The best road bikes between £1,000 – £2,000

Looking for a road bike between £1-2k? Here are the best, chosen by our experts.

by Myles Warwood |

With the prices at the petrol pump not showing any sign of dropping back down any time soon, the outlay on a push bicycle could see a return in your funds sooner rather than later, certainly if your budget is around £1,000 - £2,000.

Whether you’re riding for fitness, to get yourself to and from work or to get about, having a bike which you want is essential; while some people would argue that to do all of these things, you will need different bikes, the reality is that the best bike for getting about is the one you have.

We’ve had a good look at the most reputable online retailers to bring you the best bikes in that price range but before we get into that, let’s take a little look at what to look out for on bikes in this price range.

Carbon fibre is much better than aluminium, right?

Wrong. There are different grades of carbon fibre and different grades and types of aluminium. A high-quality aluminium frame with carbon forks can be a much nicer, faster, and smoother ride than a lower-grade bike with cheaper carbon fibre.

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While it’s true that bikes get more expensive, we see carbon fibre starting to dominate the composites, which make them up because of the grade of carbon fibre used. Once you get past a certain price point, carbon fibre can be better than aluminium, but in the £1,000 - £2,000 market, the best option is generally aluminium with carbon forks.

Disc brakes or rim brakes?

For us, there’s no argument here - go for disc brakes. Certainly, hydraulic disc brakes are by far more powerful and are better than rim brakes. Now that statement might cause debate amongst the purists, but for us, it’s true. The stopping power you get from disc brakes is far superior. Mechanical disc brakes are controlled in a conventional way by a cable from your brake lever to the callipers or hydraulic disc brakes, which use fluid to control the brakes.

It’ll come as no surprise that hydraulic disc brakes (as these are found on more expensive models) are better again than mechanical disc brakes; they give greater stopping power and have more modulation control over the brake.

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Can I commute on a road bike?

You can commute on any bike you like, there is no right and wrong, providing you can carry what you need either in a backpack or on your bike. So yes, you absolutely can commute on a road bike – what's more, you can then use this bike at the weekend or in the evenings when you want to go on a longer ride.

Internal or external cables?

They both have their pros and cons. Internal cables are becoming more of a regular feature on bikes in this price bracket, they used to be reserved for bikes over £2k, but now, they’re much more commonplace. The reason for having internal cables is that not only does it clean up the bike’s aesthetics, but there is also a slight aerodynamic gain.

Internal cables will make cleaning your bike much easier as there won’t be any cables running alongside your frame to clean between; however, the payoff for this is maintenance. With the wires housed inside the bike’s frame, changing them can be tricky and handing this over to a qualified mechanic might do you better than doing it yourself.

While external cables may be fiddlier to clean around, they’re much simpler to replace, making maintenance costs much lower. Generally, a bike with external cabling is cheaper to start with and cheaper to maintain but harder to clean… it’s swings and roundabouts. We love the look of internals, but externals make sense, too… six or two threes.

Shimano groupsets explained

Most, if not all, of the bikes in this price bracket will be on Shimano groupsets; these are any parts involved in braking, changing gear or running the drivetrain. This includes the shifters, brake levers, front and rear callipers, front and rear derailleurs (sometimes referred to as mechs), crankset, bottom bracket, chain and cassette.

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They’ll tend to be in the more entry-level gearing, around £1,000 - £2,000. You should be expecting to see Shimano Sora, Tiagra and 105 dominating the market. On rare occasions, you may find the Ultergra R8050 series on bikes in this price range - when you do, you should also buy a lottery ticket because you're clearly lucky.

bike cassette
Gears, sprockets and chain of a mountain sports bike on a white background. Bicycle parts.

The differences in these groupsets can affect the overall price of the bike, and it’s often what you’re paying the added extra for if all else on the bikes is equal.

Listed from most expensive to much more entry-level, they are:

• Dura-Ace
• Dura-Ace R9150 Series
• Ultegra
• Ultegra R8050 Series
• 105
• Tiagra
• Sora
• Claris
• Tourney
• A050

So what are the best bikes in the £1,000 - £2,000 price bracket?

Excellent question; let’s look at some road bikes from Sigma Sports, Wiggle and Chain Reaction as to what will help save you money and fit you in 2022. The superwide and super comfy Schwalbe G-One tyres offer a studded grip when you’re on the loose gravel trails and have an excellent rolling range on the road.

Cube is a German bike brand that has been steadily growing in reputation and offering very light frames with a geometry set more towards racing. However, the Nuroad FE is set up for either road or trail. With big soft 40mm Schwalbe G-One tyres, you get a nice roll on the road and a little bit of extra traction on the loose stuff.

