You can easily spend thousands on a good road bike, and it will be worth every penny.
But did you know some of the best entry level bikes are road bikes under 2,000 dollars? The most expensive bikes are either engineered for a very specific use, or they’re part of your identity and lifestyle. In many cases, high-end bikes are just a way of showing off.
For a thoughtful cyclist, a budget of less than $2,000 is often plenty to buy a good quality bike that can do everything you want it to do.
At this price point you can usually expect good components such as hydraulic disc brakes. Internal cable routing and carbon frames are not uncommon, although most bikes at this level have aluminum frames.
You may not always see invisible weld technology or DT Swiss Alloy wheels in road bikes under $2000, but in terms of overall value some of the best road bikes fit right into this niche.
In fact, there are so many road bikes in this price range that we had a harder time than usual picking out the best road bikes under 2000 dollars.
What we looked for in road bikes under 2000
Road bikes at this price point come with an interesting mix of materials, components, and characteristics. You can find carbon frames in this range, but they are rare and usually come with trade-offs. Disc brakes are common, but they’re not ubiquitous.
This is the sweet spot where road bikes are no longer cheap but they are still affordable. Steel frames are usually out. Aluminum frames are higher quality, well-made with advanced welding techniques.
Road bikes in this price range are likely to be more specialized as endurance bikes or race bikes.
Some of these bikes will be better suited for road cycling, while others are more sturdy and able to handle gravel riding. It’s important to know what you’re going to use your bike for most of the time.
We tried to pick out a good mix of race bikes, performance bikes, and bikes for road cycling, gravel riding, and commuting. It turns out most of our favorites are good for more than one of these, and this was something we took into consideration.
Road bikes with deep section wheels or enough tire clearance to change to wider tires also gained preference.
As always, the frame is the most important part of the bike. We considered frame materials, geometry, wields and overall appearance.
Most important, however, is how it feels to ride a bike. Riding bikes at this price point should be a pleasure.
Frame materials, carbon fiber, and components
There are several road bikes with carbon frames under $2,000. However, if you buy a carbon fiber bike at this price, don’t expect much else. Most of your money will be paying for the carbon frame.
There’s nothing wrong with a carbon bike if this is what you want. But be ready to upgrade some of the components if you go this route. This is why only one of many carbon road bikes made it to our list.
Are hydraulic disc brakes essential?
Other bikes were chosen because of the overall value provided by frame materials, the stopping power of disc or rim brakes, the rear cassette and other components. As you will see, none of these were automatically a deal maker or deal breaker.
There were also many features we didn’t bother to look at. Some of these features aren’t important. Others may not even be relevant.
For example, clipless pedals are one of the components we didn’t consider, because many of the best bikes don’t come with pedals. You can always go to your local bike store to purchase and install the pedals of your choice.
Be sure to read our “Expert Tip” about pedals and bike shoes at the end of this article. Pedals were not part of our reviews, but they can be an important choice for you.
All road cyclists have their personal preferences regarding speed, upright riding position, and how well the bike responds. We’ve provided bikes with a variety of options and configurations because what you want from a bike is different than what another rider may want.
In the end, the real value of modern road bikes at this price point has more to do with how it feels to ride the bike. The designs and materials they were made from are less important.
Your job is to find the best match for your particular bike riding plans.
Our Top Picks for 2021
1. Most Versatile: Ridley Fenix
The Fenix is our favorite among endurance bikes. There have been many versions in the past, and the latest model stands out as an all-around winner.
One of the best things about this bike is the balance between speed and comfort. It comes with a relaxed geometry that still gives you a sufficiently aggressive riding position to use it as a racing bike.
In addition, riders reported that the Fenix handles great on cobblestones, which is almost to be expected for a bike made in Belgium.
The Fenix allows you to attack hills energetically, and if you run into trouble on the descent, the hydraulic disc brakes provide excellent stopping power and control.
While the Ridley Fenix doesn’t quite fit the category of “road bikes that can function as mountain bikes,” it’s definitely rugged and stable enough to allow you a broader definition of the word “road.”
You could take this bike out for a short ride to the coffee shop, run into some friends who talk you into a long ride through the hills, ride home on a bad road with a lot of potholes, and feel like you had a good day.
