If you’re just starting out on your biking journey, there are two reasons that you don’t want to invest a large sum of money into bike yet.
First, you haven’t yet determined your level of commitment. If you find that cycling is too strenuous or that you don’t have much time to invest into advancing your skills, there’s no point in owning an expensive bike that will simply collect dust in your garage.
The second reason is that you can’t fully appreciate the advanced features and components of a costly, expert-level bike until you’ve gained more experience.
For starters, a basic entry level bicycle is more than sufficient to begin with. Once you get a hold of biking tactics, you can go for more advanced level bikes and take your riding experience to a whole new level.
Before you head on to read help guides and reviews, check out the best road bikes under 500 USD in 2017 and early 2018.
Top 9 Entry Level Road Bikes Under 500 Dollars: Quick Comparison
Road Bikes Under $500 Reviews in 2017
Fortunately, when it comes to budget-friendly road bikes, there are plenty of options. In fact, there are so many that finding the perfect one may be difficult. We’ve taken some of the work out of the equation. Here are our top selections for the best road bikes under $500.
Vilano Aluminum Shimano 21-Speed
- Double-butted, lightweight aluminum frame
- Shimano A050 thumb shifters
- Alloy handlebar and seat post
- Comes with free platform pedals
- Alloy caliper brakes and dual brake levers
- Hi-Ten steel fork
An excellent commuter bike for new riders, the Vilano Aluminum Road Bike delivers a smooth and reliable ride on its 26-pound lightweight 6061 frame. As a second bike or entry-level road bike, it’s a good starting point, but you may outgrow it quickly.
The 21 speeds allow you to adapt quickly to a variety of road situations, but some riders feel that the shifters are a bit shaky.
This Vilano’s popularity is due to its quality Shimano components and its relatively low price. The seat is uncomfortable, and the tires are basic, but these can easily be replaced. The bike has a fairly impressive list of extras including free pedals, convenient mount points for a rear rack and a water bottle.
Assembly and tuning is required and is best done by a professional bike shop.
- Alloy Vitesse racing rims
- Lightweight aluminum frame
- Mechanical rim brakes
- Quality alloy calipers and brake levers
- Shimano derailleur and Revo shifts
- Includes 700c high-performance tires
It’s attractive and sleek, and despite its somewhat heavier aluminum frame, the GMC Denali Road Bike can still deliver decent speed and performance for a bike in its class. In general, it handles and shifts well, and the brakes are reliable.
Riders love the Denali’s sturdy construction and its versatility. It can hold its own in a race with bikes in higher price ranges.
Although it’s not designed for touring, it can handle impressively long stretches of road without losing its ride quality. The Denali does require assembly, and if you’re not experienced, it might be best to take it to a bike shop so that the necessary adjustments can be made.
With a good quality frame, decent components and an eye-catching design, it’s a popular choice for beginners or anyone who is looking for a great bike that doesn’t destroy wallets.
Merax Finiss Aluminum 21-Speed 700C Road Bike Racing Bicycle
- Shimano SA050 shifters and aluminum caliper brakes
- Shimano front and read derailleurs
- Features a lightweight, durable aluminum frame and 700C steel threadless fork
- Shimano shifters
- Aluminum kickstand
- Includes bottle holder
- Shimano derailleur
- Quick-release front wheel design
A great bike for fitness, commuting and general use, the Merax Finiss is popular among casual riders and bikers who don’t need frills or high speeds. Weighing in at 28 pounds, it’s a somewhat heavy bike. Although the weight limit for the standard design is 330 pounds, it is recommended for riders who weigh less than 220 pounds; this ensures longevity.
The brakes work well as long as you use the front brake or both the front and rear brakes together.
Shifting may be a bit awkward until you get a feel for the bike, and the brake levers are set somewhat low on the handlebars.
Assembly and tuning is needed, and unless you’re experienced, you’ll get better results by having a professional handle these tasks. The seat is hard; replacement with a gel seat or other comfortable option is recommended.
