Escaping to the open road on a road bike is the way some spend their weekends, others use a road bike to commute, for daily activities in their neighborhood and other for fitness.
Regardless of how you use a road bike, getting your hands on one with a price tag within your budget and quality features is a challenge.
For this reason, I have put together a buyer’s guide and review of the best affordable road bikes under 500 dollars to help you find the right one.
In this article I’m going to review the following road bikes under 500 dollar:
- Vilano Shadow 2.0 Road Bike (MY FAVOURITE)
- Vilano R2 Commuter Aluminum Road Bike 21 speed
- EUROBIKE Road Bike EURXC550 21 Speed
- Giordano Libero 1.6 Men’s Road Bike 700c
- Vilano Shadow Road Bike
- Schwinn Volare 1300 Men’s Drop Bar Road Bike
- Vilano Tuono 2.0 Aluminum Road Bike
- Trinx TEMPO1.0 700C Road Bike
Reviews Of The Best Road Bikes Under $500
With the information you find in the buying guide for road bikes, you are better able to make an informed comparison between the bikes in the reviews.
Consider how and where you intend to ride, along with your budget and personal preferences, as you compare the various features of each model in the review.
The Vilano Shadow 2.0 Road Bike brings things back up to a higher level among the road bikes in my review. Though this bike will cost a bit more than the average in the under 500 dollar group, it has some quality components that set it apart from the field.
The Shadow 2.0 is also built on a double-butted 6061 aluminum aero frame and comes with an integrated aluminum fork.
Its rims are double-walled, machined-alloy 700C x 23mm, making this bike a bit faster than the others over hard surfaces.
The difference in quality is seen in the breaking and gearing components, which are together in this model’s Shimano STI integrated shifter system. Its brakes are mechanically operated dual-pivot alloy rim brakes.
Its gearing system steps things up a couple of notches with Shimano Tourney level components, which are well above what is common on bikes in this price range.
Another affordable commuter bike with quality components is the Vilano R2 Commuter Aluminum Road Bike. This bike is a slightly higher quality option for commuters and novice road bikers.
This bike also starts out on a 6061 double-butted aluminum frame with integrated aluminum fork, which is a solid starting point for this simplistic model. The rims on this model are what set it apart from the commuter bike above.
This one includes double-walled, machined-alloy 700C x 25mm with quick release skewers. It provides for a bit more durability and a smoother ride.
Just like the bike above, this one uses common rim brakes on mechanical activated cables stop this bike. It includes 21 speeds (3×7) with Shimano A050 thumb shifters and Shimano components throughout its crankset and cassette for smoother shifting.
Those who are looking for a different design will want to look into the EUROBIKE Road Bike EURXC550. This bike not only includes some unique design features, but adds them without breaking the median price-range of this group.
Greater durability comes in the steel frame and fork of this bike, which also comes close to doubling its weight when compared to other road bikes.
It rolls on 26” aluminum fashion rims with a unique design for those who want something a bit different.
On 26” rims, the tires of this bike are a little bit wider than common road bikes, allowing it to accommodate a wider variety of road surfaces.
You get a bit more stopping power with this bike’s mechanical disc braking system, which are more common on mountain bikes. Shimano components are used throughout this bike’s 21 speed (3×7) gearing system for improved performance.
A solid road bike to start off my list is the Giordano Libero 1.6 Men’s Road Bike. It is a step down from the Libero 2.0, which brings it under 500 dollars, but still has some impressive features.
This bike is built on a handcrafted 6061 aluminum frame with a high tensile steel fork. The Libero comes in men’s sizes small, medium and large.
It runs on 700C Vitesse 32-hole alloy rims, which allows for narrower 23mm tires.
The brake and gearing systems on this bike is what makes it a solid consideration. Its brakes are alloy side-pull rim brakes, which are mechanically operated.
This bike’s 16 speed (2×8) gearing system uses Shimano STI shifters along with a Shimano FDA050 front derailleur and Shimano Claris cassette, making the top entry level components included on road bikes.
Another well-known brand in all types of bikes offers the Schwinn Volare 1300 Men’s Drop Bar Road Bike. Coming in at the mid-range price, this bike provides a quality ride without breaking your budget.
This bike combines a lightweight aluminum frame with a rigid, steel fork for a balanced ride and plenty of control.
Also adding to its smooth ride are 28” double-wall alloy rims, which feature a wider surface for gripping a variety of road surfaces.
Standard, mechanical rim brakes provide for a clean stop when you need it most. This bike’s 14 speed (2×7) gearing system uses Shimano A050 shifters to change gears on a fully integrated Shimano gearing system for more reliable shifting from one speed to another.
