Facebook Pixel Code
 

Best Men's Road Bikes

Updated November 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 19 Models Considered
  • 8 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 223 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best men's road bikes

    Last Updated November 2018

    Any kind of cycling is great for your fitness (and great fun), but if you're looking for speed and distance rather than rocks and dirt, you'll want a good men's road bike.

    The choice is vast. There is a bike for just about every pocket and every performance demand. But with dozens of different gear, frame, shifter, and brake combinations, picking the right road bike for your needs can be a challenge.

    We at BestReviews have been looking at the enormous range of bikes available and compiled the following shopping guide for men’s road bikes to help you make an informed buying decision.

    Professionals wear helmets and so should you. U.S. Department of Transportation figures state that 74% of fatal cycling accidents are the result of head injury. Don't be one of those statistics.

    What is a men's road bike?

    A men's road bike is pretty straightforward, right? Drop handlebars, skinny tires, built for speed. Yes, but there are two categories of men’s road bike, and each category has two different names! Confused? We’ll explain.

    The two categories of road bike are sportive (also called endurance) and racing (sometimes called aero, for aerodynamic). While both types look very similar, there are important differences. At a glance, the differences might appear relatively minor, but the bikes are noticeably different to ride. One note of caution: it's not unknown for manufacturers to be overly enthusiastic with their descriptions. Just because something is called a “racing” bicycle doesn't mean it is. Study the specifications carefully before buying.

    Sportive/endurance bikes: The riding position on these bikes is a little more upright and so more comfortable for riding over long distances. The frame geometry gives good stability. Unless you're committed to racing at every opportunity, it's likely the sportive type is what you want. Most low- and medium-priced men's road bikes fall into this category (though there are exceptions).

    Racing/aero bikes: These bikes have a more radical geometry. The rider sits lower. These bikes can be more aerodynamic, with more focus on straight-line speed. The top tube is longer on a race frame, but unless you can stand them side by side, comparison isn't easy. A race frame will usually be described as such, or the term “aero” will be used.

    Excellent performance for the long road ahead

    The specification of this bike is so good for the money we're tempted to call it a budget model. Frame geometry is set up for speed and comfort. Shimano's Claris R2000 groupset offers superb performance and great versatility for all-day riding whatever the terrain. Mile-eating ability is underlined by a frame that's ready for panniers. An all-around winner.

    Men's road bike features to consider

    Frame size

    This is very important if you're planning on spending a lot of time on your bike. A bike that's too big or too small – regardless of the adjustability of the seat or handlebar height – isn't going to be comfortable.

    It's an option that's likely to cost you money. Budget men's road bikes generally come “one-size-fits-all,” which is OK if you're what the manufacturer thinks is “average” height. If you want proper choice (some bikes are available in as many as six different sizes), you'll need to invest more. Really, it's all about how often you'll be on your bike. You might get away with “average,” but will the discomfort simply put you off riding? Experts invariably recommend you get a proper fit. Manufacturers provide size guides, so if sufficient choice is available, it's easy to select the right one for your height.

    Frame material

    Steel: Until the late twentieth century, just about every road bike had a steel frame – from the most basic to race-winning professional cycles. Steel is cheap, easy to work with, strong, and durable. It can be comparatively heavy, but specialist manufacturers make lightweight steel tube specifically for bicycle use. However, as the price of aluminum dropped, steel became less popular. You can still find steel-framed road bikes, but they’re often specialist high-end or one-off custom models commanding premium prices.

    Aluminum: Anybody who can weld can weld steel, but the same is not true of aluminum. Nevertheless, more workable alloys (notably 6061 aluminum, which contains magnesium and silicon), and lower material costs have led to it becoming the dominant material for road bike frames by a considerable margin. It's light, doesn't rust, and though not quite as strong as steel, tough enough for men's road bikes.

    Carbon fiber: If you're an avid club racer or a professional, chances are you want a frame made of carbon fiber. It's incredibly light and immensely strong. It can be formed in different shapes, delivering advanced aerodynamics. But carbon fiber is expensive, and if you crash, it can be subject to stress fractures. The damage can be hard to see, so if you do fall, it's important to check the whole frame carefully.

