Orbea Aqua T23 - First ride £649

Entry level road bike at affordable price

BikeRadar score 3/5

The Aqua’s glossy red hydroformed aluminium frame and carbon fork suggest speed and glamour, and even if the basic Shimano 2300 series transmission and Orbea finishing kit are more tour de shops than Tour de France, this road machine rides really well. 

The feeling when you’re out gliding down the road, with immediate response from the pedals and crisp gear changes at your fingertips, is hard to dislike. The 7005 alloy frame is sportingly stiff, which means that when in the leg-friendy 34x26 lowest gear, even new riders will make pleasing progress up hills.

It’s not light, but most of the weight is in the components, which you can upgrade to build a faster, lighter, more responsive Aqua. Start with the stem, seatpost and cranks. Unless you live somewhere with great road surfaces we’d also swap the narrow 23mm Vittoria Zaffiro tyres for wider and more comfortable 25mm versions – certainly for winter riding on debris-strewn roads.

For your first taste of – or return to – road riding, this budget-friendly bike from Spain will let you reign on the plain (and hills). It’s a great starter bike with everything you need, and lots of room for improvement as you get the miles in. 

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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