BIKING

Best Road Bike: Hit the Road at the Top of Your Game

Road bike in the city
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

Whether you’re a leisure rider, use your bike for commuting or you’re training for a triathlon, the product you choose will be a serious investment so it’s important that you find the best road bike you can. Your bike needs to be comfortable to ride, handle well and perform on whatever terrain and purpose you need it for.

We know that with all the options on offer, the decision on which one to go for can be a little overwhelming, but relax; we’ve done the research so you don’t have to! We’ve reviewed the best products available for you to purchase right now and provided a brief guide on all things bikes to help steer you through.

WHAT IS A ROAD BIKE?

 Road bikes are designed primarily for use on paved roads and are suitable for activities such as racing or simply just commuting to work. A road bike differs from other types of bikes such as a mountain or cyclocross bike by being much lighter and having thinner tires.

Cycling on long winding road

The purpose of their design is to provide more speed, and to be light-weight and easy to manage so you can tackle any conditions you may encounter on the road, such as having to negotiate traffic. With the increasing popularity of going ‘off-road’, some manufacturers have designed their road bikes with the capability to also be ridden on gravel or dirt roads if needed.

Furthermore, for those who use their bike for fitness or road races, you will find some road bikes being built with a tri-speed function to allow them to be used for both training and racing, all of which makes many road bikes on the market right now more versatile and hence better value for money, which appeals to a wider audience.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

When it comes to finding a bike that is suitable for your needs, it’s important to take certain features into account.

Frame & Fork

The frame and fork will largely determine the weight and strength of your road bike. There are several different materials which can be used in the construction of the frame and the fork, all with a common aim: to deliver optimal weightlessness and strength.

Road bike fork

Therefore, all road bikes will be light in weight, but the quality of material will vary and this will almost always be reflected in the price.

  • Aluminum or alloy as it’s sometimes called, is one of the most commonly used materials, as it’s a cheap substance and performs well as a lightweight yet strong option.
  • Carbon fiber is also used and is usually better than aluminum, but is more expensive.
  • Steel is also commonly used, and is a fantastic material as it’s less susceptible to rust, and is sturdy and strong, but it can be a bit heavy in comparison to other constructions.
  • Titanium is another option, and is widely considered the best material available due to its resistance to rust, feather-light qualities and responsiveness, but is usually only found in the most expensive models, due to its high cost.

Groupset

The groupset is essentially the bike’s gearbox and brakes. They consist of the gears, the brakes, the crank, the cassette, the derailleurs, the chains, bottom bracket and the switcher which is used to change gears.

Road bike gear set

The main manufacturers of groupsets for road bikes are Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo and they all have different products on offer to suit different ability levels, performance, purpose and bike weights. When purchasing a new bike, it’s very important to take note of the groupset used in it’s construction, to determine whether it’s suitable for your needs.

Road Race Bike or Sportive

There are two main types of road bike, the road race bike or the sportive, otherwise known as endurance bike. Which road bike is right for you will depend on your planned use for the bike, and in some cases, your ability level.

  • A sportive bike is suited for those who would like a sporty and light road bike for road cycling, but don’t plan to race. This type of road bike will normally feature endurance geometry, which provides a more upright and supportive seated position, which will allow you to ride for longer. Their frames will also deliver more compliance, which means they will better absorb vibration. They will also have wider tires, for better grip and stability.
  • A road race bike, on the other hand, features what is known as aggressive geometry, in which you bend forward over the handlebars to steer. Think professional racing cyclists. While this will certainly make you go faster, it is not a position that most people can sustain for a long period of time. They are always aerodynamically designed to provide high speed levels and will be much lighter in weight than a sportive model. They will also focus on power transfer and have a stiffer frame and fork.

OUR TOP PICKS

Now that you know what to look for, take a look at our product reviews.

Schwinn Men’s Volare 1200 Bike

Schwinn Mens Volare 1200 BikeBEST FOR: A sturdy bike that is ideal for commuting or fitness training.

SPECIFIC FEATURES: Schwinn aluminum fitness frame with rigid fork, Shimano 21 speed EZ Fire shifters with Shimano rear derailleur, alloy linear pull brakes, alloy wheels with high profile rims, Schwinn alloy crank, limited lifetime warranty

A versatile and affordable bike, the Schwinn Volare is lightweight and impressively fast. It’s the ideal choice for anything from training to day-to-day commuting. This bike features an aluminum frame with a stiff fork which guarantees stability on any terrain.

Further keeping weight to a minimum to provide further flexibility and control are the alloy rims which are strong, sturdy and light. It also boasts 21 gears and a rear derailleur which makes changing gears for any condition you encounter a breeze.

The incorporation of the high-performance linear pull alloy brakes ensures safety and security even in wet conditions. Although less expensive than some of its competitors, it certainly gives them a run, or should we say, ride for their money.

Diamondback Bicycles 2017 Haanjo Alternative Road Bike

Diamondback Bicycles 2017 HaanjoBEST FOR: A road bike that will also perform on gravel and dirt surfaces.

