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The Best Entry Level Road Bike for Beginners in 2020

Entry Level Road Bike ride in the morning sun

Did you know almost 49 million Americans enjoy biking yearly? Among them, over 39 million do so on paved terrain, and I’m one of them!

Before I gained experience, though, flat, even, and cemented grounds were usually the easiest to master, and I found road bikes ideal rides for this type of use.

I found it a nightmare when I was trying to find the best beginner road bike when I first started riding. I quickly found out that picking the wrong bike can make your ride not only uncomfortable but also dangerous. Don’t make the same mistake as me!

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If you are on a tight budget, you can consider buying a road bicycle for under 500 dollars:

1. Schwinn Phocus 1400 and 1600 Drop Bar Road Bicycles

BEST CHOICE

Schwinn Phocus 1400 and 1600 Drop Bar Road Bikes

If you’re looking for a product that’ll get you pedaling without putting a heavy load on
your wallet, this model is worth looking at.

The bike comes with a high-end carbon fork and an aluminum frame. This combination of materials contributes to its light weight. Many users mention they’re able to lift it with one hand.

Although economical, this model still includes a 16-speed shifter, which should allow you to keep a consistent pedaling speed no matter the incline or terrain. Besides, the thin tires will get the bike rolling smoothly and fast.

PROS

CONS

2. Savadeck Herd 6.0 T800 Carbon Fiber Road Bike

PREMIUM PICK

Savadeck Herd 6.0 T800 Carbon Fiber Road Bike

If you’re looking for a road bike that can handle high speed, this model should meet your needs thanks to its aerodynamic design combined with thin tires — 25mm.

Furthermore, it comes with high quality carbon fiber Shimano parts. These lightweight components contribute to making this model one of the lightest ones reviewed. Without a heavy load, pedaling should be easier, resulting in greater speed.

You’ll also be able to change your speeds efficiently between the 22 levels available. The ergonomic shifter should prevent you from losing power and speed when the ground isn’t flat.

PROS

CONS

3. Tommaso Monza Endurance Road Bike

BEST VALUE

Tommaso Monza Endurance Road Bike

This road bike is designed to be both versatile and durable, and the Shimano parts — disc brakes, crank, cassette, etc. — ensure the high-quality of this model. The manufacturer even offers a lifetime warranty on both the frame and fork.

The Monza Endurance comes in various sizes — from XS to XL — to suit all bikers’ heights. Additionally, the handlebar’s length varies accordingly for optimum comfort — from 40 to 44cm.

As for the tires, the thin 25mm width should fit both paved and light off-road use. If you need extra help, the 20 speeds, along with the fast-shifting system, should make your ride smooth and easy.

PROS

CONS

4. Diamondback Century 2 Endurance Road Bike

Diamondback Century 2 Endurance Road Bike

This road bike is designed for maximum comfort during long rides. It features the company’s “Enhanced Performance Geometry” technology to keep a straight and upright riding position. Nevertheless, you’ll still maintain an aerodynamic alignment for fast speed.

The Century 2 model comes with thicker tires than most other products reviewed. These should keep you stable when riding on graveled terrain. I also like that a bottle holder is included, so you won’t have to stop to stay hydrated.

For easy set-up, this bike includes a tool kit, an assembly guide, and a user manual. The frame comes with a lifetime warranty.

A stand-out feature that proves the high-quality build of this entry level road bike is the Shimano SORA, known to be one of the best gear components for speed.

PROS

CONS

5. Tommaso Imola Road Bike

Tommaso Imola Road Bike

Being an inexperienced biker doesn’t mean you should give up on performance or comfort. While standing as an entry-level bike, this product includes features of high-end bikes.

The entire groupset is composed of Shimano parts — shifter, crank, brakes — ensuring the bike’s quality and durability. Also, the combination of aluminum and steel materials should withstand potential shocks and drops as you get started.

You should be able to go for miles and still feel at ease with this bike since it has a comfortable saddle and is designed to offer a relaxed riding position for all styles. Besides, the top portion of the handlebar is flat, to release pressure from the wrists, preventing soreness and injuries.

