Best Road Bikes - Top Picks and Reviews 2017
Expert Reviews and Ratings by Certified Personal Trainers and Engineers
If you’re looking for the best road bike out there. One that is lightweight, durable and delivers high value in terms of performance, then Kestrel Talon Full Carbon Road Bike is our top recommendation. A beast when it comes to road bikes.
However, if you’re looking for an entry level road bike for your daily commute then our top recommendation would be Giordano Libero 1.6. It’s the complete value for money road bike.
Getting your first Road bike?
It can be a tough choice to make considering the sheer number of bikes that are available in the market.
However, after months of testing and riding with daily riders, we've shortlisted the top 6 road bikes that offer just great performance are comfortable for long-duration cruising and are priced right.
Best Road Bike for Competitive preparation and Triathlons
Kestrel Talon – If you’re looking for a bike that’s built for speed and performance then Kestrel Legend is the biggest baddest machine out there.
Diamondback Haanjo Alternative Road Bike – The only second best to the ultimate Kestrel Talon, Diamondback Haanjo offers comparable performance at quiet a price difference.
Best Budget Bike for Daily Commuters
Vilano Forza 2.0 – If you’re looking for something more on the premium side then Forza 2.0 offers the perfect performance, comfort and durability at this price tag.
Giordano Libero 1.6 Men’s Road Bike-700c – The Libero 1.6 is a good option for those who are looking to start bike training or need a bike for those weekend treks. If you’re under a strict budget, then this is the best you can get.
Kestrel Talon 2016
Vilano FORZA 2.0
Giordano Libero 1.6
Giordano Libero Acciao
The Winners: The best Road Bikes 2017
#1 Recommendation : Kestrel Talon Road Bicycle
The Talon series has always been about versatility and speed. The Kestrel 2016 Talon joins the bandwagon, giving you the agility and power of a carbon fork frame and combining it with butter-like performance of the Shimano 105 groupset. All this makes way for thrilling riding experience on a road and if you ever wish to ride tri, you simple need to adjust the seat post, and you are all set.
If you are always on the lookout for a thrilling ride, then nothing can beat the Aero bikes. The Talon 2016 with its Aerodynamic built, is designed to breeze and if you like to train for Triathlons, then this bike is fully compatible, with just a few tweaks.
Frame and Fork
Speed and resilience don’t go hand in hand, but the 2016 Talon uses an Enhanced Modulus Hybrid, that is fairly lightweight but can also withstand the miles you will put in while training. It takes on vibrations quite well, making your long training sessions, less tiring.
Furthermore, A2 Wind Tunnel, cuts through the air resistance, helping you to reach higher speeds, when you put in the effort. Reaching speed as high as 40 mph won’t be difficult on this thing.
The power transfer on this thing is taken care of, with the acclaimed Shimano 105 front and rear derailleurs. They offer near effort less transition of gears. The oval concepts 520 crankset has been used to cut cost, and does the job for most part, but if you that elusive top of the mountain performance performance, you can always upgrade to Shimano 105 crankset.
For triathletes, you can’t really ask for more for a bike in this price range, however some of you may want to change the seat.
The most disappointing part of the bike has to be the wheels. The Vittoria Zaffiro Pro tires, cannot handle the miles you will put it through. You will experience frequent flat tires, and secondly, they are two heavy for our liking. If you are going to buy this, consider the upgrade.
For triathletes, you are really getting great value at the price and with a good upgrade of the tires, you will absolutely love to train in this thing.
For others, this bike takes care of everything, and unless you want to speed 300 bucks more to get a more sophisticated and faster ride with the Kestrel Legend, you would be more than satisfied with the Talon 2016.
#2 Diamondback Bicycles 2015 Haanjo Alternative Road Bike
For those of you who seek a comfortable joyful ride for your daily commutes, then Diamondback manages to give that in a sturdy built, in the 2015 Haanjo Alternative Bike.
With a relaxed aluminum frame, that can also absorb vibrations (if you take it for occasional trail riding), the Haanjo is ready for all kinds of surfaces.
Who is it for?
At this price, it isn’t the cheapest recreational bike. Several casual riding bikes are available at a lower price, but if you are ready to spend a little extra, to make your daily rides less tiring and more gratifying, then the Haanjo is right up your alley.
Frame and Fork
In terms of durability the 6061-T6 aluminum frame performs quite well. If you put in 40-50 miles a week, then the frame holds up nicely and won’t give any trouble to the rider. However, the most innovative feature of the frame, is the design. The top tube is slightly extended, while the seat post is inclined, thus giving the cyclist a more ‘laid-back’ riding position. This position requires minimal effort from the user but on the downside, it is not meant for reach high speeds, so if you want that in a riding bike, you should consider other options.