SPECIFIC FEATURES: Diamondback Pro Build, 6061-T6 aluminum alloy frame, endurance geometry, DB gravel disc carbon fork, 1.5″ taper alloy steerer, Shimano 105 11-speed drivetrain, TRP disc brakes, all terrain tires

The Haanjo Comp Ready Ride Complete is a road bike suited to a range of terrains, including gravel. With the rise in popularity of dirt and gravel riding, this product has been designed with the best of both worlds in mind; you can ride it on paved roads but also take it ‘off-road’.

For durability and smooth riding, it features an aluminum alloy frame with the addition of a carbon fork and a strong yet light tubed construction. Furthermore, the use of endurance geometry in the construction of the seat contributes to all-day comfort on uneven or rough surfaces.

The Haanjo also boasts a wide range of 11 gears which allows for smoothly adapting to a change in road surface or conditions. This bike is also a Diamondback Ready Ride product; meaning its shipped to you hand built and ready to ride rather than you having to assemble the bike yourself at home.

It’s the perfect bike to use for your daily commute, but also to take out on the weekends to explore on the trail.

Kestrel Talon Road Shimano 105 Bicycle

Kestrel Talon Road ShimanoBEST FOR: A great choice for road racers.

SPECIFIC FEATURES: Kestrel’s Enhanced Modulus Hybrid (EMH) carbon construction, aerodynamically contoured, full internal cable routing, Kestrel EMS Pro Aero Seatpost, Kestrel H-Stays

The Kestrel Talon Road Shimano 105 was one of the first aero road bikes available. Launched in 2007, it remains one of the most popular, and for good reason too.

It is highly versatile and great value for money as it’s the ideal choice for triathletes who need a bike that they can use for both training and racing, rather than purchasing two different bikes. It allows the rider to seamlessly change modes from road to tri-speed and change the seat position accordingly.

It has a carbon construction which is lightweight and stiff for extra durability and compliance. Furthermore, it’s seat post and tube are aerodynamically designed which dampens vibrations and increases power transfer, while its full internal cable routing delivers airflow over the bike.

Giordano Libero 1.6 Men’s Road Bike

Giordano Libero 1.6BEST FOR: An ideal bike for a beginner to intermediate cyclist.

SPECIFIC FEATURES: Lightweight hand crafted 6061 aluminum frame, 32 spoke high profile quick release alloy rims, 1 1/8″ thread-less stem, 16-speed Shimano STI drive train, dual water bottle mounts, kickstand

The Giordano Libero road bike is better suited for riders who are at a beginner to intermediate level and who also want to push themselves to the best of their ability. It features a hand crafted and lightweight aluminum frame which makes it lightweight and a joy to ride plus the included tires are versatile and perform well on any road surface.

You will climb up hills with ease due to the 16 speed shifters and derailleurs which change speedily and effortlessly. The only slight negative is the brake function; reviewers have mentioned that braking doesn’t feel as controlled as it could be with this product.

However, the performance of the gear changing system is exceptional. It is a great multi-use product if you’re looking for a bike that can handle a mountain yet still features the flexibility and lightweight feel of a road bike.

Vilano FORZA 2.0 Aluminum Carbon Shimano Tiagra Road Bike

Vilano FORZA 2.0BEST FOR: A versatile bike which can be used for both training and relaxed riding.

SPECIFIC FEATURES: 6061 double butted aluminum frame, 12k carbon fiber fork, Shimano Tiagra 9 Speed, 700C double walled wheelset, free pedals included, Shimano Tiagra derailleur

With its stylish design, the Vilano Forza is constructed with an aluminum frame and a carbon racing fork, making it a lightweight yet durable product ideal for hitting your fitness goals or riding at leisure. Smooth and fast, it delivers a comfortable ride by absorbing vibration on uneven surfaces and keeping you steady.

It features 9 speed shifters allowing you to have ultimate control no matter what road condition you’re faced with. This road bike is a great choice if you are looking for product which can be used for relaxed riding, but that can also handle the occasional race.

Diamondback Bicycles 2017 Haanjo Metro Complete Commuter Bike

Diamondback Bicycles 2017 Haanjo MetroBEST FOR: A reliable bike and the best choice for commuters.

SPECIFIC FEATURES: Aluminum frame, steel fork, 1-1/8 in FSA IS-3E Integrated Drop-in ACB headset, endurance geometry, 9 gears

The Haanjo Metro Complete Commuter is a road bike designed for just that; commuting. A hard-wearing product, this bike is reliable and exceptionally easy to maneuver, which will be appreciated when you’re trying to juggle your laptop and work backpack at the same time.

The frame is made with treated aluminum which provides the perfect balance between lightness and strength, and benefits from a steel fork which enhances ease of steering and stability. The incorporation of endurance geometry delivers more relaxed pedaling and the bike features flat handlebars.

The 9 gears allow you to tackle any conditions you come across from steep slopes to flat roads, and the mechanical disc brakes serve up the ultimate in braking control, even when you’re on an uneven road surface.