PROS

CONS

6. Tommaso Fascino Sport Performance

Tommaso Fascino Sport Performance

While Tommaso offers fantastic bikes for a reasonable price, our previous Imola product has been tweaked to offer the best value within the brand. Although available at a slightly lower price point than the Imola, the Tommaso Fascino provides similar features.

This bike includes 21 speeds, which is more than enough for inexperienced bikers. High-quality Shimano parts — such as the drivetrain — are still used throughout the components of the product.

As for the design, it showcases an elongated and elegant shape combined with a classic black color. This should fit most tastes, given that you aren’t looking for a bright and flashy model.

PROS

CONS

7. Savadeck Road Bike, Warwinds 3.0

Savadeck Road Bike, Warwinds 3.0

If you liked our previous review of the Savadeck Herd 6 but are looking for cheap road bikes, this is a model that may meet your needs. This high-end product still includes carbon fiber parts — fork, frame, and seat post. Also, reviewers appreciate how light it is, and the fast speeds they’re able to reach.

The 18 gears provide ample flexibility with up and downhill terrains, and the Shimano shifter is easy to use and control, even for beginners. The seat is also made with leather for better durability and feel.

Finally, I love its style; the fashionable and modern shape gives it an attractive look. The bright colors should also add some fun to your ride, and you’ll be seen from afar!

PROS

CONS

8. Raleigh Merit 2 Endurance Road Bike

Raleigh Merit 2 Endurance Road Bike

Whether you’re getting started or have some experience biking, staying balanced isn’t always easy, especially on uneven roads. This is a good bike to provide both stability and performance to make it suitable for paved or more challenging trails.

It comes with tires of 28mm width, which is one of the thickest in the road bike category. Larger tires, however, don’t necessarily mean a slower pace, especially with the frame being made of lightweight aluminum to increase performance and speed.

It’s also built with durable Shimano Claris shifters, providing 18 speeds for more pedaling power.

PROS

CONS

Conclusion

In the best entry level road bike category my personal favorite is the Schwinn Phocus 1400 and 1600. The Schwinn Phocus is economical and available for most budgets, but it’s also a performant entry-level road bike. 

It also comes with caliper brakes and light materials — aluminum frame and a carbon fork. The bike is also built with thin tires and includes 16 speeds for a fast and consistent pace.

* Buying Guide *

Choosing the Best Entry Level Road Bikes

The best beginner bicycles combine several key elements:

  • Proper size.
  • Frame.
  • Parts and components.
  • Ease of use.
  • Gears.
  • Brands and price point ranges.

Proper Size

A proper bike fit is essential to make your ride comfortable, but also safe. If too large, you’re likely to lose balance and fall. Not only can you hurt yourself, but you may also damage your new bike.

On the other hand, if your ride is too small, your legs will feel cramped, and you’re likely to suffer some discomfort. It also limits your pedaling movement, giving you less power.

While you can select the dimensions of your bike based on the manufacturer’ chart — from XS to XL — the best method remains a test drive.

When checking the size, consider these positions:

  • Standing: Make sure you have a 2-inch gap between yourself and the top tube running from the handlebar to your seat.
  • Pedaling: Your knees should only be slightly bent when reaching the full extension of the stroke.
  • Holding the handlebar: It should feel comfortable without extensively stretching out your arms.

Cyclist On A Budget Road Bike

If you’re unsure, ask the salesperson in your bike shop. They should be able to give you some hands-on advice.

Frame

A road bike’s frame is composed of various tubes put together. They can be made of different materials and can show steeper or larger angles.

Material

Steel frames make great starter road bikes, as the sturdy material can take shocks and drops. It is, however, heavier and can be difficult to handle and carry. It may also impact your speed and ability to pedal uphill swiftly.

Aluminum is one of the most popular materials to build suspension forks. They make high-quality, strong, and light bikes. Alloy-type aluminum material permits better absorption of shocks and vibrations, which improves the overall feel. (1)

Carbon fiber — or graphite — frames are considered the high-end spectrum. They make the lightest bikes, ideal for racing. For starters, however, such a lightweight can be challenging to control, and the high cost doesn’t always meet all budgets.

