In this article, we’re determined to help you find the best cheap road bike for 2016 & beyond.
Buying your bike online will almost certainly SAVE you money (when compared to prices found at your local bike shop).
It’s not fair to think the Local Bike Shops (LBS) are trying to rip you off. They simply can’t compete with many online stores.
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Finding the perfect road bike is all about determining your cycling goals.
- Have you ever owned or purchased a road bike before?
- Are you going to be using it to commute to work?
- Do you plan on racing with your new bike?
More Great Guides
- Fixie Bikes
- Under $1000
- Under $2000
- Under $3000
- Affordable Mountain Bikes
- Bike Computers
- Balance Bicycles (Kids)
Our Top 5 Picks – Reviewed
Note: The comparison table above uses the, “Our Rating” score (out of 100 points) to rank the bikes based on our review. The individual reviews you read below may not be in order. We’ve added them in an effort to give you a better sense of each bike’s unique strengths and weaknesses.
Schwinn Men’s Phocus 1400 700C Drop Bar
The Schwinn Phocus is built with an aluminum frame, carbon fiber fork and Shimano 14 speed derailleur. It’s gorgeous looking, and the carbon fiber fork provides some of the comfort and lightweight performance you’d expect from a much more expensive model.
Why You Should Buy It
- It’s your first “real” road bike.
If that sounds like you, then the Schwinn Men’s Phocus is one of the best options available. It’s the perfect fit for a beginner that wants to break into cycling and slowly take their skills to the next level.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy It
- Have you owned a few road bikes before?
- Do you consider yourself an intermediate roadie?
If you’re an experienced rider looking for something that will take you from intermediate to advanced, this bike isn’t your answer. In addition, there are some reviewers that have mentioned they struggled with assembly. It’s important to note that it’s not the majority, and we recommend taking it to your local bike if you’d rather have an expert take care of the assembly.
Vilano Aluminum Road Bike 21 Speed Shimano
The Vilano Aluminum is available in several colors and three different frame sizes. It’s a 21 speed model that is equipped with a Shimano shifter and 800c double-walled wheelset. While it isn’t the most attractive on the market, it has a sleek and simple design and a superb performance/price ratio.
It’s our #2 pick, and one that it is good choice for a beginner.
This model is the latest in a line of Vilano road bikes. Unfortunately, this model is slightly heavier than previous models at 24lbs. While this is relatively heavy for this style, the high quality components such as the Shimano shifters make up for it.
Giordano Libero 1.6 Men’s Road Bike-700c
The Giordano Libero 1.6 is one of the most attractive bikes we’ve seen. The sleek white and red design certainly doesn’t give the impression of a budget product. Aside from its appearance, the Libero has a 51cm lightweight aluminum frame and a 16 speed Shimano drive train.
A few avid cyclists mention that components make it feel like high-quality bike. Other have gone out of there way to say that its a surprisingly comfortable ride.
A potential issue with the Giordano Libero 1.6 is that it doesn’t come with assembly instructions. This is a strange oversight for an otherwise well thought-out model, but isn’t a major problem as the instructions can easily be found online (or you can take it to your local bike shop).
Vilano Performance 700C-21 Speed Shimano
The Vilano Performance is a model that’s designed for both commuting and leisure riding.
It’s available in several colors and three different sizes, and is built with Shimano components and an aluminum frame. The headset is integrated into the hybrid frame.
GMC Denali Road Bike
The GMC Denali is a flashy model that’s available in a number of different colors and sizes. It’s a 21 speed, which provides you with plenty of options when navigating hills, and a Shimano derailleur.
One downside of the GMC Denali is the weight. It is 27 pounds, which is heavier than most. This increased weight probably isn’t an issue for beginner riders, however, and many experienced riders actually prefer training on a heavier model.
Rovo’s Buying Guide
Still not sure you’re ready to buy a road bike online? We’d rather you get it just right before making a purchase you later regret.
Read our complete buyer’s guide below. We hope it helps you land a brand new road bike!
Road bikes can be expensive – there’s no doubt about that. The good news is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to buy a great bike. The continuous improvement in parts has made it possible to buy road bicycles that are enjoyable and fast to ride for relatively cheap prices.
Finding the cheapest road bike (of high quality) isn’t always easy though. Whether you’re an experienced rider on a budget, or a beginner who wants to try road biking without spending too much money, the large number of options can be confusing.
A common problem is the sheer number of brand names, component types and model numbers which make up a road bike. This array of options becomes even more confusing when you start looking at the different groupsets sold by major manufacturers, and then realize that many of the components on cheap bicycles aren’t made by recognized brands at all!
Fortunately, there are some shortcuts you can use to find the best cheap road bikes without needing to be an expert. This article contains an overview of the main problems you are likely to encounter when buying a road bike, followed by the reasons why they are often an excellent purchase. After reading this article, you’ll know exactly what you need to look for, and also what you should avoid.
What Should You Look For?
Before you start searching, you need to think about your requirements. Do you just need it to commute with? Or are you looking for one that could be used in amateur races? What is your maximum budget? The buying process should be enjoyable – but without knowing what you’re looking for it’s more likely to be frustrating.
If you just need a bicycle to help you get around town, then a single speed road bike might be a good option. These are called “fixies” and are often cheap and easy to ride, but usually aren’t suitable for racing or longer distances. If you plan on riding in races or even just to keep fit, you’ll want to look for a multi-gear model.
