- Best Steel Road Bike
- Best Budget Road Bike
- Best Touring Bike
- Best Aluminum/Composite Road Bike
- Best Carbon Fiber Road Bike
- Best Cyclocross Road Bike
Best Road Bike
Road bikes are designed for the tarmac — smooth, paved, surfaces. However, there are also road bikes that are quite comfortable hitting the grass for a cyclocross race course.
Whether you are a serious cyclist wanting to join the race circuit, looking for something for your commute, or wanting to take on the cyclocross challenge, there is a road bike to fit your riding style. These bikes are the best of the best and a great place to start looking.
There are road bike designs for speed and there are road bikes designed for performance and durability. There are also road bikes designed for long distance tours or just weekend getaways.
These lists give you a wide variety of styles, prices, and performance levels to choose from. The lists were created as a way to help you narrow down your choices quickly and find a road bike to fit your lifestyle and budget. Whenever possible, take a test ride and get a personalized fit for the bikes on your short list.
Best Steel Road Bike:
What’s so great about a quality steel road bike? Bradley Woehl, owner of American Cyclery in San Francisco, explained it perfectly when he said, “Riding a good steel bike, I tell you, is the closest thing to flying without leaving the planet.” Well said sir, and if you’ve spent time aboard a dreamy steel rig you know what Brad’s talking about. The ride feel of a well-built steel bike is unlike any other frame material out there. A sweet, steel bike can make it feel like you’re hovering above the road rather than rolling on top of it, and today’s road machines are stronger, lighter, and more versatile than ever.
Many of today’s racers scoff at the thought of racing on a steel frame, what with all the plentiful choices of carbon superbikes in most every bike shop and catalog on earth. But these best steel bikes we’ve chosen steel holds a few winning cards that can sway even the most devout purists of alternative frame materials.
Riders get that magical fit with a custom-built steel frame, matched to his or her exact body measurements, and that fit transfers through the bike to the road, delivering sublime ride quality and handling prowess. Steel is also durable by nature, benefitting from carbon technology with increased tensile strength to provide you with a lifetime of unforgettable rides. A well-tended steel bike can do its thing for 50, 70, even 100 years without a hitch. Your custom steel rig boasts a tailored look, too, with masterfully brazed tubing, hand-carved lugs, and Van Gogh-like finishes. Legendary bicycle craftsmen of today use techniques instilled through generations of proud tradition, and that quality vibe will make you ride like a summer breeze.
This best list highlights steel bikes we’ve chosen which feature comfortable weights of 19 pounds or less for reliable descending yet still lightweight enough to zip up a hill. These bikes also boast sweet spot geometry which allows them to flow like liquid over any terrain out there. Best of all, the rides here all have at least one trademark accent of their artisan builder; it might be an exquisitely formed lug or a monogrammed head tube badge or a head-turning, gallery-worthy paint job. Go steel and you get a work of art, one that looks beautiful rolling down an open road.
Ernesto Colnago started building bikes in 1952. Sixty-three years later, Colnago bicycles are still the most coveted among our sport’s fans. The annals of cycling’s history are stacked with the awards of renowned pros who piled up wins on these sublime, Italian machines, including Eddy Merckx, the winningest rider ever. All Colnago bikes have a way about them, and the Master is one of the best of the entire lineup, with an impeccable ride quality, dreamy handling, and long-ride comfort. Read Full Review
Wahsoe Valley, Nevada. Greg LeMond trained in this area as a kid, then went and won his first of three Tours de France in 1986. LeMond Bicycles was born in that same Nevada valley, and after a tumultuous span of recent years that saw the American hero’s bike brand fade, cyclists all o’er the land today can raise a glass to the return of LeMond bikes. The fittingly named and made in America Washoe pays homage to LeMond’s origin of greatness, and plies the road on a smooth and responsive ride platform with Greg’s same tenacious verve. It’s steel. It’s real. It’s LeMond. Read Full Review
Rivendell makes exquisitely constructed bikes that are made for one thing, riding. Their bikes aren’t built especially for climbing, or sprinting, or setting a new time trial record or light speed racing. Rivendell is about having a great time on a bike, with a little magic for good measure. The company’s name salutes Tolkien’s elven glen in Lord of the Rings, and if elves and hobbits rode bikes, they’d be on these. Rivendell rigs are simply some of the most beautifully made and strikingly handsome bicycles on the planet. Read Full Review
Tom Ritchey’s father taught him the skills to resurrect tubular tires and build wheels, and before long Tom was honing brazing skills to repair the broken frames of local racers. With an insatiable quench for more, he built a bike of own at age 14. Over 40 years later Ritchey continues his passion of creating masterfully crafted bicycles with sublime ride feel. Ritchey’s meticulous attention to detail is evident in every frame in the lineup, and the Road Logic is the legendary builder’s choice for all-around performance, whether it’s big mileage days on silky tarmac, gravel forays, or city limits sprints. Read Full Review
From the earliest days of the bicycle’s introduction to the world, steel construction was the norm and bikes were tested and ridden on not much more than rutted wagon trails. With well over 100 years of innovation, steel remains the go-to choice for today’s most talented frame builders. Seven Cycles is chock full of bike artisans, and the Axiom is a multi-discipline beauty, eager and adept at road and criterium racing, up tempo training rides, and all-day escapes, with a ride quality that only custom-built steel can deliver. Read Full Review
Best Budget Road Bike:
Cycling is a great way to improve your health, spend time in nature and enjoy your friends and family. While for many of us it may not be a career aspiration to race in the Tour de France, it doesn’t mean that we don’t want to enjoy great equipment, and get out for more than just a spin around the neighborhood. It’s easy to pay more than you did for your first car when shopping for a quality road bike. That’s why you’ve come to this list.
