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Awesome Road Bikes Under 1,000 (May) 2017 – The Only Guide You Need

By Walter J. Farrell | RIDES

After looking through 17 road bikes and spending 43 hours on research and testing, we think that the Tommaso Imola Compact Aluminium Road Bike is the perfect choice for a road bike that is under $1,000. It’s a budget road bike that can keep up with more expensive road bike brackets, and possibly even outperform some of them. Thanks to its light aluminium frame and quality components, the Tommaso Imola makes a great all-rounded road bike among all we have reviewed. [read more]

At first glance, road bikes are very appealing to the eye, they look sleek and sporty. Its style may convey the image of a hefty price tag. To most of us, our knowledge of these carbon fibre or high-grade aluminium bikes is that they’re exceedingly expensive.

But with the increasing availability of bicycle materials and parts, gone are the days that only those with excess cash to spare can own and experience the joys of riding quality road bikes. You can purchase a very capable competition road bike for just under $1000.

Some of these $1000 road bikes can even compete with road bikes that cost over $3000 or more. If you’re new to the world of road bikes, then we’ve got you covered. These $1000 bikes may feel like they’re worth more than what you pay for.

"What Should I Consider?"

Things to consider before buying a road bike

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This guide is to assist those who have no knowledge of bicycles, whatsoever. If you’ve noticed, bikes have changed so much. After the year 2000, the huge variety of bikes and bike parts may overwhelm some. But not to worry, this is a guide for a specific class of bikes – road bikes to be exact. But I must inform you that even with a narrow scope, the world of road bikes is a large one. The best thing to do is try them out and keep on learning.

There are seven factors to consider when choosing a road bike.

Of course, all of these parts have to fit within a budget. That will depend on you. Putting in more money will result in a better built/quality bike. Keep in mind that not everything expensive is good. You have to find the parts and components that will pay up to its purpose. If you don’t plan on joining any race, then you can stick with mid-tier components. Buying all the high-end bells and whistles may be an excess; unless, you do plan on racing, and need all the best parts.

#1 Frame material

A bike’s frame material will command its price and determine how much of its performance you can squeeze out of the bike. There are four different types of materials used for a bike’s frame. But only two of them are commonly sold due to being massively produced and is a perfect combination between robust structural rigidity and light weight, these are carbon fibre and aluminium. The other two which are steel and titanium are uncommon and usually sold only as a frame; this means that you have to build your own bike.

Here’s a guide on the types of frame materials.

Steel Frame

Titanium Frame

Aluminium Frame

Carbon Fibre Frame

#2 Groupset

Knowing what groupset you have on your bike should also be taken into importance. A groupset is a collective term for your bike’s gear set, brakes, levers and shifters. Majority of bikes sold today come with groupsets made from one company, Shimano. The Japanese company is popular for creating good performance low budget groupsets such as the Shimano Tiagra and higher end variants like the Shimano 105. Here are a few things that you have to know about groupsets.

#3 Shifters

On road bikes, it’s prevalent that brake levers and shifters come as one, unlike mountain bikes, wherein the shifter and brake levers consist of two different components. Shifters for road bikes are meant for changing gears and applying the brakes.

#4 Brakes

The two kinds of brake sets used by bikes today are disk brakes and rim brakes. The former, works similar to the brakes of motorcycles and cars, where you have a rotor disk that spins with the wheels and a hydraulic or cable-operated caliper to squeeze the spinning disk to reduce speed. The latter is more common on road bikes wherein the cable-operated calipers squeeze against the rim of the tyres to slow the bike down.

Rim brakes have been around for a long time and are still quite popular due to its simple mechanism and stopping efficiency. Over time, disk brakes have gained more followers, specifically hydraulic disk sets, due to its massive stopping power, improved modulation, and lighter material.

The choice of what brake sets to equip often boil down to the rider. Rim brakes are often more cost-friendly because maintenance is easy. Disk brakes require more service and are a little bit more expensive than rim brake sets.

#5 Drivetrain

This consists of your cassette, chainset, chain, and derailleur. All these components combined make powering your bike easier and effective. Various parts on your drivetrain will determine your torque and power output.

We will divide the individual parts of the drivetrain for further understanding.

Cassette

The Chain

Chainset

Derailleur

#6 Tyres

This part is another factor that makes a bike’s price tag spike. It is also the makes a huge difference in ride quality and performance. A tyre’s weight will also contribute in your bike’s overall performance. Cheap tyres are often light and the contact patch is not as sticky as more expensive tyres.

