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Best road bikes: the best bikes on the market from under £1,000 to over £10,000

Will Strickson
26 Nov 2021

A breakdown of the best bikes of 2021 – plus what you should consider if you are looking to buy

Buying a new road bike can be one of life's bigger decisions. For many, it's as large a commitment as getting a new car or going on a big holiday and you'll hopefully have it for a long time. So it has to be right.

And there are so many questions! How do I know what's right for me? Do I need a carbon frame? Do I go aero? Do I go lightweight? Do I need disc brakes? Should I consider tubeless-ready wheels?

If you need some help with the basics, head to our beginner's guide to road cycling and don't miss our guide to the parts of a road bike to help get your head around any technical jargon.

To make it easier you should break down this process into some simple steps. Firstly, how much money are you able or willing to spend on a new bike and secondly what do you want from this bike?

Once you've decided on these criteria for a new road bike, you should be able to narrow down your options considerably. Then you will be left with smaller decisions like aesthetics and brand heritage to make your final decision.

Unfortunately, the bike boom brought on by the pandemic has been so big that most bikes – road and otherwise – have found themselves fresh out of stock. You can read our in-depth investigation of the inside story on the industry stock crisis.

Below Cyclist has chosen some of the best road bikes on the market from under £1,000 to over £10,000 that you should consider when looking for a new road bike in 2021. After something under £1,000? Read our dedicated guide to the best budget road bikes.

Best road bikes under £1,000

Don't miss our extended rundown of the best bikes under £1,000.

1. Boardman SLR 8.8

Chris Boardman has done it all: pro, pundit, politician. His bike brand also makes some tidy bikes at incredibly affordable prices.

This aluminium SLR 8.8 comes with the new frameset – redesigned for 2021 – and now has jumped on the disc brakes train for stronger braking in all conditions.

It's also sold with 28mm Vittoria tyres on its tubeless-ready rims to truly bring home the fact that this is a properly modern bike with all the trickle down tech you could ask for.

Groupset-wise it's fitted with the Shimano Tiagra groupset – one step below 105 and found on many bikes over that magic £1,000 marker – with a 10-speed cassette, which is plenty for British roads.

2. Triban RC520 

Sold through Decathlon, the Triban range is accessible, but won't alienate more experienced riders. A Shimano 105 groupset, disc brakes, carbon fork, tubeless-ready wheels and space for 38mm tyres or mudguards. The Triban RC520 isn't just great value, it's a very forward-thinking collection of parts too.

Using a compact 50/34T chainset and wide 11-32t cassette the range of gears is huge. There's also plenty of stand-over, while the short and shallow bars mean it's easy to keep a hold of.

The frame's heavily worked tube profiles probably do something towards the eternal goal of being laterally stiff and vertically compliant, but of more interest to the average rider, they look like they've been pinched from a much more expensive bike.

Best road bikes under £2,500

Read our roundup of the best endurance and sportive bikes.

3. Boardman SLR 8.9 

We often wonder, if Chris Boardman had a sexier surname – say Merckx or Pinarello – would his bikes be more desired? Probably.

As it stands, Boardman produces some pretty good bikes – like this SLR 8.9. Recently upgraded to Shimano's wonderful 11-speed 105 groupset, this latest version both is fully carbon and sports a huge 11-30t cassette to cover both the ups and the downs. Two very solid party tricks on a bike costing exactly a grand. 

Built around an endurance-focussed frame, this sports skinny stays, an integrated clamp and seamless looking cable management. This is backed up by a matching all-carbon fork.

Weighing a claimed 9kg, it's quicker than most bikes at this price point, something you can boost further by ejecting the tubes from its tubeless-ready wheelset.

4. Condor Super Acciaio Disc

A bike brand ridden by the likes of Channel 4 news anchor John Snow and Mick Jagger from the Stones, Condor has been a staple of the British cycling scene for 70 years.