Produced by a well-known road bike manufacturer, the Vilano Shadow Road Bike is a quality choice in the middle price-range of bikes under 500 dollars. Plenty of quality entry-level features are included in this bike’s design.
The bike starts on a double-butted 6061 aluminum aero frame, which comes in small, medium and large size configurations, and includes an integrated fork.
It also runs on narrow, double-wall, machined-alloy, 700C x 25mm rims for a smoother ride on hard surface roads.
Stopping and switching gears are in a convenient, fingertip position with Shimano’s STI integrated shifters and brakes system. Its brakes are a mechanical, dual-pivot, alloy rim brake style.
The Shadow has a simplified 14 speed (2×7) gearing system with Shimano components in the crankset and cassette for smoother operation and adjustment.
The Vilano Tuono 2.0 provides an affordable ride for those requiring an entry level bike for a cheap price.
Its 21 speeds make this road bike handy for commuting to work or class or riding paved trail or roads.
Its lightweight 6061 aluminum frame makes it easy to carry and lift, so you need not worry if you want to stash it in the trunk or mount it to the car roof for a road trip.
Key features include an integrated headset and Shimano drive train with A050 handlebar mounted shifters. Its Shimano disc brakes work well in all weather conditions meaning you can ride all year around on this cycle.
You’ll start out with a 700c Doubled Walled CNC Machined Side wheelset, but you can upgrade at your local bike shop, if you so desire.
The bike is designed for 110 psi tube fill, so do not exceed that for safety’s sake. The incumbent tires use Presta valves.
As an entry level bike, the design does not inherently lend itself to mountain or hilly rides. It does not come with a gear set low enough for this and Vilano does not recommend mounting a rear cassette yourself, or having a bike shop do so.
If you need a quality, entry level bike for mostly flat, everyday riding, try the Vilano Tuono 2.0.
Choose the Trinx TEMPO1.0 700C Road Bike if you need an entry level bike for commuting or you just started riding road bikes.
Trinx designed the bike you need in Italy, assembles it in China and sells it everywhere for an affordable price.
Choose from two color schemes – black and green or black and blue – and two adjustable sizes – 53 cm or 56 cm. Those of heights 5’6” – 5’10” should go with the 53 cm, while those 5’10” – 6’2” should go with the 56 cm.
The 700C* Hydroformed AI6061 Aluminum Alloy Frame provides a lightweight bike for everyday rides and makes it easy to transport.
When fully assembled and with tires fully inflated, the bike weighs only 25 lbs.
Key features include the Trinx Hi-Ten Steel Fork and a ton of Shimano parts – A050 Shifter, TZ31 Front and TZ50 Rear Derailleur and cassette.
Besides the important parts of the shifting mechanism, it comes with Winzip Alloy Brakes and a KMC C50 Chain. Rounding out the hearty design, you’ll cruise the roads on Cst 700C*25C Colorful Tires with an Alloy Double Wall Rim.
Buying Guide – Best Road Bikes Under 500 Dollars
You might assume that road bikes under 500 dollars are cheap, use inferior components and hardly worth the shopping effort.
It will surprise you that there are plenty of quality road bikes in this price range.
Before I get into the features these bikes include, I’ve anticipated and answered a couple of questions that will help guide your search.
What are the benefits of road bikes?
Road bikes are designed to carry you over relatively smooth, paved or hard surface roads.
They provide a smooth riding experience, which allows you to travel a decent rate of speed, depending upon where you travel.
A bike is much quicker and easier to manage through intersections, is great for a leisurely ride around the neighborhood or provides for quick, low-cost weekend getaways.
My road bike helps me save on fuel costs for my car, especially when I factor in my daily commute or quick trips to the store.
What’s the best way to use road bike?
You can use a road bike however you like. Various riders use road bikes for long distance riding, racing, commuting to work or school, fitness, or leisure time.
Though my road bike passion began with racing, my family enjoys evening rides during the summer or longer rides on the weekend.
About the only way not to use a road bike is for going off-road.
Going off-road on a road bike is a great way to destroy your investment. Their design and components do not do well in rugged terrain, if you can move through it on those thin tires.
Features To Consider When Choosing A Road Bike Under 500 Dollars
What some consider to be cheap road bikes, those in this price range come with a surprising number of higher-end features, which add to their value without bumping up the price.
Regardless of whether you prefer a drop-bar or flat bar bike, multiple gearing or fixed gear, rim brakes or disc brakes, you can find a bike with most or all of these features for less than 500 dollars.