The Shimano 105 derailleurs, shifters, and hydraulic disc brakes are another thing we like about the Fenix. The carbon fiber fork adds a nice touch. Ridley certainly didn’t skimp on the components, as some bike manufacturers do.
We wouldn’t consider this a beginner’s endurance road bike. We would expect entry level road bikes to be a bit more comfortable. However, a less-experienced cyclist could make some easy modifications.
For example, some of our test riders swapped out the 25mm tires and replaced them with 28mm tires, which provided a noticeably smoother ride. With 30mm of tire clearance, you have several options if you want wider tires.
That brings us to our one critique about this road bike. While the Fenix is ostensibly designed for endurance road riding, the bar tape and the saddle are uncomfortable.
Many of our test riders opted to switch saddles and the seat post. Several of them added gel or some other kind of padding to the bars.
Of course, the ability to change parts is another reason the Fenix is the most versatile among road bikes under 2000.
Overall, the Fenix is a little bit endurance bike, a little bit race bike, as well as being a solid road bike that could almost work as a mountain bike.
The Fenix is a fast bike, good on any road surface. By changing a few things as we mentioned, you can make it fit your specific needs.
There are many bike manufacturers competing for the best road bikes under $2,000, and there are a lot of endurance bikes which are similar to the Ridley Fenix at this price point. For this reason, it may be worth looking a little more closely to decide whether this is the road bike for you.
However, we did our comparisons. For a good all-around bike, you can’t go wrong with the Fenix.
Pros and Cons
- A good balance of speed and endurance
- Stable enough for rough roads
- Well-suited for many circumstances
- Not as comfortable as most entry level road bikes
- Wheels and frame have a heavy feel
- Many similar competing bikes in this price bracket
Features of the Ridley Fenix
|Frame Material:||triple-butted hydroformed superlight 6005-601 alloy, carbon fork|
|Drivetrain:||Shimano 105 derailleurs and shifters; Shimano RS510 crankset|
|Weight:||(Only frame weight availalble: 3.29 lbs/1.49 kg)|
|Wheel Size:||700cc x 25mm|
|Tires:||Vittoria Zaffiro 25mm (with clearance for up to 30 mm)|
|Brakes:||Shimano 105 hydraulic disc brakes|
Why We Like It – You can use this road bike in a lot of different ways, and you can upgrade the comfort level without too much effort or expense. The components add value, especially the hydraulic brakes.
2. Best Budget Bike: Savadeck Herd 6.0 Carbon Road Bike
Many carbon bikes cost more than $2,000, and aluminum bikes are the norm at this price point.
Fortunately, if you want to get a carbon frame bike for under 2,000 dollars, the Savadeck Herd delivers.
There is a lot of value packed into this bike for the price point.
Savadeck is able to do this because they deliver their road bikes directly from the factory. You have to install the front wheel, pedals, and seat post. Some of our users also reported a need to adjust the gears.
If you’re uncomfortable with any of these tasks, take it to your local bike shop. Even with the extra expense, you’ll still get great value from this lightweight bike.
All of our test riders enjoyed the light weight and easy handling of this road bike. It’s fast and responsive.
The only issue that came up consistently was that the rigid carbon fiber frame doesn’t do a good job of absorbing shocks. (That’s often the case with lower-end carbon bikes).
Also, the best road bikes under 2000 usually have disc brakes. The Herd 6.0 uses rim brakes, which may compromise your stopping power.
For these reasons, mountain bikers will want to give the Savadeck Herd a pass. This is a road bike and it is meant for paved roads. Don’t try to be crazy with it. You have better options for that.
In the end, this is a budget bike. You’re essentially buying a lightweight carbon frame, and you’ll probably want to invest in some other components to get your money’s worth.
However, if you’re willing to make the upgrades or accept this bike as it is, and if you want an affordable carbon frame, this could be the right bike for you.
Pros and Cons
- Good price for a carbon frame bike
- Light and easy to handle
- The rigid carbon frame doesn’t absorb shocks well
- Strictly for paved roads
- Assembly can potentially be a challenge
Features of the Savadeck Herd 6.0 Carbon Road Bike
|Frame Material:||TORAY T800 carbon fiber frame and carbon fork|
|Drivetrain:||Shimano 105 group set|
|Tires:||700 x 25c|
Why We Like It – Carbon frames are expensive, and the best road bikes under $2,000 don’t typically have a carbon frame. In this case, some other qualities were sacrificed to make a carbon frame affordable.
