New to the cycling world and need some help deciding which bike will get the best bang for your buck?
You’ve come to the right place!
Below are my top 5 entry level road bikes that are great for new riders or to use as a daily commuter. Please enjoy the roundup review as I know it is very hard to decide what’s worth your money!
- Schwinn Volare 1400
- Trek Domane AL 2
- Tommaso Imola – Best Overall Pick
- Giant Contend 3
- Specialized Allez
What Do You Get For A Road Bike Under $1,000?
Ok, so you’ve decided on a road bike – now, what kind of bike can you get for under $1,000?
All road bikes have lightweight frames and skinny tyres designed for varying degrees of speed and comfort. Road bikes fall into two general broad categories – racing and endurance.
Race bikes place your body position in a more aggressive angle. This helps achieve a more aerodynamic position, thereby allowing you to ride faster!
Endurance bikes (or sportive bikes) place your body in a more upright and relaxed position allowing for a more comfortable ride (allowing you to ride longer). In the last few years, there has been huge growth in this type of bike. This has resulted in some very good bikes at the $1,000 price point!
Whichever you end up deciding to get, you will be able to get a high quality entry level road bike for under $1,000. Around the holiday sales period you should be able to get a pretty good deal for that price point.
So what do you get for $1,000? (Please keep in mind that prices can fluctuate but at the time of writing, each bike listed below was under $1,000!)
The Bike Frame
The frame is the core part of your new road bike and this is what you’re mainly paying for. Generally, road bikes come with an aluminum or carbon fibre frame and/or fork. There are some steel / titanium based road bikes out there but I find that they are not as popular due to their weight in comparison to aluminium and carbon fibre.
Aluminium framed bikes tend to be cheaper and on the “heavier” side for a road bike when compared to a full carbon road bike. On the other hand, carbon fibre frames are lighter but you’re starting to dip into the many $1,000s for the bike 😄
Most bikes at the $1,000 price point will come with an aluminum frame and potentially a carbon fibre fork. Manufacturers are a big fan of aluminium as it is relatively inexpensive and makes very good stiff and light frames. This provides a good balance between weight, reliability and vibration absorption when on the roads.
Frame or bike geometry refers to the shape of your bike’s frame. It is important to buy a road bike that fits your body type. If this is your first road bike, my suggestion would be to try out a few road bikes and go for what’s the most comfortable. Nothing worse than buying a new road bike and then you don’t end up using it because you’re hurting every time you use it!
You can check out our in-depth sizing guide here.
The geometry of a bike is made up of the length of the tubes and the angles to which they connect. The positioning of your handlebars also plays a part, however, this part can be adjusted. All of these play a role in how your body sits on top of the bike.
As mentioned earlier, the sportive bikes will put you in a bit more of an upright position. This will put less strain on your back and generally be a more comfortable ride. On the other hand, racing bikes will place your torso at more of an angle. This improves the aerodynamics of your ride (i.e. less wind drag on your body!).
What you’ll need to think about when selecting the frame is the main purpose of the bike. Is it for daily commute use or is it more for your long weekend rides with friends? Another factor you should consider is where you are at with your fitness journey. Are you flexible enough to sustain an aggressive forward bend position for a couple of hours at a time? As mentioned earlier, if this is your first bike, err on the side of more comfort.
Related article – Is A Road Bike Good For Your Back?
The next thing to consider is the groupset on the bike. This is the brakes and transmission system of the bike. Bike makers buy groupsets from manufacturers to build into bikes.
You will generally find the following major manufacturers. I’ve also listed out the series model from entry-level to top-end for each brand as well. Correct at the time of writing!
- Shimano – Claris, Sora, Tiagra, 105, Ultegra and Dura-Ace
- SRAM – Apex, Rival, Force and Red
- Campagnolo (Campy) – Veloce, Centaur, Potenza, Chorus Record and Super Record
Related article – Road Bike Groupsets: A Beginner’s Guide
Road bikes in this $1,000 price range usually come with a Shimano groupset. As with frames, the more you pay, the lighter and better performance you get :). As an example, to balance performance and keep costs down, some road bikes will come with a mix of tiers when it comes to the front and back derailleur.
Entry-level road bikes are generally equipped with 8-10 speed options. This refers to the number of gears in the rear cassette. The rear cassette is the collection of different-sized sprockets the chain moves across.
What does all this mean?
When you’re riding up a hill, the more gears you have, the easier it is to make your way up! With additional gears, it will allow you to maintain a consistent cadence (pedaling speed).
Looking for some upgrades to your bike? Check out the review of the best road bike wheelsets under $500.
