Although there are ever more disc brake-equipped race bikes out there in the shops, most disc brake road bikes produced at the moment are endurance/sportive bikes or all-rounders that are bought by people who simply want the reassurance of all-weather stopping power. The bikes below are a mixture of styles, frame materials and prices so check through and find out what takes your interest.
The lines between bike categories have never been more blurred, but we've tried to keep this selection to bikes that are intended entirely or primarily for use on Tarmac. Of course where you ride has as much to do with rider skill as with how fat a tyre your frame will take, but these are bikes for long days in the lanes in sportives, Audaxes, and big rides with friends rather than for exploring dirt roads and trails.
If you want something more versatile, take a look at our guide to the best gravel & adventure bikes, which covers this super-versatile and still-developing category.
The Aspect is the latest titanium offering from Mason Cycles and it's a beauty, not only in the way it looks but also in the way it rides. The frameset offers so much depth in the way it behaves thanks to the tubeset, the fork and the geometry all working together to give a sublime ride quality and an excellent level of feedback no matter how rough the road surface is.
Like the Definition and Resolution, Mason's similar themed aluminium and steel offerings, it really is amazing how a longish wheelbase and relatively slack front end can deliver such sharp and confident handling. Point the Aspect downhill and it feels absolutely planted, even when things start to get technical.
Everything about the Aspect's ride quality is a joy, but the key thing is that you can get as involved with it as you want. Ride it hard and you'll feel part of the bike – it reveals everything you need to know about what is going on beneath its tyres, which means you can really have some fun. If you just want to waft along covering as many miles as you want without distraction, like when tiredness is setting in on one of those epic rides, then the Aspect can achieve that too. Everything just calms down a bit and all you've got to focus on is turning the pedals.
Bianch's updated Infinito CV Disc endurance bike is a little more relaxed than a traditional race machine and it offers a notably smooth ride, but it's still responsive enough to snap into action as soon as you put the power down.
The riding position is a little more upright than that of a traditional race bike, although we're not talking about chalk and cheese here. Far from it. It feels like, in typical Italian style, Bianchi has grudgingly accepted that these days not all bikes can be built to an old school geometry and that concessions have had to be made to newfangled endurance. It's relaxed, but not too relaxed – like undoing your top button and loosening your tie, but a long way short of going full T-shirt and jeans.
The handling is a little more relaxed and easier to live with too. The Infinito CV Disc isn't quite as eager to change line as a highly strung bike like the Oltre. The flip side is that the Infinito feels more stable and composed and is easier to keep in check. The longer the ride, the more of an asset this becomes.
Ever since John took the B'Twin Triban 520 Disc road bike for a first ride in London in early October, we've been keen to see if it could stand up to his first impressions, as well as the great value legacy of previous Triban road bikes we've tested. It really does, although riders used to or wanting a racier geometry should look elsewhere.
The geometry thing is a really important point here. With the Triban 520, it's all about a functional position aimed right at tourers and regular commuters at one end of the spectrum, and endurance roadies at the other.
With a super-tall head tube and compact top tube, the bike sits you upright relative to your general entry-level race bike, or even a fair chunk of the endurance-specific market too. It fully justifies its do-it-all tag for everyone except budding racers.
What surprises most about the Triban 520 is just how accessible the ride is; how easy it is to pedal the bike at moderate speeds and feel like you're just cruising along. Cornering in any situation is confidence-inspiring, and it rolls incredibly smoothly too. It takes poor road surfaces in its stride, with a good amount of all-round compliance keeping things comfortable, and as long as you stay in the saddle it climbs moderately well too.
Canyon's wildly popular Endurace bikes went disc-equipped a couple of years ago, and are all the better for it. The models span one the biggest price ranges here, from £1,199 for the Shimano Tiagra-equipped Endurace AL Disc 6.0 up to the £6,699 Endurace CF SLX Disc 9.0 eTap with SRAM Red wireless electronic shifting and DT Swiss carbon fibre wheels.
BMC’s Roadmachines are disc-braked fast endurance machines with room for at least 28mm tyres. The range includes aluminium and carbon fibre frames, with a range of equipment from Shimano Tiagra to SRAM Red eTap, and the latest version of the eTap-equipped Roadmachine 01 ONE is among the most expensive production bikes you can currently buy at £11,000 RRP.
