Not all cyclists are created equal, and neither are their bicycles. We wanted to discover the key components to finding and choosing the best road bike under $1,500, or whether it was even possible. Our verdict? There are plenty of budget-friendly options out there that rival high-performance road bikes offered at much steeper prices.
With our help, you can take one step closer toward finding the ideal bike for your weekend long trips or official training sessions for races and triathlons. By reading our review, you can make a more informed decision for yourself and hopefully pass your newly acquired skills on to your bicycling companions and family members.
Help your loved ones to live their active lifestyles to the fullest by making top-of-the-line road bike recommendations to suit their needs and wants.
Features to Consider
While there’s no such thing as the perfect bike, we think you should stay as close to your wishlist as possible while considering the many features that make a road bicycle the right choice for your health and lifestyle. There are just a few features we think you can’t go without considering before you make the decision to buy you next road bike. Those features are as follows.
There are many popular frame materials and composites out there. All manufacturers claim lightweight solutions and unique riding experiences, but what are the best materials to depend on when you’re hundreds of miles in on an intense trip?
The most popular frame materials are, by far, carbon fiber and aluminum. Though steel is still one of the most utilized metals in bike frames, it tends to be heavier and less convenient for efficient transport than metals such as aluminum or carbon fiber.
Construction concerns give way to consideration of weight. Steel and titanium bikes are typically better for larger riders. Depending on your expectations and application intentions, you want a road bike that’s as light as you need without sacrificing the superior contact you come to expect from a leading brand.
There are many one-size-fits-all road bikes and while this isn’t always the case, there are many top-performing brands out there that are only offered in a specific size. Be very mindful of the size expectations and buying guide provided by any road bike manufacturer you’re narrowing your choices down to.
Components for bikes are like technical parts for a car. The manufacturer for the groupset of your bike of choice should be battle-tested and trusted by serious bicyclists or known for delivering lasting quality and superior performance.
You’ll soon find that Shimano is one of the most popular supplier of drivetrains and other parts, supplying most of the groupsets found throughout the road bikes in our bestsellers review.
Last but not least, it’s important to take a close look at the drivetrain of the bike you’re highly considering. The key components of a drivetrain are the pedals, cranks, chainwheels, chains, cogs or cassettes, and derailleurs.
All of these components work together to provide smooth operation and safe mechanical efficiency. After hundreds of miles on the road, you must remember to take good care of your drivetrain so it can last for many years.
No matter which road bike you ultimately choose, it’s important to ride carefully and with full attention to the road and the environment in which you’re passing through. Stay safe so you can ride another day.
Now let’s take a closer look at how these affordable bikes compete with high-performing bicycles you find at much higher prices.
Kestrel Talon Road Shimano
Sizes: 48 cm/X-Small – 60 cm/ X-Large
Design features: Kestrel’s Enhanced Modulus Hybrid (EMH), aerodynamically contoured stays, seat post, & seat tube, asymmetrically shaped seat stays and chain stays, 1.125″– 1.25″ tapered alloy steering fork, Vittoria Zaffiro Pro. 700 x 25c folding tires, & Shimano 105 STI shifters & brake levers.
Best use: Triathlon and road riding
Kestrel’s Talon Road Shimano is an ideal bike for someone starting to competitively train and ride in triathlons. This product provides the best of both worlds: a road bike with triathlon-performance standards.
If you’re wanting to race but are unwilling to make a serious investment, this is your solution. This option is incredibly lightweight, constructed from a combination of 800K and 700K carbon fibers. The stays, seat post, and seat tube are aerodynamically contoured, and the bike has been designed and tested in the A2 wind tunnel. Available at a price that’s still well below our review list’s threshold, this option has a lot to offer an ambitious beginner.
Be prepared to assemble several of the main components of this bike if you decide to buy it, because Kestrel does not include pedals and it is likely up to you to assemble the factory handlebars and seat. Though you may want to upgrade from some factory parts down the road, this bike offers value and versatility to enjoy for miles to come.
Related: If you’re looking for more of a specialized triathlon bike with features such as clip-on aero extensions, bar-end shifters, and an Oval Concepts tri-saddle, check out Kestrel’s Talon Tri Shimano. On the other end of the spectrum, a slightly higher quality and more specialized road bike would undoubtedly be the Talon Road Shimano Ultegra Bicycle, which is still a great deal even at a higher price.
Bianchi Intenso Carbon Italian Road Bike
Sizes: 53 cm (5’6″– 5’9″)
Design features: 20-speed, carbon frame, Kevlar-reinforced carbon fork, Shimano 105 shifters & derailleurs, Shimano R565 crankset, Fulcrum wheels, & vibration dampening.
Best use: Performance road racing
The Intenso Carbon Italian Road Bike features 20 speeds to fully customize your riding experience and is constructed with a signature, lightweight carbon frame to save on weight and enhance performance. The carbon frame is reinforced with Kevlar, a para-aramid synthetic fiber that’s commonly used in bulletproof vests, racing cars, military helmets, and firemen’s clothing.
