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Best Road Bikes Under 2000

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It is a crisp morning and you see people out on their bikes. It looks fun. Outdoors in the fresh air, getting exercise and getting fit. 

You think, “why don’t I buy a road bike?”

Or perhaps you are looking for a reliable road bike to get you through the winter months?

Or, you’ve heard that the latest craze is gravel riding and want a bike that can go off road as well?

Bike manufacturers know that the answer to these questions is “yes” and have raised their game.

With more options, how do you choose the right one for you? Let’s look at some of the best road bikes under $2000.

Top 9 Best Road Bikes Under $2000

Trek Domane AL 5 Disc (best overall)

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  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Groupset: Shimano 105 (11-speed)
  • Brakes: Shimano 105 hydraulic disc
  • Weight: 22.6lbs (10.2kg) (56cm frame)

The curved lines of the Domane have always stood out amongst its peers in this price range. Moving away from the rounded tubes, the internal cabling and smooth welds on the latest model give it a modern facelift.

What stands out with the new Domane AL is its versatility. Disc brakes, tire clearance and a relaxed endurance geometry means that this bike is so much more than just a winter training bike.

The frame is made from the same Alpha aluminum alloy as previous models but now comes loaded with extra features. There are mounts for fenders and racks, three bidon cage mounts and, impressively, mounts on the top tube for a Bento bag.

The Trek Domane AL 5 Disc is bursting with winning features.

Features

  • Gravel-ready with up to 35mm tire clearance
  • Smooth welds and internal cabling for a premium look
  • Awesome versatility thanks to the huge array of frame mounts

Diamondback Century Road Bike

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  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Groupset: Shimano 105 (11-speed)
  • Brakes: TRP spyre mechanical disc brakes
  • Weight: 22lbs (10kg) (56cm frame)

Diamondback are one of the great BMX bike manufacturers but they have been building great value road bikes for a while.

The Century 3 road bike is aimed at riders who want comfort to spare in the saddle without being a slouch out on the road.

The Shimano 105 groupset on this bike represents outstanding value for money. The 105 is inching closer to the premium Shimano groupsets and is one of the best on the market. 

The TRP disc brakes are mechanicalrather than hydraulic but the dual piston design and easy set-up splits the difference. They may not have the same stopping power as hydraulic disc brakes but they still outperform rim brakes, particularly in wet and muddy conditions.

Diamondback is also renowned for providing great service and offering the best customer support to keep you rolling.

Features:

  • Great value road bike with striking, curved looks
  • Excellent 105 groupset
  • Some of the best mechanical disc brakes

Giant Contend AR 1 (best for gravel)

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  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Groupset: Shimano 105 (11-speed)
  • Brakes: Shimano 105 hydraulic disc brakes
  • Weight: 21.2lbs (9.6kg) (56cm frame)

Staying right on trend the Contend AR 1 aims to be the endurance bike that can handle all roads. Trying to be all things to all people is not easy at this price, but the Contend AR 1 is bold enough to pull it off.

The Contend AR1 feels like the natural evolution of what modern road bikes are capable of. On the road the bike performs exactly as you imagine. The position on the bike is leaning more towards performance than endurance but only just.

The composite seatpost, combined with generous tires enhances comfort in the saddle even when you point the bike in the direction of gravel.

As you would expect with the dependable Shimano 105 groupset the shifting and braking performance is reliably authoritative.

Giant have put together a versatile bike with the Contend AR 1. It is a great road bike and the best of the lot for spending time on gravel.

Features:

  • True all-road bike with room for 38mm tires
  • Internal cable routing and plenty of room for racks and fenders
  • Tubeless wheel and tire combination as standard

Read more: Using gravel bikes for commuting

Trek Emonda ALR 5 (best for speed)

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  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Groupset: Shimano 105 (11-speed)
  • Brakes: Shimano 105 hydraulic disc
  • Weight: 16.3lbs (7.4kg) (52cm frame)

Trek have somehow managed to build an aluminum bike with looks to rival its high end carbon cousins. This is about as good as an aluminum frame can look.

The hydroforming and “invisible weld technology” is not just for looks. The Trek Emonda ALR 5 is one of the lightest aluminum bikes on the market and proof that carbon is absolutely not the last word in frame building.

The bike feels fast and responsive from the saddle with the rider position somewhere between aggressive and endurance. For those that want to ride fast and hard, the Trek Emonda ALR 5 is all about the speed.

Features:

  • One of the lightest aluminum bikes out there
  • “Invisible weld technology” redefines how an aluminum frame can look
  • Shimano 105 groupset with reliable hydraulic disc brakes for all riding conditions

Specialized Tarmac SL6 (best carbon frame)

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  • Frame Material: Carbon
  • Groupset: Shimano Tiagra (9-speed)
  • Brakes: Shimano Tiagra hydraulic disc
  • Weight: 18.4 (8.3kg) (56cm frame)

You could make a case that Specialized started the endurance road bike trend over a decade ago with the infamous Roubaix model.

