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Best Road Bikes Under 1000 in 2021 – Reviews & Buyers Guide

Best Road Bikes Under 1000 in 2021

Road bikes can be more efficient than cars for transportation in an urban setting. The best road bikes for commuting should allow you to carry your gear and get to your destination on time. Choosing the right road bike is critical if you want to have a safe and comfortable ride.

If you’re looking for a beginner’s road bike, don’t make the mistake of getting something too simple. You’ll quickly outgrow it as you gain experience and improve your fitness. While you don’t necessarily need hydraulic disc brakes or a carbon fiber fork on your first bike, you can save money by getting a better bike that you won’t want to replace for a long time.

Sometimes you can even get by with a downright cheap road bike, but we want you to find a great bike that will give you years of value. We reviewed some of the best road bikes under 1000 dollars, and this report includes the best bikes for road cyclists.

TOP CHOICE

Specialized Allez

BEST VALUE
Schwinn Discover Hybrid

Schwinn Discover Hybrid

BEGINNER BIKE
Tommaso Imola Endurance Bike

Tommaso Imola Endurance Bike

How We Choose a Road Bike

Experienced riders know that the most expensive bikes aren’t necessarily the best ones for road riding. In fact, some of the best road bikes are both practical and affordable.

In choosing a bike, you need to be clear about what you plan to do with it. It’s important to consider ride quality, your reason for road cycling, and whatever additional needs you have for an affordable road bike.

We looked at several road bikes under 1,000 dollars and considered a few key criteria.

First off, all the bikes had to be usable as entry level road bikes, but also suitable for more experienced cyclists. If you’re a beginner, we recommend you buy a bike that you aren’t going to outgrow too quickly.

With the bikes on our list, you will discover new capabilities as your skills and fitness improve. At the same time, these bikes are great for seasoned riders as well. You will have your personal preference, but none of these bikes will disappoint you, even if you’ve got tens of thousands of miles under your belt.

The quality of materials and parts was another important factor in choosing the best road bikes under 1,000 dollars. At this price point manufacturers typically use decent materials to keep costs down, but the best ones also throw in a few high-quality parts.

With this in mind, we looked for high-end features such as disc brakes. While none of our choices include a carbon frame, some of them at least include a carbon fork.

Bike Materials – Added Value of a Carbon Fork

8bar Kronprinz Carbon Road Bike Photo by Stefan Haehnel
8bar Kronprinz Carbon Road Bike Photo by Stefan Haehnel

To choose the best road bikes, one of the main factors was the materials these bikes were made from. It’s hard to find a carbon frame in road bikes under 1000 dollars, but we found that many bikes with an aluminium frame still offer a plush ride.

The best road bikes have ways to make a few good materials go a long way. It takes some finesse to create a good road bike below $1,000, but a lot of manufacturers have this down to a science.

One common innovation is to combine components with different levels of quality. For example, some of the best road bikes take advantage of a lightweight aluminum frame, but then use a durable steel fork to make the bike stronger.

Even better, some bikes incorporate a carbon fork into the mix. This combination offers strength and weight advantages, while still making it possible to keep the price lower than road bikes with carbon fibre frames.

Of course, the aluminum frame or steel fork wasn’t the only factor. Bike components such as mechanical disc brakes or rim brakes can make a big difference. We took a close look at what the manufacturers were using in the drive train, the brakes, and elsewhere.

Bike Components

We would love to have all Shimano Tiagra components, but bikes under $1000 aren’t likely to offer this.

However, we found that most models featured Shimano brakes and other high-end components that were placed where they really matter.

For example, some bikes include Shimano Sora components in the drive train, or a Shimano Sora groupset, on an otherwise modest bike. Again, using inexpensive materials for some parts of the bike can reduce the manufacturer’s costs to the point where they can afford to include these brand name parts.

One thing we didn’t consider was extra features that don’t have a significant impact on the performance or longevity of a bike. Tubeless ready wheels could make a road bike more attractive to some, but other riders prefer to have holes in the rim for inserting nipples.

For this reason we didn’t consider tubeless ready wheels as an advantage or disadvantage.

In a similar way, many other factors are a matter of choice, such as thru axles and a tapered steerer tube. These features don’t necessarily determine which are the best road bikes.

On the other hand, a road bike implies you will encounter traffic, pedestrians, and animals. You may need to stop quickly. Cable actuated disc brakes are a useful component for all road bikes. We spent a lot of time studying brakes, and we’ll treat them separately.

Bike Brakes – Do you need disc brakes?

