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The Best Road Bikes 2019 for the Money Reviews

June 12, 2019

With the rise in popularity of cycling, you might be feeling inspired to take up a new weekend hobby, or going your mates in making the commute to work somewhat healthier? If that's the case, you might want to know what's the best road bike to buy…

To get yourself off to the best possible start, you'll want to think about investing in a high-quality machine. We're here to help you find the best road bike for you, so whilst you may not have spotted all of these on the Tour of Britain trail, they're the best road bikes that offer close to pro spec, at a price that's affordable.

The tech in the best road bikes has improved at such a rate, and cycling has become so much more popular, that previously out of reach carbon speed machines and pro-spec peloton-punishers are now available at entry-level prices.

All of the road bikes we recommend will cost you $2,000 or less. We know that's not pocket change, but the handling of these commute and sportive-friendly road bikes more than justifies the cost. We've picked bikes that'll get you to work without leaving you aching, and that'll go at speed and take on hills, without endangering newcomers to the road bike world.

THE BEST ROAD BIKES You Can Buy Now

Best Overall: Poseidon Triton Road Bike

Unlike heavy mountain bikes, road bikes are lightweight. This makes it easy to lift them into the trunk of your car or place them up on a wall rack. One that’s especially lightweight and easy to get around is the Poseidon Triton. This road bike has an aluminum frame and a carbon fiber fork (which helps reduce weight).
Poseidon Triton Road Bike

It features shifters and derailleurs (the system that moves a bike’s chain from one sprocket to another in order to change gears) by Shimano Claris—a popular bike components manufacturer. The bike is also built for an upright seated position, which can make longer rides more comfortable. This comes in three colorways to suit your stylistic needs.

Reviewers say that the bike is easy to ride and responsive. People also appreciated that the bike arrived with little assembly required, allowing them to get on the road ASAP.

Best Budget Road Bike: Tommaso Fascino - Sport Performance Aluminum Road Bike

Top-of-the-line road bikes can cost you thousands. Luckily, it is possible to purchase an affordable bicycle that features some of the same bells and whistles that you would find on a pricier model. One to try is the Tommaso Fascino - Aluminum Road Bike. The bike features an aluminum frame and 21 speeds with drop-bar handlebars.

Tommaso Fascino - Sport Performance Aluminum Road Bike, Shimano Tourney, 21 Speeds

It also has a Shimano derailleur gearing system as well as Shimano Revo shifts, which makes changing gears an easy and smooth process. A padded saddle adds extra comfort, which will be especially appreciated during long rides.

Reviewers say that the bike is high quality for the price and that it makes a great entry-level bike for beginners or those who don’t plan to cycle very frequently. The bike is available in four different sizes to accommodate riders of different heights: xx-small, small, medium and large.

Best Carbon Road Bike: Savadeck Carbon Road Bike

Carbon fiber road bikes generally cost more, but they can provide an extra comfortable ride thanks to the fact that the carbon frame is better at absorbing vibration compared with an aluminum frame. A Savadeck road bike is a high-quality option for those who want an efficient and enjoyable ride. It has an 18-speed derailleur gearing system as well as internal cable routing (meaning that it’s inside the frame) for a streamlined look. This comes in four different colorways and four different sizes to suit your build and comfort preference.

SAVADECK T700 Carbon Fiber 700C Road Bike with Shimano 3000 18 Speed Derailleur System and Double V Brake

People who own the Savadeck Carbon Road bike say that it’s easy to assemble (the bike is almost completely preassembled upon arrival) and that it’s fun and fast to ride. As a bonus, the bike comes with a 3-year warranty on the frame.

Best Aluminum: Tommaso Imola Compact Aluminum Road Bike

For people shopping on a budget, aluminum road bikes are often the best bet. The Tommaso Imola is a well-priced aluminum bike that features a lightweight but durable compact frame, allowing for a more relaxed riding position. It is equipped with Shimano Claris components (such as shifters and brakes).
Tommaso Imola Endurance Aluminum Road Bike, Shimano Claris R2000, 24 Speeds

Those who own the Tommaso Imola say that this is a great quality road bike for the price and that it is as enjoyable to ride as more expensive options. The bike is available in two colors: black and white.

Best Women's Road Bike: Schwinn Women’s Phocus 1600 Drop Bar Road Bicycle

​Women-specific bikes are tweaked to better fit a woman’s body. These bikes may have narrower handlebars or put the rider in a more upright position, for example. The 16-speed Schwinn Women’s Phocus drop bar road bike has an aluminum frame and carbon fiber road fork that makes for an agile, fast ride. It’s available in white color.