We’ve assembled the best values on the market today for race-ready road bicycles that won’t break the bank. These are aggressively designed bicycles looking to maximize rider efficiency, while minimizing drag. These selections are perfect for the cyclist who’s ready to get more serious about their distances, speed, and cardio.
To be considered for this list, all of the bicycles had to share frame shape or specific design elements with high end professional race cycling equipment from the same manufacturer. Additionally, they had to have composite or carbon forks, which provide for a smoother ride and reduce impact on a rider’s joints.
These selections have also been designed with performance geometry in mind, which positions the rider in a more aggressive stance and allows for more efficient use of the rider’s energy, and best of all they have an MSRP under $1400. The fit and feel of a bicycle is as specific as the tailoring of a suit; be sure to test ride any bicycle before making your purchase and find the fit that is best for you and your cycling needs.
Every Madone bicycle from the 2.1 to the 7 series has the same Tour ready aerodynamic frame and craftsmanship which the professional tour rider's enjoy. On the Madone 2.1, every component from the drivetrain to the wheel set and tires are an upgrade from entry level faire which give this bicycle the best value to performance ratio, making it the best budget road bike here. Read Full Review
The FELT F75 is an incredibly light frame with rigidity and strength, making it quick in climbs and efficient on the straight-aways. It's a durable ride that will improve any rider's performance. Read Full Review
The Fuji Roubaix 1.1 is a great bicycle for the enthusiast looking for good performance and isn't looking to upgrade too greatly. By using lower grade performance materials, this road bike leaves money in the budget for better components which don't fully make up for the lesser aluminum frame. Read Full Review
The Cannondale CAAD8 Tiagra 6 shares wonderful frame similarities with its more expensive counterparts. However, Cannondale has yet to find a way to match drive train components and wheel and tire sets at this lower price point that compliment their aggressive frame geometry. Read Full Review
Specialized consistently makes good bicycles at a fair price point. With the 2015 edition of the Allez Elite, they have made performance strides with improved frame architecture; however the remaining components of the bicycle detract from the performance too significantly to make this a great bicycle. Read Full Review
Best Touring Bike:
Sometimes cycling is not all about racing, rather it’s the challenge which comes from a cyclist pushing themselves to the limit over many hours or even days riding across hills and farmland, getting miles away from the city. Touring bikes are designed specifically for this type of riding and while they look very similar to a racing road bike, they have key differences that make them more practical for extended rides.
The majority of touring bike frames are made out of steel due to the alloys vastly greater durability compared to the more flexible aluminum or brittle carbon fiber. The frames of touring bikes such as the ones reviewed here are also specifically designed to improve balance and accommodate additional equipment. They often are angled closer to the road, lowering the center of gravity and the rear triangle is elongated, widening the wheelbase to improve balance. Spacing is also wider in certain areas so that the rider can fit larger tires, fenders, or a wider range of gears.
Most touring bikes will include mounts for fenders and luggage racks regardless of price. While some manufacturers will include the fenders and racks themselves while others will not, for the serious touring cyclist, these accessories should be considered a requirement.
One option to consider when buying a touring bike is mountain versus road drivetrains. Most manufacturers will equip their touring models with one or the other and there are a few that will use a combination of both. Mountain drivetrains will provide a range of gears making riding on steep roads easier while the range of road drivetrains will provide greater speed.
The criteria for these bikes to be considered for best touring bike include having a dedicated touring frame geometry with lowered bottom bracket and longer chainstays, quality of included components with the higher performing preferred over the lower, and added extras such as disc brakes or mounts for pumps.
With the Vaya 2, Salsa included every feature and convenience the long-distance cyclist could ask for. Besides all of the add-ons, it’s loaded with high quality components making it an excellent bike right out of the box. Read Full Review
On the Aurora Elite, Jamis includes all of the touring add-ons and provides high quality components to make a bike prepared for long distance riding. Read Full Review
The Long Haul Trucker is a beefy touring bike with all the expected features. While Surly builds it with everything required, it’s specifically designed to be fully customizable to suit the need of any rider. Read Full Review
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The Sojourn by Raleigh is a capable touring bike that can take its rider far from home and back again. Raleigh also includes several extra features usually only found on more expensive bikes which make it an excellent choice for the price. Read Full Review
Trek has spent so many years tweaking and re-releasing the 520 that it’s now pretty close to being a perfect touring bike. With its well designed frame, quality components, and some included accessories, this is a bike that should be considered for any touring cyclist, regardless of the distance he or she plans on riding. Read Full Review
Best Aluminum/Composite Road Bike:
In the bicycle industry, aluminum serves as the middle option of frame building material. It’s lighter than steel and more durable than carbon fiber which are the other two materials most commonly used. Because of this, it’s more useful for racing than steel but can also travel over rough and variable terrain without risk of damage to the frame.
