Choose one of the best road bikes under £350 and you're buying the fastest and most fun way of getting around under your own power, zooming you to the office during the week and taking you out to explore the lanes at the weekends — on a budget.
What if you're dying to join the cycling revolution, but can't afford the four-figure price tags of those featherweight carbon creations in your local bike shop? We've combed the catalogues for a selection of the best road bikes under £350 that'll get you started without breaking the bank.
Decent-quality drop-bar road bikes under £350 are now rare and there are a lot of 'bicycle-shaped objects' in this category. Caveat emptor.
Look for an aluminium alloy frame and components from Shimano
Avoid buying an unassembled bike — putting a bike together is not trivial and if you don't know what you're doing it's easy to end up with a death trap
Got a little bit more to spend? Check out our guide to road bikes for under £500
4 of the best road bikes under £350 for 2021
Fortunately almost every bike out there meets what we'd consider the rock-bottom minimum spec for a bike to be safe and pleasant to ride. Horrors such as hard-to-repair cottered cranks and steel rims with useless wet-weather braking are things of the past, or at least things to avoid on second-hand bikes. Most of these bikes have efficient, easy-to-use gears from Japanese firm Shimano, the world's biggest maker of bike components.
We've looked for bikes with drop handlebars — the defining feature of a road bike — indexed gears that click into place to make changing easier and a decent range of gears for riding up and down hills.
All that said, in the last couple of years the pickings in the sub-£350 category have become slimmer. All bike prices have risen around 20% since the Brexit vote crashed the pound, which has pushed quite a few bikes that were previously in this category out of reach. The survivors, as it were, mostly come from companies with huge buying power that get their own-brand bikes directly from bike factories: Halfords and Decathlon.
If you want to know more, we've an in-depth article about choosing and buying your first road bike. Go have a thorough read, we'll wait here.
Road bikes under £250
If your budget is this tight looking for a second hand bargain is something you should seriously consider (see below for more), but if it has to be new if you shop around for discount bargains during the winter you might find something.
It's arguably a bit basic, but the Paradox from Halfords brand Apollo is as much bike as you can reasonably expect for £200 and boasts an aluminium frame, Shimano gears and 28mm tyres. It's available in three sizes and if you pick it up from the store Halfords will assemble it for you at no extra cost.
Road bikes for £250-£350
The cheapest drop-bar bike from French-based sports superstore chain Decathlon, the B'Twin Triban 100 has an aluminium frame and seven-speed gears with 32mm tyres so it can tackle the odd dirt track or towpath without any fuss. It'll take mudguards and a rack so will make a serviceable commuter that can take you pootling round the lanes at the weekend.
There are plenty of bikes costing under £350 at Halfords, and pick of the bunch is this Carrera Zelos. In normal times, it's often discounted, but with bikes still in high demand as people look for covid-safe transport you could wait for a long time before the price drops. It features an aluminium frame built up with a 14-speed Shimano groupset and Tektro MD-C400 disc brakes.
WiggleCRC's own-brand range of basic cycling gear includes this entry-level road bike, which looks pretty decent, on paper at least. It has an aluminium alloy frame with 14-speed Shimano gearing and combined brake/gear levers for easy shifting. As far as we know it's the cheapest bike you can buy with Shimano's brake/shift levers rather than
It's available in five sizes, so you should be able to get one that fits well unless you're very tall or short. Wiggle and CRC are showing it as all sizes in stock at the moment.
The secondhand alternative
If you've got champagne — or maybe prosecco — tastes but only a beer budget, there are bargains to be had in the secondhand market.
You can get pretty decent second-hand road bikes under £300 if you scour around. The places to look are eBay, Gumtree and our own classified ads.
Gumtree has a good guide to staying safe and not getting scammed or lumbered with a stolen bike, and eBay has a thorough guide to the intricacies of buying safely through its auction system.
Explore the complete archive of reviews of bikes on road.cc
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