Finest Low cost Bikes: Newbie Street Bikes and Commuter Evaluations
The good news is that the best cheap racing bikes can bring you smiles that run for miles without costing the world. If you're starting your bike ride or looking for a commuter splashing through the winter miles, you probably don't want to spend a fortune.
If there's one thing the bike trade loves, it's a little trickle-down technology. This simply means that the features of the top-end bikes will be available for mid-range models and eventually for cheap bikes over the next year.
>>> Best racing bikes: Our selection of the best rated racing bikes
The Cycling Weekly test team had the chance to put hundreds of bikes through their paces – with prices ranging from £ 250 to over £ 10,000 – so if we ride one, we'll know a good, affordable bike.
We've rounded up our favorite cheap racing bikes. However, read on to explain what to expect at any price from £ 500 to £ 1499.
For each bike you will find a link "Buy Now" or "Best Deal". If you click on it, we may receive a small amount of money from the merchant when you purchase the item. This does not affect the amount you pay.
The best cheap racing bikes
Triban RC 500 racing bike
Frame: aluminum Fork: carbon Group rate: Shimano Sora shifts, Promax disc brakes Weight: 10.6 kg (medium)
We last reviewed the Triban before Decathlon's major rebranding, but many properties have been carried over.
This model is an aluminum frame with forks with carbon blades and an aluminum steerer tube and has Shimano Sora shift and Promax disc brakes.
There's plenty of room for wider tires – with 28c rubber – which are more comfortable and stable. There are eyelets for fenders and luggage racks and the weight is 10.6 kg.
Read more: Triban RC 520 racing bike
Boardman SLR 8.6 alloy
Frame: aluminum Fork: carbon Group rate: Shimano Claris shifts, Tektro rim brakes Weight: 9.9 kg in the last test
Boardman framesets have always impressed us. This has a high-quality aluminum frame, a carbon fork and a steerer tube, Shimano Claris shifts with Tektro brakes and the built bike weighs around 10 kg. Our tester expected this model to be able to keep up with a later bike upgrade even at a price of £ 1,000.
There is a women's version with narrower handlebars and a women's saddle for the same price.
Read more: Boardman Road Sports Review
Buy it now at Halfords for £ 550
Specialized Allez racing bike
Frame: aluminum Fork: carbon Group rate: Shimano Sora shifts, Tektro rim brakes Weight: 9.35 kg at the last test check
Specialized's Allez is one of the best-selling motorcycles in the industry, and we gave this model a near-perfect 9/10 in the last review.
It's designed with sweeping geometry and is comfy enough, but you can slam the stem for a more aggressive ride.
At this price, you get an aluminum frame with the brand's "SmoothWeld" technology that keeps the joints clean. The fork is made of carbon, the gears are from Shimano Claris and the brakes are from Tektro. A compact chain set comes with an 11-32 cassette which offers many options for the hills, and the internal cable routing is a high quality touch.
Read more: Specialized Allez 2020 Road Bike Review
Diamondback Haanjo 2
Frame: aluminum Fork: stole Group rate: Shimano Claris shifts, Tektro disc brakes Weight: 11 kg
A recommendation from one of our trusted US testers, the Diamondback Haanjo offers something different from the pure road bikes on this list. As a gravel / adventure bike, the Haanjo rolls smoothly on the racing bike. In addition, 38c tires (or tires) are included to cushion the bumps for off-road driving.
The wide tires and sturdier frame – with steel fork – add weight, but you could have a lot of fun exploring both the road and the trails with this machine.
Additional information: Diamondback Haanjo 7C Carbon reviewed
Trek Domane AL 3 Disc
Frame: aluminum Fork: carbon Group rate: Shimano Sora shifts, Tektro disc brakes Weight: 10.45 kg
The Domane has long been Trek's endurance model – and it performed well in the last test of the SL6 model, scoring 9/10 points. This version has a lower MSRP, creeping under the £ 1k mark. It uses the same geometry but comes with an aluminum frame.
The highlights include the special 32 mm tires with space for tires up to 35 mm. There are also luggage racks and fenders. This is a very viable option if you are considering long distance travel on mixed roads, e.g. B. Tours.
