Home
A baker's dozen bikes that show carbon doesn't yet reign supreme

It’s a long time since an aluminium bike won the Tour de France. In fact it was 1998 when Marco Pantani rode his Bianchi Mega Pro XL to success. These days it’s all about carbon fibre in the professional racing circuit, but despite the dominance of plastic, aluminium refuses to disappear. Away from the pro ranks it's is still highly regarded and a very good material to make a bicycle from.

Aluminium is enjoying a resurgence of interest at the moment. Some manufacturers have been pushing the material to achieve impressively lightweight frames, and smart consumers are realising that you get a lot of performance, and equipment, for your money. For value for money, aluminium is tough to beat.

So with aluminium alive and kicking, here are 13 of the best aluminium road bikes currently available.

Merida Silex 700 — £2,100

Meirda Silex 700.jpg

With its super-long head tube, short stem and long reach, Merida's Silex platform owes as much to modern mountain bikes as it does to road or cyclocross bikes. The tall front end makes it easier to spend time in the drops, which is the best position for control if you're bombing along a trail, and the hydro-formed 6066 aluminium frame tracks tight and true.

Read our review of the Merida Silex 700

Mason Definition2 — from £2,795

Mason Definition

Mason Cycles exploded on to the scene in 2015 with two eagerly-awaited bikes, the aluminium Definition and the steel-framed Resolution. Former Kinesis UK designer Dom Mason didn't disappoint. The original Definition was so good we struggled to get into words just how a handful of alloy sticks welded together can leave you feeling so excited. You don't get a ride governed by angles and dimensions here; the Definition seems to mutate as the speed/gradient/direction changes leaving you wondering if you are still riding the same bike you were five minutes ago. It's stunning, and the Definition version two with thru-axles added at the rear received just as much praise in our latest review.

Read our review of the Mason Definition2

B'Twin Ultra 920 AF — £999

B'Twin ultra 900 af 2017.jpg

With a full Shimano Ultegra groupset, BTwin’s Ultra 920 AF is a cracker straight out of the box, offering one of the best ‘bang for buck’ options you're likely to find for a thousand of your British pounds. With a stiff, performance-orientated frameset, it could easily accommodate some bling upgrades without overshadowing the main component. B'Twin is the in-house brand of French sports superstore company Decathlon, which concentrates on the 'value for money' ethos for many of its goods. Don't confuse value for money with cheap, though – the Ultra 920 AF is a quality piece of kit.

Read our review of the almost-identical B'Twin Ultra 700 AF

Cube Attain SL Disc 2019 — £1,169.10

2019 Cube Attain SL Disc

The Attain is one of the most contemporary road bikes currently available. It's an aluminium frame designed around disc brakes with thru-axles front and rear. The frame is made from Superlite tubing with a smooth weld treatment and internal cable routing keeping the appearance clean and uncluttered. This model is very well equipped with a Shimano 105 R7000 mechanical drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes and Cube's own wheels shod with Continental Grand Sport Race SL tyres.

Specialized Allez Sprint Comp Disc 2019 — £1,900

2019 Specialized Allez Sprint Comp Disc

Specialized made waves when it unveiled a super expensive (£7,500) high-end aluminium Allez bike a few years ago, but it’s stuck with the idea and is using it to build frames that are aimed at being ultra-stiff short-course racing weapons. For 2019 the Allez Sprint gets disc brakes on an aluminium frame made with what Specialized calls the D'Alusio SmartWeld process. This uses hydroforming at the joints to increase strength and stiffness so the tube spans can be lighter. This £1,800 model gets a Shimano 105 11-speed groupset with DT R470 wheels and a Body Geometry Toupé Sport saddle.

Kinesis Aithein Evo (frame and fork) — £583.99

Kinesis Aethein Pro.jpg

British brand Kinesis UK has made aluminium frames its speciality over the years, and with the release of the Aithein, it proved that aluminium can be a credible option if you crave high performance and low weight. It’s made from 6000 series aluminium with SuperPlastic Formed tube profiles and smooth welds. The frame is just 1,050g (though it comes with a 90kg rider weight limit) and all modern details like a tapered head tube and PF86 bottom bracket.

