Best road bikes under £1,000 for 2020

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

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Road bikes

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.

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Reckon your budget could stretch to 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 available for under £600.

If you need some help with what to look for, read our guide to choosing the best road bike and watch our video primer below.

The best road bikes under £1,000 in 2020, as rated and reviewed by our expert testers

  • Boardman SLR 8.9: £1,000
  • Bristol Bicycles Expedition: £775
  • Canyon Endurace AL 7.0: £999
  • Carrera Virago: £800
  • Decathlon Triban 520 Disc: £730
  • Giant Contend SL 1: £999
  • Giant Contend 2: £579
  • Ribble Endurance AL Disc: £899
  • Rose Pro SL: £997
  • Specialized Allez: £650
  • Specialized Allez Elite: £1,050 (ok, there’s some wiggle room on budget…)

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, with the highest scoring bikes shown first.

The best £1,000 road bikes

Boardman SLR 8.9

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Boardman SLR 8.9 road bike
The SLR has a quality modern-looking carbon frame.
David Caudery/Immediate Media
  • £1,000
  • Shimano Tiagra components plus Tektro brakes
  • Tubeless-ready wheels
  • 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.

Bristol Bicycles Expedition

4.5 out of 5 star rating
What is a touring bike?
The Expedition is a proper old-school tourer, but with discs.
Robert Smith

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 Bicycle lets you customise component choice to an extent.

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
Canyon Endurace AL 7.0 road bike in red
The Endurace AL 7.0 combines a great alloy frame with a generous spec.
David Caudery / Immediate Media

The Canyon Endurace AL won our Budget Bike of the Year 2017 award and it remains one of our favourite affordable bikes, receiving consistently high scores in subsequent reviews as the spec has been tweaked over the years.

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

Canyon juggled its models back in 2018 and the current Endurace AL 7.0 is the direct equivalent of the old 6.0.

It’s still a bargain thanks to a spec that includes a full Shimano 105 groupset — there are no nasty aftermarket brakes — and Fulcrum wheels fitted with decent Continental tyres.

The ride is comfortable, and 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.

Carrera Virago

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Carrera Virago
The frame geometry is surprisingly aggressive for a budget bike.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • Almost certainly the cheapest carbon bike in the UK
  • Great all round ride – smooth and controlled
  • Shimano Sora 9-speed components

At full price, the Virago is seemingly the cheapest carbon framed road bike on the market, and you might be wondering if a bike this cheap can actually be any good.

While the frame certainly isn’t as light as one you’d get on a £3,000 machine, the Virago is an excellent all-round ride. 

The spec isn’t bad either, with Shimano Sora shifting. Unsurprisingly at this price, you don’t get a complete groupset – the brakes are Tektros while the cranks are FSA.

Decathlon Triban RC 520 Disc

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The newest incarnation of the Triban 520, minus the B’Twin branding
The newest incarnation of the Triban 520, complete with disc brakes.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £730 as reviewed, now £749.99
  • 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 RC 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.

Giant Contend SL 1

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Contend SL1 is another great all-rounder from Giant
The Contend SL1 is another great all-rounder from Giant.
Giant
  • 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 compact frame and D-Fuse carbon seatpost make for a comfy rear-end, while a seriously wide range of gears will get you up and down the worst hills at a reasonable pace (if you’ve got the legs).

Giant Contend 2

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Giant Contend 2 is a great affordable all-rounder
The Giant Contend 2 is a great affordable all-rounder.
Giant
  • 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

Giant’s replacement for the affordable alloy Defy 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
Ribble Endurance AL Disc
The Ribble’s hydraulic brakes are unrivalled.
David Caudery / Immediate Media

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.

Rose Pro SL

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Pro SL's slick alloy frame is easily mistaken for carbon
The Pro SL’s slick alloy frame is easily mistaken for carbon.
Rose Bikes
  • £997
  • German direct-sales racer with a lovely alloy frame
  • Full Shimano 105 groupset, Mavic Aksium wheels
  • Firm but brilliant ride
  • New model expected imminently

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.

If your budget is flexible and you’d rather have discs there’s also a Pro SL Disc, which scored well when we originally tested it, and which now also gets updated components.

Right now, the Pro SL is out of stock, but we’re keeping it in this list as we’re expecting a replacement to appear at some point, and it’s a bike worth looking out for on the used market in any case.

Specialized Allez

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Allez has been a consistent favourite for years
The Allez has been a consistent favourite for years.
Specialized
  • £650
  • Striking alloy-framed racer that’s fun and fast
  • Shimano Claris shifting with 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 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.

Specialized Allez Elite

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

The Allez has long been a go-to for entry-level road bikes, offering solid performance in an attractive package, if not exceptional value for money.

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

Nevertheless, the Allez retains the likeable qualities for which it is renowned, and it’s a good basis for upgrades down the line.

Bianchi Via Nirone 7

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Bianchi isn't the best specced, but the frame looks great and rides well
The Bianchi isn’t the best specced, but the frame looks great and rides well.
Bianchi
  • £750 as reviewed, now £800
  • Great looking frame that performs
  • 8-speed Shimano Claris components

Despite being Bianchi’s entry-level model, the Via Nirone gets a very decent alloy frame with remarkably smooth ride quality.