The Super Acciaio is the London-based manufacturer's 'performance steel' frameset which couples endurance geometry for comfort with a lightweight, tig-welded frame for a supple yet spritely ride on the climbs.

Condor allows you to build your bike to spec with the frameset starting at £1,899 We are also number one fans of the classic paint job too – how classy can you get?

5. Ribble CGR Ti Sport

This one's a bit off-piste. The CGR is Ribble's Cross-Gravel-Road hybrid so while we're classing it as a road bike for the purposes of this piece it actually will do the business off-road too.

That means that when it is deployed as a road bike it excels in the comfort department thanks to its wide 40mm tyres, relaxed geometry, carbon seatpost and fork and titanium frame.

It also comes with disc brakes for powerful and easy stopping even in tougher conditions and on rougher surfaces – whether that's dodgy tarmac or gravel – and is equipped with a wide-ranging Shimano 105 groupset.

6. Giant Defy Advanced 2

A racy frame, big 32c tyres and a Shimano 105 disc groupset. What more could you ask for? 

The Defy has long been a trusted frame for the masses and this latest incarnation is bang on trend with tubeless wheels, hydraulic disc brakes and an 11-34 cassette. For 2021, its formerly ugly cable routing has also been sorted. 

This bike has been designed for long days in the saddle and while it is not the lightest, it is a definite contender for those looking to ride in the mountains for the first time. Like all of Giant's bikes, it also works hard to wring everything from its medium-sized budget.

Best road bikes under £5,000

Read our extended rundown of the 20 best aero racing bikes.

9. Bianchi Sprint Ultegra

Bianchi’s bikes don’t come cheap but – aside from the famous celeste colour – there's good reason for that. A bit of a departure for the Italian maker, the Sprint’s build is actually very different from the style of bike the company is known for. 

It's able to handle 32mm tyres and you can even squeeze in mudguards if you want. However, don’t imagine all of Bianchi’s racing heritage is gone. With dropped seatstays, a short head tube and a 73-degree head angle, the Sprint lives up to its name.

Providing a ride that's on the racier side of endurance, this is tempered enough to make it perfectly suited to long days in the saddle. Low in weight and boasting a Shimano Ultegra groupset with a pro-compact 52/36T chainset and 11-32t cassette, it also excels on long climbs.

A great all-rounder, with a top build-kit and a famous name attached. What more can you want, except maybe a bit of dosh off the headline price? 

10. Vitus Vitesse Evo

Every cyclist loves two things: carbon fibre and Sean Kelly. Vitus were one of the first brands to make carbon frames and took King Kelly to many a victory in his illustrious career.

The Vitesse Evo is the brand's headline racing bike with maximised stiffness, light weight and a progressive geometry and the latest model went down a treat when we tested it earlier in the year.

It's also incredible value for a 7.6kg (size L) bike that comes with a SRAM Force eTap AXS electronic groupset, hydraulic disc brakes and Reynolds AR29 carbon wheels.

11. Cannondale SystemSix Ultegra

If it's aerodynamics that you want look no further than the Cannondale SystemSix, which has its own 52-page white paper to prove just how fast it is.

It beats lightweight climbing bikes up gradients as big as 6% and saves a pretty hefty 50 watts at 30mph. And on top of that it's also incredibly comfortable, what's not to like?

With a Shimano Ultegra groupset, a carbon fibre cockpit, hydraulic disc brakes and Vision SC55 carbon wheels it's also specced out to the max.

If you want to splash £5k on a bike it might as well be one that you know will make you fast, right?

Best road bikes when money is no object 

Read our extended dream bikes test ride.

12. BMC Roadmachine 01 Three

Brands are always banging on about how fast their bikes are, after all riding a bit faster would be nice for the ego right? If what you're after is a nicer, more comfortable ride then look out for endurance-focussed bikes like BMC's Roadmachine.

It's been designed to soak up all the bumps and vibrations that you'll encounter and the geometry has been honed to sit the rider a little more upright so it's a lot more comfortable over long distances.