Pressure also matters. Just because your tyres indicate a specific optimal tyre pressure, doesn’t mean that you should always pump in what the number shows. Road conditions will also be a factor in performance, relative to your tyre pressure. If roads and streets in your area are smooth then you’ll benefit from the indicated pressure; but if you take roads that are quite bumpy then you should consider lowering your tyre temperature.

Your comfort also depends on your tyres. If you feel that your bike is too harsh and the whole ride feels stiff, try to find a comfortable pressure by releasing some of the air in your tyres.

#7 Bike fit

It’s important to be comfortable on your bike. The best way to test this is to spend time riding a bike of your choice. Ask your bike dealer if you could test out a buy you plan to purchase, and then compare it with another bike of your choice. After clocking in a few kilometres, you’ll get a feel of which bike fits you more. If you want to enhance your bike’s ergonomics, you can adjust your seat height, change the handle bars, and importantly, find your riding position.

10 Best Road Bikes 2017

Road BikesGearsBrakesWeight 
Diamondback Haanjo Trail 24 Alternative Road Bike16-speed Shimano ClarisTektro mechanical disc brakes22 lbs
Vilano FORZA 4.0 Aluminum Integrated Shifters Road Bike24-speed Shimano Claris STI Integrated Brake LeverShimano Claris Brake Caliper30 lbs.-
Schwinn Men's Phocus 1400 700C Drop Bar Road Bicycle, Black, 18-Inch14-speed with Shimano A050 shifterAlloy Caliper Brakes27 lbs.
Diamondback Bicycles 2016 Century 1 Complete Road Bike with Disc Brakes18-speed Shimano/FSA drivetrainTektro Mira Mechanical Disk brakes20.5 lbs-
Vilano Shadow Road Bike - Shimano STI Integrated Shifters14-speed with Shimano A070 STI Integrated Brake LeverDual Pivot Alloy Caliper23 lbs.
Tommaso Imola Compact Aluminum Road Bike – (Editor’s Choice)24-speed Shimano ClarisShimano Claris Brake Caliper23.8 lbs.
Merax Finiss Aluminum 21 Speed 700C Road Bike Racing Bicycle Shimano21-speed Shimano drivetrain with A050 road shiftersAluminum Caliper28 lbs.
Schwinn Men's Prelude Bicycle (BBWhite)14-speed Shimano drivetrain with A050 road shiftersDual pivot road brakes33 lbs.
2017 HASA R5 Shimano 21 Speed Road Bike21-speed Shimano Tourney ST-A073TEKTRO Alloy Racing Calipers, R315 with Drop: 41-57mm23.14 lbs.
BAVEL Ultra Light Aluminum 21 Speed 700C Road Bike Racing Bicycle Shimano 48cm/51cm/54cm21-speed Shimano EF-500Disc brakes27.3 lbs.

Note: Majority of the bikes listed are made of aluminium

1. Diamondback Haanjo Trail 24 Alternative Road Bike

This is a bike that is made for endurance cycling; Diamondback designed this road bike for control and confidence. Unlike other road bikes, the Haanjo is paired with fatter tyres, wider handlebars, and mechanical disc brakes. That’s because this bike can also be taken on dirt routes, alternative paths for you to take if you’re getting bored with riding on pavement. It’s makes for a great commuter road bike and a performance on and off roader as well.

As mentioned earlier, the Diamondback Haanjo is equipped with disc brakes by Tektro which clamp pretty hard, providing a lot of stopping power. Its drivetrain is a 16-speed Shimano Claris which is enough gears for you to cycle on tarmac or dirt paths. Its frame is made from 6061 T6 aluminium tubing, which is a popular choice for mid-high tier road and mountain bikes because of its amazing structural rigidity and weight. On top of every specification, it weighs at a stunning 22 lbs.

All in all, the bike is perfect for those who want to enjoy the speed and excitement of road bikes and the adventure and thrill of mountain bikes. Of course, this is mainly a road bike but it’s an amazingly capable one.

What We Liked

  • Versatile
  • Fairly comfortable on bumpy roads
  • Ergonomic dimensions
  • ​Lightweight
  • Strong disc brakes

What We Didn't Like

  • Cheap seat
  • Handle grip frays easily
  • Weld marks look aesthetically horrible

2. Vilano FORZA 4.0 Aluminum Integrated Shifters Road Bike

If you’re looking for a road bike that can be taken to competitions and used also used for your daily commute, then you might as well consider, The Vilano FORZA 4.0. It’s a bike that is fit for all kinds of cyclists. It comes with high quality parts and is also made of superior materials.