Read our review of the Kinesis Aithein

Rose Xeon RS-3000 — £1,405.82

2018 Rose Xeon RS-3000.jpg

If you want a lot of bike for not too much money, Rose is a company that needs to be near the top of your list. For 2018, Rose is offering this Xeon RS which has a claimed 1,050g aluminium frame with a new 315g carbon fibre fork with a tapered steerer tube. Rose also offers a large range of sizes, from 49 all the way up to 66cm. The appeal of aluminium really shines when you look at the equipment level. This model has a full Shimano Ultegra groupset along with Ritchey handlebars and stem.

Condor Cycles Italia RC (frame & fork) — £899.99

Condor Italia RC.jpg

London bike brand Condor Cycles is fully committed to aluminium, and for 2016 it has thoroughly revamped the aluminium race bike in its range, the Italia RC. It has developed a brand new tubeset and it’s ditched the carbon fibre seatstays of the old Italia. The geometry comes from the Leggero carbon fibre race bike so you know it’s good to race.

Read our review of the Condor Italia RC, built up with Campagnolo's Potenza groupset and Zonda wheels

Bowman Cycles Palace:R (frame, fork, headset & seat clamp) — £745

Bowman Palace R.jpg

There are a number of British brands offering keenly priced aluminium frames and bikes, and one of the newest is Bowman Cycles. It has just launched the second generation of its Palace race frame, with a refined tubeset bringing the weight down a little, and the pressfit bottom bracket has been replaced with a threaded type.

Read our review of the Bowman Palace:R

Giant Liv Avail SL 1 Disc 2019 — £1,249

2019 Liv Avail SL 1 Disc

Giant has a healthy range of aluminium bikes and the Avail, part of Giant’s large women’s road bike range, is a really good package. Giant’s own ALUXX SL aluminium tubing tubing is shaped into a smart looking bike and it’s generously specced out with a Shimano 105 11-speed groupset and Giant P-R2 wheels and tyre set, with a Liv Connect saddle finishing it off.

Canyon Endurace AL — from £799

2018 Canyon Endurace Al Disc 7.0

Canyon might be best known for its carbon fibre races bikes like the Ultimate and Aeroad, but it does a nice line of aluminium bikes, and they offer excellent value for money. The Endurace is the company’s distance and comfort orientated model, with a taller front end and larger volume tyres to provide more comfort. The range starts from just £799 for full Shimano Tiagra drivetrain with Mavic Aksium wheels and Continental Grand Prix SL tyres. A lot of bike for not a lot of cash.

>>Read more: Canyon Endurace AL launched

Trek Emonda ALR — from £1,000

2019 Trek Emonda ALR 5

Another big bike brand investing in top-end aluminium is further proof that there is plenty of life in the material. The Emonda ALR is named after the superlight Emonda carbon fibre race bike and features a frame that weighs in at just 1,050g. That’s for a size 56. Very impressive. It’s made from 300 Series Aluminium (whatever that is) with Invisible Weld Technology that is a process claimed by Trek to save weight. The 2019 Emonda ALR 5, above, comes with the full new Shimano 105 R7000 group and Bontrager Affinity Tubeless Ready wheels.

Read our review of the Trek Emonda ALR 6

Cannondale CAAD12 2019 — from £1,100

2019 cannondale caad12 dura-ace disc

Finally, there is the Cannondale CAAD12, the latest aluminium road bike from the company that was in the vanguard of developing and popularising aluminium right through the 1980s and '90s , and now offers the CAAD12 with a choice of discs or rim brakes. The previous CAAD10 was a highly regarded aluminium frame, light and stiff enough for racing and comfortable enough for the long jaunt, and it did a lot to promote the virtue of aluminium frames over more expensive carbon rivals.

Well the CAAD12 is a complete update with an even lighter frame (the disc version is 206g lighter, the calliper rim brake frame is 52g lighter) with other changes focused in increasing stiffness in the head tube and bottom bracket, as well as eking out more compliance. Smoother, lighter and stiffer than the previous model. You can get a Shimano Dura-Ace bike with hydraulic disc brakes for £3,500, but the 2019 range starts with the rim-braked £1,100 CAAD12 Tiagra.

>> Read more: Cannondale CAAD12 first look

About road.cc Buyer's Guides

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.

Our guides include links to websites where you can buy the featured products. Like most sites we make a small amount of money if you buy something after clicking on one of those links. We want you to be happy with what you buy, so we only include a product in a if we think it's one of the best of its kind.

As far as possible that means recommending equipment that we have actually reviewed, but we also include products that are popular, highly-regarded benchmarks in their categories.

