Today’s beginner road bikes are faster, smarter and lighter. They have amazing features, and as cutting-edge bike technology advances, it filters down to entry-level bikes that are well within your budget.
A great road bike doesn’t have to cost a small fortune. What was considered a high-end, state-of-the-art bike several decades ago shares features with top-rated beginner’s models today.
There are plenty of affordable, high-quality entry-level models available that can get your biking career off to a great start. However, you don’t want to jump into the waters without a little guidance.
Not all bikes are created equal, and starting your journey with the wrong one might ruin your experience.
First, you need to decide on a budget. It’s wise to buy the best entry level road bike that you can comfortably afford. Next, you’ll need to consider which factors are important when choosing a bike including the bike’s size, frame material, components, wheelsets and overall performance.
- 1 Best Entry Level Road Bikes in 2017: Quick Comparison
- 2 Reviews of the Top 5 Road Bikes for Beginners / Starters
- 3 What Makes a Good Beginner’s Road Bike in 2017?
- 4 Buying Your First Road Bike: Four Things That You Need to Know
- 5 Best Entry Level Carbon Fiber Road Bike
- 6 Conclusion: Best Beginners Road Bike of 2017
Best Entry Level Road Bikes in 2017: Quick Comparison
Reviews of the Top 5 Road Bikes for Beginners / Starters
Finding the perfect bike for your needs and your budget takes research, but you’re not in this alone. We’ve compiled a list of the top five entry-level road bikes that you should check out before making your final selection.
Vilano Aluminum Road Bike 21-Speed Shimano
- Double-butted 6061 aluminum frame
- Doubled-walled wheelset CNC machined sides
- Shimano A050 SIS handlebar-mounted shifters
- Urban comfort handlebar
- Includes free pedals
The popular Vilano Aluminum 21-Speed Shimano Road Bike is a top seller that both beginners and seasoned bikers love. Its lightweight 6061 aluminum frame features an integrated headset and solid geometry for a comfortable, fast and reliable ride. Weighing only 24 pounds, it’s one of the lightest frames in its class.
Quality Shimano components round out its package, making it one of the most affordable bikes that truly provides everything that a beginner needs to develop new skills and experience everything that the world of biking has to offer.
In addition to the bike’s quality and value, beginners can expect a positive experience with the manufacturer if any problems or questions should arise.
Vilano Shadow Road Bike
- Lightweight 6061 aluminum frame
- Doubled-walled CNC machined side wheelset
- Shimano STI shifters
- Shimano A070 STI integrated brake lever
- Dual pivot alloy caliper brakes
The Vilano Shadow Road Bike is a favorite of both beginners and intermediate bikers who want to buy a decent bike without having to invest a ton of money. It’s impressively lightweight, which makes it a great option for riders who live in hilly areas.
The brakes deliver solid performance although they may feel tight until you get used to them. If you have an average body size, you may have some difficulty reaching the shifters.
During casual use, you can achieve decent speeds. The Shadow doesn’t have top-of-the-line components, but the ones it does have are reliable and won’t need to be replaced after the first week.
Ride quality is smooth and comfortable. Although it’s great for commuting, the Shadow isn’t designed to weather the heavy use of a road racer or serious tourist.
To get the most from your Shadow, have it professionally adjusted and trued.
Giordano Libero Acciao Road Bike
- Steel frame and fork
- Alloy threadless stem and alloy handlebar
- Shimano Tourney STI drive train
- Includes down tube water bottle mounts
With its high-tensile steel frame and 14-speed Shimano Tourney STI drivetrain, the Libero Acciao is a practical yet elite choice for an entry-level road bike. With its famous name and beautiful Italian styling, you might not expect it to pack such a punch, but the Libero Accaio can easily outperform its peers.
It delivers speed as well as comfort, and it provides a smooth ride for commuting, fitness and road touring.
If you plan to race the Accaio, you may want to upgrade the tires. Otherwise, it has everything you need in a beginner’s bike. The Accaio is available in men’s small, medium and large frame sizes.
It will get you to your destination and help you develop your road skills without compromising your budget.
