial, but the amount of cyclists who drop big bucks on a shiny new bike only to find it doesn’t fit them properly is absolutely bonkers. Don't let that person be you in 2024!

Admittedly it can be easier said than done to find your perfect size. A size medium in one brand is almost guaranteed to fit a different selection of people to a medium in another. Size charts can sometimes seem like they’ve been drawn up by a toddler with only a loose grasp of numbers, so take your time, read some reviews, double, triple and quadruple-check and don't be afraid to ask for advice.

2023 Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL8 - SRAM Red eTap AXS - UCI sticker and frame size.jpg

This tip doesn’t just apply to the newbies out there, but also to those riders who are well acquainted with the world of bikes. Just because you’ve been on a size 56cm forever, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the size your new bike should be if you swap brands or bike genre. 

> The things I learnt from a professional bike fit

You might remember from our bike fit tips video (linked above) that if you do plan on getting a fit for your new bike, then it might be worth going along before actually purchasing the thing. That way you can ensure you’re definitely on the right size, and then get it built up with all the right sized components with all those useful measurements.

Don’t be afraid to swap out parts

2022 Scott Foil RC Pro Dangerholm custom build hero
An extreme example

The mysterious world of custom builds certainly isn’t for everyone, and it’s little wonder when it seems like brands are set on making everything as incompatible as possible. However, it's also true that your perfect bike is unlikely to be one that’s mass-produced for thousands of people. 

We’re not saying strip down your new bike immediately, but when it comes to parts such as saddles, stems and tyres, don’t be afraid to shop around. They can make a huge difference for not a whole heap of money, which we've handily rounded up for you in our guide to the best value bike upgrades.

2023 SRAM Apex XPLR AXS groupset - 19.jpeg

When choosing a new bike, there’s always likely to be compromises. The trick is to purchase the one that’s got the cheapest fixes, which is why many people opt to get a better frame with weightier components that they can upgrade over time.

2024 ribble customisation options website bike builder

Especially in the case of independent bike shops, you might be able to haggle in a few alternative parts such as different-sized bars or an alternative saddle. If you're buying online, then many brands - Ribble as one example - offer a whole load of customisation, so take your time and make sure you think through your choices.

If you've already got a bike and nothing new is ticking all those boxes, we'd recommend looking into what you could do to upgrade your current steed instead.

What will your money get you in 2024?

Factory summer 2023

> Is another supply chain crisis about to hit the bike industry?

Speaking of budgets, how far can you expect your money to go in 2024? Well, the truth is quite far! You might have read about bike prices getting higher and higher, and yes there are still plenty of astronomically priced bikes out there; however, with brands and retailers struggling to shift post-pandemic stock as well as the market being flooded with lightly used second-hand bikes bought during Covid, it’s most definitely a buyer’s market, and there plenty of discounts to be had. 

If you’re buying a bike at RRP in 2024, then it's likely you’re either really set on that particular model or really uninterested in shopping around. It’s also worth noting that there’s nothing wrong with models from previous years. Sometimes it's only the paint jobs that actually change, and you can save yourself quite a lot of money by buying a bike with an 'old' colourway. 

What components would we go for in 2024?

2023 4iiii Precision 3 fitted Ultegra power meter

Speaking of value for money, here are some of components that we’d personally go for in 2024. 

Starting at the top, we expect the current Sram Red AXS to be superseded in the summer, so if you’re buying a bike with that on it then make sure you’re getting a good deal! Shimano Dura-Ace and Ultegra 12-speed are still fairly recent, but so long as you ensure the crankset has been inspected and upgraded if necessary, there’s little wrong with the older 11-speed options either. 

Shimano 105 R7100 di2 Fairlight rear mech

> 7 reasons why you should get electronic shifting

In recent years, we've seen electronic shifting trickle lower down both the Sram and Shimano ranges, with RivalApex AXS and 105 Di2 respectively. We’ve tested all three options and found them absolutely great, with the only real drawback over the higher-tier groupsets being their weight, which will have minimal effect on ride enjoyment for the majority of people.

There’s still very little to choose between Shimano and Sram other than personal preference, so we’d recommend simply looking out for the best deal.

2023 Shimano 105 R7100 Mechanical 12-speed - 12

> 1x vs 2x: Are single chainring set-ups the future of road cycling?

Although mechanically-shifting bikes are getting less popular, there are and will continue to be plenty of options in 2024. However, unless Campagnolo comes up with something altogether new, it looks like these Italian groupsets will be reserved for top-tier bikes. Mechanical options will come primarily from Shimano, a few from Sram, and we also expect to see a rise in the popularity of Taiwanese brands such as Microshift.

Microshift SWORD-Release-12

For performance road bikes, our top picks for 2024 would be Shimano Ultegra R8170, any of the latest Sram AXS groupsets or the latest Shimano 105 12-speed mechanical. For commuter bikes, workhorses and those on a tighter budget, we'd still recommend Shimano Tiagra, which feels just like the higher-tier groupsets but with two less cogs than the mid- and higher-tier groupsets from Shimano and Sram.

Skinny tyres ain't making a comeback!

Mavic-Yksion-Pro-Griplink-Powerlink-23mm

> How to choose the best width road tyres for your riding

Unless you’re riding on perfectly kept tarmac, skinny tyres are old news. Every year road bike tyres seemingly get wider and wider, and this will be more true than ever in 2024. 

Nearly all of the latest road bikes now have greater clearances, and this should be embraced because the positives are undeniable. Wider tyres are more comfortable, just as fast, if not faster in the real world, and might help you feel like you have more control of the bike.

