What are good cheap bike brands?

04 Feb.,2024

 

The best budget road bikes benefit from trickle-down tech from much more expensive models. Although many of the best road bikes are increasingly unaffordable for the average rider, bike manufacturers typically offer budget road bikes that have many of the same modern features as their top-tier models. These bikes, although being at the more budget end of the spectrum, will provide a great ride experience and feel, as well as serviceable componentry.

They might have a heavier frame that's usually aluminium alloy rather than carbon fibre, but their geometry and handling may not be that different from more expensive models. They will have lower-spec road bike groupsets with fewer gears, but you can expect good shifting performance nevertheless.

Likewise, the wheels will be lower priced than the best road bike wheels, but you can expect them to be robust and serviceable and you'll usually get quality tyres. 

Buying your first bike can be daunting from a technical standpoint, so if you're not sure what you're looking for then we've included a handy guide at the bottom to take you through all you need to know before jumping in. But first, here is our pick of the best budget road bikes.

Quick List

Best budget road bikes

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The best for all-round riding

(Image credit: Giant)

1. Giant Contend 1

The best budget road bike for all round riding

Specifications

Weight:

9.5kg

Groupset:

Shimano Sora R3000

Wheels:

Giant S-R3

Frame Sizes:

S-XL

Check AmazonVisit Site

Reasons to buy

+

Full carbon fork

+

D Fuse technology

+

Impressive sub 10kg weight

Reasons to avoid

-

Arguably a little dull

Pretty much everything on the Giant Contend 1, other than the groupset and brakes, comes from Giant. That’s no bad thing though, as it’s all good quality stuff. You get a decent set of wheels and 28mm tyres from Giant, along with a D Fuse alloy seatpost, which Giant says increases comfort by allowing greater flex in desired directions, without sacrificing stiffness in others.

The frame is made from ALUXX-Grade aluminium, with Giant’s iconic compact frame design and a full carbon OverDrive fork. The groupset is Shimano’s Sora R3000, and you get an almost complete package of components – the only non-Shimano substitute is the Tektro TK-B177 rim brakes but these are good performers nevertheless, so it’s not a huge loss.

It also has mounts for mudguards and a rack, extending its usefulness into the winter months or for commuting/touring. Our only criticism is that it’s arguably a little bit dull, compared to some other bikes listed here.

The best budget road bike for women

(Image credit: Liv Avail AR 2022)

2. Liv Avail AR 4

The best budget road bike for women

Specifications

Weight:

10.77kg

Groupset:

Shimano Claris

Wheels:

Giant S-R2 Disc

Frame sizes:

XXS-L

Check AmazonVisit Site

Reasons to buy

+

Designed using women's body dimension data

+

Tubeless-ready wheels

+

Good range of sizes

Reasons to avoid

-

Would benefit from a groupset upgrade

While some people are still asking the question, 'can women ride men's bikes?', Liv Cycling just goes ahead and creates high-performing bikes for women's specific needs. Designed by women, engineered by women, and tested by women, using women-only body data, it's fair to say that many women will find the Liv Avail AR 4 an incredibly comfortable road bike on a budget. 

Liv's own ALUXX-Grade aluminium frame is a lot more compliant and comfortable than most would expect, while the Advanced-Grade carbon composite fork reduces the overall weight and keeps the front end of the bike light and snappy. 

In terms of spec, the Avail AR 4 matches what many of the other bikes in this list have to offer, with Shimano Claris gearing, mechanical Tektro disc brakes, and tubeless-ready wheels. 

The best for aspiring racers

(Image credit: Specialized)

3. Specialized Allez E5

The best budget road bike for aspiring racers

Specifications

Weight:

10kg

Groupset:

Shimano Claris

Wheels:

Specialized Axis Sport Disc

Frame Sizes:

44-61cm

Check AmazonVisit Site

Reasons to buy

+

Well finished frame with a choice of colours

+

Good quality components

+

Tyre clearance

+

Mounting points

Reasons to avoid

-

Tektro brakes aren’t quite as good as Shimano’s

-

More upright geometry is less aero than older model

The Allez is Specialized's longest serving road model, one of the brand's original three bikes, and has been updated completely for 2023. Disc brakes reach down to every level, adding greater control to what is a firm favourite for riders first 'proper' road bike. 

The geometry has been tweaked to be slightly more upright than the outgoing model, as we detailed in our first ride review, as well as adding more tyre clearance (up to 35mm), and mounts for permanent mudguards and a pannier rack. The aim seems to have been to make what was a racy bike much more of an all-round package, and should suit anything from sunday club runs, through commuting and winter duties, to light touring and everything in between.

The range of Specialized road bikes can be a bit confusing, but we've got a guide to help you navigate it.

