What to Look For

Consider the makeup of the frame. Road bikes can be found with different frame materials. Steel is the cheapest frame material, but aluminum offers a lighter frame. Consider your riding goals and habits. If you cruise around the neighborhood, the steel-framed bike may be your most economical choice. If you’re logging long miles, lighter aluminum frames may be better.
The best cheap road bikes include models of Trek, Schwinn, Tomasso, and Raleigh.

Here are a few more options if you want to start with a professional road bike:


Felt Z95 – $899

Even though the Z95 is the low bike on Felt’s totem pole, the company uses a creative mix of parts and splashy graphics to help it stand apart from your average beginner bike. The Z95 is built around a lightweight, butted alloy frame, and a vibration-absorbing fork made from Felt UHC Performance carbon fiber—the same material the company’s best bike frames used just a few years ago. Auxiliary brake levers mounted on the top of the handlebar provide an extra level of security for new riders or those unfamiliar with drop bars. Frame geometry is stable and upright, promising new riders a smooth introduction to the sport. The Z95 manages to hit a low price point by using a medley of drivetrain components from Micro.Shift, Shimano, FSA, SunRace, and Felt. Felt also liberally draws from its own house brand for some parts, all the way down to the tires.

BH Zaphire – $1,099

While the introductory Zaphire line has been available from BH in Europe for a few years, 2012 marks the first year the company’s U.S. distributor is bringing this hydroformed 7000-series aluminum bike to the United States. With a slightly taller head tube and a longer wheelbase, the Zaphire has the most upright (for comfort) geometry the company offers. Even with the rider in a taller stance, there are still signs of the brand’s racing heritage, particularly in the sharp head-tube angles, as well as in the attention paid to the bike’s spec. All-new 10-speed Tiagra shifters and derailleurs, driven by an FSA compact crank, deliver plenty of performance for new riders, while carbon fork legs save weight and take some of the sting out of the road. And the 1,300-gram frame weight is admirably light—giving newer riders few excuses not to get hooked.

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Cannondale CAAD8 6 Tiagra- $1,220

The CAAD8 chassis uses technologies that helped the company develop more-refined aluminum frames, which are now found on some of its top-of-the-line models. The bike’s chainstays, shaped to be vertically compliant, smooth out road vibrations without allowing too much lateral flex from the substantial forces coming from the stiff, oversize BB30 bottom-bracket shell. As the middle child in the CAAD8 family, this bike comes with a build that’s mostly Shimano Tiagra 10-speed parts, along with a stout, lightweight FSA Omega compact crank to help you pedal smoothly. Unlike many entry-level bikes, the head tube on this CAAD 8 is slightly taller than the head tubes on its racier siblings, so it will keep you comfortable on long rides at any speed. Complete with a carbon fork and a smart, matte-black graphics package, the CAAD8 will turn heads on any group ride

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