The spec is middling, with average non-groupset brakes and basic wheels, but it all gets the job done.

B’Twin Ultra 900 AF / Van Rysel RR 900 AF

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Decathlon's alloy bikes offer huge value for money
Decathlon’s alloy bikes offer huge value for money.
Decathlon
  • £849.99
  • Now renamed as the Van Rysel RR 900 AF
  • Quality alloy frame with a lively ride
  • Full Shimano 105 and decent branded wheels

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.

Cannondale CAAD Optimo 105

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Side view Cannondale CAAD Optimo 105 white background
The CAAD Optimo’s weight and geometry combine to deliver a fast, fun and feisty ride.
David Caudery/Immediate Media
  • £1,000
  • 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 riders seeking something more aggressive.

Dolan l’Etape

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Dolan l'Etape proves that cheap carbon isn't necessarily a bad thing
The Dolan l’Etape proves that cheap carbon isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Dave Caudrey / Immediate Media

We don’t always endorse cheap carbon, but the Dolan offers a winning combination of racy performance and decent spec, and you can customise it to an extent too.

Unremarkable Shimano wheels won’t set the world alight but 105 shifting is always welcome.

The l’Etape moniker is perhaps a bit of a misnomer because this is more race bike than endurance machine, but if a reasonably aggressive fit is what you’re after then the Dolan is worth a look.

Focus Izalco Race AL 105 / Izalco Race 6.9

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Focus's affordable alloy racer gets better the harder you push
Focus’s affordable alloy racer gets better the harder you push.
Focus

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.

Giant Contend 1

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Giant's Contend is well worthy of this list
Giant’s Contend is well worthy of this list.
BikeRadar / Immediate Media
  • Stiff frame can sometimes feel harsh
  • Useful 34t cassette makes light work of climbs
  • Brakes are disappointing but a relatively cheap area to upgrade

Another Contend makes this list, and it’s one we can wholeheartedly recommend.

With geometry based closely on that of Giant’s old Defy model, there’s stable yet responsive handling which amounts to a ride quality normally associated with bikes costing a fair bit more.

The stiffness of the Contend’s alloy frame can make it feel a tad harsh at times, but it never gave us that ‘dead’ feeling that some cheaper bikes do.

Shimano’s Sora drivetrain lacks the close ratio shifts of Shimano’s higher-end groups but offers a very useful range thanks to an 11-34t cassette.

The brakes are cheap Tektro items, but they are a relatively cheap area to upgrade on what happens to be an otherwise very sorted machine.

Giant Contend SL 2 Disc

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Giant Content SL 2 Disc 2020
The Giant Contend SL 2 Disc is a great all-rounder with disc brakes.
Giant
  • Comfy alloy from the world’s biggest bike maker
  • Shimano Tiagra shifting
  • Unique hybrid disc brake setup offers most of the advantages of proper hydraulics

If you’ve got some more cash to spend and value all-weather braking then this could be a better choice than the rim brake Contends.

The Contend SL 2 is middle-of-the-road on spec and weight, but it’s a solid performer that’s very beginner friendly thanks to relaxed geometry and great ride quality.

The unusual disc brake setup isn’t the most elegant or the easiest to adjust, but it works well and offers an experience pretty close to that of full hydraulics.

GT GTR Sport

4.0 out of 5 star rating
GT GTR Sport
The GTR Sport combines a quality alloy frame and a full-carbon fork.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • Aluminium frame with a full-carbon fork
  • 8-speed Shimano Claris with Promax cable disc brakes
  • Middling spec but a comfy, likable ride

A lot of bikes at this level look remarkably similar to one another, but the GT stands out with its signature triple-triangle frame design, where the seatstays run either side of the seat tube, joining directly to the top tube.

The GTR isn’t the best value bike on paper with its 8-speed Shimano Claris gearing, but it’s a smooth ride with generous gearing range. 

As a bonus, the wheels are tubeless-ready, and there are mudguard mounts too.

Marin Nicasio

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Nicasio is no lightweight but there's plenty to recommend it
The Nicasio is no lightweight but there’s plenty to recommend it.
Robert Smith Photography / Immediate Media
  • £700 as tested, now £865
  • 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
The Cordite SL owes its design to the old Ridley Helium SL.
The Cordite SL owes its design to the old Ridley Helium SL.
Robert Smith Photography / Immediate Media
  • £1,000 as tested, now £899
  • 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
Merlin PR7 Sora
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
  • 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.

Scott Speedster 40

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Speedster's spec is average, but it's a solid all-rounder
The Speedster’s spec is average, but it’s a solid all-rounder.
Scott
  • £649
  • 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.

Pinnacle Laterite 3

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Pinnacle's Laterite 3 is another great budget bike from the Evans in-house brand
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.

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.

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Have you found what you’re looking for?

If £1,000 is just too much money, there are some great road bikes in the sub-£600 bracket.

Has reading this article caused a little budget creep? If so, head over to our best under £2,000 and best under £3,000 lists.

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