These days, you can buy a bike for under £500 that's easily good enough for road riding, commuting to work or taking part in entry-level events. Getting the right bike for you will lead to a more comfortable, more enjoyable ride.
This handy video guide tells you what to look for if you've got up to £500 to spend, and we compiled a list of tips below. Once you're finished, take a look at our pick of the best cheap road bikes for a guide on what to buy.
Video: buyer's guide to road bikes for under £500
What type of road bike?
There are two main types of bikes that you'll find at this price point – those with road race geometry and those with sportive geometry.
A sportive bike is designed with comfort in mind, and is often a better option for first-time or occasional riders. Typically, the handlebar will be positioned higher the frame and fork will have a curved design for more bump compliance on rough roads, and the will be fitted with what's known as a compact double crankset.
Traditionally, a road race bike has more aggressive geometry to give more direct steering and put the rider in a more aerodynamic position. A race bike is more suited to competitive riding and cyclists who are less concerned with comfort.
Typical sportive geometry (left) vs typical race geometry (right)
A bike that fits you properly is a comfortable bike. Take advice from your local bike shop on the right size bike for you.
Ask your local bike shop to adjust the handlebar and saddle position to suit your build. Some will offer this as part of the purchase.
Where to buy
If this is your first road bike, we'd recommend buying from a shop with an on-site mechanic, so you can take advantage of the staff's advice. There are some good deals to be found online though.
It's hard to build a £500 bike that's super light, but you should be able to get one for under 12kg for this price.
Look for branded components – at this price you should look out for gears and brakes from Shimano. You should be able to get a wheelset from the likes of Mavic for this price, but you can upgrade an unbranded wheelset in a year or two, so don't over look an otherwise perfect bike. The compact double crankset we mentioned earlier are ideal for less powerful riders, especially on big climbs.
Pedals and shoes
Ditch the pedals your new bike comes with – they're usually made of plastic or have toe straps – and invest in (or ask the shop to do you a deal on) a decent set of proper clipless pedals.
James Tennant explains what to look for when buying an entry-level road bike