Around $350 - Available on Amazon.com
Price, design, drivetrain
Integrated shifters, tire tube, pedals, saddle
It’s still perfectly fine to use this bike with all of its stock components, but you can easily take the bike to a higher level by upgrading just a few small components.
Vilano has made quite the name for themselves by manufacturing Italian-inspired road bikes that are also highly affordable.
Fortunately, these bikes are also very high in quality for the price point, which is a big reason as to why Vilano bikes are so popular in the first place.
The Shadow is Vilano’s flagship entry-level road bike. This bike manages to offer beginning road riders a very good frame, while also equipping it with an array of solid components that are often found on bikes twice the price.
The result is a truly affordable road bike that is perfect to get started with, and also retains enough quality that upgrading over time is totally feasible as well.
It’s certainly not a racing road bike by any means, but if you’re looking for a good commuter or recreational bike to get into road biking with, this should be at the top of your list.
Road biking is a very appealing sport for a variety of reasons, but many abstain from getting into it due to the belief that it costs so much for all the required gear -- especially the bike itself.
That’s easy to understand, as many road bikes can costs thousands of dollars, and that does not include the rest of the gear.
Vilano obviously saw a huge need for an affordable beginner’s bike, which is what led them to create the Shadow.
Entry-level bikes of any type are often very lacking in overall quality, but the Vilano Shadow manages to go against such notions, offering plenty of solid components attached to a very good frame.
The Shadow’s frame has a very traditional design, but avoids the more race-oriented frames that encourage a forward-leaning stance usually found with higher-end bikes.
This is a good decision, as beginner road bikers don’t need every single speed advantage possible. Comfort and overall ride quality are the most important factors.
The frame offers a more upright stance that allows for easier control and better visibility when riding.
It’s relatively light weight, coming in at just under 30 lbs with all of the components equipped. That’s not nearly as light as high-end road bikes, but it’s still acceptable for the price.
The entire drivetrain is made by Shimano, so you know you’re getting a decent set of derailleurs, crank, cassette, and the shifters as well.
With a double crank and 7-speed cassette, the total amount of speeds comes out to 14, which is more than enough for an entry-level bike.
The Shadow’s brakes are the traditional dual-pivot type, which is no surprise given the price range. The stock brake pads included tend to be a bit soft, but you can easily replace them while spending just around $15.
The levers themselves are very responsive and placed well, making them easy to grip while steering.
The included CNC alloy wheelset is nothing to write home about, which is something else you can expect when buying a beginner’s bike. Still, they are perfectly fine to start out with, and the Kenda tires that come with them are very durable and have good grip and longevity.
Other stock components such as plastic pedals and a small saddle are the only real downfalls with the Shadow, but this is not a deal breaker in the least.
Aesthetically, many seem to like the available color schemes, and the bike does not give off a department store look in any way, which may seem fickle, but looks do matter a bit.
So, the components of the Shadow are a bit hit and miss, but they can easily be upgraded as time goes on, allowing you to grow with the bike as your skills and ability progress.
For an affordable entry-level bike, that’s exactly what you want.
The biggest allure to the Shadow is the cost and overall ride quality. The frame really is well-designed, and although it’s not the lightest, it still gives a good response, and offers a very stable feel that beginners will appreciate.
The drivetrain is very precise and quick when shifting, and the gear amount and ratios are great for an entry-level bike. The high and low ends offer plenty of climbing and top speed power when needed.
Also, the Shadow just looks good. It has a very professional appearance, and doesn’t any indications of being a beginners bike in terms of appearance. More people will care about this aspect, although they may not be very vocal about it.
The Shadow uses integrated shifters instead of a trigger style, which means the brake lever assemblies are actually the shifters as well. This can take a little while to get used to, especially if you’re a fan of trigger shifters.
There seem to be issues with the tire tube as well. Although over-inflating is certainly a problem with beginner cyclists, many have complained of how fragile the tubes are, whether it’s during the initial install, or when hitting a bump when riding.
The saddle and pedals are very low end, with several buyers pointing out how hard the saddle feels during longer rides.
Since some of the included components are a bit lacking, you should probably order some higher-quality tubes to use, and perhaps a better saddle as well.
Different pedals are a good idea as well. If you’re not ready for clipless pedals, order metal pedals that include toe straps instead.
While the Shadow has a few minor complaints, that’s to be expected with a bike this affordable. It’s still perfectly fine to use with all of its stock components, but you can easily take the bike to a higher level by upgrading just a few small components.
For the money, you won’t find a better entry-level bike, period.
The Shadow is the easiest and most economical way to get started in road biking, and it's quality enough to last you more than a few years with proper care and some strategic upgrades.
If you’re looking for a popular and well-respected entry-level road bike that doesn’t look like a beginner's bike, the Shadow should be your top choice.
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