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Best road bikes under £1,000 for 2021

£1,000 buys you a lot of bike these days. Here's what you need to know…

Best road bikes under £1,000

The best road bikes around £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.

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Reckon your budget could stretch a bit more? Check out our best road bikes under £2,000 and our best road bikes under £3,000. If £1,000 is too much to spend then here are the best road bikes for under £750 as reviewed by our team of testers.

We also have a list dedicated to the best aluminium road bikes and a guide to the best women’s road bikes.

If you need some help with what to look for, read our beginner’s guide to choosing the best road bike and watch our video guide to the best £1,000 road bikes in 2021 below.

Finding the right bike for you

There are a few things to bear in mind before you spend your money, 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 handlebar, they’ll have 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.

If all of that still went over your head, make sure you check out our beginner’s guide to road bike geometry and handling.

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.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, some of the best aluminium road bikes we have ridden easily rival their carbon equivalents.

What will I get for my money?

Don’t go thinking that £1,000 road bikes aren’t the real deal. As long as you’re riding on tarmac, they’ll do whatever you need them to, whether that’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 weekend.

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 groupsets lower down the scale, such as 11-speed SRAM Apex, 10-speed Shimano Tiagra or 9-speed Shimano Sora.

A groupset is the collection of components that make your bike go and stop, i.e. shifters, derailleurs, cranks, brakes etc. You can find out more in our road bike groupsets explainer.)

Many bikes in this category will also mix and match components to save money. So you’ll often find bikes with Shimano Tiagra shifters and derailleurs but Tektro brakes, for example.

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, with the highest scoring bikes shown first.

The best road bikes around £1,000 in 2021, as rated and reviewed by our expert testers

  • Boardman SLR 8.9: £1,100
  • Bristol Bicycles Expedition: £775
  • Canyon Endurace AL 7.0: £999
  • Giant Contend SL 1: £999
  • Giant Contend 2: £579
  • Ribble Endurance AL Disc: £999
  • Ribble R872 Tiagra: £1,000
  • Rose Pro SL: £997
  • Specialized Allez: £650
  • Specialized Allez Elite: £1,249
  • Triban RC520 Disc: £850
  • Van Rysel EDR AF: £1,200
  • Vitus Zenium Tiagra: £1,100

Boardman SLR 8.9

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000 for 2021
It’s hard to argue with a carbon frame, Shimano 105 as well as great-quality components.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £1,100 as tested
  • Carbon frame and fork
  • Mostly Shimano 105 components

The Boardman SLR 8.9 is one of the least expensive carbon road bikes there is, and with the same aerodynamic tube profiles as Boardman’s top-end 9.6 and a nearly complete Shimano 105 groupset, it’s great value.

Boardman describes the geometry as endurance but we found it lives on the racier side, delivering a ride that is equal parts fast and comfortable with impressive handling.

The wheels are basic but they are tubeless-ready and do come with decent Vittoria tyres. You might consider upgrading these wheels at some point to make the most of the frameset. Check out our list of the best road bike wheels for some recommendations from our expert test team.

Overall, this bike is a great all-round package that is ideal for sportives, fitness training and commuting. It is simply loads of fun to ride.

Bristol Bicycles Expedition

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
The Expedition is a proper old-school tourer, but with discs.
Robert Smith
  • £775 as tested
  • Weighty tourer with discs
  • Classic triple gearing and various upgrade options

If you’re looking for a speedy racer, the Expedition isn’t for you. It’s a heavy-duty tourer in the vein of classics like the Dawes Galaxy, and it comes as standard with a triple crankset, now rarely seen on road bikes. 

The Expedition offers a nice upright riding position and a spec aimed at long-distance touring, or perhaps all-weather commuting.

The frame is alloy and the fork is steel, and Bristol Bicycles lets you customise component choice to an extent. If you fancied using the bike as a road bike, clever spec choices here could make it a bit more suitable.

It’s not for everyone, but if you appreciate a tough, well-thought-out machine, it’s worth a look.

Canyon Endurace AL 7.0

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
The Endurace AL 7.0 combines a great alloy frame with a generous spec.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £999 as tested
  • Direct-sales machine with a stunning frame matched to a great spec
  • Full 105 R7000 groupset and Fulcrum wheels
  • Lively but comfortable ride

When we first tested the Canyon Endurace AL it cost £999, but it has since risen in price to £1,349 as of September 2021. This is a fair increase but it is indicative of what has been happening across the cycling industry of late, and this Canyon is still generously specced with very little to fault.