The best for a 105 groupset

(Image credit: B’Twin)

4. Triban RC 520

The best budget road bike for Shimano 105

Specifications

Weight:

10.4kg

Groupset:

Shimano 105 R7000

Wheels:

Triban Tubeless Ready Light

Frame Sizes:

XS-XL

Check AmazonView at Decathlon

Reasons to buy

+

Shimano 105 R7000 groupset

+

Tubeless-ready wheels and clearance for up to 36mm tyres

+

Cable-operated hydraulic disc brakes

Reasons to avoid

-

Workhorse looks

It’s pretty rare to see Shimano 105 R7000 on a budget bike, but that’s exactly what the Triban RC 520 Disc offers. And it’s not just a pricey groupset at the expense of everything else either – you get a modern styled frame with dropped seat stays for extra comfort and heaps of tyre clearance (slick tyres up to 36mm will fit). 

It’s also got mounts for racks and mudguards, the wheels can be converted to tubeless, and Decathlon offers a lifetime warranty on the frame, stem and handlebars. 

Another interesting spec choice is the TRP HY/RD mechanical actuated hydraulic disc brakes. While most bikes at this price point get rim or mechanical disc brakes, the HY/RD offer a significant improvement in power and control. They do require a little more maintenance and certainly add on some weight but the performance benefit is worth it if you are frequently riding in poor weather conditions. 

So what’s the catch? Well, the looks are a little workhorse-like – not bad per se, but just nothing to set your heart fluttering. The externally routed cables also mean you need to be careful with keeping the exposed sections clean and in good condition, to keep everything working smoothly, though this does make for simple maintenance when the time comes. 

The best for mile-munching

(Image credit: Trek)

5. Trek Domane AL 3 Disc

The best budget road bike for mile munching

Specifications

Weight:

10.54kg

Groupset:

Shimano Sora R3000

Wheels:

Bontrager Affinity Disc rims on Formula Hubs

Frame Sizes:

44-61cm

Check AmazonVisit Site

Reasons to buy

+

Great-looking frame with a choice of colours and a large range of sizes

+

32mm tyres and tubeless-ready wheels

+

Vibration absorbing IsoSpeed fork

+

Front and rear thru-axles

Reasons to avoid

-

The exposed section of cable along the chainstay will require more maintenance

Trek is usually renowned for making bikes that are on the pricier end of the spectrum, so you might be surprised to see one on this list, especially at this price. The Trek Domane AL 3 packs in plenty of value though, with a nicely finished 100 Series Alpha Aluminium frame and Trek’s clever IsoSpeed carbon fork – which swoops forward before the dropout to increase compliance without affecting wheelbase length.

The groupset is Shimano Sora R3000 with Tektro C550 dual-piston mechanical flat mount disc brakes. You get comfortable 32mm tyres and tubeless-ready Bontrager wheels, which is seriously impressive at this price point. There are also eight different size choices, so you can really narrow down the frame size to find the perfect fit.

Trek produces some other options if you suddenly want to expand your budget; head to our guide to Trek road bikes to find out more.

The best for custom options

(Image credit: Ribble )

6. Ribble R872

The best budget road bike with customisation options

Specifications

Weight:

9.0kg

Groupset:

Shimano Tiagra 4700

Wheels:

Raleigh Mach 1 CFX

Frame Sizes:

XS-XL

View at Ribble CyclesView at Ribble CyclesCheck Amazon

Reasons to buy

+

Full carbon frame and fork

+

Lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-

Wheels aren’t the best

The Ribble R872 has a thoroughly modern frameset, and both the frame and fork are full carbon, and a chunky downtube and chainstays offer great pedalling stiffness, while slim, dropped seat stays increase compliance and comfort over rough roads. 

At 9kg, it’s decently lightweight (though there are lighter alloy bikes at this price point), but the Raleigh Mach 1 CFX wheels are more suitable for training rather than racing. You do get a full Shimano Tiagra 4700 groupset though, as well as a dependable finishing kit from Level, Ribble’s in-house brand.

If you absolutely have to have a carbon frame, the Ribble R872 is a great option. Ribble also offers a large degree of customisation through its BikeBuilder tool – meaning you can change key components for size, make upgrades or you can go a step further and build a completely custom bike with a custom paint job - if your budget is really flexible.

