Best road bikes: top reviewed bikes for every price point (2024)

Best road bikes 2024: Jump Menu

Best road bikes: top reviewed bikes for every price point (1)

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The list in brief ↴
1. Best entry-level overall
2. Best entry-level for racing
3. Best entry-level for value
4. Best for versatility
5. Best superbike overall
6. Best superbike for value
7. Best aero superbike
8. Best climbing superbike
How to choose
How we test

Buying a new road bike isn't a simple task. The category today is full to the brim, with plenty of options for most budgets. The sheer number of bikes in your price bracket might leave you feeling spoilt for choice, if not a little confused. But we're here to help.

We've tested hundreds of road bikes, from entry level options ideally suited to road-riding newbies to superbikes, ridden on the pro tour and often coming with a five-figure price tag. By riding across such a range, we're well placed to understand the many nuances that dominate this sector of the market. And more importantly, we can guide you through the many elements that help define a bike's ride quality, from frame material to tube shapes to components.

If your budget sits at either end end of the scale, you can also check out our guide to best cheap road bikes as well as our Race Bike of the Year (RBOTY) 2023 awards, some of which feature here. Likewise if you're after more of an all-road machine, you can read our guide to the best gravel bikes. Otherwise read on for our picks of the best road bikes for 2024.

The quick list

Best entry-level overall

1. Specialized Allez

Best entry-level overall

The Allez is now into it's fifth decade, with the latest model right on trend with disc brakes and bags of tire clearance. Sensible geometry makes for a comfy ride, too.

Read more below

Best entry-level for racing

2. Cannondale CAAD13 Disc

Best entry-level for racing

Yes you can race alloy! In this CAAD13 guise it's light and stiff but not harsh, delivering a ride that easily matches lower price carbon options.

Read more below

Best entry-level for value

3. Giant Contend SL1

Best entry-level for value

If you're drawn to long rides that place an emphasis on comfort, the Contend SL1 is good match with plenty of rear end compliance and a great spec to match.

Read more below

RBOTY 2023: overall winner

4. Cervelo S5

Best superbike overall

A grand tour winner, the S5 is racing thoroughbred. Aerodynamic with sublime handling yet still comfortable for longer distances, aided by wider tire clearance.

Read more below

RBOTY 2023: Best value

5. Giant Propel Advanced SL

Best value superbike

Giant typically delivers lots of bike for your money, and the latest Propel is no different, especially on the lower priced models.

Read more below

RBOTY 2023: Best aero bike

6. Trek Madone

Best aero superbike

A radical frameset with IsoFlow tech and a freshly designed aero co*ckpit makes the new Madone distinctive. It also makes it very fast.

Read more below

Best road bikes we’ve tested at Cycling Weekly

You can trust Cycling Weekly. Our team of experts put in hard miles testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

The entry level

The best entry-level road bike overall

Best road bikes: top reviewed bikes for every price point (8)

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1. Specialized Allez

Best entry-level road bike overall

Specifications

Frame: Specialized E5 Premium alloy

Groupset: Shimano Claris

Wheels: Axis Sport alloy

Weight: 10.0kg / 22lbs (claimed)

Reasons to buy

+

Quality aluminium frame

+

Clearance for 35mm tires

+

Full carbon fork

+

Stable & assured ride

Reasons to avoid

-

Indifferent mechanical disc brakes

-

Getting expensive for an entry level bike

Specialized's 2023 update of the Allez has added disc brakes in place of the rim brakes on the older model. That has allowed it to increase tire clearance to a more substantial 35mm or 32mm with mudguards. That in turn has provided an extra dose of comfort to the ride and means that the new Allez can handle light gravel duties and isn't confined to smoother tarmac.

We enjoyed this new found versatility when testing - and it even has rack mounts should you fancy throwing in some touring or commuting as well. Vitally though the Allez has still manage to retain its sporty profile, and with a slammed stem in place, we found it to be fast and playful companion.

The base model bike has Shimano Claris 8-speed shifting and mechanical disc brakes. Claris has big jumps between gear ratios on the 11-32t cassette, while we found that , as expected, the mechanical disc brakes just don't have the stopping power of hydraulics.

The Allez line-up now consists of just two models (plus the Allez Sprint). The higher spec Allez Sport has ten speeds and hydraulic disc brakes, but there's a big jump in price for what's otherwise the same spec as the base model.

