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Best endurance road bikes in 2023: our pick of the best bikes for speed and comfort

What to look for in an endurance road bike and our pick of the best

Vitus Venon Evo RS Aero Force AXS road bike

The best endurance road bikes will help you cover long distances and ride in comfort across a variety of terrain.

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As a result, an endurance road bike is a great choice for riders who prefer a slightly more relaxed riding position than an out-and-out race bike.

Choosing the best road bike for your needs needn’t be a compromise, however, and the latest endurance bikes are faster and more versatile than ever.

Many of the newest models feature aerodynamic frame details, clearance for wide tyres (often up to 35mm), road disc brakes and generous gearing for climbing, making endurance road bikes suitable for a wide range of riding.

Thanks to their focus on comfort and ability to cover great distances with relative ease, endurance road bikes are also referred to as sportive bikes.

If you’re new to cycling, a sportive is an ideal way to challenge yourself, ride new terrain and meet other riders. In exchange for your entry fee, you’ll get signposted routes, feed stations and facilities at the start and end of the ride.

Here are the best endurance road bikes reviewed by BikeRadar. Keep reading until the end for our full buyer’s guide and tips on what to look out for in an endurance bike.

Best endurance road bikes, as rated by our expert testers

Fairlight Strael 3.0

5.0 out of 5 star rating
2021 Fairlight Strael 3.0 review
You can spec the steel Fairlight Strael as you like, because each bike is built to order.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media
  • £2,900 as tested
  • Super-comfortable
  • Very adaptable
  • Dynamo integration

Sprightly yet comfortable, the Fairlight Strael, now in its third generation, is designed as a four-season road bike. Fairlight makes the steel frame in both regular and tall variants, to suit different rider morphology, with each bike built to order so you can choose your own spec.

There’s plenty of room for wide tyres – 36mm – and mudguards to get you through the worst of the weather. Endurance features include a third bottle cage mount.

We rated the ride quality as unobtrusive – the frame does a great job of smoothing the road, holds a line and climbs well and – as usual – we took in some bridleways on wider tyres, which were handled with ease.

Giant Defy Advanced 0

5.0 out of 5 star rating
Giant Defy Advanced 0 road bike
The Giant Defy Advanced 0 is one of the cheaper and better bikes in its category.
Steve Sayers / Our Media
  • £2,899/£4,350 as tested
  • Outstanding value
  • Excellent drivetrain
  • Comfortable
  • Precise handling

The Giant Defy Advanced 0 is nearly perfect for its very reasonable price (for a modern endurance road bike).

The superbly designed frame and 32mm tubeless tyres contribute to a plush, yet by no means dull, ride experience.

The highlight of a top-value spec is the SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset. Its shifting is silky even when you’re going full gas, while the Rival brakes stop you swiftly.

Giant Defy Advanced Pro 2

5.0 out of 5 star rating
Pack shot of the Giant Defy Advanced Pro 2 road bike
The Giant Defy Advanced Pro 2 is the best of the best.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £3,999/$4,550/€4,599 as tested
  • Faultless ride feel
  • Excellent value spec
  • Superbike looks

With the Defy Advanced Pro 2, Giant has set the benchmark for other endurance road bike manufacturers to aspire to.

You’re unlikely to find a better bike to ride – the Defy Advanced Pro 2 is marvellously comfortable, reassuring in corners and crisply transfers your power.

To cap off a pristine build at an unbeatable price, Giant supplies the Defy Advanced Pro 2 with accessories, such as a bike computer mount.

Vitus Venon Evo RS Aero Force AXS

5.0 out of 5 star rating
Vitus Venon Evo RS Aero Force AXS
The Vitus Venon won our Road Bike of the Year 2023 award.
Steve Sayers / Our Media
  • £4,699/$4,699/€4,899/AU$8,000 as tested
  • Abundant versatility
  • Poised handling
  • Brilliant value

The Vitus Venon Evo RS Aero Force AXS beat all comers to take our road and overall Bike of the Year titles in 2023.

Balanced handling and superb versatility thanks to wide tyre clearance and multiple mounts arguably make the Vitus Venon Evo RS Force AXS the ultimate endurance road bike.

The spec rivals bikes costing much more, the SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset being the highlight.

