Buying a road bike is buying your way into a world of cycling variety. Bicycles built for tarmac share certain traits; their light frames, skinny wheels and drop handlebars make easier work of many types of riding – from long distance hilly adventures to fast, flat racing to urban commutes and more. But what should you look for when buying a road bike at around £1,000 up to the £1,500 mark? At Hargroves Cycles we consider it our job to help you understand how to choose the best bike for you – and here’s our guide to sub-£1.5k road bikes.
At its heart is the frame, which can be made from a variety of materials. For pure speed, carbon fibre is high on the wish list, while steel or titanium are your allies for comfort and durability over big distances. For a first road bike on this budget, alloy will serve you perfectly as the ideal all-rounder.
Alloy bikes are either made from pure aluminium – which itself comes in different grades – or from aluminium combined with other metals to affect its overall properties. These nuances notwithstanding, aluminum’s combination of lightness, strength and weather resistance make it quick enough for racing, comfortable enough for ultra adventures and durable enough for commutes; a fantastic choice that is further bolstered by its price accessibility. Alu frames are sometimes paired with a carbon fork set for the ‘best of both worlds’ in terms of materials but without stretching budgets to full carbon frame-and-fork.
YOU GET A LOT FOR A GRAND!
The Cube Attain SL £999, is a lightweight, alloy-framed road bike that’s built for speed.
As with some others in its class this aluminium frame is matched to a carbon-bladed fork for a winning combination of comfort, control and weight-saving. Its 2×11 105 groupset is Shimano’s first performance option, which works in harmony with smooth tube joints and a tapered headtube for aerodynamics. Its fast-rolling Mavic Aksium wheelset and vibration-dampening forks combine to make this an entry-level option that’s quick enough to keep up with the pack but comfortable enough for longer rides, be that leisure or training sessions.
Remember, bikes costing less than £1,000 also qualify for the government’s tax-efficient Cycle Scheme – a good-value way to buy a bike.
Specialized’s sub-£1k contender – the £999 Allez Elite – is a well-loved model that’s stood the test of time; in fact it’s seen almost 40 years of evolution culminating in the current model. This best-seller has tweaked its geometry for 2018, making it slightly less aggressive and more relaxed for anyone venturing into road cycling. Another alu frame and carbon fork set-up, the comfort this serves up would make this a perfect commuter bike; there’s enough room for wider 28mm tyres and mounts for mudguards to keep you, and your fellow riders (be that club mates, family members or fellow commuters) clean all year round.
For a racier geometry with a longer top tube and shorter head tube, Cannondale makes a road bike that blends affordability with long lasting quality. Their CAAD series has earned the brand a solid reputation for well-crafted frames built with quality components. The CAAD 12 frame is made of light, stiff and smooth alloy that incorporates ‘SAVE’ technology, providing micro suspension to smooth out vibrations for comfort in the saddle, twinned with a lightweight buzz-absorbing full carbon fork. Choose from the quality CAAD 12 Tiagra version for £1,099 or step up to the CAAD 12 105 for £1,399 with benefits that include the racier performance groupset.
MOVING ON UP
If year-round commutes or club runs are in your plans, consider a hydraulic disc brake version for better wet weather performance, which in turn helps with confidence. The Cube Alloy Attain SL Disc, £1,299 is built with all the quality performance of its caliper counterpart, while its 160mm Shimano discs front and rear provide the most powerful braking option, and are paired to a 105 groupset and Mavic Aksium wheels.
And if you’re dreaming of carbon, at Hargroves we have some great road bikes sneaking in under the £1,500 mark. The Cube Attain GTC Pro is a fantastic featherweight carbon frame combined with the performance quality of 105 components and Aksium wheels. While the Cube Attain is a great all-rounder for performance and lightness, carbon bikes at entry level prices sometimes combine light frames matched with more basic components.
And if you do find yourself with a bigger budget, read here to discover what treats await in the £2-2.5k bracket.
Choosing a good carbon frame with heavier parts is a perfectly good investment, as you may want to upgrade parts later to decrease the weight and improve the speed of your overall build. Whichever bike you choose, wheels are a fantastic place to start your upgrade, as they can dramatically improve your bike’s overall weight.