Best Road Bikes In 2017 – A Complete Buyers Guide

Best Road Bikes In 2017 – A Complete Buyers Guide

Whether you’re just starting out, or a seasoned cycling veteran looking for a new bike, it’s probably a bit overwhelming when trying to decide on a new road bike to purchase.

There are literally hundreds of bikes to choose from on a variety of levels, many which aren’t all that difference from each other.

Fortunately, we’re here to help.

This guide will help you narrow down your options, with road bikes broken down into several categories that include both specific price ranges and skill levels.

First, here's the list of the best road bikes in 2017.

>> skip to recommendations <<

What to Look Out for When Buying a Road Bike

Road bikes are not a one-type/size-fits-all purchase. In order to ensure that you end up with the bike that is right for you, it’s crucial to know the most vital aspects beforehand.

Type

Road bikes can generally be broken down into a few different main categories and subcategories.

  • Race/Time Trial/Aero - These three road bike types are all designed for speed, and speed only. Time trial and aero bikes also incorporate a heightened sense of aerodynamics that make the bike even faster, and less conducive for casual and long-distance riding. These bikes are intended for competitions, not fitness and recreational use.
  • Commuter - If you’re looking to use your road bike as a main form of transportation in an urban setting, a commuter bike is your best bet. Commuter bikes allow the rider to sit more upright, and have some strategic designs and features that emphasize comfort and maneuverability above all else.
  • Sportive - Sportive road bikes are known for being the most versatile. These bikes are basically a more comfortable version of a race bike, making them great for fitness, recreational, and even some competitive riding, although the casual user can still appreciate their design.
  • Touring - Designed for long-distance riding, touring bikes are built to be durable, comfortable, and stable enough for riding days at a time. They also incorporate added features such as luggage racks and mud deflectors for added convenience and functionality on a long ride.

So, before all else, consider what you want your road bike to be used for. This will help you decide on the category you should be focusing on. Sportive and commuter road bikes are among the most popular.

Size

A road bike’s size in relation to your body size has everything to do with how comfortable and efficient it will be. The vast majority of manufacturers will have a size chart available for you to gauge the best size suited to your body size in terms of height. Further adjustments to seat height and the bike’s handlebars provide the opportunity for fine-tuning.

Components

The bike’s frame is obviously the most important characteristic, but the included components are just a notch below. Gear sets, brakes, wheels, tires, and other components are all worthy of close examination before purchasing.

Nearly every road bike you’ll find online lists the model and manufacturer of the essential components, so familiarize yourself with them as best as you can, and compare with other models as well. Sometimes you’ll find that a bike may have a great drivetrain, but poor wheels. It’s all about finding the right balance of what’s important to you.

And of course, you can always upgrade if need be as well.

Should You Go with a Cheap Frame, or Carbon Fiber?

If you’ve spent even a few minutes shopping around, you’ve probably noticed quite a few carbon frame models out there.

Carbon fiber frames are made from threaded and bonded standards of carbon fiber, as opposed to an actual metal frame such as aluminum, steel, or titanium.

Carbon frames are almost always more expensive than standard metal frames. But are carbon fiber frame bikes better? Well, yes and no.

Example of a road bike frame made of carbon fiber

The positives of a carbon frame bike are fairly significant. They are very light, and tend to have a greater longevity than metal frames. They can also absorb a lot of shock, resulting in a smoother ride. Cyclists who prefer longer recreational rides will definitely appreciate this.

There are a few drawbacks though. The slight “give” in a carbon frame can actually eat up some of your pedal power. This is not very ideal for racers, or anyone hoping to ride for a long distance. There’s also the whole higher price issue.

So what should you get?

If you’re starting out, you’ll be better off looking at aluminum, steel, and titanium frames. These are usually cheaper, and better for all around riding. However, if weight and a smoother ride are important to you, and you’re willing to spend a little more, a carbon frame road bike is perfectly fine.

Rim or Disc Brakes?

