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The best aluminium road bikes: top-rated alloy bikes 

Our favourite alloy road bikes, as rated by BikeRadar's expert testers

The best aluminium road bikes

The best aluminium road bikes can rival bikes with carbon frames; aluminium remains a great material for making bicycle frames.

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At the entry-level end of the road bike market, aluminium frames are almost ubiquitous. That’s because, generally speaking, aluminium frames combine a desirable stiffness level with low overall weight and relatively cheap production costs.

Bikes such as the Triban RC120 and Vitus Razor Claris prove that a quality road bike can still be had for under £500, while bikes such as the Triban RC520 show that road bikes under £1,000 can compete with pricier machines, too, with great specs and features such as disc brakes, which are available on more and more budget bikes.

Spend a little more and the prevalence of aluminium thins out in favour of cheaper carbon fibre bikes.

However, aluminium bikes at this price point – roughly between £1,000 and £2,500 – still regularly offer considerably better value, and sometimes a better ride, than similarly priced carbon models.

Fans of the pro peloton may have seen alloy come and go as the material of choice for the world’s fastest racers, but that doesn’t mean alloy frames have plateaued in terms of development.

Spend well into four figures and you’ll get access to the likes of Cannondale’s CAAD13 – a showcase for the latest aluminium tech and a bike that can fight it out with all but the absolute best carbon fibre machines.

That’s enough of the background, now let’s crack on with our pick of the best aluminium road bikes, from budget bargains to alloy superbikes.

Every bike here has been tested and reviewed by our team and, in order to be included in this list, a bike must have scored at least 4 out of 5 stars in our testing.

Carbon vs aluminium

There’s a temptation when reviewing premium alloy bikes to suggest they’re particularly good ‘for a metal bike’, the subtext being that we all know carbon is inherently better.

Carbon makes sense for high-performance bikes because it’s infinitely tunable. It lets designers target stiffness, strength and flexibility exactly where they want it by using different types and arrangements of fibres and clever layup methods.

Metal, by contrast, can be manipulated to a high degree, with elaborate butting, forming and heat-treatment techniques, but you can’t fundamentally alter the mechanical properties of the material with such ease, because it’s not a composite.

The latest premium aluminium bikes challenge conventionally held assumptions about working with metal, offering performance and specs that go head-to-head with similarly priced carbon.

While politics and the pandemic have conspired to ensure nothing feels as good value as it did a couple of years ago, the variety and sophistication of aluminium road bikes has never been better.

Triban RC120

5.0 out of 5 star rating
The RC120 is now our go-to recommendation when it comes to entry-level road bikes.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media
  • £399.99 / $499 / €450 / AU$599 as tested
  • Our favourite entry-level road bike
  • Capable as a fast commuter

This is the cheapest bike in this list and yet it is one that is fully deserving of its five-star rating.

The RC120 should be the go-to bike for roadies with a modest budget thanks to its superbly considered kit and impressive ride.

Whether you’re looking for a companion on long days out or an urban commuter that can accept a rack and mudguards, the RC120 will do it without difficulty.

Cannondale CAAD13 Disc 105

4.5 out of 5 star rating
This latest model is further proof you just can’t go wrong with a CAAD.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £2,250 / $2,300 / AU$3,499 / €2,299 as tested
  • Exciting ride quality
  • Not cheap

The Cannondale CAAD13 was released in 2019, with the brand revamping the previous CAAD12 to embody new trends, such as dropped seatstays, wider tyres and aerodynamics.

The bike comes equipped with a full Shimano 105 groupset (apart from Cannondale’s own cranks), Cannondale finishing kit and wheels.

For the price, it isn’t the best value, nor is it the lightest, but once you start riding it, all of that is swept away. It has accurate handling, a remarkably smooth ride and is a brilliant all-round performer. In fact, it gives many carbon bikes a run for their money.

Cannondale CAAD13 Force eTap AXS

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The eTap AXS version of the CAAD13 perfectly showcases the capabilities of top-end aluminium frames.
Robert Smith / Immediate Media
  • £4,800 / $5,750 / AU$7,500 as tested
  • Stunning handling
  • The pinnacle of metal frames

If you want to experience the pinnacle of performance when it comes to the best aluminium bikes, then look no further than the CAAD13 Force eTap AXS. With its stunning handling and smooth ride quality, this bike can match the performance of the best carbon machines. 

Only the luckiest of riders will find themselves on this spendy eTap AXS model we tested at the end of last year, but the CAAD13 frame is available for considerably less with builds starting with the Shimano 105 equipped bike above.

Canyon Endurace AL Disc

4.5 out of 5 star rating
For those who want disc braking on their Endurace, this bike hits a real sweet spot in terms of value.
Canyon
  • £1,649 as tested for Canyon Endurace AL 8.0 (closest model now Endurace 7, priced at £1,649)
  • Great specification
  • Powerful, all-weather braking

If you’re after an endurance road bike, the chances are you will already be aware of Canyon’s superb Endurace range, and this particular alloy model with disc brakes hits a real sweet spot in terms of value.

