Tommaso Imola Endurance and Schwinn Phocus 1400 are the best road bikes for the money. Offering modern geometry and Shimano gears, these bikes can be purchased at an affordable price. Strictly made for paved roads, the bikes are made with aluminum frames and they offer a lightweight profile for every biker. The following section looks at 5 leading road bikes followed by general guidelines and what to look for when buying a road bike.
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The Imola Endurace is the best road bike for its low price. It only comes with branded components eliminating no-name and third-party groupsets. Designed in Italy and made in the USA, the bike ships almost fully assembled. However, the manufacturer recommends a professional tune-up in a bike mechanic’s shop for the best setup.
Based on a Shimano Claris R2000 groupset, the road bike is very responsive. While it’s only an entry-level groupset, it’s respected in the cycling community as it comes from Shimano. Based on 24 speeds (3X8), it offers easier uphill cycling.
Shimano Claris shifters and derailleurs are added to this groupset. In theory, they don’t need too much work. But a mechanic can adjust them perfectly so that gear shifting becomes as good as it can be.
Included drills for accessories such as racks and water bottles make the bike practical. Most users also have the freedom of choosing which of these accessories they install, if any at all. But the bike can be turned to a city bike with these added accessories and room for mudguards.
Tommaso Corsa TC20 rims complete the bike. They’re the weak point of this otherwise solid performer. With a bit of work on the spokes, vertical wobble can be limited below the 2mm mark which is fine for most users as they can’t see any real issue here. But overall, the bike is well-equipped for such a low price.
At a weight of 23.8olbs, the bike is neither heavy nor lightweight. It’s just in line with what other brands are offering at the moment. However, those new to road bikes are going to find it lightweight and very fast like a racer.
White, burnt orange and black frames are available in various sizes. Users can find their perfect size depending on their height. Shipped in a box and requiring minimum assemblies such as installing the dropped handlebars for a better riding position and the wheels, it is ready to be ridden in about 30 minutes.
- 700 X 25cc tires
- Made with a Shimano Claris groupset
- Available in extreme sizes
- Not the best wheels
A fixed-gear design for urban use makes this bike perfect for commuting. Students and professionals can use the bike for daily commuting around busy city streets. Unlike road racing bikes made with dropped handlebars, the 6KU aluminum bike comes with flat handlebars for easier city use.
The 3 frame sizes include XXS, S, and L. Both teenagers and adults can ride this bike and a proper size chart is available from the manufacturer. As a general rule, bikers should be able to put their feet down from the saddle at stoplights for safety purposes.
Small guide markings for torque and alignment as on the Tommaso Imola make the bike easy to assemble. Even with these markings, there are not too many parts to put together as it already comes pre-assembled.
The bike even comes with calibrated brakes. All users note that the brakes push evenly. While they’re not disc brakes, most users don’t need them around city streets where maximum speeds are not as fast to those outside city limits.
Available on white and stealth black, the bike also looks spectacular. Once the wheels and the black handlebars are installed, it looks impressive. With a modern design, it has no real parts to break or to worry about as it comes with a fixed speed design.
Poor pedals and not having water bottle holes are the drawbacks of this bike. There’s no way of adding water bottles to the bike with a dedicated water bottle holder. However, bike bags that connect to the top frame might be an option for those who need to stay hydrated on the road.
- Requires little assembly
- Made with an anti-slip handlebar
- The brakes are already calibrated
The 21-speed bike is one of the most versatile roadies for the money. It features a sleek frame, dropped handlebars and thin wheels, perfect for reduced air resistance when traveling on paved roads. With quick assembly, the bike is ready to be ridden within an hour.
Made with 6061 aluminum, the road bike comes with a weight of 29.9lbs. It features solid construction mainly made for durability. But at the same time, it’s not the lightest on the list. As a result, the bike is mainly recommended for road travel and less for being carried up and down the stairs as it might be too heavy for some users.
With included pedals, the bike comes at a good price. The basic pair if pedals are suitable for quick rides around the city. While they’re not caged pedals, they do offer sufficient traction for the average user.
Assembly is not complicated. Firs users, need to mount the front wheel. Then, users need to install the seat post, attach handlebars, shifters, attach the pedals and connect the brakes. With a bit of will, the bike can be installed at home without any help. Still, the manufacturer recommends having it installed in a local bike shop.
The Shimano Tourney is the weakest link of the bike. The groupset is not at the same level as Claris. But at this price, it is still one of the best groupsets and its hard to match by other leading manufacturers such as Cannondale, Specialized, Giant or Trek.
- Made with a durable steel frame
- Includes a Shimano groupset
- Shipped with pedals
- No holes for a rear rack
How to Choose a Road Bike
Choosing a road bike is an exciting period. Road bikes are rising in popularity and above all technical aspects, they support physical activities in the open air.
