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Best aluminium road bikes 2021

4 Aug 2021
Verdict:

A breakdown of the best aluminium road bikes that prove carbon isn't everything

Since carbon became the sole material from which to make a competitive racing bike, steel has forged a second life for itself.

However, if steel is vinyl, outmoded but charming, then aluminium has risked becoming an eight-track cassette tape – an unloved evolutionary stepping-stone doomed to the charity shop of history.

It wasn’t always so. For around a decade from the mid-90s to the early-2000s, aluminium was the material of choice, with Miguel Indurain winning the Tour de France aboard an aluminium Pinarello for the first time in 1995.

However, with Lance Armstrong 'winning' on a carbon Trek OCLV Madone only three years later, aluminium has often since found itself consigned to brands' entry-level machines.

Despite this, it’s now enjoying a revival, with new manufacturing methods once again making it a viable choice for race-winning bikes. Aluminium is potentially stiff, zippy and very light, so should you fancy seeing what the fuss is about we’ve rounded up seven lust-worthy bikes that prove aluminium is still a great material to make a bike from.

The best aluminium road bikes

Cannondale CAAD13 Disc Ultegra

Buy now from Leisure Lakes for £3,000

Cannondale was famous during the '90s for its slinky looking CAAD frames, which are still objects of lust for a particular vein of bike nerd. The new CAAD13, however, is likely to have wider modern-day appeal.

Lovely looking, it’s lighter than many carbon competitors while its ultra-thin tubing also provides a ride far smoother than you’d imagine possible.

Now only available equipped with disc brakes, this range-topping Ultegra version is the go-to choice for aspiring racers.

Recently updated with bolt-thru axles and drop seat stays, you’ll get low weight and racing manners, plus clearance for fat tyres up to 30c. Combined with fast Fulcrum Racing wheels, a pro-compact chainset and aggressive geometry, the CAAD 13 remains living proof that aluminium can still more than match carbon.

Buy now from Leisure Lakes for £3,000

Specialized Allez Sprint Comp

Buy now from Specialized for £2,200

In 2015 Specialized created a limited edition aluminium S-Works Allez. Partly conceived as a method of experimenting with advanced welding techniques that could then be trickled down to its mass-market machines, its unique construction still informs many of the production methods used across the brand’s range of alloy bikes.

While this rare beast has now been retired, its spirit lives on in the disc-equipped Allez Sprint. A cheap and furious racer, it combines a flat aero sculpted seat tube and matching carbon post with a head-down racing position. All considered, it’s a set of fast wheels away from a podium finish.

Buy now from Specialized for £2,200

Trek Émonda ALR 5

Buy now from Trek for £2,100

That a company as large as Trek would bother to create an aluminium bike as nice as this proves there’s life left in the genre yet. Looking for all the world like a carbon bike, a serious amount of effort has gone into hydroforming each tube.

This has been helped along by something Trek calls ‘invisible weld’ technology. Chuck on a full 2x11 Shimano 105 drivetrain and hydraulic brakes and we reckon riders will be on to a winner.

There are bolt-thru axles and flat mount fittings, and even room for a dedicated computer sensor buried inside one of the seat stays.

Sharing the endurance geometry of the rest of the line, the Émonda ALR 5 is also available as a frameset which comes in a rather lovely metallic purple.

Read our full review here

Buy now from Trek for £2,100

Condor Italia RC Disc

Buy the frameset now from Condor for £1,199

London cycling stalwart Condor produces its range in Italy. The race-oriented Italia RC is a legitimately fast bike with a moderate price tag, ideal for regular racing and fast training.

Featuring an asymmetric down tube with a flattened profile to resist twisting it should be happy to get thrown about.

Formerly eschewing anything as crassly modern as disc brakes or bolt-thru axles, this latest version sports both. Thankfully, done up in deep two-tone blue, it’s still gorgeous to look at.

Coming as frame-only, Condor will help build the bike up to match your requirements, and can also call on the experience of its in-house fitters to get it spot on.

Buy now from Condor for £1,199

Canyon Endurace AL Disc 8.0

Buy now from Canyon for £1,749

Add together the Endurace AL’s Shimano 105 groupset, DT Spline 1850 wheels, and Selle Italia finishing kit and you’ll feel like you’re getting the frame and fork thrown-in free.

It’s a calculation that’ll give you some clue as to how good value a bike this is. Bolted to a long-distance optimised frame, it’s part of a build with nothing by way of weak links, and that adds up to a bike weighing just 8.7kg.

Done up in matt black or bright blue and neatly accommodating the usual cables and flat-mount brake callipers, its chassis is great looking too, with long chainstays that aim to impart stability and thin seat stays to help smooth over rough surfaces.

Shipped direct to your door, Canyon’s occasional long lead times might put off some. But the quality of its machines is beyond doubt.

Buy now from Canyon for £1,749

Kinesis Aithein EVO Disc

Buy frameset from Kinesis for £800

British based Kinesis has been working with factories to produce top-end aluminium frames for decades. The result of its accumulated knowledge is the very speedy Aithein.

An ideal privateer racer, its fast geometry is well suited to the knockabout world of criterium events. With competition-ready stiffness, it’s still just about forgiving enough for longer rides thanks to thin seat stays.

Recently updated, this disc version now features flat-mount brake fittings and 12mm thru-axles. With internal gear cable routing and space for 28c tyres, it’s very definitely still a racer’s bike. Available as a frameset only, it’s ready to be built up any way you see fit.

Buy frameset from Kinesis for £800

Bowman Palace 3 Disc

Buy now as a frameset from Bowman for £845

Based in London, Bowman makes a small range comprising three unique bikes: the year-round stainless steel Layhams, the chunky tyre and disc-equipped Pilgrim, and this aluminium racer, the Palace.

Named after South London's famous Crystal Palace criterium races, it is now onto its third iteration. Always a snappy handler, this has seen the addition of disc brakes and blot-thru axles.

Keeping things simple at the heart of the bike is a reliable threaded bottom bracket, while cabling and ports for electronic groupsets have also been tidied up.

Buy now as a frameset from Bowman for £845

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