If you’re a seasoned rider or a competitive racer, you may be willing to pay top dollar for a high-end bike, but if you’re a casual rider or you’re just starting out, there’s no point in paying more for features that you won’t even use or appreciate.
Regardless of what kind of biker you are, you want a bike with speed, agility and reliable components. When you first start shopping for a quality bike, the price tags on high-end models might leave you feeling a bit discouraged.
Don’t worry; even if you have a modest budget, you can get an amazing cheap road bike that you’ll love to ride.
- 1 10 Best Rated Cheap Road Bicycles of 2017: Quick Comparison
- 2 Reviews of Top 10 Most Affordable Road Bikes in 2017
- 2.1 Critical Cycles Harper Single-Speed Fixed Gear Urban Commuter Bike
- 2.2 Merax Finiss Aluminum 21-Speed 700C Road Bike Racing Bicycle Shimano
- 2.3 Vilano Aluminum Road Bike Commuter Bike Shimano 700c
- 2.4 Critical Cycles Classic Fixed-Gear Single-Speed Track Bike
- 2.5 Schwinn Men’s Volare 1300 Bike 700c
- 2.6 Vilano Aluminum Road Bike 21-Speed Shimano
- 2.7 GMC Denali Road Bike
- 2.8 Schwinn Men’s Phocus 1400 700C Drop Bar Road Bicycle
- 2.9 Schwinn Men’s Prelude Bicycle
- 2.10 Vilano Shadow 2.0 Road Bike
- 3 Why Should You Buy an Affordable Road Bike?
- 4 What Makes a Good Road Bike?
- 5 Best Road Bike Under $300
10 Best Rated Cheap Road Bicycles of 2017: Quick Comparison
Reviews of Top 10 Most Affordable Road Bikes in 2017
We’ve taken the guesswork out of finding an inexpensive model that meets your needs. Here are our top 10 budget-friendly road bike picks in the start of this new year and as the cycling season approaches, these will help our readers choose the most appropriate bike for their needs.
Critical Cycles Harper Single-Speed Fixed Gear Urban Commuter Bike
- The flip-flop hub lets you customize your ride.
- Most riders find this bike to very attractive-looking. It definitely delivers the “cool factor.”
- Its rear track mounts fit a majority of racks.
- You can easily adjust the seat and stem to alter aerodynamics and create a different riding experience.
- If you’re accustomed to an aluminum or carbon frame, a steel one may seem a bit heavy.
- It may be difficult to obtain customer service from the manufacturer.
- The handlebars have a tendency to slide and may need frequent tightening.
- Some users report that the brake pads and tires aren’t of the best quality; replacement is recommended.
The popular hand-built Harper Commuter Bike offers a flip-flop hub that allows you to ride fixed or single-speed with a freewheel. All you have to do is reinstall the rear wheel to make the change.
It has a single-speed steel Track frame, two sets of brakes, VP freestyle pedals and Wanda commuter tires.
If you’re looking for a great casual commuter bike that’s fun to ride and doesn’t break the bank, this is the best choice.
Merax Finiss Aluminum 21-Speed 700C Road Bike Racing Bicycle Shimano
- It’s lightweight and easy to assemble.
- For the component quality and overall design, it’s a great bargain.
- You can expect a smooth, fast and consistent ride.
- The manufacturer offers great customer service.
- To guarantee longevity, the manufacturer recommends a low weight limit of 220 pounds, so it’s not the best road bike choice for larger riders.
- Frequent tightening of handlebars may be needed at first.
- The bike’s brakes are tight; a lot of pressure is required to work them.
- The seat is somewhat hard and uncomfortable. Replacement is recommended.
Whether you’re commuting to work or trying on the idea of bike racing, this Merax Finiss model can give you what you need.
With its lightweight aluminum frame, 700C steel thread-less fork, Shimano front and rear derailleurs, Shimano SA050 shifters and aluminum caliper brakes, it’s ready for action. Although its seat isn’t particularly friendly, the overall ride is comfortable. With a few component upgrades, you can make it your own.
Most riders agree that it’s an ideal budget road bike that makes it one of the best entry level road bikes.
Vilano Aluminum Road Bike Commuter Bike Shimano 700c
- The gears perform well, and the ride is smooth and responsive.
- The matte black color and sleek design gives the bike a high-quality, minimalist feel.
- It provides a comfortable riding experience even for longer rides of up to 25 miles.
- You can get decent speed from the bike without hindering safety or performance.
- It’s easy to adjust the stem and handlebars to find your perfect comfort level.
- The Shimano Tourney derailleur is difficult to tune.