Schwinn Phocus 1600 Drop Bar Road Bicycle for Women

People who have reviewed the bike say that it’s great for beginners and well made considering the fairly low price point. One person even notes that when they took the bike to their local bike shop, the shop’s employees were impressed with how lightweight and economical the bike is. While the bike isn't necessarily built for speed it does a good job of taking your biking level up a notch or two.

Best for Men: Schwinn Volare 1400 Men’s Road Bicycle

Just like women’s bikes are catered toward their body size, men’s road bikes are built for a man’s proportions. The Schwinn Volare is a great choice for guys. It features an aluminum frame with a steel fork and has a Shimano shifter/brake lever combo as well as Shimano derailleurs. If speed is what you’re looking for, this bike’s for you: Oversized tires make for a zippy but smooth ride.

Schwinn Volare 1400 Road Bike

People say that the Schwinn Volare is sleek and easy to put together, and one reviewer who is 5’ 11’’ says that the bike is a great fit for his height. (Someone who is 5’ 6’’, however, does mention that this bike was too tall).

Best for Kids: Diamondback Haanjo Trail 24 Complete Youth Bike

Bring your kids along for the ride with a pint-sized road bike. The Diamondback Haanjo bike is specifically made for kid-sized bodies. (Children’s legs tend to be longer in relation to their torsos.) The bike is made from a lightweight aluminum frame and has 24-inch wheels, 16 speeds, and drop handlebars.
Diamondback Bicycles Haanjo Trail 24 Kid's Alternative Road Bike

People who have bought the Diamondback Podium say that their children love riding the road bike and that they are able to use the gears and brakes without a problem. For parents who want to introduce their little ones to cycling on the road, this is a great buy.

Best for Beginners: Vilano Tuono 2.0 Aluminum Road Bike Shimano 21 Speed Disc Brakes

You don’t have to spend a ton of cash to get an awesome road bike, especially if you’re on the hunt for a starter bike. The Vilano Aluminum Road Bike 21-Speed Shimano is a good pick for beginners since it’s both affordably priced and comes equipped with all the features necessary for a great ride.
Vilano Tuono 2.0 Aluminum Road Bike Shimano 21 Speed Disc Brakes

This best-selling bike is just 24 pounds (so it’s very lightweight) and has both a 6061 aluminum frame, an integrated headset, 21 speeds, and A050 handlebar-mounted shifters.

Best Cruiser: Takara Kabuto Single Speed Road Bike

Comfy, functional, and stylish to boot, the Takara Kabuto Single Speed Road Bike is the perfect bike for laid-back riding if you’re looking for the best cruiser bike. Featuring a solid 57-centimeter center top tube, tig-welded steel frame and fork, alloy rims and side brakes, and a rear flip-flop hub, the Takara Kabuto is ideal for everyday commuters who don’t want or need their bike to have too many bells and whistles—this bike has the essentials only. In addition, the bike is simple to install.
Takara Kabuto Single Speed Road Bike

BEST ROAD BIKES: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Any bike on a road is a road bike, but this roundup will focus on light and swift drop bar, pavement oriented (but not pavement-specific), bikes. They might be classified as road racing bikes or endurance bikes, but they’re intended for the traditional road riding experience: smoother roads and higher speeds with a premium put on low weight, high stiffness, and vertical compliance.

This style of bike usually forgoes versatility-enhancing details like rack and fender mounts, but will often have the latest performance oriented-features and technologies like aerodynamic tube shaping to cut through the wind, and integrated bar, stem, and seat post for weight, stiffness, aerodynamics, and aesthetics.

One of the most recent trends to hit this category is disc brakes, which not only has made stopping more confidence inspiring in all conditions, it has also improved tire clearance on most models so riders can enjoy the benefits–more comfort, more traction, and in many situations, improved rolling efficiency–of wider, lower pressure tires.

Disc Brakes

What began with a trickle about four years ago is now a full-on flood: disc brakes. More and more we’re seeing race-oriented road bikes launching as disc brake only platforms (the new Cervelo S5 is one example). And just try to find a new endurance style road bike that doesn’t have disc brakes.

We’re now far enough into the trend that the woes that saddled first-generation disc-brake road bikes—additional weight, a harsher ride, aerodynamic penalties, noise—have been evolved out of existence.

That means that, for the most part, all you get are the benefits of disc brakes–better control, more consistent performance, better performance in adverse conditions, fewer brake-heat induced rim, tube, and tire problems–and with no drawbacks. And that's before we cover another huge benefit of disc brakes…

Tire Clearance

Rim brakes were a significant pinch point and limited most modern road bikes to tires of about 28mm wide or less. That’s because most modern road bikes did not use medium or long reach brakes, but used a lighter and stiffer short-reach brake. By using disc brakes, that pinch point is removed, and we’re seeing tire clearance of more than 32mm on even the most race-oriented road bikes like the Specialized Venge, with many disc brake road bikes able to fit tires of more than 35mm.

