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Best Entry Level Road Bikes for Beginners

Jeff Balton

What are the best entry level road bikes

Do you have a road bike for 2020? If you don’t then relax. In this guide, I will help you to choose the best entry-level road bikes.

The road bike is the most specialized of all the different bike types and meant only for riding on tarmac. I’ve thought the same. Going to your local bike store you can see them on sale with price tags starting from $800.

Those, I’m sure, last very nicely and are good bikes.

Here we go, I’ve brought out a number of best cheap road bikes for 2020!

Best Entry Level Road Bikes

1. Tommaso Imola

Tommaso Imola

Winner! Best Entry-Level Dream Bike

Tommaso has been making bikes now for 30 years and has guaranteed a high market share. In its price range, this ride is hard to beat, especially on entry-level road bikes for bikers who don’t know hot to buy a bike!

Tommaso is perhaps the best example of cheap road bikes meaning that these are cheaply priced, not built!

It has three colors – Black, white and burnt orange. All have nice designs! Six sizes – from XXS to XL!

Users likewise have good things to say: Shimano Claris components, free Tommaso bottle cage, very light SLA 6061 FRAME with good geometry, comfort seat made of memory gel. This bike comes in a single box and is almost entirely assembled. But if you feel insecure, scroll down and see, how to assemble it!

Tommaso Imola is our top pick due to a fantastic design and bargain components for beginner roadies still learning the ropes.

If you want to get the least from this bike you should buy new rims. It makes your best entry level road bike almost unbeatable compared to other road bikes. It is a good idea because the frame is with very good geometry and you can build a better bike around it.

Related: Fix your ride – Silca T-Ratchet & Ti-Torque Kit Review!

But still, It’s a pretty lightweight bike for the affordable price and weights something around 22 lbs. The customer reviews are good and most of the owners are stunned by the quality of the bike.

Typically entry level road bike is without the Shimano class parts and weighs more. However, you can choose to upgrade the bike. I.e replacing the seatpost to decrease your bike’s weight, buying new rims etc. But it is not strictly necessary for all entry level bikes, especially for this Imola because it offers really good value.

This Tommaso Imola will get you to the next level, being one of the strongest offers at the moment on the internet!

Full Tommaso Imola Review

Or From Amazon


Trek Domane AL 2Best All-Around Road Bike

In our opinion (and we’re sure many will agree), Trek makes some of the most attractive and the best looking road bikes in the world. It is, without a doubt, one of the best bicycle manufacturers that you can get in the USA.

Their quality lies in the fact that they make entry-level, mid-range, and high-end models. Therefore, anyone can find something that they need.

Trek Domane AL 2, which we are reviewing here, is a mid-range model that even offers several glimpses of the high-end world.

It has a beautiful glossy-black aluminum frame with a taller head tube that puts you in a more upright position. This way, you will be more comfortable and be able to do long endurance rides on it. Because of this, Domane AL 2 is very popular with riders who are buying their first road bike.

Trek Domane AL 2 is light, fast, and elegant, offering an all-around great performance at a bargain price.

Other than that, Domane AL 2 has a harmonic combination of FSA, Formula, Bontrager and Shimano road components. They will provide you with 16 speeds on a 2×8 drivetrain. You’ll do the shifting with Shimano Claris R2000 parts, and the 11-32T cassette is a part of the same groupset.

One of the things some riders might not be stoked about is the brakes. Namely, Domane AL 2 comes with alloy dual-pivot calipers. They offer great braking performance, but more and more riders prefer disc brakes nowadays.

The tires are Bontrager’s, and they’re 28 mm wide. This is a bit wider than what you can find on most road bikes. However, it is perfect for entry-level riders who should have more grip when cornering for safety and confidence reasons.

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 Trek Domane AL 2.

BTW: There are 7 different sizes to choose from, whoa!

Buy Directly from TrekBikes.com


Salsa JourneymanBest Entry-Level Gravel Bike

Gravel bikes are the new hot trend in the cycling industry. They have a lot of similarities with road bikes, which is why the Salsa Journeyman bike deserves a place on this list! Gravel bikes are usually not cheap, but you can get a decent model for less than $1,000, as is the case with this Salsa.

This mean gravel machine is available in two colors: dark olive and gray. Honestly, we have a very hard time deciding which one we like more. The frame and the fork are made from aluminum, so the total weight of the bike is 27 lbs. That’s pretty low considering that this is a gravel bike and that it costs less than $1,000.

Salsa Journeyman is the ideal choice for riders who intend to stray off the beaten path and put their foot in the gravel racing world.

There are several other surprises the Salsa Journeyman has. It’s absolutely 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.

As you can guess from the name, the Journeyman is equipped with Shimano Claris components, which is a decent choice at this price range. It has a 2×8 drivetrain with a wide-range cassette, so no need to worry about running out of gears. It also has a pair of mechanical disc brakes, which is a must on gravel bikes!