The complete Shimano disc groupset, tubeless-ready wheels and sorted own-brand finishing kit make for an enviable spec sheet, but it’s the composed comfort and ride characteristics that make this one of the best aluminium road bikes.

The 8.0 model with Ultegra we tested has been discontinued, but the £1,649 AL 7.0 model with 105 is very nearly as good – although it sees no cost-saving due to price rises.

Canyon Endurace AL 7.0

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The rim-braked Canyon Endurace AL 7.0 is an understated performer.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £1,349 / €1,100 / AU$1,750 (£999 as tested)
  • Class-leading spec sheet
  • Efficient yet comfortable frame

The second Endurace in this list is once again here thanks to its outstanding value and ride quality. It’s light at 8.4kg for a size medium and has the most impressive spec sheet in its class, although recent price increases mean it’s not quite the bargain it used to be.

Component highlights include Shimano’s superb R7000 105 groupset and Fulcrum wheels (a change from last year’s Mavics) with quality Continental tyres.

We had to dig pretty deep in order to criticise this rim-brake model, but not everyone will appreciate its understated looks. 

Giant Contend 1

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Giant Contend 1 might be one of Giant’s cheapest road bikes, but don’t underestimate it.
Dave Caudery / Our Media
  • £999 / €1,150 as tested
  • Great quality frameset that’s comfortable and handles well
  • Comfy 28mm tubeless-ready tyres

The Giant Contend impressed us a lot during testing and we rated its rewarding ride and slick components package. The aluminium frame is neatly welded and there’s an all-carbon fork and Giant’s D-shaped seatpost, which is claimed to reduce road vibration transmitted to the saddle.

The Contend 1 is fitted out with Shimano Sora 9-speed groupset, with ratios down to 1:1. Tektro rim brakes. Tubeless-ready Giant wheels and 28mm tyres are other spec highlights.

The front and rear mudguard fittings and rack compatibility make this ideal as a commuter bike too.

We’ve also reviewed the 2020 Giant Contend SL1, with a lighter SL version of the Contend frameset.

Rose Pro SL Disc 105

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The updated Pro SL Disc aluminium road bike retains the likeable qualities of its predecessor.
Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media
  • €1,749 (not currently available in UK)
  • Updated version of one of our favourite all-rounders
  • Lovely frameset and great spec for the money

Rose’s affordable alloy all-rounder received an update in 2020, with a move to integrated cabling and tweaks to the frame and fork that include a very tidy new seat clamp.

Although prices have crept up slightly, it remains a top choice, with a really solid Shimano 105 spec and a thoroughly likeable ride quality.

Unfortunately, Rose has withdrawn from the UK market for the moment, but the bike is available elsewhere in the world.

Specialized Allez Elite

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Specialized’s Allez Elite road bike was our winner of the £1,000 Bike of the Year 2020 category.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £1,199 / $1,400 / €1,399 / AU$1,900 (£1,050 / $1,350/ €1,299 as tested)
  • An impressive all-rounder
  • Practical and versatile

The Allez remains a brilliant choice for riders spending considerably more than entry-level aluminium road bikes ask for, as is the case with this excellent Elite-spec bike. It looks good, and offers fine performance and excellent versatility.

You’ll still get better overall value from direct-sale models, from the likes of Canyon and Rose, but with the Specialized you get the advantage of a physical shop to support you through the purchase.

We’ve also reviewed the entry level Specialized Allez and the Allez Sport if you want to compare specs and ride impressions, plus we’ve got the Tarmac SL7-inspired Allez Sprint Comp further down this page.

Triban RC120 Disc

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The RC120 Disc is a pleasingly comfortable endurance-biased aluminium road bike that’s good mile after mile.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £429.99 / €500 (£400 as tested)
  • Great for longer rides
  • A little on the hefty side

Just five years ago, it would have been difficult to fathom that a bicycle as well equipped as this Triban would be available for such a modest outlay. The geometry of the alloy frame sides towards endurance, making this a great choice for longer rides.

Spec highlights include a carbon fork, tubeless-ready wheels with 28mm tyres, and mechanical disc brakes – it really is superb value for money.

Don’t worry about the Microshift gears either, we were pleasantly surprised by them. The compromise comes in the form of weight, with a size medium example weighing a portly 11.3kg. 

Triban RC520 Disc

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Triban RC520 Disc is a stunningly good-value endurance bike.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £799.99 / €850 (£750 as tested)
  • Exceptionally well equipped
  • For those who favour comfort over speed

The RC520 Disc astonishes in terms of value with its carbon fork, mostly Shimano 105 drivetrain and TRP’s mechanically actuated hydraulic disc brakes.