2015 Kestrel Talon Tri Carbon Fiber Bike

2015 Kestrel TalonBEST FOR: A road bike suited for high speed racing and triathlon training.

SPECIFIC FEATURES: Kestrel super light carbon frame, triathlon model comes with oval concepts base plus clip-on aero bar, FSA Metron bar-end shifters, oval concepts tri-saddle, Shimano 105 11 Speed, limited lifetime warranty 

The Kestrel Talon Tri Carbon Fiber Bike has been constructed with lightweight carbon fibers that deliver the perfect combination of strength and compliance. It’s aerodynamic with the aim of helping you reach high speeds, and is considered one of the fastest road bikes on the market.

Furthermore, it has dual-platform geometry which means it performs well not only as a road race bike, but also delivers as a triathlon bike. Furthermore, the incorporation of the oval concepts tri-saddle allows you the perfect aero position to go harder and faster.

Aluminum Road Bike Commuter Bike

Aluminum Road Bike Commuter BikeBEST FOR: An affordable commuter bike.

SPECIFIC FEATURES: 6061 Double Butted Aluminum Frame, Shimano A050 Thumb Shifters, 700c Doubled Walled CNC Machined Sides, 21 Gears, Free Pedals Included, Shimano Tourney rear derailleur

This road bike is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a road bike which you can use for commuting during the week or cruising around on the weekend, without investing too much money. It has 21 gears, ensuring you can adapt effortlessly to any change in the road and heavy-duty 700c tires designed to sustain regular use. Furthermore, braking is no problem with the dual brake levers.

The frame is alloy and aluminium with a steel fork which makes it lightweight yet stable. The great thing about this bike is that it’s price makes it a great starter bike, but it’s completely adaptable to new parts, so as you go on if you wish to upgrade parts of the bike such as tires, you can do so and it’s still a more cost effective option than other more expensive models.

Diamondback Bicycles 2017 Century 2

Diamondback Bicycles 2017 Century 2BEST FOR: A lightweight road bike that is most at home on paved roads.

SPECIFIC FEATURES: Diamondback Ready Ride, 7005 aluminum alloy frame with enhanced performance geometry, DBR AAMP disc carbon road fork with tapered alloy steerer, Shimano hydraulic road disc brakes, 160/140mm rotors, Shimano 2×11 drivetrain with ultegra rear derailleur, Michelin tires

The Diamondback Century 2 is a bike fit for purpose. It is best suited to paved roads rather than gravel or dirt. The feather-light aluminum frame boasts enhanced performance geometry. It has a slightly higher headtube than a road race bike which ensures improved posture which in turn lessens fatigue and increases comfort.

It benefits from Shimano Ultegra 11 speed shift and hydraulic brakes which both ensure ultimate control, and Michelin tires with HED wheels which further enhance performance. In addition, it is part of Diamondback’s Ready to Ride product range, meaning your bike will be shipped to you almost hand-built to completion, meaning all you have to fit yourself is the pedals, seat and front wheel.

Ideal for an endurance rider who thinks nothing of riding 100 miles non-stop, this road bike will fulfill your needs and more.

Wrapping it Up

So, what’s next? Do you think you’re ready to take on the open roads with a road bike?

Road bike at park

We hope now that after reading our guide on what to look out for and with an understanding of how all those functions work you are now primed to purchase yourself a fantastic new bike and get yourself out on the road in no time.

Which road bike is your top choice? Let us know in the comments.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Carraway
Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.

  • Alexander Bianco

    I have a Vilano Forza, which I splurged on for myself, as well as a Haanjo Metro Complete Commuter Bike, which I received as a gift after moving to a new city for work. I do have to say that the Haanjo Metro handles very well for its purpose, I’ve never had an easier, more enjoyable ride to work, even when the commute itself was easier. These are both wonderful choices.

  • Daniel Carraway

    Hi Alexander and thanks for sharing your experience with those bikes. Wow, you’re one lucky man since not everyone can have the best of both worlds! Those bikes are indeed awesome and the brands speak for themselves. These are durable bikes and offer good value for your buck. I’m so pleased that you’re enjoying your bikes. 🙂

  • Josephine Charles

    I know when I was shopping for bikes I was looking for one that I wouldn’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on. I found the Giordano. It has the least mechanical complaints from when I did my research and I have to say I am quite happy with this bike. It’s wonderful.

  • Tyler LeBlanc

    Schwinn is a trusted name and I know sometimes they have some negative reviews, I really like them. I’ve never had any problems and I to say I really trust the brand. I think sometimes, you do pay for what you get and I have gotten some great experiences from them.

  • Daniel Carraway

    For less than $500, this bike is very much a steal. It’s durable and will last you for years. Who says you have to bust your budget with expensive bikes? There are many bicycles today that are affordable and have superior qualities. Most of my choices here are from trusted manufacturers who have been in the market for years.
    I’m glad that you have found the bike that suits you Josephine. And thanks for dropping by to share your thoughts.

  • Daniel Carraway

    For that price, the Shwinn gives some basic features. It’s great for commuting or when you want to stay in shape by cycling. However, any biking fan will admit that when they don’t like some things with their bikes, they can still replace these with something better.
    Most of the time, seats can be a bit hard and uncomfortable (yes, it can happen even with the most expensive bikes). You still have options to change that since there are a lot of bike accessories that can be bought to fully customized your own.

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