BH RS1 5.0

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Pack shot of the BH RS1 5.0 road bike
The BH RS1 has an aero, integrated frame with an endurance ride position.
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • £5,799/€5,999 as tested
  • Aerodynamic but with endurance ride position
  • Integrated cockpit with deeper drops
  • Fast and firm ride

The RS1 is an aero, integrated road bike. But rather than the race-targetted machine that this would usually indicate, it’s an endurance bike with a higher stack for all-day riding. That’s offset by deeper drops than found on most endurance bikes though, so you can get lower if you want an extra turn of speed.

In this spec, it’s kitted out with a 52/36t Ultegra 12-speed groupset with 11-34t cassette and 40mm deep Vision carbon wheels with 28mm Hutchinson tyres.

The ride is firmer than on many endurance bikes and handling is racier as well. Unlike many endurance bikes, you don’t get mudguard eyes, perhaps reflecting the weather in BH’s Spanish home. But overall it’s a great option for riders looking to ride fast as well as long.

Cannondale Synapse Carbon LTD RLE

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Cannondale Synapse Carbon LTD RLE Endurance Bike of the Year winner 2022
The Cannondale Synapse Carbon LTD RLE was our Endurance Bike of the Year winner for 2022.
Dave Caudery / Our Media
  • £6,750/$7,050/€6,999 as tested
  • Supple smoothness and exciting handling
  • 35mm tyre clearance and all-terrain ability
  • Integrated lights

Our 2022 Endurance Bike of the Year, the Synapse LTD RLE has Cannondale’s SmartSense integrated central battery and lights, a smart wheel sensor and a Garmin Varia rear-view radar in the spec.

It’s not just about the added safety features though. The Synapse is all that an endurance bike should be, with wide 35mm tyre clearance with room for mudguards and the same geometry as its cobbled-race-ready predecessors.

The Synapse comes with proportional tube profiles, for a consistent ride experience between sizes and there’s a threaded bottom bracket to ease maintenance.

For anyone wanting to go really long, there’s a third bottle mount and top tube bar mount, as found on the best gravel bikes.

In this spec, you get a Shimano Di2 GRX815 groupset and KNØT 45 wheels with Vittoria Terreno Zero 32c tyres, adding some all-terrain ability. Cannondale fits its aero HollowGram Save SystemBar.

The GRX gearing means that there’s plenty of low range to tackle steep climbs, but we didn’t miss the higher range that the 48-11t highest gear misses. The Synapse is comfortable, light and agile.

We’ve also reviewed the Cannondale Synapse Carbon 2 RL, a lower spec of the Synapse.

Canyon Endurace CFR eTap

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Canyon Endurace CFR eTap side-on
The Endurace CFR can take you a long way in comfort and at speed.
Scott Windsor/Our Media
  • £8,999/€9,499/$8,999/AU$14,349 as tested
  • Rapid for an endurance bike
  • Exceptional spec
  • Superb ride quality

The Canyon Endurace CFR is the brand’s top-flight endurance road bike made from its lightest grade of carbon.

Its high-end spec, including a full SRAM Red eTap AXS groupset and DT Swiss ERC 1100 wheels, rivals the kit on bikes worth £3,000/$3,000 more.

On the flat and climbs, the Endurace CFR feels nearly as fast as a race bike, but much more comfortable.

With clearance for 35mm tyres, light gravel is not out of the question. The lack of mudguard mounts is the Endurace CFR’s only real fault.

Canyon Endurace CF 7 eTap

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Pack shot of the Canyon Endurace CF 7 eTap road bike
Canyon’s Endurace CF 7 eTap is about as good as it gets.
  • £2,849/€2,999/$3,999/AU$4,649 as tested
  • Beautifully balanced ride
  • Excellent SRAM Rival eTap AXS wireless groupset
  • Non tubeless-ready tyres

Canyon’s Endurace CF 7 eTap is one of the best bikes we’ve ridden in any genre, let alone the endurance category, in recent memory. It offers a first-rate ride, combining speed, comfort and impeccable handling in equal measure.

SRAM’s Rival eTap AXS wireless groupset is an inspired pairing with the frame, although we’d have preferred a 46/33 crankset for some of the hills around the South West of England.

The contact points are excellent, and our tester got on particularly well with Fizik’s Tempo Argo R5 saddle.

The Endurace negotiates rough road surfaces superlatively, taming ruts and potholes, and although its all-black aesthetic may look unassuming, the ride is anything but.

