Here are nine of the best cheap road bikes that cost under £600 that we’ve reviewed in 2019.
As 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 has increased hugely.
If you’re looking for a road bike for serious riding, training or just commuting, £600 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.
We have updated this piece (September 2019) with the latest deals on our favourite cheap bikes, added Brand-X’s curiously unnamed £300 road bike and Triban’s 5-star-scoring RC120.
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.
The best cheap road bikes 2019
Triban RC120: £350
Giant Contend 2: £575
Specialized Allez: £630
Vitus Razor: £500
Boardman SLR 8.6: £550
Decathlon Triban RC500 Disc: £530
Merlin PR7: £499
Pinnacle Laterite 1: £420
Brand-X Road Bike: £300
It’s been a long time since Simon has awarded five stars to a bike. Jack Luke / Immediate Media
- Ludicrous value for money
- Generous wide-range gearing
- Carbon fork
It’s hard to exaggerate how good the Triban RC120 is, especially when you consider the price — 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.
Giant Contend 2
The Giant Contend 2 remains an excellent budget choice
- Versatile frameset
- Sporty and comfortable ride
- Competitive weight
For an alloy bike costing less than £600, 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 percent difference in weight, which you can really feel on the bike.
Like most bikes in this price range, the Contend 2 is outfitted 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 Allez has long been a benchmark for affordable bikes BikeRadar / Immediate Media
- Racy alloy frame with a full carbon fork
- Shimano Claris 8-speed components
- Revamped design with slightly more relaxed geometry
The Allez has long been a benchmark for affordable bikes. The design was revamped for 2018 with an all-new frameset and the focus has shifted slightly, with the new bike offering a more relaxed riding position as well as rack/mudguard mounts for practicality.
It’s also lighter than before, and the low gearing is very beginner-friendly.
Claris 8-speed gearing is basic but functional and the brakes are dual pivot with cartridge pads.
The 2019 Vitus Razor is a top choice for not a lot of money
- Wide tyres give a super comfortable ride
- Updated frame with a full carbon fork, both of which take decent sized tyres
- Latest Shimano Claris components
The Razor was recently udpated with an all-new frame and fork, albeit one that looks somewhat traditional.
It’s got mudguard mounts and clearance for wider tyres. Vitus supplies the bike with 28mm wide 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.
Boardman SLR 8.6
Boardman’s SLR 8.6 has an all-new and very neatly finished 7005 aluminium frame David Caudery / Immediate Media
- 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, which is matched with a full carbon fork.
Decathlon Triban RC500 Disc review
Decathlon’s Triban RC 500 Disc is the best disc-equipped road bike under £600 that we’ve tested Courtesy
- Comfortable frameset
- The best disc-equipped road bike under £600 that we’ve tested
- Heaps of versatility
Decathlon updated its surprisingly UK-friendly range of disc-equipped budget road bikes last year and the French super-retailer has hit the ground running with its £530 Triban RC 500 disc.
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.
The Merlin PR7 is a great all-round bike at an even better price BikeRadar
- Generous low-end gear
- Good all-round performer
- Spritely ride quality
The Merlin PR7 was refreshed in 2016, resulting in a more 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.
Pinnacle Laterite 1
The Pinnacle Laterite 1 is very affordable and not overly compromised Pinnacle
- Decent frame makes for a good all-round ride
- Latest version gets new style Claris R2000 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.
Brand-X Road Bike
The Brand-X road bike is a great option for commuting or occasional use. Jack Luke / Immediate Media
- 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 £50 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.
These bikes didn’t score highly enough to make the list, but are still worth a look, particularly if you can pick one up at a good discount.
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 the perfect 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 £600 mark will be outfitted 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.
For a full explainer on road bike groupsets, check out our comprehensive guide.
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.
This article was updated in September 2019.