Let’s not forget the monster 2.1″ tires on 650b WTB STP wheels, which can rip trails in half.

If you want a beginner two-wheeler for adventure trips and recreational riding, then Salsa Journeyman is the best entry-level road bike for gravel you can get!

Get from REI

Related: Best Bikes For Gravel

Tommaso Forcella

Best Entry-Level Road Bike with Carbon Fork

WOW, such cheap road bikes don’t offer something like this very often, however, this Tommaso Forcella does! Carbon fiber provides maximum road vibration dampening and extra comfort. Hard to find another entry level road bike that is comparably lightweight like this one!

To get great speed, you have to have great wheels. TC-30 wheel-set is lightweight and aerodynamic for the price and is one of the best ever to be put on an entry level road bike.

Matte Black and Matte White are available!

Tommaso Forcella shows that the benefits of carbon can be enjoyed on quality entry-level road bikes as well.

This Tommaso looks like a real racing machine! You won’t be able to tell that it is one of the cheapest road bikes on the market. I have seen too many Roadies with very expensive Specialized or Colnago bikes. They cost over $5,000! Can you imagine it? I know what it feels like to beat a guy who’s riding a bike that expensive bike when you have a entry level road bike! You must try it, it’ll make your day.

Assembly can be very tricky and require professionals to do it according to the manufacturer. The 8-speed cassette is also not the best choice for faster rides. And be careful to not choose an unsuitable size. For more details click in order to see the size chart. It undeniably has the best saddle of all three bikes and comes with a lifetime guarantee for the frame!

Don’t forget that this bike has Presta valves. If you don’t have it already, you’re going to need a pump for it. I use This Presta pump which comes with a lifetime warranty.

Full Tommaso Forcella Review
Purchase safely from Giantnerd.com


Schwinn Volare 1300

Best for New Roadies

This Schwinn Volare 1300 got its place on my list immediately as a good cheap road bike and here it has remained. I bet you all knew the Schwinn before. It used to be one of the best-known manufacturers around, but it has been sold several times in the last years and a bunch of times before that as well.

Typically these purchases can bring with them changes to the quality of the bike, but with Schwinn, it luckily has remained the same and the price has even gone down on the best budget road bike.

So they have become known for making good bikes for starting out.

It is the only cheap road bike under $300 that is worth buying, so the Volare, as the name implies, fills a vital niche for people who want to try their hand riding a bike.

I am personally impressed by the quality this bike exudes and for the money, it does so!

I’m sure that with this setup, you can ride for several years during summertime. You’d most likely need to visit the local shop 3-4 times to have the wheels re-trued and maybe upgrade some parts (the saddle for example) but everything else is simple – sit and ride.

Schwinn Volare brings together a list of reliable components on a quality aluminum frame that makes it the biggest bargain in entry-level road cycling.

And if you are a true roadie, then you’ll want to upgrade it so as to make it lighter and otherwise faster. For after a while you might not like being the last person over every hill cause of a 30-pound entry level road bike.

Users suggest replacing the rim tape. This is important because the tape of the rim is quite thick and can rub your tire and you’ll end up getting a flat. You can be sure to find something from Amazon, Zefal is a good enough choice. You can get one for less than $10. Concerning the pedals- when you want to train harder, you should get yourself Shimano clipless pedals.

But there’s a downside as well. It only has two size – 19″ – 48cm (not 18 as mentioned on Amazon) and 52cm! But for a road bike in the $300 range, it’s hard to go wrong buying this one.

Find your size and purchase safely from Amazon

Always Lock Your Bike! Best Bicycle Locks Out There

Cheapest Road Bike

The Vilano R2 Commuter road bike is clearly an entry level bike, that is available in 3 sizes – Large (58 cm), Medium (54 cm) and Small 50 cm).

The Vilano R2 road bike is built around an aluminum frame and fork. Component-wise it’s pretty much what you would expect for a bike at this price point (It is really cheap!). Shimano Tourney derailleur and A050 shifters are stock on this bike and the brakes are advertised as “alloy calipers” but there are no other markings that can be used to identify them.

These are at the beginning of the quality line.

However, this might be the best entry-level road bike for 2020.

The bike rolls on 700c size wheels, which is great since it’s the most common size and there are plenty of replacement tires and tubes available.

Vilano R2 is the best road bike that recreational weekend roadies can get without worrying about breaking the bank unnecessarily.

The biggest pro for this bike is its price. It’s one of the cheapest options available. It’s relatively lightweight and strong considering the price point. The three different sizes available make it easy to find the right size for you (There’s also a size chart by manufacturer)

However, the Vilano R2 is not without its cons. The biggest deal for me is the seat, it is too narrow, stiff and uncomfortable, but this might not be the case for other people. Also, the brake pads are very stiff and don’t feel very responsive. Most people agree that you need to squeeze the brake levers very hard and it still doesn’t feel like you are slowing down fast enough. Two pairs of new ones cost like $20
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 con 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.