Cube Attain GTC SL

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Pack shot of the Cube Attain GTC SL road bike
The Cube attains high levels of comfort and performance.
Steve Sayers / Our Media
  • £2,499 as tested
  • Good value
  • Blend of race and endurance geometry
  • Fair compliance

The Cube Attain GTC SL offers an only slightly less refined ride experience than its five-star competitors.

The German brand’s first foray away from race bikes into the endurance bike realm retains a degree of aggressive geometry, in its steep seat and head angle.

As a result, the handling is fairly lively on the flat and a hoot on descents.

The Ultegra R7000 groupset forms part of a decent-value spec, but the Cube would benefit on climbs from a lighter wheelset.

Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition road bike
The Scultura Endurance’s geometry is easier-going than Merida’s WorldTour race bike.
David Caudery / Our Media
  • £3,400/€4,463/AU$4,999 as tested
  • Compliant ride
  • Assured handling
  • Good uphill

The Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition has a quality spec, aside from its sub-par wheels, at a competitive price.

Despite its heavy overall weight, the simply designed endurance road bike is far from sluggish and climbs well.

With mellow geometry and clearance for 35mm-wide tyres, the Scultura Endurance is comfortable on long road rides and has the potential to be confident off-road too, if you wish.

Scott Addict 30

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Scott Addict 30 road bike
The Scott Addict 30 is less racy than the Addict RC.
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • £2,349/€2,599/$3,300/AU$4,900 as tested
  • Poised ride
  • High-quality components
  • Harmony between speed and comfort

The Scott Addict 30 handles serenely and is amply comfortable for big days out on less than smooth surfaces.

However, look beyond its long wheelbase and you’ll see elements of more aggressive geometry, such as a relatively long reach.

The Scott Addict 30’s rigid carbon frame responds promptly to the power you exert through the Shimano 105 R7000 drivetrain. This makes all-out efforts rewarding and thrilling.

Simplon Kiaro Disc

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Simplon Kiaro disc
Austrian brand Simplon has a limited dealer network in the UK.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £4,406/€4,529 as tested
  • Neat cable integration
  • Aero features
  • Quality wheels and tyres
  • Limited UK dealer network

The Kiaro Disc from Austrian brand Simplon has a frame designed to absorb bumpy surfaces and aero features such as full internal cable routing through the one-piece bar and stem.

The spec includes a mechanical Ultegra groupset and quality alloy DT Swiss ER1400 wheels. They’re tubeless-ready, as are the Schwalbe Pro One 28mm tyres.

The Kiaro Disc is light at 8kg for a size large, although a bit difficult to find in the UK, with a limited dealer network.

Specialized Roubaix Expert

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Specialized Roubaix in woods
Specialized’s Roubaix Expert is comfortable without sacrificing performance.
Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
  • £5,400/ $8,000/€7,000 as tested
  • Future Shock 2.0 headset to absorb road hits
  • High-quality spec

We really rated the comfortable, performant ride of the Roubaix, with its Future Shock 2.0 headset helping out enormously up front and a compliant rear triangle. It’s a bike that extends the endurance remit off tarmac, like many of the newer breed of such bikes. It’s pretty light too.

Disappointingly, Specialized doesn’t equip the Roubaix with fender mounts – something of an oversight in a modern endurance bike, which meant that all-weather rides weren’t as comfortable as they should have been.

The current Expert spec has 12-speed Shimano Ultegra Di2 and the tyres have filled out to 30mm from the 28mm fitted when we tested. Carbon wheels are back too.

Basso Astra 105 Di2

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Basso Astra 105 Di2 road bike
Basso’s endurance bike retains some of the fun of its racier stablemates.
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • £3,799/$4,644.99/€4,195/AU$6,709.99 as tested
  • Ideal endurance geometry
  • Lively handling
  • Wide tyre clearance

Basso has relaxed the geometry of latest Basso Astra 105 Di2, making it more suitable for covering long distances, while the wider 35mm tyre clearance increases its versatility.

But the Italian brand hasn’t dulled the experience of riding the Astra – its handling is nearly as fast as a race bike’s.

You’ll probably want to upgrade the alloy wheelset from Basso’s in-house brand Microtech. The same goes for the stiff and sluggish Continental Ultra Sport tyres.