The lower price is brought about by having gearing from the lower end of Shimano’s range, the Claris gears offer you eight cogs on the back and two on the crank giving you a good range, but you may be after something more if you’re going to want to use this for flat out road riding.

Mechanical disc brakes offer good stopping power, and with the 6061 T6 aluminium frame and carbon forks, road buzz will be kept down, as will weight.

Perfect for commuting and light road riding
Mounts for luggage racks, mudguards and kickstand

Shimano gearing is at the lower end of their range

This Cannondale Synapse is aggressively priced, right down at the bottom of the price range, and there doesn’t seem to be too many downsides to it, other than it’s a 2021 model. It has Shimano Tiagra gears giving you two on the crank and ten on the back, allowing for excellent climbing and sprinting capabilities. This is only improved by the geometry, which while on the slight side of endurance, is still enough to help you climb the hills.

There isn’t an awful lot not to like about this bike; sure, we’d appreciate a slightly lighter frame, but Cannondale combat this well with a SmartForm C2 Alloy and full carbon forks to eliminate road buzz.

Good Groupset
Nice price point
Great entry-level bike

Only available in blue

Well-respected brand Specialized has been a mainstay in the modern peloton for a long time, powering riders such as Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan to many stage wins at the Tour de France.

The Allez E5 merges high levels of performance with affordability to bring about this bike which, because of its geometry, is perfect for fast training rides and long commutes. This is aided by the fact there are frameset mounts, meaning you can attach mudguards and luggage racks to store anything you need for the commute.

The E5 aluminium frame and carbon forks mean that you have a lightweight bike, which provides a bit of flex to help reduce road buzz and absorb shocks. With Shimano Sora gears giving you two on the crank and nine cogs on the rear, you have a range of gears to help you sprint and climb.

Well-respected brand
Nice geometry to suit your riding style.
A good mix of components and composites used to make the bike

Internal cabling brings about higher maintenance costs

Priced the same as the above Specialized Allez, but what’s different? Well, this is an Orbea, a 2021 model as opposed to 2022 above – it comes with the Shimano Claris Groupset, which is a step down from the Sora on the Allez. The frame is made from hydroformed aluminium with variable thickness tubing that offers strength and not at the cost of weight, bringing about comfort thanks to the kinked top tube, which makes the frame triangle shorter and heightens vertical compliance.

The cabling is completely hidden, giving you a gloriously un-messy cockpit and super sleek design to go with this comfortable riding position for long days in the saddle.

Long rides are comfortable.
Nice clean aesthetic

Would expect a better groupset at this price point

Here’s something for you, this Fuji sportive does have hydraulic disc brakes. Still, they’re hybrid mechanical, hydraulic disc brakes – this hybrid system has a mechanical cable and a hydraulic master cylinder on the brake itself. What does this mean? Well, it means you get some of the advantages of hydraulic brakes, like self-adjusting brakes as the calliper wears. The cable will be in at the calliper end of the brake, not the lever end.

There’s also more carbon fibre on this bike with a carbon tapered steerer, monocoque with an A2-SL alloy frame. Some cables are internally routed while others are external – on edge are mounted for luggage racks and mudguards.

Shimano 105 Groupset
Lightweight at only 10kg

Complete internal cables would be desirable at this price point

A complete carbon women’s bike with Shimano 105 Groupset, hydraulic disc brakes and internal cabling is available for less than £1,500. But how does it keep prices so low? Vitus isn’t as well-known a brand as others on this list, which is why it’s able to bring its price down to be competitive. It’s looking to draw in new riders or people looking to change bikes at an attractive price.

Another reason for the low price is that Vitus have made the wheels and hubs in-house. There’s a slight trick from Vitus – they may be running a Shimano 105 Groupset, but they have a Sunrace CS-RX1 11-speed gears. While these are the same price as the 105 gears, they might not be as durable.

Shimano 105 groupset
Specific to women in terms of geometry

Would like to see 105 gears with the bike

The Gold Evo 105-FSA from Orro features a full-carbon frame with a Shimano 105 2x11-Speed groupset and Tektro mechanical disc brakes. This bike is ideal for long-distance endurance rides, fast race events and training sessions. Plus, it rolls on fast-spinning Fulcrum R800 wheels wrapped in Continental Grand Sport Race SL tyres for a sublime balance of pace, agility, reliability and all-weather grip.

That is a lot of bicycle for not a lot of money; why you may ask? Well, the Carbon Fibre frame might be the answer; there is no rating given in the specification on the carbon used, which is always a sign of caution.

Shimano 105 groupset and gears
Fulcrum R800 wheels

Not a very well-known brand
Reservations over the quality of the carbon fibre

Myles is a Commercial Content Writer for What's The Best, Parkers and CAR. His areas of expertise include cycling, fitness tech and hot hatches.

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