Wide tires offer more comfort, better traction, and roll faster than narrower tires in some situations. They’re even safer in some cases: Imagine not darting around every little pothole and patch of gravel, but simply rolling over them. That’s what big tires can do.

Aerodynamics

It’s rare that a piece of modern road equipment doesn’t at least have some aerodynamic tuning. The rider –and their riding position–will always be the biggest source of aerodynamic drag, but modern materials and computer-aided design have allowed designers to add free speed in the form of improved aerodynamics with few drawbacks.

But there are some road bikes designed to be as aerodynamic as possible. Bikes like the Specialized Venge, Trek Madone, Felt AR, and Cannondale SystemSix are the product of thousands of hours of computer modeling and aerodynamic tuning both in a virtual environment and in a wind tunnel. The object is to squeeze every bit of free speed possible out of the bike while still maintaining the properties a good racing bike requires: high stiffness, low weight, and some thought given to rider comfort.

Opposite the aero road bike is the stiffness-to-weight bike (climbing bike). These bikes forgo heavy aerodynamic optimization in the search for a frame that is as light and stiff as possible. That doesn’t mean they’re designed with no regard for aerodynamics: the BEIOU Carbon Fiber 27.5, Steppenwolf Tundra Carbon Race, and Eagle Patriot Carbon Fiber MTB are all bikes optimized for killer stiffness to weight ratio, but all manage to sneak in small aerodynamic tweaks. Climbing bikes are usually the lightest, liveliest, and smoothest riding bikes and they usually feel faster than an aero-road bike even though, in most situations, they're actually slower.

Integration

Whether it’s aerodynamics, stiffness to weight, comfort, or just plain style, the integration of what was standardized, off-the-shelf, parts is a noteworthy trend. Noteworthy because it can elevate the performance or aesthetics of the bike, but also can make swapping a stem, seat post, or handlebar—or finding some other small part for repair or replacement—a giant pain in the butt.

That bleeding-edge bike you're lusting after might be the pinnacle of performance now, but if you’re the sort that keeps a bike for 10 years, you might want to consider a bike with less integration and fewer proprietary parts.

Materials

The most common materials used to make modern road bikes are carbon fiber composite and aluminum alloy (sometimes just called “alloy,” which is confusing because the titanium and steels used for bike frames are also alloys). If you prefer something less common, you will also find bikes made of steel, titanium, hardwood, bamboo, and magnesium. While all the materials have intrinsic qualities, any material can ride very well or very poorly, be very strong or very fragile, depending on how it is used.

You will find that almost all bikes over $2,000 will be made of carbon fiber composite. This material is exceptionally strong, stiff, light, and tunable. More than any other material, carbon allows frame engineers to micro-tune areas of a frame with specific attributes. Carbon is also more shapeable–with fewer drawbacks when dramatically shaped–than any other material.

Know Your Fit

While a good fitter should be able to make almost any bike fit you, it’s helpful to get a good professional fit before you invest in a new road bike. Knowing your fit details can help you and the salesperson narrow down the list of bikes to those that will fit you best. If you’re lucky enough to be comfortable in a long and low position, race-oriented bikes will fit you well and are typically designed to steer properly with more weight on the front wheel.

If your fit is more upright, an endurance style bike with a longer headtube will allow the handlebars to be properly positioned without a skyscraper of spacers (which can be unsafe), and this style of bike is usually designed to handle properly with less weight (compared to a race bike) on the front wheel.

Drivetrains

Most road bikes we review have a crank with two chainrings (also called 2x), and 11 rear cogs (11-speeds). But there are other drivetrain configurations.

Under $1,300 is when you start to see drivetrains begin to subtract rear cogs. The first step would be 2x10, and as you travel further down the price scale, you'll see 2x9, then 2x8. With fewer speeds, the jump between each is larger, which makes shifting more clunky, and creates more dramatic cadence changes.

Tommaso Illimitate Shimano Tiagra Gravel Adventure Bike

Up at the higher end of the spectrum, you may find bikes with Campagnolo's latest two by 12-speed drivetrains. Besides the exotic nature of the parts offered by this legendary company, the 12-speed cassette tighten up the jumps between gears.

SRAM has also jumped into the 12-speed game with its new Red eTap AXS group which is available on a limited number of high-end bikes now. SRAM will unveil a lower-priced Forced 12-speed electronic group spring 2019.

Another drivetrain you might find is called one by (written 1x). Popularized by SRAM, this drivetrain is more often found on gravel or cyclocross bikes, but there are a few road bikes that use a 1x drivetrain. This system does not use a front shifter or derailleur and does have larger jumps between gears, but can offer the same total range as a 2x system. 1x's advantages are simplicity, chain security, and aerodynamics.