Apart from that the fork tube is wider, making it capable of absorbing more vibrations. So If you occasionally like to take those weekend trips to an unpaved trail, then the Haanjo Alternative is more than capable of handling that.
First up, the Shimano 18 speed drivetrain offers a smooth transition and along with the FSA double crankset, riding downhill is safe. Weight of the entire groupset in on the lower side, which again eases the amount effort require to pedal.
The disc brakes on this thing are also quite impressive and adapts the same design used in high mountain bikes, like the Diamondback Mission Pro series. This makes the ride a lot safer.
And finally, the Kenda tires, are fairly wide, but you can consider a replacement to a lighter wheel set.
It doesn’t really have the most comfortable saddle. However, you can look for better saddle and wheel options, but we recommend you to give the stock components a fair try, as it depend a lot on an individual’s taste.
Overall Diamondback Haanjo Alternative, gives a comfortable riding experience to the user and combines the durability of a mountain bike, to give a sweet deal to the user.
#3 Vilano FORZA 2.0
Vilano Forza 2.0, blends a study aluminum frame with the lightweight carbon fibre fork, to give you perhaps the smoothest ride on a bike in this price range. The groupset is not that bad either and is more than capable of handling the usual ‘casual biker’ needs.
If you are looking for your very first road bike, one that doesn’t need a lot of upgrades, then well you can’t go wrong with the Forza 2.0.
Cheaper options are available, but they require a lot of upgrades, and after few rides, you are more likely to dismiss them. The Forza 2.0 is the perfect middle ground between cheap bikes and high on performance road bikes.
Frame and Fork
The frame and the fork are easily the most important thing you consider before buying a road bike, and the Forza 2.0 with its Aluminum Double Butted Frame and a carbon fiber fork, manage to give a sweet deal to you as a user.
The lightweight carbon fork helps you to reach higher speeds (thanks to reduced air resistance) while the aluminum frame handles the vibrations, giving you a buttery smooth ride.
You can easily put in miles on this thing on a daily bases, and the sturdy frame gives high end bikes like the Kestrel 2016 Talon, a run for their money. It easily matches any premium trek bike, in terms of performance on a long ride.
The Shimano Tiagra 9 drivetrain offers a smooth transition of gears. Mind you, this is the same drivetrain that was used by Tour De France riders, 8 years back. The triple crankset helps you climb better, owing to the longer range of gears.
It comes with standard pedals, which you will want to upgrade once after you put in some miles on this thing. Finally the brakes aren’t the best, and you have to pull them all they way back.
Like any budget road bike, this comes with a mediocre seat. Vilano did a better job with the Vilano Shadow Road Bike, regarding a saddle. So a replacement is almost mandatory.
Secondly, we highly recommend some tuning at the local bike shop, before you take it out on the road if you wish for a smoother riding experience.
To sum it up, the Forza 2.0 is a great choice for your very first road bike. Also, if you like to take your bike on those long rides, then this bike provides the best durability for a road bike in it’s price bracket.
#4 Giordano Libero 1.6 Men's Road Bike-700c
If you are interested in an entry level bike then Giordano brings a pretty decent option here. Right off the bat, there is nothing fancy about the bike, and the assembly requires some time, but for the price frame feels nice and sturdy.
Who is it for?
The Libero 1.6 is a good option for those who are looking to start bike training or need a bike for those weekend treks. If you’re under a strict budget, then this is the best you can get.
Frame and Fork
It uses the same Aluminum 6061 frame, which is used in the Vilano Forza 2.0. But unlike, the Forza, it isn’t double butted, which makes the frame prone to vibrations. If you are going to take this on a slightly unpaved surface, you are going to feel the trail, and secondly in also makes the bike susceptible to damage.
On the contrary, the whole frame is quite lightweight, the whole bike weighs close to 26 pounds. This makes it easier for beginners to train better, as a lighter frame requires lesser effort on the part of the rider.
Overall, the whole frame can handle, your weekend fun rides, but it won’t do well on rugged terrain or for racing purposes.
As expected, there is nothing too fancy about the components of the bike. It uses the standard Shimano STI ST2300 Shifters. They are not as smooth as the Shimano Tiagra Shifters, but get the job done. The Shimano front and rear derailleurs work fine for a beginner.
The worst part of the components are the brake pads. The brake levers are integrated with the shifters, and the stopping power provided by brakes is simply not that good.
