Whether you intend to take relaxing rides from Hastings to Bexhill, or power up Great Dun Fell in Cumbria like Chris Froome dominating Mont Ventoux in the Tour de France, you need a bike which is going to meet your needs without costing you a fortune. Let’s review a number of machines on the market to see if we can identify the best road bike under £1000. But before we get to the reviews, here’s a quick guide to the most important issues to consider when spending £1000 on a road bike.
The very best road bikes will cost you much more than £1000. Don’t worry. You can still buy an excellent machine in a lower price range. The important thing is to understand that any bike manufacturer must sacrifice quality in some areas if they want to hit a lower price point. The big question is: where do they make those sacrifices?
Bike companies take two different cost-cutting approaches when building lower-priced machines. One is to use a lower-quality frame while using high-quality components like shifters and wheels. The contrasting approach is to provide a very high-quality frame, but pull back on the quality and costs of the brakes, gears, and wheels.
The approach which produces the better bike is almost entirely dependent on how serious you are about cycling. If you are buying a bike for under a thousand pounds only because you don’t have more money to spend, then select a bike with a high-quality frame. Rather than eventually having to buy a better bike when you can afford it, you can simply change out the components on the first one to match the quality of the frame – for a fraction of the price. If you never intend to upgrade to an expensive bike, you are probably better off just purchasing a machine with an average frame and excellent components.
Selecting a high-quality frame really means choosing the material you prefer. The four common frame materials are:
- Carbon Fibre
Steel is, obviously, very strong. But it also has just enough play to provide a comfortable ride because a steel frame absorbs many of the vibrations inherent in cycling. The problem with steel is that it is heavy. As you’d expect, the heavier your frame is, the harder it becomes to power through your trip (particularly when going uphill).
Aluminum is not as strong as steel, but is still more than strong enough for cycling. The advantage of aluminum is that it is very light, which means you need less energy to power the bike. This is important when you are cycling up a long uphill grade. Aluminum, however, is also a rigid material and provides a rougher ride than steel. Modern tube design has largely addressed this issue, but it is worth noting. Most of the road bikes on sale for less than a thousand pounds will have aluminum frames.
Ideally, one would make a frame out of material which incorporates the positive characteristics of both steel and aluminum. Titanium is that material. Riding a titanium frame bike can feel like riding on an air cushion, because the frame is incredibly light and strong. Unfortunately, titanium frame road bikes cost far more than a thousand pounds.
If riding a titanium frame bike is like riding on a cushion of air, riding a carbon fibre frame bike feels like riding on a feather. Carbon fibre, if you’re not familiar with it, is the same stuff used to make Formula 1 cars; the material is incredibly light while being stronger than steel. A professional standard carbon bike will also set you back five thousand pounds or more, so we’ll just have to dream about buying a bike of this sort.
His and Hers road bikes
There was a time when this article would have to include separate discussions on the best road bikes for men and women. Cycling companies now view bikes as unisex, appropriate for anyone regardless of gender. There are a few bikes supposedly designed specifically for women, but the distinction is largely just for marketing purposes. In this article, all of the road bikes mentioned can be used by men or women.
Best road bike for under £1000 – The Candidates
1. Boardman Road Team Carbon: £999
The Boardman Road Team Carbon is a tremendous road bike for the price. This bike has a full carbon fibre frame and fork, which makes it incredibly light. To be blunt, we’re a bit shocked to find such a high-quality frame for such a low price – although there is, of course, a trade-off.
Because this bike comes with an incredibly high-quality frame, it has far cheaper gear to get it under the thousand pound price point. The components include Shimano 105/Tiagra 20 speed gearing, which is certainly more than functional, but still a downgrade in quality for a bike with a full carbon fibre frame. The wheels are Mavic CXP22 28/32 hole rims on QR hubs with Continental Ultra Sport II – 700c x 25c tyres. The bike can accommodate riders from 1.5 metres to 1.9 metres in height.
