£1,000 buys you a lot of bike these days. Here's what you need to know
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The best road bikes under £1,000 are a great place to start if you’re new to cycling or if you’re unsure how much riding you’re actually going to be doing. They can also make brilliant speedy commuters or second-string bikes for more experienced cyclists.
The best road bikes under £1,000 in 2019, as rated and reviewed by our expert testers
Boardman SLR 8.9 Carbon: £1,000
Decathlon Triban 520 Disc: £730
Canyon Endurace AL 7.0: £999
Giant Contend SL 1: £999
Giant Contend 2: £579
Ribble Endurance AL Disc: £899
Ribble R872: £1,299
Rose Pro SL: £997
Specialized Allez: £650
Trek Émonda ALR 4: £1,000
The road bikes listed above all scored at least 4.5 stars out of five. Read on for full buying advice and our complete list of high scoring bikes.
Finding the right bike for you
There are a few things to bear in mind before you spend your money, however. And perhaps the most important is that these bikes are typically not pure race bikes.
Although they look like race bikes and are perfectly capable of being raced, most lack the more extreme touches of the machines that are uncompromisingly geared towards competition.
Instead, a sub-£1,000 bike is intended as a beginner’s tool, a bike to introduce new riders to road cycling.
What does that mean, exactly?
Well, for a start, the bikes’ frames will often have more relaxed geometry compared to more aggressive bikes designed for racing — they’ll have a shorter reach so you won’t be stretched so far forwards, and thanks to a longer head tube and more elevated handlebars, a higher front-end so you won’t be so low.
In other words, you’ll be sitting in a more upright position than you would on a dedicated race bike, which is good for comfort and also helpful for building new riders’ confidence.
The bikes won’t be as stiff or light as an expensive race bike, and they’ll usually feature less carbon in their construction too. For the most part, bikes in this price range will have a frame made of metal, most often an aluminium alloy.
What will I get for my money?
Don’t go thinking that sub-£1,000 road bikes aren’t the real deal though. As long as you’re riding on tarmac, they’ll do whatever you need them to, whether it’s adding a bit of pace to your commute, dipping your toe into the waters of racing, taking on a sportive, touring or simply riding for fun at the weekends.
Bikes in this price range vary a good deal in spec — the best value ones will typically have a mid-range 11-speed Shimano 105 or SRAM Rival groupset, while many will be equipped with the next level down, i.e. 11-speed SRAM Apex or 10-speed Shimano Tiagra. (A groupset is the collection of components that make your bike go and stop, i.e. shifters, derailleurs, cranks, brakes etc.)
Disc brakes are becoming more common at this level but they will often be mechanical cable-operated calipers (or mechanically actuated hydraulic calipers) rather than the full hydraulic systems found on more expensive bikes.
In any case, don’t discount rim brakes, they’re perfectly adequate for most riding and save weight compared to discs.
Read on for summaries and links to all of our highest rated road bikes under £1,000.
The best £1,000 road bikes
Boardman SLR 8.9 Carbon
4.5 out of 5 star rating
The SLR has a quality modern-looking carbon frame.David Caudery/Immediate Media
Shimano Tiagra components plus Tektro brakes
Beginner-friendly ‘sportive’ style geometry
Replacing the much loved Team Carbon, the SLR gets a much more up to date looking frame. It’s equipped with 10-speed Shimano Tiagra shifting and Tektro brakes, and it’s alloy wheels can be converted to tubeless.
Despite being one of the cheapest carbon bikes on the market, the Boardman is a great all-round ride with geometry that’s slightly more upright and beginner-friendly than that of a full-on racer.
The newest incarnation of the Triban 520, complete with disc brakes.David Caudery / Immediate Media
Comfy endurance bike
Shimano 105 shifting with cable-actuated TRP hydraulic brakes
Sports giant Decathlon shook up its bike range in 2018 and 2019, dropping the B’Twin name almost completely. The Triban 520 Disc is a versatile, comfy road bike that offers a very impressive spec for the money.
The shifting is proper 105 (with non-series cranks) and the brakes are cable-actuated hydraulic discs, the next best thing to a full hydraulic system.
Big tyre clearances and mounts for mudguards make this bike a great choice for year round training or all-weather commuting.