Disc brakes are considered the stopping power champion of road bikes. However, a good rim brake can still provide enough braking power to make your road bike safe.

All things being equal, we tended to favor mechanical disc brakes in our choices.

However, we realize that many road bikes under $1,000 don’t have disc brakes, and they still make the grade. Tektro rim brakes and other high-quality rim brakes can work just as well as disc brakes.

A disc brake can add weight to the bike. More importantly, the lower cost of rim brakes means that money can be invested in other components, such as a full carbon fork, for example.

In general, road bikes under $1,000 come with all kinds of braking systems. While we’re biased toward disc brakes, we tried to feature road bikes with both types of brake.

Bike Features and Accessories

Road bikes under 1,000 dollars often have other details that make them a good value.

Rack mounts and a rear rack are essential for commuters, and they provide an added convenience for the rest of us. Internal cable routing, where the cables pass through the down tube or other part of the frame, give a cleaner appearance and extend the life of your cables.

Likewise, endurance geometry can improve ride quality, an important factor for the best bikes. All of the bikes we recommended have a frame geometry that ensures comfort, without sacrificing too much power or speed.

We considered all of these details as we reviewed and tested these different bikes. Here are the winners.

Our Favorite Road Bikes Under 1,000 Dollars

1. Our Top Choice: Specialized Allez

Specialized Allez

This bike is your top secret undercover decoy.

When you ride it, and when other people see you riding it, it will be hard to believe that you only paid $1,000 (or less!) for this bike. It looks and handles like a much more expensive bicycle.

The Allez feels strong and durable, yet it is lighter than most bikes. We were unable to find exact data for the weight of the latest Allez, but the manufacturer says that new innovations such as the E5 Alloy frame and full carbon fork have shaved an entire pound (450 g) off the weight of older models.

The endurance geometry of the frame means you can ride long distances with less fatigue. The tapered head and carbon forks make steering seem effortless, and you will practically float over most types of road.

One place where they cut corners was with the Tektro dual pivot brakes. Since they’re using Tektro, I would have liked to see Tektro mechanical disc brakes. But at least they got the brand right, and they reinvested the savings into other high-quality components.

One user insisted on replacing the drivetrain components (all Shimano Claris) with Shimano Sora components, claiming this was an essential upgrade. (You can do this if you want, which is the beauty of owning a road bike under 1,000 dollars.)

However, all of our test riders were more than thrilled with the Claris components that come with the Allez.

The Allez has been around since the early 1980s, but Specialized has been improving and upgrading it, and you can tell the difference. The only thing that has stayed the same about this bike for 40 years is the incredible value. Specialized set out to make the Allez a paragon of affordable quality, and they have never failed at this.

In most places we checked, this bike was just under $1,000, and slightly above on some websites. If you have to pay a few dollars over $1,000 it’s well worth it.

Pros and Cons for the Specialized Allez

Pro:
  • Lightweight and efficient
  • Experienced bikers will find a good balance of comfort and speed
  • It looks and feels like a more expensive bike
Con:
  • If you really want to maximize comfort, you may want to replace the saddle
  • Doesn’t come with tubeless ready wheels, if that’s an issue for you
Did you know?

In 1974, Specialized founder Mike Sinyard sold his VW bus to pay for a bicycle tour of Europe. He brought back Italian-made components, which he began importing and selling. Within a few years, his business was producing its own bicycle components, and in 1981 Specialized released its first two bikes: The Sequoia and (of course!) the Allez.

Features of the Specialized Allez

Frame Material:Specialized E5 Premium Aluminum Frame, Full FACT carbon fork
Drivetrain:Shimano Claris shifters, front and rear derailleurs, and crankset
Wheel Size:700c x 26c
Tires:Espoir Sport 700x 25c tires
Brakes:Tektro dual-pivot brakes

2. Best All-around Value: Schwinn Discover Hybrid

Schwinn Discover Hybrid

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Schwinn Discover Hybrid is a great all-around bike for commuters and hobby riders.

Aside from being comfortable and very user-friendly, this bike will bring many people back to their childhood in the ’80s.

Some female riders may find a challenge with the height of the Discover, but one of our test riders who is just 5′ tall reported she had no problem with this affordable road bike.

This is not the lightest bike. At 35.5 pounds, it was by far the heaviest bike on our list, despite its aluminum frame.

Nevertheless, the weight is not oppressive. The Schwinn Discover felt light when we rode it, and I carried it up a flight of stairs without any trouble.