The Vilano FORZA 4.0’s frame made from 6061 aluminium which is light and can absorb the rocky bumps of rough terrain (even if the frame is superb at absorbing bumps, we suggest you don’t take this bike off road, it will not be comfortable). The bike is a 24-speed Shimano equipped STI Integrated Brake Lever Shifters, meaning the brakes and the shifters are operated by the same levers. It’s easy to use and shifting is like a knife through butter. The Shimano Claris calipers make great work with putting the bike to a halt.

The only downside of this bike is that it is quite heavy. Weighing in at 30 lbs. it’s one of the heaviest bikes on our list. But nevertheless, it’s still an amazing road bike. And under 1000 bucks, it seems more than able to trade punches with more expensive aluminium bikes.

What We Liked

  • Smooth shifting
  • Makes for an amazing training bike
  • 24-speed drivetrain
  • High quality Shimano shift and brake levers

What We Didn't Like

  • Weigh may be a huge disadvantage in competitions
  • The seat is uncomfortable
  • Stock tyres may need to be replaced

3. Schwinn Men's Phocus 1400 700C Drop Bar Road Bicycle, Black, 18-Inch

This is a bike that is meant to satisfy the needs of consumers and to provide them with an affordable performance road bike. Schwinn designed this bike to be swift, responsive, and comfortable. The Schwinn Men’s Phocus is strong and light, no doubt that this bike would be perfect for training or simply enjoying a cruise down your favourite route.

The frame of the Schiwinn Men’s Phocus 1400 is made from their own aluminium road frame that is designed for agility and handling. The fit of the bike has great ergonomics and riding position feels aerodynamic. The Shimano A050 shifters respond quickly and are easy to use. Going through the 14-speed drivetrain is no big deal.

The brakes are smooth but they’re not the best. It’s enough to get you to stop but after hitting high speeds, you can feel the brakes fade quite a bit. It seems that either the brake pads need to be changed or the alloy calipers need to be tuned. One more thing about the brakes is the lever, it definitely needs to be changed, but, if it doesn’t bother you then you could stick with the stock levers.

For less than 300 bucks, this bike is a steal! You just have to change a few things but generally, this bike is awesome. It weighs at 27 lbs. and is quite a performer.

What We Liked

  • Great handling
  • Surprisingly smooth shifter
  • Sturdy frame

What We Didn't Like

  • Brakes and brake lever needs replacing
  • 14-speed drivetrain only

4. Diamondback Bicycles 2016 Century; Complete Road Bike with Disc Brakes

Comfort and ride quality, that is what Diamondback claims to be the core principles of the Diamondback Century 2016. When you make or create bikes, it has to be crafted with a purpose. Because in the world of road bikes, you can’t have everything, added performance means sacrificing comfort. But for some people, comfort is one of the most important factors to consider. That is the prime factor of this bike, comfort.

The Diamondback century takes the form of an enduro design. A lot of people find it difficult to steer these kinds of bikes because of the geometry of the bike. While for others, simply think of it as a challenge and this is what makes it exciting. The moment you take off on this bike, you’ll notice that it is so comfortable. It’s actually unbelievable. Usually it takes time for someone to get used to a bike, but with the Diamondback Century it only takes seconds.

The frame is made from 7005 aluminium alloy, which is very light. Tektro Mira Mechanical Disc brakes are a standard with the Century. The superb 18-speed drivetrain is a Shimano/FSA. And amazingly, this bike only weighs 20.5 lbs. It’s rare that a road bike is built for the sole purpose of ride quality and comfort.

What We Liked

  • Light frame
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Very durable
  • Strong brakes

What We Didn't Like

  • Bike dimensions
  • Difficult steering

5. Vilano Shadow Road Bike - Shimano STI Integrated Shifters

Designed to be the perfect budget starter bike, Vilano has crafted a beautiful road bike that is cheap and simple. The Vilano Shadow is an entry level bike that is surprisingly well equipped. This is a great choice for those who are on a tight budget. All together it’s a very basic and beautiful road bike.

The Vilano Shadow is your typical road bike, there’s nothing extraordinary about the bike. What makes it so great is the quality of the Vilano Shadow in contrast to its price. It’s crazy! Ride characteristics are quite smooth. It’s also comfortable but it’s not the most comfortable bike out there.

The 21-speed Vilano Shadow is quite a hassle to cycle through gears. With an average height, I still have to reach out and flick the paddle, other that I have no complaints, everything works properly, the brakes are good, it weighs 23 lbs. and is easy to paddle up hills.

Overall, this bike is amazing for starters and for those who are looking for a great cheap road bike. But if you’re looking for a road bike to take on regular commutes and daily rides then it’s best to look elsewhere.