The Specialized Tarmac SL6 has one of the best carbon frames available. It is a frame that was built to go fast and mimics its more expensive big brother, the S-Works Tarmac.

Although built to be nimble, the Tarmac SL6 has enough built-in comfort for riding sportives and longer distances.

Features:

  • Lightweight carbon frame that is fast and responsive
  • Space for up to 30mm wide tires
  • Watt saving aero features

Cannondale Synapse (best endurance)

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  • Frame Material: Carbon
  • Groupset: Shimano Tiagra with FSA crankset (10-speed)
  • Brakes: Shimano Tiagra hydraulic disc
  • Weight: 21.6lbs (9.8kg) (56cm frame)

The Cannondale Synapse basically defined what an endurance bike could be when it first appeared on the market. Back then, no one knew why they even needed an endurance bike but his bike proved a perennial favorite.

The frame might have had a facelift but it is still the same great bike.

The famed micro-suspension that has always served Synapse models well is present here and combined with the 25.4mm seatpost does a great job at smoothing out the road.

Sometimes it is the little things that make a bike standout and in the case of the Synapse it is the hidden fender mounts. Great for the winter months without ruining the sleek aesthetic of the carbon frame in the summer.

Riding for hours and hours is what the Cannondale Synapse does best and always has, making it great for endurance.

Features:

  • Lightweight carbon frame with a renowned endurance rider position
  • SAVE micro-suspension throughout the frame keeps the ride comfortable yet nimble
  • Hidden mud-guard mounts and space built-in for a rear rack for longer adventures

Schwinn Fastback Carbon

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  • Frame Material: Carbon
  • Groupset: Shimano 105 (11-speed)
  • Brakes: Shimano 105 rim brakes
  • Weight: 19lbs (8.6kg) (51cm frame)

Perhaps not the most well known of road bike manufacturers, Schwinn have quietly built a full carbon road bike that doesn’t compromise on quality components.

The lightweight frame is built for endurance with a relaxed geometry.

Although the Shimano 105 groupsetdoesn’t come with hydraulic disc brakes on the Schwinn, it is still a more than capable groupset that would not be out of place on more expensive models.

A full carbon frame and 105 groupset makes the Schwinn Fastback Carbon a real hidden gem.

Features:

  • High spec Shimano 105 groupset
  • Lightweight carbon frame
  • Internal cable routing for enhanced looks

Giant TCR Advanced 2 Pro Compact (best looking)

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  • Frame Material: Carbon
  • Groupset: Shimano 105 (11-speed)
  • Brakes: Shimano 105 rim brakes
  • Weight: 17.4lbs (7.9kg) (56cm frame)

Giant’s first attempt to inject some of its famed mountain bike attitude into the staid world of road bikes twenty-five years ago was not the unqualified success they had hoped for.

The road cycling world was not ready for the sloping frame geometry back then.

Now pretty much every road bike owes a debt to this design.

The full carbon frame is light, stiff and responds immediately. Combined with the full Shimano 105 groupset, it represents outstanding value for money.

Still very much a race bike, the TCR Advanced 2 does not demand a position so aggressive to be uncomfortable.

Somewhat subjective, there is a strong case for the Giant TCR Advanced 2 Pro Compact being the best looking bike of the bunch

Features:

  • Outstanding value – carbon frame and great components
  • Lightweight
  • Eye-catching looks thanks to the unique sloped geometry

Tommaso Imola Endurance (best budget)

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  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Groupset: Shimano Claris (8-speed)
  • Brakes: Rim brakes
  • Weight: 23.8lbs (10.8kg) (56cm frame)

The Tommaso Imola is a budget-friendly option for those looking to try road cycling

It has an endurance style frame that looks great.

It may not be a bike built for speed, but for beginners there is a lot to like about the Imola.

The Shimano Claris groupset is completed with a 50/39/30T triple chainset, and is excellent for new riders. The small ring will spin up any hill you throw at it.

The price is the main talking point with the Imola and as an introduction to road cycling it is hard to beat. It has plenty of upgrade potential down the line for performance gains without losing the endurance feel.

The Tommaso Imola Endurance is a great budget option for getting started in road cycling.

Features:

  • Low cost bike to get you started in road cycling
  • Triple chainset takes the sting out of any hill
  • Comfortable and great looking frame

Buyer’s Guide To A Road Bike Under $2000

If you are new to road cycling, buying a new road bike can be confusing. At times it feels like there are an impenetrable amount of new terms and acronyms to get to grips with.

Most people buying a new bike want something that just works. They don’t want to win races. They want to roll the bike out of the garage and start pedaling.

Here are some important features to look out for before parting with your cash.

Frames

Aluminum frames dominate entry level roads bikes but there are exceptions providing carbon frames. To smooth out some of the rougher roads and add more compliance, most aluminum frames are typically aided by carbon forks.

Thanks to good marketing, full carbon frames are sometimes seen as the last word in frame building.