Best of the rest - UK and US

(Image credit: Courtesy)

7. Trek Domane AL 2

Another quality mile muncher

Specifications

Weight:

9.57kg

Groupset:

Shimano Claris R2000

Wheels:

Bontrager Tubeless Ready rims on Formula Hubs

Frame Sizes:

47-62cm

View at Trek BicycleView at Trek BicycleCheck Amazon

Reasons to buy

+

Great-looking with two colours to choose from 

+

Huge range of sizes

+

28mm tyres on tubeless-ready wheels

+

IsoSpeed fork damps vibrations

+

Front and rear thru-axles

Reasons to avoid

-

There's an exposed section of cable along the chainstay that will need more maintenance

Usually known for its more pricey bikes, it's a surprise to us all that Trek has managed to make a lower priced road bike with this type of spec. It offers great value for money, considering the inclusion of the brand's IsoSpeed decoupler technology, which builds compliance into the carbon fork to absorb vibrations from the road and make for a more comfortable ride.

The Shimano Claris R2000 8-speed groupset, despite not being quite top of the range, offers a smooth shifting experience and is easy to maintain and fettle. Providing the stopping power are alloy dual-pivot rim brakes, while the Bontrager tubeless-ready wheels roll on 28mm wide Bontrager R1 Hard-Case tyres.

Finally, with eight sizes to choose from, plus two colour options, it should be plenty easy to find the right Domane for you without breaking the bank.

Head to our roundup of Trek road bikes if you want to know a bit more about the whole range.

(Image credit: Courtesy)

8. Fuji Sportif 2.3

The best budget road bike for smaller budgets

Specifications

Weight:

10.13kg

Groupset:

Shimano Claris or microSHIFT R8

Wheels:

Alex Vera alloy rims with formula hubs

Frame sizes:

46-61cm

Check AmazonVisit Site

Reasons to buy

+

Surprisingly capable and comfortable over long mileage

+

Curved seat stays offer excellent compliance

+

Superb price

Reasons to avoid

-

Brakes aren't amazing

-

Fairly heavy compared to others listed here

If you're in the market for a low-priced mile-munching road bike with endurance geometry, and compliance built into the frame, look no further because you've found it.

The Fuji Sportif 2.3 gives you plenty of spare change to spend on other road cycling essentials, yet it delivers a surprisingly comfortable all-day ride. It's built with a high front end, which will put the rider in a fairly relaxed and upright position, ideal for long hours in the saddle. Meanwhile Fuji's 'Wave' seat stays have a curve built into them, which adds some flex into the alloy frame to absorb some of the road chatter and smooth out the ride.

The frame offers internal cable routing for a tidier look, mounts for a rear rack and fenders, and comes with a choice of either a Shimano Claris groupset, or a microSHIFT R8 group instead.

(Image credit: Marin)

9. Marin Gestalt 2

The best budget road bike for a little off-road action

Specifications

Weight:

Not specified

Groupset:

Shimano Tiagra

Wheels:

Marin alloy

Frame sizes:

50-60cm

Check Amazon

Reasons to buy

+

Wide tyre clearance

+

Carbon fork

+

10-speed shifting

+

Rack and mudguard mounts

Reasons to avoid

-

Gestalt 2 spec is a little over-budget

Marin Bikes makes some adaptable budget bikes, with the Gestalt 2 offering WTB Exposure Comp 32mm tyres and the option to fit wider tyres up to 35mm, giving the flexibility to head off road for some light gravel riding.

It's equipped with 10-speed Shimano Tiagra gearing, with a 1:1 lowest gear to help you get up the steepest roads, while stopping power comes from Tektro mechanical disc brakes. There are mudguard and rack mounts, making the Gestalt 2 a versatile all-season/all-surface option. If the Gestalt 2 blows the budget, the Gestalt 1 or the base model Gestalt lower the spec but come in less expensive.

(Image credit: Courtesy)

10. Diamondback Haanjo 2

The best budget road bike for versatility

Specifications

Weight:

11.34kg (claimed)

Groupset:

Shimano Claris

Wheels:

Diamondback Equation rims on unbranded hubs

Frame sizes:

XS/47 - XL/59

View at REI.comCheck Amazon

Reasons to buy

+

Super versatile for one bike to do it all

+

Gravel-capable

+

Lots of mounting options, including the fork

Reasons to avoid

-

Heavy

The Diamondback Haanjo 2 may appear to be a better fit for our guide to the best budget gravel bikes, and it certainly comes with gravel capabilities, but first and foremost it's designed to be a do-it-all bike that can perform all the main functions needed without the need to own a quiver. If you're short on storage space and need something affordable that can be used for road riding, commuting, touring and recreational off-road stints, the Haanjo is the one.

The aluminium frame is paired with a steel fork, which admittedly does put it at the heavier end of the spectrum. However, with plenty of mounting options including on the fork, you can set it up however you wish to, and switch things up whenever you need to take the Haanjo for a different kind of ride.

Driven by a Shimano Claris 2x8-speed drivetrain and controlled with Tektro Lyra mechanical disc brakes, the Haanjo 2 comes stock with plush 40mm Vee Rubber Speedster tyres for a super comfortable ride and reduced rolling resistance when fully inflated.