The geometry is noticeably more relaxed than the likes of Specialized’s Allez, meaning this is no racer, but it’s an excellent choice for commuting, training or even as a touring bike.

The standard-fit 28mm rubber already makes for a plush ride, though there’s room for up to 36mm tyres and the stock rims are also tubeless-ready should you want to open up gravel capabilities.

Boardman SLR 8.6

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The current 8.6 is cheaper than the previous generation.
Boardman
  • £500 (£550 as tested)
  • Tubeless-ready wheels
  • Plenty of comfort

We recognise Boardman’s SLR 8.6 as one of the best budget road bikes out there due to its lovely all-round ride and general practicality.

A notable spec highlight and something that’s still rare at this price point is the tubeless-ready wheelset. The gearing is taller than some of its competitors though, so you may find yourself out of the saddle sooner on the climbs.   

The frame is easily good enough to justify significant component upgrades, making this a bike that can really develop with you. It’s received some subtle updates and a new paintjob this year, as well as a slight drop in price.

Cube Axial WS Race

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Axial WS is Cube’s women’s aluminium road bike.
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • £1,749 / €1,649 as tested
  • Quality Shimano 105 spec with hydraulic brakes
  • Lots of low gear range for hillier terrain

The Cube Axial is the women’s version of the gender-neutral Attain, with Cube branding its Axial frame HPA, for High Performance Alloy.

The frame includes thru-axles for more precise wheel placement than quick releases. There are mudguard mounts and Cube sells mudguards designed specifically for the bike.

The spec includes a full Shimano 105 11-speed groupset, complete with its powerful hydraulic disc brakes, but the Axial range starts at around £1,000 for the lowest spec, fitted with Shimano Claris 8-speed.

There’s plenty of gear range, down to 1:1. The 28mm tyres measure up around 30mm although the Axial’s tyre clearance isn’t as generous as on some frames.

Despite the “Race” in the name, this is an endurance-focused aluminium road bike, with a more upright ride position. The wide tyres and a comfortable saddle mean that it’s ready for long-haul, hilly rides.

Forme Monyash 2

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Forme Monyash 2 is well specced for allroad riders.
Dave Caudery / Our Media
  • £1,000 as tested
  • Great ride quality despite modest spec
  • Quality wheels and tyres on thru-axle hubs

Forme says the Monyash is designed for tarmac, light gravel and year-round endurance riding. It’s kitted out with disc brakes on its thru-axle wheels, with space for 35mm tyres to support that versatility. Plus, you get three sets of bottle bosses as well as mudguard and rack mounts.

The 2 spec of the Monyash comes with a Shimano Claris 8-speed groupset and we rated the wheels, shod with quality Schwalbe One tyres, although we’d up their 25mm width for extra grip and comfort.

We enjoyed the Forme’s smooth, confident and controlled ride over a variety of not-so-good road surfaces.

Kinesis 4S Disc

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The 4S Disc from Kinesis is about as versatile as road bikes get.
Robert Smith
  • £1,850 as tested
  • A bike for all occasions
  • Supremely versatile

The 4S Disc from Kinesis does a great job of being a bike for all occasions, so if you’re willing to snub the n+1 phenomenon then this could be the buy for you.

Available in road and gravel build options, the road-going version we tested goes without the flared handlebar and wider tyres of its sibling.

Despite this, the 4S Disc is loads of fun and is incredibly versatile, and we know it can work for year-round commuting, training, touring or bikepacking. If you’re not feeling quite so pink, there’s a more subtle blue colour available.

Kinesis Aithein Disc

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Straightforward, racy, and you can build it up as you like – ideal for crit and road racers.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £2,680 build, as tested
  • Super-stiff frame
  • Great price

The Kinesis Aithein Disc is an uncomplicated aluminium road bike that uses only standard parts. This is something quite refreshing in a world of proprietary headsets, aerofoils and dropped seatstays.

Racy intentions are at the heart of the Aithein. Reflective of that is a pretty familiar race bike geometry, maximum tyre width of 28mm and no mounts for mudguards or accessories.

Out on the road, the bike’s stiff frame means it is great at climbing and descending. The ride is reasonably smooth but certainly firm. If you’re feeling strong, the Aithein will deliver an engaging ride that’s undeniably fun.

Kinesis offers the Aithein as a frameset, but the build we tested with fitted Shimano Ultegra presented good value.

Kinesis R1

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Kinesis R1 is a great example of simplicity executed perfectly.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £1,500 as tested
  • Versatile aluminium road bike designed for a 1× drivetrain
  • SRAM Apex drivetrain and optional mudguards

1× drivetrains haven’t really caught on for the road, but their simplicity is appealing for a practical, all-weather bike.

The R1 is designed with 1× in mind and comes specced with SRAM Apex components. Thanks to an 11-42 cassette, the gear range is not lacking.