Here's some more information on how road.cc makes money.

You can also find further guides on our sister sites off.road.cc and ebiketips.

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.

26 comments

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds [2709 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

proprietory BB for the CAAD and are they still using the old CAAD 10 fork design (post mounted disc)?

The disc variant of the '12' is £2400 in 'Ultegra' and £1700 in 105 iguise, the 'Dura Ace' is £3700 except half the components aren't Dura Ace at all. Ultegra level STIs, cassette, chain. The only designated DA componets are the derailleurs.

Seems well overpriced despite what a good ride it's supposed to be.

The Bowman seems to be the best bet for a decent level frame to start from

Avatar
ianguignet [36 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

again no mention of Dolan or Ribbles.. what about cinelli experience? 

Avatar
s_lim [218 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
ianguignet wrote:

again no mention of Dolan or Ribbles.. what about cinelli experience? 

Cinelli Experience is the Condor Italia RC. Same tubes & geometry. Owned one in the past, and it was very good - replaced it with the Aithein, which is fabuluous. 

Avatar
Chris Hayes [376 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I hired a mid-priced carbon Trek Emonda on Majorca that had no life to it at all. Every gear change seems to echo through the frame.... I normally ride a Litespeed Siena or a C50 and didn't think that this could get much worse but mid-way through the holiday I had to change it for an ally one.  Wow.  What a shocker!  Some of these bikes may be okay, but the Trek isn't one of them...

Avatar
surly_by_name [570 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Chris Hayes wrote:

I hired a mid-priced carbon Trek Emonda on Majorca that had no life to it at all. Every gear change seems to echo through the frame.... I normally ride a Litespeed Siena or a C50 and didn't think that this could get much worse but mid-way through the holiday I had to change it for an ally one.  Wow.  What a shocker!  Some of these bikes may be okay, but the Trek isn't one of them...

I hired a mid-priced carbon Trek Emonda DL6 on Majorca (Tramuntana Tours - same bike/place?) and it wasn't a shocker at all. Didn't feel as taught as my regular ride, but I mostly put that down to the wheels and tyres (where manufacturers typically save money). Also, not having used Shimano for ages I kept misshifting but that was operator error. So I thought the Trek was OK. I am not sure I'd buy one (I'd probably spend the £2,400 on a Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 DI2). Although this discussion isn't so relevant to the article which is about aluminium bikes I think.

Avatar
Chris Hayes [376 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
surly_by_name]</p>

<p>[quote=Chris Hayes

wrote:

Although this discussion isn't so relevant to the article which is about aluminium bikes I think.

I was talking about the aluminium frame, which was worse than the carbon Emonda I didn't like either.  But of course cheap wheels won't help.

Avatar
BABristol [2 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Anyone else used a verenti belief or Merlin roc (same frame and fork)? Bought the verenti for £400, swapped in 105 and decent wheels and it is great. The Merlin roc got a great review too. Great frame but not many people know about them.

Avatar
rix [249 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

I wote CAAD12! yes

 

//i.imgur.com/XXnTSfz.jpg)

Avatar
Boombang [43 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Just got myself a CAAD12.  It was down to a Supersix Evo, Giant TCR and a Cervelo R2/3 - but the CAAD for me was the best ride, communicative but never harsh.  Love it.

Avatar
bobinski [296 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

I am thinking about a purple caad 12 disc frame to replace my defy pro disc which is damaged. Sonwould be moving from a known comfortable carbon frame to something a little harsher but racier. I will swap over my ultrega and hunt wheels but will need a new seat post at least and perhaps new bb and stem. Still that purple frame looks fabulous 

Avatar
djbike97 [1 post] 1 year ago
1 like

I've got two of the bikes on this list (Trek & Specialized) and both are great bikes. For all out speed, the Allez is better, but the ride is harsher. The trek is a better all-rounder and it's a lot lighter.  

I actually planned on building up a Bowman Palace:R before the Trek, but the experience I had with Bowman was terrible. Between the lack of communication, multiple missed deadlines and a frameset that was poorly painted (and dented), I asked for a refund. Then to add a cherry atop of this shit cake,  it took a month to get a shipping label so I could return the frame (i.e. get my refund).  All said, I believe it was over three months of constant irritation with them. The lesson I learned with this experience is to always buy local. It's honestly too bad, I really wanted that frameset. 

