“I want a good road bike, but I don't want to spend more than $1,500,” you may say. No worries, that’s totally achievable.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DEMAND FOR UNDER $1.5K

1. Safe

2. Comfortable   

3. Fun to ride

HOW TO GET ALL THAT IN YOUR PRICE RANGE:

ALUMINIUM. New aluminium manufacturing techniques have made it possible to create a frame for the price-conscious that’s relatively lightweight and quick-feeling.

SHIMANO SORA. Shimano’s recently improved, budget-oriented component group uses trickle-down tech from higher-end versions for lighter-action shifting and a lighter-weight crank. The 105 groupset is the next level up and is also available on certain bikes in this fixed budget.

CONSIDER...

Giant Contend 1 - $1,099

We recommend the Giant Contend 1, which feels and looks way more expensive than it actually is. The butted aluminium frame, a mash-up of Giant’s racy TCR and endurance-focused Defy (aluminium versions of both are now replaced by the Contend), cherry-picks the best geometry attributes from each: the TCR’s snappy rear end with the more upright and stable front from the Defy.

The smart parts package - Shimano Sora with a compact (34/50) crankset and wide, 11x32 cassette - helped me spin easily on pretty much any grade, and the shifting was smooth and responsive, even under load. The brakes require significantly more hand squeeze than higher-end versions, but I felt confident in the stopping power.

The bike feels smooth and quick on all manner of road surfaces, from chunky asphalt to potholed dirt. Its 9.11kg weight is on the low side for a bike at this price, and I was pleasantly surprised by how efficient it felt, even on super-steep climbs. Best of all, I had a ton of fun - even when I was with friends who were riding high-end wonderbikes. Regardless of how much you spend, that feeling is what it’s all about. – Taylor Rojek