While aluminum cannot be manufactured to the most meticulous specifications of stiffness like carbon fiber can, it is a material with a comparable weight at a lower price which can be ideal for the casual racing cyclist. Many aluminum frame bicycles come with a carbon fiber fork that lowers weight and decreases road vibration, one aspect on which aluminum falls short.
All of the best aluminum/composite road bikes reviewed here are pure road bikes meaning they’re designed with an aggressive riding posture to encourage speed and are intended for riding without additional load. The criteria for judging the following bikes as the best include their implementation of technologies such as modified tube shape, quality high-grade components lower, and comparability to carbon fiber frames with a higher rating for frames with similar weight or stiffness.
The CAAD10 Black Inc. by Cannondale utilizes some of the most advanced technologies in aluminum frame building. Equipped with some of the best available components, this bike is capable of going toe to toe with most carbon fiber bikes. Read Full Review
The Icon Elite has a weight and geometry inspired by some of Jamis' highest end models. It combines this and some excellent features at a more affordable price to make a very competitive racing bike. Read Full Review
Trek uses the same ultra aerodynamic tube design on the Madone 2.5 as it does on their highest end Madone models. The 2.5 also has some extras and adjustments like a slightly relaxed riding posture to create a capable racer while taking advantage of aluminum's versatility. Read Full Review
The TCR SLR 2 is the most value priced of the bikes reviewed here due to slightly cheaper components. It uses many of the technologies of its higher end competitors, however, and provides them at a much lower price. Read Full Review
Best Carbon Fiber Road Bike:
In bicycle frame manufacturing, the best of the best are made with carbon fiber because of the extreme level of control possible when building with it. Carbon allows highly calculated flex, stiffness, thickness, and shape to be designed right into the frame while remaining extremely lightweight. It’s the reason carbon is often used to build elite racing bikes that will complement a cyclist's efforts without hindering them with weight.
All of the following best carbon fiber road bikes are pure road racing bikes designed to be aggressive, responsive, and aerodynamic. While there may be many comparable frames, all of the bikes we’ve reviewed com fully built out with all necessary parts and components by the manufacturer. As a criteria for considering the following bikes as "Best," those that use more technologies for weight reduction are more highly rated, frames which have been designed with specific features to improve stiffness, and the equipped with a component manufacturer's higher tier components.
BMC's SLR01 is an odd looking bike but it’s the paradigm breaking modifications that put it on the cutting edge of the road racing bike industry. In addition to the obvious designs, every part of this bike is so carefully engineered for optimal performance that it could change the road bike industry forever. Read Full Review
The Orca M-LTDi may look blocky with lots of hard angles but it’s all in the name of creating the most advanced bike possible. By removing material in certain places and adding it in others, Orbea has created an extremely light and stiff bike frame. Read Full Review
Focus' Izalco Max is a top of the line bike using subtle designs to add stiffness and speed. This is matched with components specifically chosen to increase comfort to create a true super bike. Read Full Review
The Oltre XR2, Bianchi's ultimate racing bike is light, aerodynamic, stiff, and aggressive. It can be pushed to the edge of what’s possible on a bike and will inspire the rider to push his or her own limits. Read Full Review
Best Cyclocross Road Bike:
Cyclocross has recently experienced a resurgence in popularity in North America and as a result, just about every bike company that didn’t already have a line of cross bikes has introduced one. It also means that companies have started pouring money into developing bike technologies and designs so that cross racing is no longer just something fun to do once road racing season is over.
All of the bikes reviewed here have full carbon fiber frames and forks as well as if they are not built with disc brakes, the manufacturer sells a version which does. All of these bikes are also designed with tapered headtubes to improve control and responsiveness of steering. The criteria for judging the following cyclocross road bikes as best includes the quality of components used with the selected bikes using upper-mid quality components or better, the number of added features like internal cable routing, and optional modifications like electronic drivetrain compatibility.
The X-Night 10 Disc by Ridley is loaded with high end components and the latest technologies to put it on the cutting edge of the cyclocross market. With hydraulic disc brakes and an unbelievably low weight, this bike easily earns the title "Best Cyclocross Bicycle." Read Full Review
Although the Conquest Team is not breaking any ground with any fancy new technologies, it makes up for it by being loaded with high end components. It also has several features that place it above casual cyclocross bikes and make it a perfect option for the cyclist who is looking to start taking their racing seriously. Read Full Review
The Super Jake is Kona's top of the line cyclocross bike and accordingly it uses many cross-specific components. Coupled with well thought out designs on the frame, this bike proves that Kona loves cyclocross as much as they say they do. Read Full Review
The CruX Expert EVO has all of the design components that a serious cyclocross racer would expect. It also has a lower than average price but comes equipped with several of the features found on more expensive bikes making it a cross bike that deserves serious consideration. Read Full Review