 

Avatar
Lecoops [10 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

I'm loving my recently built up Trek. 

Full shimano 105, Deda stem & bars, swissside wheels = 7.5kgs.

Also love  the way it easily fits 28mm tyres.

 

Avatar
Zjtm231 [111 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

proprietory BB for the CAAD and are they still using the old CAAD 10 fork design (post mounted disc)?

The disc variant of the '12' is £2400 in 'Ultegra' and £1700 in 105 iguise, the 'Dura Ace' is £3700 except half the components aren't Dura Ace at all. Ultegra level STIs, cassette, chain. The only designated DA componets are the derailleurs.

Seems well overpriced despite what a good ride it's supposed to be.

The Bowman seems to be the best bet for a decent level frame to start from

Bought a 2017 CAD Frame in May and fitted it with 105 groupset and Hunt Supa Dura wheels and it is a seriously good bike - to the point that you woudlnt notice that it was aluminium vs carbon.  But still v stiff and responsive. Probably my favourite bike and one of the least expensive...

Avatar
fukawitribe [2649 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

[...] are they still using the old CAAD 10 fork design (post mounted disc)?

Flat-mount in the top of the range fork, post-mount in the others.

Avatar
steviewevie [55 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Can I suggest that it would be more useful if the ancient 2014 Canyon article link was replaced with the less-out-of-date article at http://road.cc/content/tech-news/215091-canyon-endurace-al-disc-launched... ?

Avatar
Simmo72 [702 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

The caad9 NOS frame I picked up for £100 last year is amazing.  Had a couple of Alu frames before and very short lived, hated them.  The caad is the oppostive, love riding it, compliant, confiortable, stiff, light enough and not at all bad on road buzz.  Use as a year round bike, often getting used over the supersix with the same geo.  Cannondale do alu very well, would love to try out a 12....only downer is the bb30......daft design but all problems solved with a praxis convertor.

Avatar
fbhidy [47 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
bobinski wrote:

that purple frame looks fabulous 

Literally, that sexy purple is the only reason I clicked on the article.  I work at at Trek/Cannondale dealer in the US and I'm very much hoping we get that colo(u)r here in the US.

Avatar
IceCube [1 post] 1 year ago
1 like
Quote:

BB for the CAAD and are they still using the old CAAD 10 fork design (post mounted disc)

The disc variant of the '12' is £2400 in 'Ultegra' and £1700 in 105 iguise, the 'Dura Ace' is £3700 except half the components aren't Dura Ace at all. Ultegra level STIs, cassette, chain. The only designated DA componets are the derailleurs.

Seems well overpriced despite what a good ride it's supposed to be.

The Bowman seems to be the best bet for a decent level frame to start from

Don't forget the difference in rims between the Ultegra and 'Dura Ace' versions - just saying. It's 35mm deep carbon (in house) vs aluminum Mavic Aksiums.

Avatar
Blank [3 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

Last December I received my Canyon Endurace AL Disc 8.0 and can't stop riding it. It is just great.

Avatar
Zjtm231 [111 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

Bought the CAAD 12 stuck 105 on it with Hunt SupaDura Wheels and like it so much I bought the 105 disc version 6 months later for £900 in a sale to ride in the wet. Just arrived and loving that too. For that price I don't think you can get a better bike...

Avatar
velt [1 post] 10 months ago
0 likes

If only the endurace had mudguard mounts, I would buy one tomorrow

Avatar
matthewn5 [1268 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

What about the Cinelli Experience? Absolute pocket rocket. I paid £275 for frame, fork, headset, seat clamp, end of season deal. Super stiff and sharp as a tack, but comfortable with it.

Avatar
njmoffat [70 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

I really want Canyon to make an Ultimate Aluminium Disc but I dont think they will..... Please Canyon!

Avatar
bruceS [1 post] 5 months ago
0 likes

You should also consider the BMC ALR01 Anodised silver - I have just built up a 60cm frame and its clocking in at 7.2kg and is amazing to ride. 

Avatar
Geordietrout [3 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Loving my Btwin Ultra AF900 and thoroughly agree with the review... Frame is great and I feel I got very good value for money, and that doesnt happen often as I am tightwad!

Avatar
paulrattew [285 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

I'm still waiting to see a proper review of the Specialized Allez Sprint Comp Disc. I'm really tempted but the lack of reviews from the usual sources makes me a little nervous