The tires are nice and wide, but the seat is quite comfortable which is rare among cheap road bikes.
The brakes also disappoint under heavy use, and touch the rim. We highly recommend you to upgrade to a better brake set, like the Shimano 105, for smooth ride.
Apart from that all the components of the bike, are quite basic. And as you move along, you would want to upgrade, as durability of components (apart from the frame) isn’t that good.
In conclusion, in its price bracket it is one top road bikes in the market today, and if you are low on budget you can go for it. However if you can be a little flexible with your budget, you can check out the Vilano Forza 2.0, which features a more absorbing frame and better overall components.
#5 Giordano Libero Acciao Road Bike
The Giordan Libero Acciao is an inexpensive road bike that can be a nice option for cardio training. It features standard steel frame and basic bike components, nothing too fancy.
It does rank high on style though, and is hands down most stylish road bike in its price range.
Frame and Fork
The Accaio is made of high tensile steel frame and fork. Steel does add a little weight to the bike but it can deal with slight mishandling.
Giordana has a reputation of having durable frames in their bikes, and this follows the same line. The frame and fork won’t give you any trouble, unless you let it rust.
The Shimano Tourney shifters are one of the most basic Shimano shifters out there. But still the provide decent gear change for the price. They gear don’t climb well and we strictly recommend this bike if you are going to ride on a flat paved way.
Secondly, basic pedals and crakset is provided, and it does the job for the most part. Reaching higher speed which a such a group set will require effort from the rider, and this can thus help you train better.
Again all this is based if you use this for exercising and apart from that this bike doesn’t really hold up well.
Overall, this bike offers limited utility, and apart from training purposes, we can’t really recommend it for other purposes.
#6 Schwinn Men's Phocus 1400 700C
Schwinn brings a good-looking entry level bike for those of you who are planning to start cycling. The bike components get the job done, and unless you indulge in some extreme riding, you can easily cover hundreds of miles on it.
Who is it for?
Starting a cycling routine, requires you to choose a good bike, and sometimes you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on your very first bike. Shwinn brings Phocus 1400 for those of you who think that way.
Frame and Fork
With the Phocus 1400 700c road bike you get an aluminum frame, which for a bike that costs less than 300 bucks, is impressive. Now, the aluminum used is not of the highest quality and they are no crazy internal designs, but it manages to keep the weight of the whole bike down.
The frame and the fork isn’t the most durable frame out there, but again you can’t expect much for low-budget bike. If you, however, think that you are bad at handling gear, we suggest you to go for Giordano Libero Acciao, which features a steel frame and is more susceptible to abuse.
Overall, for the price we have nothing against the frame, in fact out of all the bike components this frame will last the longest.
Shimano shifters are a standard among road bikes, and the Phocus provides The A050 shifters. They work well on flat paved roads, but you will break a sweat while going uphill. Right of the bat, it is ready to use, but we recommend you to get it tuned at the local bike shop before regular use.
The alloy brakes offer average braking power, and because of this you need to be extra careful while going downhill.
Finally, the tubing on the tires is weak, and if budget permits, you should replace them.
Overall, the stock components do work, but you can make slight improvements by following small tweaks we suggest.
There is no component on this bike which is straight out thrash, unlike few other road bikes at this range. But we would have like slightly advanced Shimano shifters, that would make going uphill slightly easier. Also the dropped handle design, might take a while for beginners to get used too.
Overall, it performs quite well for an entry-level bike. With time you can upgrade, and get in better components, and for starting a cycling routine, this isn’t a bad choice.
#7 Vilano Shadow
Vilano with its Shadow Road bike, brings a sweet deal in affordable road bike segment. Some premium features like double butted Aluminum frame and integrated brake shifters, sets the shadow apart from other low-key road bikes.
Who is it for?
It is easily the most versatile road bike the affordable category. With a slight aero design, it works for those of you seeking a thrilling experience at a low price. And with a sturdy frame, daily commuting or exercising is also possible on the Vilano Shadow.
Frame and Fork
It uses the ad Double Butted Aluminum 6061 frame, which is also found on Vilano Forza 2.0 (a mid-budget road bike). Providing such quality at a such low price is laudable on its own. Secondly the frame design is slightly aerodynamic. This helps to cut through the air resistance and helps you reach high speeds. The lightweight of the frame also aids in that.
Secondly it is also quite sturdy, so if you wish to use it for daily commutes, you would enjoy riding on this.
Overall, the frame on this thing deserves full marks for the price, and the design of it, makes it versatile too.