The issue of which braking system to opt for is quite the divisive issue among cyclists, with some preferring the more traditional approach of rim brakes, sometimes referred to as dual-pivot. Others argue that disc brakes are superior, and offer some strategic benefits over rim brakes.

Closeup of rim and disc brake

So which should you get?

Again, like carbon frames, this is a bit subjective, and depends on your needs and preferences.

Rim brakes are easier to maintain and service, as they are rather primitive and simple. They are also highly compatible with all sorts of rims and wheels.

Disc brakes offer more control with your stopping power, and work better in mud and rain. They are also more aerodynamic. Unfortunately, they can be a pain to service on your own, and finding compatibility among components is still a bit of a challenge.

So, if you’re looking for simple brakes that are easy to deal with, and will work with whatever wheels you switch over to or change, rim brakes are for you. If you anticipate being in inclement weather more often, and want better control over your braking amount, disc brakes are better suited to your needs.

Other Things You’ll Likely Need

A road bike is necessary for, well, road biking, but you’re also going to need plenty of gear and accessories to go along with it.

Tubes

It’s bound to happen at some point. Whether it’s a slow leak, or a total blowout, you’re going to need extra tubes to replace your ruined tubes. Most road bikes still use a “clincher” style of tire, which means there is a separate tube inside the tire wall. Be sure to purchase some backup tubes for your bike’s tires. You never know when you’ll need them.

Tires

You aren’t going to need to replace your tires nearly as often as the tubes inside of them, but they will still eventually wear down or get damaged. There’s also a chance that you may simply wish to upgrade your current tires. Either way, you’ll be needing new tires in the short or long-term.

Water Bottle

Hydration is essential for any physical activity, and that certainly includes cycling. A quality water bottle is the perfect companion for any ride, and you have several options for how to carry it, whether it’s in a bottle holder on your frame, or in a cycling pack.

Hydration backpacks such as Camel-Baks are a great option as well, and provide added convenience.

Cyclist wearing CamelBak hydration pack while riding through woods

Gloves

Unless you want to get blisters and callouses, you’ll be needing some cycling gloves. These gloves not only protect your hands from wear and tear, they also give you a better grip on your handlebars and brakes. These are an absolute must, and are relatively expensive.

Helmet

Another absolute must. We shouldn’t have to explain why. Always wear a helmet during a ride, no matter how near or far your destination is.

Make sure the helmet fits comfortably, is secure, and sits as it should when buckled.

Tire Kit

Since most riders don’t want to carry extra tubes with them on a ride, a small tire patching kit provides a more convenient remedy in case something goes wrong. These kits allow you to make a quick patch to your tube, which should be enough to get you through the ride until you can get new tubes.

Oh, and don’t forget a mini tire pump as well.

Glasses

If you plan to be riding at even remotely high speeds, you’re going to need some sort of eye coverings, unless you want to gets bugs and other debris in your eye. This can actually cause serious crashes if you’re not careful, so always be sure to use cycling glasses/goggles, or cycling sunglasses that are aerodynamic and designed to stay on your face at high speeds.

Clothing

Although not required, cycling clothing is recommended for several reasons.

This clothing is often tight-fitting and made from material such as spandex, so you get the benefits of better aerodynamics, along with the avoidance of your clothing getting caught on anything.

Example of cycling clothes

Cycling clothing is also good for calling attention to your presence around motorists and other cyclists, and is very comfortable as well.

If you’re envisioning the old 80s style of tacky neon colors and appealing designs, don’t worry -- cycling clothing has evolved to be very stylish, with lots of different types and looks available.

Shoes

Cycling shoes are almost always a requirement, especially if you use clipless pedals, which are designed to actually attach to the shoe itself. Other types of cycling shoes give you a better grip on the pedal, and help maximize your pedal efficiency as well.

Lights

If you plan on riding at night, you will need lights for both the front of the bike and back. This gives you a much better measure of added safety, as it alerts motorists and others to your presence. In many cities, they are actually required by law as it is, so you should definitely acquire some.