(Image credit: Cannondale )

11. Cannondale Synapse Disc Sora

The best budget road bike for future upgrades

Specifications

Weight:

10.4kg

Groupset:

Shimano Sora

Wheels:

RD rims on Formula Hubs

Frame Sizes:

48-61cm

Check AmazonVisit Site

Reasons to buy

+

High-quality frame and full carbon fork 

+

Front thru-axle

Reasons to avoid

-

Expensive when compared to other equally specced budget road bikes

At face value, the Cannondale Synapse Disc Sora might seem a little expensive in this company, but Cannondale is providing a high-quality platform that is capable of growing with you as a rider. The bike is built around a tidy SmartForm C2 alloy frame and full carbon fork, both of which have Cannondale’s SAVE (Synapse Active Vibration Elimination) technology built in to increase comfort.

The disc brakes are cable-actuated, but the frame has internal cable routing, through both the frame and fork. The Shimano Sora groupset borrows technology from Shimano's previous top-end drivetrain generations, making for a high performing workhorse-like groupset. Likewise, the Vittoria Zaffiro tyres aren’t the best road bike tyres on the market, but they are from a recognisable, well-regarded brand, and handily come in a 28mm size for extra grip and comfort. 

Head to our guide to Cannondale road bikes to see where the Synapse sits in the range.

(Image credit: Cube)

12. Cube Attain Pro

The best budget road bike for those who want to stand out

Specifications

Weight:

10.3kg

Groupset:

Shimano Sora

Wheels:

Cube RA 1.9 Aero Disc

Frame Sizes:

47-62cm

Check Amazon

Reasons to buy

+

Full carbon fork

+

Colour matched finishing kit

+

Thru-axle front and rear

Reasons to avoid

-

Matte finish frame not as pretty as the competition

German brand Cube isn’t the most well-known maker of road bikes but the company is known for its progressive designs – often bucking the trend for ‘boring black bikes’. Weighing in a touch above 10kg is impressive for a budget bike that has disc brakes, as is the fact that the Cube Attain comes with a full carbon fork, internal cable routing and nicely colour-matched finishing kit, meaning it looks more expensive than it is.

The durability of Shimano's Sora groupset makes for good value at this price; it all functions perfectly well, offering a slick shifting experience. Cube does a cheaper Attain model, however this Pro version offers some significant upgrades that make the extra cash easily justifiable.

(Image credit: specialized)

13. Specialized Allez Sport

The best budget road bike for aspiring racers

Specifications

Weight:

9.16kg

Groupset:

Shimano Sora

Wheels:

Specialized Axis Sport

Frame Sizes:

44-61cm

Check AmazonVisit Site

Reasons to buy

+

Good-looking frame with two colour options

+

Comfortable contact points

+

Good quality spec

Reasons to avoid

-

Tektro brakes let it down a little

At the entry-level of its road range sits the Specialized Allez Sport, a lower priced road bike with an aluminium frame, carbon fork, rim brakes, and 9-speed Shimano Sora shifting. If you're looking to get into road cycling, whether it's for racing, sportives or just general enjoyment at the weekends, this would make an excellent first road bike.

Forget what you always thought you knew about aluminium road bikes, because Specialized's Allez Sport, with its FACT carbon fork and plush contact points, does a great job of absorbing road chatter and leaving you feeling comfortable as you munch up the miles.

If we had to complain about anything, we'd prefer to see Shimano brakes over the Tektro ones, which just aren't as good.

Check out our guide to Specialized road bikes if you want to find out more about the full range of options.

(Image credit: Liv)

14. Liv Avail 1

Another quality women's specific model

Specifications

Weight:

9.6kg

Groupset:

Shimano Sora

Wheels:

Giant S-R3

Frame sizes:

XS-M

Check AmazonVisit Site

Reasons to buy

+

Specifically built by women, for women

+

Comfortable and versatile

+

Accelerates quickly

Reasons to avoid

-

No large size

No longer just a sister-brand to Giant, Liv Cycling stands on its own as a women-for-women cycling brand that focuses all its energy on creating bikes that women will love. The Avail 1 is its endurance road bike offering, which is versatile enough for long-distance rides as well as weekend sportives and Sunday club rides. 

Rolling along with Shimano's Sora groupset and Giant S-R3 tubeless-ready wheels, the Avail 1 offers reliable and smooth shifting, with a decent range of gears to tackle most terrains.

The spec is excellent at this price point, making the Liv Avail 1 a choice entry-level road bike for anyone hoping to fall in love with the sport. The only drawback is that there's no size large available, so tall women will have to look elsewhere.