If you appreciate Schwinn’s classic, old school reputation, you’ll be glad to know the Discover can hold its own against newer technology. For example, the traditional rim brakes provide a surprising amount of stopping power, almost comparable to what you would expect from disc brakes.

At the same time, this bike does incorporate many innovations that make it different from a Schwinn from the ’80s. The SRAM grip gear shifters let you use all 21 speeds.

We found the suspension fork, which is more common in mountain bikes, plays a big role in cutting road vibrations. The bike keeps you in an upright position for a comfortable ride.

There’s a rear rack, making it easy to carry your belongings on a commute or long rides.

All of these features, taken together, make this bike easy to ride, without requiring a lot of experience or skill. If you’re a beginner, this is a good starter bike.

On the down side, the plastic fenders seem flimsy, but they will still keep the mud away in wet weather. If you don’t like the plastic, you can put something more rigid in the fender mounts.

The vinyl saddle is adequate, but you can make this bike more comfortable by replacing the saddle. If comfort is a priority for you, this will be a high return on investment for a relatively inexpensive upgrade.

Some owners reported minor issues in assembling this bike. If you are not an experienced rider, you may want to bring it to your local bike shop for assembly.

Overall, the Schwinn Discover Hybrid is an updated version of a classic. It’s easy to handle for newer riders.

Coming in at a lower price point than other bikes of similar quality, the Schwinn Discover is a great value overall.

Pros and Cons for the Schwinn Discover

Pro:
  • Great value for the price
  • Comfortable and easy to make even more comfortable.
  • A safe road bike for commuting
  • If you rode a Schwinn when you were a child, the nostalgia will warm your heart
Con:
  • This is the heaviest road bike we investigated
  • May require help with assembly and adjustment to get everything just right
  • Suspension seems unnecessary unless you plan to ride on uneven surfaces
Did you know?

Schwinn has built a strong reputation over many decades. The Schwinn brand carries a lot of nostalgia for middle-aged cyclists.

However, Schwinn has been bought out and changed hands a few times. Schwinn was acquired by Pacific Cycle in 2001, and in 2004 Pacific Cycle was bought by Dorel Industries.

The Schwinn you buy today wasn’t manufactured like the one you owned as a kid. Nevertheless, Pacific Cycle is aware of the value of the Schwinn brand.

While they mass produce these bikes in China today, they still try to uphold the standards of quality that built the Schwinn brand.

We think they’re doing a decent job.

Features of the Schwinn Discover Hybrid

Frame Material:Aluminum frame, Steel fork
Drivetrain:Shimano shifters and derailleurs
Weight:35.5 lbs (16.103 kg)
Wheel Size:700 cm/28″
Tires:700cm/28″ tires
Brakes:Promax alloy linear pull brakes
Other Features:21 speeds, rear carrier

3. The Best Beginner Bike: Tommaso Imola Endurance Bike

Tommaso Imola Endurance Bike

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Tommaso Imola Endurance Bike is great for beginners and more experienced cyclists, too. It relies on the typical rim brake, but still has stopping power comparable to disc brake bikes.

This is a plush ride, thanks to a relaxed geometry that keeps you in an upright position for greater comfort. Wider tires help with road vibrations, which is an added plus.

We like this as a beginner bike because it is comfortable and easy to handle, making it a good starter for someone with limited experience. At the same time, the Imola has incredible performance potential that you will discover and you gain more miles under your belt. You will not outgrow this bicycle for many years.

The Imola has one of our favorite combinations of aluminum frame and steel forks.

While this bike is meant for road cycling, we noticed the gear configuration is more appropriate for a mountain bike. If you live in an area with lots of hills, consider this an advantage!

This bike comes with a lifetime frame warranty, and the Shimano components typically have a two-year warranty as well. (Please be aware that the bike must be assembled by a professional or the warranties are not valid.)

Pros and Cons for the Tommaso Imola

Pro:
  • One of the most comfortable road bikes under $1,000
  • Gear configuration works well with hills
  • A beginner-friendly bike with advanced performance potential so you can keep this bike for a long time
Con:
  • Delivered from the factory, requiring a lot of assembly
  • Warranties can be invalidated if bike is not assembled by a professional bike mechanic
Did you know?

The original Tommaso bikes had steel frames that were built in Italy. Today they are engineered in Colorado, but they are still designed in Italy.