If road vibrations affect you easily or cause wrist pain from absorption, this bike may be your answer. The Shimano 105 derailleurs and shifters cooperate wonderfully to provide precise shifting control on each and every ride. The racing sport wheels are made by Fulcrum, a high-end racing wheel manufacturer and distributor to more than 30 countries worldwide.
You can ride rough roads while enhancing contact even without a suspension system. If you’re training for a strenuous race or looking for an affordable solution to your daily or weekly adventures, this bike offers a lot of value for a small price compared to competing bikes that we reviewed.
Related: The Via Nirone Sora is an ideal alternative to the Intenso because it has a lot of the same features, except that it has only 18 speeds to fully customize your riding experience and it’s constructed with a hydroformed triple butted aluminum frame as opposed to carbon fiber. If you’re looking for even less and just want smooth, improved shifting operation, look no further than the 16-speed Via Nirone Claris.
Ridley Fenix Alloy 105 FE701BM Bike
Sizes: 48 cm/XX-Small – 55 cm/Small
Design features: 11-speed drivetrain, a low-spoke count, aerodynamic clinchers,safety reflectors, 4ZA handlebar, stem, saddle, east post, & cork grip tape, 105 levers & derailleurs, & water bottle mounts.
Best use: Entry level road bike
Ridley’s Fenix Alloy 105 FE701BM Bike is a fantastic choice for aspiring road bicyclists. While carbon has steadily grown in popularity, Ridley kept aluminum at the forefront of their conscious design decisions, including an 11-speed drivetrain, a low-spoke count, aerodynamic clinchers, and 4ZA brand components such as the handlebar, stem, saddle, seat post, and cork grip tape for superior performance.
The levers are sensitive to the touch and provide optimum control. This bike packs a lot of performance and competes with some of the higher-tier bikes that cost a whole lot more. Make your initial cycling investment last as long as it can by choosing a bike with these kinds of subtle specifications that still deliver a smooth, responsive ride.
The only concern we can express is that this bike’s largest size is only 55 cm, so that doesn’t leave a lot of options for taller enthusiasts. However, this bike scores high for maneuverability and should make a fine bike to last the first several or tens of thousands of miles.
Related: If you’re looking to pay slightly less for your initial investment into the hobby of cycling, the 105 FE701AM Bike is slightly more affordable and offers double the amount of speeds as the FE701BM model. If wheels are your preoccupation, the 105 FE701CS features Belgium tough 4ZA wheels that are designed for durability.
Schwinn Phocus 1600 Road Bike
Dimensions: One size only (56 cm)
Design features: Aluminum road frame with carbon fiber fork, Shimano 14-speed derailleur, integrated shifters, Promax alloy caliper road brakes, SR Suntour alloy crank, & high-profile alloy rims with spokes.
Best use: Upright riding
The Phocus 1600 Road Bike by Schwinn is the perfect solution for the rider that prefers to ride upright, thanks to its upright frame construction made from durable aluminum. What we like most about this bike is it comes almost fully assembled, which can save a lot of time and money compared to other bike assemblies that need to be turned over to specialists and professional bike shops to avoid any hazardous mistakes.
Also unlike a lot of more expensive, high-performance road bikes, this product is designed to accommodate numerous types of road terrains. The factory seat is not contoured, so you may not find it suitable for long rides or multi-day rides. This option also fails to be as lightweight as competing bicycles in our review.
If you’re looking for an ultralight bike that a little easier to transport, check out bicycles made primarily from carbon. The last drawback we found is that there is only one size to choose from – 56 cm – so that forces real limitations for cyclists that are shorter or taller.
Related: While the Phocus 1600 Men’s is suited for a masculine rider, the Women’s Phocus 1600 700C Road Bicycle makes a great gift for your female riding companion or counterpart. If you’re looking for the perfect city commute bike, look no further than Schwinn’s Kedzie Fixie Bicycle. With a steel racing frame and a total weight of about 31 lbs., it’s a steal at under $200.00.
VeloVie Vecteur 100 Aluminum Alloy Road Bicycle
Sizes: 46 cm – 62 cm
Design features: Shimano 105 stem, handlebars, & seat post, Shimano R500 aluminum wheels, 70005-grade aluminum construction, carbon fiber fork, alloy steer tube, & Ritchey components.
Best use: Casual cycling
VeloVie’s Vecteur 100 Aluminum Alloy Road Bicycle is an exceptional alternative to competing race-quality carbon fiber bicycles. VeloVie includes near-total assembly except for attaching the front wheel, so this choice is ideal for someone who’s not ready to pay the assembly expense of a more complex racing bicycle.
This bike is one of the lightest in our review, despite its aluminum construction, weighing in at around 20 lbs. In response to the demand for riding component quality, this bike includes Shimano 105 group components including a crank, brake levers, shifters, cassette, and derailleurs, whereas the alloy stem, handlebars, and seat post are made by Ritchey components, one of the most trusted names in cycling.
The front wheel hosts 20 spokes while the back wheel hosts 24 posts, providing a truly unique and customized riding experience for riders of any experience level. This bike delivers comfort after hundreds of miles, so you can rest assured that you’re making a smart investment.
