Looking for a £500 to £750 road bike? Welcome to our guide to the best road bikes you can buy in that price bracket.
The price range where bike quality really takes off, with often no more than a change of tyres needed to make them perform almost as well as bikes costing hundreds more
Frames are almost all aluminium, occasionally steel. Look for 'double-butted' tubes which have thinner walls in the middle to save weight and improve the ride
Shimano's Claris, Sora and Tiagra components are the dominant gear systems, providing 16, 18, and 20 gear ratios respectively.
This category encompasses a wide range of bike niches from an almost-pure race bike like the Specialized Allez to gravel bikes like the Merlin Malt-G1 and everything in between
Take the time to have the shop set up the bike properly for you; it makes a big difference to how enjoyable riding is
Previously we’ve looked at the best bikes costing under £500, now it is time to have a close look at the bikes you can buy for between £500 and £750, and see what spending a couple of hundred pounds more really gets you. You can generally expect lighter frames, carbon fibre forks and higher quality components.
At this price range you an expect lighter aluminium frames with double and triple butted tubes - saving weight and offering improved ride performance - and carbon fibre forks (but with aluminium steerer tubes) again to save a bit of weight. Many of these frames feature a geometry that places the handlebars a little higher than a race bike along with a shorter top tube which can make them more comfortable, especially if you’re new to road cycling.
Shimano is the predominant groupset brand with Claris and Sora common on bikes costing between £500 and £750. Most bikes will feature compact chainsets - that's two chainrings with 50 and 34 teeth respectively - that should make spinning up even the steepest hills a little easier. Some bikes even have triple chainsets - three chainrings between the pedals - that will make climbing anything much easier. Shimano's excellent Tiagra groupset starts to get a look in the closer you nudge to £750 and you might just find the occasional bike with Shimano's 11-speed 105 groupset.
Expect own-brand wheels, tyres, handlebars, stem and saddles on most of these bikes as manufacturers aim to keep the bikes within budget. Most own-brand components are of an excellent quality these days as most brands have really raised the standard over the past 10 years. That means you’re getting really well finished bikes ready to ride and race from the shop.
If this is your first road bike and you want some more useful advice for buying your first road bike, then make sure you have a read of the road.cc Buying Basics: Buying your first road bike guide. It’ll arm you with all the important advice you need to know before making a decision.
The Merlin Malt-G2 is an aluminium gravel/all-rounder bike that puts in a solid performance on both asphalt and hard-packed roads and offers exceptional value for money.
The Malt-G is a versatile proposition, able to handle a variety of different types of riding with assuredness. We used this bike a lot for the commute into work – a 14-mile trip on mainly country lanes with a couple of miles of urban roads at the end – and although it lacks the all-out speed of a full-on road bike, it's comfortable and confident across the tarmac. When we fancied mixing it up with a bit of towpath, that was cool too, the Malt-G having semi-slick tyres that provide sufficient grip and enough low gears to cope with more draggy surfaces.
Boardman's SLR 8.8 is a long-standing favourite of riders who want a sporty but friendly road bike for commuting and hitting the lanes at weekends. This latest version gets mechanical disc brakes in place of rim brakes.
Boardman sticks to the triple-butted, hidden weld 6061 aluminium frame and C7 Carbon fork with tapered steerer which features space for 28mm tyres and has mounting points for mudguards and a pannier rack.
It’s not all the same spec as last year and Boardman are keen to point out that the groupset has been upgraded to Shimano’s Tiagra 10-speed groupset with a 50/34 FSA Vero chainset paired with an 11-32T cassette at the back.
This is the cheapest of Trek's entry-level, aluminium-framed Domane bikes. They all share the spendier bikes' all-day geometry, clearance for 28mm tyres and eyelets for rack and mudguards, but lack the shock-absorbing IsoSpeed decoupler in the rear.
Drawing on frame design features from the more expensive Allez models in the range, the Allez is built around an E5 Premium aluminium frame with smooth welds and carbon fibre fork with a Shimano Claris groupset. Comfort is taken care of with 25mm Specialized Espoir Sport tyres with a double BlackBelt puncture protection, which should help ward off flat tyres.
For the latest incarnation of the Allez Specialized has taken its aluminium race bike and slackened off the angles a little, raised the front end, extended the wheelbase and given it mudguard mounts, to create a bike that is set up perfectly for commuters or winter training. It achieved all of this without losing the Allez's fun and appealing ride. Good work.
Specialized recently put the price of the Allez up to £799, which even with its excellent frame is verging on taking the piss for a bike with Shimano Claris components, but some dealers still have stock at the old price.
Based around a comfortable aluminium alloy frame and carbon fork, the Cube Attain is an enjoyable bike to ride at speed or just cruising along, making it ideal for those just beginning their adventures in the world of road cycling.
In terms of ride feel the Attain is up there with our benchmark inexpensive performance bikes, the Specialized Allez and Vitus Razor. It's really comfortable with no harshness or road buzz resonating through your hands like aluminium frames of yesteryear; the experience is very impressive. On long rides over a range of road surfaces tester Stu came back home without any feelings of discomfort or fatigue at any of his contact points.
The Vitus Razor is always worth a look if you're after a slightly racy bike that's also excellent value, and so it is with this year's incarnation of the disc-braked version.
The double-butted 6061 aluminium frame takes through-axle hubs for stiffness and the fork is all carbon fibre. Shimano Claris derailleurs do the shifting and there are mudguard mounts if you'd prefer not to get wet when it rains.
The Day One from UK brand Genesis is something a bit different from the usual run of sporty derailleur-geared bikes in this category. For a start it has a hub gear, so the transmission is simple and fuss-free. And not only does it have room for mudguards between its aluminium frame and 37mm tyres, but Genesis includes a host of mounting points for just about anything else yo might want to carry too. Those 37mm tyres also bring the ability to point and laugh at potholes and rough roads, making the Day One the definitive UK winter and commuting bike.
Prefer derailleur gears? Take a look at the £749.99 Genesis CDA 20.
The remarkable Triban RC 500 is better than any £600 bike has any right to be. Unless you have serious go-faster ambitions, it's hard to see why you'd buy any other drop-handlebar bike in its price range.
The Triban RC 500 shares a frame with its £800 big brother, the RC 520, which we reviewed at the end of 2018 and rated very highly indeed. To shave £200 off the price Decathlon has dropped the groupset two levels to 9-speed Shimano Sora instead of 11-speed Shimano 105, used cable rather than semi-hydraulic disc brakes and fitted heavier wheels. But out on the road none of this matters very much because many of the components are the same, especially ones that determine ride feel.
This is one of the cheapest disc-braked gravel/adventure bikes on the market. You get an alloy frame, hung with Shimano Sora components and, in the kind of thoughtful speccing that's rare on an inexpensive bike, a 48/32 chainset with 11-34 cassette for gears lower than you usually find on general-purpose road bikes.
The Avail 2 is the starter bike in Giant women's range, known as Liv. It uses Giant’s ALUXX aluminium with a shape and size designed to be comfortable to ride whether it’s for longer adventures, sportives or commuting to the office. It’s available in four sizes down to XS. It’s equipped with a Shimano Claris 16-speed groupset and Tektro brakes.
Giant do a large range of bikes for men and women. In the men’s range the Contend 2 is the most affordable model. It has an aluminium frame with a carbon fibre fork, a Shimano Claris 16-speed drivetrain and comfortable 28mm tyres. There are also mounts for mudguards if you want to add some rain protection for winter riding.
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Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.