What We Liked

  • Very Affordable
  • Lightweight

What We Didn't Like

  • Shifters may be too far to reach for some people
  • 14-speed only

6. Tommaso Imola Compact Aluminum Road BikeEditor’s choice

It’s amazing how such a bike is sold under $1000. The Tommaso Imola is a bike whose heritage can be traced back to 1985, when the Italian manufacturer began making quality road bikes and importing them to the United States. After over 30 years, they’ve never failed to produce quality road bikes. The Tommaso Imola one of the finest bikes under one thousand bucks.

The Tommaso Imola is finely equipped with one of the best components in the market. The Shimano Claris groupset is flawless. It’s very easy to shift, brake modulation is accurate, and cycling through gears is so satisfying. The SLA 6061 Aluminium frame is light; the whole bike weighs 23.8 lbs. The only thing weighing the bike down is the slightly heavy rims.

The Shimano Claris groupset is coupled with a 24-speed drivetrain giving you power from different ranges of power bands. Maximum performance is everything when you talk about the Tommaso Imola. Its powerful lightweight frame is engineered to perfection. Proper dimensions ensure comfort and maximum aerodynamics.

This bike may be all about the performance, but it’s surprisingly comfortable in relation to other performance road bikes. Its seat is made of memory gel with is not too harsh on your bottom. The Tommaso Imola is ruthlessly brilliant; paying fewer than one thousand bucks for this bike is truly a bang for your buck.

What We Liked

  • Shimano groupset
  • Open to a wide range of modifications
  • Lightweight 6061 Aluminium frame
  • 24-speed drivetrain
  • Comfortable
  • Ergonomic design

What We Didn't Like

  • Stock rims are heavy

7. Merax Finiss Aluminum 21 Speed 700C Road Bike Racing Bicycle Shimano

Looking straight at the Merax Finiss, you can already tell that this bike was designed for racing. But don’t let its looks drive your expectations too high. It’s an entry-level racing bike, made for beginners, novices, and amateurs who want to experience racing. The Merax Finiss is a great bike to for those who want to take racing to another level and refine their skills.

The Merax Finiss is well equipped with Shimano SA050 Shifters, Full Shimano 21-speed drivetrain, aluminium brake calipers and an aluminium frame. The bike is on the heavier side for an aluminium frame, weighing at 28 lbs. Despite that, Merax claims the bike can support up to 330 lbs. which is proof of their rigid frame.

The highlight of this bike is its aerodynamic frame. Instead of going with a cylindrical frame design, Merax decided to flatten the frame for a better streamlined road bike. This bike is meant for beginners who want to enter and participate in races, although the components are not of the highest quality, it will get the job done. There are slight issues when shifting. The chain grinds with the derailleurs at times, which might risk breaking the chain a malfunction happens at high speeds.

Overall, the Merax Finiss is an impressive road bike. It may not be the best but at least it gives novice and amateur riders a chance to experience racing.

What We Liked

  • Aerodynamic design
  • Functional race bike
  • Excellent brakes

What We Didn't Like

  • Heavy bike for racing

8. Schwinn Men's Prelude Bicycle (BBWhite)

One of the most reliable and affordable road bikes on our list is the Schwinn Men’s Prelude Bicycle. The Prelude is meant for daily commute, it can be used for pleasurable cruises and working out as well. The Prelude has a very attractive classic look, to top everything off. Schwinn has been popular for producing cheap road bikes with quality components.

The handsome classic looking road bike is equipped with 14-speed Shimano drivetrain, Shimano A050 bar mounted shifters, and dual pivot road brakes. Its frame is made from aluminium and the whole bike weighs 33 lbs. Yup, it’s very heavy, but it’s not meant for racing. It’s a daily commute bike, its weigh and limited drivetrain speed shouldn’t really be a bother.

Shifting is very responsive, brakes have just the right amount of stopping power. With a 14-speed drivetrain, you don’t expect it to come with racing type brakes. Apart from the groupset, everything about this bike feels well-made and rigid.

This bike prioritized comfort and ride quality, and it shows it in its parts. A comfortable padded seat, kickstand, comfortable grip, and the brake levers positioned a bit higher for comfort. The Schwinn Prelude is a fantastic and reliable commuter bike.

What We Liked

  • Reliable and comfortable
  • Rigid structure
  • Quality seat
  • Quick release seat height adjustment

What We Didn't Like

  • Heavy
  • Handlebar stem is fixed

9. 2017 HASA R5 Shimano 21 Speed Road Bike

The Taiwanese bicycle manufacturer has created an excellent road bike for amateurs who want to take it to races, daily commutes, and cruising. The HASA R5 is a fine product from the Heng Feng Bicycle Company. The predecessor of the HASA R5, the HASA R4 was capable of competing with bikes above its price range. Will the HASA R5 hold its reputation?