With the rise of sedentary jobs, it can be one of the base methods of getting in shape or simply burning more calories. But when cycling is fun, staying longer on the road is easier as well. For cycling to be fun, ridden bikes need to be made with high-quality reliable components.
Road bike theory is more complex than the following section. But in summary, here are the main areas that make up a road bike and the most popular components to choose from at the moment.
Types of Road Bikes
The type of chosen road bike is a crucial element in its overall performance. Apart from custom road bikes, there are a few general categories to look at to understand this fantastic vehicle.
The aero is one of the most sustainable options for maximum speed. As its name suggests, it represents the best option for reduced air drag. Aero bikes are made for minimum wind resistance for maximum speed.
An aero race bike comes with the thinnest wheels of all bikes.
Together with the bike, cyclists wear aero clothing for minimum wind resistance. These bikes are also the most expensive. One of the reasons for their high price is the research that goes into developing aerodynamic designs with lightweight materials.
Road bikes made to go the distance are often categorized as endurance bikes. Apart from coming with all the benefits of a regular road bike, the endurance bike also aims to offer maximum comfort. This is the main reason why these best bikes are made for long weekend rides or simply for long-distance cycling sessions above all bikes.
A sub-category of road bikes is climbing bikes. As their name suggests, these bikes are made for climbing. Lightweight, agile, and easier on the legs, these bikes are also expensive based on the quality of the materials which go into them.
A particular aspect of the bikes is the 11 to 34 teeth cassette which makes pedaling easier. 2 chainrings are normally popular in these bikes. However, they can be used for regular road biking as well. But their best performance is only seen on long climbs.
The material of the bikes has sparked endless discussions. In the end, if users like a certain material, they should choose a frame with a specific material. Opinions on what these materials are and should be are endless. In general terms, here’s what new cyclists need to expect to form current road bikes.
Steel has been the first material used on bikes back in Great Britain. But bikes today are made with many other lighter materials. Steel has a quality to it just as rigidity or ruggedness above other materials. But steel is also easy to work with. Great frames that can be considered pieces of art have been made from steel.
Proper bike dynamics can be achieved with steel. However, steel is often confused with other materials in how it should act. No matter the bike’s construction, its weight reductions can’t be similar to aluminum.
One of the most popular bike frame materials is aluminum. It’s known that aluminum is easy to work with. Unlike titanium which requires high-end cutting tools, aluminum is not as hard and it can easily be cut and as a result, many brands are producing such bikes.
Aluminum is considered one of the best materials when it comes to saving money. Here’s a rough estimate on the prices on aluminum road bikes
Cheap Aluminum Road Bikes
These bikes are normally available in the $500-$600 price range. The soft alloy is easy to work with and as a result, the final bike price can be a bit more affordable than many would expect, especially in comparison to other bikes such as mountain bikes.
Entry-Level Aluminum Road Bikes
Entry-level road bikes can cost up to $1,300 – $1,400. These bikes are already made from better aluminum but they may also be made in combination with other materials. As seen in the bikes above, these examples are often paired with carbon fiber forks.
High-End Aluminum Road Bikes
Above $1,500, aluminum road bikes start to integrate better materials and high-end components. Top-end derailleurs are often seen on these bikes. Better wheelsets are also normally seen on these bikes.
Carbon fiber bikes are among the most interesting options for aerodynamic performance. Known for the stiffness and lightweight combination, the material has unique advantages.
For example, odd shapes of aluminum and steel might reduce their durability. This is not the case with carbon frame bikes. Today, many original frames are purely made out of carbon.
At its low end, a carbon fiber bike costs around $700. A high-end carbon bike can cost around $4,000 for the 2020 and 2021 models. Usually, the higher quality carbon is only seen on the most expensive bikes.
Carbon may also be paired with steel and aluminum by componentry. As mentioned before, carbon forks are very popular even on aluminum bikes.
Titanium is increasing in popularity in the road bike world. At the moment, smaller brands make these bikes but big brands are starting to use such frames themselves.
At the moment, there are a few obstacles that prevent titanium from being as popular as other materials. For example, it’s harder for the source. As a result, titanium is also more expensive. But the rigidity and the lightweight profile of titanium have been proven in the aerospace industry.
The bike manufacturers who have the patience and know-how to work with titanium create some of the most interesting bikes of the moment. You’ll see titanium frames in custom bike shops as making such frames is a form of art.
41xx steel or Chromoly is made by combining steel with chromium and molybdenum. The name of the material is often known as CRO or CR-MOLY based on these materials.
Chromoly bikes are also very expensive. Being hard to work with, the material is also usually seen in custom bike builds frequently. Chromoly bikes can easily cost thousands as the material is the most difficult to work with.
There are many types of drivetrains to consider in the road cycling world. Good drivetrains are not cheap. Almost always, they are going to cost at least one-third of the bike’s final price. There are a few drivetrains that are constantly seen on bikes for the average user. SRAM and Shimano are the manufacturers fighting for the best road bike groupsets.
