Here are 12 of the best cheap road bikes reviewed by BikeRadar, costing less than £750.
As road bike groupsets have become ever more affordable and more direct-sales brands have entered the market, the ride quality and value for money of entry-level road bikes have increased hugely.
If you’re looking for a road bike for serious riding, training or just commuting, £700 is about the price point at which you will get a solid ride that, given due care and attention, will serve you well for years to come.
Have you got a little bit more to spend? Make sure you check out our list of the best road bikes under £1,000, too.
A lot of buyers who would once have only gone with a traditional road bike are now considering a gravel bike instead. The best gravel bikes are more versatile than regular road bikes and will be better for those taking on mixed surfaces, but they are often heavier and may be slower on the road. We have a guide to the best cheap gravel bikes, as tested by BikeRadar.
Skip to the end of this article to read our full buyer’s guide to cheap road bikes.
The best cheap road bikes in 2023, as tested by BikeRadar
Triban RC 120
- £429.99 as tested
- Pros: Ludicrous value for money; generous wide-range gearing; carbon fork
- Cons: Tyres could be better
Like most of the bikes in this list, the Decathlon Triban RC120 has been subject to a pretty steep price hike since we first reviewed it in 2019. Despite this, it’s hard to exaggerate how good this bike is. You could easily be fooled into thinking you’re riding a bike that costs much more.
If you’re looking to make your first move into road cycling, or perhaps want to encourage a partner or friend, the Triban RC120 comes highly recommended.
Buy now for men
Buy now for women
Triban RC120 Disc
- £499.99 as tested
- Pros: Well-thought-out spec choices; comfortable geometry; value for money
- Cons: Not light; firm ride
The disc version of the RC120 performs similarly well, with a very well-thought-out spec and the same comfortable geometry that’s good for long days in the saddle.
Mechanical disc brakes will never have the outright power of hydraulic brakes, but they still provide more consistent wet-weather braking than conventional rim brakes.
Triban RC 500 Disc Brake
- £650 as tested
- Pros: Shimano Sora groupset
- Cons: Slightly weighty
Decathlon’s Triban RC 500 Disc Brake road bike is a great all-rounder. It offers a comfortable ride and is fitted with quality kit.
The bike has a Shimano Sora R3000 drivetrain with a 50-34t compact drivetrain and an 11-32t cassette. As well as offering smooth and accurate shifting, this also provides a generous spread of gears for hard climbs.
Despite being billed as a road bike, the Triban RC 500 has clearance for 36mm wide tyres. This ensures plenty of comfort, even if you trade the road for light gravel riding or towpaths.
The aluminium frame is designed to be comfortable, only helping this bike take on everything from commuting to light bikepacking.
Giant Contend 2 (2020)
- £749 as tested
- Pros: Versatile frameset; sporty and comfortable ride; competitive weight
- Cons: So-so brake pads
For an entry-level alloy bike costing a little over £700, the Giant Contend 2 weighs in at a competitively light 9.56kg – a full 900g lighter than the Merlin PR7, also on this list. While this may not sound like a lot, it represents a 10 per cent difference in weight, which you can really feel on the bike.
Like most bikes in this price range, the Contend 2 is fitted with a Shimano Claris groupset. There’s also a full complement of mudguard and rack mounts, so the Contend 2 is an ideal option for those looking for a true all-rounder that doesn’t compromise on ride quality.
The bike we’ve reviewed here is the 2020 model, but the 2021 Contend 2 looks even better – at least on paper – thanks to larger 28mm tyres and different brakes.
Boardman SLR 8.6
- £550 as tested
- Pros: Good gearing; balanced comfort and handling
- Cons: Average brakes; eight-speed groupset
The SLR 8.6 sits at the bottom of Boardman’s range of road bikes but it still has a triple-butted aluminium frame and carbon fork.
The frameset is fitted with Tektro cable-actuated rim brakes, Vittoria tyres and a Shimano Claris groupset.
While the brakes are a little lacklustre and you might want to upgrade the tyres, the groupset delivers crisp shifting.
The bike’s endurance geometry makes it suitable for long days in the saddle.
Boardman should be commended for keeping the price of this bike the same for the last three years – something few brands have managed to do.
Mango OG 2X
- £670 as tested
- Pros: Steel frame and playful ride
- Cons: No bottle bosses on the down tube
Mango has earned a reputation for its fixies and singlespeeds, but it also makes this 2x road bike, available with either a flat or drop handlebar.
Mango has opted for a steel frame that delivers a great balance of comfort and zing, smoothing out poor road surfaces in the process.
The bike is fitted with an eight-speed Shimano Claris drivetrain with an 11-34t cassette, so you should never be caught short when it comes to gears for climbing.
One drawback is there are no mounts on the seat tube, so you can only fit one bottle cage to the frame on the down tube.
But apart from this, the Mango OG 2X proves a great road bike with a performance that belies its price.
A flat bar, single chainring version called the Mango DO.GG 1X is also available.