BMC Roadmachine X One

4.0 out of 5 star rating
BMC Roadmachine X all-road bike.
The BMC Roadmachine X adds all-road capability to BMC’s endurance bike.
Our Media
  • £5,700/$6,699/€6,499 as tested
  • Lightweight, light-gravel spec
  • Single-ring SRAM AXS groupset
  • Great comfort and control in all weathers and conditions

The reach and stack of the Roadmachine X are similar to the Cannondale Synapse LTD RLE and like that bike, it’s an endurance bike that’s specced out for all-road adventures.

There’s a SRAM Force eTap AXS XPLR single-ring, 12-speed groupset and you get BMC’s own carbon wheels with 35mm depth and 21mm internal width, with lightly treaded WTB Expanse 32mm tyres.

That leads to great comfort on tarmac and a confidence-inspiring ride in poor weather and on light gravel. The Roadmachine X is light too for an allroad spec at 8.1kg.

Bombtrack Audax

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Pack shot of the Bombtrack Audax road bike
The Bombtrack Audax, with its big-clearance steel frame, 650b wheels and huge (47mm) road tyres, seems at odds with its roots.
Dave Caudery / Our Media
  • £2,750/$3,415 /€2,850/AU$4,400 as tested
  • Great downhill performance
  • Comfortable ride
  • Something different from the norm

A steel frame, big clearance and 650b wheels with 47mm tyres set the Bombtrack Audax apart from the usual run of endurance road bikes. Despite looking like a gravel bike, with the mounts to match, the Audax’s geometry is thoroughly road-going with a sporty, rapid ride on tarmac. It’s even faster on descents, thanks to the grip from the wide tyres.

The Audax is well specced for the endurance rider too, with comfortable Ritchey bars and a mixed Shimano 105/Ultegra RX drivetrain and a 48/32t Bombtrack chainset.

There’s plenty of comfort thanks to the tyres too, with the bike wafting over poor surfaces – and yes, you can take it on gravel too. It’s a great long-distance option.

Cervélo Caledonia 5 Ultegra Di2

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Pack shot of the Cervélo Caledonia 5 Ultegra Di2 road bike
The Cervélo Caledonia 5 Ultegra Di2 combines performance and long-distance comfort.
Dave Caudery / Our Media
  • £7,000/$8,500/€7,300 as tested
  • Cervélo’s aero heritage coupled with endurance comfort
  • 30mm tyres smooth the road
  • Mounts for mudguards and a rear light

The Caledonia 5 is Cervélo’s take on the endurance road bike: a machine that combines the brand’s performance focus with the versatility and comfort we’ve come to expect from this category.

That means you get a frame with aero features and a cable-free cockpit, alongside clearance for 34mm tyres (28mm specced as standard on the 25mm internal width Reserve carbon rims) and stealthy mudguard mounts.

As for the geometry, the Caledonia 5’s angles are more relaxed than the company’s R-series bikes, but still on the racy side for an endurance bike.

The latest Shimano Ultegra Di2 12-speed groupset finishes things off, with a 52/36t chainset and 11-34t cassette giving slick changes and closer ratios across the spread than an 11-speed. With Bluetooth included, you can also set up your shifters’ third buttons to operate one of the best bike computers.

Cervélo Caledonia Rival eTap AXS

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Cervélo Caledonia Rival eTap AXS endurance road bike
This Caledonia uses the same frame as the pricier Caledonia 5.
David Caudrey / Our Media
  • £4,800/$4,700/€4,999/AU$6,400 as tested
  • Stable handling
  • Top ride quality
  • Some spec shortcuts

The Cervélo Caledonia Rival eTap AXS is a more affordable version of the Caledonia 5, but is built around the same aero-inspired frame.

This means the bike excels at speed and, because the geometry is identical, the handling is sufficiently responsive.

A compliant ride, numerous bosses, a removable mudguard bridge and clearance for 35mm-wide tyres feature among the Caledonia’s endurance road bike attributes.

Not all of the kit is as good as the SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset. On a £4,800/$4,700 bike, the alloy seatpost and handlebar may leave you feeling shortchanged.

