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The best cheap road bikes 2021: 10 great choices for £750 or less

Great value budget road bikes for beginners or training from just £300

Triban RC120 disc

Here are ten of the best cheap road bikes that we’ve reviewed that cost under £750.

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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 that would once have only gone with a traditional road bike are now considering a gravel bike instead. Gravel bikes are more versatile than regular road bikes and will be better for those taking on mixed surfaces but often incur a weight penalty. If you think a gravel bike could be for you then head across to our list of the best cheap gravel bikes.

Purchasing a bike right now has the added complication of stock issues caused by the pandemic and Brexit. That means many of the bikes in this article are no longer in stock and can only be purchased second-hand.

The best cheap road bikes 2021

  • Triban RC120: £429.99
  • Triban RC120 Disc: £499.99
  • Giant Contend 2: £749
  • Boardman ADV 8.8: £750
  • Boardman SLR 8.6: £550
  • Decathlon Triban RC500 Disc: £599.99
  • Merlin PR7: £650
  • Pinnacle Laterite 1: £430
  • Vitus Razor Claris: £549.99
  • Brand-X Road Bike: £300

Decathlon Triban RC120

5.0 out of 5 star rating
The best cheap road bikes
A rare five stars was awarded to the RC120 making it one of the best road bikes for beginners.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media
  • £429.99
  • Ludicrous value for money
  • Generous wide-range gearing
  • Carbon fork

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 last year. 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.

Decathlon Triban RC120 Disc

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The best cheap road bikes
A pleasingly comfortable endurance-biased ride that’s good mile after mile.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £499.99
  • Well thought out spec choices
  • Comfortable all-round geometry
  • Great value for money

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 discs will never have the outright power of hydraulic brakes, but they still provide more consistent wet weather braking than conventional rim brakes.

Giant Contend 2 (2020)

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Cheap road bikes
The Giant Contend 2 offers a lot for the money.
Giant
  • £749
  • Versatile frameset
  • Sporty and comfortable ride
  • Competitive weight

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 ADV 8.8 (2020)

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The best cheap road bikes
The Boardman ADV 8.8 is a good investment if you’re looking for a bike that can tackle a variety of terrain.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £750
  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • Mixed surface ability
  • Carbon fibre fork

If you’re looking for an option for mixed surfaces, the Boardman ADV 8.8 packs in a lot of equipment and a decent ride for the cash.

The quality aluminium frame has geometry that works well on and off-road and it’s great to see a carbon fork.

It’s great to see Shimano’s Sora groupset and TRP Spyre mechanical discs and we had no complaints with any of the own-brand finishing kit either.

Mudguard mounts and pannier rack eyelets mean there’s potential to commute, tour or adventure on the ADV.

The ADV 8.8 is no longer available as a new bike.

Boardman SLR 8.6 (2020)

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Cheap road bikes
Boardman’s SLR 8.6 has an all-new and very neatly finished 7005 aluminium frame.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £550
  • Great value for money build
  • Carbon fork and tubeless-ready rims set it apart
  • Lovely all-round ride

If you’re looking to upgrade from your very first, super-cheap road bike to something a little more premium from a recognisable brand name, then Boardman’s SLR 8.6 should be one of the bikes to consider.

Boardman’s SLR 8.6 has an all-new and very neatly finished 7005 aluminium frame, which features aero-optimised tube forming. This is matched to a full carbon fork, which is a real bonus at this price.

The bike we’ve reviewed here has now been superseded by a 2021 model, which has a new paint job and gets the wide-range 11-32t cassette we thought this bike deserved.

Decathlon Triban RC500 Disc review

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The best cheap road bikes
Decathlon’s Triban RC 500 Disc is the best disc-equipped road bike under £600 that we’ve tested.
Courtesy
  • £599.99
  • Comfortable frameset
  • The best disc-equipped road bike under £600 that we’ve tested
  • Heaps of versatility

With the exception of the Microshift cassette and the Promax calipers, the bike features a full Shimano Sora groupset.

While mechanical calipers will never be able to match the power of hydraulic discs, these certainly don’t disappoint, with heaps of modulation and power on tap.

The mudguard and pannier mounts coupled with generous tyre clearances make this a truly competent all-rounder.

If you can stump up the extra cash, we’d definitely recommend opting for this over the RC120 Disc.

Merlin PR7

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Cheap road bikes
The Merlin PR7 Sora is a great package if you’re looking to dip your toes into the world of road riding.
Dave Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £650
  • Generous low-end gear
  • Good all-round performer
  • Sprightly ride quality

The Merlin PR7 is a modern-looking bike that holds its own against options from brands many times its size.

The current version gets the latest R3000 Sora groupset, which warrants no complaints, and the 34/30 low-end gear should get most riders up any hill.

The wheels are a bit heavy, but the bike rides well and offers a lot for the money.

Unfortunately, the Merlin PR7 is no longer available to buy new so you’ll have to look for a used example.

Pinnacle Laterite 1 (2020)

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The best cheap road bikes
The Pinnacle Laterite 1 is very affordable and not overly compromised.
Pinnacle
  • £430
  • Decent frame makes for a good all-round ride
  • Latest version gets new-style Claris shifters
  • 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 will soon be replaced by a 2021 model, but used examples do come up for sale fairly regularly.

Vitus Razor Claris (2020)

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best cheap road bikes
The 2020 version of the Razor is a very handsome thing indeed.
Vitus
  • £549.99
  • Wide tyres give a super comfortable ride
  • Smooth and accurate shifting from Shimano Claris
  • Modern geometry

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.

The Vitus Razor Claris has now fully sold out so you’ll have to shop second-hand to get hold of one.

Brand-X Road Bike

3.5 out of 5 star rating
The best cheap road bikes
The Brand-X road bike is a great option for commuting or occasional use.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media
  • £300
  • Ludicrously low price
  • Surprisingly comfortable ride quality
  • Shimano Tourney groupset works well

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.

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.

Nearly all bikes at this price point will be made from steel or aluminium, although some may have a carbon fork.

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 cranks (with two or three sprockets 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.

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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.