Last updated on July 5th, 2018 at 09:45 am
A good road bike is an absolute necessity if you’re looking for anything more than a casual stroll around town. The best road bikes are built to help you conquer any road with ease at high speed, but unless you’ve got the right set of wheels you’re in for a rude awakening the first time you come crashing off your seat and potentially injuring yourself.
If you’re looking for a new bike, now is the is the perfect time to get started. In this article, we’ll be outlining the most prominent features of some top-of-the-line road bike models that are sure to be a good choice no matter what your budget is. This will make it really easy for you to compare the best bikes and choose the one that suits you most.
Road Bikes Reviews 2018
There are truly a lot of fantastic bikes on the market today, and it is often difficult to find the right one for your particular needs. In an attempt to help you on that quest, we are here to offer you the best of the best in our reviews, no matter what your budget is.
The first item on our list is a carbon-fiber framed bike that is lightweight, durable, and won’t break the bank as most carbon fiber brands do. We can’t really find any downsides to this one. With 11-speed Shimano shifters, Vittoria Zaffiro Pro tires, and Oval wheels, this model is sure to serve you well on the road for years to come. If you’re looking for the best road bikes under 2000 dollars, the Talon is a good choice. You can see the rest of its features in our in-depth Kestrel Talon review.
Giordano Libero 2.0
The Libero 2.0 is essentially a high-end version of their entry-level 1.6 model, making it a very good mid-range bike with high-quality components and an aluminum frame (all individually discussed in our Giordano Libero review). It’s more geared towards recreational riding rather than professional use, but in this price range, it is definitely one of the best models you can get. After all, you can always reduce the price even further with Amazon coupon codes and deals. The bike is built with Vitesse wheels, Kenda tires, and 18-speed Shimano shifters.
Diamondback 2013 Steilacoom RCX
According to the manufacturer, this 5-year old model from Diamondback performs well both on roads and in off-road situations, providing the terrain isn’t too rough. As you can tell from our Diamondback 2013 review, this is one of the best road bikes under 1000 dollars. The carbon front fork absorbs a hefty amount of impact, providing a smooth ride in almost any situation. The only real downside to this model is the wheels, as some users have reported an unusual amount of wear and tear after a longer period of use, particularly on the rear wheel.
Diamondback 2017 Haanjo Metro
This Diamondback model is cheap, extremely light, and fitted with disc brakes, unlike most models in this price range which conventionally use rim brakes. This offers more stopping power and control, especially in wet conditions. If you want a cheap mid-range bike that still performs very well on the road, check out our detailed review of the Diamondback 2017 to see why this model is a good choice. If you’re lucky, you might potentially even get a lower price with a Chain Reaction Cycles coupon or something of the sort!
Giordano Libero 1.6
With 16 speeds, a durable aluminum frame and an overall high-quality set of components, the Libero 1.6 is one of the best road bikes under 500 dollars. The shifters allow for 16 overall speeds, and the bike itself is very light due to the choice of frame material. The main downside to this bicycle is definitely the brakes, discussed in greater detail in our Giordano Libero 1.6 review. In short, they’re not very responsive compared to some other models in this range, probably due to lower quality pads.
Vilano Forza 2.0
The aluminum plus carbon fork combination make the Forza a model that can really handle shock absorption. As with almost all bikes on the low end of the price range, there could be some improvement in the wheel and brake department. Specifically, the brake pads aren’t really high-quality and as responsive as the case is with some other models. However, you can always find a good deal on spare brakes online (a Bike Nashbar coupon always comes in handy), so don’t let that discourage you completely! If you don’t mind spending a bit more money on your road bike, check out our Vilano Forza review to see if this is the ride for you!
Vilano Shadow 3.0
The Shadow 3.0 is well-designed, stable, and responsive, albeit the frame is a bit heavy for an aluminum build. With its high stability and low price, especially if you opt for one of the Walmart promo offers, this model is probably a good choice for your first road bike. However, the integrated shifters instead of the classic trigger-style shifters could prove to be a problem, as well as the saddle which some people have reported to be rather stiff over long riding periods. It might not be one of the best road bikes 2018 has to offer, however, all in all, this is a pretty good bike for the money, which you can tell from our detailed review of Vilano Shadow 3.0.
