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Best cheap road bikes 2022: Eight great budget road bikes

Great road bikes for those on a budget - with options from £400

Cyclist magazine
23 May 2021

These are the best cheap road bikes on the market that you can get for your money in 2022. There are plenty of reasons why you might be looking to buy a road bike on the cheap. You could be keen to get into cycling and aren't willing or able to spend a fortune to do so. Especially if you need to buy other bits like shoes, a helmet and clothing.

Alternatively, you could be looking to get into cycling to work and want a cheap bike that can be locked outside. Or maybe you own a lot of bikes and just want something inexpensive to knock about on during the winter.

Whatever the reason, thankfully it’s pretty easy to get a solid road bike for a decent price.

Below are eight of the best we've found on a budget from £400 to £999

If you're feeling flush, check out our guide to the best road bikes on the market from under £1,000 to over £10,000

Best cheap road bikes on a budget in 2022

Pinnacle Laterite, £400 - The best road bike for riders on a tight budget

Buy now from Evans Cycles for £400

Key Features: Cheapest on test, Shimano Claris gearing, carbon fork 

Buy now from Evans Cycles for £400

A proper road bike for an improper amount of cash. To complain about any rough edges on the Pinnacle seems churlish given its tiny headline price. Based around a compact 6061-T6 heat-treated aluminium frame, its carbon fibre fork cuts weight and boosts shock absorption.

Running a 16-speed Shimano Claris drivetrain, this shunts the gears with an authoritative clunk and provides a moderate range via its compact chainset and 11-28t cassette. With 25c decent Schwalbe Lugano tyres, plus space for mudguards and a rear rack, it’s a great introduction to drop bar riding.

Specialized Allez E5 Sport, £1,000 - The best handling budget road bike

Buy now from Evans Cycles for £1,000

Key Features: Performance-focused geometry, lightweight frame, 32t cassette

Buy now from Evans Cycles for £1,000

The Specialized Allez E5 Sport is both pretty light and pretty good looking. Both of these traits can be traced back to its clever aluminium frame which benefits from extensive hydroforming and seamless SmoothWeld technology.

With a tapered head tube and internal cable routing, it’s a great looking assemblage that’s also backed up by a lightweight carbon fork. Yet, with an eye on practicality, there’s also full provision for mudguards and racks.

Along with a decent overall weight, the Allez's ability uphill is aided by a competent Shimano Sora groupset that includes a very wide 9-speed, 11-32t cassette. Ensuring you don’t stall going uphill, the bike’s nippy handling also makes it fun on the downs.

Contact points are also good thanks to Specialized BodyGeometry bars and saddle. All in, it's a very nicely rounded racer.

Read Cyclist's review of the Specialized Allez here

Giant Contend 2, £750 - The best compact budget road bike

Buy the Giant Contend from Giant for £750

Key Features: Fairly light for its price, sporty geometry, carbon fork for comfort

Buy the Giant Contend from Gaint for £750

Being the biggest bike company in the world, Giant is a dab hand at making great bikes even for those on a budget.

The Contend 2 is impressively light at under 10kg while the geometry is pretty racy for a cheaper road bike, meaning that you will get a truer race bike feel from the Contend. Giant has also used a D-Fuse seatpost for a smoother ride.

This is not to say it isn’t versatile. There is still space for 32mm tyres and mounts for mudguards and racks if you find yourself commuting or touring.

Genesis Equilibrium, £1,750 - The best classic steel bicycle 

Buy now from Freewheel for £1,750

Key Features: Retro steel, great gearing selection, wide tyres

Buy now from Freewheel for £1,750

Stretching some people’s definition of budget, the timeless Genesis Equilibrium should prove its worth through years of service. Based around a super-robust Reynolds 725 steel frame and fork, this may look classic, but the geometry and spec are surprisingly modern.

For one thing, you get an almost complete Shimano 105 11-speed groupset. Including a compact crankset and huge 11-34t cassette, this provides a super low one-to-one easiest gear that should see you easily up the most vertiginous climbs.

With plenty of clearance for mudguards and racks, the Genesis Equilibrium also comes with very on-trend WTB Exposure 30c tyres. Allowing it to quickly cover a range of surfaces, the fact they arrive with cool-looking gum walls doesn’t hurt either.

Admittedly you’ll do without disc brakes, which will make some people very happy, and outrage others. Still, it’s a large part of the reason this bike looks as lovely as it does. 

Scott Speedster Disc, £1,209 - The best value bike for exploring

Buy now from Scott for £1,209

Key Features: Wide tyres for off-road exploring, comfortable geometry, disc-equipped

Buy now from Scott for £1,209

Ironically, despite being in the name, speed is not a USP of the Scott Speedster. No, instead, it's the supreme comfort and freedom to explore beyond the tarmac that really catches the eye.

Specced with Schwable Lugano 32mm tyres, not only will you be offered premium comfort on the road, the wider rubber will also allow you to explore gravel byways so long as you knock the tyre pressure down a touch.

The 160mm disc rotors will offer assured stopping power, in fact it could even be considered overkill, while the compact chainset and wide-ranging cassette will make tackling long, tough climbs a much more achievable task.

It's also got lovely tan wall tyres that perfectly match its low-key paint job!

Triban RC 500 Disc, £650 - The most versatile budget road bike

Buy now from Decathlon for £650

Key Features: Disc-equipped road bike, room for 36mm tyres, Shimano Sora groupset

Buy now from Decathlon for £650

When talking cheap road bikes, you have to talk about the Triban RC 500 disc. For its very reasonable price, you get an awful lot of bang for your buck.

This is a great bike for anybody looking to get into cycling as there are provisions for 36mm tyres, a trusty nine-speed Sora groupset and, most impressively, disc brakes. We also like the little touch of Triban alloy wheels being tubeless-ready.

It’s also worth mentioning that this bike comes with a lifetime guarantee too.

Read Cyclist's review of the Triban RC 500 here

Boardman SLR 8.6, £550 - The best budget road bike on the highstreet

Buy now from Halfords for £550

Key Features: Solid frame and fork, mid-weight wheels, keenly priced 

Buy now from Halfords for £550

Bearing the name of noted British time triallist Chris Boardman, and sold through Halfords stores, this machine has been many riders' first proper road bike. They’ll have bagged a good-un too.

With a light frame rolling on decent wheels and tyres, the SLR 8.6 allocates its funds wisely. Its 16-speed Shimano Claris gearing might be basic, but it’s reliable and with its cabling running beneath the bar tape, neat too. With a modicum more pizzazz than you might expect, getting it up to speed is rarely a chore.

Despite being priced to compete with direct-to-consumer bikes, the SLR 8.6 is widely available in-store. Meaning finding one to try won't be difficult, you'll also know where to turn for servicing and warranty. 

Cannondale CAAD Optimo 4, £800 - The best budget road bike for racers

Buy now from Cannondale for £800

Key Features: A true racer, excellent frame and fork, looks fab

Buy now from Cannondale for £800

This cheap racer from Cannondale doesn’t soft-pedal on performance. With a race geometry similar to the brand’s top-line offering it’s ready to compete. It’s not just the bike's shape that encourages attacking riding either.

Its aluminium frame crams in plenty of the tech that’s made the CAAD range famous. This includes SAVE flex zones in the rear triangle and beautifully smooth welding. Paired with an all-carbon fork, the chassis weight is kept low, while the contact points and tyres are also better than average.

Obviously, at this cost, you can’t have everything. So don’t expect too much from the wheels or brakes. They’re serviceable, but not spectacular. Instead, buy the CAAD Optimo for a frame that’d suit a bike more than double the price. Then save up for some faster hoops.

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