All you need to do is assemble the front wheel, seat, attach the shifters to the handlebars, handlebars to the head, pedals (included) and connect the brakes. Then, inflate the tires, do some minor tuning to the brakes and shifters and you are all set!

Find your size and purchase safely from Amazon


Pure Cycles Gravel AdventureBest All-Terrain Road Bike

The Pure Cycles Gravel Adventure Bike is one of the cheapest, but at the same time one of the best entry-level road bikes for gravel that you can buy right now. If you want to become a part of the gravel riding craze (which we definitely encourage because it is super-fun), this Pure Cycles model is going help you learn the ropes.

One of the main characteristics of gravel bikes is comfort, which you will no doubt get thanks to the chromoly steel frame and fork. Pure Cycles used chromoly to keep the price down, but the result is a bike that will be quite pliable when ridden over bumps and stones. However, that means that weight had to be sacrificed, so this Gravel Adventure bike weighs between 30 and 33 lbs. Not too bad after all.

To power this beautiful bicycle along even more scenic gravel roads, you will be using a 2×8 drivetrain equipped with Shimano Claris components. That’s the best bang for the buck you can get for this price. It offers decent quality and performance, even though it’s not race-worthy.

Pure Cycles Gravel 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 Promax mechanical disc brakes because they are easy to maintain and repair. Hydraulic disc brakes are easier to use and brake slightly better, but when you’re in the middle of nowhere, simplicity is appreciated.

Finally, Pure Cycles has opted to dress their Gravel Adventure bike in 700c x 38 mm tires, with a discreet pattern, which makes this bike more suitable for faster gravel roads and paved roads.

The Pure Cycles Gravel Adventure bike seems like the perfect tool for gravel beginners to fall in love with this discipline and the great outback.

8. Felt FR30W

Felt FR30W Women's Road Bike

Best Women’s Entry-Level Road Bike

We’ve been seeing more and more women cyclists on the roads lately, which means that the need for beginner road bikes for women is growing. Here we have the best entry-level road bike for women in our opinion. 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 Felt FR30W is obvious from the moment you take the first look at it, which is the design. The color is simple, yet the bike stands out when it’s out on the roads. The details on the matte merlot paint job look very nice.

Another reason why this is the best road bike under $1,000 for women is the fact that it is made specifically for the female body geometry. This means that it has a shorter top tube than usual, shorter stem, narrower handlebars, and a women-specific saddle. This will make a massive difference when it comes to comfort, especially on longer rides.

Felt FR30W is a high-value entry-level road bike with a feminine paint job making it a dream bike for any female beginner roadie.

When it comes to the components and parts, there are things the Felt FR30W can boast about, even though it costs so little. For example, it has an aluminum frame and a UHC Advanced carbon fork, lightweight caliper brakes, and 25 mm wide tires.

This road machine also has a 2×11 Shimano 105 drivetrain which is a remarkable bargain for this much money! It’s often seen on bikes that cost $1,500 and more.

All in all, the Felt FR30W can be recommended as the best entry-level road bike for women who are just starting to ride and want to get fit and be more healthy.

Get from PlanetCyclery


Expert Opinion – Which one to choose?

Conclusions of best entry-level bikesAll these bikes are value-added possibilities, but, if we drill into the details, then the Imola model, available in one of three cool colors, is probably the best choice for such longer training rides. It’s the best road bike for entry-level riders that we’ve found.

If you need a light, fast, durable, and attractive versatile road bike, Trek Domane AL 2 is there for you. Also, a strong performer on gravel roads is the Salsa Journeyman, with a nice set of components and relaxed frame geometry.

If going cheap is what you have in mind, then we’ll point you at the Schwinn Volare 1300. Yes, it’ll be equipped with a cheaper component group, but, if normally maintained, the bike will work nicely for years to come. Our second choice for minimal investment is the Vilano R2 – super cheap but equipped with slightly better components, and available in three sizes.

The best newcomer is definitely the Pure Cycles Gravel. It has a nice balance between price and components and performs excellently on gravel.

If you prefer longer training rides, then the Tommaso brand may be best for you. It offers bikes with a more relaxed geometry, and thus, enjoyment. The Imola model, available in one of three cool colors, is probably the best choice for such longer training rides. Not to be overlooked, though, the Forcella model is a great pick and in this current model iteration, comes standard with an unexpectedly-nice component set. Another excellent pick for women who want to take up road biking is the Felt FR30W, which has women-specific parts and geometry and a decent set of components.


Don’t forget that all these bikes are the best picks for beginners!