This model is built up with Sram's second tier Force eTap AXS wireless electronic groupset with hydraulic disc brakes as well as Zipp 303 S-Series wheels so it's packed with quality from top to bottom.

12. Festka Scalatore

Festka creates some of the finest carbon fibre frames in the world and the Scalatore, its super light and stiff road bike, is award winning.

The Czech brand offers a wealth of options to make your bike unique to you and will even offer custom geometry for just a few hundred euros more.

With the right spec choices Festka says it can create you a disc brake bike that's under 6kg, making it a dream for cllimbing.

13. De Rosa Merak

What better advert is there for De Rosa than it being the bike of choice of Eddy Merckx? The Italian manufacturer has been doing the business at the highest level for as long as most of us have been alive.

These days the Merak is ridden by French outfit Cofidis and while they might not be winning as much as The Cannibal, the bike certainly packs a punch.

It was only recently updated with carbon fibre but when we reviewed it in May it was a revelation, with a blend of traditional and modern marvels creating an elite racing bike with top tier stiffness and handling.

14. Vielo R+1 Alto

Many bikes on this list boast of Grand Tour victories, legendary founders and cult status, Vielo is but a foal among prize studs but its bikes belong in any conversation of the best around and its fans include one of the greatest of all time, Alan Shearer.

The R+1 Alto is a road bike that does it all: lightweight, stiff, comfortable, fast and agile. And isn't it beautiful?

Intelligently shaped tubing is paired with a 1× groupset – normally reserved for off-road bikes – for an incredibly clean aesthetic with that 12-speed Sram Force eTap AXS group providing simple but effective performance.

It certainly impressed us.

15. BMC Teammachine SLR01 Four

BMC's Teammachine is an all-conquering bike. It's a do-it-all bike that with each iteration finds more and more fans.

The SLR01 Four is virtually the same bike as the pros ride – the SLR01 One, which also scored highly in our review – with a slightly more affordable spec list.

Its aerodynamically refined frame is paired with Shimano's Ultegra Di2 groupset and CRD-351 SL Carbon wheels. To label this a 'mid-tier' bike doesn't do it justice.

16. Basso Diamante SV

While many manfacturers have their bikes built in the Far East, Basso has always kept its operations completely in Italy so part of this price tag is for the care and attention each bike is given.

The Diamante SV is the company's refined racing bike with years of geometrical tweaks making it a true marvel that really packs a punch, delivering both speed and comfort to the highest of levels.

Although it's available with a few groupset options, this one has Shimano's top of the range Dura-Ace Di2, which offers an unparalleled service. Alongside that it comes with DT Swiss PRC 1400 Spline disc brake wheels and a 56 weighs just 7.48kg.

17. Merida Reacto Team-E

One of the many reasons people love cycling is that it's actually possible to put yourself in the position of the pros: riding the same roads, wearing the same kit and riding the same bike. Merida's Reacto Team-E is the culmination of that.

Decked out in Bahrain Victorious colours, its the team's aero bike with every element carefully selected for its drag-minimising qualities including the sleek tube shapes and Vision Metron handlebars, stem and wheels.

Merida claims that only 209 watts are needed to get it to 45kmh, which is nuts. Just got to work on your aerodynamic body position and you're away.

18. Liv Langma Advanced SL Disc

Although many companies say their bikes are unisex, men's and women's geometries are different, so having a frame designed specifically for women is definitely worth thinking about.

The Langma Advanced SL from Liv, Giant's sister company, has similar elements to the latter's popular TCR and is a high-end climber with low weight (6.65kg for a small), high levels of stiffness and minimal drag.

It's also specced out to the max with SRAM's top Red eTap AXS wireless electronic groupset and Cadex 36 Disc wheels and there are more affordable models available if it's above budget.

19. Specialized Tarmac SL7

Going fast on a bike you'd be happy to ride all day has never felt so good as it does on the Specialized Tarmac SL7. In recent years the all-round Tarmac has become ever more aerodynamic.