    Titanium: Titanium alloy is lighter and stiffer than steel, but it’s very expensive. In order to make it usable, titanium has to be alloyed, usually with aluminum. Even then, making the frame is difficult because oxygen can't be allowed to enter the weld as it's formed or it will be brittle and likely fail. Unless you're having a bespoke, one-off frame built, you're unlikely to come across it.

    Fork

    Your bicycle’s fork takes a lot of stress, so it needs stiffness, but it also needs to flex under braking. Steel offers both, and a steel fork is used on many aluminum-framed bikes.

    Carbon fiber forks are a popular upgrade, offering good weight savings in an area of the bike where it will have most impact without the cost of a full carbon frame. Carbon fiber forks are also better than steel or aluminum at absorbing road vibration, and so add comfort to your ride.

    You might think that pedals are included, but it's not always the case. Some bike manufacturers leave the choice to you. If you don't know that at the outset, your new bike will arrive, but you'll be going nowhere!

    Staff
    BestReviews

    Wheels and tires

    700c: Bike rims are either aluminum or carbon fiber, and 700c is the most common size for a men's road bike. This was originally a French measurement (700mm) that included the tire diameter. That got confusing because two sets of 700c wheels could be different sizes! That's no longer the case because 700c has been standardized, but that doesn't mean it's any less confusing. The actual size of a 700c wheel is 622 mm, but they're often called 28 inches (with tire included). You'll sometimes see forks described as 700c. It's an indication of the wheel they are designed to accommodate.

    650c: The alternative, though rare, is a 650c (571mm) wheel. These are normally found on mountain bikes, but might be fitted to a small road bike.

    Tires: Your bike will likely come with general-purpose road tires. The tread is often angular, a good compromise between straight-line stability and the ability to clear water. Unidirectional treads, and even slicks, are available for racing.

    Groupsets

    A groupset (or gruppo) is the combination of gears and brakes – invariably supplied by the same company. One of the main reasons for this is that shifters and brake levers are now normally combined in the same handlebar-mounted units. The number of gears you need is a complex issue that we look at in more detail in the FAQ section of this guide. Suffice it to say you'll never be short of choice. There are several different configurations of groupsets.

    • Some have a button to shift, with the brake lever separate.

    • Some have a shift lever tucked behind the brake lever.

    • Some use the brake lever itself – a sideways motion changes gear – while applying the brakes is done by pulling on the lever as normal.
       

    There isn't really a best option here – it's a matter of personal preference. You can find a wide range of quality products – from good entry-level sets to high-end racing equipment. All are easy to use and, more importantly, have a fast, easy action. You're not fumbling around for a gear change, so you can concentrate on your riding.

    Brakes

    There are two options for road bike brakes: caliper (also called rim brakes) and disc.

    Caliper: Men's road bikes will most likely have calipers. Calipers are simple, so they're easy to look after. They're inexpensive. It's also easier to change wheels because the brake isn't part of it. Some wheels have textured rims to improve the performance of caliper brakes.

    Disc: Disc brakes have become increasingly popular on mountain bikes. Discs perform better in wet conditions, and many riders say they give more “feel,” but it's a matter of personal choice. It’s a decision best made at the outset, though. Disc brake upgrade kits are available for some road bikes, but they’re complicated too fit and might require you to buy new wheels.

    Pedals

    There are three choices when comes to pedals: platform, toe clip, and clipless.

    Platform pedals are the standard type you see on every kind of bicycle. You rest your foot on them and push.

    Toe clips were popular with racers for a long time, though not so much now. A metal frame, often with a leather strap, holds the toe of your shoe securely so your foot won't slip off the pedal as you apply force. These pedals aren't dependent on your footwear.

    Clipless pedals, also called clip-in, actually use clips! These pedals have an interlocking combination of a cycle shoe with a cleat, and a catch – or sprung jaw – on the pedal. It provides the same level of security as toe clips but has a much faster action. The downside is that you need specific footwear.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    The single, double, or triple sprockets attached to the pedal crank are the chainring. The set of seven to eleven sprockets on the back wheel is the cassette. Multiply the two to get the total number of speeds. A triple chainring with a seven-speed cassette is a 21-speed road bike.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Derailleurs are the two mechanisms – one by the pedal crank, one on the rear wheel – that move the chain from one sprocket to the next. They’re linked by cable to gear shift levers, usually housed in the same unit as the brake levers. In some cases, the brake lever doubles as a gear shift.