Read more: Trek Domane SL6 reviewed
Cube Axial WS 2021 women racing bike
Frame: aluminum Fork: carbon Group rate: Shimano Claris shift and rim brakes Weight: 9.4 kg
There are several models in this women-specific racing bike series, all of which offer excellent value for money. The Axial launches the collection, with Claris models starting at £ 849.99 – the model listed here. We last tested this frame in Shimano 105 – the higher group is represented in both weight loss (8.7 kg) and weight gain (1599 lbs).
As an aluminum frame with carbon forks, we rated the Shimano 105 version highly and found that it doesn't compromise. This shows that it is possible to do a performance ride without any abbreviations.
Read more: Cube Axial Women's Road Bike Review
Triban 520 racing bike
Frame: aluminum Fork: carbon Group rate: Shimano 105 shifting, TRP disc brakes Weight: 10.4 kg
The Triban was named Cycling Bike of the Year in both 2016 and 2017 and is well below the price of many models with similar specifications.
The newly renamed and redesigned aluminum frame comes with a fork with a carbon shovel. The Triban 520 offers Shimano 105 and TRP's prestigious HY / RD mechanical disc brakes for just £ 849.99. This datasheet is very good compared to other motorcycles at the same price.
Read more: Triban 540 racing bike reviewed
Ribble R872 Tiagra
Frame: carbon Fork: carbon Group rate: Shimano Tiagra gears, Tiagra rim brakes Weight: 8.64 kg at last check – with upgrade wheels
Ribble's R872 received a 9/10 score and a spot in our Editor's Choice Awards in 2020 – so it comes highly recommended. Our test model was £ 1199 – but with Ribble's own Mach 1 wheels it was £ 1099.
The beauty of buying a bike with Ribble is that with their “bike manufacturer” you can choose the right components for you – choosing the handlebars and saddle that fit you and potentially saving you from making future barter deals.
Read more: Ribble R872 Tiagra Review
Boardman SLR 8.9 carbon
Frame: carbon Fork: carbon Group rate: Shift Shimano 105, Tektro rim brakes Weight: 8.9 kg
Boardman has set the price of the 8.9 at £ 1000 for a very long time – its goal is to hit the cycle to work price range. However, the brand raised the price to £ 1,100 during the numerous post-Covid / post-Brexit price hikes that almost all brands had carried out. It's still a bike that offers impeccable value – with a Shimano 105 drivetrain – despite being paired with a lower FSA chain set and Tektro bikes.
This framework has always put a smile on our faces at every opportunity we had to review it.
Read more: Boardman SLR 8.9 carbon ladies bike
Giant Contend SL1
Frame: aluminum Fork: carbon Group rate: Shifting Shimano 105, Tektro disc brakes Weight: 9.02 kg at the last inspection
If you can stretch your budget a little further, you won't be disappointed with the Giant Contend SL and AR series. In fact, we liked the SL 1 so much that we gave it an Editor's Choice Award. The entire package is characterized by excellent handling and excellent equipment for the budget.
The long-distance alloy wheel is combined with carbon forks and, thanks to its long wheelbase and 28c tires, manages to reconcile predictable handling and comfort with surprising agility.
The Giant Contend SL 1 is a great bike for its price, especially if you take advantage of the Cycle To Work program. It's not the prettiest or lightest bike, but you can't really argue with that performance at this price point.
Read more: Giant Contend SL1 review
Van Rysel Ultra CF racing bike
Frame: carbon Fork: carbon Group rate: Shimano 105 shift and 105 rim brakes Weight: 7.99 kg
The Van Rysel Ultra CF (a redesign of the B’Twin Ultra AF) by Decathlon is specially designed for riders looking for a bike for athletes, commuters or even races. This model has a carbon frame with a carbon fork – and at this price you also get an impressive Shimano 105 groupset.
The Van Rysel Ultra CF racing bike offers both performance and price. From sprinting to mountaineering, the bike delivers in spades. Trust inspiring, lightweight and comfortable for just over £ 1k. A very impressive package.