Features of the Tommaso Imola Endurance bike

Frame Material:Aluminum frame, Steel fork with aluminum steer tube
Drivetrain:All Shimano components including Shimano Claris derailleurs
Weight:23.8 lbs (10.7 kg)
Wheel Size:700c x 25c
Tires:Kenda K152 700c x 25c tires
Brakes:Shimano Claris rim brakes
Other Features:Lifetime frame warranty, 24 speeds, WTB Volt saddle

4. The Best Commuter Bike: Vilano Diverse 3.0

Vilano Diverse 3.0

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Right away, you’ll notice that Vilano Diverse 3.0 endurance road bike is special. Disc brakes give you braking power and the aluminium frame makes this a relatively lightweight bike. The seat tube and frame geometry keep you in an upright position for long distance rides.

Many other bikes feature the same relaxed geometry, disc brakes, and comfortable riding position that make the Vilano Diverse 3.0 one of the best road bikes under 1000 dollars. So how does this one stand out?

The main advantage of this bike is that it’s well-rounded. It has a stiff frame and is able to handle a variety of situations. This is why it works especially well as a commuter bike. You can easily mount a rack to carry your work gear.

In addition, owners have reported that the disc brakes work well in the rain. This is another important feature if you’re commuting in a busy environment in bad weather.

On the down side, many bikes are more specialized than the Diverse 3.0. Being a jack-of-all-trades, this bike is the master of none.

For example, if you want a race bike you may not want to buy the Vilano Diverse 3.0.

In addition, it seems that in order to offer value, the manufacturers compromised a bit on comfort. We’ve noticed that the Vilano Diverse doesn’t absorb the shocks of the road as well as most of the other road bikes we looked at.

For short, smooth rides this is fine. If you’re commuting on well-maintained pavement you probably won’t even notice the difference.

But if you’re riding 50 miles on a bumpy road, be ready to experience a little bit of discomfort. We’ve found that adding a gel seat cover diminishes this problem.

If you’re really concerned with comfort, you could change out the saddle completely, and add a better set of handlebar grips.

The trouble is, you can easily find yourself going down a rabbit hole as you start to think about replacing other parts and components. If you find yourself thinking this way, go ahead and splurge on the upgrades that you want.

However, keep in mind that comfort isn’t likely to be an issue with this bike on good roads and short rides.

This bike is about good value, not perfection. If you’re looking for an all-around great bike for road cycling, especially commuting, the Vilano Diverse 3.0 is a great choice for a round ride.

Pros and Cons for the Vilano Diverse 3.0

Pro:
  • All-around road bike that can serve many purposes as both transportation and recreation
  • Modest price provides excellent value
  • A few simple and inexpensive upgrades can change this from a good bike to an excellent bike
Con
  • Aluminum alloy fork may not hold up as well against hard bumps and heavy use
  • Not the best road bike if speed is a priority
Did you know?

Vilano was started by three friends who wanted to do something about the heavy traffic and commuting issues in St. Augustine, Florida. Their goal was to offer quality bikes to the masses.

Features of the Vilano Diverse 3.0

Frame Material:Hydroformed alloy aluminum frame and fork
Drivetrain:Triple crankset with replaceable chainrings (42/34/24 teeth)
Weight:26.5 lbs (12.02 kg)
Wheel Size:700c x 25c
Tires: 700c x 35c
Brakes:Disc brakes
Other Features:Rack mounts


Road Bike Buyers Guide

Road Bike Buyers Guide
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

We’ve given you our choices, but we know some of you might want to keep looking.

If you’re still searching for the perfect road bike under $1,000, here’s a quick guide that will show you what to look for and what questions you should ask about a bicycle. These are the same criteria we used for the bikes we recommended above.

Know what you want

Be clear on what you personally want in a bike, and what you’re going to use it for. Some expensive features might be completely unnecessary for your purposes. Other features may be critical.

Do you need a lightweight bike that you can carry upstairs to your front door? Will you be riding your bike long distances? Will you use your bike for fun, fitness, or transportation? All of the above? Which is your highest priority?

Do you want a bike that’s low maintenance? Are there technical features which are important to you, even if they create the need for frequent tuning? How much of this maintenance are you willing and able to do yourself?

How important is comfort, and what trade-offs are you willing to make between endurance, speed, convenience, and comfort?

Look for value

Bikes at this price point tend to have a mix of valuable brand name components and lower-cost parts. Good value often comes from adding high quality components where they matter.

For example, a manufacturer might combine a full carbon fork with a frame made of less expensive material. They might incorporate a Shimano Sora groupset for the drivetrain in an otherwise modest bike.