Shimano AO70 Shifters are used in the Vilano Shadow. The gear transfer is smooth on all surfaces, but the integrated break levers have a design fault. Firstly, you have to stretch reach the levers and second the stopping power is mediocre.
Like any other low end bike, the derailleurs on this thing require some tuning, so pay a visit to the local bike shop.
The Kendal tires seem meh, but beginners won’t have major complaints with it. Finally, if the budget permits, we recommend to get a more comfortable bike saddle.
If you plan to use this daily, you would be forced to upgrade to a better brake set. The one on this fails to impress. Also it isn’t the most silent bike in the world, and you should expect some noise, especially while shifting.
To sum it up, the Vilano Shadow is truly a great entry level bike, and its frame is hard to beat at this price. A true bang for your buck, we would highly recommend the Vilano Shadow to beginners.
#8 Vilano Aluminium - 21 Speed
Design and Built
The Vilano Aluminium is supported by 6061 Double Butted Aluminum frame and the 700c doubled walled CNC machined sides wheelset. While riding, the bike is pretty sturdy and easy to manoeuvre.
The assembly process is pretty straight forward and it didn’t take us more than 10 minutes to get it all set. Design wise, it’s sleek and gives a premium look to it.
Shimano Breaks and Shifters
The bike is powered by Shimano brakes and transmission, the availability of 21 speeds make it a easy to maintain control in every possible situation.
While it looks great and performs well for a budget road bike, we really wish the seats were better padded. They aren’t good for long distance riding and you will regret not changing the saddle sooner.
The Vilano Aluminum is our top recommendation if you’re looking for a low-budget option, however, you will have to swap the default saddle with a more comfortable one to really get the best riding experience.
#9 GMC Denali Road Bike
As basic as it gets, the GMC Denali is the ultimate entry level low-end road bike.
While the bike is not something you’d get for a daily commute or to prepare for competitions. But, it is a great buy if you’re looking for a fun bike to ride on your days off or something cool to gift to your siblings.
Despite the low price tag, the frame is pretty sturdy and the saddle is comfortable for short distance rides.
However, breaks aren’t particularly exceptional and I wouldn’t highly recommend you to get a replacement as it is a key safety feature. The bike has been built keeping kids and teenagers in mind, so depending upon your height, you might also have to get a replacement on the handlebars.
Surprisingly, the bike offers 21 speeds, something that we failed to get with the Vilano Shadow. It comes integrated with the best in class, Shimano derailleur and Revo shifts.
It is a great bike for the price but not something that I’d recommend my friends.
#10 Takara Kabuto Single Speed Road Bike
Fixed speed bikes are aesthetically pleasing and the Takara Kabuto is no different. With it’s flashy colors it is bound to catch some attention on the road. For the price it isn’t a bad deal, and single gear lovers, this is the one you should get.
Who is it for?
This one is for those who love BMX style riding and need a durable frame. Single speed gives you the ability to accelerate or decelerate more freely, and if this is the experience you crave for, then you will love the the Kabuto.
Frame and Fork
It uses a rigid steel frame and fork. It manages to keep the weight down without compromising on durability. Single speed bike riders usually go tough on their bikes, and the Kabuto can handle that easily. However, the frame is also prone to vibrations, and shock absorption on this thing is not on point.
The Single speed settings work flawlessly, even at high speeds. The braking system isn’t that bad, and the stopping power for the price is quite impressive. The handlebars are again stylish and add to the aesthetic appeal of the bike.
The tires are on the narrower side, but rigid tubing reduces the risk of flat tires. And finally the seat is not that comfortable, especially when you take it for longer rides.
One noteworthy feature is that you can adjust the handlebar position and the saddle height according to your convenience and comfort.
This bike is quite susceptible to vibrations. Even on paved roads, your hands feel the surface and thus tire quickly. Secondly, the pedals that come along this thing are below average, and you are more likely to end up replacing them. However, the most annoying this is the assembly. It takes hours and the instructions are not at all clear. You can take some help if you are not that good with tools.
At it’s price tag, you can’t really ask for more, and with a few upgrades this turns out to be a pretty dope single gear bike. For daily commutes, it is a no-brainer, if the distance you cover is small. For slightly longer distances you can consider bikes like Vilano Shadow, which offer more comfort to the user.
The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide to Road Bikes
Once you know how much you’re willing to spend on your road bike, you need to make sure that you’re getting the best possible configuration within that budget.
However, if you need a bike for competitions that is high on performance then we would definitely recommend you to be willing to be flexible with your budget because high-performance bikes are definitely worth the premium.
There are four major variables that can make or break a road bike.
