Whether you're looking for your first road bike or planning to upgrade on a tight budget, here are the best bikes for you. The good news is that finding a brilliant entry level road bike that will set you back less than £1,000 is a lot easier than you might think.
And you certainly don’t have to worry about being shortchanged – you’ll get an excellent frame, good componentry and decent wheels for that money.
At this price the frame will most likely be aluminium, although you will find some carbon fibre or steel bikes for £1,000 – but it’s more than up to the job.
Wheels are often the biggest compromise on bikes at this price, but you can still find good quality hoops from the likes of Mavic and Fulcrum on sub-£1,000 bikes. Cheap, hard tyres are one of the first things we'd recommend upgrading.
There are hundreds of models to choose from so we’ve selected the road bikes that we feel offer the best value, the best kit and the best frames, and ridden them for hundreds of miles. We'll update this list as testing unearths more sub-£1,000 bargains.
Our testers are lucky enough to get to ride some of the most technically advanced bikes on the planet, but they’re not snobs and all admit that they’d happily ride sportives, do a bit of light touring, enter races and, of course, ride to work on any of the bikes in this selection.
The prices listed here are the Recommended Retail Price, but by shopping around you can get many of the below for much, much less (some currently sell at almost a third less), as some of these bikes have been around for a year or longer and are now at a reduced price.
Last update: 8 December, 2014
GT Grade Alloy 105
"Fast enough, comfortable and versatile – GT has a winner on its hands"
- Weight: 10.05kg
- Frame: Grade alloy, hydroformed 1 1/8-1¼in head-tube, standard BB
- Fork: Grade Carbon 1 1/8-1¼in, threadless alu steerer
- Front derailleur and shifters: Shimano 105, 11-speed
- Wheelset: Alex ATD470 disc, 6-bolt Formula Ultralight hub, 28 spokes front, 32 rear
The swept-out handlebar enables you to keep control in more challenging terrain, with the brakes allowing you to stop in an instant or scrub speed off with plenty of control. Even if you’re not planning to be quite so adventurous, the ride itself is so beguiling on the road that unless you’re looking for all-out speed over just about every other consideration – comfort, toughness, versatility – this really does make the Grade.
Giant Defy 0
"Some of the 2015 tweaks make little difference, but knocking down the price of a bike this good is only going to make us like it even more"
- Weight: 8.84kg
- Frame: ALUXX SL-Grade Aluminum
- Fork: Advanced-Grade Composite, ALUXX OverDrive Steerer
- Front derailleur and shifters: Shimano 105 (derailleur); Shimano Ultegra (shifters)
- Wheelset: Giant P-R2, 24 spokes front, 28 rear
Giant’s Defy is a familiar sight in the BikeRadar offices. The Taiwan-based company has become one of the biggest producers of bikes in the world since it started making bikes under contract for European and American companies back in the 1970s.
For 2015 the Defy range has had a bit of a revamp, with a few design changes – some of which are immediately evident. The Defy 0 is also significantly cheaper (£200 less in the UK) than the 2014 model.
Boardman Team Carbon
"Some lower-spec kit, but the Boardman delivers an unparalleled ride at this price"
- Weight: 8.73kg
- Frame: Toray T700 uni-directional carbon fibre
- Fork: Full unidirectional carbon fibre, tapered steerer
- Front derailleur and shifters: Shimano Tiagra
- Wheelset: Mavic CXP-22S rims, 9mm hubs, 24 stainless spokes front, 32 rear
Carbon, eh? That’s a bit of a clue in this bike’s name, separating it from virtually every other bike in this price bracket. Being able to put together a carbon frame with predominantly branded kit is a great achievement at this price, especially when the bike rides as well as it does. Yes, you might have to overcome your prejudices and nip down to Halfords, and there have been some component compromises, but it’s worth every penny.