Dolan ADX Titanium 105 Di2

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Pack shot of the Dolan ADX Titanium 105 Di2 road bike
The Dolan ADX has a less plush feel than many titanium bikes.
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • £3,100/$6,499/€5,599 as tested
  • Responsive titanium frameset
  • Quality groupset, wheels and tyres
  • Choice of spec via Dolan bike builder online

Dolan’s take on the classic endurance bike, the ADX Titanium has steep frame angles that make for quick steering, with a relaxed ride position but a responsive feel thanks to the stiffer-than-usual titanium frameset.

It’s good value, with a 105 entry-level spec starting at around £2,000 and 105 Di2 a well-priced 12-speed electronic shifting option that goes down to a 1:1 lowest gear. The test bike was specced with Mavic Cosmic SL 32mm deep wheels and a titanium seatpost to match the frame, but you can configure your build with the Dolan bike builder.

The ADX Titanium comes with a full set of mudguard and rack mounts, making it a good year-round, commuting and light touring option.

Felt VR Advanced Ultegra Di2

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Pack shot of the Felt VR Advanced Ultegra Di2 road bike
The Felt VR Advanced Ultegra Di2 is a masterfully comfortable ride.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £4,819/$6,499/€5,599 as tested
  •  Smooth ride and comfortable position
  • Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8000
  • Carbon fibre wheels

The Felt VR range is designed around comfort and distance, with the VR (Variable Road) acronym denoting an ability to go up and down, and conquer bad road surfaces.

It’s clear this bike is geared towards comfort from its silhouette alone, with a long stack and short reach. What you can’t see is that the frame is also geared towards a smooth ride. Different carbon fibres ensure the frame is compliant in the seatstays to absorb road buzz, and stiff in the bottom bracket to aid power transfer.

Pair this frame with the Ultegra Di2 groupset and carbon wheels, and you’ve got a bike that will float over the road and has been specced wisely.

The only niggle we had is the internal cabling isn’t quite as optimised as we’d like. But this isn’t detrimental to the ride.

Liv Avail Advanced Pro 2

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Liv Avail Advanced Pro 2 women's road bike
The Liv Avail Advanced Pro 2 is a beautifully light bike.
Robert Smith / Immediate Media
  • £3,499/$3,900 as tested
  • Fast feel
  • Sizing suits smaller riders
  • Unsettled on rough surfaces

The Liv Avail is designed to be fast and comfortable, and it had a major upgrade in 2020. The frame’s steeply sloping top tube makes for a low standover, suiting shorter riders, and the bike responds quickly with precise handling and a race-focused feel.

Although the frame design does make for a less compliant ride than some other endurance machines, that’s alleviated somewhat by the dropped seatstays and carbon seatpost, isolating the saddle. There’s just enough clearance for the 32mm tyres, which also help.

Ribble CGR Ti Enthusiast

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Ribble CGR Ti Enthusiast road bike
In its road guise, the CGR is great for long-distance rides.
Steve Sayers / Our Media
  • £4,489/$4,804/€4,335/AU$7,695 as tested
  • Highly comfortable
  • Multi-surface capable
  • Mount of mounts

The Ribble CGR Ti Enthusiast is designed for cyclocross and gravel as well as road but that doesn’t diminish its performance on tarmac.

On long rides over poor surfaces the CGR is at home due to its wide tyre clearance, easy gearing and multiple mounts for luggage and mudguards.

A quality spec, which you can customise to your heart’s content, combines with a luxurious titanium frame. But you’ll have to look elsewhere for a lightweight speedster.

Ribble Endurance SL

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Cyclist riding Ribble Endurance SL road bike
The Endurance SL bucks the disc-brake trend.
Our Media
  • £2,419 as tested
  • Aero tube profiles and cockpit option
  • Rim brake Ultegra groupset
  • Bike builder lets you choose your preferred upgrades

Ribble says it has decreased drag by 28 per cent from the previous version of the Endurance SL, with truncated aerofoil profiles, while the optional one-piece carbon aero cockpit routes the cables internally for extra slipperiness.

Our up-spec added £420 to the Ribble’s £2,000 price tag. But even without, it’s an impressive package. You get an Ultegra groupset, although it’s rim brake rather than using discs, and the 11-28t cassette we chose reduced low-end options over a wider-range cassette.

Specialized Allez Sport

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Specialized Allez Sport review E5 review (1 of 12)
The Allez Sport sits at the cheaper end of the endurance road bike market.
Jack Luke / Our Media
  • £1,600/$1,800/€1,750/AU$2,500 as tested
  • Quality frame for the money
  • Accessories mounts
  • Wide tyre clearance

The Specialized Allez Sport is a versatile endurance road bike that will appeal to a range of riders.