Titanium and carbon fiber frames go hand in hand. Only a small selection of brands manufacture titanium bikes. They’re also expensive, which doesn’t generally fit the beginner category.

Forks and Frame Angles

There are two main angles to consider in a bike’s frame: the seat and head tube angles.

Seat Tubes

The seat tube angle is the intersection between the pipe you sit on, and the one leading to the rear of your bike. It generally varies from 70 to 75 degrees.

Bikes with a steeper angle tend to move the seat forward, while seats closer to 75 degrees tend to move the saddle backward. While bikers looking for speed typically prefer sharp angles, beginners generally go for the shallower ones. It prevents your body weight from being pushed towards the handles, giving an overall more relaxing and cozy biking experience.

Head Tubes

The head tube angle usually ranges between 66 and 74 degrees. Steeper angles produce sharper turns, which isn’t always recommended when starting out. A lower inclination, however, allows the bike to ride on the straighter line, which is helpful for most beginners.

Other Parts & Components

Shifters

A shifter is this part that stretches past the handles. They’re a critical element in your road bicycle as it’s the mechanism that allows you to change gears, keeping your speed consistent.

You’ll typically find two types of shifters:

  • Mechanical: Use cables to move from one gear to another. They’re the most common kind on entry-level bikes, as they’re generally more affordable.
  • Electronic: Use an electrical signal instead, which avoids the annoyance of an off-track cable routing. These shifters are often used on more expensive bikes.

SRAM, Campagnolo, and Shimano are the most common shifter brands used on these bikes. While they’re all great choices, for better compatibility, we recommend selecting a ride with the same branding throughout.

Brakes

You’ll find various kinds of brakes, yet, on bike roads, most are caliper brakes. These are composed of two pads that squeeze the rim as you’re trying to stop or slow down.

Men riding a black road bike and shifting gears
A black road cycle with disc brakes

Although disk brakes are mainly found on mountain bikes, they’re starting to make an appearance on road bikes. There are two types of disc brakes: mechanical disc brakes — generally cheaper — and hydraulic disc brakes — which use a fluid, instead. Both options offer excellent stopping power.

Tires

Road bicycle tires are very specific to paved paths and won’t do well in a rough trail. They’re narrower than mountain bike tires, with smooth — and sometimes unnoticeable — patterns. This allows them to go faster on flat and even grounds.

Their width typically varies from 23 to 28mm, but 25mm-tires are now the standard. To pick the right measurement, here are a few things to know:

  • Comfort: A wide tire generally makes a more comfortable ride.
    Rim size: Your tire should always be wider than your rim.
  • Your weight: If you’re on the heavy side, a width closer to 28mm will give you more stability.
  • Terrain: If you’re planning to bike on easy off-road or unpaved trails, larger tires should allow you to better move around obstacles.

Saddle

Your saddle is your seat — you’d be surprised how many people don’t know this; I didn’t! — which plays a critical role if you don’t want to be walking like a cowboy the next day.

The shape of the shell varies in both width and length. Pick the size of your saddle based on your sit bones distance. Don’t know how to do this? Check this video out:

Use these saddle sizes as a rough guide:

  • Narrow: Up to 100 mm.
  • Medium: 100–130 mm.
  • Large: 130 up to 150 mm.
Saddle Padding

The more cushioning, the more comfortable your ride will be. Most saddle padding is made of durable closed-cell foam with a protective layer. Even an elementary saddle should include a cover — usually made of leather — for optimum protection. (2)

Ease of Use

These aspects of road bikes for beginners make them simple to ride and set up:

Handlebars

I’ve noticed that most inexperienced bikers think all handlebars are the same. In fact, their design is an art, with a sole purpose: your comfort and performance.

Handlebar Shape

Their overall shape, however, remains the same: a straight bar with a downward hook. You’ll find bikes with a shallower or deeper gap, though. For riders with less flexibility or balance, a smaller hook is preferable.

