Do you have a road bike for 2023? If you still don’t, there’s nothing to worry about. In this guide, we will help you choose the best entry-level road bike for your needs.
Road bikes are the most specialized of all the different bike types and are meant only for riding on tarmac. They are designed for speed and efficiency and feature lightweight frames, thin tires, and drop handlebars that provide an aerodynamic position when riding.
Going to your local bike store, you’ll notice that road bikes stand out due to their sleek design. On display, you can see them on sale with price tags starting from $800.
It’s essential for an entry-level road bike to have a good balance between price, durability, and performance. Look for models that incorporate Shimano or Sram groupsets for reliable shifting, and an aluminum or carbon frame for reduced weight and added strength.
Taking these features into consideration, we have picked out the best entry-level road bikes, that are not too expensive but offer great value in terms of features and ride quality.
Check them out below!
Best Entry Level Road Bikes
1. Tommaso Imola
Best Entry Level Road Bike
- Aluminum frame
- Upright riding position
- 24 speeds
In our opinion, Tommaso makes some of the most attractive and best-looking road bikes. It is, without a doubt, one of the best bicycle manufacturers that you can consider at a reasonable price.
Their quality lies in the fact that they make entry-level and mid-range models. Therefore, anyone can find something that they need.Tommaso Imola, which we are reviewing here, is an entry-level model that even offers several glimpses of the mid-range world.
Tommaso Imola is light, fast, and elegant, offering an all-around great performance at a bargain price.
Tommaso Imola has a harmonic combination of Shimano and Tommaso road components. They will provide you with 24 speeds on a 3×8 drivetrain. You’ll do the shifting with Shimano Tourney parts, and a wide-range cassette is a part of the same groupset.
One of the things some riders might not be stoked about is the brakes. Namely, the Imola comes with rim brakes. They offer great braking performance, but more and more riders prefer disc brakes nowadays.
The tires are 25 mm wide from Kenda, which is the most popular width you can find on most road bikes. It is perfect for entry-level riders who should have more grip when cornering for safety and confidence reasons.
Related: How To Start Cycling
If you’re buying your first road bike and you want it to last a long time and get you through many long rides, you can’t go wrong with Tommaso Imola.
2. Salsa Journeyer
Best All-Road Road Bike
- Aluminum frame
- Comfortable geometry
- Mechanical disc brakes
Salsa Journeyer adventure road bike is clearly a capable machine that is ready to not just hit the road but the odd trail too.
The Journeyer is much more than what you’d expect from a bike at this price point. The MicroShift groupset offers 9 gears with a gear range that’s excellent for climbing.
The bike rolls on 650c size wheels and 47 mm wide tires, which is a great compromise between speed and comfort.
The Journeyer is the best adventure bike that can take you on multi-day tours with front and rear panniers and all of your camping gear.
However, the Journeyer has some cons as well. The biggest one for us is the mechanical disc brakes. They’re not as precise as hydraulic disc brakes, and adjusting them can be a pain in the neck.
One thing to keep in mind is that this bike isn’t completely assembled, and some mechanical skill is required. This isn’t necessarily a drawback but you might want to factor in the cost of assembly by an experienced mechanic before buying. A proper tune-up and inspection are vital to make this bike function properly.
So consider getting Salsa Journeyer if you want to do multi-day tours, ride gravel roads, or go on road rides and not feel constrained to perfectly smooth asphalt.
3. Rondo RUUT AL2
Best Bikepacking Drop-Bar Bike
- Aluminum frame
- 1×11 drivetrain
- Mechanical disc brakes
- Numerous eyelets
Rondo has been making bikes now for around 15 years and is starting to take a solid chunk of the all-road market share. In its price range, this ride is hard to beat, especially when it comes to adventure bikes for cyclists who want to explore roads that are rarely taken.
Rondo RUUT AL2 is perhaps the best example of adventure road bikes that are cheaply priced but well built!
For some, $2,150 might not seem very cheap, but it’s hard to find this list of components for less.
This bike comes in two colors, black and purple, both of which look amazing. Plus, you can choose from five sizes – from X-Small to X-Large
Online reviews mostly have good things to say about it: a 1×11 drivetrain that’s easy to maintain, robust tubeless-ready aluminum wheels and versatile 40mm tires, comfortable and durable aluminum frame and carbon fork with upright geometry, and dozens of mounting points for accessories.
Rondo RUUT AL2 is our top pick due to its fantastic design and bargain components for adventurers and tourers who want top value at an affordable price.