Read more: Van Rysel Ultra CF Women's Road Bike Review
What to Expect from a Cheap Road Bike for Less than £ 500
While £ 500 seems like a lot of money on a road bike for non-cyclists, it seems far too little for the more – ahem – "picky" and experienced riders to buy something with potential. Both lines of thought are completely wrong – for less than £ 500 you can buy some full-fledged drop bar bikes that can perfectly handle everything from winter training to commuting to sporty riding.
Some bikes in this mount have flat bars, which puts them in the hybrid bike category. However, if you are looking for a fast commuter or a bike that is fast on the move and still manages some rougher surfaces and gives you a more upright riding position, a hybrid bike might be for you. Follow the link for advice on hybrids.
What to look for in a cheap racing bike under £ 500 …
- A total weight of approx. 10kg
- A modern aluminum frame
Shimano Claris or Sora gears, although some brands of Microshift components will match at this price point
- Robust wheels
- Unbranded double-brake rim brakes or Tektro products on higher-quality bicycles
- Own brand poles, stem and saddle
- Steel, aluminum, or sometimes a partial carbon fork
What to Expect: Road bikes between £ 500 and £ 800
When we get past the 500 pound point, two important things happen. First, the big well-known brands like Giant, Specialized, Trek, Scott and Cannondale are coming onto the market with their entry-level aluminum racing bikes, which usually offer slightly less exotic groupsets and components, but tend to have very sophisticated frames.
Secondly, smaller specialty brands such as Ribble, Boardman or Vitus offer very powerful year-round or winter training bikes with excellent handling characteristics. These machines may not have the luxury and speed of top-end models, but they offer enough ride comfort and performance to please even die-hard, seasoned road riders.
What to look for in racing bikes between £ 500 and £ 800 …
- A total weight of 9-10 kg
- An aluminum frame with some design nuances like internal cable routing or even a mass-produced steel frame
- For large branded models, expect components from Shimano Claris (around £ 600 on motorcycles), Sora (around £ 750) and Tiagra (around £ 850). With specialized value, brands expect anything up to Shimano 105 or SRAM Apex parts
- Possibly Shimano group brakes or rather Tektro brake calipers
- Private label wheels or Alex rims on aluminum hubs
- Own brand bar, stem and saddle
- Carbon fork
What to Expect: Road bikes from £ 800
All bets will be void on the way to the magical £ 1,000 mark. The dedicated bargain hunter can find almost any product in this price range, including carbon frames. Be careful with carbon bikes under £ 1k – there are some good composite frames out there, but there are some shock absorbers too.
Conversely, aluminum wheels can be extraordinarily good at this price point and can also be equipped with mid to upper range gears and brakes. Even at this price, there is a growing trend among manufacturers to install mechanical disc brakes.
>>> Best racing bikes under £ 1000
We encourage you to really do your homework and read our tests. It's not about overall product quality – this is the area of the market where most motorcycles do very well. However, there is the question of specialization. Up to £ 1,000, manufacturers have started customizing their motorcycles to meet certain specific capabilities.
Regardless of whether you want an all-day comfort machine or a fast rocket ship, almost all requirements can be met. Just make sure you know what you want and choose wisely.
What to look for in a £ 800 to £ 1,000 road bike …
- A total weight of 9 kg or less
- A certain degree of model specialization for certain driving criteria
- A high-quality aluminum frame with details such as internal cable routing, general tube manipulation, special elements for comfort, reinforced bottom bracket for power transmission and a conical head tube for better handling
- Possibly even a low-end carbon frame from specialized value brands (but be careful when it comes to value carbon!)
- Mainly Shimano Tiagra or 105 components, although an occasional piece of super plush Shimano Ultegra pops up as well. SRAM Apex or Rival and even Campagnolo Veloce have also been spotted under £ 1,000
- Matching brake caliper brakes or mechanical disc brakes
- Lighter private label bikes or well-respected third-party wheelsets
- Mainly private label bar, stem and saddle – occasionally a third party saddle
- Carbon fork
- More and more disc brake models are coming onto the market at this price
If your budget stretches a little further, we also have our picks of the best racing bikes under £ 1500 or check out our picks of the best racing bikes whatever your budget.
But above all, get out and ride. They will improve your fitness and find out what works for you so that in a few years you can be thinking about upgrades or another new bike.