Firstly, some general principles about buying a road bike for under £1,000.
- It is a very competitive market segment with numerous bike companies offering several models. It is impossible to review anything like close to all the models available.
- To some extent, many of the bikes in this price bracket will be quite similar. It is hard to find huge variances in quality and spec.
- A more important question is to ask – where is best place to get a bike? What features do I want from a road bike? Have I left enough money for important extras.
- Which is best material? Steel, Aluminium, Carbon fibre or even titanium? There are not many full carbon fibre bikes for under £1,000, but there are an increasing number of companies who can squeeze a carbon fibre bike under £1,000. I wouldn’t see it as essential. Also, it is not just the material, but how it is put together. You can get cheap carbon fibre frames and more expensive carbon fibre frames. To get a carbon fibre frame under £1,000 may lead to lower quality. Aluminium is very popular in this price bracket because it is cheap, strong and easy to mass produce. The disadvantage of aluminium is that it tends to give a bit of a ‘harsher’ ride – you notice more potholes. Aluminium is also harder to mould into attractive smooth lines (though new technology has led to improved Aluminium frames in recent years, and we are starting to see more Aluminium in top end road bikes)
- Sportive vs Road bike. A sportive bike is a racing road bike, with slightly different geometry. They tend to have a taller headset to give a more upright and comfortable position. Racing bike geometry tends to make you lower – more aerodynamic and tends to be less comfortable. There is not a huge difference, but you can choose between comfort / speed. Sportive bikes also tend to be less stiff – absorbing more vibrations more comfortable ride. Finally sportives tend to have compact chainsets 50/34 – rather than bigger gears, such as 53/39.
- Many £1,000 bikes have some cheap components, such as wheels and tyres to allow them to stay under £1,000. It means if you get into the road bike, you can consider later buying some better race wheels, which often provide a big upgrade on the cheaper wheels which come with the bike.
Cycle to work scheme
Bikes under £1,000 also fall under the UK governments cycle to work schemes. If your employer has signed up, you could save a significant amount (25%). If your employer hasn’t signed up, try and encourage them to!
Groupsets for bikes under £1.000
For bikes under £1,000 – the most common groupsets are Shimano Tiagra or Shimano 105. 105 is a very good groupset and comes fairly close to the performance standard of Ultegra and Dura Ace. It benefits from many ‘hand-me-down’ technology. 105 is probably as good as Dura Ace was many years ago. A very rough order of groupsets.
- Shimano Claris (tends to be fitted to cheaper Hybrid bikes)
- Shimano Sora (9 speed road bike groupset (£429)
- Shimano Tiagra (now 10 speed) RRP £449
- Shimano 105 (10 speed, now 11 speed) RRP £559
You can buy these groupsets cheaper than the list price, but it does shows that if you built up a bike from different parts, it would be more expensive than buying the full bike altogether.
Firstly my bikes which I bought under £1,000
Ribble Aluminium Frame-
I bought this over 10 years ago. It is is Aluminium frame, carbon fibre fork and Shimano 105 groupset. It came in at around £900 and I bought from Ribble Bike builder. I got a custom paint job. I raced on it for a few seasons, but has now become my winter training bike. All of the groupset has worn away several times, but I am still on the existing frame and fork. It has held up very well, despite taking a real battering. The paint on the carbon fork has started to peel away, but carbon fibre is inert and will not rust. The good thing about aluminium is that the odd dent, doesn’t impact on the frame too much (Unlike carbon fibre, where it can write-off the frame).
Overall, this bike has been tremendous value. I have done over 50,000 miles on this bike, not bad for £900. Just shows you shouldn’t worry about wanting to save up for a top end bike. If you get into cycling, your £1,000 road bike will make the perfect winter training bike.
When I look at Ribble today, their sub £1,000 bikes are mainly carbon fibre frames, so it shows how technology has changed.
Ribble road bike with 7005 Aluminium frame and Groupset based on Shimano Sora starts from a very low £575.
Specialized Allez Sport
Specialized Allez is a popular entry level road bike series, there are several models to cater for different price brackets.
- Specialized Allez 2015 is £600 rrp
- Specialized Allez Sport – £750
- Specialized Allez Comp – £1,200 (you may get for under £1,000 if you’re lucky)
The Specialized Allez sport is based on:
- Specialized E5 Premium Aluminium tubing
- Specialized FACT Carbon fibre fork
- 9 speed Shimano Sora STI groupset
- AXIS Classic wheelset
- Specialized Espoir Sport tyres
I bought a Specialized Allez in US for training over there. After riding an expensive Trek Madone, it is a bit of come down. But, it remains very good value for the money. A friend recently bought a Specialized Allez for £600 an is quite happy with value.
They also do women specific Specialized Dolce Vita.
Full review of: Specialized Allez
- Specialized Allez models at Evans Cycles
GT Grade Al 105
Within the segment of entry level road bikes, there has been an increased demand for road bikes that are more versatile – built for a wider range of terrains and less constrained by typical UCI regulated racing bikes, almost a semi-cross bike. To a purist, this unconventional frame may not appeal. But, this is typical of a new generation of road bikes, built for comfort and versatility rather than traditional aesthetics. The triangle frame adds extra strength comfort and durability.
The bike has a combined mechanical / hydraulic disc brake system and a high end Shimano 105 groupset.
- Frame Grade alloy
- Fork Carbon
- Groupset 11 speed Shimano 105 groupset.
- Cable Disc Brake with TRP Hyrd mechanical/ Hydraulic disc road brake, 160mm rotor
- GT Al at Wiggle Cycles (RRP £999)
Cannondale CAAD 8
At the other end of the spectrum the Cannondale CAAD is more of an entry level racing bike. It comes with race geometry and a traditional race look and feel.
It is built on:
- Light-weight aluminium frame CAAD8, Optimized 6061 Alloy
- Carbon fork.
- 11 speed Shimano 105
- compact 50/34 chainset and 11-28 cassette
- Wheelset – Maddux RS
- Tyres Schwalbe Lugano, 700×25c
- Weight: 9.1 kg
The Cannondale is an excellent starting frame for an entry level road bike. Like many road bikes in this price range, the wheels offer an opportunities for a significant upgrade, when you have a bit more money.
Many of my own bikes have been Trek. My commuting bike is an Aluminium Trek (old Trek 1000). It has been going for over 15 years and is pretty fast as a commuting bike. The major downside is that you do feel all the bumps and potholes of Oxford roads. However, the fork is aluminium. Since I bought that bike, there has been an improvement in aluminium frame and with the Trek 1.5, you get a carbon fork which is a nice upgrade.
- Frame: 100 Series Alpha Aluminium
- Groupset: Shimano Tiagra
- Compact chainset 50/34
- Tyres: Bontrager T1
- Trek 1.5 at Evans Cycles
I have found Trek offer good value road bikes. They also sell bikes at the same price in shops as they do online, so it is worth checking out a local Trek dealer.
For a £1,000 you can get the Trek Madone 2.1. The Trek 2.1 comes with a very nice 200 Series Alpha Aluminium frame, carbon fork and Shimano 105.Like the Cannondale CAAD 8, it is a very high spec Aluminium framed road bike for under £1,000
The Trek 1.1 is only £700, but you only get Shimano Sora groupset .
There are so many other bikes and models to consider. There’s a lot to be said for going into a bike shop you trust and seeing what they have on offer.