Claris is the most affordable Shimano groupset. While it costs a few hundred dollars, it already provides reliable performance. It’s known for its 8-speed appeal for beginner cyclists.
The new version of the Sora groupset has been made to resemble Tiagra groupsets, Sora is known for its 9-speed profile. Its main disadvantage is the weight, otherwise its similar to the more expensive groupsets.
Made with the same 4-arm crankset, the Tiagra comes with new shifters and hidden cables. The groupset is available for straight and drop-bar designs.
This is the first performance-orientated groupset from the Shimano line. It has a similar performance to Dura-Ace and the Ultegra groupsets but it’s characterized by higher weight.
Ultegra now comes with both a recreational and racing profile. It comes with multiple cassette solutions between 11X23 and 11X32.
Dura-Ace is performance-orientated. It already ads power meters to a few of its versions. The main purpose of the groupset is to offer the smoothest and fastest gear changes with a low weight.
Brakes are the newest talking point regarding road bikes. There are 2 main categories of brakes which include rim brakes and disc brakes. Within them, there are other sub-categories. Here’s what new cyclists should know about these brakes.
Rim brakes are where it all started in the cycling community. These brakes are easy to understand and to adjust. Small cable adjustments can even be made by the cyclist with a couple of tools. These brakes work is by exercising pressure on both sides of the rim.
This offers a smooth stop. Most bikes are sold with cheap rim brakes. But some of the high-end rim brakes are now made with impressive responsiveness. But the rims do get damaged by these brakes in time.
Disc brakes are among the most popular options for those who want the best braking power. They weren’t always popular. They made their way from other cycling disciplines to road bikes. Initially, there was a lot of user resistance to accepting them widely in the road bike world.
One of the initial problems of disc brakes was their higher weight compared to rim brakes. But today, they are made with lighter materials. Furthermore, they offer superior responsiveness and better braking regardless of whether the wheels are wet or dry.
Wheels are often overlooked by rookie cyclists but they have a considerable impact on ride quality. There are hundreds or thousands of types of rims and tires to consider for road bikes. Here are the basics.
Rims impact ride smoothness and aerodynamics. The easiest wheels to recognize are aero wheels. With their deep rims and shorter exposed spokes, they come with less air friction, resulting in higher speed travel. Most rims can be adjusted in roundness for vertical wobble with the help of a spokes tool.
Sick and semi-slick tires are the norm in the road cycling community. The standard circumference of these tires is around the 23 to 25mm range. Many new bike tires now come with a 28mm profile. Endurance tires can even be made in the 30mm-33mm range which decreases roll and improves speed over longer rides. The research in tire dimensions is likely to change what we think about tires in 5 years.
The height of the rider impacts the size of the bike. With the examples of the Tommaso Imola above, riders can find the right size for their height as follows.
XXS – 4’10” – 5’2” – under 48cm
S – 5’6” – 5’8” – 52-54cm
L – 5’11” – 6’2” – 58-60cm
XL – 6’2” – 6’5” – 62cm
The cost of modern road bikes is increasing. Many believe the point of a good bike starts around when spending at least $1,000 while others find road bikes reliable even at $500. The most expensive road bikes today can cost around $10,000 and they’re used by professionals.
But regardless of the price of the bike, riders should also expect another cost. For example, cycling shoes for calipers cost more. Cycling clothes, protective gear such as a helmet and eyewear also cost more. Installing a water bottle is also an extra cost that needs to be considered for each bike, together with mudguards or racks.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the different types of road bikes?
City bikes, endurance bikes, aero bikes, and climbing bikes are the main options for cyclists. Most cyclists are not looking for performance and they choose balanced construction at a fair price tag. The more lightweight a bike is, the higher the chances it has of being in retail for a higher price point.
Other specific road bikes include fixed gear bikes. Made popular within city limits, these bikes are perfect for the occasional ride or commuters. However, even these bikes have seen an increase in competition over the past 3 years.
How fast are road bikes?
On long rides, cyclists are expected to maintain a pace of 19 miles per hour when they ride multiple times per week based on good physical condition. When sprinting, this speed can double to 37 miles per hour.
Why do road bikes have thin tires?
Thin tires (23-25mm) have been used on road bikes for reduced air drag and reduced roll resistance. Today, these tires are getting a bit wider but they’re still the thinnest in the entire cycling world. A few tires today are made to be used both on the road and off the road as is the case with gravel bike tires, which can be even wider.
How to change shifters on road bikes?
To change the shifters, bikers first need to prepare the bike. This is where the tape on the handlebar needs to be removed, together with the cabling of the shifters.
Users then need to unscrew the main screw holding the shifters using a 5mm Allen wrench. Once the shifter is of the handlebar, the new shifter can be installed. The shifter needs to be aligned with the drop section of the handlebar.
The low end of the shifter’s brake levers should be slightly higher than the low section of the dropped handlebars. The securing bolt can now be locked and backed into position.