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Got your heart set on a carbon fibre road bike? You don't have to spend a fortune

So you’ve set your heart on a carbon fibre road bike, but you’ve got a budget of £1,000? You’re in luck, as huge advances in carbon fibre manufacturing and the economies of scale have meant that carbon road bikes are now far more affordable than they were just 5 or 10 years ago.

Most bikes at this price normally feature aluminium frames. That’s because it costs less to make a frame out of aluminium than carbon fibre. There’s nothing wrong with aluminium, we’re fans of the material especially with the advances that have been made recently.

Carbon costs more than aluminium so you will typically sacrifice the quality of the components, with a lower tier groupset, wheels and finishing kit common. A carbon frame is likely to be lighter and stiffer than aluminium, though and does offer good upgrade potential so you could replace parts as they wear out.

Recent rises in the prices of anything purchased by suppliers in dollars (which is basically everything in the bike industry) has pushed up the price of even the best bargains in carbon bikes, but there are still a few out there.

Read more: Great road bikes for under £1,000

Merlin Cordite SL Ultegra R8000 Mix — £999.95

Merlin Cordite SL

This end-of-year bargain is probably the best value carbon fibre bike you can currently buy, with Ultegra R8000 shifters and derailleurs on a Ridley Helium ISP frame with integrated seatpost. There's even a full range of sizes to choose from.

Vitus Vitesse Evo 105 — £999.99

Vitus Vitesse 105

The first of two end-of-season deals from WiggleCRC's Vitus brand is this racy little number that's discounted from £1,600. You get a light, all-carbon frame, a complete Shimano 105 groupset and DT Swiss wheels for a package that could easily see you line up for your first race or just go whooshing round the lanes.

Vitus Venon Disc Tiagra — £849.99

Vitus Venon Disc Tiagra

This is the budget version of Vitus' carbon-fibre endurance platform, which had something of an overhaul this year, making it a bit friendlier, but losing none of teh speed that characterised the previous Venon. The Tiagra groupset is solid, dependable stuff and while the brakes are cable-actuated on this model, it wouldn't be absurd to upgrade them to partially or fully hydraulic stoppers down the track.

Eddy Merckx Milano 72 Tiagra Disc Women's — £899.95-£929

2017 eddy merckx milano 72 tiagra disc

Merckx's original asking price of two grand for this disc-equipped endurance bike was perhaps a shade optimistic, but under a grand for a carbon bike with hydraulic discs is a proper bargain. Along with a women-specific full-carbon frame and Tiagra groupset you get a women's Prologo Kappa Space STN saddle and Deda stem, bars and seatpost.

Boardman SLR 8.9c — £1,000

2018 boardman slr 8.9c

Boardman has just announced a new range of bikes, and this is the sweet spot model: a new full-carbon frame and fork, a Shimano Tiagra groupset except for the brakes and tubeless-ready wheels. As you'd expect from Boardman, it's great value and it's versatile too: there are mudguard mounts so you can keep dry when it gets a bit damp.

Cannondale Synapse Carbon Tiagra — £950 (limited sizes)

2018_cannondale_synapse_carbon_tiagra.jpg

One of the most highly-regarded sportive bikes out there, the Synapse boasts a refined carbon fibre frame that combines speed and comfort in a way very few bikes can rival. Several dealers have lopped £400 or more off the price of this Tiagra-equipped version, bringing it into our scope here, and also well into the category of bargain.

Dolan L'Etape 105 — £979.99

Dolan l_etape-blue-orange.jpg

For a – relatively speaking – piffling £1,000, the Dolan L'Etape 105 is a full carbon fibre road bike with a full Shimano 105 groupset that offers excellent road manners and sporty handling. If you really crave a carbon fibre bike but don't want to spend a fortune, this is one of the best affordable carbon bikes you are likely to find anywhere.

Read our review of the Dolan L'Etape 105

Planet X Pro Carbon — from £999.99

Planet X Pro Carbon Tiagra.jpg

The Planet X Pro Carbon just shouts value for money, with Shimano 105 components, all attached to a very smart looking frame. The company has designed the geometry of the frame to provide a happy balance between aggressive and endurance, which means it should flit quite happily between road racing and sportive conquering. Cheaper options with SRAM Rival components or Shimano Sora or Tiagra are often available.

Ribble Sportive Racing — from £999

Ribble Sportive Racing.jpg

Pick a Shimano Tiagra groupset and the cheapest wheels and stem on Ribble's bike builder and you can put together Ribble's all-carbon endurance bike for just under four figures, but it's worth keeping an eye on Ribble's site for specials with a better spec. Either way, this is a well-liked frame that's worth upgrading when budget allows.