If you want a super-durable, super-stable road bike that will last you a lifetime, look no further than the Bianchi Intenso. The frame is a combination of multiple carbon frames which, combined with the high-quality Shimano 105 gear parts, makes the Intenso model a very good high-end option for your next road bike. The only complaints we’ve found about this bike are about the wheelset, as some of the models in this price range do offer better quality wheels than the included Fulcrum Racing Sport models. If you’re interested in the detailed characteristics of this high-end Bianchi model, we suggest you go through our Bianchi Intenso review.
Schwinn Women’s Phocus 1600
One thing you can say about the Phocus 1600 is its incredible shifting action – quick and effortless even for beginner riders, and without any shifting gear lag. Another great feature of one of the best road bikes for women, as discussed in our Phocus 1600 review, is the ability to adjust the seat without the need for any additional tools – something that a lot of bike designers, unfortunately, overlook these days. The brake pads could benefit from some extra pressure though, so it’s worth getting them calibrated if you feel you aren’t getting enough breaking action.
Even with the steel frame, the Giordano Acciao is surprisingly light and responsive, and due to the hardness of steel, it will surely last you a long time. The wheels and tires are also very solid for a bike in this price range. The main complaint with this model seems to be the seat, as many people have reported it being rather uncomfortable after long periods of use, which shouldn’t really happen to a model that is considered to be one of the best entry-level road bikes. For further specifications, check out our in-depth Giordano Acciao review to see if this is the road bike for you.
Giant TCR Advanced Pro 1 Disc
If you’re looking for a racing bike, be sure to take the time to look at our TCR Advanced Pro 1 Disc review. You’ll be glad to know that this model offers superb handling at high speed, and an even better, super-responsive braking system (probably due to the built-in disc brakes). The tires are super-narrow, which might pose a problem for some people, and some users have reported that the frame isn’t that good at shock absorption.
Cervélo S3 Disc
Few models are praised for their handling as much as the Cervelo S3, and according to various road bikes reviews, you can get some serious speeds with this unit. Also, according to Cervelo themselves, their new disc brake design has supposedly solved the aerodynamics issues that a lot of disc brakes suffer from, which means that you get both superior braking control and speed. However, buyers have reported that the frame feels a bit stiff, which is definitely an issue that a bike in this price range should not possess. Still, you can get this model using one of the multiple eBay discounts and get an exquisite value deal. More about that and other features is covered in our detailed review of the Cervelo S3!
Trek Madone 9.5
For those of you who are primarily looking for a fast bike, be sure to check out the Trek Madone 9.5. The gear and brake cables are routed through the bars themselves, which allows for superior aerodynamics but makes it much harder to approach repairs should something go wrong (more on that in our detailed Trek Madone 9.5 review). The cool thing about this bike, though, is that it comes in three separate designs based on your desired riding position.
This aero machine features a stunning design, including an integrated stem and handlebars. This works to significantly reduce drag, with the bar’s flat tops effortlessly cutting through even the strongest of winds. The frame has been reported to be a bit stiff, though, so this might not be the best choice for bumpy roads and off-road conditions. Nevertheless, we suggest that you read through our Cento10Air review to see if this is the right model for you.
BMC RoadMachine 01
This model comes with a D-shaped seat post, with a flattened rear edge for maximum comfort during long rides. Additionally, the Road machine 01 is one of the rare bikes in this price range that comes with 25mm tires, that can probably handle even off-road conditions without any noticeable difficulty. The only real downside to this unit that we could find for our BMC Roadmachine 01 review is the price – at more than $6,000 it doesn’t come cheap (unless you can get your hands on a ProBikeKit coupon, for instance). That being said, you should probably opt for it only if you’re serious about your road biking needs and you’re not looking for cheap road bikes.
This custom-built model from Speedvagen comes with Shimano Dura-Ace mechanical shifters, a rear derailleur as well as an Ultegra front derailleur. As mentioned in our Speedvagen OG1 review, users have reported being able to achieve amazing acceleration and speed with this unit, and the smoothness of the ride has been described as if “the world’s best ice cream was made out of steel”. Since it is custom-built and the Speedvagen waiting list is huge, be prepared to wait for some time before your bike is assembled and ready to go.
Best Road Bikes Buyer’s Guide
Now that you’ve got a good idea about what characteristics the best road bikes have in common, let’s have a closer look at those characteristics individually, and discover why they’re so important to take into consideration when choosing your new bike.