There’s nothing terribly elaborate about the Endurace AL’s frame, but it’s nicely finished and comes matched to a full carbon fork.

It still includes a full Shimano 105 groupset – there are no nasty aftermarket brakes – and Fulcrum wheels are fitted with decent Continental tyres.

The ride is comfortable, and the relaxed geometry is perfect for new riders. A wide range of gears will get you up the toughest climbs, while top-notch brakes inspire confidence heading downhill.

Giant Contend SL 1

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
The Contend SL1 is another great all-rounder from Giant.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £1,000 as tested
  • Alloy all-rounder with 105 shifting
  • Wide gearing and mudguard mounts

Giant seems to be incapable of making a bad bike and the Contend continues that trend.

It’s a very, very competent all-rounder, offering a good spec with no major compromises and practical touches such as mudguard mounts.

The gearing on this 2020 bike is slightly harder than it used to be which is a little strange, but the compact frame and D-Fuse carbon seatpost make for a comfy rear-end and it’s still a very good bike overall.

Giant Contend 2

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
The Giant Contend 2 is a great affordable all-rounder.
Giant
  • £525 as tested
  • Entry-level alloy with mudguard and rack mounts for versatility
  • Shimano Claris 8-speed shifting with wide range of gears
  • Basic FSA cranks and Tektro brakes

The Contend is Giant’s replacement for the affordable alloy Defy and it inherits the best features of its predecessor, with a lively, comfortable ride.

Shimano’s 8-speed Claris offers very competent shifting and a wide range of gears, and its latest incarnation has hidden cables.

Giant’s in-house components are all decent, with the wheels being a little bit lighter than those typically found on bikes at this price point.

The brakes would benefit from an upgrade to cartridge pads, but the total package is a good one.

Ribble Endurance AL Disc

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
The Ribble’s hydraulic brakes are unrivalled.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • From £999 (£1,099 as tested)
  • 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 Endurance AL starts at just £999 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.

Ribble R872 Tiagra

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
The R872’s quality carbon frameset makes it a very sound investment for the long-haul because it’s ripe for later kit upgrades.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £1,000 as tested
  • Full carbon frameset
  • Shimano Tiagra 10-speed components with Mavic Aksium wheels
  • Stiff, smooth-riding bike with racy-ish sportive geometry

The R872 is a handsome machine built around a full carbon frameset that’s pretty up to date, with now-fashionable dropped seatstays for comfort and lateral stiffness.

Ribble markets the R872 as a sportive or endurance bike but it’s a little bit racier than some of the competition, and not lacking in stiffness.

You get a full Shimano Tiagra groupset with nice wide gearing, and Mavic’s ever-dependable Aksium wheels.

Rose Pro SL

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
The Pro SL’s slick alloy frame is easily mistaken for carbon.
Rose Bikes
  • £997 as tested
  • German direct-sales racer with a lovely alloy frame
  • Full Shimano 105 groupset, Mavic Aksium wheels
  • Firm but brilliant ride

This is the older version of the Rose Pro SL and we reviewed the newer Rose Pro SL Disc last year. We’ve kept this older rim brake version of this list because we have no doubt the new rim brake version would be just as good.

The Pro SL is still one of the best value bikes on the market thanks to its combination of spec and ride quality.

Rose gives you a full 105 groupset and Mavic Aksium wheels, along with an exceptionally nice alloy frame that’s easily mistaken for carbon.

It’s not the most compliant ride out there, but the Pro SL is genuinely exciting, putting budget carbon to shame.

Specialized Allez

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
The Allez has been a consistent favourite for years.
Specialized
  • £650 as tested
  • Striking alloy-framed racer that’s fun and fast
  • Shimano Claris shifting with a wide range of gears
  • Quality own-brand finishing kit

If you want a genuinely racy bike on a limited budget, you can’t go wrong with an 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.

Specialized Allez Elite

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
The Specialized Allez Elite was our winner of the £1,000 category in Bike of the Year 2020.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £1,249 (£1,050 as tested)
  • Lively entry-level alloy racer
  • Goldilocks ride quality makes up for average spec
  • Shimano 105 shifting, Praxis cranks and own-brand everything else

The Specialized Allez Elite might have jumped up in price a fair bit since we first tested, but as our £1,000 Bike of the Year for 202o we consider spending the extra cash a wise investment.

The spec is a bit piecemeal with a mishmash of own-brand and third-party components mixed in with Shimano.

Nevertheless, the Allez retains the likeable qualities for which it is renowned. It is a good basis for upgrades down the line too and will likely serve you for a long time.