Rose Pro SL-2000
"Frankly, it’s very hard to fault the Rose if you’re prepared to buy a bike online"
- Weight: 8.3kg
- Frame: 7005 T6 Ultralight triplebutted aluminium
- Fork: Pro modulus carbon tapered
- Groupset: Shimano 105
- Wheelset: Mavic Aksium WTS
Unlike most of its peers, with the Rose you can customise a lot of the kit, including choosing different groupsets and wheels from an extensive online menu. And it’s that eschewing of the bricks-and-mortar approach that has enabled the German company to be so competitive.
True, the bike will arrive in a box and you’ll have to do some spannering before you can ride it, putting in wheels and seatpost and setting up the handlebar. But then you look at the price... It’s an achievement to see Aksium wheels at this price. Along with the frame they allow you to tackle hills – the ups and downs – with great pace and confidence. Out-of-saddle sprints? A breeze. This Rose? Blooming great!
Giant Revolt 1
"The Revolt is an excellent all-rounder with comfort built in"
- Weight: 10.67kg
- Frame: ALUXX SL-Grade aluminium
- Fork: Advanced-Grade composite, alloy OverDrive steerer 1 1/8-1¼in
- Shifters: Shimano R460 10-speed, Tektro crosstop levers
- Wheelset: Giant S-X2 disc, 28 spokes
Our first reaction to the Revolt was slight bemusement – out of the box, there’s no getting past the fact that it’s kind of funny looking, with a super compact frame, kinked chainstays and radically dropped seatstays. Giant has rarely disappointed us, though, so we cast aside prejudice and took to the road.
Turns out we were right to withhold judgement. In spite of its gawky upper appearance and substantial 35mm boots, the Revolt is a remarkably lively ride.
Merida Ride 94 Alloy
"Look beyond indifferent appearance and some ho-hum kit and you've got a highly capable, good value bike"
- Weight: 9.3kg
- Frame: Hydroformed 6066 aluminium
- Fork: Carbon
- Shifters: Shimano 105/Tiagra
- Wheelset: Shimano R500
The Taiwanese company Merida is one of the world’s biggest bike manufacturers, and second at home only to Giant. Like Giant, it has a background in producing bikes for other people – making machines for Raleigh back in 1972 – but it now makes them only under its own name, Centurion’s and Specialized’s. The former is big in Germany, the latter is huge just about everywhere. The Ride 94 is part of Merida’s massive road bike range.
Sensa Romagna Special
"A great choice for racing or sportives – and outstanding value for money"
- Weight: 9.72kg
- Frame: Tig-welded hydroformed double butted 7005 alu, replaceable hanger
- Fork: Carbon blades, alloy 1 1/8in steerer, crown, dropouts
- Groupset: Shimano 105
- Wheels: Supra RA Comp machined alloy aero 35mm, Scwalbe Lugano 700 x 23 tyres
The name may sound Italian, but the Sensa Romagna is Dutch. Although the Shimano 105 shifting is a boon, the Sensa’s single-minded approach won’t appeal to everyone. There are no mudguard or rack mounts, for example, though you could fit clip-on ’guards. If you’re looking for a fast commuter you may have to look elsewhere, but if you want a quick sportive or race bike, the Sensa is fantastic value.
"A weighty beast, but tough, comfortable and very well considered"
- Weight: 12.92kg (28.48lb)
- Frame: TIG welded 4130 chromoly, adjustable dropouts
- Fork: TIG-welded 4130 unicrown, 1 1/8in steerer
- Groupset: Shimano Deore/Sora with FSA Tempo cranks
- Wheels: Alex DC19 alloy aero rims, forged alloy loose ball and cone hubs, stainless spokes 32 3-cross
With an unladen weight of 12.92kg (28.48lb), Civia’s Prospect steel commuter machine is nudging towards Clydesdale territory. But provided you factor in a slightly slower speed and keep your expectations for arrival times within reason, it’s none the worse for it. This is a machine that you could easily replace your car with. Make the Prospect your main means of transport and you could use it for commuting, load it up with your shopping and ride it at the weekend for fun and fitness.