Its geometry shouldn’t feel too aggressive to newer cyclists nor too upright for more experienced roadies who like a racy position.

Commuters and year-round cyclists will appreciate the mudguard and rear rack mounts. Plus, the switch to disc brakes makes room for 35mm tyres.

The stock tyres and wheels are mediocre though which takes the shine off an otherwise respectable build.

Trek Domane SLR 7 P1 (Gen 4)

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Pack shot of the Trek Domane SLR 7 road bike
Slimmer and simpler, but still a Domane.
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • £9,500/$9,700/AU$13,200 as tested
  • Sumptuous ride
  • Lighter, simpler IsoSpeed
  • Questionable value

Trek has excised front IsoSpeed from the fourth-generation Domane. Thanks in part to voluminous 32c tubeless tyres, Trek’s cobble-cruising endurance bike remains as comfortable as ever.

The new, lighter Domane speeds over tarmac and is capable enough off-road to be considered an all-road bike.

However, some of the Domane’s far cheaper rivals are better equipped. On a bike this expensive, its SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset is underwhelming.

Trek Domane SL6 eTap (Gen 3)

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Trek Domane SL6 eTap road bike
Trek still sells its Generation 3 Domane SL6 eTap alongside the Gen 4 bike.
Dave Caudery / Our Media
  • £4,300/$5,000/€4,700 as tested
  • Front and rear IsoSpeed decouplers to improve comfort
  • Super-wide clearance for 38mm tyres
  • Tool compartment in the down tube

This third generation Trek Domane endurance bike, which Trek still sells alongside its Gen 4 bike above, comes with aero features and massive tyre clearance. You can fit 38mm rubber in the frame, which includes Trek’s front and rear IsoSpeed decouplers for increased ride compliance on bumpy surfaces.

You still get mudguard mounts and a compartment in the down tube with a tool wrap to store your tools and a tube. We reckon it’s a great bike for longer rides on less-than-perfect roads.

Spec-wise, this SL6 eTap comes with SRAM Rival eTap AXS 12-speed shifting with 46/33 x 10-36t ratios for both fast riding and super-steep hill climbing. Wheels are wide Bontrager Paradigm 25 with 32mm Bontrager R3 tyres.

We’ve also reviewed the next-spec-up Domane SL7, which comes with Ultegra Di2 and Aeolus Pro aero carbon wheels for £4,900 (as tested), the next down (non-eTap) Domane SL6 with 11-speed Shimano Ultegra and the £2,450 (as tested), 105-equipped Domane SL5, for a comprehensive spread of Domane specs.

Willier Granturismo SLR Ultegra Di2

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Wilier Gran Turismo SLR Ultegra Di2 endurance road bike
The Granturismo is for going far and fast.
David Caudrey / Our Media
  • £8,620/$9,700/€8,400 as tested
  • Pacey
  • Traditional endurance bike
  • No mudguard mounts

The Wilier Granturismo SLR Ultegra Di2 swerves away from the endurance bike trend for wide tyre clearance, frame-integrated suspension and progressive geometry.

Instead, you get a nigh-on racier riding position, aero-optimised tube shapes and stiffer frame.

While the spec, including the fabulous Shimano Ultegra R8170 Di2 groupset and Vittoria Corsa Control tyres, is high-end, it doesn’t justify the princely price tag.

Buyer’s guide to endurance road bikes: what to look for

What is the difference between an endurance road bike and a race bike?

Ribble CGR Ti Enthusiast road bike
Endurance bikes are designed for you to ride long distances in relative comfort.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

An endurance road bike will be designed to enable you to cover the distance in comfort.

That means the ride position will be a bit more upright than a typical race bike, favouring ride comfort over ultimate aerodynamics.

The frame may also be designed with additional focus on compliance – or even micro-suspension. They’re intended to take away some of the fatigue induced by road imperfections on an all-day ride.

Endurance road bikes tend to have wider tyres than race bikes, to aid comfort and help create a smoother ride.

While the latest race bikes are generally limited to a maximum tyre size of 28 to 32mm (though this is much wider than just a few years ago, thanks to the rise of disc brakes), some of the latest endurance road bikes have room for 35mm or wider tyres – which is wider than the tyres on cyclocross bikes and not far off some of the best gravel bikes.