NEW! Not sure, how to assemble a bike? Click here to order proper bike assembly from Amazon! NEW!

Are Cheap Road Bikes Worth it?

Yes! They definitely are.

But only the best cheap road bikes are here to stay. These fantastic bikes will last you many great years.

Like the expensive ones, their advantages are in speed, lightness, and an aerodynamic riding position. You can ride, get further in a shorter amount of time and see much more. Typically the road bike is more expensive compared to other types, but there are good budget variants on the market which, while not meant for races, offer up heaps of enjoyment and sweet adrenaline while riding them.


Other Best Sellers on Amazon – The TOP 10


Road Bike Sizing – Choosing The Right Bike Size

I know what it feels like to shop with a limited budget. But the last thing you want to do is to get the first inexpensive bike you come across.

I want you to choose a bike that meets two criteria – it’s affordable and you love it. And about sizing, bike size is measured in a way shown on the picture – from the seat-post to the crank.Road Bike Sizing

Your height / Bike Size

  • 4’11” – 5’3″ = 13 – 15 inches
  • 5’3″ – 5’7″ = 15 – 17 inches
  • 5’7″ – 5’11” = 17 – 19 inches
  • 6’0″ – 6’2″ = 19 – 21 inches
  • 6’2″ – 6’4″ = 21 – 23 inches
  • 6’4″ and taller = 23+ inches

I will show you some of the best entry level road bikes that are worth buying. I’ll explain all the pros and cons of each bike so that you could spend money only on those aspects that play a role for you. I want you to know everything about buying your first road bikes for beginners, so I’ll give you the additional easy bike size charts to make sure you pick out a road bike with the right size, in case the information above wasn’t sufficient.


Entry Level Road bikes – Are They Expensive?

Not always. If you choose wisely. If you go to a Local Bike Shop (LBS) you can see very expensive prices. Also, you can check online to find the best inexpensive road bikes. The main difference of price comes from secondary costs like warehouse, marketing, assembly etc. That’s why you can find road bikes for a good price.

All you must do is to choose wisely. Let’s say, 80% of expensive bikes are good. But only 20% of road bikes are expensive. So think again, why should you pay more for the same quality?


How To Do Assembly to 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.

#1: Take it to the bike shop and they will do it for about $40. Still, a pretty good value if you add it on to the price you paid for your entry level road bike.

Or, #2: Do it yourself, if you can think logically and work a wrench, then it really isn’t hard. Everything is cable activated and these cables need to be tightened properly in order for the bike to shift and brake properly.

Outside of the cable, you likely need to attach the handlebar. Did it sound like it might be a bit tricky? Then I have a video for you:

So you need to adjust them sometimes. And it doesn’t matter, whether you’re riding a cheap bike or an expensive one. So it will certainly be a good skill to have -adjusting brake and gear cables. But if it looks impossible, let your friend do it or pay the guy in your local shop.

So there are a few extra costs at the beginning but it evens out when you are on the saddle of one of the best entry-level road bikes there is.

Enjoy! As I have and continue to do.

I bet you need it when you’re starting out with the new bike!

Extra Bike Buying Guides You Might Like:

Pick your best entry-level road bike

This Article Has 6 Comments

  • Rebeca says:

    Hi. I need to know if any of these road bikes will be good for a man that weights 330 pounds and his height is 6’3”?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      The frames on these bikes generally have no problem handling that weight. However, the wheels and tires might give in on standard road bikes. Therefore, I’d recommend going for Salsa Journeyman, as it is a Gravel model with wider tires and more robust wheels. If he rides it on smooth paved roads, he should have no problems.

  • Terry Sanders says:

    I have the giant OCR1 WOMENS I PURCHASED NEW IN O6/07 NOT SUR WHICH YEAR. Due to severe arthritis in my back riding the bike now cause spasms in the upper back.i need an upright bike but not a cruiser I still enjoy moving down the road. I be been told that cannot change the handle bar to straight bar. Is there a bike you could recommend,that isn’t a granny bike, I’m 67 and 5’1″ mine is an xxs and have always felt it was too small but LBS said it was right size, my inseam is 29/30. Would appreciate a response thank you

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Terry, hybrid bikes usually have a more upright geometry than road bikes, but they don’t look like granny bikes. You can still get a good ride on them. 🙂 As for the size issue, I agree with you that XXS is probably too small. You should go for an XS frame size (14″) next time.

  • Nugg77 says:

    Schwinn Volare. Because wifey has a Target discount, and hey it felt aok when sitting on it.

    Wish there were at least a couple with paddle shifters and/or disc brakes, but hey still a good list. Thx! (Now off to ride…)

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Glad you like it, you made a good choice! Those would be good improvements, hopefully they will be added in the near future, but they would also drive the price up significantly.

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