A wheelset upgrade would significantly improve performance, but all in all it's a decent package for the price, making the Allez reasonably competitive against the other best cheap road bikes we've reviewed.

Read more: Specialized Allez first ride review

The best entry-level road bike for racing

Best road bikes: top reviewed bikes for every price point (9)

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2. Cannondale CAAD13 Disc 105

Best entry-level road bike for racing

Specifications

Frame: SmartForm C1 Premium Alloy

Groupset: Shimano 105

Wheels: RD 2.0 alloy

Weight: 9.0kg / 19.9lb

Reasons to buy

+

Fast and agile

+

Frame ride quality - stiff yet comfortable

+

Well-specced at this price point

+

A frameset worthy of component upgrades

Reasons to avoid

-

High front end is a bit out of character with the bike's racy feel

Cannondale has long been a master of performance alloy frames and the CAAD13 follows in that vein. It's fairly long and low geometry is based on that of the pro-level carbon SuperSix EVO - in fact it shares the same stack height and reach numbers, with a 54 size equating to a stack height of 55.5cm and a reach of 38.4cm.

The aero tube profiles are also borrowed from the WorldTour bike and we found that the combination resulted in superb handling as well as a smooth ride - one that we felt closely resembled that of a carbon frameset. Granted we tested a high-spec model with decent wheels and tires that certainly didn't hinder the experience as some entry level components somehow can.

However, at the lower price points the CAAD13 is affordable enough to be a first bike but with a frame that you won't outgrow - and one that we believe warrants any significant upgrades you make, whether it be wheels or groupset.

That said, even if you opt for a 'cheaper' model you can get a Shimano 105 hydraulic groupset with a RS510 crank set, while the wheels match DT Swiss R470 rims with the Formula hubs - all perfectly good kit. Below this in the pecking order is a Tiagra equipped offering, while rim brake fans will pleased to know that you can get the CAAD13 with calipers!

As per usual, the size range starts at 44 and goes all the way up to 62, with six sizes inbetween. We see this as another big plus point for the CAAD13, making it available not only to a range of budgets thanks to the build options but also wide range of rider builds.

The only thing that we found fault with was the rather high front end stack. It's easy to rectify but means you'll have to have your head tube cut down to avoid an ugly stack of spacers above the stem.

Read more: Cannondale CAAD13 Disc full review

The best entry-level road bike for value

Best road bikes: top reviewed bikes for every price point (10)

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3. Giant Contend SL1

Best entry-level road bike for value

Specifications

Frame: ALUXX SL-Grade alloy

Groupset: Shimano 105

Wheels: Giant P-R2 alloy

Weight: 9.0kg / 19.9lbs

Reasons to buy

+

Full carbon fork

+

Great ride quality, offering comfort over long distances

+

Assured yet nimble handling

Reasons to avoid

-

Heavy - a tad over 9kg for a size small

Sharing features of Giant’s more expensive bikes, the Contend has a compact alloy frame with a sloping top tube. The D-Fuse seatpost and carbon fork are designed to add compliance at the rear and the front end respectively. Along with the endurance frame geometry this gives great comfort and handling, letting you ride for longer and inspiring confidence.

We were particularly impressed with the bike's ability to eat up the road chatter, which isn't always the case with aluminium frames. Combine this with the sensible geometry (a longer wheelbase for stability and higher stack) and wide tire clearance (room for 34mm) and you get a set-up that sits squarely in the endurance category, ready to eat up the miles in comfort. For an entry level bike we feel it's the right recipe, one that's better suited to a wider range of riders than a more aggressive riding position.

The Contend SL hasn't been updated for a little while but you can still get both a rim and disc brake option. Both use's Shimano's impeccable 105 groupset with a Shimano RS510 chainset, with the rim brakes using Tektro calipers and the disc brake option fitted with 105 hydraulic.

Again befitting both the entry-level and endurance tags, there's bags of low gearing, down to 1:1, to tackle uphills and Shimano 105 gives you quality shifting as always. Naturally at this price point it's not the lightest bike by any means, which we found didn't always make for sprightly performance. That said, It's a good value proposition for its price and a genuine 'contender' for any entry-level road bike prize out there.