Endurance road bikes also tend to have a lower gear range than race bikes. Compact 50/34t chainsets and cassettes with 32-tooth sprockets are not uncommon and some bikes will even have a sub-compact chainset, which will help you crest steep ascents at the end of a long day.

Greater versatility is built into endurance road bikes, too. Race bikes might forgo features such as mudguard mounts, but endurance road bikes tend to have these and are consequently better for riding all-year round.

Frame details

Pack shot of the Ribble Endurance Ti road bike
Mudguard mounts make endurance road bikes more practical than many race bikes.
Robert Smith / Immediate Media

Endurance road bikes are made with a range of different frame materials. Most of the bikes in this list have an all-carbon frame, which helps create a lightweight and compliant ride. Having said this, alloy frames can be designed to be very compliant and tend to offer a price saving.

Many of the best steel road bikes and best titanium road bikes fall into the endurance road bike category, too. These materials tend to be favoured for comfort-orientated, long-distance bikes because they both do a great job of absorbing any road buzz.

You might want to look for an endurance road bike with mudguard mounts. They used to be a rarity, but you’ll increasingly find them even on top-end endurance machines and they’re often hidden so they don’t spoil the bike’s aesthetics if you decide not to fit guards.

If you’re lucky to go out on dry roads, you may not need them. But if the heavens open on the day of your ride, you will enjoy it much more if your bike is fitted with mudguards and you and your bike are protected from wheel spray. And if you’re riding in a group, those following you will definitely thank you.

Mudguards are also a good bet through winter if you live somewhere with a wet climate, making an endurance road bike a good choice for a four-seasons machine.

The best mudguards normally require mounts on the frame to provide full coverage, so look out for a frame with the appropriate mounting points if that’s important to you.

What is endurance road bike geometry?

Pack shot of the Giant Defy Advanced Pro 2 road bike
Endurance bikes can look a lot like race bikes, but the geometry often puts the rider in a more upright position.
David Caudery / Immediate Media

Many bike brands will label their bikes as having either racing or endurance geometry.

Racing geometry will typically give you faster handling, a lower position and the ride may be firmer, whereas endurance geometry gives a more upright riding position and more stable handling.

All our picks above are from the brands’ endurance road bike ranges. You can also read our explainer on road bike geometry to better understand the angles and measurements involved.

Are endurance road bikes slow?

Cyclist riding the Trek Domane SLR 7 road bike
Endurance bikes might be designed around comfort, but this doesn’t stop them from being fun to ride.
Russell Burton / Our Media

On the face of it, endurance road bikes might seem like a slower option if you compare them to WorldTour-ready lightweight race bikes or the fastest aero road bikes.

Firstly, this is because the more upright position of endurance road bikes means you are less aerodynamic than on more aggressive road bikes, and consequently it takes more effort to travel at the same speeds.

And while wider tyres can often be faster than old-school narrow tyres, there may be an aero, rolling resistance or weight penalty here, too, if your endurance road bike is using all of its generous frame clearance.

Having said this, endurance road bikes, like all bikes, exist on a spectrum and there are some that have racier geometries than others. On top of that, the latest endurance road bikes occupy a finely balanced sweet spot between speed and comfort.

Many still enable you to adopt a fairly low position, so don’t worry too much about your average speed. Almost all will feel markedly quicker than a gravel bike or touring bike.

And remember, endurance bikes place a greater focus on comfort. So whether that enables you to ride further, or gives you the option for light off-road detours, you’ll ultimately end up at your destination quicker than a race bike with an uncomfortable position and limited versatility.

Endurance road bike gearing

Racers interested in the Madone 9.0 might want to swap out the compact 50/34 crank
Endurance bikes tend to have compact gears, like the 50/34t crankset pictured here.
Ben Delaney / Immediate Media

Endurance bikes are designed to meet the challenge of long rides over up and down terrain, enabling riders to tackle it in relative comfort, rather than being forced to turn a massive gear.

If you’re going to take on sportives, these are designed to give you a bit of a challenge and much of the ride is often on rolling terrain. Most sportives will throw in a few steeper hills, while some routes take you up and down as much elevation as possible. That means having a good gear range is paramount.

A compact chainset with 50- and 34-tooth chainrings is a good starting point for any endurance bike.