I have put together a list for the best road bike under 500 dollars with features you can expect to find within this price range.
The best road bikes require a quality frame and they need to be lightweight.
A beginner road bike under 500 dollars will weigh between 20 – 30 lbs (10 – 13 kg).
Bikes in higher price categories weigh less than 20 lbs (10 kg), because lighter weight materials, which allow for sufficient strength, cost more.
There four available frame types for road bikes. Each one contributes to cost and value in different ways.
- Aluminum. An aluminum alloy frame is actually one of the top frame choices for higher-end and professional models. Its lightweight, corrosion and crack resistance make it a popular choice. However, various grades of aluminum alloys boost the price. Less expensive frames use 7005 aluminum, which is denser and heavier than 6061 aluminum.
- Carbon. Extra durability at a lighter weight are what make carbon frames a choice in higher-end bikes. The process of making these frames, which are made of multiple layers of carbon fibers, inhibit their use in road bikes under 500 dollars.
- Steel. Obviously, steel is one of your most durable frame types. Its durability makes it a great choice for a wider variety of terrain challenges. High carbon steel frames make road bikes too heavy, unless you can get your hands on lightweight steel alloy frames, which are expensive.
- Titanium. While we are on the subject of expensive, we’ll bring up titanium. All in all, the ideal frame, which combines the features of all three of the other frames, is titanium. The price attached to a road bike with a titanium frame places it well beyond the $500 mark.
In this price range, a double-butted 6061 aluminum frame is common. Higher priced bikes will use different design configurations to make them lighter, but they still use the same grade of aluminum.
In contrast to a mountain bike, a road bike fork mounts at a steeper angle (close to 90º) and excludes any form of suspension.
Various designs of road bikes will beef up the strength of this component, using tinsel steel or harder alloys.
Others place carbon forks on their bikes to make them ride smoother, at a higher cost, of course. Aluminum or steel alloy forks are common for this price-point.
Tires and Rims
The tires and rims on a road bike are major distinguishing features. In contrast to gravel, cross-country, BMX and mountain bikes, road bikes have much thinner rims and tires.
The reason they are thinner is to provide greater aerodynamics and reduced friction. These distinctions keep the bike lightweight for quick acceleration and easy handling.
Though they are thin, the rims on a road bike need to be durable. Most models under 500 dollars include double-wall steel alloy rims.
Tire and rim sizes provide for another factor in determining a price. Bike rims and tires, on most bikes, are 26” (559mm) in diameter and labeled as either 26” or 700C. By the way, 700C does not refer to 700 cm, which would be close to 21 feet.
Rim and tire widths provide for the broadest range of variation in sizes. Road tire widths range from 1” to 2.2” on 26” tires. The common range for high-performance bikes is between 23mm and 25mm, which are just under 1 inch.
Road bikes in the under $500 price range can be found with 26” to 29” diameter and 23mm to 28mm wide rims.
The most common braking systems on road bikes are caliper, rim or V brakes, which are essentially the same thing. Unlike disc brakes, which utilize calipers on a disc similar to car brakes, V brake calipers clamp on the rim of the wheel.
Brake systems can be either hydraulic or mechanical, but hydraulic brakes are not common on road bikes. Braking systems on road bikes under $500 tend toward mechanically operated V brakes.
Handlebars comprise one of the five contact points between you and your bike that affect the comfort and efficiency of your ride.
They contribute to and largely determine the stability of your bike and how it handles.
You can adjust your handlebars and should to ensure they are correctly positioned so you to do not develop what is referred to in biking as handlebar palsy – actually ulnar neuropathy, a numbness in your two smallest fingers caused by compression or traction of the ulnar nerve.
Improper handlebars cause this compression of the two fingers as the nerve from them passes across your wrist into your hand.
You can avoid this problem by choosing broad handlebars that increase bike stability. You’ll have a wider platform beneath your hands.
Women’s bikes often need the narrow bars they come with replaced with wider ones for added comfort. The shape of your handlebars also matters.
Take your bike to the cycle shop and have them help you adjust your handlebars to fit your body and riding stance.
If after a few weeks, this does not help, shop for new handlebars and have the bike shop install them.
Forget every technical aspect you have read online. The bottom line is your saddle should be comfortable for you.
You are not your best friend or the Tour de France champ. You need comfort.
Most road bikes come with a saddle meant for men. If you are female and reading this, you need to replace that saddle with one that conforms to a woman’s physiology.
The best way for both genders to test out a saddle is simply to sit on it.