Some bikes are narrower than others — as the width of your handlebars significantly impacts comfort, ensure that the dimension matches your shoulders’ width. Typical width varies between 36 and 46cm.

Innovation never ends, and handlebars are part of that, so you’ll find a high number of different ergonomic shapes. For example, some bikes include a flat top to relieve wrist pressure; others feature a curved or straight drop. Give them a try and pick the one that seems the most comfortable.

Handlebar Materials

Most handlebars are made of either a carbon or aluminum fork. The latter is the most common found on entry-level road bikes. It’s less expensive, which lowers the bike’s price point.

While handlebars made of carbon fiber can be expensive, the lighter material contributes to a faster ride. It’s also easier to transport.

Bike Weight

The best road bikes weigh, on average, 18 pounds. According to the size and materials, this weight can, however, vary.

If you’re looking to go for long rides, keep in mind that a heavy product will get you tired much faster. While lighter bikes usually come with a higher price point, they’re also easier to lift and transport, especially if you need to install it on a set of car racks.

Assembly

There’s nothing more frustrating than facing your new acquisition, wondering how the parts are supposed to fit together. A clear and straightforward notice along with simple tools — such as a screwdriver and a wrench — should allow you to assemble your bike in no time.

Some companies even offer assembly upon delivery. If you don’t want to struggle to put it together, this might be a good option.

Gears

Gears are calculated by multiplying the chainrings of the front wheels — usually one to three — and the number of plates located on your rear wheel — seven to 12. Speed levels typically range between 16 and 22. 

Having more gears comes with a few benefits. As you get started, it’ll allow you to fine-tune your ideal speed and pedaling rate. Single-gear bikes can be discouraging for less experienced bikers, especially when going uphill.

Road Bike Gears at the rear wheel

Besides, the more gears you have, the less gap between each rear plate. This means that the chain is less likely to come off the rail.

On the downside, however, having multiple gears requires more maintenance. You’ll need to ensure they remain greased and in good condition.

Brands and Price Point Ranges

Most bikes represent a significant investment. Keep in mind that you’re also likely to upgrade it down the road, and a cheap road bike is usually more than enough to get started. As you gain experience, you’ll get to know your preferences and specific needs.

An unlimited number of brands offer road bikes, but here are the top ones:

  • Trek.
  • Specialized.
  • Giant.
  • Tommaso.
  • Raleigh.
  • Savadeck.
  • Focus.

* Best Entry Level Road Bike FAQs*

What Is the Best Road Bike for a Beginner?

A beginner’s road bike combines affordability, comfort, and ease of use. The ride should be perfectly suited to your height to ensure safety and comfort.

To make pedaling easier, ensure that it comes with at least a few gears to make pedaling uphill much smoother!

What Is the Best Entry Level Road Bicycle?

The best starter road bicycle combines performance and a reasonable price. It should be easy for beginners to use, and challenging enough for casual bikers to ride. Good bikes are generally made of aluminum, making affordable, durable, and lightweight products.

What Is a Good Distance to Bike for a Beginner?

The best distance is the one you’ll cover while still enjoying the ride!

Typically, a 2-mile bike ride is a good distance for your first road bike ride. Keep an eye on the mileage and gradually increase your limit.

How Much Does a Decent Road Bike Cost?

Road bikes’ price range can significantly vary from one brand to another. Materials and parts used will play a significant role in the bike’s cost.

You should be able to find a good bike for about $500 to $900. They’re likely to be made with a lightweight aluminum frame and offer the best value for the quality offered.

TIP: Do you want to read more detailled reviews and buying guides? Be sure to check the homepage.  

References

1. Hindawi – Experimental Study on the Shock Absorption Performance of Combined Aluminium Honeycombs under Impact Loading, retrieved from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/sv/2015/689546/
2. Sciencedirect – Closed Cell, retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/closed-cell

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Erik

Erik

My name is Erik, and I love everything about cycling. I ride because I love it.

I’m an experienced cyclist with almost 20 years of experience. I compete in races and like to ride some group-rides from time to time.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

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