Best road bikes under £2000

Our selection of the top sportive and racing bikes for under two grand

Looking for a top road bike or something specifically for sportives? You've come to the right place: the team at Cycling Plus magazine recently rated some 50 bikes in their quest to find the best bike of the year.

Here's the definitive list of what to go for if you're looking for a bike under £2,000. If you have a budget of less than this, then have a look at our recently updated Best Road Bikes Under £1,000 article.

It's definitely worth having a look at our Buying A Road Bike guide for assistance on how to choose the best bike for yourself, plus other general points to consider before making a purchase. Finally, if you're buying said bike to do a sportive then have a look at our top sportive training tips too.

Cannondale Synapse Carbon 5

£1,849.99

www.evanscycles.com

"Rarely have we seen a bike that blends such rapid performance with class leading comfort"

  • Weight: 8.52kg (18.78lb)
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Groupset: Shimano 105
  • Wheelset: Shimano RS11

We tested the hi-mod, high price Synapse Black Inc at the end of 2013. The range-topping model blew us away with its intoxicating mix of all-day comfort and race-day handling. Once you remove the range-topping groupset, lightweight carbon components and wheels though, does enough of its brilliance remain in the more modest build of the Cannondale Synapse Carbon five?

The short answer is yes – and certainly enough to justify its position as Cycling Plus magazine's Bike of the Year 2014.

Click here for a full review of the Cannondale Synapse 5

Video: Cannondale Synapse 5

BMC TeamMachine SLR02

£1,800

www.evanscycles.com

"Swiss lightweight race machine that’s designed for comfort"

  • Weight: 8.06kg (17.77lb)
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Shifters: Shimano 105
  • Wheelset: Shimano R500

BMC’s SLR02 version of the all new TeamMachine takes its design cues from the flagship model as ridden by the likes of Cadel Evans, Tejay van Garderen and Philippe Gilbert. The SLR01 was created because these riders had asked for a bike that encompassed BMC’s lightness and stiffness in a package that was significantly more comfortable than the previous model.

While the SLR01 weighs in at a scant 790g for the frame, the SLR02 has unsurprisingly had to compromise to become more affordable. But that compromise isn’t quite as great as you’d think – the switch from the all-carbon front and rear dropouts and a non-proprietary seatpost are the only changes. That means the SLR02 frame tips the scales at a still lightweight 950g, and that adds up to a bike with middle ground components that weighs in at an impressive 8.06kg in a large 57cm size.

Click here for a full review of the BMC Team Machine SLR02

Video: BMC Team Machine SLR02

Boardman Elite series SLS9.0

£1,900

www.boardmanbikes.com/road/sls90.html

"All new endurance bike from the Brit legend"

  • Weight: 7.96kg (17.55lb)
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Shifters: Shimano 105
  • Wheelset: Mavic Aksium

Chris Boardman and his team at Boardman Bikes have made impressive strides since launching a range of decent quality and value packed, yet affordable bikes.

Overall the SLS is a showcase for just how good Boardman has become in such a small space of time – the fact that the firm can compete with the likes of Cannondale, Giant, Focus, Trek and Specialized in terms of pure performance rather than kit per pound is impressive. We can’t really fault the SLS on anything other than a single niggle… ideally we’d prefer a bar that would soak up road buzz a little better – but this is the very definition of nitpicking.

Click here for a full review of the Boardman Elite series SLS9.0

Giant Defy Advanced 2

£1,899

www.giant-bicycles.com

"Top carbon all-rounder gets a lick of paint"

  • Weight: 7.9kg (17.4lb)
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Front derailleur and shifters: Shimano 105
  • Wheelset: Giant P-SL

We’ve already waxed lyrical about just how good Giant’s Defy Advanced is. It was a resounding sales success for Giant in 2013, so appropriately for 2014 the manufacturer has taken the decision that – apart from a lick of paint – the Defy should remain unchanged.

If you are on the lookout for a new bike, though, the fact that Giant has snipped a chunk off the retail price should make the Defy even more tempting – tempting enough for it to be one of the top five bikes in Cycling Plus magazine's Bike of the Year 2014 awards.

Click here for a full review of the Giant Defy Advanced 2

Video: Giant Defy Advanced 2

Felt AR5

£1,799

www.wiggle.com

"Exceptional road bike that happens to be seriously aerodynamic too"

  • Weight: 8.1kg (17.86lb)
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Shifters: Shimano 105
  • Wheelset: Felt Aero R3

Felt was one of the first companies to explore designing a road bike that incorporated aerodynamic elements originally found on time trial bikes. While the original AR was a thoroughly decent bike, it suffered a little with flexibility issues owing to the narrow aerofoil tube shapes not being able to handle torsional loads as well as a standard road machine.