Read more: Giant Contend full review

The best road bike for versatility

Best road bikes: top reviewed bikes for every price point (11)

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4. Vitus Venon Evo-RS

Best road bike for versatility

Specifications

Frame: Venon Evo Carbon

Groupset: Shimano 105 Di2

Wheels: Prime Attaquer alloy

Weight: 7.8kg / 17.2lbs

Reasons to buy

+

40mm tire clearance adds versatility

+

Comfortable but sporty endurance ride

+

Capable on fast gravel trails

Reasons to avoid

-

28mm tires look swamped in the large clearance frame

While versatility has always been desirable for some of us when shopping for a new road bike, the evolution of the category has seen more and more sub-sections emerge. The result is a slew of bikes designed with specifics in mind, whether it be aero race machines or featherweight climbers.

But Vitus has decided to buck the trend somewhat. And the Venon Evo has a trick up its sleeve to make it a bike for more than one purpose. With its wide tire clearance of 45mm it's not glued to the road and you can buy the same frame specced out for gravel duties, with a series of models with a GR suffix; we've also reviewed the Vitus Venon Evo-GR gravel spec bike.

The carbon frame weighs under 1kg and we found that it had plenty of compliance built in. The road-going specs are fitted with Michelin Power Cup 28mm tubeless tires on Prime Attaquer alloy wheels. We tested the 105 Di2 model of the Vitus Venon Evo, but there's a whole range of electronic and mechanical groupset options from Shimano and SRAM.

When reviewing the bike on the road, we found the ride to be well balanced and firm but still really comfortable. Continuing the versatile theme, there's plenty of room to fit mudguards on the hidden mounts, making the Venon Evo a good option for year-round use.

Read more: Vitus Venon Evo-RS full review

Swipe to scroll horizontally

BikeFrame materialGroupsetTire clearance
Specialized Allez AluminiumShimano Claris35mm
Cannondale CAAD13 Disc 105AluminiumShimano 10530mm
Giant Contend SL1AluminiumShimano 10528mm
Vitus Venon Evo-RSCarbonShimano 105 Di240mm
Cervélo S5CarbonSRAM Force AXS35mm
Giant PropelCarbonSRAM Rival AXS30mm
Trek Madone Gen 7 SL 7CarbonShimano Ultegra28mm
Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi Mod 2CarbonShimano Ultegra34mm

SUPERBIKES

Superbikes: Overall winner

Best road bikes: top reviewed bikes for every price point (12)

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1. Cervélo S5

Best superbike overall

Specifications

Frame: S5 Carbon

Groupset: SRAM Force AXS

Wheels: Reserve 52/63

Weight: 8.2kg / 18.0lbs

Reasons to buy

+

Space for 35mm tires

+

Quality wheels plump up the tires for better handling

+

Smooth, fast ride

Reasons to avoid

-

Not the lightest of high-end bikes

The Cervélo S5 garnered top spot in our Race Bike of the Year awards in 2023. We rated its straight line speed, but also its cornering ability and superb ride quality. It's the handling that sets it apart from other aero bikes though: fast to respond to a change of line but never twitchy.

Likewise, we were impressed with the Reserve wheels, which are 52mm deep at the front and 63mm deep at the rear.Their internal width of 24.4mm really helped to add comfort to the tires (they plumped up our 28mm Vittoiria Corsa to over 31mm) as well as progression when cornering and additional grip.

If there is any downside to the S5 then it the weight: it's not the lightest bike, tipping the scales at over 8kg. This makes it around 1kg heavier than the Scott Foil for example. But again the sheer ride quality of the S5 manages to negate any additional grams on even moderately steep gradients.

Naturally superbikes are primarily designed with the pros in minds and if you want some validation of the bike's qualities then how about 2022 and 2023 Tour de France yellow jersey wins, the TdF green jersey in 2022 and a slew of one day race triumphs? While these wins are testament to the talent of Jonas Vingegaard, Wout van Aert and others, they also point to the S5s ability to be ridden across a range of stages and races. For us, this only confirms what we felt when riding the bike - that it's as well-rounded a race bike as you'll find.