At the back, you’ll normally get a cassette that goes from 11 teeth for its smallest sprocket (or 10 teeth for SRAM’s eTap AXS 12-speed groupsets) up to 30, 34 or more teeth for its largest.

That should give you plenty of low range to tackle steeper uphills, with lowest ratios close to or below 1:1. You’ll also have enough top-end gears to ride comfortably on faster, flatter sections.

Some brands may spec a semi-compact 52/36t chainset on their endurance bikes. These give you a bit more top-end gearing, but paired with a wide-range cassette you still have the lower gears for easier climbing.

However, if you’re relatively new to cycling, live in a hilly area or are planning on taking your bike to the mountains, a compact will give you more gearing options for climbing.


The Felt FR Advanced 105 Disc road bike is equipped with a Shimano 105 drivetrain
Shimano 105 is a popular groupset on mid-range endurance road bikes.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

A quality road bike groupset will give you light, precise shifting, with a broad range of gears for a wide variety of terrain.

Most endurance bikes come with 11-speed or 12-speed groupsets. Shimano groupsets are most common, with Ultegra or 105 seen on mid-range bikes, though don’t discount Shimano Tiagra on bikes around £1,000 – the 10-speed groupset still provides excellent shifting and braking.

Higher-end bikes are increasingly coming with 12-speed electronic groupsets. 105 Di2 is the starting point for Shimano, but on a top-end machine look for Shimano Ultegra or Dura-Ace.

All have recently been updated, with Shimano 105 Di2, Shimano Ultegra R8100 and Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 R9200 now being 12-speed and electronic only.

Campagnolo and SRAM also have 12-speed electronic options, with SRAM Red eTap AXS, SRAM Force eTap AXS and SRAM Rival eTap AXS offering wireless shifting. Both brands also offer more affordable mechanical groupsets.


The Vitus Zenium CRS Ultegra Di2 is equipped with IceTech rotors
Disc brakes are almost standard on endurance road bikes, but there are a few rare exceptions.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Modern bikes are almost entirely equipped with disc brakes.

Disc brakes will give you more consistent braking performance, in the wet or dry, than rim brakes and usually more outright stopping power or modulation.

They’re a pricier option than traditional rim brakes, although you can now find discs even on entry-level road bikes.

Disc brakes can be either hydraulic or mechanical. Hydraulic disc brakes are more effective, but they’re also pricier, so you’ll find them on higher-spec machines.

Rim brakes are fine in drier weather, but you need to be more careful how you ride if it’s wet (and especially if your bike has carbon rims), allowing for more stopping distance.


Cannondale Synapse Disc Ultegra endurance road bike
Finding the right saddle for your anatomy is important for comfort on the bike.
Felix Smith

You’ll want to be comfortable as you ride and a good-quality saddle that suits your anatomy is important. There’s a huge range of options. Many endurance-oriented bikes will come fitted with a quality saddle, which you might find perfectly serviceable.

However, if you find that you don’t get on with your saddle, it’s worth swapping out for another model. Aftermarket saddles come at a range of price points and most saddle ranges will have a budget option. It will be heavier than a pricier saddle further up the range, but should have similar ride characteristics. More expensive saddles typically come with carbon rails to drop the weight.

Saddle brands usually have a fitting system to narrow down your choice, so it’s worth trying these. For some, you’ll need to find a dealer, while for others you can input your details online and get a selection of models to choose from.

Some brands will offer the option to try before you buy or return a saddle after you’ve used it a little, if you don’t get on with it. It’s worth trying some options rather than suffering in silence.


Cannondale Synapse Disc Ultegra endurance road bike
A Cannondale Synapse fitted with 32mm-wide tyres. The latest endurance bikes offer clearance for plush tyres.
Felix Smith

It used to be that most bikes came with 23mm-wide tyres, but most newer road bikes will come with at least 25mm – and even this is considered narrow by today’s standards.

The trend now is for even wider tyres of 28mm or more, and our endurance road bike picks come with rubber that’s 32mm or even wider in some cases.

The extra width means that you can drop the tyre pressure on your road bike without sacrificing speed and add a lot more comfort and grip to your ride.

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Many of the best road wheelsets also offer the option to run tubeless tyres. The best tubeless tyres let you lower your tyre pressure even more, add puncture protection by removing the need for an inner tube and may save a bit of weight too.