£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 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
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.
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 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.
Direct-sales machine with a stunning frame matched to a great spec
Full 105 R7000 groupset and Fulcrum wheels
Lively but comfortable ride
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.
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.
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.
The Allez has been a consistent favourite for years.Specialized
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.
Decathlon’s alloy bikes offer huge value for money.Decathlon
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.
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.
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.
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.
Matthew Loveridge (formerly Allen) 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 Specialized's sublime Roubaix Expert 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.