Read more: Cervélo S5 full review

Superbikes: Best value

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2. Giant Propel

Best value superbike

Specifications

Frame: Giant Propel Advanced Pro

Groupset: SRAM Rival AXS

Wheels: Giant SLR 1

Weight: 8.5kg / 18.6lbs

Reasons to buy

+

Great value, particularly for lower specs

+

Quality builds

+

Now lighter and more agile than its predecessor

Reasons to avoid

-

Not as smooth handling as some of the other bikes tested

The latest Giant Propel has slimmed down from its previous chunky frameset, to reduce weight and increase comfort, but according to the brand has still improved aerodynamics over the outgoing model - to the tune of some 6 .2 watts at 40kph.

Adjustability has improved too thanks to a newly designed two-piece bar and stem, without impacting those aero number.The cables are neatly routed through the bars and under the channelled-out stem before entering the frame. It makes for a slick looking bike indeed.

Giant has also adjusted the Propel's geometry, so that it's much closer to its TCR climbing bike, for a more responsive ride. Maximum tyre clearance sits at 32mm. We found that it all added up to a fast yet stable ride, with the thinner tubes performing better in crosswinds than aero bikes with deeper sections. We were impressed with the comfort levels too, with the plumper tires and well-designed front end helping to negate road chatter.

Although we tested the Rival AXS build, best value can be found in the entry level bike which easily beats the other bikes in our Race Bike of the Year awards.

Read more: Giant Propel Advanced Pro 1 full review

Superbikes: Best aero bike

Best road bikes: top reviewed bikes for every price point (14)

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3. Trek Madone SL7 Gen 7

Best aero superbike

Specifications

Frame: Madone Gen 7

Groupset: Shimano Ultegra

Wheels: Bontrager Aeolus Pro 51

Weight: 7.5kg / 16.5lbs

Reasons to buy

+

Very fast and lightweight

+

Clever bars reduce frontal area

Reasons to avoid

-

Some may find it a bit too edgy for comfort

-

Very expensive

Another bike that's shed weight, in its case 300g. The Gen 7 does this in large part by andoning the IsoSpeed system of its predecessor, and replacing it with IsoFlow technology. It makes for a striking looking frame, with its hole under the saddle, which sits on a seatpost cantilevered over the rear of the frame.

But that's only half of the 20 watts saving over the older Madone. The other half comes from the bars, which position the hands 30mm closer together on the tops, for a more aero tuck - for example a 42cm bar actually measures 39cm at the hoods and 42cm at the drops. Trek offers 14 different co*ckpit combinations to allow you to dial in your position.

We found that it makes for an incredibly assured bike, with great handling and plenty of comfort as well as being a fast ride in a straight line. It's a light by aero bike standards too, with our review model tipping the scales at 7.5kg. Like many superbikes, the downside for most is likely to be the price, and the Madone is certainly firmly in the expensive category - five figures with a second-tier Ultegra groupset.

Read more: Trek Madone SL7 Gen 7 full review

Superbikes: Best climbing bike

Best road bikes: top reviewed bikes for every price point (15)

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4. Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi Mod 2

Best climbing superbike

Specifications

Frame: SuperSix Hi Mod

Groupset: Shimano Ultegra

Wheels: HollowGram R-SL

Weight: 7.3kg / 16.1lbs

Reasons to buy

+

Low weight and more aero than previous model

+

Now with a threaded bottom bracket

Reasons to avoid

-

Not as fast or comfortable as the Cervelo S5

This fourth generation of the Cannondale SuperSix has received some subtle updates from its predecessor, which nevertheless make it more aero and lighter. You'll likely notice the more steeply sloped top tube and the lower seat stays.

Tire clearance has been increased too, and there's now room for up to 34mm in width. Last but not least, the press fit bottom bracket has been replaced by a BSA 68mm threaded number - something we're big fans of not least because it allows you to fit a new BB home with relative ease. It adds up to a claimed 770g frame weight , which was the lightest in our Race Bike of the Year awards from last year.

We found the latest SuperSix to be better than ever. It's lightening fast and it holds speed well thanks to the 50mm deep aero wheelset. Equally it's a great climber's bike as well, with low weight and great geometry for out-of-saddle efforts. Descending is equally magical.

We did find that comfort was comprised a little over longer distances - it's not as comfy at the Cervélo S5 for example - but this isn't uncommon for stiff, light race bikes.