Bike lights are easy to install, and can often be attached and used in just a matter of seconds.

Rim Tape

Road bike tire tubes are a lot more fragile than the tubes you’ll find in mountain bikes, hybrids, BMXs, and really any other type of bike. If you have spokes on your wheels, they usually tend to poke through a bit on the inside of the rim, which poses a threat to your tubes.

Rim tape is used to create a barrier between your tube and rim. It’s easy to apply, and stays on for a long time. If you have spoked rims, you’ll definitely need rim tape. Many bikes come with rim tape already applied, but it’s not usually the best quality. Adding an extra layer gives you more security in regards to protecting your tube.

Computer/Speedometer

Cycling computers are handy to have for a variety of reasons. They can track your trip distance, speed, and much more. They are often quite small, inexpensive, and can be easily mounted on your handlebar in a just a matter of seconds. If you are using a road bike for fitness, computers are essential.

Many are now using their smartphones in place of an actual cycling computer, which is an option as well. In this case, all you need is the mount, and the right mobile app.

The Best Road Bikes in 2017

So now that we’ve got that all out of the way, it’s time to take a look at the best road bikes currently available. As stated earlier, these bikes span a wide range of prices and uses, so there’s something here for everyone.

Best Beginner/Entry Level Road Bike

If you’re just starting out and getting into road cycling, you don’t necessarily have to run out and get the most expensive bike you can find. In fact, you can find some very affordable road bikes that are priced and designed for beginners. These two are our favorites for the entry level category.

Winner: Vilano Shadow

The Vilano Shadow is the most popular entry-level road bike for a reason. For an incredibly low price, you get a relatively light frame, and a number of solid components that can be easily upgraded at a later time.

As an entry-level bike, this is all you can ask for, as it’s good to go from day one, yet has the ability to be upgraded so you hang onto it for years to come.

Vilano Shadow Road Bike

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The frame itself is made from double-butted aluminum, and has an integrated headset. With all of the components equipped, the Shadow weighs just under 30 lbs, which is good for how much you’re paying.

Despite being a beginner road bike, the Shadow has some decent components made by Shimano. This includes a 7-speed freewheel and double crankset, for a total of 14 speeds. Shifters are actually integrated with the brake handles, so you use the brake handle itself as a shifter. This is different from the standard trigger shifters many are used to, and required a bit of adjustment at first.

The seatpost is made from alloy, and has enough length to suit nearly any leg length. The saddle itself has an anatomic fit, but you may want to consider upgrading it immediately if you have some extra money to do so, as many complain that it’s still a bit too stiff.

The Shadow comes with a pair of Kenda 700c x 25c tires, which hold up well even after miles of use. The tubes are another story, however. They are a bit fragile, and can easily puncture during assembly. It’s recommended to purchase some higher-end tubes along with the bike itself.

The included wheelset is decent enough to start out with, but you’ll likely encounter a bit of bending further down the line. Quick releases on the front and back wheels make changing tubes and tires much more quick and convenient. The Shadow’s pedals are the standard platform style pedals, which can also be easily upgraded if you so choose.

While you may eventually want to upgrade many of the components with the Shadow, it’s still an excellent and affordable option if you’re starting out. Those that need a road bike for recreational and commuter purposes will fine the Shadow to be everything they need, with the added ability to upgrade as time goes on.

The overall value is hard to ignore. If you’re looking for an easy way into road biking, the Shadow is perfect for you.

Runner Up: Giordano Acciao

Giordano Libero Acciao Road Bike

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The Giordano Libero Acciao sits right below the Shadow in terms of being an optimal entry-level bike. It is not only attractive in design, but also contains some very quality components that help set it apart from most other entry-level bikes.

It does cost a little more than the Shadow, but you get a few more things as well.

