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An entry-level road bike unlocks boundless new potential. You get all the freedom of riding through city streets without any of the hassle of owning a car. However, there are countless road bikes out there, and it can be hard to pick the right one for you.
Our guide covers everything you need to know about picking out a beginner road bike under $500. We cover the best cheap road bikes for a range of riding styles and give you tips for picking the best bike for you.
Here’s our guide to the best road bikes under $500 for beginners.
Top 10 road bikes under $500 for beginner riders
All the bikes on our list are excellent quality given their price, but only the Vilano Shadow 3.0 exceeds the limitations of this price tag.
This is a great bike for this budget. While this one bumps right up against our $500 limit, you should still be able to find it at a price that’s within the budget and it far exceeds our expectations.
This is the kind of bike you can spend years growing into as you refine your cycling skills.
- Integrated brake-shift lever allows for a more fluid ride
- Lightweight aluminum frame is high quality for the price
- 700cc double-walled CNC machined wheels are built to last
- You might want to upgrade some components
- This bike needs a tuning before you can ride
Why we liked it
This is the best overall deal you’re going to find for a beginner road bike under $500. The Vilano Shadow 3.0 offers all the essentials and is built to a standard well above this budget. You’ll be able to get years of riding on this bike whether you’re a commuter, looking to test the waters of sport riding, or want to join a local bike club.
The Vilano Forza 4.0 is a bike with a few tricks up its sleeves.
This bike will be able to support beginner road cyclists who may be looking for something that can bridge them toward a career in competitive cylcing. Whether you’re interested in riding in a local bike marathon or even a cycling triathlon, the Vilano Forza 4.0 can support you as you move through the first part of your journey as a competitive cyclist.
It’s gearing, brakes and durable frame can also help you manage difficult surfaces, and it will hold well on a daily commute.
- Respectable Shimano shifters and front and rear derailleurs
- Lightweight aluminum frame hovers around 24 pounds
- Integrated shifters with 24 speeds allows you to maneuver with a competitive spirit
- Might be a little intimidating for beginners who aren’t looking to get competitive just yet
Why we liked it
The simple and understated design of this road bike fits in perfectly with serious, high-end competitive road bikes. This is a great option for beginner road cyclists who are interested in moving over to vigorous group rides or even novice competitive racing.
One of the big advantages of the Poseidon Triton is that it allows riders to transition from casual cycling to true road style. The drop-down handlebars give you the opportunity to lower into a more aggressive riding posture, while the geometry of the bike still comfortably supports an upright position for riding relaxed.
The gear set and shifters on his bike are ideal for beginner road cyclists. Instead of giving you too many gears to manage, this bike is focused on tight gearing designed for optimum performance on steady inclines and long flat rides.
- The carbon fork is a pleasant surprise on a road bike under $500
- The unique style of this bike is going to stand out against a crowded field of very similar-looking road bikes
- The unique geometry of this bike is ideal for riders who are looking to explore more aggressive road biking styles
- The brakes are a little crooked out-of-the-box, which means you’ll want to get some professional help when assembling this bike
- As you get more experience with road bikes, you might want to switch out some Poseidon-branded components with better alternatives
Why we liked it
If you fit into the limited sizing options, this is a great bike for riders who interested in moving from commuter or casual rides to a more competitive scene.
Bikes are one of the most interesting vehicles out there because they’re often used for commuting and transportation, but cycling can also be a high-end physical sport.
The Trinx Tempo is a bike that lets you bridge this gap. If you are new to road bikes but you think that one day you’ll want to transition from being a cyclist who happens to ride a road bike, to a road cyclist, then the Trinx Tempo gives you all the tools you need to hone your skills.
This is a lightweight bike with several options for gears, which means you’ll be able to challenge yourself while still being able to get around comfortably.
- Aerodynamic design
- Ultra-lightweight build
- 21 speeds means this bike can tackle anything
- Commuters or casual riders should probably look elsewhere
- Not the most comfortable ride over long distances
- Requires professional assembly
Why we liked it
Bikes are a classic way of staying in shape and getting fit. If you’re looking for a beginner road bike that can let you focus on staying healthy and building your skills as an athlete, this is the bike for you.
The lightweight frame is one of the biggest advantages for beginner athletes. This will allow you to focus on your technique while still getting great exercise.