Cannondal typically do a good job of offering a sensible range of models and prices on offer, and its no exception with SuperSix Evo.

Read more: Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi Mod 2 full review

How to choose the best road bike for you

What's the difference between race and endurance geometry?

A key decision when choosing the best road bike for you is what you plan to do with it. Are you looking to go fast or race, or are you after a more comfortable bike for leisurely rides or long days in the saddle?

Geometry is the key factor here. A full-on race bike will put you in a more bent-over riding position, with your head and shoulders lower down over the handlebar. That’s great when you have a need for speed, reducing your frontal profile to lower your wind resistance but can be uncomfortable, particularly for a beginner.

On the other hand, bikes labelled 'endurance' or 'sportive' will be designed for a more upright riding position, with the bars higher and closer to the saddle. That delivers greater comfort on longer rides, but may make you a bit slower.

If you’re riding on hilly roads, or planning a trip abroad to the Alps for example, you’ll certainly appreciate a lightweight bike. However, if you're going to spend your time riding fast on flatter terrain then aerodynamics are probably more important to you. And If you’re looking to race, the stiffer, more edgy handling of a race bike will work better than the more stable handling of an endurance machine.

An increasing number of bikes are designed to take you off the tarmac as well as letting you ride efficiently on road. A gravel bike will give you wide tires and lower gears. But many endurance or 'all-road' bikes now offer plenty of tire clearance as well as an expansive gear range, letting you take in a wider variety of routes.

How much do I need to spend on a road bike?

You also need to look at how much you want to spend on a bike. That’s not just the initial outlay, but the cost of replacing worn or damaged parts, the cost of servicing your bike and the cost of any upgrades. There’s a big difference in price between lower spec mechanical parts and top of the range electronic gearing.

A bike's specs will vary a lot between manufacturers. In particular, prices will often be lower at direct only brands (such as Canyon and Ribble) and in-house brands (Vitus at Wiggle or Boardman at Halfords). But to give you an idea, here's a look at common specifications at various investment levels. In the interest of brevity, some bandings are wide and therefore you would expect variation within them.

£750 - £999 / $1000 - $1500

An aluminium frame and carbon fork, aluminium seatpost and handlebar/stem, shifting at Shimano Sora or Claris level, aluminium wheels. Rim brakes.

£1000 - £2000 / $1500 - $2500

Either an aluminium frame and carbon fork at around Shimano 105 level, or a carbon frame and fork with shifting at Shimano Tiagra level. Aluminium wheels, seatpost and handlebar/stem. Disc or rim brakes.

£2000 - £3500 / $2500 - $4000

Carbon frame and fork with Shimano 105 (lower end of budget) or Ultegra (higher end), aluminium or carbon rims, carbon seatpost, aluminium handlebars and stem. Disc brakes should be hydraulic from this price point.Titanium frames are an option.

£3500 - £5000/ $4000 - $6000

Carbon or titanium frame and fork, Shimano Ultegra or SRAM AXS eTap groupset, carbon seatpost, aluminium bar/stem, carbon rims

£5000 - £10,000 / $6,000 - $12,000

Carbon frame and fork, Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 or SRAM Red AXS eTap, carbon wheels of 50mm+, carbon bars and stem.

£10,000+ / $12,000+

Accept nothing but the best of everything. Top of the range carbon frame and fork - usually utilising stiffer carbon and therefore fewer layers resulting in lower weight, carbon wheels of 50mm+, one piece carbon bar/stem Shimano Dura-Ace, SRAM Red AXS or Campagnolo Super Record Wireless, power meter as standard.

What are the best frame materials for road bikes?

A major difference between cheaper and more expensive bikes is their frame material. Bikes costing under $/£1000 are typically made of aluminium alloy, with the tubes welded together. It’s a material used in more expensive bikes too and can result in a strong, lightweight machine.

But pricier bikes are usually made of carbon fibre. The fibres give the bike strength and are embedded in a synthetic resin to hold them together. The mix of fibres used and their lay-up determine the bike’s ride feel. More expensive bikes will use more high modulus carbon fibre, which lowers the weight without reducing the bike’s strength.

Titanium is another material used in some more expensive bikes. It’s lightweight, strong and doesn’t rust or fatigue. And you can still find bikes made of steel tubing, which was the traditional framebuilding material. It’s not quite as light as other choices, but robust and gives a distinctive ride feel.