This bike brakes with TRP Spyre-C mechanical disc brakes which is a good refreshment if you are used to braking with rim brakes. They’re more powerful and more precise.
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So, if you want to jump on the adventure bandwagon and you don’t want to spend every last penny on your new passion, Rondo RUUT AL2 is an excellent choice.
4. Cannondale Synapse Carbon 4
Best Value Carbon Road Bike
- Carbon frame
- Carbon fork
- Shimano Tiagra groupset
- Shimano Hydraulic Disc Brakes
The Cannondale Synapse Carbon 4 is every cyclist’s dream come true and a legendary bike when it comes to riding fast.
The Synapse combines a super-durable carbon frame with a stiff carbon fork. It’s an incredibly light machine because it is completely made from carbon.
When it comes to the components, the Synapse Carbon 4 has Shimano written all over the place. The groupset this bike operates with is Shimano Tiagra, which is a mid-range groupset that will take a lot of beating and abuse.
In total, you’ll have 20 gears at your disposal with a compact crank and an 11-34T cassette.
Like most modern endurance road bikes nowadays, you have disc brakes but these are the uprated hydraulic disc brakes. They are super light lightweight and amazing in wet conditions.
The wheels are 700c and equipped with 30 mm tires, which are smooth and fast. If you want, you can certainly go a few millimeters wider and improve comfort and grip even more if you want.
All in all, if you want a cheap unisex endurance road bike with a carbon frame and a carbon fork that’s ready for day-long rides, the Cannondale Synapse Carbon 4 is perfect for you.
5. Marin Gestalt 1
Best Road Bike for Paved and Unpaved Roads
- Aluminum frame, carbon fork
- Shimano Sora
- 18 gears
- Mechanical disc brakes
Marin Gestalt 1 is not a traditional road bike. This is a drop-bar all-road bike with 700C wheels that are more than capable of doing long distances on paved and unpaved roads.
Its aluminum frame provides maximum road vibration dampening and extra comfort. Hard to find another entry-level all-road bike that is comparably capable and affordable like this one.
Marin Gestalt 1 has durable 700C aluminum wheels clad in 32 mm wide tires, which is a great combination for city commutes or off-road adventures.
Marin Gestalt 1 shows that all-road bikes can be fast, fun, and practical all at the same time.
This bike offers 18 gears, so climbing hills will be super easy. It also features powerful mechanical disc brakes that offer plenty of braking power for casual riding.
If you want a bike that rides fast on paved and unpaved roads that you can use for long commutes, as well as for recreational and fitness rides, Marin Gestalt 1 will put a smile on your face.
6. Marin Four Corners 2022
Best All-Road Adventure Road Bike
- Chromoly steel frame
- Chromoly steel fork
- Multi-surface tires
- Mechanical disc brakes
- Shimano Sora groupset
Marin Four Corners is one of the simplest but at the same time one of the most versatile all-terrain endurance/gravel bikes that you can buy right now.
If you want to commute, ride brevets, or become a part of the gravel craze, this Marin model is going to help you achieve your dreams. However, this is also a phenomenal choice for pure road riding, depending on which tires you put on it.
One of the main characteristics of all-around road bikes is comfort, which you will no doubt get thanks to the chromoly frame and fork with endurance geometry. The result is a lightweight and compliant bike that rides predictably.
To power this beautiful bicycle along scenic roads of all kinds, you will be using a 2×9 drivetrain equipped with Shimano Sora components. That’s the best bang for the buck you can get at this price. It offers decent quality and performance, as well as enough variety with the gearing.
Marin Four Corners is a no-brainer for anyone who has room for just one bike and needs a great performer on a variety of different terrains.
We also like the Tektro Spyre-C mechanical disc brakes because they are powerful, precise, durable, and easy to maintain.
Marin Four Corners is ready for any kind of adventure as it comes with mounts for racks, three water bottles, and front and rear fenders. You can use it for commuting, multi-day bikepacking tours, or very long rides.
Finally, Marin has opted to dress this bike in WTB Resolute 650B or 700C x 42mm tires. You can choose whichever size suits your style of riding better.
Therefore, Marin Four Corners seems like the perfect tool for road beginners and gravel enthusiasts on a budget to fall in love with this discipline and explore the outback.
7. Diamondback Haanjo 3
Best Endurance Road/Gravel Bike
- Aluminum frame, carbon fork
- MicroSHIFT Advent X, 1×10-speed
- Tektro mechanical discs
- Endurance geometry
Gravel bikes are the new hot trend in the cycling industry. They have a lot of similarities with road bikes, which is why Diamondback Haanjo 3 deserves a place on this list! Gravel bikes are usually not cheap, but you can get a decent model without spending outrageous amounts of money, which is the case here.