To keep costs down and still appeal to new riders, bikes that use full carbon frames under $2000 generally have to make compromises in other areas. This usually translates to downgraded groupsets.

With the improvement in welding techniques and technology this no longer feels like a compromise worth making and pairing an aluminum frame with better components will usually make for a better riding experience.

At this price point a good aluminum frame is likely better than a carbon frame.

Groupsets

The groupset comprises the mechanical components of the bike that transfer the power from your legs to the bike and then help you stop. In basic terms, the gears and the brakes.

New riders can be guilty of impulsively buying a great looking bike without even considering the groupset.

The groupset is perhaps the most important feature to look out for in a bike as manufacturers will sometimes select cheaper components to appeal to the wallets of more customers.

It is more common to find Shimano Sora and Tiagra groupsets on entry level road bikes. The only real difference between the two is the number of sprockets on the rear cassette (9 and 10 respectively) but both should give you more than enough range for any terrain.

Most new bikes come with compact double chainrings as opposed to the triple chainrings that were previously popular. Compact chainrings offer better shifting and lower maintenance whilst still providing more than enough range of gears.

Moving up in budget, Shimano 105 groupsets are common at the higher end and feature heavily among the bikes selected here.

It is less common to find full Shimano Ultegra groupsets at this price but they can be found if you look hard enough.

Road bike with Ultegra groupsetPin

As with most things in road cycling, disc brake technology has trickled down to even entry level road bikes from the pro peloton. Long-loved by mountain bikers, road cyclists have finally realised that the extra weight compared to rim brakes is more than worth it for the extra stopping power in all riding conditions.

Weight

One of the most noticeable differences between these bikes and more expensive machines is the weight.

The predominantly aluminum frames are heavier than their carbon counterparts and the groupsets also tend to be slightly heavier. This increased weight will only really be discerned when going uphill so it is not necessarily a deal breaker.

To keep costs down, manufacturers usually opt for some clunky, uninspiring wheelstes.

This deal is implicitly understood when buying an affordable bike and riders usually factor in the cost of replacing the wheels with something faster down the line. It is a simple upgrade that will bring immediate and noticeable performance gains.

Main Types of Road Bikes

To the uninitiated, all road bikes look the same but there are subtle differences. These differences determine whether the bike is built for speed or endurance.

The road bikes here lean towards endurance with frames that put the rider in a more relaxed, upright position. This is great for new riders and won’t leave you with back pain after a few short spins in the saddle.

Race

The clue is in the name. Race bikes are built for speed and don’t particularly care about your comfort.

The shorter head tubes and longer top tubes mean a much lower position for the rider, reducing the frontal area and ultimately reducing drag.

Reducing drag doesn’t end with the rider and modern race bikes make use of aerodynamic tube shapes to squeeze every extra watt from the rider. These tube shapes make the bike feel rigid and unforgiving on long rides.

Racing frames will fit 23mm and 25mm tires as standard with newer models able to accommodate 28mm tires.

Endurance

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Endurance bikes marry speed and comfort. Common to all endurance bikes is a more upright position in the saddle. What you lose in aerodynamics you more than make up for in comfort.

The trend for wider tires is alive and kicking in endurace frames with 28mm being the norm but up to 32mm is not uncommon. As well as increased comfort, this opens up the possibility of exploring gravel riding.

To give better handling on rougher terrain, the wheelbase on endurance bikes is also typically longer than on pure racing frames.

Knowing that an endurance bike for a lot of riders means a winter training bike, manufacturers also tend to add eyelets for mudguards to keep you riding through all but the worst conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Spend More Than $2000 For A Road Bike?

If you have a forgiving partner then by all means spend away. For the rest of us on a budget you do not need to spend more to get a very capable bike.

Can I Build the Bike Myself If I order Online?

Bikes bought online require very minimal building at home and don’t require specialist tools. Attach the handlebars, wheels and pedals and you are more or less good to go.

Do Pedals Ship With A New Bike?

New bikes usually come supplied with standard flat pedals that tend to look out of place on the sleek lines of a road bike. Most cyclists replace them with clipless pedals that have to be bought separately.

Final Words

With so many great road bikes to choose from it can be hard to pick a clear winner.

That said, the Trek Domane AL 5 Disc edges it in a photo finish. It is loaded with great components (Shimano 105 with hydraulic disc brakes), can tackle gravel with huge clearance for wider tires and the extra features make this a true all-rounder.

There was stiff competition from its lightweight brother, the Trek Emonda ALR 5, a bike that wants to go fast. The latest Cannondale Synapse continues to improve upon a classic and is a truly comfortable bike for long days in the saddle.

The dizzying evolution of technology means that road cycling is becoming more affordable and more accessible.

If you want to experience the freedom of cycling, these road bikes offer reliability and performance without having to remortgage your house.

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Mark W
Mark W
I’m a cycling enthusiast, and the founder and chief editor of Bike Push. If I’m not working on this website, then I’m out on the bike clocking up the miles. I want to help others get the most out of cycling.

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