Road cycling handlebars

Best Budget Road Bikes Under $1,000

Filed under: Biking  Road 

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Looking to find a road bike under $1,000? These bikes have some heft compared to their more expensive cousins, but they’re built to last.

Road cycling handlebars

When it comes to bikes (and most outdoor gear), there’s a saying: Between lightweight, durable, and cheap, you can pick two. If you’re looking for a road bike under $1,000, that means choosing between light or durable, and durable should always win out.

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That’s why most of the bikes on this budget list cost under $1,000 but weigh over 20 pounds. Sure, you can drop $10,000 and get a sweet, durable bike that weighs in under 14 pounds. But if you don’t have that kind of cash, you’ll want to opt for a bike with components built to last over many miles of use.

Raleigh Grand Sport: $800

Raleigh Grand Sport

If you’re looking for a classy AF steel road bike that looks like something your parents rode in the ’80s – in a cool way – then the Raleigh Grand Sport might be the ride for you.

Made with industry-standard 4130 Chromoly steel and sporting a Brooks Cambium saddle (and matching bar tape), it looks more vintage than today’s standard road bikes. But with a Shimano Claris eight-speed drivetrain and crankset and Clement Strada tires, the bike rides like new.

If you want to trick it out for more touring or commuting applications, the frame has rack and fender mounts ready to go.

Trek Domane AL 3: $960

Trek Domane

Trek, like many major bike companies, makes a high-end version of most of its road bikes, with ultralight carbon frames and the best of the best in terms of componentry. Eventually, those designs trickle down into the slightly cheaper components and lower-priced, but still solid, aluminum frames.

That’s why the Domane AL 3 rides so well at such a great price. Trek designed the aluminum model for comfortable riding, though it can certainly keep up on even the fastest group rides.

Shimano Sora and Bontrager components make this $960 bike durable (and tubeless ready!). At only 22.5 pounds, it might not be the lightest bike on the block, but it can hold its own next to similar carbon versions.

Specialized Women’s Dolce: $800

Specialized Dolce

While women can obviously happily ride unisex and men’s frames, most companies offer women’s models as well. These usually involve tiny tweaks to standard geometry, slightly narrower handlebars, and a women-specific saddle.

The other benefit of bikes like the Specialized Women’s Dolce is the size availability. The Dolce comes in several sizes ranging from 44 to 57 cm. So if you’re on the shorter side, the 44 might be the ticket to riding success, as most unisex bikes aren’t made that small.

The aluminum frame is designed for a more comfortable endurance ride versus a racier geometry, and a carbon fork helps dampen the feeling of bumps in the road. The combination of Shimano Claris and RS200 components make up the Dolce’s drivetrain.

Giant Contend 3: $635

Giant Contend 3

Available in six sizes from XS to XL, the Giant Contend 3 bike fits almost any rider. Like most budget bikes, it’s designed more for a comfortable, endurance-based ride than an aggressive, race-like experience.

The Contend 3 has ALUXX aluminum for the frame and fork, with an OverDrive steerer to make cornering a breeze. Giant’s house-brand wheelset and wide 25c tires, plus a blend of Shimano and Tektro components, complete the package.

Fuji Sportif 1.9 Disc: $900

2018 Fuji Sportif 1.9 Disc

Road bikes have started shifting to disc brakes for better stopping performance and braking modulation. Although most disc brake models quickly become prohibitively pricey, the Fuji Sportif 1.9 Disc clocks in at $900.

Most higher-end models use hydraulic disc brakes for even smoother stopping, but the Tektro Mira mechanical disc brakes provide a solid, durable option here. The Sportif’s geometry is more endurance-geared, meaning it’s built for long days on the road. Shimano Claris components make up the drivetrain, and Kenda 28c tires add even more comfort to the already plush ride.

Co-op Cycles ARD 1.1 Bike (men’s / women’s): $849

Co-op Cycles ARD 1.1

Combining an aluminum frame with a carbon fork is a smart way to add comfort with the carbon fork’s dampening powers. It also lowers the weight by swapping metal for carbon. A front thru-axle on the fork keeps the wheel extremely stable, and mechanical disc brakes can stop in any conditions, rain or shine.

Like many other road bikes on this list, Shimano Claris components make up the drivetrain. And the 28c tires are wider than standard, speedy road options for a much smoother ride. Because Co-op is REI’s in-house brand, you have six months (or about 20 hours) of use to bring the bike back to the store for a free tuneup. That’s great because most cables stretch after the first few hours of use and need to be tuned. A women’s option, with slightly different geometry and saddle design, is also available.

Diamondback Women’s Airen Sport: $600 – On Sale for $450

Diamondback Airen Sport

Looking for a women-specific road bike? The Diamondback Women’s Airen Sport is based on Diamondback’s higher-end carbon models. And while it’s a bit heavier than the carbon versions, it rides just as well. And the women’s version tweaks the men’s geometry for a more comfortable ride.

FSA cranks and Shimano Claris mean smooth and responsive shifting, plus Tektro braking power. Like other bikes on this list, it falls right in the 23-pound weight range, making it reasonably light – especially for the current sale price of $450!

Salsa Journeyman Claris 700: $899

Salsa Journeyman

If you prefer a less common bike, the Salsa Journeyman Claris 700 made with 6061-T6 aluminum is meant for adventure. And in a bright-red color, it’s bound to turn heads. It’s got the burliest tires on the list, with 37-mm-wide WTB Riddler Comps.

For gear, frame mounts for rear racks and fenders make it easy to kit it out for bikepacking adventures, or keep it clean and hit the local group ride. Internal cabling protects Shimano Claris components, and the FSA Tempo Adventure 46/30-tooth chainrings mean you’re ready for serious climbs with a compact crank. And with mechanical disc brakes, you can hit those downhills with confidence as well.

Liv Avail 1: $880

Liv Avail 1

Like Trek’s Domane and Specialized’s Dolce, the Liv Avail 1’s aluminum frame is based on the higher-end carbon version and is designed for long days of riding to awesome destinations. The ALUXX-grade butted aluminum frame (similar to Giant’s build) has a composite fork that will dampen the bumps on that gravel road you’ve been meaning to explore, but it’s fast enough to hit the local A ride.

These tires can run tubeless if you plan to focus on endurance rather than speed. The componentry comprises Shimano Sora plus Tektro for brakes.

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