- Frame Material
- Fork Material
The material used for building the frame of a bike is a deciding factor on what kind of performance you can get out of the bike, moreover at what price point will the bike sell.
Frames can be made from a range of materials, however, four major options are steel, aluminium, titanium and carbon fibre.
Bikes with aluminium frames are generally built for daily use as these tend to be the heaviest. However, aluminium frame keeps the price tag on the lower side.
There have been some recent upgrades (butted tubes) in the aluminium frame category which allows the bikes to be comparatively light weight and can add comfort for the rider.
Steel single handed dominated the bike frame industry till the 1980s and if you value comfort more than performance then you’ll love what a steel frame bike has to offer.
Steel frames are much heavier than aluminium frames, however, they do give you the benefit of added comfort and durability.
Titanium frames offer you the light weight of an aluminium frame with the durability and comfort of a steel frame. Moreover, Titanium offers anti-corrosion properties which makes it even more attractive as a material option.
However, on the flipside, titanium is harder to work with and thus you can expect to pay a premium for a titanium frame bike.
If you need the best high-performance bike out there then this is the frame to go with. Despite being an ultra-expensive option, the benefits you drive from a carbon-fibre bike are justified and well worth the investment.
However, do not place a bike on a high pedestal just because it has a carbon fibre frame. There are various quality options when it comes to carbon fibre and a low-grade carbon fibre frame is likely to be comparable to a lightweight aluminium frame.
Moreover, a bike’s frame isn’t the only factor that decide the performance you can get out of it.
While the fork of a bike can be easily overlooked, it makes for a very important component as it dictates the shock damping ability, stiffness and weight of your bike. A fork is built up of six individual parts, namely Crown , Steerer Tube, Spring, Legs, Damping, Axle.
There are two types of Bike Forks:
1. Rigid Bike forks: This fork uses a solid metal blade for a steerer (the long tube that connects the crown to the handlebars) and thus is fundamentally inflexible. Rigid forks are great for smooth roads because it conserves kinetic energy since there’s no upward and downward motion that comes with a suspension fork. However, they are rendered useless and can cause discomfort on uneven roads and trails.
2. Suspension forks: Suspension forks use legs instead of blades. Legs are basically telescopic tubes that consists of an inner tube and an outer tube. The legs further features shock absorbers that help in dissipating the unwanted jerks that one might experience on uneven roads and trails.
Just like the Bike’s frame, the fork comes in four popular material variations i.e. aluminium, steel, titanium and carbon fibre. Each carrying the same weight, durability and comfort properties as with the frames.
There are various components that collectively dictate the comfort, performance and durability of your bike. However, the three key components that you need to consider are Groupsets (Brakes + Gear Parts), Tyres and the Chainset
A Groupset is basically the combination of brakes and gears that are used for the bike. If you aren’t technically savvy and don’t have a lot of experience with bikes then Shimano Groupsets are the safest bet out there.
Almost all major bike manufacturers use Shimano Groupsets to power their bikes and for the right reasons. Since Shimano features a wide variety of groupsets ranging from budget to premium, you can find them on budget as well as high-end bikes.
Here’s a list of the different groupsets that they offer (sorted from premium to budget options):
- Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
- Shimano Dura-Ace
- Shimano Ultegra Di2
- Shimano Ultegra
- Shimano 105
- Shimano Tiagra
- Shimano Sora
- Shimano Claris
The Groupset your bike features generally defines how fast and easy it’s going to be to shift gears and apply breaks which directly results in the kind of control you’ll have while riding the bike.
Typically, there are three types of chain sets : Compact, standard and triple chainrings.
The compact and standard chainset both have double chainrings, however, you’ll find low-end budget bikes with compact chainsets while high-performance bikes usually go with the standard double chain sets. Triple chainsets, since it offers three chain rings, offers the broadest possible spectrum of gears to shift.
You’ll find that most bikes either have a standard or a compact chainset because compact chainsets can go as low as the triple chains while being lighter in terms of weight. However, triple chainsets are ideal for steep trails or when you’re carrying luggage.
When making a buying decision, you have to pay special attention to the wheel’s that come with your bike because while you can upgrade the groupsets later, replacing tyres can be a huge overhead as they’re one of the most expensive components of the bike.
25-26mm wide tyres appear to be the new norm as even seasoned professionals are going with these for their bikes. They used to be 23mm wide but the small increase in weight and aerodynamic drag is well justified by the improved comfort and grip.
Bike Size and Fit
This is more of a subjective metric but ensuring that a particular model comes in multiples sizes is a good.
Make sure the bike you’re planning to buy comes in a size that is optimum for your height and weight.