As you shop for your road bike, look at what the manufacturers did to lower the cost, and where they invested in added quality. Did they put their money into performance? Comfort? Something else?

As you start to understand these trade-offs, you can find a combination of value and economy that you want.

Make deliberate personal choices about other features

Bikes have many variable features that come with their own tradeoffs.

If the wheels are tubeless ready, you can expect a stronger wheel, and naturally you will be able to make use of tubeless tires.

On the downside, this feature makes it more difficult to replace broken spokes. Just as importantly, if you change your mind and decide to use a standard tire with internal tubes, you may have a harder time fitting the tire onto the rim.

As another example, internal cable routing can make your bike look more streamlined. This feature might also make your cables last a little bit longer.

As we have said before, a carbon fiber fork gives the bike a good balance between weight and strength. But it also raises the price of the bike.

As you shop for a road bike, look at each feature and think about how it will impact your bike’s performance, how much maintenance it will require, what effect it has on the price, etc.

It’s up to you to consider the importance of every one of these different factors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best road bikes under $1000?

The best road bikes under $1000 tend to combine value with economy.

As we have mentioned, manufacturers often use high quality components such as Shimano Sora in the drive train. They do this as a way to compensate for cheaper materials used elsewhere in the bike.

Another common practice is to use a frame made of aluminum or steel. When this is combined with an expensive carbon fork, it adds value to the bike without having an overwhelming effect on the price.

When you shop for bikes, look for quality materials and brand name components. You can usually find some of these, and if you look closely you can usually see where the manufacturer lowered costs somewhere else.

When you understand where the manufacturer chose to splurge, and you know where you would like to have the high-end bike parts, you’re likely to find the bike that’s right for your specific needs.

What is the best road bike for the money?

Choosing the best road bike for the money is often a matter of personal choice.

How much use is your bike going to get? Are you just going to ride a few blocks to the coffee shop, or is this a commuter bike that needs to hold up reliably as you ride to work every day?

Are you planning on long rides which may require an endurance bike? Do you plan on racing? How much comfort are you willing to sacrifice for speed, and vice-versa?

Which components are most important to you? Do you want a Fact carbon fiber fork, and Shimano Sora components, or are you happy with parts that aren’t well-known? Do you want wheels that are tubeless ready, or do you prefer standard tires and tubes? How important is internal cable routing? What about rim brakes fender clearance?

Some cyclists insist on having an Aluxx grade aluminium frame, which is proprietary to Giant Bicycles. We didn’t review any of their bikes, but if you want the light weight of aluminum combined with a strength approaching that of carbon, this would be a way to get it.

These are all factors that can impact the cost of the bike. The key is to choose a road bike that meets two criteria. First, the bike should have all the features and components you want. Second, do not spend more than you need for features and components that are not important to you.

How much should a good road bike cost?

The short answer is simple. No more than $1,000, and possibly a lot less.

Of course, the answer is never that simple. A lot of road bikes under 1,000 dollars are a great value if you’re thoughtful about the bike you choose. We have just shown you our favorite road bikes under 1,000 dollars, but there are other bikes on the market that could suit you just as well.

A carbon fork can lighten the weight of a bike while making it more durable. But it will add to the price of the bike, and if you’re riding on smooth paved roads you probably don’t need a carbon fork.

You could certainly spend a lot more than $1,000 on a road bike and be very pleased with what you get. If you are interested in serious racing, longer rides, or you just want to pamper yourself, then it might make sense to spend more. But there are plenty of good road bikes that are under $1,000–sometimes well under $1,000.

Which road bike is best for a beginner?

All of the bikes we have reviewed would work well for a beginner. Our favorite entry-level road bike is the Tommaso Imola Endurance Bike.

This is a comfortable, user-friendly bike that plays well with inexperienced bikers. At the same time, it is a high performer. As you gain in skill and fitness, you will be able to do more with this bike. It will grow with you for a long time, and you won’t want to replace it for many years.

Having said that, please be sure to have a professional assemble your Tommaso Imola. This ensures that the warranties will remain valid.

If you’re more of a DIY-oriented bike rider, the Imola might not be the right bike for you. In that case, we would recommend the Schwinn Discover.

Conclusion: Our #1 Bike-buying Tip

Know your needs.

Every bicylce has its own pros and cons. You have your list of what you want and don’t want. When a bike is strong in the ways you want it to be, and weak in areas that aren’t important to you, you’ve found a winner.

In the end, there are a lot of good road bikes under 1,000 dollars. One of them is just right for you!

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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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