The Acciao’s frame is forged from high tensile steel, which results in a relatively heavy weight for a road bike, coming in at 28.9 lbs. While it may be heavier than what’s considered ideal, you do get a very stable frame that keeps you grounded, while making the most of your pedal efficiency.

Shifting is relatively snappy and precise with Shimano Tourney STI shifters, which includes front and rear derailleurs from the same series as well. This also applies to the braking system, which is Shimano Tourney STI too.The stock pads are pretty decent, giving you a suitable amount of stopping power and control without exerting too much pressure.

The Vitesse alloy wheelset is surprisingly solid, and employs 32 spokes for better support to protect against bending. The included back road clincher tires perform well in terms of grip and overall feel, but they are also fragile when over-inflated, so make sure you use an accurate tire gauge with them.

The Acciao’s Velo saddle is okay, but some may want to upgrade it after the first few months. Pedals are definitely entry level- as you only get basic plastic versions similar to the Shadow.

The Acciao is a bit of a trade-off.

You get some better components, a better look, and for some, a better ride in general, but it will cost you a little more, and you also have a heavier frame. Still, the Acciao is a top entry-level road bike for a reason, and is a great purchase for anyone starting out with road biking.

The Best Carbon Frame Road Bike

Carbon frame bikes are widely considered the best among cycling experts. The combination of incredibly low weight and shock absorption makes them cherished by both competitive and recreational rides alike.

Winner: Bianchi Intenso

Bianchi has long been a respected name in high-end road bikes and the Intenso is a perfect example as to why.

It offers riders a well-rounded carbon frame road bike, with even more added features to encourage a lighter and smoother ride, even at high speeds.

With the Intenso, the frame is obviously the star here.

Bianchi Intenso Carbon Italian Road Bike

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The entire bike weighs just 18 lbs, and the give in the frame is just enough to absorb shock and vibrations, but not too much as to sap your pedal power away. The front for is carbon as well, and is reinforced with kevlar for better longevity and stability.

The Intenso utilizes a Campagnolo Veloce drivetrain that is very snappy and responsive, offering precise ratios that are great for climbing and top speeds. Shimano 105 derailleurs and shifters are the perfect complement, providing easy shifting and fast response.

The wheelset is equally impressive, as the Intenso comes with Fulcrum Racing Sport Wheels, which are about mid-range in terms of Fulcrum’s full offerings. The included Hutchinson Equinox tires are very rugged, with lots of grip and absorption. They are a bit on the slim side, at 23cm.

The Intenso’s drop bars are short and shallow, and can easily accommodate larger hands. Reparto Corsa components include brake levers, saddle, and seatpost, helping round out the overall look and feel of this bike.

Speaking of looks, it’s hard to beat the Intenso. It comes in a few color options, and each of them looks great, and certainly alludes to the overall quality.

The best part? The Intenso isn’t nearly as expensive as other carbon frame bikes, yet still offers a high level of components and overall ride feel. You may eventually upgrade a few components, but as a whole, the combination of value and quality is superior.

Best Road Bike Under $2,000

For those with a little more money to spend, you can get a lot of bike for under $2,000.

These bikes tend to have lighter frames, higher-end components, and some added features that help improve everything from speed to comfort. Here are our two favorites.

Winner: Kestrel Talon​

Kestrel Talon Road Shimano 105 Bicycle

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Designed as an aero road bike, the Talon is a ridiculously good deal, as you get a quality carbon frame and plenty of quality components for well under $2,000.

While it may be a aero-style bike, the Talon is still very comfortable, and suitable for novices and recreational riders who want a bit of extra speed and responsiveness.

The frame of the Talon is its main feature, as it is fully carbon, and a big reason as to why the bike weighs just around 20 lbs. It offers a race-oriented seating position, while still allowing for better pedal efficiency in lieu of the obvious give and flex that a carbon fiber frame provides.

You get 11 speeds with the Talon, courtesy of a Shimano 105 system that includes shifters and the front/rear derailleurs. The frameset is Kestrel’s own Enhanced Modulus Hybrid. 11 Speeds may be a bit low for some, but the gears have an excellent ratio, so you get a lot of variance in between the highest and lowest gear setting.