The new AR launched at the tail end of 2013 to great acclaim – it was one of our favourite debuts at Eurobike. Felt's engineers have spent considerable development time ensuring the AR is as stiff under load as their current pro-level race machine, the F-Series – a fact that's apparent the minute you saddle up.

Click here for a full review of the Felt AR5

Boardman Performance Series Pro C SLR

£1,799

www.halfords.com

"Light, responsive, and fantastically well appointed – we'd recommend it for anyone looking to compete"

  • Weight: 7.64kg (16.84lb)
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Front derailleur: Shimano Ultegra
  • Wheelset: Shimano Ultegra

Boardman’s Performance Series bikes are exclusive to Halfords, and the way that Boardman has set up this part of its business with Halfords' warehousing, ordering and delivery, the brand can compete with online giants such as Canyon, Rose and Ribble.

The Performance Series Pro C SLR is so competitively priced that it won the 'best value' accolade in Cycling Plus magazine's Bike of the Year Awards 2014.

Click here for a full review of the Boardman Performance Series Pro C SLR

Video: Boardman Pro C SLR

Bianchi Intenso

£1,850

www.evanscycles.com

"Buy if you want one of 2014’s best looking bikes – and are prepared to upgrade parts to get the best from it"

  • Weight: 8.32kg (8.34lb)
  • Frame: Carbon with kevlar vibration dampening
  • Fork: Carbon/Kevlar
  • Shifters: Campagnolo Veloce
  • Wheelset: Fulcrum Racing Corsa

Bianchi’s flagship sportive bike, the Infinito, had a major redesign for 2014. The new CV technology within that frame's composite construction is an expensive process, meaning that sadly the Infinito has shot upwards in price.

But a brand like Bianchi doesn’t survive for 128 years by making poor business decisions. In recognition of the need for a high-performance bike at the Infinito's old level that has meant the introduction of the Intenso. It's based on the outgoing bike's design, including the clever infusion of vibration damping sections of Kevlar on the fork ends and chainstays, and took the 'best debut' accolade in Cycling Plus magazine's Bike of the Year Awards 2014.

Click here for a full review of the Bianchi Intenso

Norco Valence C1

£1,900

www.evanscycles.com

"The super smooth Valence matches the best in class for comfort"

  • Weight: 7.88kg (17.37lb)
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Shifters: Shimano Ultegra 11
  • Wheelset: Fulcrum Racing 5

The Valence C1 is a sportive bike that’s close to best in class, combining plush comfort with enough stiffness to handle powerful sprints without twisting or flexing. It’s responsive and sprightly, and has one of the best specs for the money, which includes Ultegra 11-speed (and FSA BB30 Energy chainset) and Ultegra brakes.

Click here for a full review of the Norco Valence

Trek Madone 4.5

£2,000

www.evanscycles.com

"Frameset and drivetrain are absolutely top-notch; a couple of tweaks and Trek would have a dead cert winner"

  • Weight: 8.1kg (17.86lb)
  • Frame: OCLV 400 series carbon
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Shifters: Shimano Ultegra 11
  • Wheelset: Bontrager Race

Over recent years we’ve been hugely impressed with Trek’s mid-price carbon Madone. The combination of a quality frame and great geometry, blending all-day comfort with snappy handling, has made it a fixture on the Bike of the Year podium.

For 2014 it looks as if Trek is bringing the fight to the competition, offering the higher-grade 4 series 400 carbon frame with the Kammtail aero design as well as a drivetrain that’s predominantly Shimano Ultegra 11-speed. That means the 4.5 is future proof: it’s inevitable that Shimano’s long term plan is 11-speed across the board.

Click here for a full review of the Trek Madone 4.5

Giant Propel Advanced 3

£1,999

www.giant-bicycles.com

"Giant has another masterpiece, the next-generation aero bike incarnate"

  • Weight: 8.2kg (8.08lb)
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Shifters: Shimano 105
  • Wheelset: Giant P-A2 aero

Giant’s aero road machine, the Propel, was launched last year, but the range was was limited and pricey – the Advanced SL 3, for example, was four-and-a-half grand with an Ultegra groupset. We loved the bike, but we weren’t so enamoured of the price.

For 2014 Giant has increased the range and reduced the prices of the Propel bikes and really has hit the sweet spot. In fact, the new Advanced 3 won the 'best aero' accolade in Cycling Plus magazine's Bike of the Year Awards 2014.