    Men's road bike prices

    You can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to over $10,000 for a men’s road bike.

    Inexpensive: There are quite a few cheap men's road bikes around the $150 price bracket, but component quality and frame construction seldom reach the standards we like to see. You'll find a few good entry-level bikes for about $250 to $450. These are fine for commuting and modest weekend jaunts.

    Mid-range: Keen road cyclists will want to invest more, and there are plenty of excellent men's endurance bikes and a few carbon fiber race bikes in the $600 to $1,000 bracket. In fact, there’s so much choice that you can pretty much write your own wish list and then pick the model that matches it.

    Expensive: Beyond that, you're looking at a serious investment, and seriously exotic equipment. It isn’t difficult to spend $3,000 or $4,000 on a carbon-framed men's racing bike, and professional models can top $10,000.

    Great introduction for minimal cost

    The Merax proves that if you choose carefully, you can find a budget-friendly men's road bike that's well designed and well built. A choice of two sizes accommodates most adults. Aluminium frame and Shimano gears deliver sturdy, reliable, and flexible performance. If you're new to the road and watching your budget, here's the ideal solution.

    Tips

    • Follow bike assembly instructions carefully. You can often save money by buying your men's road bike online, but most (though not all) require some assembly upon arrival. Follow instructions carefully and don't rush it. It's also worth checking for helpful videos online. It's usually a straightforward, one-person job, but it does no harm to have a friend lend a hand who might spot something you miss.

    • Invest in some cycling shorts for long rides. Slender road bike seats look uncomfortable. If you're new to road bikes, riding one does take a while to get used to, but you soon won't notice the seat. Softer-looking alternatives might seem appealing, but these provide negligible help on long rides. If you're pouring on the miles, what does make a difference is a pair of cycle shorts with padding right where you need it.

    • Aim for a cadence of 70 to 90 revolutions per minute. Experts tell us it's better to maintain a high pedal speed (cadence) in a lower gear than put in maximum effort riding in a high gear. The former will enable you to ride more quickly for longer. The latter drains energy fast.
    Endurance road bikes make excellent touring bikes. If the idea appeals to you, check whether you can mount mudguards and panniers.

    FAQ

    Q. Is a road bike better than a mountain bike?

    A. It depends where you want to go! Seriously, though, many people ride mountain bikes on the road because the seating position appeals to them. It looks less radical, and people assume riding one requires less effort. Actually, the opposite is true. A men's road bike is usually considerably lighter than a similarly priced mountain bike. While multiple gears mean you'll be capable of tackling steep inclines, cassettes are generally biased toward road use. The tires are narrower, so there's less rolling resistance. You can adopt a more streamlined position, providing less wind resistance. The result is that you'll go faster and use less energy on a road bike.

    Q. How do I know the correct seat height for my road bike?

    A. Seat height is important in order to generate maximum power. There are complex calculations around that take into account seat thickness, ride angle, type of footwear, and so on. If you want to get into that amount of detail, there is plenty of advice online. Be sure to have a tape measure and spirit level handy. Most riders will be just fine with the “heel-to-pedal” method:

    • Put on the footwear you usually wear when riding the bike.

    • Lean the bike against a wall.

    • Get on the bike and put your heel on the outside pedal.

    • Rotate the pedal backward until it's in the six o'clock position (straight up and down), with your foot at the bottom.

    • Your knee should be straight. Adjust the seat height until it is.
       

    Q. How many gears should I have on a road bike?

    A. It's a tough question because, over time, everyone develops a preference. Having more gears doesn't make a bike any faster – that's down to the ratio of rear sprocket to chainring and the effort put in by the rider. What having lots of gears gives you is greater flexibility. Riding efficiently is about matching the gear to the conditions, thus maximizing the effort you put in.

    If you use your road bike to ride to and from work and out and about on weekends, a dozen or so gears will probably be sufficient. If you're going farther and you encounter both long, flat stretches and tough climbs, then more gears will make your life easier. It's a good idea to try to decide that at the outset, but if you find you're having problems, it's usually much cheaper to change the gear set than it is to buy a new bike!

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bob
      Bob
      Writer
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Kyle
      Kyle
      Writer
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer

    BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
    and give us feedback about your visit today.

    Take Survey