Endurance bikes and sportive bikes increasingly come with disc brakes, especially once you're spending over about £1,000. For long rides where you just don't know what the weather will throw at you, all-weather stopping power is simply reassuring to have. The bikes below are a mixture of styles, frame materials and prices so check through and find out what takes your interest.
Endurance bikes have slightly more upright riding positions and less sharp handling than pure race bikes, and increasingly have disc brakes too
Endurance bikes get used for racing too, especially on the bad surfaces and cobbles of the Spring Classics
Disc brakes make it easier for endurance bike designers to provide space for fatter tyres and mudguards
Want something sportier? Check out the hottest disc brake-equipped race bikes
The lines between bike categories have never been more blurred, but we've tried to keep this selection to endurance 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.
Trek’s Domane endurance bike range includes different framesets in aluminium and carbon fibre, and all of the disc-equipped carbon 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!
The SL6 is one of the Domane models to have both front and rear Isospeed and while that makes for a relatively expensive frame, the costs's kept under control here with Shimano's excellent Ultegra groupset.
It also has Trek's nifty down tube storage compartment so you've somewhere to stash a spare tube and tools without them sagging your pockets or spoiling the lines of the bike.
While other manufacturers have quietly dropped the notion of tailoring road bikes to women's needs, Giant has continued to offer Liv bikes with specific geometry and carbon fibre layup.
There are four models, from the Advanced 2 with Shimano 105 components to the Advanced Pro 2 with Shimano Ultegra and Giant SLR 2 42 carbon wheels. With a mix of Ultegra and GRX components, the Avail Advanced 1 hits the value for money sweet spot.
With the Endurance AL Disc, Ribble has created a bike for the masses. It's ideal for winter training, commuting, club runs, short blasts or long rides – it's even quick enough for entry-level racing. The balanced, neutral handling works for the beginner, without feeling overly relaxed for the seasoned roadie. It's a lot of bike for the money.
Tester Stu writes: "The Endurance AL embodies all of the good bits of the old Ribble Audax, a dependable aluminium mile-eater, but in a much more refined and up-to-date package. For starters, the alloy frame is much more comfortable. It's not the smoothest ride out there, but at this price, I'm certainly not complaining.
"With the tyres pumped up hard (the way I like them) I can feel what's going on with the road below, but the frame and fork dampen much of the harsh vibration. The contact points don't tire you out on long rides. And that's ideal because long rides are something the Endurance AL does very well."
Riders used to or wanting a racier geometry should look elsewhere; the Triban 520 is right at the 'reassuring and unhurried' end of the endurance bike spectrum. 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.
All of that makes the Triban RC 520 Disc a great commuting bike, along with features like rack and mudguard mounts so you can carry your gear in panniers rather than on your back, and get a bit less wet when it rains.
Specialized’s carbon-fibre Roubaix endurance 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.
Specialized implemented a major revamp of the Roubaix platform for 2020, with a new adjustable suspension unit — Future Shock 2 — in the steerer, a lighter frame, and clearance for 33mm tyres, among other improvements. Those changes carry through into the 2021 range.
This bike sits right at the top of the Roubaix range so you'd expect a top-flight groupset and carbon fibre wheels. That's what you get with SRAM's Red eTap AXS wireless electronic shifting and hydraulic brakes, and Specialized's own Roval Alpinist CLX wheels, plus comfort-enhancing touches like 28mm tyres and the S-Works Pavé seatpost.
The 7000-E tops the new Scultura Endurance range from Merida, and is a more relaxed, less aggressive version of its Scultura race bike. It still offers plenty of performance and comfort, but it's more suited to those big rides – and, thanks to large tyre clearances and mudguard mounts, you can use it whatever the weather too.
The Aspect is the latest titanium endurance road bike 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.
Canyon's popular Endurace endurance 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 £1,449 for the Shimano Tiagra-equipped Endurace AL Disc 6.0 up to the £8,099 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 bikes 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 range includes the just-announced Roadmachine Four, above, with SRAM's latest Rival AXS wireless shifting for £4,550.
You can have Focus' Paralane endurance bike in two versions, with builds based on either SHimano 105 components, or the more upmarket Ultegra groupset, above. 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 an endurance 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 endurance bikes feature an Aluxx SL frameset, D-Fuse seatpost that’s designed to add comfort, and hydraulic disc brakes. The 2021 versions use full Shimano hydraulic brake systems instead of the previous slightly bodgy Conduct cable-to-hydraulic conversion. Both models have compact chainsets with 11-34 cassettes for a wide gear range and will take up to 32mm tyres.
Wilier’s Cento 10 NDR endurance road bike 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.
Cannondale offers both aluminium and carbon-fibre versions of its Synapse endurance bike. The cheapest of the aluminium models is just £900, 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 Force eTap AXS wireless electronic components is priced at £7,000.
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 replaced. 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. Don't confuse them with the race-orientated Addict RC bikes, though.
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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John 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 founder 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. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.