You can buy online to obtain a better deal, but visit your local bike shop first and actually sit on the seats. You will spend a minimum of ten miles sitting on that, probably much longer once you become serious about riding.
Choose something that feels comfortable, provides the padding you need. You’ll usually find this as gel inserts in today’s seats.
A saddle for a woman requires additional width on the rear of the seat with a narrower mid-section and nose and a flat top. Guys will enjoy a fuller, more rounded top for cushioning.
Shifters let you switch gears while in motion. They’re especially important on rides that undertake multiple gradients.
Ideally, they’re indexed for precise shifting. A bad shifter will cause gear slippage or misalignment. If you road long ago and were accustomed to friction shifters, you can still find them, but they work best on front derailleurs on time trial bikes.
Another use is old-school bikes with down tube shifters.
Indexed shifters work better on road bikes. You can choose from mechanical shifters which work by pull cables that move derailleurs forcing the chain to switch sprockets/cogs or electronic shifters send an electronic signal to trigger a motor which moves the derailleur creating an instantaneous, precise change.
The top brands in shifters include Campagnolo, Shimano and SRAM, but you can find others.
If you find yourself in need of replacement shifters for your road bikes, you can use those three brands as go to brands.
You will also want to pay attention to gearing systems. The ratios of road bike gearing systems can be complicated.
The trend in road bikes is 21 or 24 speed gearing systems. These systems have three sprockets on the crank set (where your pedals are) and seven or eight sprockets on the cassette (the drive wheel).
The components to pay attention to are the shifters, and the front and rear derailleurs, which is the lever that moves the drive-chain from one sprocket to another.
Components by the same manufacturer throughout provide the best performance of the system.
When you begin riding, do not try to second guess the manufacturer. The wheelset you start with may not be the most expensive, but it does fit the design of the bike and its specs.
Once you get started riding, you can begin tweaking your ride. Until then, ask the bike shop for advice.
Regardless of what wheelset is on the outside, you need to stick with the tubes and PSI for which the cycle was designed.
Too much air in your tires can cause a blowout while you ride. If you have never flipped over while seeming to hit Mach speed on a bicycle, do not start now.
I’ve done it. I speak from experience. 😉
Do not overinflate and do not try to replace your tires or wheelset until you know what you are doing.
Eventually, you will need to replace your tires because your rim brakes erode your sidewall or general wear and tear makes them hard to ride.
Get expert advice on what you need for your bike as it was designed.
Fixed Road Bikes vs. Geared Road Bikes
A fixed bike is a simple setup with a single crankset sprocket and a single cassette sprocket as opposed to a geared bike, which has multiple sprockets on the crankset, the cassette or both.
Why would anyone want a fixed bike instead of a geared bike?
Geared bikes have lots of moving parts, which require maintenance and adjustment. Though they offer more speed or easier pedaling under various conditions, they also malfunction more frequently if they get jarred out of line or maladjusted.
Fixed bikes do not have these issues and allow the rider to simply enjoy their stroll or commute with fewer issues.
Precautions For Using Road Bikes
Road bikes can produce significant speeds and are typically used on roadways where they become a part of motorcycle, car and truck traffic. For this reason, I recommend that you have the proper safety equipment whenever you ride.
Here is a quick checklist you can use:
- properly inflated tires
These are the basics, but there are additional safety items to consider at helmets.org. (1)
Follow Traffic Laws
Another part of remaining safe in traffic is to know and follow the traffic laws of the state where you ride your road bike. The League of American Bicyclists has a state-by-state listing of cycling traffic laws so you can be a safer cycler. (2)
Road bikes have a wide variety of uses from casual, commuter, weekend rider to racer. Those who are new to road biking or want something that is simple and straight-forward can still get a good quality bike without paying a lot of money.
The winner of the best road bikes under 500 dollars is?
For me, the top choice among the best road bicycles under 500 dollars included in this review is the Vilano Shadow 2.0.
The Vilano Shadow 2.0 is a lightweight bike built on a durable frame with an integrated fork. Its rim construction and dimensions make it a quality choice for both speed and durability. It has a decent mechanical, rim braking system common to the majority of road bikes.
The Shimano STI integrated shifter with gearing components that are a step above the others in this review also sets it apart. In my eyes, this is the best road bike for the money.
Your choice, among the road bikes reviewed above, might differ from mine for various reasons. However, using my buyer’s guide and reviews, you should be qualified to make an informed choice when it comes to selecting the right bike for you in this price range category.
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1. Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, retrieved from https://helmets.org/safequip.htm
2. Ken McLeod, State Bike Laws, retrieved from https://bikeleague.org/StateBikeLaws