The specs for the Boardman Road Team Carbon:
- T700 carbon frame
- Full Carbon Fibre Tapered Fork
- Tektro R540 Dual Pivot Caliper Brakes
- 20 Speed Shimano 105/Tiagra gearing
- FSA Gossamer Compact 50/34t Chainset
- Shimano Tiagra STI Gear Shifters
- Mavic CXP22 28/32 hole rims on QR hubs
- Continental Ultra Sport II – 700c x 25c tyres
- Boardman E4P Handlebars, Stem, Seat Post and Saddle
The Boardman Road Team Carbon comes in at the very upper range of our budget, but is more than worth the price. The bike provides a light, firm ride, and the components can be upgraded over time to create an exceptional road bike as you become more serious and committed to your riding. This bike compares favourably to the Elite line of machines put out by Boardman, bikes carrying price tags in the £2,500 range.
2. Rose Pro SL-2000: £805
The Rose Pro SL-2000 is a hybrid road bike combining an aluminium frame with a carbon fibre fork; this bike is designed to reward power. Shimano components are used to make crank responsiveness a priority, and riders consistently report that the bike is very responsive on both flat surfaces and inclines.
One of the problems with less expensive road bikes is that they often feel sloppy on the road. Rose designed the Pro SL-2000 with this complaint specifically in mind. A triple-butted frame, PRO SL Modulus Vollcarbon Fork, and compact chainset provide a tight feel with nearly-instant response. These features combine to create a very comfortable, easily-controlled and enjoyable bike for the price.
The specifications for the Rose Pro SL-2000:
- 7005 T6 Ultralight Aluminum, triple-butted, 1.280 g
- PRO SL Modulus Vollcarbon 1 1/8″-1.5″ fork
- Mavic Aksium WTS Wheels
- Shimano 105 FC-5800 gearing and sprocket with Shimano 105 RD-5800 derailleur
- Shimano 105 ST-5800 brake levers
- Shimano 105 rim brakes
This Rose offering is an excellent choice for anyone looking to purchase a quality road bike they intend to ride for years, since the design approach is to surround a solid frame with high-end components. For this reason, upgrading this bike with better components (as we discussed with the Boardman) is not as realistic an option.
3. CUBE Peloton Race: £899
The CUBE Peloton Race road bike has long been considered a tremendous bicycle for the money – with one major flaw. For some odd reason, CUBE originally designed the bike with a short head tube. This forced riders to lean over a bit more than usual resulting in an uncomfortable ride, and often, sore backs on Monday mornings.
Fortunately, CUBE has acknowledged the design error and fixed it. The new Peloton road bike incorporates a head tube which is 20 millimetres longer. The solution is effective, making this a very enjoyable bike to ride.
The Peloton is a tremendous first bike for a person getting into cycling. The aluminium frame and carbon fibre fork combine with high-end Shimano components to provide a powerful, responsive ride. Unlike most other bikes in this price range, CUBE has taken the comfort issue to heart and has redesigned the bike to not only address the short head tube issue, but to be more comfortable over long distances. This is a bike you can hop on for the first time and pump out 30 kilometres comfortably.
Here’s what you’ll find on the CUBE Peleton Race:
- Aluminium Superlite Double Butted frame
- CUBE CSL Race Carbon Fibre Tapered Forks
- Shimano 105 FC-5800-L chainset
- Shimano 105 ST-5800 series shifters and brake levers
- 34.9mm Shimano 105 FD-5800BLL front derailleur
- 11 speed Shimano 105 RD-5800GSL rear derailleur
- Fulcrum Racing 77 wheels
- Conti Ultra Sport 2, 25×622 tyres
- Shimano 105 BR-5800 brakes
- CUBE RP 1.0 saddle
- Weight: 8.9 kg
The CUBE Peloton is a bike built with high-end components, so this is not one you should purchase with the idea of upgrading it with better components over time. But the Peloton’s components are of such quality that this bike should really be priced much higher. If you are looking for a great bike for less than 900 pounds, it is hard to beat the new CUBE model.