Triban RC520 Disc

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
Shimano 105 and TRP’s HY/RD brakes make the Triban unbelievably good value.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £850 as tested
  • Shimano 105 gears
  • Comfortable but pretty weighty

The Triban RC520 Disc is packed with tech that you’d expect to see on a bike with a much bigger price tag.

The derailleurs and levers are Shimano 105, which is excellent at this price. The chainset is Shimano’s RS510, which is 150g heavier than the 105 model, but there was no discernable difference in testing when it came to shifting performance.

The brakes are another plus. They are a hydro-mechanical combination that might not be equal to a full hydraulic system but they are well-modulated.

The bike doesn’t have a racy geometry and it is on the heavier side too, but this isn’t really a surprise considering it’s aimed at the endurance and comfort side of the market.

The tubeless-ready rims and clearance for 36mm tyres give this bike a lot of potential, and it’s a serious contender if you’re looking for a bike to cover a lot of bases.

Van Rysel EDR AF

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
The Van Rysel EDR AF is a fun and fast bike to ride and it even has dropped seatstays.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £1,200 as tested
  • Low weight
  • Full Shimano 105

The Van Rysel EDR AF might be a bit over £1,000, but if you’re looking for a seriously fast, flickable and fun bike to ride and can push your budget a little higher, this is a great option.

Apart from the chain, the bike has a full Shimano 105 groupset which works exceptionally well. While rim brakes might seem a bit outdated, these brakes perform really well and a lot better than many disc brakes you find around the £1,000 bike mark.

The Fulcrum Racing 6 wheels are better than many wheels you find on bikes at this price, too.

The EDR AF comes with 25mm tyres and has room for 28mm, but don’t expect to fit mudguards at this width.

Vitus Zenium Tiagra

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
Carbon frame, carbon fork, disc brakes, good finishing kit… what more could you expect for the price?
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • £1,100 as tested
  • Carbon frameset
  • Decent disc brakes and kit

Vitus is Wiggle’s in-house brand and its Zenium has set a benchmark for what bikes in this price bracket can offer for a number of years. This new version is no exception with a fully carbon frame and fork, and cable-actuated disc brakes that work well.

The Zenium has a 10-speed Shimano Tiagra groupset which, considering the price of the bike and that it has a carbon frame, is an absolute steal. The gearing is also ample for practically any ride you’ll go on.

The kit is as expected for the price but still good. The bike has an aero handlebar that’s flattened on the top, which offers an aero advantage but, maybe more importantly, will comfortably fit your hands.

When it comes to the ride, the Zenium flies on the flat and is a lively climber. It is a firmer ride than a lot of other bikes, but that’s the only thing holding the Zenium back.


Also consider…

The following bikes scored 4 out of 5 stars when reviewed by BikeRadar, still making them some of the best bikes you can buy.

Boardman ADV 8.6

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
Great comfort and versatility from Boardman’s big-tyred all-rounder.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £750 as tested
  • Great comfort and off-road potential
  • Average disc brakes

Boardman describes the ADV 8.6 as its entry-level adventure bike, and we found it to offer a good compromise between on-road and off-road riding, concluding that it would make a great commuter, road or gravel all-rounder.

The aluminium frame is paired with a carbon fork, 9-speed Sora groupset, tubeless-ready rims and tyres that perform well on tarmac and gravel. The handlebar flares out to 50cm on the drops, which is particularly good for stable handling off-road.

The brakes are Tektro cable-actuated single-piston. While you wouldn’t expect hydraulic brakes at this price, we’d prefer Tektro’s dual-piston Spyre brakes for better stopper power.

Cannondale CAAD Optimo 105

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
The CAAD Optimo’s weight and geometry combine to deliver a fast, fun and feisty ride.
David Caudery/Immediate Media
  • £1,000 as tested
  • Racy geometry
  • Shimano 105 R7000 components

Cannondale’s CAAD bikes have long offered performance to equal or exceed that of similarly priced carbon machines.

The CAAD Optimo is a somewhat racy ride and it comes equipped with the latest Shimano 105 R7000 components and third-party brakes and cranks.

It’s not the most comfortable ride but it’s a good choice for cyclists seeking something more aggressive.

Giant Contend AR 3

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
This is the bike for long-distance riding.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • £1,099 as tested
  • Great looks and long-distance comfort
  • Not the best value

The Giant Contend AR 3 stands out thanks to its bold paint job and frame design that looks more expensive than the price tag suggests.