Mercier Galaxy SC1 Aluminum 14-Speed Shimano-Equipped Beginner Road Bike
- Aluminum 6061 frame
- Compact geometry
- Shimano rear derailleur
- Aluminum brakes and crankset
- Comfort saddle
- Stem shifters
- Lightweight, durable wheels
- Shimano double ring aluminum crankset
With its convenient stem-mounted shifters and double chain ring crank, the Mercier Galaxy SC1 is built for easy maintenance and casual style. Its semi-compact geometry and relaxed riding position don’t make too many physical demands, but it still provides a fast and smooth ride.
Simple shifting, responsive braking and a comfortable saddle make riding the Galaxy a carefree experience.
Besides its laid-back, practical functioning, the Galaxy SC1 is an attractive bike simple lines and sleek styling. Use it to explore the world of road cycling, green commuting and improved fitness through riding.
Although the bike is easy to set up, professional assembly and tuning is recommended for the best results.
Vilano Shadow 2.0 Road Bike
- Double-butted 6061 aluminum frame with integrated headset and internal cable routing
- Shimano A070 STI integrated brake lever
- Shimano front and rear derailleurs
- Prowheel alloy double crankset
- Shimano seven-speed freewheel
- Dual pivot alloy caliper brakes
- Includes free pedals
Our second Shadow, an updated version of the Vilano classic, comes in at number five. An ideal entry-level road bike with great features and solid performance, the Vilano Shadow 2.0 is perfect for daily commuting, errands, exercise or even club rides.
Its convenient integrated brake levers and shifters give you more power and precise control over your vehicle regardless of the road conditions. Shadow 2.0 owners applaud its reliable braking power and smooth, consistent ride.
It may not have fancy features, but it is fast and comfortable. With a few basic upgrades, it makes a great beginner’s bike that introduces you to some of the better components without burning a hole in your wallet.
Assembling the Shadow 2.0 is relatively easy, but if you’re not experienced, a bike shop is a better option for ensuring that all installations and adjustments are performed correctly.
What Makes a Good Beginner’s Road Bike in 2017?
When you first decide to take up a new hobby, you won’t know how committed to it you will be until much later. In the interest of saving money, many beginners head to big box stores and buy the cheapest bike they can find. Some may get lucky, but many will be disappointed by poor quality products and might even form a false impression of road bikes in general. Don’t let this happen to you.
The differences between mass-produced, cheap road bikes and entry-level bikes made by respected manufacturers can be huge. The bikes you see in our list above are stronger, lighter and better optimized for use by beginners. They will perform better and last longer, and they’re less likely to leave you stranded or cause injuries because of poor fit or repetitive strain.
Several factors affect the quality of an entry-level road bike. Before buying any model, you should consider each one of the following: geometry, frame material, price, component quality and brand.
- A bike’s geometry is all about the angles and measurements of the frame in relation to how your body is positioned when riding. A road bike’s geometry is often configured specifically for racing. Geometry is also important when choosing gender-specific bikes as it relates to the rider’s comfort.
- Frame material is more of an issue as you graduate to sophisticated high-performance bikes. However, you should know the basics. Carbon fiber frames are lighter and more expensive, and they’re usually found on high-end bikes.
- You’ll find quite a few good entry-level bikes with carbon frames, but keep in mind that aluminum and steel frames are also perfectly acceptable options for beginners.
- Choosing either the cheapest or the most expensive option could be a mistake. High-end bikes come with features that cost more, but as a beginner, you may not be able to appreciate the difference. Start out with a bike that fits into your budget and has decent components. You can always buy the best bike on the market when you’ve developed the appropriate skills.
- Component quality helps to determine how well your bike will perform its basic functions. In general, it’s best to avoid plastic components unless they are readily interchangeable and are paired with decent groupsets. Beginners who aren’t familiar with how components are meant to function might suffer avoidable accidents when cheap parts suddenly fail.
- Brand is not extremely important when you’re selecting from a handful of respected names, but avoid buying a brand that no one recognizes. If you’re not familiar with well-known bike brands, do your homework before making any assumptions.
You may find use of our guide for buying the best road bike under $500 if you are on a budget and want to start your biking journey at an affordable cost.
If you are already a beginner and want to improve your riding skills, a better bike would be preferable in this case. You can read more about road bikes under $1000 on our site and choose from several models online.
Buying Your First Road Bike: Four Things That You Need to Know
Once you understand the basics, it becomes much easier to find a bike that you’ll love. Soon, you’ll be hitting the open road, improving your health and making new friends. Before you get lost in the excitement of choosing your first road bike, here are four more important things to keep in mind.
