You’ve gotten to the point where your entry-level road bike just isn’t cutting it anymore.
It’s time to upgrade, but you’re not really sure what’s out there. You want to get the best bang for your buck while still making a significant upgrade over your current bike.
The question is,
What are the road bikes under $2,000 that you can buy?
Which one gives a good value, which not breaking the bank?
On this page, I’ll share with you what you can expect from a road bike within this price range and also some of the popular models available.
A Quick Glance : Our Favorite Road Bikes Under $2,000
|Trek Emonda ALR5||Aluminum||Shimano 105||8.0 kg|
|Specialized Tarmac||Carbon||Shimano Tiagra||8.5 kg|
|Cannondale Synapse||Aluminum||Shimano 105||10.0 kg|
|Cervelo R2||Carbon||Shimano 105||8.0 kg|
|Giant Defy 3||Carbon||Shimano Tiagra||8.5 kg|
|Felt FR30||Aluminum||Shimano 105||8.7 kg|
|Kona Wheelhouse||Steel||Shimano Tiagra||10.6 kg|
|DiamondBack Century 4C||Carbon||Shimano Tiagra||8.0 kg|
What to Expect in a Road Bike Under $2,000
Now before you make any decisions, it’s good to set your expectations right for your next road bike.
With a $2,000 budget, you’ll not get the best carbon frames, nor wheelsets, or electronic groupsets such as the Shimano Di2 or SRAM eTAP. There will be many questions such as,
What kind of frames can you get at this price point?
Is carbon an option?
What kinds of components are available?
How much lighter can you go?
A lot of questions to be answered.
1. Frame Materials
You’re talking about weight and stiffness when it comes to the frame material.
At this price point, your options include steel frames, aluminum alloy frames, and some carbon frames.
It’s important to understand that not all-aluminum frames are the same. Aluminum frames use significantly more metal than steel frames, which is evident in their tubes’ size.
They are generally thicker too. This is because aluminum is not as strong as steel. Whereas steel will bend, aluminum is brittle, making it significantly more likely to break. Aluminum frames will use twice as much metal as steel frames.
However, because aluminum is not nearly as dense as steel, aluminum frames are still about 30% lighter than steel.
Carbon Fiber Frames
Carbon fiber is the top of the line material for frames. It’s historically been far lighter than any of the metal frame options, making it the choice for performance riding.
Be aware that not all carbon fiber is created equal. Carbon fibers are woven to create varying degrees of stiffness for different parts of the frame. This requires expertise.
Although aluminum has become less popular with the advent of carbon, that’s beginning to change. Many manufacturers are creating butted aluminum frames to decrease weight. These frames use thicker layers of aluminum at the tube joints and thinner layers in each tube’s middle.
And, manufacturers such as Trek are using new stronger aluminum alloys to create aluminum frames that use significantly lighter than traditional aluminum bikes.
This serves two purposes. A carbon fork cuts weight and improves ride comfort by dampening shock.
Expect to find higher quality components on bikes in this price range.
Whereas with entry-level bikes, you’ll find more mixing and matching of components, bikes in this mid-tier are more likely to have complete sets.
What groupsets can you expect?
Shimano’s highly regarded 11-speed 105 components, which make up its mid-tier groupset, is popular in this price range. For example, the Trek Emonda ALR 5, Cannondale Synapse, and Cervelo R2 use a complete Shimano 105 groupset.
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3. Total Weight
As you go up the price scale for road bikes, weight tends to come down.
Whereas more entry-level bikes will come in at around 10 kg, expect bikes at this mid-price point to be in the range of 8.5 to 9.5 kg. The Cervelo R2 and Trek Emonda ALR 5 are an exception. They weigh in at only 8 kg.
Lighter wheels, components, and frame materials cut grams from your bike’s overall weight.
Trek Emonda ALR5 Disc
A Sleek Looking Bike with Invisible Welds
Trek, one of the giants of the bike manufacturing industry, might have what is the lightest weight aluminum bike on the market at just 8 kg.
With its sleek looks (invisible welds!) and lightweight, you might mistake the Emonda from Trek has a carbon fiber frame.
This is saying something, especially when you consider that the ALR5 is equipped with disc brakes, which typically add a little more weight than the rim brakes. How is this possible?
Trek’s use of 300 series Alpha aluminum alloy technology has allowed it to create frames with less material, which means less weight. The bike’s geometry is designed for endurance with a higher front end that gives it a more relaxed ride while Shimano 105 components offer smooth and reliable shifting.
Specialized Tarmac Disc
A Carbon Bike for Under $2,000 from A Household Name
One look at the frame geometry of Specialized’s Tarmac Disc, and you can see that this bike is designed to be fast.
This bike puts you in a more aggressive position than other road bikes at this price point, making it a great option for competitive riders. This makes sense given that the Tarmac line includes Specialized’s top of the line S-Works bike.