If carbon fiber is important to you, we think this bike gives you a worthy tradeoff.
3. Best Value: Specialized Allez E5 Elite
We’ve recommended other versions of the Allez at different price points, and we’re happy to present it again.
The Allez E5 Elite may not be the very best in any one category, but it is strong in all of them.
It’s no secret that Specialized is proud of their aluminum frames, and they should be. The Allez E5 Elite is no exception, and it continues the long tradition of quality that Specialized products are known for.
The aluminum alloy frame material keeps costs and weight down, while the FACT carbon fork adds durability and performance.
One thing we consistently like about Specialized is their ability to constantly do more with less.
For example, Specialized outfitted the Allez E5 with their own Axis caliper rim brakes. These are no substitute for disc brakes, but they still provide a surprising amount of stopping power for rim brakes. Our test riders could barely feel the difference unless they were riding in the rain.
The Allez E5 Elite almost fits the category of race bikes, and the geometry is aggressive enough to use this as a race bike if you choose.
Overall, this road bike gives you high performance for the price. We consider it one of the best values under $2,000.
Note: You may have heard that there was an Allez recall in 2018. Issues with the carbon forks have long since been resolved. At the time of writing there are no known issues with the latest model of the Allez E5 Elite.
Pros and Cons
- Good, all around performance
- Rim brakes work almost as well as disc brakes in most conditions
- Rides like more expensive racing bikes on a good, dry road
- Doesn’t perform well on bumpy roads
- Wide seat tube gives it a clunky appearance
Features of the Specialized Allez E5 Elite
|Frame Material:||Specialized E5 Premium Aluminum, FACT carbon fork|
|Drivetrain:||Praxis Alba cranks, Shimano 105 shifters and derailleurs|
|Weight:||700cm x 26cm|
|Wheel Size:||700cm x 26cm|
|Tires:||Roadsport 700 x 26 cm|
|Brakes:||Axis 1.0 caliper rim brakes|
Why We Like It – This is a good all-around road bike. A thoughtful design compensates for the use of more economical parts and components.
When you consider all of the features and benefits together, this is a road bike that punches above its weight class.
Although the RAG +2 is a road bike at its core, you can load it up for a bike tour or venture off the paved road if you need to.
In fact, RAG stands for “Road and Gravel,” and this road bike lives up to the name.
You can easily upgrade this bike with wider tires. There’s clearance for gravel tires up to 45c, and the tubeless ready wheels give you a lot of tire options, whether you want tubeless tires or standard front and rear wheel tires. One of our riders put on tires that were 2.2″ wide and had no problem.
Probably the best way to understand the RAG +2 is to think of it as a “fair weather mountain bike” that can be made more road worthy or more gravel worthy depending on the tires you put on it.
Like all bikes, this one isn’t perfect. Every manufacturer has to cut costs somewhere.
The RAG +2 bike features cable operated disc brakes, which don’t perform as well as hydraulic disc brakes. However, they are fine for dry gravel and can handle wet weather if you’re on pavement. The stopping power is there under most conditions.
You’ll have to use this bike with caution under some of the more extreme conditions. But overall, the adaptability, stability and agility make this road bike one of our favorites.
Pros and Cons
- Extra stable going downhill
- Carbon fiber fork makes it a good value
- You can change tires and essentially make this a mountain bike.
- Wheels are heavy enough to notice when you ride uphill
- Doesn’t handle well in mud–a reminder that this bike is really in the “tough road bikes” category
Features of the NS Bikes RAG +2
|Frame Material:||NS AL6061-T6 aluminum alloy frame, carbon fiber fork|
|Drivetrain:||Sram Apex shifters and derailleurs, 11 speeds, FSA Omega crankset|
|Weight:||22.5 lb/10.2 kg|
|Wheel Size:||700 x 40 c|
|Tires:||WTB Nano 700 x 40c|
|Brakes:||TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes|
Why We Like It – Our favorite thing about this bike is its versatility. By changing out the tires, you can turn it into a usable version of whatever bike you want.
5. Best Overall: Orbea Vector Drop LTD
Orbea was one of the first bicycle manufacturers to develop and use internal cable routing. It’s natural that this feature adds a clean, streamlined look to the Vector.