Stopping power is more than adequate, as the Talon uses a Tektro R540 dual-pivot pad set that offers lots of grip, made possible with Shimano 105 STI levers. No spongy feelings her, just controllable, hard braking.

The Talon also has some minor comfort features that can make a big difference, especially on longer rides. The EMS Pro Carbon seatpost allows for shock absorption, and the included saddle is surprisingly pleasant as well. The Talon’s handlebars are ergonomic for a better grip and feel too.

The wheelset and tire combination of the Talon is a great value as well. Oval Concept 327 wheels provide sturdy, durable wheels and rims, with four extra spokes in the rear for better weight support. Vittoria Zaffiro Pro 700 x 32c folding tires are very durable as well, and create a smooth, responsive ride with lots of grip.

The Kestrel Talon isn’t just great value, it’s a great road bike period.

While it may be an aero road bike, it still offers a comfortable ride that makes it more versatile than other aero bikes, while retaining plenty of speed.

Runner Up: Diamondback 2013 Steilacoom RCX

Diamondback’s Steilacoom RCX is a cyclocross road bike, which is a bit of a different take on the average road bike.

Designed to take on certain off-road conditions, as well as pavement, the Steilacoom RCX defines versatility, and is a great commuter bike as a result.

The Steilacoom RCX features a very light aluminum frame, that results in just over 22 lbs when fully equipped.

Diamondback 2013 Steilacoom RCX Cylcocross Bike

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The frame’s material results in a somewhat rigid ride, but this being a cyclocross bike, the large tires helps to absorb a good portion of the shock. A DBCX carbon fork helps with shock absorption as well, while also saving on weight.

With 10 available seeds, the Steilacoom RCX is a bit lacking, but its other aspects help make up for it. Like the Talon, the Steilacoom RCX makes use of Shimano 105 technology, which includes the brake levers, derailleur, and shifters too. The pedaling platform itself is very stiff and efficient thanks to an FSA Gossamer PRO Cross crankset.

The wheelset is designed to be more durable than the thinner, more fragile wheels found on a roadbike. John Tomac Small Block Eight tires give the Steilacoom RCX better maneuvering off the road, with subtle tread that gives better cushioning and grip, but still retains much of the speed found with standard road bike tires.

The Steilacoom RCX isn’t a pure road bike, but it is one of the most versatile cyclocross models you’ll encounter, and for a very good price. Whether you’re a triathlete, or just want the most versatile road bike possible for commuting and recreational off-road use, the Steilacoom RCX should be your first choice.

Best Road Bike Under $1,000

If you’re trying to keep things more affordable, but are still willing to get closer to the $1,000 range, you still have plenty of options. These two bikes offer better quality than entry-level bikes, but still manage to stay within a mid range price.

Both of the bikes below are perfect for both beginners and intermediate riders, and can easily be upgraded over time to place them into a higher category as you progress.

Winner: Giordano Libero 2.0

Giordano Libero 2.0 Road Bike

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Think of the Libero 2.0 as an improved version of the 1.6. While the Libero 2.0 appears to be the same on the surface, further examination shows better components across the board.

This bike falls well under $1,000, but looks and performs like a road bike priced well above, which is all you can really ask for when spending the extra money for a better road bike.

The frame of the Libero 2.0 is the same as its lower-quality relative, as you get a 6061 aluminum frame that is rigid with a hint of give. There is one big difference, however: The Libero 2.0 has a carbon fork. This gives the front end much more shock absorption, while helping lower the weight to 24.3 lbs fully equipped

The Libero 2.0’s shifters, crank, cassette, and both derailleurs are all Shimano Sora series, creating a cohesive shifting experience that is very precise, snappy, and responsive. You also get two more gears than the 1.6, bringing the total up to 18. This gives you plenty of choices to really hone in the exact gear you need for climbs, sudden bursts of speeds, and whatever else.