Merlin Fuse 105 — £899 (limited sizes)

25564_merlin_fuse_105_road_bike_2017.jpg

Usually £1,400, this own-brand ride from Merlin Cycles looks like a staggering bargain with its full Shimano 105 groupset and Fulcrum wheels. It's clearly being discounted to make way for 2018 bikes, and Merlin only has sizes S and L left in stock.

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The aim of road.cc buyer's guides is to give you the most, authoritative, objective and up-to-date buying advice. We continuously update and republish our guides, checking prices, availability and looking for the best deals.

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Road.cc buyer's guides are maintained and updated by John Stevenson. Email John with comments, corrections or queries.

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

9 comments

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ChrisB200SX [863 posts] 1 year ago
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Calibre Nibiru 1.0 is £799.99, Sora equipped and obviously heavier. 99% sure it's exactly the same frame as my MEKK Poggio 1.6

Plenty of other carbon bikes below £1000 when discounted, always worth shopping around.

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ChrisB200SX [863 posts] 1 year ago
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Planet X Pro Carbon goes all the way down to Sora now, pretty cheap for a carbon bike.

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JD84 [3 posts] 1 year ago
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DeltaFoxtrot [1 post] 1 year ago
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The Planet X Pro Carbon actually comes with Vision Team 35 wheels, as in the photo.

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technone [11 posts] 8 months ago
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I've got a Ribble Sportive Racing with a 105 set and slightly deep section wheels. I got it on discount so it was only 1100 quid. It was on discount so I couldn't customise it, which is a bummer because I'm stuck with a 12-25 cassette and a 39-53 chainring set until they wear out or I shell out early. Yeesh. The Team 35 Comp wheels look crazy cool in the photo with a black semi-deep section but what you'll learn about aluminum wheels is the different colour finish on the braking surface won't last more than a couple 50km rides. The freehub body is also a massive bish to get to.

I'm about 800km in and there's some issues with the rear dropout. I almost rounded off a bolt trying to see what was wrong with it, the damn things look seized and rusted. Taking it to a bike shop and having them replace it and the screws under warranty should end up being pretty cheap.

Keep in mind that the bike does not support higher than 25mm tyres, which is what's going to eventually lead me to getting a whole other bike a few years down the road. If you're buying a cheap carbon bike just to bling it up with higher spec stuff as you go along (ie just the frame but rideable), look at something that can do 28mm. Looks like a lot of these bikes have the same problem.

Look up the tyres the bike comes with online, see if they have any puncture resistance. If they don't advertise any puncture resistance at all, steer clear or account a pair of puncture resistant tyres into the price. I'm not talking about GatorSkins here, even the Conti 4000SII have puncture resistance. The UltraSports tyres have no puncture resistance at all. That was a good lesson to get when it comes to how effective even a little puncture resistance is. I ended up getting 3 Conti GrandPrix 4-seasons because I slashed a tyre sidewall on a rock with about 200km in the new tyres .

Knowing why you'd get a cheap carbon bike is essential. If you'll be racing it, the extra stiffness does not outweigh the extra weight from the worse groupset. If you'll be training or just riding on it, learn how to replace parts yourself so that upgrades are cheaper. 

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JumpingJalapeno [5 posts] 7 months ago
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One of the issues I'm finding with getting a Sale bike on CTW is the retailers seem to add 10-20% which then makes them fall outside the £1000 mark. 

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peted76 [1220 posts] 7 months ago
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JumpingJalapeno wrote:

One of the issues I'm finding with getting a Sale bike on CTW is the retailers seem to add 10-20% which then makes them fall outside the £1000 mark. 

Although C2W is an amazing deal for consumers, it's not so great for shops who have to wait quite a while to get paid and have pay admin for the privilege also.. which is why you didn't used to see many 'sale bikes' on C2W schemes, or as you say, the price rises by £100, which I'm told is about what it costs a shop or rather what they 'lose' on a sale. 

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Ratfink [212 posts] 5 months ago
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JumpingJalapeno wrote:

One of the issues I'm finding with getting a Sale bike on CTW is the retailers seem to add 10-20% which then makes them fall outside the £1000 mark. 

Wiggle let you have sale prices on CTW and i think evans do too.

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Cam77 [2 posts] 5 months ago
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Correct, Evans do include sale prices, and they also include  a discount for an old trade in as well, but that offer may have ended now. I looked at a few of their sale bikes but in the end went for this https://www.cyclerepublic.com/bikes/road-bikes/boardman-elite-sls-9-0-11... with a 10% old bike trade in and paid the £80 supplement in cash.