Pinnacle Laterite 1 (2020)
- £430 as tested
- Pros: Decent frame makes for a good all-round ride
- Cons: A few small upgrades would make the bike great
At this price level, you can expect compromises, but the Laterite is decently specced and rides well. It’s not too heavy and while we’d replace the cheap, one-piece brake pads, there isn’t much else to complain about. It’s even versatile thanks to rack and mudguard mounts, and there are both men’s and women’s versions available.
Stock of this bike has now sold out and the Pinnacle Laterite 1 has been replaced with a 2021 model, but used examples do come up for sale fairly regularly.
Pinnacle Laterite 3 (2021)
- £600 as tested
- Pros: A bargain, even at new price; blends comfort and performance
- Cons: Some low-spec components
The Pinnacle Laterite 3 provides a nippy yet stable ride, defying its low price tag, basic build and cheap parts. Unusually aggressive geometry makes the Laterite pacy for a bike of this ilk. Our tester found the Laterite 3 comfy enough for 100km-plus outings, even venturing off paved surfaces.
Shimano’s nine-speed Sora groupset ensures efficient shifting. The addition of 34t and 32t sprockets makes climbing easier.
The rim brakes are dependable but could eventually be upgraded, while the 25mm tyres could be switched for a wider pair (up to 32mm).
Trek Domane AL 2
- £775/$1,100/€794 as tested
- Pros: Poised handling; quality spec; sporty feel
- Cons: Handlebar can transmit vibrations
The Trek Domane AL 2 is the entry-level Domane. Its compliant frame and well-balanced handling are worthy of that prestigious label.
The endurance bike geometry will suit a wide range of riders and styles – it is comfortable enough for long rides on mixed-quality surfaces without feeling sluggish when you pick up the pace.
But the Trek Domane AL 2 could do with some upgrades. Higher volume tyres than the stock 25mm tyres would improve comfort. The inconsistent rim brakes could also be swapped out.
Vitus Razor Claris (2020)
- £549.99 as tested
- Pros: Wide tyres; smooth and accurate gear shifting; modern geometry
- Cons: Non-cartridge brakes
Vitus’s affordable Razor road bike scored well in our testing.
The bike is supplied with generous 28mm-wide Vittoria Zaffiro tyres that actually measure closer to 30mm wide on the broad own-brand rims.
That means comfy ride quality on poor roads and a complete package that’s hard to fault, apart from slightly budget brake pads that make stopping a little ‘grabby’.
A women’s-specific version was also sold.
Brand-X Road Bike
- £300 as tested
- Pros: Low price; surprisingly comfortable ride quality; Shimano Tourney groupset
- Cons: Non-cartridge brake blocks; 14-28t cassette limits climbing and sprinting
Strictly speaking, the curiously unnamed Brand-X Road Bike from Chain Reaction Cycles / Wiggle doesn’t belong in this list – only bikes that score four stars or above are usually included in our best lists.
However, at just £300, which is a full £80 less (a big margin at this price point) than the second-cheapest bike on this list, we can still wholeheartedly recommend this bike for commuting, riding for fitness or the occasional longer ride.
Of course, compromises have to be made somewhere at such a low price, but even when adding on a select few cheap upgrades, this bike still represents tremendous value for money.
Again, the Brand-X Road Bike is no longer available as a new bike, but keep your eyes peeled for used examples.
- £375 as tested
- Pros: Pretty comfortable; Shimano components
- Cons: On the heavier side; limited bottom gear
The Carrera Zelos is a good-value road bike that’s reasonably comfortable and well-specced.
Despite the price, the Carrera Zelos rides like a genuine road bike. The cable disc brakes and mostly seven-speed Shimano Tourney drivetrain work fine.
But the Carrera Zelos’ high weight is exacerbated by the limited gearing. This may pose problems in hilly areas.
How much should I spend on a cheap road bike?
Cheaper bikes aren’t just for beginners, they can also be the ideal, easy-to-maintain platform to create an all-weather, year-round training bike.
Most bikes around the £700 mark will be specced with an 8- or 9-speed groupset. The number of speeds tells you how many sprockets the cassette has attached to the back wheel.
Most entry-level road bikes still come with either double or triple cranksets (with two or three chainrings at the front), giving you a large range of gears.
As 11-speed – and even 12-speed – groupsets have become the norm for more expensive bikes, 8- and 9-speed parts have become very affordable, and sourcing replacement parts shouldn’t pose any problems for you or your wallet.
Most bikes at this level will also use external cable routing. This means the cables run on the outside of the tubes and are held in place with brazed- or welded-on ‘stops’.
Although not as neat-looking as internal cable routing – which, as the name suggests, routes the cables inside the frame – it is far easier to live with and doesn’t require any special tools to service.
Nearly all bikes at this price point will also use a threaded bottom bracket, which is easier to replace and often longer-lasting than many varieties of press-fit systems found on more expensive bikes.
While these bikes may not be the most expensive options on the market, it’s still worth considering getting the best bicycle insurance to keep your bike (and investment) protected.