- Components need frequent adjustment.
- Some owners complain of frequent blow-outs, but this can be remedied with a tire upgrade.
- The bike’s paint may rub off or wear quickly.
Built on a 6061 double-butted aluminum frame, this light and economical 21-speed road bike features convenient Shimano A050 thumb shifters, alloy caliper brakes and free platform pedals. Extras include a water bottle and rear rack mount points. Bikers love this model’s easy assembly and smooth ride.
The Vilano is an excellent road bike under $500, and with a few component upgrades, you could keep the gorgeous frame and build a new bike around it.
Critical Cycles Classic Fixed-Gear Single-Speed Track Bike
- It’s 85 percent assembled when you get it, so if your assembly skills aren’t so great, you’re in luck.
- The singe-speed gear ratio is great for new or inexperienced cyclists.
- It’s very lightweight and easy to transport.
- It rides up moderate hills easily and provides a smooth experience on the road.
- You have plenty of room to customize it with pricier components.
- The urban comfort saddle isn’t really all that comfortable.
- The inner tubes and tires included in the package should be upgraded.
- The included pedals are plastic and do not spin smoothly.
- Handling may be difficult at first.
- The bike’s brake pads wear out quickly.
With versatile bullhorn handlebars, Promax brakes and a flip-flop hub that lets you choose between fixed-gear and single-speed freewheel riding, this Pursuit fixie gives new riders everything they could ever want. It has a hand-built steel frame, a KMX chain and a 3 PC crank along with other mid-range quality components.
This gem is popular for its smooth ride and the cool color options that give it a custom look without the high price tag. If you’re seeking versatility and options, it won’t let you down. It’ll help you explore the world of inexpensive road biking and ensure that you have fun doing it.
Schwinn Men’s Volare 1300 Bike 700c
- The Volare has undeniable aesthetic value; from its frame to its wheels, it is a beautiful bike.
- Although it’s not perfect, the seat is more comfortable than most seats included with lower-range bikes.
- For an entry-level men’s bike, it offers a fast, smooth and agile ride.
- It’s easy to assemble. The process can be completed in an hour.
- Its inner tubes and tires leave much to be desired. Riders complain of frequent flats.
- It may not be sturdy enough for bikers weighing over 220 pounds.
- The crank arm threads become stripped easily.
- Some riders claim that the shifters are stiff.
The Volare features an aluminum frame with a rigid fork, Shimano 14-speed A050 shifters and Shimano rear derailleurs. Alloy caliper pull brakes provide reliable stopping power. Lightweight and fast, it works beautifully as a casual commuter bike, but even athletes and amateur racers swear by its abilities.
Schwinn also has a popular model in recumbent road bike series that is a 3 wheel bicycle suited for older age adults.
Most owners find the overall quality of the Volare to be consistent. Its stylish looks attract buyers who value their image, but reliable performance and the ability to upgrade ultimately gives this cheap road bike its edge.
Vilano Aluminum Road Bike 21-Speed Shimano
- The simple gear shifters and parts are ideal for a beginner.
- You will enjoy decent speed and consistently smooth performance on the road.
- It can handle moderately steep hills with ease.
- The manufacturer’s customer service record is exceptional.
- It comes with free pedals.
- The chain may disengage from the chain ring you come off of curbs.
- Poor quality rim tape may lead to flats; this should be replaced to avoid problems.
- Brakes are placed low on the handlebars; this may cause some riders to have difficulty stopping.
- There is no seat post adjustment lever. You’ll need an Allen key.
For an affordable entry-level 21-speed road bike, this Vilano provides a great experience, which is proven by its popularity. It’s a top seller with online retailers, and owners applaud its overall good performance.
It has a lightweight 6061 double-butted aluminum frame, an integrated headset, a Shimano drive train, Shimano A050 handlebar-mounted shifters and Shimano front and rear derailleurs.
Weighing in at only 24 pounds, it’s the lightest in its class. If you’re looking for a decent multi-purpose bike that almost crosses the border into the next class, it’s a winner.
GMC Denali Road Bike
- Bikers riding the Denali can race, commute and tour for long hours with ease.
- The sturdy aluminum frame can support heavier riders.
- The manufacturer provides good customer support and stands by its products.
- It’s an attractive bike that will get lots of compliments.
- Braking ability is insufficient on some bikes. Assess brakes thoroughly before riding.
- The saddle is not comfortable and may even cause pain.
- The bike has generally lower-grade components but can be upgraded.
- Some owners complain about easily broken spokes and bent wheels.