The frame is made from lightweight aluminum, so the total weight of the bike is not too high.
The Diamondback Haanjo 3 is the ideal choice for all riders who intend to stray off the beaten path and put their foot in the gravel riding world.
There are several other surprises this bike has. It’s jam-packed with mounts, which makes it a fantastic solution for all of your adventure rides. The stock version does not come with any accessories, but you can easily fit it will lights, fenders, racks, bike bags, and anything else you might need for long journeys.
This bike is also equipped with a MicroSHIFT Advent X, 1×10-speed drivetrain, which is a solid choice at this price. It has a wide-range cassette, so no need to worry about running out of gears. It also has a pair of Tektro mechanical disc brakes, which is a must on entry-level gravel bikes!
Related: Best Bikes For Gravel
Let’s not forget the 37 mm WTB Riddler Comp tires to help you attack the rough stuff. If you want a serious two-wheeler for adventure trips and recreational riding, then Diamondback Haanjo 3 is the best entry-level road bike for gravel that you can get.
8. Giordano Libero 1.6
Best Budget Entry-Level Road Bike
MSRP: Check Price on Amazon
- Comfortable geometry
- Aluminum frame
- 16 gears
We’ve been seeing more and more cyclists on the roads lately, which means that the need for beginner road bikes is growing.
Here we have the best entry-level road bike for new riders in our opinion. This is a unisex bike and fits men and women riders equally well. It’s a good choice to get used to pedaling, improve your fitness, and fall in love with the sport.
The first characteristic of the Giordano Libero 1.6 is obvious from the moment you take the first look at it, which is the design. The color is neutral yet attractive, and the bike stands out when it’s out on the roads.
Another reason why this is the best beginner road bike is the fact that it is made with relaxed geometry that does not put too much strain on your body. This means that it has a shorter top tube than usual and a higher head tube. It also has a comfortable saddle that won’t torture your sit bones. This will make a massive difference when it comes to comfort, especially on longer rides.
Giordano Libero 1.6 is a high-value entry-level road bike with an attractive paint job making it a dream bike for any beginner roadie.
When it comes to the components and parts, there are many things that Libero can boast about. For example, it has a lightweight aluminum frame and fork, strong caliper brakes, and comfy road tires.
This road machine also has a 2×8 Shimano Claris drivetrain which is a good choice for beginner riders.
All in all, Giordano Libero can be recommended as the best beginner road bike for riders who are just starting to ride or want to upgrade from their leisure bike.
9. Cannondale Topstone 3
Best for New Roadies
- Aluminum frame, carbon Fork
- Shimano Sora 2×9 drivetrain
- Mechanical disc brakes
- WTB Riddler Comp, 700c x 37 mm tires
The Cannondale Topstone 3 got its place on our list immediately as a good cheap road bike. Cannondale is one of the best-known manufacturers around and this bike is a great example of what they can do.
We are personally impressed by the quality the Topstone 3 exudes for this amount of money. With this setup, you can ride for years to come.
The components are from great brands and are built to last. Though the stock tires are 37mm wide and suitable for gravel, you can fit 25mm tires and enjoy a comfortable endurance ride.
The Cannondale Topstone 3 brings together a list of reliable components on a quality aluminum frame that makes it the biggest bargain in entry-level road cycling.
The bike is made for comfortable road or gravel riding and has a smooth endurance geometry. It’s excellent for long days out and comfortable riding.
It comes with Shimano Sora gearing and this will give you plenty of gears for getting up and downhill easily and will be silky smooth to use. It also features mechanical disc brakes that provide solid stopping power, but are not the best out there.
All in all, we highly recommend the Cannondale Topstone 3 because not only is it an amazing bike, it’s incredible value for money.
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Which Best Entry-Level Road Bike Is Right for You?
All these bikes offer good value for a reasonable amount of money. However, each one has certain advantages and disadvantages that make it ideal for a different type of rider.
Delving into the details, the Rondo RUUT AL2 stands out as the best choice for extended adventures on diverse terrains. It’s the finest entry-level adventure road bike we’ve encountered, even though is a bit expensive.
The Marin Gestalt 1 is an excellent choice for those seeking a swift all-road bike for daily commuting and leisurely rides.
On the other hand, for both men and women desiring a high-quality endurance road bike equipped with commendable components, we can safely recommend the Cannondale Synapse Carbon 4.
If you’re looking for a lightweight, fast, durable, and aesthetically appealing versatile road bike, consider the Tommaso Imola.
