Updated October 1, 2019
All of the big brands have aero road bikes in the range these days, most in both rim brake and disc brake options.
Aero road bikes essentially draw aerodynamic features from time trial bikes into a road frame, and balance the demands of weight and stiffness into a package that, on paper, looks to be the ideal all-round choice.
You're always working against air resistance when you ride your bike; the higher the speed the more significant it gets. Although most of that air resistance results from you — your body and what you're wearing — a significant chunk is acting against your bike, hence the development of aero road bikes that are designed to produce the minimum of drag.
Cannondale described the disc brake-only SystemSix as the "fastest bike in the world" when it was revealed in July 2018. It also said that the SystemSix is more than an aero bike, although there's certainly a massive focus on aero efficiency here.
The updated Cervelo S5 features a V-shaped stem integrated into a new fork that's fully external. According to Cervelo, the stem reduces drag by allowing unimpeded airflow along the top tube. The aero-shaped down tube has a cutaway leading edge to allow it to sit close to the front wheel in order to manage the airflow in that area.
Bianchi's Aria, available with either rim brakes or disc brakes, is an efficient aero road bike that handles sharply. Although hardly a budget option, it comes in a variety of builds and is a more accessible choice than any of the brand's Oltres.
You can still buy a Propel with rim brakes but the latest update is a disc-brake only design that Giant says is more aerodynamically efficient than any of its predecessors. It's stiff and efficient and available in a wide variety of builds to suit different budgets.
The Venturi is a disc brake-only design with 12mm thru axles front and rear. The frame is optimised for 28mm-wide tyres and uses spread tow carbon from Sigmatex — flat and wide unidirectional tapes that are designed to reduce weight and increase stiffness.
The ZX1, available only with disc brakes, is a fast and smooth carbon bike that handles superbly. You get Kammtail shaped tube profiles, a fork crown that's recessed into the frame, an aero seatpost and internal cable routing to reduce drag. It offers good value for money in a race-ready package.
The Dogma F12 might not be a full-on aero road bike like some here but it certainly has aero features such as a flatback down tube profile that's designed to smooth the airflow over the water bottle, and fins behind the fork dropouts to reduce drag around the quick release lever.
Merida's Reacto aero road bikes have slim tube shapes, a low seatstay connection and, in some cases, a one-piece cockpit. They're available in two different geometries and in both disc brake and rim brake models. Merida claims the difference in aero efficiency between rim brake and disc models is less than one watt at 45km/h (28mph).
You tend to get a lot for your money by buying direct from Rose, the rim brake version of the Xeon CW aero bike coming with Shimano's second tier Ultegra groupset for £2,132. The disc brake model is just over £300 more expensive.
One of the best things about buying from Ribble is that you can use its online Bike Builder system to select the parts you want based on your preferences and budget. You can go all the way up to a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset, a Quarq DZero power meter and Zipp 404 wheels if you have the cash.
The Scott Foil has been known for its versatility over the past few years and these days it's available in both rim brake and disc brake guises. The most affordable rim brake option, with Shimano 105 components, is £2,499 while disc brake models start at £3,199.
The Air bikes feature truncated airfoil tube profiles that are deeper and narrower than those that you’ll find on most other aero road bikes, while the cutaway section of the seat tube is designed to work best with 25mm-wide tyres although there’s space for 28s if you prefer.
With its Trident 2.0 tube profiles (essentially a cut-off aerofoil, Kamm tail shape) and skinny head tube and fork blades, the Aeroad has been one of the benchmark aero road bikes of the past few years. You also get predictable handling and plenty of comfort thrown in.
We're pretty sure there's a new Aeroad coming, so over the next few months it will be worth keeping an eye on prices of the current bikes.
Trek's 2019 Madones are hugely updated with a new geometry. The SLR range comes with adjustable IsoSpeed and the option of disc brakes. The rim brake version is lighter but there's no aerodynamic penalty in opting for discs, according to Trek.
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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.