(Image credit: Scott Sports)

15. Scott Speedster 50

The best budget road bike for hard to find sizes

Specifications

Weight:

10.5kg

Groupset:

Shimano mix

Wheels:

Syncros Race 24

Frame sizes:

XXS (47) - XXL (61)

Check AmazonVisit Site

Reasons to buy

+

Low price

+

Huge range of sizes to choose from

+

Beautiful paint job

+

Internal cable routing

Reasons to avoid

-

Rim brakes aren't great for steep gradients

For your first ever road bike, a Scott Speedster 50 is a cost-effective and good quality machine that will deliver a fun ride to get you hooked on the sport. The 6061 alloy frame and fork feature internal cable routing for a neat and clean aesthetic, and the 7-speed Shimano drivetrain with double chainset offers a decent number of gears to power you through most entry-level road rides and sportives.

Tektro rim brakes offer efficient stopping power and simple maintenance, while the Syncros Race 24 rims are paired with Formula Comp hubs and Schwalbe Lugano 28mm tyres for smooth rolling and puncture resistance.

If you're willing to spend a little more, you can get Shimano brakes and a full, named groupset. However, if you're on a tight budget and want something simple that will help you get out on the road to hone your skills, this is a great value option.

(Image credit: Vitus)

16. Vitus Razor Disc

The best budget road bike for year-round performance

Specifications

Weight:

10.61kg

Groupset:

Shimano Claris R2000

Wheels:

Vitus KT wheels

Frame Sizes:

XS-XXL

Check Amazon

Reasons to buy

+

Classy looks

+

Disc brakes, 28mm tyres and mudguard mounts

+

Front and rear thru-axles

Reasons to avoid

-

Heavier than other bikes listed here

-

Tyres are slow rollers

The Vitus Razor disc is one of the cheapest ways to get on the disc brakes bandwagon for road bikes.

It has a beautifully finished, double-butted aluminium frame and carbon fork with an anthracite paint job. The Vitus wheels are of a good standard and they also look the part with their all-black rims. The 28mm Kenda Kwick Roller tyres aren't particularly fast-rolling but should provide decent puncture protection, and can easily be upgrade.

The Shimano Claris R2000 groupset is a decent, well-performing kit but the 11-28T cassette could be slightly limiting if you live somewhere very hilly.

How to choose the best budget road bike for you

If you're looking for a lower-priced road bike, that doesn't need to limit your options. Most brands will strive to offer an entry-level road bike that offers a quality spec for those just getting started with road cycling or who want a budget road bike for commuting duties and who maybe have a more expensive machine already.

Here's the lowdown on everything you need to think about when looking for the best budget road bike.

Can beginners use road bikes?

We understand that drop bars, skinny tyres and clip-in pedals can be daunting for some riders, but if you can ride a bike then you can definitely ride a road bike. Getting used to the differences happens pretty swiftly, and if you're worried about clip in pedals then start off with some of the best flat pedals until you're confident enough to make the switch.

Tyres on road bikes have got a lot wider too over the last few years, and many bikes will have tyres that are 28mm wide or more. That offers more grip and a more comfortable ride, as the extra width lets you lower your tyre pressure.

How much should I spend on a road bike?

If you pick a number it's pretty likely you can find a bike for that price, be it £20,000 or £20. The £1,000/$1,000 price point is, in our opinion, where you can start to find really high quality machines that will be reliable as well as able to give you a real performance boost.

There's been significant bike price inflation over the last few years though, so if you can afford it, it's worth looking a bit over this price threshold. The good news though is that even lower priced bikes now often come with features like disc brakes, internal cable routing and quality finishing kit.

What frame material do I need?

Carbon fibre reigns supreme at the top end of the performance pyramid, whereas aluminium framesets tend to occupy the lower end. There's nothing intrinsically worse about aluminium as a material, however, so don't be put off in this regard - we even have a guide to the best aluminium road bikes that clearly shows they can mix it with the best. 

Aluminium bikes will generally be heavier than carbon, but lighter than steel. For an entry level bike they make perfect sense as they're less fragile than their carbon siblings, but won't rust like those made of steel, so you can get a decent level of performance whilst still being able to leave it locked up outside if you need to.

We wouldn't recommend cheap carbon bikes that don't come from trusted manufacturers; good aluminium is better than cheap carbon.

How many gears do I need on my bike?

This will be a function of the groupset that comes with the bike you buy (all the drivetrain components). Budget road bikes will almost invariably come with Shimano components, which is no bad thing as they're reliable, robust and easy to use and service. 

More expensive offerings may reach 11speeds, while more wallet friendly models may only have 8 or 9 speeds. More isn't necessarily better though, provided the bike has ample range for the terrain you're riding on - the more gears you have the finer the tolerances are for smooth shifting, and so the more maintenance they require. 

