For mortals looking to go fast, descend confidently, and brake safely, here's a line-up of beloved and favorite road bike models—all of which deliver a solid balance of speed, stability and control. Some are selected with the most avid of cyclists in mind while some cheaper options are for those who just need reliable wheels to get them to work, the park, or wherever their next adventure takes them.
Shimano still appears in a major way on this aluminum-framed starter bike. Smart engineering and component selection make solid performance possible with the unconventional 14-speed gear configuration. At about $300, Shadow comes complete with pedals, knowing some final assembly is required.
Among the production bikes closest to pro models, Trek's Madone 9.2 still lands in the $5,000 range despite a frame created for maximum power transfer to the wheels. A 600 Series OCLV frame combines light weight and stiffness to handle hair-raising descents and reduce fatigue on extended climbs. Every detail is amazing.
Long-distance comfort characterizes this smooth running carbon fiber Diamondback model, one complete with hydraulic disc brakes and a 2x11 drivetrain. With a more upright position, most riders will find longer sessions easier to tolerate. Continental Ultra Sport tires are a nice addition along with pedals extra to fit your preference.
Uphill power separates this from most value-minded road bikes, thanks to a compact crank along with a wide-ranging, 16-speed drivetrain. Italian bike racing roots show up in this model, complete with two water bottle mounts. Don't be surprised if occasional rides become a habit on this speed-prompting bike.
With the ability to ride varied terrain with all-day comfort, this one is as long on value as its long name. Anchored by a 2x11 Shimano 105 drivetrain housed in a lightweight monocoque frame, this is as close to race-ready as $1,500 can land. Get some help with minor assembly and don't look back.
For riders who value traditional frame geometry, race-proven components, and a long-standing tradition of quality, CF Sprint is a solid option. While heavier than more expensive carbon bikes, the brakes deliver in poor weather as the 22-speed Shimano drivetrain paves the way for years to come.
A double-butted aluminum frame adds strength while a full-carbon fork stirs in better handling and shock absorption in this new model from REI. With 22 gears and dual-piston mechanical disc brakes, transitions are smooth with an all road bike that tips the scales at 22 pounds at about $1,200. A women's version is available as well.
Hardcore riders trust Ridley to deliver, and the Fenix Alloy 105 musters superior on-road handling with an aggressive rider-forward frame configuration. Dodging the more expensive carbon fiber build in favor of lower price and more weight, the 105 features Shimano's classic drivetrain along with a carbon fork for better shock absorption.
Here, carbon alchemy does its magic with a sense of style unique to Kestrel. Lighter weight, more whip around corners, and the ability to enter citizen race events with confidence come in at well under $1,500. Wind tunnel tested, Talon's seat post can be adjusted to work in a triathlon position for even more versatility.
This model is the most for anyone's money. Ideal for first time buyers, gift giving or replacing a much-loved stolen bike, Nashbar kills it with decent components and a gear range that covers extreme climbs and wide-open flats. A carbon fork somehow gets included at this ridiculous price, as do sensible 700x25 Schwalbe Lugano tires.
Much like the Olympic Games' Eternal Flame, this brand keeps burning and turning with value-minded models including the Volare The wheels and tires upgrade the entire build that centers on a 14-speed Shimano drivetrain with a capable front fork for improved handling. Sizing runs true and Schwinn delivers a worthwhile model at 33 lbs.
Shimano Ultegra components and Giant cockpit parts put this 11-speed composite framed model within reach at about $3,000. An upgraded fork and rims support a fast-and-light approach to the road, one designed for racers. Giant puts riders in a more demanding physical position to extract extra power with every pedal stroke.
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