The Paralane range starts with the £1,699 aluminium-framed Paralane 6.8 with Shimano 105 components and goes up to the £3,659 carbon-framed Paralane 9.8 with Shimano Ultegra. Long-ride features include comfort-enhancing tube profiles and carbon layup, a skinny seatpost and 28mm tyres, that together provide a smooth ride that is up there with the best in this category. It isolates you from the worst road buzz but without completely detaching you from the road entirely. It's a really good balance for those who want some feedback from the surface without being shaken to pieces.
Fast and sporty, with all the practicality and dependability of hydraulic disc brakes, wide tyres and space for full-length mudguards, the Whyte Wessex is a bike that is up to the task of taking on the roughest roads and toughest weather.
If you put racing to one side, it's all the bike you really need for year-round riding in the UK, fast enough for sportives and pacy training runs, comfortable and reliable for grinding out winter miles, and at home on longer commutes. Only a British company could design a bike that is absolutely, perfectly, 100 per cent suited to the demands of year-round UK road cycling.
The Giant Contend SL Disc bikes feature an Aluxx SL frameset, D-Fuse seatpost that’s designed to add comfort and Giant Conduct hydraulic disc brakes. You get mechanical shifters with a cable to hydraulic converter at the front of the stem. It's a nifty solution to avoiding the (more expensive) Shimano shifters but the jury's out on the aesthetics of the converter.
Wilier’s Cento10NDR endurance road bike is designed to take either rim brakes or disc brakes – you get mount points for both. It also features what’s called an ‘Actiflex’ system on the rear triangle with stays that flex, a pivot at the top of the seatstays and an elastomer shock damper, the idea being to provide a few millimetres of rear wheel travel in order to isolate the rider from the ground and add comfort.
The chainstays are bonded to the bottom bracket shell in the usual way, the Actiflex system relying, as the name suggests, on flex in the stays in order to work.
The dropouts of both the frame and fork are replaceable so you can run the bike with standard quick release skewers or 142 x 12mm thru axles.
Trek’s Domane range includes different framesets in aluminium and carbon fibre, and all of the disc-equipped models feature an IsoSpeed decoupler that allows the seat tube to move relative to the top tube and seatstays, so the saddle can move downwards (and a little backwards), providing more give and adding comfort to the ride.
More expensive models get a front IsoSpeed system designed to increase comfort and control, along with adjustment to the rear IsoSpeed decoupler. A lot of technology goes into keeping you comfortable!
Specialized’s carbon-fibre Roubaix bikes feature a suspension damper housed in the top of the head tube that aims to isolate the handlebar from bumps and cobbles. It's called Future Shock, provides up to 20mm of suspension travel and can be adjusted to suit different rider weights.
The Roubaix is a disc-only bike these days, uses thru-axles front and rear, and has space for fairly fat tyres.
Specialized implemented a major revamp of the Roubaix platform for 2020, with a new adjustable suspension unit in the steerer, a lighter frame, and clearance for 33mm tyres, among other improvements.
Cannondale offers both aluminium and carbon-fibre versions of its Synapse endurance bike. The cheapest of the aluminium models is just £849, built up with Shimano’s dependable Sora groupset and Promax mechanical disc brakes.
At the other end of the range, the Synapse Hi-Mod Disc with SRAM Red eTap AXS wireless electronic components is priced at £7,799.
Scott’s carbon fibre Addict Disc bikes are built to an endurance geometry and they’re said to be both lighter and stiffer than the Solace models that they replace. They come with 32mm wide tyres for plenty of comfort. All seven models — four men's and three women's — use Shimano hydraulic disc brakes.
The Team GF 4 Disc takes over from the Xeon CDX in Rose’s lineup and is designed for long distances rides like sportives. The carbon frame comes with a claimed weight of just 990g, which is very light for a bike of this kind. You get to choose from five different Shimano and SRAM builds. The top model, above, is hung with SRAM's new 12-speed Force eTap AXS and is probably the least expensive bike on the market with that groupset.
The Sensium, available in both disc and rim brake models, comes with an aluminium or carbon-fibre frame that’s built to an endurance geometry designed to be comfortable throughout long days in the saddle.
The more affordable of the three disc models, the Sensium 500 Al Disc, features a Shimano 105 groupset while the carbon fibre Sensium 600 Disc makes the step up to Ultegra.
Yeah, you could have carbon, but in some people's eyes, it will never look as good as titanium.
There is also something fantastic about having a bike built just for you, your riding style and what you intend to use the bike for. With custom head badge options, eyelets and shot blasted graphics on top of that, the J.ACK becomes part bike, part work of art.
J.Laverack also works with the likes of Hope, Hunt and Brooks to make the bike brilliantly British.
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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.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.