The first and arguably most important characteristic is the material from which the frame of the bicycle is constructed. The frame is the skeleton of the bicycle. It is the deciding factor in how heavy the bike is, how sturdy it is, and even how well it absorbs shock. There are several options to choose from: aluminum, steel, carbon-fiber, and titanium.
Aluminum is the go-to choice for the best budget road bikes, but some high-end models utilize it as well. The main upside to aluminum is that it is very light, allowing you to achieve high speed without sacrificing durability. However, not only cheap models use aluminum; you can find them on high-end models as well. There are some cons to an aluminum frame, as well. Experienced riders have known to describe aluminum as being too stiff when compared to other materials, which means that it isn’t as good as absorbing shock due to its non-elastic nature. Once broken, an aluminum frame is nearly impossible to repair as its nature makes it very difficult to re-weld.
For decades, steel has been the go-to material for frames on the best road bikes, mainly because of its hardiness and durability. Steel is also more malleable than aluminum, making it more suited for shock absorption and providing a smooth ride, even on more affordable road bikes. The downside of steel is that it can be really heavy compared to some of the other materials. This means that steel framed road bikes won’t be as fast and easy to manipulate as a titanium-framed bike, but this is also something that affects the overall price of the model.
Titanium is a very popular material for bike frames nowadays because it’s both light, shock-absorbent, and very strong. It’s one of the two main choices for high-end bicycle frames. The frames of some of the best road bikes under 3000 dollars are often built of titanium, so if you’re willing to spend some serious cash on your next road bike, titanium is probably a good choice. The durability of titanium can be further enhanced by polishing the frame to maintain its anti-corrosive properties, and with proper care, such a frame can easily last you a lifetime.
Carbon fiber is the most expensive one of the materials listed here. It’s super-light, exceptionally durable, and malleable enough to provide a really smooth ride. A lot of Trek bikes use carbon fiber, as well as Fuji road bikes for that matter. Additionally, it’s much easier to manipulate than aluminum and titanium, which makes repairs easier as well. The only real downside to these is their price, although one thing to be considered is that there are multiple types of carbon fiber. There are both high quality and low-quality variants, so don’t think of carbon fiber as the best that money can buy because it isn’t necessarily so. Still, if your heart longs for this material, reduce the price with one of the Groupon codes and enjoy the savings.
Your road bike isn’t going to get very far if it isn’t equipped with a working, high-quality drivetrain. Put simply, the drivetrain is the mechanism that makes your bike move. An essential part of this mechanism is the chain that transmits mechanical energy from your feet and the pedals to the gears on the wheels of the bicycle and makes them turn in a forward motion. Drivetrains have come a long way in the last few decades, allowing you to switch between multiple gears and adjust the resistance of the bike based on your particular needs and environment. Other components of the drivetrain are the cassette, the front and rear derailleurs, and the chainset. When it comes to drivetrains, the most important choice you’ll have is the one between a gear hub drivetrain or a derailleur.
The main advantage of the gear hub type is that it’s a sealed system, and will, therefore, requires less maintenance. It’s also easier to adjust than a derailleur and more reliable as it doesn’t have as many moving parts. However, a gear hub will generally have a lower overall gear ratio than a derailleur, which means that you’ll have to pedal more for the same increase in wheel movement. In other words, a derailleur will give you better control over your speed – in both directions. Derailleurs are also much lighter than a gear hub, which can contribute to the entire weight of the bicycle, and are easier to replace with a spare that you can get from renowned retailers. Since spare parts for bikes are rather expensive, you should opt for one of the Merlin Cycles coupon codes and deals to make significant savings.
Apart from the drivetrain, there are several other components that you should pay close attention to when making your road bike comparison – most notably the brakes. If you’re going to be driving on bumpy roads, the ability to stop at any given time without falling off your bike is an absolute necessity. There are all kinds of brakes out there (Competitive Cyclist coupons can help you save on spare parts), but not all of them are created equal. You generally have the choice between disc brakes and rim brakes, and both have their distinct advantages and disadvantages.
A disc brake works by applying pressure to the rotor of the drivetrain, slowing down the rotation until the bike inevitably stops. This has one major advantage – it keeps the brakes away from mud, dust, and moisture. They also offer greater stopping power, and you can actually affect this by changing the size of the rotor. And of course, since they don’t get wet, they offer better performance in rainy weather.