This is a great road bike for commuting, light touring, as well as long leisurely rides.
You could probably go faster on a bike with a more aggressive geometry. But when it comes to distance and enduring riding, this is one the best road bikes under 2,000 dollars that you’ll find.
Most of our test riders remarked that the Vector Drop LTD feels remarkably stable. Many of them made comments about the agility of this road bike, which is able to make quick, hard turns to avoid hazards.
Nearly everyone was impressed with the level of comfort.
The frame includes mounts so you can easily add mudguards or a rear rack. This extra feature makes the Vector a great bike for commuting or possibly even touring.
It’s not the best as a gravel bike, But it is stable enough that you could take it off-road if you had to.
We like this bike so much, we had a hard time trying to find anything wrong with it.
The only downside we found was a need for the company to invest in customer service. When we tried to contact Orbea with questions, it took multiple attempts over several days before we finally got a response. We don’t know whether this is a common experience.
In Orbea’s defense, they are based in Spain and we were contacting them in the middle of a pandemic and a global labor shortage.
Our advice: Find a local bike mechanic who you can count on to resolve any issues that may come up. If that’s not possible, then you may want to think twice about buying from a foreign manufacturer.
As a road bike, Orbea’s Vector Drop LTD is a pleasure to ride, and you can take it to a lot of different places. That’s why it’s our overall favorite.
Pros and Cons
- Excellent ride quality
- Versatile bike, adaptable as a commuter or endurance bike
- Gearing allows easy climbs
- Customer service may be slow to respond
Features of the Orbea Vector Drop LTD
|Frame Material:||Aluminum 6000 frame with Speed 400 mm carbon flat mount fork|
|Drivetrain:||Shimano Tiagra groupset|
|Wheel Size:||700 c|
|Tires:||Schwalbe G-One Bite, 700×38, TLE RaceGuard ADDIX|
|Brakes:||Shimano Tiagra 4770 Hydraulic disc brakes|
Why We Like It – This is one of the most agile and comfortable road bikes we tested. It’s a sheer delight to ride.
Buyer’s Guide to Road Bikes Under $2000
What would be the road bike of your dreams?
Imagine you won a modest lottery or met a semi-competent geni. What would you ask for? Maybe a carbon frame and flat mount disc brakes?
We would like a bike that was tested extensively in a wind tunnel. A road bike that allowed, but did not require, tubeless tires. Internal cable routing would be a plus. But ultimately, we would prefer whatever it took to make road cycling a pleasure.
It turns out, you can find many of these qualities in a road bike under $2,000.
Carbon fiber bikes are available at this price point, although an aluminum bike may actually give you better value overall.
Disc brakes are the norm, but they can be sacrificed if something else is more important to you.
Road cycling with a bike in this price point gives you a lot of good choices. You can typically expect a lot of very good features and components, and one excellent feature. You can choose the bike that excels in just the one feature that’s most important to you.
Many buyers in this range get unnecessarily obsessed with carbon fiber frames or other details. It’s worth remembering that an aluminum frame with the right geometry might suit your needs even better.
Don’t get bogged down thinking about the materials. Think about the performance.
Above all, think about what you’ll be doing with your bike. As an example, cyclocross bikes might not be the best choice if you’re just planning on using your bike to commute daily on paved paths. (If your commute involves wading across a creek, then you may want to invest in a cyclocross bike!)
Purchasing a road bike is a negotiation you have with yourself. There are tradeoffs, things you insist on, and things you’re willing to sacrifice.
What’s really most important to you? Is it speed? Comfort? The ability to attack hills or ride on gravel?
Based on your plans and needs for your road bike, think of the must-have features you want in your bike. Then make a list of things you would like to have.
Is there a single, must-have feature that outweighs everything else?
Once you have your list, it’s easy evaluate each bike you’re thinking about buying. Go through them feature-by-feature. Here are a few things we suggest you look at:
What is the frame made from? How is its geometry designed? How will this affect speed, endurance, durability, or other features that are important to you?
What components does the manufacturer use? Will they give you the performance and value you want? If not, would it be worth upgrading and replacing some of the components?
Are the wheels designed for the type of bike rides you see yourself doing? Is there enough clearance to switch tires if you want to?