The upgrade to Vitesse alloy 700c 32 spoke wheels makes a big difference as well. The rims are very light, and have enough strength and support to give you countless miles of use without worrying about the dreaded bent rim. The Libera 2.0’s Kenda tires are durable, and give you a noticeable grip on the pavement, while also adding in a bit of shock absorption.

As with the 1.6, the 2.0’s stance is a little more upright than a racing bike, so you have a more comfortable stance that is conducive for commuting and recreational riding. That’s not to say that you can’t put your head down and really get after it speed-wise, however.

If you’re willing to pay the money, the Libera 2.0 is a significant step up from a beginner bike, and has the upgradability and longevity of a mid-range bike, without having to spend thousands of dollars. The carbon fork is an added bonus that helps push it over the top.

Runner Up: Vilano Forza 2.0

Being that Vilano makes the best entry-level bike on this list, it’s no wonder that they also rank highly in the under $1,000 category.

The Forza 2.0 is a very potent road bike, offering a solid combination of ride quality and components.

The frame is made from 6061 double-butted aluminum, helping keep the overall weight down to 25 lbs.

Vilano FORZA 2.0 Aluminum Carbon Shimano Tiagra Road Bike

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Like the Libero 2.0, the Forza also has a carbon fiber fork, giving it better shock absorption. The frame offers a noticeable overall response, enabling improved maneuverability and pedal efficiency.

The drivetrain is a mix of Shimano and Vilano parts. The front derailleur is a Shimano Sora series, while the rear is the slightly better Shimano Tiagra series. The shifters are Shimano Sora, giving you easy control over all 27 of the speeds. Yes, 27 speeds, the most of any bike on this list. This allows you to fine-tune your pedaling in a variety of settings.

The Forza 2.0’s double-walled CNC wheelset provides elevated steering response, and perfectly complement the bike’s 700c x 22c Kenda tires. While many are often tempted to quickly upgrade their tire and wheel sets, it’s safe to say that you’ll be perfectly satisfied with these.

The Cionlli saddle is a nice bonus, as it’s surprisingly comfortable, and shaped well. While the Forza 2.0 doesn't come with clipless pedals, it does include toe straps, which many are more comfortable with when starting out. The straps improve your pedal efficiency as well.

While this doesn’t affect the ride quality, the Forza 2.0 looks great. It has a very minimalistic aesthetic to it, thanks to a matte grey finish. Seriously, it looks very sharp, and will probably earn you more than a few glances from other cyclists.

The Forza 2.0 is one of the best values for under $1,000, giving you an appealing design, a carbon fork, and high-end Shimano gear components for a very reasonable price. It’s built to perform immediately, and can easily be upgraded as time goes on. You can’t go wrong.

The Best Road Bike Under $500

Winner: Giordano Libero 1.6

Giordano Libero 1.6 Men's Road Bike

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The Giordano crams as much value as you can into an under $500 road bike. You get a lightweight frame, solid components, a very comfortable ride, and even a bit of added style.

It’s truly one of the most well-rounded bikes you can get in such an affordable price range, and it can easily be upgraded over time.

The frame of the Libero 1.6 is of moderate quality forged from 6061 aluminum that is both durable and offers a small bit of shock absorption. With all of the components equipped, the Libero 1.6 weighs around 26 precise shifting when needed. A Shimano Claris derailleur and smaller-sized crankset help round lbs, which is very good for an entry-level and intermediate road bike.

The Libero 1.6 utilizes Shimano Claris 16 speed STI shifters that do seem a little sluggish at first, but are still reliable and provide out the gear system, and give you a bit of a boost on steep climbs, which is definitely appreciated.

The linear pull braking system is decent, but the but eh actual brake pads may be the biggest complaint of the Libero 1.6. They are a bit spongy, and require a few extra feet for complete stoppage. Fortunately, this can be resolved with a $15 pair of new brake pads, so don’t worry too much about them.