For those on a budget, the Cannondale Topstone 3 is a good bet. While it comes with a less expensive component group, with regular maintenance, this bike should serve you well for years.
Another cost-effective option is the Diamondback Haanjo 3, which is designed for adventures on both paved and unpaved roads.
The best newcomer is definitely the Marin Four Corners. It strikes a commendable balance between price and component quality and excels on both gravel and paved roads.
Finally, an excellent pick for women who want to take up road biking is the Giordano Libero, which has beginner-friendly parts and geometry and a decent set of components.
Remember, all these bikes represent the best entry-level road bike category!
Are Cheap Road Bikes Worth it?
Absolutely! Cheap road bikes can be worth the investment.
However, it’s the best of the affordable road bikes that truly stand the test of time. With the right choice, these cost-effective bikes can serve you well for many years.
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Much like their pricier counterparts, the advantages of cheap road bikes lie in their speed, lightness, and aerodynamic riding position. This design allows you to cover more ground in less time, providing an opportunity to explore further and see more during your rides.
Generally, road bikes tend to be more expensive compared to other types of bicycles. However, the market boasts some excellent budget options as well. While these may not be cut out for professional racing, they undoubtedly deliver plenty of enjoyment and a good dose of adrenaline when you’re out on the road.
For many, the allure of road biking is not necessarily in competitive racing but in the sheer joy of riding, the thrill of speed, and the freedom of the open road.
So if you’re just entering the world of road biking or are on a tight budget, an inexpensive road bike can be an ideal starting point.
Road Bike Sizing – Choosing the Right Bike Size
Selecting the appropriate size for a road bike is crucial to ensuring a comfortable and efficient ride.
An ill-fitting bike can lead to discomfort, reduced performance, and even injuries over time.
Understanding road bike sizing will not only enhance your cycling experience but also promote better posture and energy conservation.
Take a look at our table below to make an informed choice and find the perfect fit for you.
Your height / Bike Size
- 4’10”- 5’2” = 47 cm – 48 cm = XX-Small
- 5’2″- 5’6” = 49 cm – 50 cm = X-Small
- 5’3”- 5’6” = 51 cm – 53 cm = Small
- 5’6”- 5’9” = 54 cm – 55 cm = Medium
- 5’9”- 6’0” = 56 cm – 58 cm = Large
- 6’0”- 6’3” = 58 cm – 60” cm = X-Large
- 6’3”- 6’6” = 61 cm – 63 cm = XX-Large
Make sure to also check our additional charts for choosing the correct bike size to be 100% that the road bike you’re buying fits you well.
Are Entry-Level Road Bikes Expensive?
Not necessarily. The key lies in making an informed choice.
When visiting a Local Bike Shop (LBS), you might encounter high price tags, but there are also affordable options available online.
The price discrepancy often arises from secondary costs such as warehousing, marketing, assembly, and so on. This is why it’s possible to find road bikes at a reasonable price online.
It’s essential to research and select with care.
Consider this: while around 80% of high-priced bikes may be of good quality, only 20% of all road bikes come with a hefty price tag.
This disparity suggests that a higher price doesn’t always equate to better quality. So, before splurging, ask yourself: is it worth paying more for potentially the same level of craftsmanship and performance?
Our opinion is that it is not always worth it, especially if you’re a beginner, in which case an affordable entry-level road bike can get the job done just as well.
GEAR UP: BEST ROAD BIKES UNDER $1,000
How to Assemble Your New Entry-Level Road Bike
Amazon bikes come partially assembled and are shipped out in boxes.
Many new owners tend to complain about it, but it isn’t something impossible for you to do.
There are two ways to assemble a bike:
- Local Bike Shop: Take it to the bike shop and they will do it for around $40.That’s a pretty good value if you add it to the price you paid for your entry-level road bike.
- DIY: Do it yourself. If you have at least some experience with mechanics and know how a bike work, then it really isn’t that hard. There are also lots of YouTube videos showing how to assemble a road bike, which you can follow step by step.
However, it’s important to note that while assembling the bike yourself can save you some money, it’s crucial to ensure all parts are correctly and securely fitted to ensure your safety while riding.
Incorrect assembly can lead to malfunctions, affecting the bike’s performance and potentially causing accidents.
So, whether you choose to do it yourself or rely on professionals, make sure the bike is set up safely and efficiently before hitting the road.
Extra Bike Buying Guides You Might Like:
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- Best Bikes For Women (Road Bike Section)
- Best Road Bike Under $1,000
- Is Road Bike Overkill? Try Entry-Level Hybrids
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