Critical Cycles Harper Single-Speed, Fixed-Gear Urban Commuter Bike
- Hand-built steel Track frame
- Features bar-spin clearance and horizontal dropouts
- Wanda commuter tires
- KMC chain
- VP freestyle pedals
- Two sets of brakes
A fun and versatile entry-level, single-speed bike, the Critical Cycles Harper Commuter Bike is ideal for beginners. The flip-flop hub allows you to adapt the bike to your preferred riding style. The Harper arrives as a single-speed for conventional cruising. To change it to a more responsive fixed-gear bike, you can remove, flip and remount the back wheel.
The Harper supplies plenty of speed, but it also makes safety a priority with two sets of brakes. It offers beginners and intermediate riders an affordable and versatile option that doesn’t cut too many corners by using poor quality components
Schwinn Phocus 1600 Men’s Bicycle
- Aluminum 56CM frame with carbon fiber fork
- Shimano Claris 14-speed derailleur with integrated shifters
- Promax alloy caliper brakes
- Alloy rims
- SR Suntour alloy crank
- Fitted with 700c wheels
From a trusted name in bicycles, the Schwinn Phocus is designed for guys who want a few extras but aren’t able to pay top dollar for a road bike. When riding the Phocus, you’ll notice its agility and great braking power.
The carbon fork provides consistent shock absorption for a smoother, more enjoyable ride. Owners of the Phocus enjoy many miles of great performance even with all original stock components.
The Phocus comes with 23 millimeter tires, which are great for racing, and the gear ratio is set up for optimal speed. With its flawless, fast ride and high-profile components, it is ideal for intermediate riders as well as beginners.
If you’re looking for a great road bike for amateur racing, commuting or fitness, it’s a practical choice that rivals models with much larger price tags.
Vilano Aluminum 21-Speed Shimano Black
- Double-butted 6061 aluminum frame with 700c threadless fork
- Alloy 6061 25.4mm headset
- Urban Comfort handlebar
- Handlebar-mounted Shimano A050 SIS shifters
- Includes free pedals
The second 21-speed Vilano road bike in our top ten, this black Shimano bike boasts a cool sense of style and the same incredible performance as its sister bike, which is fifth on our list.
At only 24 pounds, it’s one of the lightest in its class, and it includes a number of simple and straightforward features that make it perfect for beginners who aren’t ready for advanced road bike capabilities.
Although it is built for smooth surface of pavement, the bike can also tackle dirt roads and hills with relative ease. Add a set of decent tires, a Shimano drivetrain and a biker with a taste for freedom to bring out its true potential.
As an entry-level bike, it delivers everything that new riders need with the lightness and grace of a much more expensive model.
Schwinn Men’s Prelude Bicycle
- Aluminum drop bar frame with Schwinn road fork
- Shimano A050 road shifters
- Shimano 14-speed drivetrain
- Alloy wheels
- Dual pivot road brakes
Another popular top-seller from Schwinn, the men’s Prelude bike is a great commuter, fitness or pleasure bike that provides agility, speed, decent shock absorption and fast, efficient shifting.
Although the ride is reasonably smooth, the bike feels stiffer than some other models, and it isn’t comfortable for extended trips.
However, all of the main components can be upgraded and serviced easily, so you can actually build your own bike using the impressively lightweight frame and fork.
Overall, it’s a bargain and a good entry-level option for new riders. Professional assembly is recommended for the best results.
Giordano Libero 1.6 Men’s Bike
- Handcrafted lightweight 6061 aluminum frame
- Shimano Claris derailleurs
- Includes 32-spoke quick-release alloy rims
- Shimano STI 16-speed drivetrain
- Includes pedals, reflector and kickstand
- Comes with dual water bottle mounts
From Italian bike manufacturer Giordano, the popular Libero Men’s Road Bike features the lightweight 6061 aluminum frame that made it famous. Loved for its climbing skills, smooth ride, and suitability for a variety of riding situations, the Libero is a favorite of casual riders, commuters and entry-level or amateur bike racers.