GMC, one of the popular road bike brands, launched Denali as a 21-speed road bike with an aluminum frame, alloy calipers, brake levers and Vitesse racing rims. It combines a Shimano derailleur with Revo shifts for fast and smooth gear changes.
Whether you need a cheap road bike for casual commuting or you want to try your hand at street racing, the Denali’s 700c tires can hold up. Riders love the bike’s surprising lightness and smooth speed. For the price, it’s hard to beat.
Schwinn Men’s Phocus 1400 700C Drop Bar Road Bicycle
- Assembling the bike is fast and easy.
- The fit and finish of the Phocus is comparable to road bikes in a much higher class.
- The ride is fast, light and easy, making it a great choice for anyone who is just getting into racing.
- You can count on superb customer service from the manufacturer.
- It’s a relatively large bike, so it’s better suited for taller men.
- The inner tubes are weak and will need to be upgraded.
- It might not be your best choice for riding in hilly areas.
- The derailleurs may be difficult to adjust.
A lightweight and exceptionally responsive casual road bike from one of the most trusted names in the bicycle industry, the men’s Phocus is a favorite of guys who are focused on fitness.
It features an aluminum frame with a rigid fork, Shimano 14-speed rear derailleur and A050 shifters.
Add an SR Suntour crank, alloy rims with paired spokes, alloy caliper brakes and a quick-release front wheel, and you have everything you need for speed and solid performance.
Schwinn Men’s Prelude Bicycle
- The Prelude has excellent balance and consistent ride quality.
- Padded tape handlebars increase rider comfort.
- Shifting is generally accurate and smooth.
- It features mostly decent quality components and can also be easily upgraded.
- The padded seat is more comfortable than the ones usually found within the bike’s price range.
- You’ll probably want to replace the sub-par pedals.
- Assembly and adjustments for this bike are better left to experts.
- The inner tubes are weak and should be replaced. Frequent flats have been reported.
- It may take practice to get used to the location of the brake levers.
Another classic affordable road bike from Schwinn, the Prelude is a top seller that offers versatility, agility, reliability and a well-rounded set of features.
It has a lightweight aluminum drop bar frame, a Schwinn road fork, a 14-speed Shimano drive train with fast-shifting A050 shifters and dual pivot road brakes. A kickstand and toe clips and straps are also included. Riders enjoy the bike’s appearance and its smooth, fast ride.
The Prelude is a great bike for casual commuting, recreational biking and fitness.
Vilano Shadow 2.0 Road Bike
- It has an upgraded look and feel compared to its predecessor, the original Vilano Shadow.
- Assembly and upgrades are easy.
- The bike has a smooth ride even at higher speeds.
- You can expect great customer service from the manufacturer.
- It ships with free pedals.
- Because it is relatively new, it may be on back-order or difficult to find.
- Like most stock saddles, the seat may be uncomfortable.
- The Shadow 2.0 has typical stock quality tires, so you may want to replace them as soon as possible to avoid flats.
- Brakes may be difficult to operate without adjustments.
The only new release on our list, the Vilano Shadow 2.0 is a budget-friendly entry-level road bike that is perfect for fitness, everyday commuting and meeting up with like-minded friends to enjoy the open road.
It features an aluminum frame with an integrated headset, Shimano STI brake lever integrated shifters, and a 700c double-walled CNC wheelset.
It hasn’t been on the market very long, but early user reports have been mostly positive.
Why Should You Buy an Affordable Road Bike?
If you’re buying a road bike for the first time or you haven’t had one since you were a kid, it’s a good idea to start out with an inexpensive model.
Because your riding skills are rusty or underdeveloped, you’ll put more strain on your bike through shifting errors or minor mishaps.
Once your skills improve and you know exactly what you want and don’t want in a bike, you can save up for a new bike that has more bells and whistles, and you’ll be able to care for it with more expertise.
In the meantime, your practice bike will take you everywhere that you want to go. You may even find that you don’t need or want to upgrade.
If you haven’t been bike-shopping in a few years, you might be surprised to find that today’s affordable road bikes have an edge. A lot of the technology used to design professional-level bicycles is filtering down to entry-level models. Whether you are looking for road bikes for women or men, affordability always comes to the mind first.
You can get a relatively inexpensive road bike with features like name-brand components, carbon forks and sophisticated transmissions that you’d expect to see on costly models. Even if your budget is limited, you can find a great bike that lets you reap all the benefits of riding.
Here are a few ways that even a modest investment in a great road bike can change your life:
- Road bikes are much more cost-effective than cars. The bike itself is cheaper and so are repairs. Imagine the amount of money that you’ll save on gas.