2023 dauphine trentin 30mm tubeless tyre conti 5000 s TR

> What is an all-road bike? 

23, 25, 26 and 27mm tyres are out in 2024, and with many of the pros on the World Tour will be racing on 28mm tyres, us mere mortals will benefit from using even wider than that. If you’re looking for a new road bike in 2024, check it has the clearances to future-proof itself, because road bike tyres are only going in one direction... fatter!

I personally now race on 28mm tyres on the road, and spend my winter and training miles on 32mm tyres. In fact, during most of the winter I can be found on a gravel bike with semi-slick 42mm tyres. 

The END of the disc brakes vs rim brakes debate

2024 Lauf Uthald - front disc brake.jpg

Disc brakes vs rim brakes has been a debate that has raged on in the road cycling world for years now, but the good news is it’s nearly over (Please feel free to attempt to convince us otherwise in the comments section below). 

Disclaimer: I am personally a rim brake fan, I've never had a problem with them, love their simplicity and low weight, and am well aware that the friction between your tyre and tarmac is the limiting factor in slowing down. 

However, disc brakes have now all but taken over the road bike market, and it won't be long before you’ll be hard-pressed to find a new bike to buy with rim brakes. If you do fancy a rim brake bike then just make sure you do your research first, and know the consequences of buying into a technology that isn’t being invested in. There might be limited options for replacement parts in a few years' time. 

2021 Pacenti Carbon PR50 rim brake wheel set 700c - valve.jpg

> Here's why the British National Hill Climb champion has switched to disc brakes

You'll also have to resign yourself to older tech. Manufacturers aren't investing in innovative rim brake technology, so whereas disc brakes should continue to improve, rim brake wheels and calipers are set to stay the same for years to come. 

In 2024 we predict the continued decline of cable pull, mechanical disc brakes as the industry tries to standardise hydraulic braking. For example, this £550 Merida Speeder 20D that we recently tested comes with hydraulic callipers, proving that this tech no longer needs to cost more. 

Integrate at your own peril

2023 S-Works Tarmac SL8 vs LAB71 Supersix integrated cockpit

It started with road race bikes, then endurance bikes got integrated, and now even gravel bikes are. The truth of integration is that it’s almost purely for looks, and despite what the marketing blurbs might claim, it will save you the most marginal amount of watts out on the road.

Yes, it makes sense if you’re regularly contesting 70kph sprints which are won by fractions of a millimetre, but if you don’t have a team of mechanics at your whim then it might be best to steer clear. No one wants to pay £200 for a complete bike rebuild when their lower headset bearing wears out.

2023 Endurance bikes comparison Canyon Endurace vs Giant defy vs Lauf Uthald front tyre clearance

Many of the latest performance road bikes are now integrated, but if you do choose to give it a wide birth then there are still options out there. For example, the recently released Lauf Uthald forgoes hidden cables in favour of serviceability and simplicity, according to the brand itself.

Finding the right position on your bike will have an infinitely more positive impact on your riding than a hidden hose, so bear this in mind when you’re deciding whether integration is a must. Although, it does look rather nice...

Let us know what you ride in the comments section below, any of your tech predictions for 2024 and whether you’re looking to upgrade this year. 

Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the road.cc team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...

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6 comments

Avatar
cyclisto | 6 months ago
1 like

My advice, is buy used. A entry level ten year old bicycle that somebody got it and discovered that cycling can be tiring, will feel like a spaceship compared with an early 1990s Tour de France race winner bicycle. And can cost really low.

Avatar
beanpole | 6 months ago
0 likes

In terms of incredibly customisable bikes have a look at Handsling (@handsling bikes). Amazing how you can build up your ideal model, and paint job too.

Avatar
Austim | 6 months ago
3 likes

I'm so excited that it's {year} now!

Avatar
IanMSpencer | 6 months ago
0 likes

In the end it's down to what riding you want to do.

Gravel bikes, especially with an off-road and on road wheel swap cover a tremendous range, so if you really want a tidy garage that's the first port of call. That really puts you in the 2x against too for the flexibility.

If you are essentially competing against yourself, then I'm dubious about why you would go for an uncomfortable high speed low endurance bike, TT bikes are for competitive TTs, out and out racing bikes are for the racers.

For general cycling, the only benefit I get out of by Defy over the Revolt is a bit less effort so a bit more range, a bit more relaxed on an all day cycle. As the vast majority of my cycling is road cycling, a specialised road bike makes sense, but I doubt there is more than 5% benefit in the Defy over my Revolt.

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kil0ran | 6 months ago
1 like

I've always been a fan of the buy the base model and upgrade approach - not least because it results in a plentiful and cheap supply of secondhand Tiagra.
But I won't be changing bikes in 2024, in fact I'll be slimming down to N=1 with an endurance frame and spare wheelset.

Avatar
huntswheelers | 6 months ago
2 likes

2x10 Gravel bike..... forget the frame makes or the groupset makes.... plus extra wheelset(s) for your riding choice.... simple to fix, cheaper to run overall and you can mix up off road and on road as you want to..... 46/33 (or you can do 46/30) with 11/36 up back.... job done...it'll go anywhere...Road bikes and their pricing are eating themselves just now....many of my customers are going Gravel as above....multi wheelsets.... some are 1x most are 2x... and when the UCI start messing with race bike weights again.... there will be a rim brake revival....anyway...this old bloke and Bike mechanic is just back from a sunny & cold 50 mile ride on a 2015 rim brake, Campagnolo equpped Bianchi..... glorious.... 

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