The most notable thing about the Tarmac Disc is its full carbon frame. This offers excellent value at the under $2,000 price point, especially coming from one of the top bike manufacturers in the business.
Components are a bit of a trade-off. Specialized goes high end with the Tarmac’s disc brakes, though hydraulic instead of cable-actuated. In contrast, other bikes at this price point will offer Shimano’s mid-tier 11-speed 105 groupsets. The Tarmac goes one step down with a full Shimano Tiagra 10-speed groupset.
Cannondale Synapse Disc 105
You Can't Go Wrong with A Cannondale Aluminum Bike
Cannondale has been making high-quality bikes since its founding in 1971, packs plenty of value into the Synapse Disc 105.
This bike features its SmartForm C2 alloy, which is Cannondale’s answer to lightweight aluminum frames. No mixing and matching of components with this bike. This 11-speed Synapse features a complete Shimano 105 groupset except for the crank, FSA’s Gossamer.
Disc brakes are a nice upgrade too. The Synapse offers a compromise between performance and endurance, with its geometry providing an aggressive position for competitive riding but upright enough for long days in the bike saddle.
Cannondale’s SAVE technology helps reduce road shock and vibration through the fork, seat post, and seat tube through carbon fiber and manipulated aluminum. While this isn’t the lightest aluminum bike on the market at about 10 kg, it offers an impressive package at this price point.
A Full Carbon Bike with Plenty of Upgrades
Canada-based Cervelo certainly knows all about carbons frames.
The company has been making exclusively carbon-framed bikes since 1995. You’ll notice that carbon frame with its total weight at just under 8 kg.
It’s hard to match the value you can find in Cervelo’s R2 105 bike. And where other bike manufacturers keep costs low by equipping lower-tier components on their carbon frames, Cervelo does not.
You’ll find a full Shimano 105 groupset on this full carbon frame bike right down the crankset and brakes. That coupled with its compact crankset and 11-speed rear cogset make this an excellent bike for hilly terrains.
Giant Defy 3
A Relaxed Frame Geometry that Caters for Endurance Riders
Giant, the biggest bike manufacturer out there, offers excellent value with a full carbon frame bike at the $2,000 price point.
Giant has engineered the Defy for endurance road riding with a frame geometry that is a little more upright than other performance bikes. Giant also incorporates technology designed to increase comfort, including a seat post and handlebar system designed to absorb shocks and reduce road vibrations.
Tubeless tires cut weight and the risk of flats, and hydraulic disc brakes provide consistent braking control.
As with other carbon bikes at this price point, there is a trade-off to keep the price down. Giant outfits the Defy 3 with a full Tiagra groupset, which makes up the high end of Shimano’s entry-level component set.
One of the Lightest Aluminum Bike Frames in the Market
Felt touts its aluminum, which it says is among the lightest aluminum frames available on the market.
Weighing in at just 8.7 kg, this bike also offers some nice high-end features, including cables that are routed through the frame, a feature normally reserved for carbon fiber frames, and a carbon fork.
It comes with an impressive set of components and a complete groupset of Shimano’s 11-speed, mid-tier 105 components. The FR30 also features disc brakes for improved stopping power.
Tubeless wheels reduce the risk of flats, while a Devox stem, handlebar set, and carbon seat post make the ride more comfortable.
Steel is Real, Alive and Kicking
If simplicity and performance are what you’re looking for, then you’d do well to check out the Wheelhouse from Kona.
Kona is perhaps best known for its mountain bikes, but it also produces a formidable collection of road and cyclocross bikes.
The Wheelhouse is a nod to those roots with a wide wheelbase and beefier road bike tires, which gives this bike the versatility to handle gravel paths as well as smooth pavement.
It also comes with disc brakes, which offer better stopping power, especially in those off-road conditions. Components are a full groupset of Shimano Tiagra including a compact crankset and a rear cassette that offers 10 speeds.
Although the Wheelhouse employs a Chromoly frame to keep the weight down, it’s still a steel frame bike, so it’s one of the heavier options at this price point at 10.6 kg.
The Wheelhouse does come in at the low end of this price range, making it an excellent value.
DiamondBack Century 4C
Plenty of Value from A Relatively Unknown Name
In recent years, Diamondback has been making a name for itself in the road cycling world by offering great value and the Century 4C is an excellent example of that.
This bike offers a full carbon frame with disc brakes and solid components at a very low price point. The Century 4C Carbon, the least expensive of Diamondback’s trio of Century carbon bikes, features a complete Shimano 10-speed Tiagra groupset.
A relaxed geometry with a more upright riding position than other race bikes coupled with its lightweight at just over 8 kg make this a great bike for endurance rides and climbing.
And while the Century is outfitted with Tektro disc brakes, which is a bit of a downgrade from the hydraulic disc brakes that are on some of the other carbon frame bikes on this list, it is the most affordable carbon frame bike you’ll find on the market.