4. Civia Prospect: £999
Not everyone wants to race when cycling. If you prefer a relaxed ride which favours comfort over sheer speed, the Civia Prospect might be the bike for you.
The Civia Prospect is not designed for performance. This is a bike for riding around town to do some shopping, or for a leisurely ride through the countryside. The riding position is more upright than usual, thanks to a head tube rising a full two centimetres above the top horizontal tube frame, running from the seat to the front fork; you will never be in a “tuck” position. The Prospect was designed with an abnormally long wheelbase exceeding 102 centimetres, which provides a smooth ride above all else.
If the purpose of this bike is still not clear to you, consider the fact that it weighs in at nearly 13 kilograms – a veritable tank. This is not a bicycle you want to try riding up Alpe d’Huez, because your lungs might explode. Instead, this is a bike which should last 30 years and be a joy to use for local trips, or touring on a gloriously sunny summer day. It even has an alloy rear rack on which you can hang bags, and mud flaps to keep you nice and clean.
Although the Civia Prospect is a bit of a beast, it is a great bike when used for its intended purpose. You can cruise around for hours on this machine without tiring. If that is your idea of cycling, then the Civia Prospect is worth your attention.
The specs for this road bike:
- TIG welded 4130 chromoly
- TIG welded 4130 unicrown fork
- Tektro alloy dual pivot
- Shimano HG30 9spd steel sprockets
- FSA Tempo alloy square taper compact, 175mm arms, 50/34 steel rings crank
- Shimano Sora clamp-on front derailleur
- Shimano Deore long cage rear derailleur
- Alex DC19 alloy aero rims
- Shimano Tiagra 9spd SIS shifters
- Weight: 12.9 kilograms
- Alloy rear rack
- Full mudflaps
5. Merida Ride 90: £599
For many of us, every pound counts these days. So let’s give some thought to the cheapest bike you can find on the market which still offers a quality ride. You can certainly purchase road bikes for a few hundred pounds, but those bikes provide a distinctly unsatisfying experience. Their poor materials and components may very well put you off cycling within a few months, and the bike will be become a fixture in a storage unit somewhere.
The Merida Ride 90 is perhaps the best option for a solid road bike at a low price. For just under six hundred pounds, this bicycle provides a smooth ride with performance that’s excellent for the cost. The bike offers excellent direct power performance; when you hit the pedals, the bike takes off immediately – a critical requirement for climbs.
With such a low price, Merida had to cut back in certain areas. The overall appearance of the Ride 90, for example, is not very attractive. On a performance level, the bike is outfitted with low-quality dual caliper rim brakes. The brakes will stop you, but will take some time to do it. The Ride 90 is safe, but you probably are not going to feel confident enough to blast along a winding downgrade coming off a hill.
Here are the details of the Merida Ride 90:
- Ride Lite-Single Aluminum frame
- Road Carbon fork
- Shimano Claris D front derailleur
- Shimano Claris GS rear derailleur
- Shimano Claris shifters
- Road dual pivot brakes
- FSA Tempo 50-34 chainwheel
- Alex R450 black rims
- Shimano 2200 hubs
- Maxxis Detonator 25 tyres
- Weight: 9.81 kilograms
If money is tight and you need a quality road bike, the Merida Ride 90 is hard to beat. If you can, though, spend the money required to upgrade the brakes because they are the clear weakness on this machine. Take this step and you might have a real steal of a deal.
Best Road Bike Under £1000 – Conclusion
Any of these road bikes would be a good investment. However, we have to pick a winner and one bike sticks out: the Boardman Road Team Carbon.
A road bike is ultimately only as good as the frame on which it is built. Finding a top-of-the-line carbon fibre frame for under a thousand pounds is an amazing discovery. The light, comfortable ride of a Boardman makes it worth every pound. The fact you can easily upgrade the components to turn the Road Team Carbon into a bike worth double the cost makes it all the more amazing.
The best road bike under £1000 is the Boardman Road Team Carbon.
Of course this is a largely objective option, and buying bikes is more fun done with your heart, so visit your local bike shop and go for a ride!