You should also look at what the bike’s fork is made of. Many bikes will have an all-carbon fork or one with carbon fork blades and an alloy steerer. This tends to absorb road bumps well for a more comfortable ride, but you can find alloy or steel forks on some lower priced bikes.

How do I choose the right size road bike for me?

It’s important to get the right size bike. Most bikes come in a range of sizes to fit your stature and bike makers will usually publish a rider’s height range which a bike of a specific size will fit.

You should feel comfortable seated on your bike and be able to put both feet flat on the ground when standing over the crossbar, without it touching you.

You’ll usually find more detailed frame dimensions listed too, which give you more details of how your bike will fit you. The most important are reach and stack, although they’re a bit complex to interpret.

In general, the higher the stack number (usually shown in cm or mm) the more upright your riding position will be. If you enjoy a 'taller' riding position then look for a more generous stack height. Equally, a shorter reach will put you closer to the bars, thus in a more upright position. For the most part, race bikes will feature a lower stack height than endurance models.

To make sure that your bike is set up correctly and to avoid the risk of injury from incorrect fit, it’s well worth getting a professional bike fit. A bike fit will cost some money, although sometimes a bike shop will offer one at a discount or free when you buy a bike. A bike fit will ensure that your saddle and bars are optimally placed for efficient riding. Consider a good fit an investment.

Best road bikes: top reviewed bikes for every price point (16)

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What is an 'aero' road bike and do I need one?

Bike makers push their bikes’ aero credentials, especially on more expensive machines, with claims of wind tunnel testing and time saved. Time was, an aero frameset was significantly heavier than one with the traditional round tubes, but the best aero bikes can now be as light as a non-aero one.

On the other hand, around 80% of the wind resistance comes from the rider, not the bike and those time savings are typically when riding at around 45kph/28mph. Since wind resistance increases as the cube of speed, if you’re riding at half that, you’ll have an eighth of the drag, so all those aero features won’t make a lot of difference.

How many gears should a road bike have?

After the frame, gears are the most important thing to consider when choosing a road bike. Today many top end road bikes will come fitted with 12-speed cassettes. When paired with a double chainring this means you'll have 24 gears. Remember however that some of these gear ratios will be duplicated in certain chainring/cassette combinations.

More affordable road bikes tend to come with fewer gears. These cassette options should range from 8-speed to 10-speed, again most often paired with a double chainset.

As for groupset brands, Shimano gearing is the most common, but the other major options are SRAM and Campagnolo. Shimano’s top end groupsets, Dura-Ace, Ultegra and 105 have a 12-speed cassette, while less expensive bikes may come with 10-speed Tiagra, 9-speed Sora or 8-speed Claris.

SRAM and Campagnolo also offer 12 speeds on their top end road bike groupsets and all three brands offer electronic shifting rather than the mechanical cables used on lower priced ranges.

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What are the best gear options for a road bike?

When choosing a new road bike it's important that you think about the gears it comes equipped with. Fortunately if you've already matched your potential bike to the kind of riding you plan on doing, there's a good chance that the gear choice will also be well-suited.

An out-and-out race bike may come with a more traditional gearing set-up, for example 53/39 tooth chainset paired with an 11-30 tooth cassette.

However road bikes that fall into the endurance or sportive categories are likely to have a compact chainset, most likely a 50/34, and a cassette that will have 30, 32, 34 or even 36 teeth as the largest option. The lower gears will help you to both tackle steep hills with more ease and generally pedal with a higher cadence. However, this can mean larger gaps between gear ratios.

There are other options out there too. SRAM, for example, now offers its eTap AXS groupsets with 48/35, 46/33 and 43/30t chainsets. Paired with its cassettes starting at 10 teeth, these give similar highest gear ratios to traditional gearing starting at 11 teeth, but greater low-end gear range for easier climbing and less need to shift between chainrings on undulating roads.

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Is electronic shifting really better?

While the major groupset brands - Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo - still offer mechanical groupsets, there has been a significant shift towards electronic shifting in recent years. Here a motor shifts the derailleurs between ratios, rather than the traditional cable.

The main electronic systems are Shimano Di2, Campagnolo Wireless and SRAM eTap AXS, which all offer 12 speeds.