What kind of environment or conditions do you plan to ride in? Does your bike need to be well-equipped for rain? Mud? Hills?
Is there a specific brand, material, component or other feature that you definitely want as part of your bike? Are there other features you’re willing to compromise in order to have this at a lower cost?
Chances are, you’ll find a bike you want before you finish this list. If you don’t, you’ll still have a personal list of pros and cons for each bike under consideration.
If you assign a score to each feature, based on how important it is to you, then you can easily quantify the potential value of every bike. Compare the score to the price of the bike, and you will have a way to mathematically evaluate the bikes on you list.
Of course, you’re probably not going to let mere numbers decide which bike to buy, and you shouldn’t. But by having a tangible way to compare bikes, you can make a choice more easily.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I buy based on the spec sheet?
The spec sheet is a great place to start, especially if you have specific, technical criteria. If you are certain you don’t want a steel frame or weight above a certain limit, the spec sheet is a quick way to cross bikes off your list.
However, the real value of a bike is more personal. If you want a racing bike, then a road bike with a relaxed geometry isn’t going to make you happy, no matter how good it looks on the spec sheet.
If you take a look at our Buyer’s Guide, above, you will be able to see how the spec sheet can provide a numerical value to help you choose a bike. You will also immediately see the drawbacks of this method.
Orbea says, “let the ride decide,” and this is great advice. The spec sheet is the quickest way to make sure a bike meets your minimum requirements. But you should read the reviews and descriptions, and take a test ride if you can.
The spec sheet can’t tell you if the bike is going to perform the way you want it to, and it can’t directly tell you whether or not your purchase is going to make you happy.
How to Choose the Best Road Bike Under $2000?
There are really three separate steps to choosing the best road bike under $2000.
First, think about what you want to do with your bike. This will help you decide how to balance out different qualities such as comfort, speed, durability, etc.
Many bikes are designed for one of more of these. If you want it all, you’ll have to choose a bike that’s known for versatility.
Next, make a list of your must-haves (or must not haves). This might include frame geometry, an aluminum frame, or various components. You can look at the spec sheets to see which bikes meet your criteria, and cross off the ones that don’t.
Finally, take a test ride if you can. Try accelerating, stopping, and making sharp turns. Climb a hill if you can. The test ride should mimic that kind of riding you’ll do and the conditions you’ll be in.
Even if you can’t replicate the exact conditions in a test ride, it will still give you a feel for how the bike handles. This is worth more than any spec sheet.
Choosing a road bike is a personal quest. While the internet is filled with debates about issues such as aluminum frames versus steel frames, you’ve got your own goals for purchasing a road bike.
At this price point, you don’t need to settle for a cheap bike. There’s one with the qualities and characteristics that match what you want to do. There’s a bike with the right mix of value between frame, wheels, and components.
Whether you want an aluminum bike or a carbon bike, there is a road bike out there that’s just right for you.
Get the right shoes and pedals.
Many road bikes under $2000 don’t come with pedals. The manufacturer assumes you will provide your own.
The right choice of shoe and pedal is an important part of cycling, especially for longer bike rides. If the pedals don’t rotate easily in their bearings, the added resistance will tire you out just like it would in the bottom bracket. Don’t cheap out on the pedals, especially if you invested in an expensive bike.
Shoes should have a firm, hard sole. You don’t want to waste energy by cushioning the force of your stroke. At the same time, the rest of the shoe should be comfortable enough not to cut off circulation.
If you have a race or important ride coming up, take the time to break your shoes in. You don’t want to get blisters on the big day!
You should also constantly check the fit between your shoes and the clips. Knee pain is often caused by feet turning slightly outwards or inwards (pigeon-toed). A simple adjustment could save you a lot of trouble later on.
Did You Know?
Aluminum frames are becoming less popular as the aluminum bike gives way to carbon. However, aluminum is the twelfth most common element in the universe. It’s not going away.
Recycling centers pay a premium for aluminum because it is expensive to extract from the earth. In fact, ounce per ounce, pure aluminum was historically worth more than gold.
Aluminum bikes are often dismissed as a mere middle ground between steel and carbon frames. But a century ago, those aluminum frames would have been cherished by kings!
If you have an aluminum frame, be sure to give it the love it deserves.
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