A rim brake, as the name suggests, stops the wheels from moving by applying friction to the rim of the wheel. These brakes are more susceptible to wear and tear, but they’re also cheaper, easier to repair, and much lighter. They can still offer you more than enough stopping power if you maintain them properly, so don’t think that a rim brake can’t do the job.
Needless to say, a bike without wheels is pretty much useless, and getting the right kind of wheels for your particular needs can be the difference between the smoothest ride of your life and coming back from your mountain adventure with a broken bone (or at least a very bad case of sore quads). Therefore it is very important to decide what type of bike you need before you even start reading road bikes reviews and settle on a particular model. In essence, a wheel is a pretty simple device, but there are a few things that bike designers alter to make the wheels better – specifically, the rim width, rim depth, and the weight of the wheel. There’s also the choice between tube wheels and tubeless wheels, so we’ll cover that as well.
There are some advantages to having a wider rim on your bike, especially for off-road purposes. A wider rim allows you to use a wider tire, and a wider tire is actually what gives you the advantage. The rolling resistance of a wider tire is lower than that of a narrow one, and a wider tire has better aerodynamics. And finally, the wider the tire is, the lower the pressure inside of it has to be in order to achieve proper rolling resistance. These days, the standard for a road bike rim width is between 19 and 21 mm, which is what we recommend you get as well.
The next important characteristic is rim depth, which intricately affects the aerodynamics of the entire bicycle, as much as your road bikes clothing would – if not more so. The deeper the rim is, the better the airflow along the surface of the tire will be, which significantly helps in reducing drag. A particular downside to deeper rims is their sensitivity to wind conditions, and since more material is used, they tend to be heavier than shallow rim alternatives.
The weight of the wheels is another very important factor, for reasons we’ve already discussed. The lighter your bike is, the easier it will be to reach high speed. You want your wheel to be as light as possible while still offering all the aforementioned characteristics as well as it can. A lighter wheel will be easier to cycle uphill, which is also something to consider if you’re planning on driving through mountainous terrain.
The final thing we want to mention is the option to go with tubeless tires. Many companies such as Trek road bikes offer them and a lot of mountain bike enthusiasts are beginning to adopt them. Put simply, a tubeless tire doesn’t come with the inner tube that conventional tires have, which means that you’ll be able to get away with small punctures to your tire without losing all your air pressure instantly. However, you can’t just fit a tubeless tire on an ordinary wheel – you have to install a tubeless wheel first. Good wheels generally tend to be quite expensive, but with a Performance Bike promo code or a Wiggle coupon, you might be able to get a good deal on a great wheel.
That about covers everything you need to know about the components, but there is one additional, very important factor to consider – fitting the bike to work anatomically with your own body. This is perhaps the most important thing we have to talk about because even the best road bikes can cause you pain and potentially even injury when they aren’t set up correctly. When fitting your bike, there are two things you need to be aware of.
Saddle height. When you put the ball of your foot over the pedal axle at the six o’clock position, there should be a very slight bend in your knee. Too much bend means the saddle is a bit too low, and a straight leg means the saddle needs to come down a bit.
Reach. Unfortunately, there is no right position when it comes to this, and it all comes down to your personal preference. A more aggressive rider will favor a longer reach, as it allows them to lean into a more aerodynamic position, and a relaxed rider will likely go for a short reach, which is generally more comfortable. This depends on the shape of the bike itself, and there’s no real way to adjust it without spending additional money afterward, so make sure you get this right when you compare best road bikes before you even buy your bike.
Besides these two points, just make sure that you test-ride your bicycle before you actually purchase it, and voice any potential discomfort to your salesperson. Your road bike should be as comfortable as possible because you’re potentially going to be spending a lot of time on that saddle, so don’t buy a model that you won’t be able to stand to ride for more than an hour.
As you can see, getting your hands on a good road bike is a process that requires quite a bit of careful consideration in a number of different aspects. Hopefully, our extensive guide has helped you do just that, so you can get out on the road as soon as possible and enjoy the coming spring season to the fullest. To sum up, pay close attention to the type of rim, the wheels, the drivetrain and, of course, remember to do a proper bike fit before making a purchase. The best road bikes for your particular situation are out there; you just have to find them. Finally, when you need spare parts for your bike, take advantage of the Backcountry promo offers to ensure you get a great value purchase.