The Libero 1.6 uses alloy rims with 32 spokes. This provides some extra reinforcement so you don’t have to be as concerned with bent rims over time. The stock tires are actually quite good, as are the tubes. No need to upgrade.

The spiked metal pedals are a nice step up from the lower-end plastic you’ll find on cheaper road bikes, and the quick release wheel latches are convenient as well. Water bottle holders mounts are included as well.

If you are trying to get the most out of your money, this bike is hard to beat. It is more than capable of handling grueling rides lasting for miles, and can take you even further with just a few small upgrades, should you choose to do so.

Runner Up: Diamondback 2016 Haanjo Metro

Diamondback’s Haanjo Metro is a commuter bike designed to help you navigate city streets en route to your destination, while still possessing the ability to withstand rougher terrain.

It’s more of a hybrid road bike, as it features flat handlebars and treaded tires. It also happens to be a great value.

The Haanjo Metro uses an aluminum frame, helping keep the overall weight down to a manageable 25 lbs.

Diamondback Bicycles 2016 Haanjo Metro Complete Commuter Bike

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The frame itself offers excellent response, and allows you to get the most out of your pedaling leaving the shock absorption to the tires for the most part.

The drivetrain offers 9 total gears, which is a bit low. Still, the gears are configured for city riding, and you’ll likely appreciate the extra travel you get out of each gear, rather than having to shift all the time in start/stop situations. The Haanjo Metro uses Shimano Acera gear components, which includes both derailleurs and shifters.

Braking is a big emphasis on commuter bikes and hybrids, which is the main reason the Haanjo Metro comes with Tektro Aires mechanical disc brakes, operated by Tektro 2-finger alloy linear levers. Response is crisp, and you don’t need a lot of pressure for stopping.

The wheelset consists of DB Equation CX 700c Doublewalls, with Schwalbe Citizen with a kevlar guard, giving you a rigid wheelset that can take the extra punishment city riding dishes out, while also offering extra protection for your tubes.

Both the saddle and pedals are made by Diamondback, with the saddle giving you a bit of extra cushioning, which is a must with the more upright riding position and lack of drop handlebars.

Overall, this is a very inexpensive and solid hybrid that gives you speed, comfort, and durability, all of which are essential for commuting. For just around $500, this is easily the best hybrid value you’ll find.

Best Road Bikes for Women

Women’s road bikes have a few subtle design features that are more inline with a woman’s body shape. While many women choose to ride unisex and small men’s bikes, there are plenty of others who prefer the a more women-oriented design. These two bikes are among the top choices.

Winner: Schwinn Women’s Phocus 1600

Schwinn Women's Phocus 1600 700C Drop Bar Road Bicycle

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Schwinn’s Women’s Phocus 1600 is part of their Signature Series, and manages to cram a lot of impressive features and components into a relatively low-priced road bike.

The women's version of the popular Phocus 1600 has all the same aspects of the men’s version, with a strategically-sized frame and handlebars.

The Phocus 1600’s frame is made from aluminum, and offers an appropriate amount of rigidness and response that is noticeable when pedaling and steering. It has an overall weight of 26 lbs when fully equippe, which isn’t exactly low, but still acceptable for its range. A carbon front fork helps to alleviate shock, while also helping to cut the weight down.

The Phocus 1600’s drivetrain is comprised of Shimano parts, and gives you 14 separate speeds, more than enough to offer enough options for inclines, declines, and flat terrain. Shifting is very crisp after an initial tune-up, and is accomplished by using Microshift integrated brake levers.

As for the brakes, they are just a little soft, and require a small amount of added pressure when using the included Promax alloy calipers. Some actually prefer a soft braking system, but if you don’t you’ll likely want to upgrade the pads for a small price.

The Phocus 1600 comes with high-profile alloy wheels that have 32 holes, and a paired spoke pattern in groups of four for better rim support and aerodynamics. Kenda K-196 tires are surprisingly responsive, and have a light tread for better grip and shock absorption.