Related: If you’re passionate about building your own bike and the powerful performance of optimized tubing, the Vitesse 400 Carbon Axis Road Bicycle frame and fork set may be just the thing you’re looking for. Looking to train and race on a triathlon-tested frame? Look no further than the Veloce 100 Carbon Axis Triathlon Bicycle frame and fork set that’s available at an affordable price.
BEIOU 2016 700C Racing Bicycle
Sizes: 50 – 56 cm
Design features: Carbon fiber unibody frame construction, Shimano 500 speed control & brake system, windbreaking design, ROTON wheelset, Kenda tires, internal cable routing, & an aluminum stem.
Best use: Road training
BEIOU’s 2016 700C Road Bike Shimano is the lightest bike in our review, weighing in at a whopping 18.3 lbs., and it’s even lighter than the VeloVie Vecteur. The wide range of size options is appealing enough to warrant this product a strong choice for riders of all shapes and sizes.
With a unisex design, this bike is designed to suit a lot of riding body types and is easy to transport due to its ultralight frame. Choose between a glossy black and orange combination or a matte black and red pairing. Either way, you’re sure to turn heads on the road.
Although this option is affordable compared to some of the high-performance bikes we reviewed, the lack of manufacturer branding and outreach can make some bicyclists uneasy about maintenance and part pre-placement or compatibility in the long run. BEIOU’s focus toward safety and inventive approach to research and development has led them toward the front of the pack for performance in carbon fiber.
Diamondback Bicycles 2015 Haanjo Road Bike
Sizes: 50 cm – 59 cm
Design features: Aluminum alloy frame, gravel disc performance, carbon fiber fork, Shimano 105 10-speed drivetrain, all-terrain tires, fully butted tubing, & a carbon leg fork.
Best use: All-terrain & bad weather riding
The 2015 Haanjo Comp Complete Alternative Road Bike by Diamondback is your go-to cyclocross bike for navigating unchartered territories. If you’re not afraid to rough some harsher terrain, look no further.
Diamondback Bicycles calls this an “alternative” road bike for a reason, because of its complementary design that features bigger tires, disc brakes, and a more relaxed riding position than traditional road racing bikes. Achieve ideal speeds in any environment thanks to all-terrain tires.
When you think of road bikes, you don’t necessarily jump to heavy-duty commuting, but this bike would be ideal for anyone looking to trade in the costs of driving their car every day to work for the smooth performance of knobby tires and wide bars. The durable and dependable aluminum construction with endurance geometry provides all-day comfort while riding and the hydraulic disc brakes provide optimum rider control.
There isn’t much more an enthusiast could want in a multipurpose bike at a price that won’t break the bank.
Related: Unlike a lot of road bicycles, Diamondback’s 2016 Trace Complete Dual Sport Bike is compatible with numerous performance applications and provides supreme comfort whether you’re riding around the neighborhood or across town to the grocery store.
Mongoose Selous Expert Gravel Road Bike
Sizes: Small – Medium
Design features: Aluminum construction, full alloy fork, Shimano crank, shifters, brake levers, derailleurs, & cog set, Kenda small block & folding tires, Alex Volar rims, 10-speed drivetrain, & hydraulic disc brakes.
Best use: Cylocross & gravel
Mongoose’s Selous Expert Gravel Road Bike is perfect for your cylocross, commuting, or gravel adventure needs. Though Mongoose may be better known for their mountain biking expertise and product success for the last four decades, they’ve found creative ways to bring rough terrain to the luxury and performance of road speed and maneuvering.
With premium Shimano components, such as the crank, shifters, brake levers, derailleurs, and cog set, you can rely on this bike’s quality craftsmanship and attention to detail. Who says you have to fork over thousands of dollars for a bike that can perform well on both smooth and gravel roads?
Like Kestrel’s Talon, this product does not include pedals and will require some assembly attention. However, this bike is a perfect mid-range solution for a beginning biker that doesn’t want to be confined to the exclusivity of a high-quality road bike. Have the best of both words and let this bike take you wherever you want to go.
Related: If you need to fulfill your need for speed but you need a wider variety in size to accommodate your build, check out the Selous Sport Gravel Road Bike by Mongoose from 54 to 61 cm. For about half the price of any of the bicycles we reviewed, you can opt for the Maurice Road Bike with a double butted fixie frame to use as a courier bike or for casual touring.
As the form and standards of competitive racing and casual touring evolve, we will see no shortage of new technologies and components in our road, racing, and multi-use bikes. Cycling is the ultimate hobby for people who love to get outside and enjoy the sound and feel of the pavement beneath them.
Whether you’re looking to upgrade your current equipment or invest wisely as you endeavor to make cycling your new favorite hobby, remember to keep material, size, groupsets, and drivetrains in mind as you decide. If you follow your instinct and keep your wallet’s best interests in mind, you’ll be one step closer to finding the perfect bike for you and your future adventures.
Heed the call of the road and get out there. If you think we forgot to mention any of the other great products out there, please let us know in the comments below!