First of all, the HASA R4 is a 21-speed road bike that is designed for multiple purposes; it’s a very versatile road bike. Its frame is made from 6061 aluminium; it’s light, perfect for dampening bumps on the road and is a responsive frame. The front derailleur is paired with a triple chainset and the crankcase is packed with 7 sprockets, a total of 21-speed gears. The Shimano shifters work flawlessly.

Ride quality is very pleasing. The seat and handlebars are comfortable; the tyres are very stable, you can ride on this bike for hours without getting fatigued. The aluminium alloy brake calipers hold on the rim of the wheels and provide a strong stopping power.

Overall, this all-around road bike is perfect for anyone looking to buy a reasonably priced commuter or training bike. The HASA R5 is perfectly balanced.

What We Liked

  • Rigid
  • Lightweight
  • Smooth and comfortable
  • 21-speed drivetrain is very responsive

What We Didn't Like

  • Front derailleur is not as responsive as rear derailleurs

10. BAVEL Ultra Light Aluminum 21 Speed 700C Road Bike Racing Bicycle Shimano 48cm/51cm/54cm

The Bavel Ultra light is another awesome road bike for beginners. It’s a great budget road bike for those who want to experience the thrill of performance road bikes at a cheap price. It doesn’t seem like a bike that is priced under a thousand bucks. Even the welded areas of the bike are so clean. That sign alone means that this bike is made with quality.

The Bavel Ultra light is made with an aluminium frame and it comes in various color patterns which is pretty attractive. This road bike comes with straight handle bars, but nevertheless it’s still comfortable to use for long rides. The bike weighs at 27.3 lbs. which is not too light and not too heavy as well.

It uses the Shimano EF-500 Shifter and Shimano groupsets which are top class. The drivetrain is flawless; cycling through all 21 gears is as smooth as silk. The brakes are Shimano made disc brakes which are excellent at stopping the bike even in muddy conditions or high speeds.

Even with all its top quality components, this bike does have its flaws. Nothing major though, just a few things that bothered us were the pedals and seat. The pedals seem to be made of cheap plastic and the seat is a pain after a long ride.

What We Liked

  • Amazing groupsets
  • Multiple color schemes to choose from
  • Excellent performance
  • Stunning brakes

What We Didn't Like

  • Cheap pedals
  • Seat is rubbish

Our Recommendations

Editor’s choice: Tommaso Imola Compact Aluminum Road Bike

Among all the affordable road bikes (under $1000), the Tommaso Imola Compact Aluminum Road Bike stood out. If you’re looking to get a quality road bike for commute or competition purpose, the Tommaso Imola seems to be the greatest choice. For a road bike that is priced under $1000, it’s amazing to see something as well-built as this. Without its price tag you can mistake it for a bike that costs more than $4000. It comes with a quality Shimano groupset, it has the most gears you can shift through, and it’s one of the lightest on the list. What more can you ask for? It’s an amazing road bike and it can easily fool anyone that it’s much more expensive than its price tag. It’s an amazing choice that is worth your consideration.

Runner-ups: Bavel Ultra Light Aluminum 21 Speed 700C Road Bike Racing Bicycle Shimano 48cm/51cm/54cm & The Diamondback Haanjo Trail 24 Alternative Road Bike

The Tommaso Imola may have the crown but it was a tough choice between the Diamondback Haanjo Trail 24 Alternative Road Bike. The two bikes both had the functionality and quality of more expensive road bikes. Both bikes offer riders the experience of professional class road bikes. The Diamondback Haanjo offered a playground of different spectrums; a road bike that can tackle dirt roads and adventure courses. What the Tommaso Imola had over the Diamondback Haanjo was its sheer quality and hard core road bike heritage that still runs through its veins. Serious amateurs who want to experience professional quality bikes will get that with the Tommaso Imola.

Last but not the least; we have the Bavel Ultra Light Aluminum 21 Speed 700C Road Bike Racing Bicycle. This bike deserves the recognition because of the quality of its build, stunning components and fun color scheme. Unlike other budget road bikes under $1000, the Bavel Ultra Light is an amazing road bike because it’s as thrilling as expensive professional road bikes. Its gear shifters are what impressed us. It’s so smooth, probably as smooth as or smoother than the Diamondback and Tommaso mentioned earlier. The Bavel is pure experience, thrill, adventure and fun. It’s a great catch and a top choi

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