Racier end of endurance geometry, plus disc brakes
Mounts for mudguards
Ribble offers a lot of bike for the money with its aluminium framed endurance bike. The Ribble starts at just £899 with Shimano Tiagra and cable discs, but spending a bit more gets you full hydraulics.
It’s not the lightest machine, but it’s year-round capable and well suited to big rides, winter training or long-distance commuting.
If you want a genuinely racy bike on a limited budget, you can’t go wrong with the Allez.
The cheapest version of Specialized’s entry-level road bike offers exciting performance and a competent Shimano Claris-based spec, along with one of the best looking frames you’ll get for this kind of money.
It’s a surprisingly refined ride too thanks to a skinny seatpost and reasonably plump tyres.
The ALR is no poor cousin though. It’s a properly sorted bike in its own right with a bang up-to-date frameset that’s ultra-lively and comfy too, thanks to slim seatstays and a 27.2mm post.
Trek hasn’t included mudguard mounts, which is a shame, but it’s our only real complaint. The finish may be muted, but the pearlescent paint looks lovely up close and the welds are nicely smoothed. There’s a red version too if this one’s just not eye-catching enough.
On paper, the Émonda ALR is average value, but the calibre of its frameset makes it a strong contender at this price.
The Boardman Team Carbon is one of the best budget carbon bikes we’ve tested.Boardman
Full carbon frame and fork at a great price
Shimano Tiagra and Mavic CXP22 rims
Slightly woolly feeling brakes and narrow rims and tyres
Budget carbon isn’t always the best choice, but the Boardman Team Carbon is still a compelling one, offering a carbon frame and a full carbon fork at a seriously impressive price.
That does mean some compromises on the spec; the brakes aren’t great and the cranks are nothing special, but it’s a lively, exciting ride, and Shimano’s 10-speed Tiagra is very nearly the equal of 11-speed 105.
The Team Carbon has now been replaced by the Boardman SLR 8.9 Carbon (see above), but it remains in our list for now because it’s a hugely popular choice that’s common on the used market.
Decathlon’s in-house bikes pack a lot of value in, offering decent frames and specs that don’t cut many corners.
The company recently rebranded its road bikes, with the mid-range and higher end models now being sold under the Van Rysel name.
The Van Rysel Ultra 900 AF 105 is almost the exact same bike as the B’Twin Ultra 900 AF, but it gets an upgrade to the latest 105 R7000 groupset and does away with the silly under-chainstay rear brake.
The alloy Izalco isn’t the plushest bike in its class and it’s a little bit heavier than some, but it’s a rewarding ride if your style is fast-everywhere, because the stiff frame won’t waste your efforts.
Since we reviewed it, the Izalco has been upgraded to Shimano 105 R7000 (with a non-series crankset) and renamned the Izalco Race 6.9, with only a modest price bump.
Pinnacle’s Laterite 3 is another great budget bike from the Evans in-house brand.BikeRadar / Immediate Media
Ready for racks and mudguards
Shimano 105 where you wouldn’t expect it
Heavy wheels and so-so braking
The Laterite 3 is a product of Evans Cycles’ in-house brand Pinnacle, which we know has a knack for producing great budget bikes, and this is certainly no exception.
The no-frills aluminium frame of the Laterite strikes a good compromise between an aggressive race-like fit and more relaxed geometry, while mudguard and rack fittings open this bike to practicality that some competitors can’t match.
What really steals the attention here though is Shimano’s excellent 105 11-speed groupset, which is quite astonishing to see on a bike of this price (although it’s not the latest R7000).
Yes, we’d have rather seen a crank from Shimano, but the Pro Wheel chainset worked just fine. Heavy wheels and lacklustre brakes hold the Laterite back from scoring full marks.
Matthew is an experienced mechanic and an expert on bike tech who appreciates practical, beautifully-engineered things. Originally a roadie, he likes bikes and kit of every stripe, and he's tested a huge variety of both over the years for BikeRadar, Cycling Plus and others. For a long time Matthew's heart belonged to the Scott Addict, but he's currently enjoying Trek's lovely aluminium Emonda ALR and having a torrid affair with a Giant Trance e-MTB. At 174cm tall and 53kg, he looks like he should be better at cycling than he actually is, and he's ok with that.