There are benefits and drawbacks of both mechanical and electronic options.

Mechanical components, such as mechs and levers, are generally cheaper and lighter than their electronic counterparts. They are also, for the most part, easier to fix when something goes wrong.

Electronic gears benefit from reliable shifting. There's no cable tension at play here. If you've suffered a hand injury, the ease of changing gear with the press of a button could be appealing.

Electronic gearing can be personalised through an app, allowing you, for example, to shift multiple gears seamlessly. However, all this tech doesn't come cheap and complete road bikes fitted with electronic gears will be more expensive. Plus, you've got to remember to charge the batteries.

Are rim or disc brakes best for a road bike?

Disc brakes have largely taken over on road bikes and all but the lowest priced bikes are now in general disc brake only. That said, you can still find rim brake bikes, usually at either end of the price spectrum.

Typically disc brakes give you more consistent braking, whatever the weather conditions, better modulation and greater overall stopping power. On the flip side, they’re heavier than rim brakes, although bike makers have been able to make frames lighter, largely mitigating the extra weight.

Most disc brake bikes use hydraulic calipers, although you can find mechanical disc brakes, usually on cheaper machines. Discs have been creeping down the price range for the last few years, which means it's still likely an option even if your budget is limited.

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What is the difference between carbon and alloy wheels?

Road bike wheels are typically 700c size, although the smaller 650b size can be found on some smaller frames. Regardless of size, both are available as carbon or alloy options.

Carbon fibre rims are used on most of the best road bike wheelsets. These rims lower weight and are often deeper, to improve aerodynamics over a shallow wheel. In fact carbon can be produced in a far greater range of shapes, allowing manufacturers to create wheels optimised for a varied range of riding styles.

Alloy rims are generally cheaper and will feature on many complete road bikes. They are usually heavier than their carbon counterparts although lightweight alloy options are available.

Wheels are a component where bike makers often look to economise, so a budget wheelset may feature even on an expensive bike. It’s worth considering whether you’ll need to upgrade them to get the best out of your new bike.If you decide to do so, you can always keep the original set for winter riding.

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What is the best tire width for a road bike?

There was a time when tire options for road bikes were limited by the frames they were fitted to. A 23mm tire was commonplace. If you were lucky you might be able to squeeze a 25mm into your frame.

However, today road bikes now come with increasingly wide tires due largely to the advent of disc brakes; even race bikes will typically have clearance for 28mm to 32mm tires, while endurance machines will likely allow for wider still. It's worth noting that even if your new bike has come specced with 25mm or 28mm tires, there's a good chance it will have the clearance for something wider.

With wider tires it's possible to run a lower tire pressure for more comfort and added grip. Wider tires can be as fast as or faster than narrower widths as well.

Wheels and tires are increasingly tubeless-ready too. This means that you can add sealant and dispense with the inner tubes, reducing the risk of punctures and upping grip and ride comfort even more. Tubeless tires are in general faster as well.

Meet the testers

Simon Smythe

Simon is a hugely experienced cycling tech writer, who has been writing for Cycling Weekly since 2003. Until recently he was our senior tech writer.In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. However, as writer and reviewer he's ridden more road bikes than he cares to remember, from eye-wateringly expensive aero race bikes to far more wallet friendly offerings and plenty in between.

Stefan Abram

After winning the 2019 National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Biking Championships and claiming the plushie unicorn (true story), Stefan swapped the flat-bars for drop-bars and has never looked back.

Since then, he’searnt his 2ⁿᵈ cat racing licence in his first season racing as a third,completed the South Downs Double in under 20 hoursandEverested in under 12.

How we tested these road bikes

How we test

We have a dedicated team of testers here atCycling Weekly, whose job is to review a whole range of cycling products and to write objective reviews of their experience of using them day in day out in a whole range of conditions.

With huge experience, they're really well placed to compare products, identify their strengths and weaknesses and bring you an honest, unbiased assessment of how they perform.

When it comes to testing road bikes we log hundreds of miles, looking at a number of factors as we assess their overall performance. Of course we consider what the bike is primarily designed for, whether it's an aero race bike, a lightweight climber or an endurance model but also look at more general considerations such as build and spec quality, durability and value for money.

Best road bikes: top reviewed bikes for every price point (2024)
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