Click here for a full review of the Giant Propel Advanced 3

Video: Giant Propel Advanced 3

Focus Izalco Ergoride 2.0

£1,999.99

www.primera-sports.com

"Light-riding, quick-handling and very smooth. The perfect sportive bike"

  • Weight: 8.16kg (18lb)
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Shifters: Shimano Ultegra
  • Wheelset: Fulcrum Racing CEX6.5

The Focus Izalco is a classic race bike. It’s seen action in the pro tour and has been ridden to victory on multiple occasions. Aside from its pro credentials, it also took the crown in the 2012 Cycling Plus Bike of the Year Awards, and is a top five contender in this year's awards.

For 2014, the Izalco has become the Izalco Max, a sub 800g-carbon race machine. Thankfully Focus has retained the sportive-focused Izalco Ergoride too, because it’s a frameset that we’ve enjoyed riding since its debut.

Click here for a full review of the Focus Izalco Ergoride 2.0

Fondriest TF4

£1,950

www.so-cycle.com

"Cutting-edge design from Italian ex-pro’s brand"

  • Weight: 8.32kg (18.34lb)
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Shifters: Shimano 105
  • Wheelset: Ambrosio/Shimano

Fondriest has a talent for making bikes that stand out from the crowd. Some elements, such as the reverse sweep of the fork, have taken obvious influences from Pinarello’s Onda design. But the frames themselves introduce plenty of styling cues that could only hail from an Italian brand.

We couldn’t say whether the swooping lines, angular tube shapes and wrap-on single-piece seatstays offer any engineering benefits. They certainly, however, make the TF4 a bike that's likely to turn heads – and divide opinions.

Click here for a full review of the Fondriest TF4

Specialized Tarmac Elite SL4

£1,900

www.evanscycles.com

"An upgradeable frame that rides with pro-level character"

  • Weight: 8.44kg (18.6lb)
  • Frame: Carbon (Fact 9r)
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Shifters: Shimano 105
  • Wheelset: Shimano 105

We tested the SL4 Sport last year as one of our potential stars of 2014. That model could also have been included in the Cycling Plus Bike of the Year test as it meets the criteria completely. We believe, however, that stepping up to the Elite ranks is worth the extra expense – so much so that the Tarmac Elite SL4 was the winner of the Bike of the Year 2014 Best Aero award.

Click here for a full review of the Specialized Tarmac Elite SL4

Canyon Ultimate AL SLX

£1,699

www.canyon.com

"If you want a bike that’s ready to race for not much cash, you simply can’t beat the Ultimate AL SLX"

  • Weight: 7.12kg (15.7lb)
  • Frame: Aluminium
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Shifters: Sram Force 22
  • Wheelset: Mavic Kysrium Elite S

We've always been big fans of Canyon's aluminium race frame, with the previous Ultimate AL scoring highly in past Cycling Plus Bike of the Year tests – not only because of its great value package, but also because the frameset rode as well as most carbon ones at the same price. In the Bike of the Year 2014, it's the winner of the best race award.

For 2014 Canyon has reworked the frame; the tube shaping remains the same, combining oversized chainstays and bottom bracket leading into a big-volume down tube. That makes for a chassis that's absolutely free of flex under pedalling.

Click here for a full review of the Canyon Ultimate AL SLX

Video: Canyon Ultimate AL SLX

Focus Cayo Evo 2.0

£1,999.99

www.wheelbase.co.uk

"The Cayo Evo is better than ever – it costs a little more, but that extra ton gets you more gears"

  • Weight: 8.08kg (17.81lb)
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Shifters: Shimano Ultegra 11
  • Wheelset: Fulcrom CEX6.5

Last year's Cayo Evo featured much the same component list, Fulcrum wheels, alloy bar, stem and post, quality Prologo saddle and a Shimano Ultegra drivetrain. It was, however, about five percent cheaper than this model.

This might seem a case of the German brand snatching away some value in the last 12 months, but it is, in fact, down to Shimano’s upgrade adding an 11th gear to Ultegra.

Click here for a full review of the Focus Cayo Evo 2.0

Cannondale SuperSix Evo 5 105

£1,849.99

www.tredz.co.uk

"A true thoroughbred and proven race machine at a great price"

  • Weight: 8.32kg (18.34lb)
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Shifters: Shimano 105
  • Wheelset: Shimano RS11

The original hi-mod SuperSix Evo was, hands down, our favourite superbike of recent years. It was an intoxicating blend of light weight, quick handling and stability, backed up with a remarkably smooth ride for such a highly focused pro-level race machine.

We never expected the highly innovative and technical frame to make it down to the mass-market ranks of below £2,000, but Cannondale has made it happen.

Click here for a full review of the Cannondale SuperSix Evo 5 105

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