- Fit is everything. No matter how impressive its components or performance records are, if your bike doesn’t fit you properly, you are not going to enjoy riding it. As a beginner, your best bet is to visit a bike shop and have them measure and fit you properly before you make your purchase. You can then use your measurements to select an appropriately sized bike. You’ll also need to make further adjustments as needed once you have your new bike.
- To avoid leg and knee pain, raise your seat so that when the bike’s pedal is at the lowest point, there’s a slight bend in your knee. If you experience pain in your hands, upper body or back, you may need to adjust your bike’s geometry to prevent it from becoming a chronic problem. If you’re not sure what is causing the problem, ask the experts at your local bike shop, or speak to your doctor or physical therapist for advice.
- You can upgrade individual components. If you find a bike that has everything you want, but you’re just not thrilled with its wheels, you can easily change them. Don’t count a model out just because it doesn’t tick every single box. Most parts can be exchanged.
- Although many bikes can be assembled at home with a few tools and a good instruction booklet, professional assembly is a great option, especially if you have never assembled a bike before. Although it requires an additional fee, having a bike shop do the work saves you the time and hassle and helps you avoid mistakes that could damage your bike or cause injury.
Best Entry Level Carbon Fiber Road Bike
One ply of carbon fiber consists of bundles of small, continuous fibers placed in a parallel configuration and bound with a powerful glue. When several plies are layered together, it become a laminate. When designed correctly, a carbon fiber laminate is extremely durable and has a high tensile strength.
It’s also extremely lightweight, making it an ideal material to use in the construction of road bike frames.
When carbon fiber frames entered the bicycle industry, everything changed. Carbon fiber is a lighter, stronger and more durable material that gives today’s road bikes a high-performance edge through better aerodynamics and superior performance.
Although carbon fiber weighs less than aluminum, it’s far more durable. An aluminum alloy frame is expected to last for about 10 years; carbon fiber frames are so durable that some bike manufacturers now offer lifetime warranties on them.
While carbon fiber frames are just as stiff as their aluminum peers, they’re often manufactured with an embedded fork that reduces impact and absorbs the constant road vibration to produce a more comfortable ride.
In fact, many popular aluminum frames also feature carbon fiber forks to improve overall ride quality. One such frame belongs to our top pick for best entry level carbon fiber road bike.
Schwinn Phocus 1600 Men’s Road Bike
- Shimano Frame
- 16 speed derailleur gears
- Alloy based double wall rims
- Alloy crank
- Quick release front wheel
The Schwinn Phocus Men’s Road Bike combines advanced aerodynamic technology with a carbon fiber road fork and a lightweight aluminum frame. It also features a Shimano Claris 16 speed derailleur and an integrated shift lever and brake combination. Alloy dual pivot caliper brakes supply impressive stopping power and an alloy crank enables wide gear range.
Satisfied owners report that the Phocus has speed and agility with the smooth and consistent ride that carbon fiber elements are known to provide.
If you’re a beginner with a passion for speed, the Phocus is a great introduction to the feel and performance of carbon fiber bikes.
It’s an ideal choice for ambitious and athletic novices who plan to take their biking journey seriously. After you’ve gained more experience, you may decide to try your hand at road racing. The Phocus better prepares you for the more advanced, lightweight pro-level bikes that will be on your wish list.
For its overall performance and training potential, we have named the Schwinn Phocus our best carbon fiber entry-level road bike.
Conclusion: Best Beginners Road Bike of 2017
Every beginner deserves the best chance, and that’s why we’ve chosen the Vilano Aluminum Road Bike 21 Speed Shimano as our best beginners road bike. It meets all of our expectations for a bike in its class, and its popularity with new riders is a clear sign that it deserves recognition.
With an aluminum frame that weighs a mere 24 pounds, it delivers enough speed and agility to give new riders a sense of what lies ahead in their biking adventures.
The Vilano Aluminum Road Bike features an integrated headset, a Shimano drivetrain, Shimano A050 handlebar mounted shifters, alloy caliper brakes and free pedals.
For its all-around versatility, quality components and reliable performance, we feel it is the best bike for anyone who is entering the world or road biking for pleasure, eco-friendly transportation or fitness.