Despite its relatively low price, the Libero has the styling and feel of a much more expensive bike. Assembly is surprisingly easy, but the wheels should be trued and any other adjustments handled by a professional bike shop.
The men’s bike is available in small, medium and large.
Vilano FORZA 4.0 – Aluminum Integrated Shifters
- Lightweight aluminum frame
- Shimano STI integrated brake lever shifters
- Boasts 24 speeds to handle all riding situations
- Includes free pedals
- Double-walled wheel set with CNC machined sides
With a sturdy frame and components to suit riders at every level, the Vilano FORZA 4.0 is a great option for anyone who needs an affordable, versatile road bike. Although it’s a little too heavy for competitive racing, it can withstand heavy everyday use without frequent adjustments.
FORZA owners appreciate the bike’s easy shifting and the convenient position of the shifters on the brake levers.
Many feel that the stock saddle isn’t comfortable, but it can easily be replaced. If you upgrade a few components, this entry-level bike may satisfy your riding needs for a number of years. This bicycle also tops our list of the best road bikes under $1000 in 2017.
What Makes These Road Bikes the Best Value for Money?
We didn’t just pick our top choices from a hat; these selections were chosen because they can save you money and improve your experience as a new biker. If you’re a first-time road bike shopper, you may notice that there are many cheap, mass-produced bikes available on the market.
You’ll often see them in discount department stores or big box warehouse outlets. They’re designed to meet the market demand for consumers interested in buying a first bike for a child or who are only trying out the idea of biking without any serious commitment.
The inherent danger of selecting a bike priced less than $500 is that these choices include the lowest-quality bikes available. If you don’t know what to look for, you could easily end up with a lemon.
The bikes listed above have features and components that deliver proven, reliable performance, making them more valuable and ensuring that they provide a safe and positive experience for first-time bikers and those who already know the ropes but need a budget-friendly option.
We feel that our selections represent the best road bike for the money in their class.
Best Aluminum Road Bike Under 500 in 2017
Our sixth listed bike, the Vilano Aluminum Speed Shimano Bike, is our top choice for aluminum road bikes.
With its cool visual appeal, its incredibly light weight and the simplicity and effectiveness of its features, it’s the perfect choice for beginners or even experienced riders on a budget.
You don’t have to compromise quality when buying an inexpensive aluminum road bike, and this model proves it.
Although many expert bikers prefer carbon fiber frames to aluminum, there is some debate about their superiority. If you’re not a professional athlete or an aspiring racer, aluminum-framed road bikes are your best choice.
It’s generally accepted that carbon fiber frames are lighter than aluminum ones, but this isn’t necessarily true. If you do your homework, you can find aluminum bikes that are lighter than many carbon ones.
Even though aluminum is usually heavier, the differences in performance may not justify the additional cost of a carbon frame.
As a novice or intermediate rider, you’re not going to notice much of a difference in speed or performance, and the extra money you paid for a carbon frame would be wasted.
Although they’re lighter in general, carbon frames are also more likely to sustain damage in an accident. As a new or intermediate biker, you’re more likely to have a minor mishap that could damage your bike; this is another reason that aluminum is the more cost-effective choice.
Conclusion: Best Road Bike Under 500
Based on our research and analysis, we’ve found that our fifth listed bike, the Vilano Aluminum Road Bike 21 Speed Shimano, meets all of our expectations for a road bike priced less than $500.
We’ve chosen it because of its surprisingly light weight, its incredible price and its straightforward set of features that are ideal for a beginner or casual rider.
Being able to ride easily on gravel and dirt roads is a bonus that owners of other bikes rarely get, but the Vilano holds its own even under stress. The integrated headset and quality Shimano components are icing on the cake.
Whether you use it for commuting, recreation, racing, touring or rugged outdoor adventures, it will deliver a solid performance. If you’re seeking a bike priced less than $500, you won’t find many that can hold a candle to the Vilano Aluminum Road Bike.