Extra features include toe clips, helping maximize pedal efficiency for those who might not want to use clipless pedals. The light blue and white color pattern is very appealing as well, and looks very sharp out on the road.

In a way, it almost seems like the Phocus 1600 was intended to be a higher-end entry-level bike, but ended up being more of a mid-range bike for a lower price. If you’re looking for as much quality in a women’s bike for under $800, the Phocus 1600 should top your list. It certainly tops ours.

Runner Up: Giordano Libero 1.6

The women’s version of the highly-rated Giordano 1.6 has all the great features in the men’s version, only in a scaled down size that includes a shorter stem.

The frame is made from aluminum, and presents an overall weight of 26 lbs when equipped. Like the Phocus 1600, this isn’t exactly a low weight road bike, but still falls just under what is acceptable.

Giordano Libero 1.6 White/Pink Womens Road Bike-700c

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The frame feels snappy and responsive on the road, with a noticeable rigidness.

Shimano Claris parts make up the drivetrain, which is operated using the integrated brake shift levers. This may take a ride or two to get used to if you’ve always used trigger shifters, but once adjusted, shifting any of the 16 gears is quick and easy for the most part, especially after a proper tune-up.

The wheelset is comprised of Vitesse Alloy 700c High V-Profile’s with Kenda black road clincher tires. Both are fairly durable, and offer a suitable amount of grip and shock absorption. Intermediate users will eventually want an upgrade, but the stock versions are more than acceptable.

The plastic pedals are the only real drawback with the Libero 1.6, but again, upgrading is easy if desired. Two water bottle holder mounts are a nice touch, and the paint job and design of the Libero 1.6 is very feminine, which some riders will prefer.

Like its male relative, the women’s Libero 1.6 is a noteworthy value, and is suitable for both entry-level and intermediate riders who want the most out of a road bike, but want to keep things under $500.

Editor’s Choice

Winner: KESTREL TALON

While it’s tough to narrow down the best bike value of the many models listed above, the Kestrel Talon stands out as the best value in terms of what you are getting for the money.

Every detail of the Talon is designed for aerodynamics, and the option to have a full carbon frame aero bike for under $1,400 is rather astounding. A lot of thought went into the creation of the Talon, and it’s evident inside every detail. Everything from contoured seatposts, to internally-routed cables.

Kestrel Talon Road Shimano 105 Bicycle on driveway

Kestrel Talon

All of the components are high-end as well, and the Talon boasts a very handsome matte grey with red drop handlebars. Very sharp, and an appropriate complement to what it’s capable of.

Even as an aero bike, the Talon is good for recreational use, and with a few modifications, can easily be a commuter bike as well. There’s just too much to like. If you want the most for your money, and want a bike that can handle competitions and recreational use, this is it.

Runner Up: Diamondback 2013 Steilacoom RCX

It might seem a little surprising that a hybrid road bike made the top two, but that’s just a testament to how good of a bike the Steilacoom RCX truly is.

From the light frame, to the comfortable, upright riding position, the Steilacoom RCX is built for daily riding on a variety of surfaces, making it a more than capable hybrid that can handle most any path to your destination.

It manages to walk the line between road and mountain bike, but leans more on the road side of things for added speed and efficiency. 

While it can certainly be upgraded, it is more than equipped to hit the ground right after a tune-up.

The Steilacoom RCX is priced affordably, reliable, and fun to ride. For a commuter hybrid, this as good as it gets without spending a ton of money.

Conclusion

By now you should have a much better idea as to what road bike to consider in terms of your price range and skill level.

While we clearly have our two favorites, any of the bikes listed above are examples of a quality road bike that will give you miles and miles of use for years to come.

Regardless of which model you choose, be sure to choose the right size, and don’t forget to acquire all of the gear and accessories you’ll need as well.

After a proper tune-up, you’ll be ready to go. Happy riding!

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