In short, fewer gears will be more forgiving if you're not the sort of person who takes the utmost care of their bike, and they're a little easier to learn basic bike maintenance on too.

Do I need disc brakes?

While discs have taken over at almost all price points, they haven't yet begun to totally dominate road bikes at the entry level. Discs are on the whole better, especially in the wet, but riders have been using rim brakes without issue for decades so they aren't the be-all and end-all. 

Our top tip would be to invest in some quality brake pads, which can make lacklustre rim brakes a noticeable amount better. 

What components should I get on my bike?

If you're buying with a set budget there will always be a compromise. A better frame will likely come with worse components, but this leaves it ripe for future upgrades. Conversely a less expensive frame may be built with higher quality componentry.

If quality build kits are what you're after then you can usually get a little more bang for your buck with direct to consumer brands like Ribble or Canyon, who cut costs by cutting out the middleman. Be sure of your sizing before you commit though!

What else should I look for?

If this is your first road bike you'll probably be looking to use it year round, so mudguard mounts will be particularly useful. Also, if you plan on using it for commuting then the ability to add a pannier rack to take your belongings to and from the office will also be of benefit to you. This will also mean you can use it for some light touring too, if the mood takes you.

Don't forget to budget for the extras you'll need like a helmet, lights and a pump. A pair of the best cycling shorts can be expensive but will help to make the saddle a lot more comfortable.

How much maintenance does a bike need?

If this is your first bike then we have one tip for you that's likely more important than any other: keep it clean! A clean bike is a happy bike - it'll save you money, it'll run better, and it'll stop you getting filthy. We've got a guide on how to clean your bike if you've never done it before, as well as a guide to the best bike chain lube to keep your freshly washed chain running smoothly afterwards.

Once you've got it running smoothly you'd do well to make sure you've got the best bike insurance and one of the best bike locks just in case the worst happens and someone tries to steal your pride and joy.

What are the differences between a cheap and expensive bicycle?

There are going to be a good few differences between a cheap and expensive bike. But remember, regardless of price you still need to pedal a bike and put the effort in. 

Cheaper bikes will use have heavier frames made of metal like aluminium and steel. You may get a carbon fibre fork included though like more expensive models. Components will be heavier and may not share the same serviceability or quality. You will usually see less technology and features such as built-in frame suspension, storage aids or electronics. 

The key point we would make is to if you can, avoid buying the very cheapest road bikes on the market that often offer a false economy in terms of serviceability and lifespan. They also won't provide a very enjoyable ride experience. 

Here are 12 of the best cheap road bikes reviewed by BikeRadar, costing less than £750.

As road bike groupsets have become ever more affordable and more direct-sales brands have entered the market, the ride quality and value for money of entry-level road bikes have increased hugely.

If you're looking for a road bike for serious riding, training or just commuting, £700 is about the price point at which you will get a solid ride that, given due care and attention, will serve you well for years to come.

Have you got a little bit more to spend? Make sure you check out our list of the best road bikes under £1,000, too.

A lot of buyers who would once have only gone with a traditional road bike are now considering a gravel bike instead. The best gravel bikes are more versatile than regular road bikes and will be better for those taking on mixed surfaces, but they are often heavier and may be slower on the road. We have a guide to the best cheap gravel bikes, as tested by BikeRadar.

Skip to the end of this article to read our full buyer's guide to cheap road bikes.

The best cheap road bikes in 2024, as tested by BikeRadar

Triban RC 120

A rare five stars were awarded to the RC120, making it one of the best road bikes for beginners. - Jack Luke / Immediate Media
  • £429.99 as tested
  • Pros: Ludicrous value for money; generous wide-range gearing; carbon fork
  • Cons: Tyres could be better

Like most of the bikes in this list, the Decathlon Triban RC120 has been subject to a pretty steep price hike since we first reviewed it in 2019. Despite this, it's hard to exaggerate how good this bike is. You could easily be fooled into thinking you're riding a bike that costs much more.

If you’re looking to make your first move into road cycling, or perhaps want to encourage a partner or friend, the Triban RC120 comes highly recommended.

Triban RC120 Disc

A pleasingly comfortable endurance-based ride that’s good mile after mile. - David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £499.99 as tested
  • Pros: Well-thought-out spec choices; comfortable geometry; value for money
  • Cons: Not light; firm ride

The disc version of the RC120 performs similarly well, with a very well-thought-out spec and the same comfortable geometry that's good for long days in the saddle.

Mechanical disc brakes will never have the outright power of hydraulic brakes, but they still provide more consistent wet-weather braking than conventional rim brakes.