The R1 is a likeable and engaging ride that’s well suited to putting in winter miles, particularly if you opt for the full mudguards upgrade.

Kinesis R2

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The R2 is good value, versatile and fairly lively, despite its portliness.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • £1,680 (international pricing unavailable)
  • Good to look at and ride
  • Dependable build

In making the R2, Kinesis hasn’t tweaked much from its predecessor, the R1, except for adding another chainring on the front.

Even with a 2x drivetrain, the R2 is adept across most terrain, including light gravel, thanks to 32mm tyres and Alex rims, which are designed for cyclocross.

Weighing 10kg, the R2 is never going to fly up climbs. But with mounts for racks and mudguards, plus hydraulic disc brakes, it’ll make an agile winter bike and it’s zippy enough to ride all year round.

Specialized Allez Sprint Comp

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Allez Sprint Comp borrows heavily from the pricier Tarmac.
Simon von Bromley / Our Media
  • £2,650 / $3,000 / €3,500 / AU$4,200 as tested
  • Stiff frame with exemplary response
  • Ripe for a wheel and tyre upgrade

The Allez Sprint Comp borrows from Specialized’s pro-level Tarmac SL7, with the same geometry and aero tube profiles. Specialized also claims similar ride characteristics and it’s a bike that you’d be hard-pressed to tell from a carbon frame.

The ride is a great mix of stiffness when pedalling with smoothness and there’s a fast, exciting feel. It comes stock with 26mm tyres, but there’s room in the frame for 32mm rubber.

The groupset is Shimano 105 with hydraulic disc brakes and a 52/36t chainset with 11-28t cassette, but you could fit a wider-range cassette if you preferred. The Allez Sprint Comp would benefit from a wheel and tyre upgrade though, and its weight isn’t competitive with similarly priced carbon bikes.

Trek Domane AL 2

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Trek Domane AL 2 has an impressively comfortable ride quality.
Dave Caudery / Our Media
  • £775 / $1,100 / €792 / AU$1,600 as tested
  • Impressive handling and spec for an entry-level bike
  • Generously specced

Although it’s an entry-level aluminium road bike, you still get a carbon fork with front-end IsoSpeed on the Domane AL 2, a feature designed to increase bar comfort found on much more expensive Trek bikes. The alloy frame is nicely welded too. There’s external cabling: good for maintenance, less so for consistent shifting once it gets dirty.

Spec-wise, there’s 8-speed Shimano Claris with a non-series chainset and no-name brakes, which proved fairly ineffective, even in the dry. A change of brake pads might help improve things.

We were really impressed by the smooth ride and handling of the Domane, even on its 25mm tyres, although the wheels felt a little heavy. But with its mudguard and rack mounts, we reckon the Domane would make a great winter bike or commuter.

Triban RC 500 Disc

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Decathlon’s Triban RC 500 Disc is a great choice for those who want disc braking on a budget.
Courtesy
  • £599.99 / $1,000 (£530 as tested)
  • Confident all-weather stopping
  • Generously specced

The RC 500 Disc is one of the best sub-£600 disc-brake road bikes that we’ve tested. Naturally, the RC 500 carries a weight penalty over a rim-brake bike at this price, but the Shimano Sora transmission components it uses are still commonplace on bikes costing a lot more.

It provides an engaging, comfortable and reassuring ride that’s ideal for commuting or general road riding.

Vitus Razor Claris

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Vitus is every inch a ‘proper’ bike with a similar frame to the Sora Disc.
Dave Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £549.99 / $600 / AU$850 (£500 as tested)
  • Comfortable 28mm tyres
  • Proven geometry

The Razor Claris from Chain Reaction Cycles’ own brand Vitus is a top value-first aluminium road bike or year-round training tool. Simplicity is key at this price point and Vitus didn’t stray from what it knows works well.

The alloy frame of the Razor inherited its dialled geometry from more expensive bikes in the Vitus line-up and the 28mm tyres it’s fitted with mean plenty of comfort.

The frame and carbon fork are ready to accept mudguards but not racks. Like other bikes at this price, it’s pretty weighty, but that’s par for the course.

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Common misconceptions that surround aluminium/alloy bikes

Aluminium or alloy?

It can be misleading to call an aluminium alloy bike frame ‘alloy’. After all, steel, titanium and aluminium-frame bikes will be made from metals that are alloys.

Despite this, calling a bike with an aluminium frame an alloy bike is still considered the norm.

“Aluminium bikes are excessively stiff”

One common misconception that surrounds aluminium alloy frames is that they provide a ride character that is excessively stiff.

It’s true that some early aluminium frames were brutally stiff, but those days of experimentation have long since passed.

In truth, a frame’s stiffness is dictated by far more than just the material it is made from, with sizing, tube shapes and material grade being some of the many other crucial variables.