It’s now so slippery that Specialized has finally killed-off its brother the Venge. Leaving this as the remaining dedicated 'fast' bike from the big-S, it promises to offer riders the best of the two former lines.

Fast on the flats, rigid enough for race-winning accelerations. Yet somehow not obnoxious to ride all day, there's even clearance for tyres up to 32c. Even more radically, this electronic SRAM-equipped version has switched to a single chainring. 

Already racking up WorldTour wins in its more conventional form, it also won over our former in-house racer, Stu.

20. Colnago C64

The new Colnago C64 could be Colnago's best bike yet.

It's what Tadej Pogačar rides so there's no debating that it deserves its spot on any list of the best road bikes and sure enough it was picked by deputy editor James Spender for our best all-rounders list earlier this year.

However that also means it's in incredibly high demand, even for the current market, so any chance to bag one surely has to be jumped at.

Plus you would probably also need to pick up a bike to ride for all those days of the year when it isn't wall to wall sunshine.

21. Specialized S-Works Aethos

Anything with the S-Works moniker is always going to be popular and the chances are it's going to be good too, as is the case with the Aethos.

Upon release it was claimed to be the world's lightest production disc brake bike weighing just 6.23kg for a 56cm equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset and Roval Alpinist CLX wheels. Yes, that means that it's not UCI legal so you can ride it but the pros can't.

It has the geometry to match the Tarmac SL7 but with weight shed at every available opportunity without sacrificing on performance.

Those weight savings mean this is an absolute monster uphill. If that's your thing, this is your bike.

22. Bianchi Specialissima Disc

It doesn't get more iconic than a celeste Bianchi bike, that's a fact. Many would pay the hefty price for that privilege alone.

But beyond that, the latest Specialissima is a ruddy good bike with top tier stiffness and handling combined with being just 7.14kg for a size 55.

That makes climbing and descending where it excels and boy does it.

There are multiple different spec options available but we reviewed the Campagnolo Super Record EPS Disc version and it was certainly a hit.

23. Pinarello Dogma F

Pinarello has been proven time and time again to be a world-beater. You can't write the story of cycling without it.

The Dogma F is the Italian brand's all-round racer and there aren't enough words here to describe how good it is, so you'll just have to trust deputy editor James Spender's five-star review.

This generation saw a mass of clever weight saving and aerodynamic refinement – including the funky tube shapes – so watts have been saved and speed has most certainly added.

    What should I consider when buying a new bike?

    Can I afford replacement parts?

    It's all well and good saving up to buy a sparkly new top-of-the-range bike but ask yourself, when something needs replacing, can you afford it?

    We ask this question because bike parts do wear with time and it can cost a lot to replace things like-for-like.

    How do I usually ride?

    If you consider yourself an aggressive whippet who focusses on smashing out power hours on your lunch break, then you should go for an aero bike.

    Are you a more relaxed rider who enjoys banking long, slow days in the saddle? An endurance road bike with relaxed geometry would likely be the ticket here.

    Buy a bike that complements how you ride a bike, not how you think you should ride.

    Where do I ride?

    Where do I envisage riding my new bike? Am I buying this to venture into the world of gravel bikes? If so, you need to look for a bike with generous tyre clearance.

    Are you buying this bike with the plan of multiple trips to the high mountains abroad? Then you might consider a lightweight climbing bike.

    Pinpoint where you see yourself riding most, then buy a bike suited to that.

    Am I looking to upgrade?

    Going into a bike purchase, you will have a rough figure in your head of how much you want to spend. And within that, there will be many options fitting the bill.

    If you have grand plans of wheel and groupset upgrades in the near future, opting for the best frame you can buy for your budget isn't a bad idea.

    But if you do not, you may find that the best option for you, in the long term, is not the most expensive bike you can afford.

    This guide includes contributions from Joe Robinson and the wider Cyclist team of bike experts.

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