Triban RC 500 Disc Brake

The bike has a relaxed geometry. - Russell Burton / Our Media
  • £650 as tested
  • Pros: Shimano Sora groupset
  • Cons: Slightly weighty

Decathlon’s Triban RC 500 Disc Brake road bike is a great all-rounder. It offers a comfortable ride and is fitted with quality kit.

The bike has a Shimano Sora R3000 drivetrain with a 50-34t compact drivetrain and an 11-32t cassette. As well as offering smooth and accurate shifting, this also provides a generous spread of gears for hard climbs.

Despite being billed as a road bike, the Triban RC 500 has clearance for 36mm wide tyres. This ensures plenty of comfort, even if you trade the road for light gravel riding or towpaths.

The aluminium frame is designed to be comfortable, only helping this bike take on everything from commuting to light bikepacking.

Giant Contend 2 (2020)

The Giant Contend 2 offers a lot for the money. - Giant
  • £749 as tested
  • Pros: Versatile frameset; sporty and comfortable ride; competitive weight
  • Cons: So-so brake pads

For an entry-level alloy bike costing a little over £700, the Giant Contend 2 weighs in at a competitively light 9.56kg – a full 900g lighter than the Merlin PR7, also on this list. While this may not sound like a lot, it represents a 10 per cent difference in weight, which you can really feel on the bike.

Like most bikes in this price range, the Contend 2 is fitted with a Shimano Claris groupset. There's also a full complement of mudguard and rack mounts, so the Contend 2 is an ideal option for those looking for a true all-rounder that doesn't compromise on ride quality.

The bike we've reviewed here is the 2020 model, but the 2021 Contend 2 looks even better – at least on paper – thanks to larger 28mm tyres and different brakes.

Boardman SLR 8.6

The geometry of the Boardman SLR 8.6 is suited to commuting and longer rides. - Russell Burton / Our Media
  • £550 as tested
  • Pros: Good gearing; balanced comfort and handling
  • Cons: Average brakes; eight-speed groupset

The SLR 8.6 sits at the bottom of Boardman’s range of road bikes but it still has a triple-butted aluminium frame and carbon fork.

The frameset is fitted with Tektro cable-actuated rim brakes, Vittoria tyres and a Shimano Claris groupset.

While the brakes are a little lacklustre and you might want to upgrade the tyres, the groupset delivers crisp shifting.

The bike’s endurance geometry makes it suitable for long days in the saddle.

Boardman should be commended for keeping the price of this bike the same for the last three years – something few brands have managed to do.

Mango OG 2X

The Mango OG 2X has a zingy frame. - Russell Burton / Our Media
  • £670 as tested
  • Pros: Steel frame and playful ride
  • Cons: No bottle bosses on the down tube

Mango has earned a reputation for its fixies and singlespeeds, but it also makes this 2x road bike, available with either a flat or drop handlebar.

Mango has opted for a steel frame that delivers a great balance of comfort and zing, smoothing out poor road surfaces in the process.

The bike is fitted with an eight-speed Shimano Claris drivetrain with an 11-34t cassette, so you should never be caught short when it comes to gears for climbing.

One drawback is there are no mounts on the seat tube, so you can only fit one bottle cage to the frame on the down tube.

But apart from this, the Mango OG 2X proves a great road bike with a performance that belies its price.

A flat bar, single chainring version called the Mango DO.GG 1X is also available.

Pinnacle Laterite 1 (2020)

The Pinnacle Laterite 1 is very affordable and not overly compromised. - Pinnacle
  • £430 as tested
  • Pros: Decent frame makes for a good all-round ride
  • Cons: A few small upgrades would make the bike great

At this price level, you can expect compromises, but the Laterite is decently specced and rides well. It’s not too heavy and while we’d replace the cheap, one-piece brake pads, there isn’t much else to complain about. It’s even versatile thanks to rack and mudguard mounts, and there are both men's and women's versions available.

Stock of this bike has now sold out and the Pinnacle Laterite 1 has been replaced with a 2021 model, but used examples do come up for sale fairly regularly.

Pinnacle Laterite 3 (2021)

The Pinnacle Laterite 3 proves there's nothing wrong with rim brakes or a workhorse Shimano drivetrain. - David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £600 as tested
  • Pros: A bargain, even at new price; blends comfort and performance
  • Cons: Some low-spec components

The Pinnacle Laterite 3 provides a nippy yet stable ride, defying its low price tag, basic build and cheap parts. Unusually aggressive geometry makes the Laterite pacy for a bike of this ilk. Our tester found the Laterite 3 comfy enough for 100km-plus outings, even venturing off paved surfaces.

Shimano’s nine-speed Sora groupset ensures efficient shifting. The addition of 34t and 32t sprockets makes climbing easier.