The Best Road Bikes Under $1,000 Roundup
- Frame material – Aluminium frame with steel fork
- Groupset – Shimano 14-speed integrated shifter/brake lever with Shimano rear derailleur
- Total Weight – ~30lbs
Out of the top name brands today, Schwinn is still fairly well known. However, over the last few years, it’s slipped in the popularity rankings though. That being said, the Volare 1400 model has had pretty good reviews given the quality and price matrix.
If you’re looking for a reliable cheap commuter or just starting out with your cycling fitness journey, I would recommend the Schwinn Volare 1400 given the price point. Overall, the stock features of this bike make it great for beginners and is able to cope with some of the rougher terrains.
- Frame material – Aluminium with carbon fork
- Groupset – Shimano Claris, 2×8 Speed
- Total Weight – 22lbs
The Trek AL series is their entry-level frameset and more specifically, the Domane AL 2 is Trek’s entry-level endurance road bike.
It comes with a lightweight aluminum frame and carbon fork. The bike’s geometry has more of an upright position and has been designed for comfort and nice long rides. The stock Bontrager 700x28c tires have hard-case lite treat protection which means they’ll be quite durable.
Overall the Trek Domane AL 2 is a great value-for-money bike that is ideal for beginners. Perfect for anyone wanting to try out road cycling and a bike you won’t grow out of too quickly either. The key highlight for me would be the endurance bike geometry. This will put you into a comfortable position during long rides and hopefully get you more involved in the sport!
- Frame material – Aluminum with steel fork
- Groupset – Shimano Claris R2000
- Total Weight – 23.8lbs
The Tommaso Imola is one of the most popular entry-level road bikes around at the moment. I’m personally quite a big fan of the Italian design and black colorway!
The frameset is made of aluminum, however I feel that it has been let down a bit by the steel fork, making it slightly heavier than it needs to be. It comes with a compact frame geometry, meaning riders can be in a more relaxed position for all riding styles.
Where it has been let down by the steel fork, it has more than made up for on the drivetrain, using a uniform Shimano Claris groupset which is meant to improve overall performance as you’re using the one system.
The Tommaso Imola is available in three colorways (black, burnt orange, and white), which is always a big plus. You can check out the various colors here. Note that it’s only available online so you won’t be able to test-ride it.
- Frame material – Aluminum with alloy fork
- Groupset – Shimano Claris
- Total Weight – Not disclosed by Giant (will depend on size)
I’ve had two Giant bikes throughout my cycling life and neither has disappointed. From what I can see with the Giant Contend 3, this trend is set to continue! The Contend range is Giant’s entry-level road bikes, however, as usual, they’ve tried to fit in as much as possible given the price range of this bike.
The Giant Contend 3 features a well-rounded package that starts with a lightweight, aluminum frame (Giant’s proprietary 6061 alloy) and an alloy fork. The groupset is based on Shimano’s entry-level Claris series which provides a great ride experience for new riders. On the wheels and tires front, Giant has selected their own proprietary hardware. These do the job, however, I would consider replacing the tires with something that’s a bit more durable.
As with all the bikes in this roundup, the Contend is more of an endurance-oriented rider position. This model has been designed for roads of all sorts, allowing you to use it as a commuter or weekend amateur racer.
- Frame material – Aluminium with carbon fork
- Groupset – Shimano Claris
- Total Weight – ~21lbs
Specialized is one of the biggest brands out there, so you know you will get quality however there is also a brand premium attached to that. This is the most expensive bike in this roundup but it’s got the best frameset out of the 5 on this list.
The Allez is a fairly balanced bike, utilizing Specialized’s own-spec E5 Premium aluminum alloy and a full carbon fork. As with most other bikes in this roundup, the Allez also comes with Shimano’s Claris groupset which is great for new riders. With the high-end frame, there have been sacrifices made with the Axis Sport wheelset and Tektro brakes. These drawbacks have made the bike feel a bit sluggish whilst riding and the braking power could be vastly improved when pulling on the lever.
Overall, if you’re looking for a comfortable road bike to get through weekend rides or longer racing events, it’s definitely worthwhile taking a look at the Specialized Allez. It is well built, light, and still in the affordable range.
Well, there you have it, the best road bikes that you can pick up for less than $1,000. All of these are great bikes and you can’t go wrong with any of them!
However, if I had to only pick one, it would be….. the Tommaso Imola!
Yes, it is one of the heavier bikes with the steel fork (by a couple of lbs), but if you’re like me and need something for general commute and fitness / long weekend rides, it has the perfect balance of comfort and performance. Still not convinced if road bikes are good for commuting?
Added bonus is that this bike looks amazing (especially black), so why not turn a few heads whilst you’re out on the road! 😃
Thanks for reading and if you have any questions or comments, please drop us a note below!
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