Looking to get started in road cycling with an entry level road bike?
You’re at the right page.
On this page, we’ll show you the best options for road bike under $1000 as well what you should consider and expect before buying.
Things like frame materials, geometry and groupsets will play an important role in your decision making.
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Here are the 5 best road bikes you can buy for less than $1000 today.
1. Trek Domane AL2
A Comfortable, Entry Level Road Bike from Trek
Trek has been manufacturing frames since the mid 1970s. Over the years they’ve become known for their high quality bikes.
The Domane AL 2, Trek’s entry-level road bike, features a lightweight aluminum frame. The frame’s geometry is designed for endurance with a more upright position while a carbon fork helps to absorb shocks. There are also mounts for a rack and fender add ons.
The Domane employs Shimano’s first tier entry-level components, Claris R2000, for the drive train, shifters and brakes. One nice feature of the Domane are shifters that are integrated with the brake levers, meaning your hands will never have to leave the bars. The wheels and handlebars are also from Bontrager.
The frame plus components give the Domane a manageable load of 10kg.
2. Raleigh Willard 1
A Bike That Does It All, On and Off Road
Once a standout with pro racers, Raleigh now focuses on producing youth, mountain and road bikes for recreational use.
The Willard is a road bike with off road surfaces in mind. Its geometry keeps you in a more upright position, which makes it better suited for taking on loose gravel and dirt.
The rest of the bike supports this off-road focus with wider 35cm tires and extra mounting brackets for racks on the front and rear of the bike. Disc brakes continue this off-road bent, ensuring your brakes won’t get mucked up on that rails-to-trails ride.
Components are all Shimano Claris with an 8-speed rear cassette. An aluminum frame keeps the Willard’s weight in check while making a for a responsive ride.
The Willard 1 is a great versatile option for those wanting to take on the roads but still in need of some moderate off-road capability.
3. Diamondback Century 2
Designed with Endurance and Comfort in Mind
Diamondback, once synonymous with BMX bikes, has in recent years been making a name for itself with the great value it offers with its full suspension mountain bikes and road bikes.
The Century 2, Diamondback’s entry-level road bike, offers an aluminum frame with geometry designed for endurance. The Century 2 features a taller head tube that puts you in an upright riding position but still down enough to achieve an aerodynamic position.
A carbon fork is a nice add-on for dampening road vibration. Diamondback outfits the Century 2 with Shimano Sora components and a 9-speed rear cog set, putting it at a slightly higher level than other entry level road bikes. Tektro disc brakes round out what is an impressive package at a low price point.
4. Giant Contend AR3
Quality Bike Components at an Entry Level Price
Based in Taiwan, Giant has been making bikes since 1972 and is currently the largest bike manufacturer in the world, building everything from e-bikes to kids bikes to bikes for pro racers.
Giant bills the Contend AR 3 as your first true road bike. And for en entry-level bike, the AR 3 is pretty impressive. It comes specced with Shimano’s second-tier component group, the Shimano Sora. The rear cassette offers greater versatility than other entry-level bikes with 9 speeds.
An aluminum frame keeps this bike lightweight while a hybrid composite front fork dampens road vibration. Giant describes its frame geometry as balanced for both aggressive riding and endurance.
Disc brakes are also a nice feature on the AR 3, which is something you don’t always get on entry level road bikes. Giant also uses its patented D-Fuse alloy in its seat post to make your rides more comfortable.
5. Fuji Bikes Jari 2.3
Designed for Endurance, Strength and Utility
Fuji, founded in Japan in 1899, takes its name from the famous mountain of the same name. The company’s founder saw the mountain as a symbol of strength and endurance.
Well, strength and endurance is exactly what you can expect from the Jari.
Proving that steel-frame bikes are not a relic of the past, Fuji’s Jari 2.3 is a formidable entry-level road bike that is also versatile enough to take things off-road. This bike’s chromoly frame is tough enough to take on not just paved surfaces, but also gravel roads.
It even has plenty of frame mounts for bikepacking. Components include a mix of Shimano’s entry-level road and mountain bike components; Sora brakes, shifters, and front derailleur, and an Alivio rear derailleur.
A 9-speed rear cassette offers plenty of gear options while extra-wide tires provide off-road stability. At nearly 13 kg, this is also one of the heavier bikes on the market.
What to Expect in a Road Bike Under $1000
With so many options out there when it comes to road bikes, determining which bike is the right first purchase for you can be more than a bit overwhelming.
Steel or aluminum?
What’s the difference between Shimano Tiagra and Shimano Sora?
How aggressive should the frame geometry be?
Don’t worry. We’re here to help guide you through this confusing process.
Below we’ll take you through the factors you should concern yourself the most with and even give you our top picks for an entry-level road bike.
1. Frame Materials
For bikes at the entry-level price point of less than $1,000, you have two options to consider: steel or aluminum.
Both have their pros and cons.
The biggest advantage of aluminum is weight. Aluminum is simply lighter than steel, which means less weight to haul and a faster bike that is easier to handle. Steel, in comparison, is sluggish.
Steel is king when it comes to strength and durability. Whereas aluminum is brittle, steel frames such as Fuji Jari are malleable. They will rarely fail and will bend long before they will break. Steel’s relative flexibility also makes for a more comfortable ride as it will better absorb road shocks than aluminum.
2. Frame Geometry
Frame geometry refers to the shape of your bike’s frame.
This includes everything from the length of the tubes, the angles at which they connect and the height of your handlebars. All of these factors determine how your body fits on the bike.
Frames that are designed for endurance riding will put you in a more upright position, which generally makes riding more comfortable.
Frame geometry that tilts more to the racing side of road cycling will put you into a more aggressive, lower position that offers better performance but also makes for a less comfortable ride, especially over long distances.
Groupsets make up the drivetrain, shifters, and brakes on a road bike.
When it comes to groupsets, you have three main component manufacturers;
- SRAM, and Campagnolo.
You’ll typically only find Campagnolo, or Campy for short, on higher-end bikes while Shimano and SRAM make components for both high-end and entry-level bikes.
Shimano is by far the largest of the three. These manufacturers offer their components in tiered groupsets that range from novice to pro racer.
Shimano’s entry-level groupsets include their Claris, which is at the lowest tier, followed by Sora and Tiagra.
What’s the difference?
Groupsets in higher tiers are lighter and offer better performance. They also cost more.
That said, when purchasing a road bike, you’ll notice that bike retailers often mix these groupsets to keep costs down. You might find an entry-level bike with a Sora front derailleur and a Tiagra rear derailleur, for example.
You’ll typically see entry-level bikes equipped with 8, 9 or 10-speed options. This refers to the number of gears in the rear cassette.
What’s the difference?
Generally speaking, when cycling on hilly terrain, the more gears you have, the easier it is to maintain a consistent pedaling speed or cadence. More gears also means smaller jumps between each gear, allowing for a more consistent cadence.
4. Total Weight
One characteristic you’ll hear a lot about if you spend enough time cycling is weight.
Because entry-level road bikes are outfitted with heavier components, wheels, and frames, they will typically weight above 8.5kg.