The rim brakes are dependable but could eventually be upgraded, while the 25mm tyres could be switched for a wider pair (up to 32mm).

Trek Domane AL 2

Trek's cheapest Domane remains a bargain bike. - Dave Caudery / Our Media
  • £775/$1,100/€794 as tested
  • Pros: Poised handling; quality spec; sporty feel
  • Cons: Handlebar can transmit vibrations

The Trek Domane AL 2 is the entry-level Domane. Its compliant frame and well-balanced handling are worthy of that prestigious label.

The endurance bike geometry will suit a wide range of riders and styles – it is comfortable enough for long rides on mixed-quality surfaces without feeling sluggish when you pick up the pace.

But the Trek Domane AL 2 could do with some upgrades. Higher volume tyres than the stock 25mm tyres would improve comfort. The inconsistent rim brakes could also be swapped out.

Vitus Razor Claris (2020)

The Razor cuts a handsome profile. - Dave Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £549.99 as tested
  • Pros: Wide tyres; smooth and accurate gear shifting; modern geometry
  • Cons: Non-cartridge brakes

Vitus's affordable Razor road bike scored well in our testing.

The bike is supplied with generous 28mm-wide Vittoria Zaffiro tyres that actually measure closer to 30mm wide on the broad own-brand rims.

That means comfy ride quality on poor roads and a complete package that’s hard to fault, apart from slightly budget brake pads that make stopping a little 'grabby'.

A women's-specific version was also sold.

Also consider...

Brand-X Road Bike

The Brand-X road bike is a great option for commuting or occasional use. - Jack Luke / Immediate Media
  • £300 as tested
  • Pros: Low price; surprisingly comfortable ride quality; Shimano Tourney groupset
  • Cons: Non-cartridge brake blocks; 14-28t cassette limits climbing and sprinting

Strictly speaking, the curiously unnamed Brand-X Road Bike from Chain Reaction Cycles / Wiggle doesn't belong in this list – only bikes that score four stars or above are usually included in our best lists.

However, at just £300, which is a full £80 less (a big margin at this price point) than the second-cheapest bike on this list, we can still wholeheartedly recommend this bike for commuting, riding for fitness or the occasional longer ride.

Of course, compromises have to be made somewhere at such a low price, but even when adding on a select few cheap upgrades, this bike still represents tremendous value for money.

Again, the Brand-X Road Bike is no longer available as a new bike, but keep your eyes peeled for used examples.

Carrera Zelos

The Carrera Zelos puts you in a comfortable, fairly upright position. - Russell Burton / Our Media
  • £375 as tested
  • Pros: Pretty comfortable; Shimano components
  • Cons: On the heavier side; limited bottom gear

The Carrera Zelos is a good-value road bike that's reasonably comfortable and well-specced.

Despite the price, the Carrera Zelos rides like a genuine road bike. The cable disc brakes and mostly seven-speed Shimano Tourney drivetrain work fine.

But the Carrera Zelos' high weight is exacerbated by the limited gearing. This may pose problems in hilly areas.

How much should I spend on a cheap road bike?

Mechanical disc brakes are becoming more common on cheap road bikes. - Dave Caudery / Our Media

Cheaper bikes aren't just for beginners, they can also be the ideal, easy-to-maintain platform to create an all-weather, year-round training bike.

In terms of frame material, nearly all bikes at this price point will be made from steel or aluminium, although some may have a carbon fork.

Most bikes around the £700 mark will be specced with an 8- or 9-speed groupset. The number of speeds tells you how many sprockets the cassette has attached to the back wheel.

£350 is about as low as you can go for a road bike before quality dips. - Russell Burton / Our Media

Most entry-level road bikes still come with either double or triple cranksets (with two or three chainrings at the front), giving you a large range of gears.

As 11-speed – and even 12-speed – groupsets have become the norm for more expensive bikes, 8- and 9-speed parts have become very affordable, and sourcing replacement parts shouldn't pose any problems for you or your wallet.

Externally routed cables will be easier for you or a mechanic to service. - Dave Caudery / Our Media

Most bikes at this level will also use external cable routing. This means the cables run on the outside of the tubes and are held in place with brazed- or welded-on 'stops'.

Although not as neat-looking as internal cable routing – which, as the name suggests, routes the cables inside the frame – it is far easier to live with and doesn't require any special tools to service.

Nearly all bikes at this price point will also use a threaded bottom bracket, which is easier to replace and often longer-lasting than many varieties of press-fit systems found on more expensive bikes.

While these bikes may not be the most expensive options on the market, it's still worth considering getting the best bicycle insurance to keep your bike (and investment) protected.

What are good cheap bike brands?

The best cheap road bikes 2024 | 12 budget bikes for £750 or less

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