- It’s great to have a road bike when your car breaks down. With a reliable second form of transportation, you’ll always have a back-up plan in an emergency.
- Cycling improves your physical strength, coordination and balance. It can even enhance concentration.
Studies have proven that bicycle commuters are more productive and take fewer sick days.
- Cycling helps you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. In addition to building muscles in your lower extremities and improving cardiovascular fitness, cycling burns up to 600 calories per hour.
- Riding a bike is a refreshing experience and a natural stress reducer that can improve your mood and fight anxiety and depression.
- When you ride a bike, parking and garage space is less of a problem.
- If you live in a busy metropolitan area, you can often bypass traffic gridlock and get to your destination on time.
- It’s a greener life choice. A bike has a tiny manufacturing footprint, and it doesn’t produce any significant pollution, so you’ll be improving your city’s air quality. It may even help to reduce road wear and tear.
- Cycling is fun. It gives you a healthy way to enjoy the outdoors, and you may even meet a few new friends.
What Makes a Good Road Bike?
A good road bike is one that you trust and love to ride. It looks right, feels right and delivers the performance you want. Quality components, good construction and even the bike’s warranty are all important factors that affect a bike’s overall value.
While you’re searching for your next good road bike, keep the major components in mind to help you evaluate the quality of your favorite models. Along with that, if you could get a road bike under $1000 for the start, it would be the best deal.
The most common frame choices are carbon fiber, aluminum and steel. Carbon fiber frames are the lightest and sturdiest. They absorb vibration, increase rider comfort and improve speed. You’re more likely to find carbon frames on high-end bikes that are out of your price range, but don’t worry; your options are still good.
Aluminum is less expensive, but it still provides a smooth ride. Steel is slightly heavier but more sturdy than aluminum and tends to cost the least. Many aluminum-frame bikes include a carbon fiber fork to help improve ride quality.
Much debate exists over which frame material is truly superior; the frame design and integration with other components can have a big impact on the bike’s performance.
A road bike usually has disc brakes or traditional rim brakes. Disc brakes offer reliable stopping power even when dirty or in wet conditions. Rim or caliper brakes are cheaper and easier to repair, and they give you more wheel upgrade choices. However, they don’t perform as well in wet or muddy conditions.
These component sets, which include transmission and brakes, come from specific manufacturers such as SRAM, Shimano and Campagnolo. Their quality is variable; the choice of group set is generally based on the price bracket and performance level of the bike.
High-end group sets deliver smoother shifting, a larger number of gears and lighter overall weight.
When possible, choose the best group set you can afford to get the best performance.
No matter how great its component quality or brand name, a bike that doesn’t fit you properly will be a waste of money. Be sure to consider the frame size, handlebar height, cleat position and saddle before purchasing your new bike. If you’re not sure how to take measurements for a bike, consult your local bike shop pros.
Armed with the right knowledge, buying a good quality road bike at a decent price isn’t as difficult as it seems. Here are a few final thoughts to consider.
- You’ll be the one riding your bike, so don’t pay more for features that other people think are necessary. It’s perfectly acceptable to buy a good, solid bike without any extras. You can always upgrade later.
- Never base your purchase on price alone. More expensive bikes aren’t necessarily better ones. Compare components, performance and materials to determine if a bike’s price is disproportionate before you judge its quality based on price or brand.
- You have some flexibility when choosing the ideal set of features. Keep in mind that a bike shop can swap out some components such as handlebars, stems and saddles if you’re not happy with them.
- A road bike is only good if it’s assembled with care. Unless you’re planning to have a bike shop take care of the assembly, you’ll need the skills and tools to put your bike together safely and professionally. If you don’t feel sure of your ability to do so, factor the cost of professional assembly into your budget.
Best Road Bike Under $300
Based on our research, we’ve chosen the Merax Finiss Aluminum 21-Speed 700C Road Bike Racing Bicycle as our top pick for the best road bike under $300.
Its well-rounded construction, quality parts, versatility and overall performance make it ideal for nearly everyone who is looking for an inexpensive yet reliable option.
Beginners will find it easy to ride, and people who are starting to take road biking more seriously will appreciate that it offers quality that defies its low price. One of the main reasons for choosing this as the best road bike under 300 dollars is also that its overall features and looks are that of an expensive bike but the price point is quite low.
You can use your Finiss to tour the city, commute to work or join up with biker buddies for a friendly competition. Regardless of your experience level, it’s a choice that will provide fun, speed, great looks and overall value, and you’ll even have money left over for your bike helmet.