As a general rule, the more you spend, the lighter and the higher quality components. Your personal requirements will also help you decide which type of road bike is right for you (i.e. racing or sportive) – we’ll go into more detail on this later.
The Frame and Forks
The frame is often described as the “heart and soul”. This is where the bulk of your money is spent, and is one of the most important components of any bike (along with the wheels). The frame and forks need to be strong, comfortable to ride and lightweight.
Aluminum and steel are the most common frame materials found in budget road bikes. Don’t let this fool you though – these are highly capable materials with excellent durability.
Frames made from aluminum are relatively cheap and lightweight. Some come with butted tubes to reduce weight even further. Aluminum frames are usually a bit less comfortable to ride than other options, but provide strong performance.
Steel is slightly heavier than aluminum, but is more durable. With some basic maintenance, a steel frame can last indefinitely. The stronger nature of steel also means that it provides a more comfortable ride on bumpy roads.
There are two other common frame materials – carbon fiber and titanium. Carbon fiber, in particular, is a popular material for mid-range bikes as it has a high strength/weight ratio.
These materials are often more expensive, so are unlikely to be found on a cheap bike.
Even so, many of the more inexpensive models are built with a steel or aluminum frame but carbon fiber forks. This reduces the weight of the bike and provides a more comfortable ride.
The wheels are one of the most important components – especially for making it fun to ride. Lighter wheels make a it feel supple and responsive. When looking for an affordable option, the wheels should be one of the first things you look at.
There are three main considerations when choosing wheels: performance, weather suitability and durability. While performance is important, you shouldn’t overlook how a wheel performs in wet weather conditions. It’s not always possible to predict when you’ll be caught in a downpour, so your wheels need to be able to cope in all conditions.
The groupset – which comprises of most of the other components on a bike, such as the derailleur, gear levers and brakes – is often where many buyers get confused. You shouldn’t worry about getting the most expensive components for your budget. Instead, try to consider how each component affects the performance of a bike and whether this fits with the type of riding you want to do.
In general, higher priced groupset components are lighter and perform better. The good news is that most of the groupset components can be upgraded over time relatively cheaply. The wheels and frame are the most expensive part of the bike, so these are the priority.
Choosing the Right Size
It is better to buy a bicycle that fits perfectly with a slightly lower specification than a bargain which doesn’t fit. A poorly fitting bicycle can reduce the amount of power your legs can generate, make a bike uncomfortable to ride and even increase the risk of overuse injuries.
Many incorrectly fitting bikes are bought and then left to gather dust in a garage simply because they are not fun to ride.
Most cheap road bicycles can be bought online with several different frame sizes. By choosing the option that fits your height the best, you’ll avoid many of the issues associated with a poorly fitted bike.
The frame size is only part of the story though. The saddle height, handlebar height, cleat position and various other factors all need to be adjusted to match your body. For this reason, many people pay to have their bike professionally fitted. It’s a good idea to include the cost of fitting into your total budget.
Sportive Vs. Race
Race bikes, as the name suggests, are built with the same geometry as the bikes you see in professional races. These will provide you with a little extra speed, but are less comfortable to ride.
Sportive bikes are a relatively new concept. This is because it took a while for manufacturers to realize that most amateur riders don’t need the marginal benefits of a racing bike, and instead would prefer a more comfortable ride.
The main differences between racing and sportive bikes are the body position and head tube height. Sportive promote a more relaxed position and also have a taller head tube.
This doesn’t mean sportive bicycles aren’t used in amateur races though – they can still provide excellent performance.
Why Buy An Affordable Road Bike?
If you’re not sure whether you want to spend money on a bike, you might be interested to know that road biking has a number of proven benefits. These include:
Increased fitness and weight loss. Road cycling burns calories and also builds muscles in the lower body. As a general guideline, an hour of road cycling can burn around 650 calories (although you can potentially burn a lot more than this).
Low impact exercise. Cycling doesn’t involve any jarring impacts on your joints. If you have joint pain, or just want a hobby that you can continue into old age, then cycling is one of the best options.
Stress reduction. Many people find that cycling is a great way to get away from the stress of everyday life. The combination of high speeds, cardiovascular exercise and sense of freedom when riding makes cycling an effective stress reliever.
Aside from these benefits, cycling is also fun! Whether you just want to get some fresh air or are training to compete in races, road biking has something for everyone. The good news is that budget models can last a lifetime, making it an inexpensive way to start a new hobby.
Buying a budget road bike is the best way to get started in a hobby that could last a lifetime. Road biking is the hobby of choice for millions of people, from thrill seekers to those who just want to stay in shape. It’s also a great stress reliever and a relatively low impact form of exercise. All of the bicycles listed in this article provide these benefits for less than $500 – a real bargain compared to many other hobbies.
But, cheaper models will always leave you with a compromise. If you choose a high quality frame, then the wheels may not be as light as you wish. If you want a high quality derailleur from a known brand, then other, often less visible, components, are likely to suffer.
This doesn’t mean the inexpensive road bikes aren’t worth the money though. As long as you follow the tips in this guide, you can find one that you’ll enjoy riding and will last for many miles. In fact, if you care for your bike correctly, you may never need to buy another one.
If you aren’t sure which model is right for you, then we recommend looking closely at the Schwinn Phocus. The bike’s strong aluminum frame and carbon fiber road fork, combined with full Shimano drive train and Promax brakes, mean you get the performance of a high-end product for a very reasonable price.