The bike doesn’t quite match some of the others in the category when it comes to spec. It has Shimano Sora rather than a Tiagra or 105 groupset, but really the difference between Sora and Tiagra isn’t that noticeable when you’re out riding.

Giant knows a thing or two about creating well-performing geometries and the Contend AR 3 nicely balances speed and long-distance comfort, It is confident on descents too, aided by its 32mm tyres.

It might not be the best value for money, but there is a lot to like about the Giant Contend AR 3 and it is worth serious consideration if you’re after a plush ride and long-distance comfort.

Marin Nicasio

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
The Nicasio is no lightweight but there’s plenty to recommend it.
Robert Smith Photography / Immediate Media
  • £700 as tested
  • Comfy steel distance machine
  • Now with MicroSHIFT components and Tektro mechanical disc brakes

Most of the bikes at this price level are alloy-framed and built with race or sportive pretensions. The Nicasio is closer in spirit to a traditional tourer.

It’s heavy and versatile, with fat tyres as standard and the option to fit a rack and mudguards.

It’s not the fastest, but a bike like this makes a great commuter and long-distance machine.

Merlin Cordite SL

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
The Cordite SL owes its design to the old Ridley Helium SL.
Robert Smith Photography / Immediate Media
  • £1,000 as tested
  • Racy carbon frame with seatmast is essentially an old Ridley Helium SL
  • R8000 shifting plus 4ZA brakes

If the Cordite SL looks vaguely familiar that’s because it’s essentially the old Ridley Helium SL with different paint, a 2008 design that was raced at the top level of pro cycling.

Its stout seatmast dates it somewhat and makes for a firm ride, as well as limiting the range of saddle height adjustment once it’s been cut.

The brakes aren’t amazing either, but the Merlin is nevertheless a good amount of bike for the money, offering a full carbon frameset and R8000 shifting.

Merlin PR7 Sora

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
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 as tested
  • Racy aluminium-framed road bike with a good groupset for the price
  • A few economies on the spec, but no major letdowns

The PR7 is about as simple and straightforward as they come. It’s cheap at RRP, and a stonking bargain when it’s available at a discount.

It’s an affordable, moderately racy road bike with an aluminium frame that sports a nice glossy black finish.

Where some bikes at this price level get 8-speed Shimano Claris, the Merlin has 9-speed Sora, and the wheels get branded rims from Mavic.

The gearing could be a touch lower and it’s a shame there are mudguard mounts at the rear only, but it’s a lot of bike for the money otherwise, with a fast and racy personality.

Pinnacle Laterite 3

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
This is a pleasingly straightforward entry-level bike with a comfortable all-round ride.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £600 as tested
  • Surprisingly good ride
  • Great value

This is Evan’s Cycles entry-level Pinnacle Laterite. It might be a simple and straightforward bike, but it zips along nicely and offers a surprisingly lovely ride.

The gears are Shimano Sora, and while this is far down Shimano’s range, the shifting is nearly as good as its more expensive siblings. The gear ratios also make climbing tough hills more achievable.

The bike has enough room for 32mm tyres, which would provide ample comfort on rough roads, so it is surprising it’s been specced with narrow 25mm tyres.

There are mounts for mudguards and a rack too, which would help transform this bike into a capable commuter.

Braking comes courtesy of Tektro rim brakes. You might want to upgrade the brake blocks to cartridge blocks when they wear out to improve the stopping power.

Planet X London Road

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Pack shot of the Planet X London Road road bike
The Planet X London Road would make a great commuter.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £800 as tested
  • Well-chosen components
  • Quick, lively ride

The Planet X London Road is a straightforward bike that shows what can be achieved when you keep things simple.

The London Road has a SRAM single-ring setup, thru-axles and cable-actuated disc brakes, as well as a good set of Fulcrum wheels with 32mm tyres and a carbon fork

This makes the bike an attractive package, but while there might not be a front derailleur to worry about, the single-ring setup does limit the bike’s gear range, so if you like to turn a big gear, this might not be the bike for you.

Otherwise, this bike is great fun to ride on bike paths and through town. It would make an excellent commuter.

Scott Speedster 40

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best road bikes under £1,000
The Speedster’s spec is average, but it’s a solid all-rounder.
Scott
  • £649 as tested
  • Good range of gears, wider tyres and mudguard mounts
  • Basic spec with average brakes

The entry-level Speedster is a very practical all-rounder, with mudguard mounts and 28mm tyres as standard, as well as nice low gears for hauling up the steep stuff.

The endurance geometry should work for most riders, but it’s still a sharp enough ride to be fun.

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