5. Vilano R2
The Vilano R2 would be our pick for the best road bike for commuters. If you’re looking for a beginner road bike with an affordable price tag that you can reliably use to get back and forth from work, the Vilano R2 is the one for you.
It’s got a solid build, and it should last for years. It also has beginner-friendly, easily accessible features that make it a great choice for novice riders who need something they can count on.
- Padded seats
- Front and rear caliper brakes
- Shimano handlebar and shifters
- Sturdy aluminum build
- Requires some professional tuning
- You’ll want to upgrade some parts pretty quickly
Why we liked it
Commuters have different needs when it comes to their bikes. You’re relying on your bicycle to get you to work and back home consistently. This means you want to get a bike that’s going to be able to offer you a smooth ride and a reliable one.
This bike delivers on both those fronts while still giving you plenty of opportunity to use it to exercise or go on long bike rides.
The Giordano Libero features comfortable seats, steel forks, and Shimano shifters just to name a few parts that make this bike stand out.
The overall design of this bike is solid, and it’s ideal for cyclists looking to break out into a new riding style. If you have been commuting for a while, but you’re looking to get more into the sports side of cycling, this could be the bike for you.
- Steel forks are going to last a long time
- Shimano shifters are high quality
- 32-hole double-walled alloy rimmed tires
- Great bike for building up skills
- The warranty is confusing and not that good
- Only comes in one color option
Why we liked it
This is a great bike that helps out beginner road cyclists handle more advanced maneuvers and higher speeds. If you’re looking to expand your skills beyond commuting, this is a great bike to transition into more refined riding styles.
7. Eurobike XC550 (best beginner road bike for women)
The Eurobike XC550 is a bike with a powerful design. It also has some great brakes with its set of Shimano Tourney brakes.
This is a great entry-level bike for women who are looking for something a little more sporty. The three-spoke wheels combined with a bold color scheme creates a design that is just as at home riding in your local neighborhood as it would be on paved roads in Europe.
- European racing style
- Built-to-last frame
- Disc brakes
- Great entry-level bike for women who want to get into racing or sports biking
- The brakes can be squeaky out of the box and need a tuneup
- Included tools are a little underwhelming
- European racing style might be too bold for some
Why we liked it
You deserve to have a bike that’s assertive on the road. This is a great entry-level option for people who are looking for something a little more sporty that has a racing spirit. This is a durable bike that can be a great choice for women looking to level up their biking game.
8. Merax Finiss
The Merax Finiss has an impressive list of components and features, especially when you consider it’s budget price tag.
The aluminum frame is rigid and strong. A steel fork provides enough flexibility to cushion the impact even when going over rougher terrain. This bike comes equipped with 21 gears, and this wide range gives you plenty of options when tackling ascents as well as some of those less well-maintained roads.
From the Shimano parts to the aerodynamic frame design, Merax has done a fantastic job of creating an affordable version of what a racing bike should look like.
- The lightweight 6061 aluminum frame is a great choice for beginners who don’t want to haul around a steel frame
- Easily one of the most affordable options on our list
- The quick-release wheel is a great feature for extra security
- Some of parts might not last as long as more expensive brand names
- A few cyclists reported that this bike’s crank shaft started giving them trouble in just a handful of months
- Limited bike size options
Why we liked it
If you want a road bike that has the look and feel of a high-end racing bike, but without the price tag, this is the bike for you. This bike is an ideal option for people who are looking to get a taste of what competitive road bikes have to offer.
You can’t go wrong with a Schwinn bike. The Volare 1300 is lightweight and a great choice for commuters as well as athletes.
- The Schwinn brand name is highly respected
- Easy to assemble
- Light weights and agile steering
- You’re going to want to test out the fit of this bike before you commit to the purchase
Why we liked it
This is a lightweight men’s bike that can provide you with commuter potential as well as a killer workout. It’s agile, and it certainly lives up to the expectations of the Schwinn brand name.
10. Vitus Razor
The Vitus Razor is a great bike for cyclists who don’t want to skip on quality. This bike comes from a reputable manufacturer and uses highly respected parts in its build.
- Packed with high-end features
- Reputable brand name from frame to brakes
- The gear range is very small
Why we liked it
The Vitus Razor proves that you can still have luxury even when working on a budget.
Buying guide for beginner road bikes under $500
There are a number of things to consider when shopping for a beginner road bike under $500.
The first is the bike’s primary purpose. If you are a daily commuter, you’re going to have different needs than someone who’s looking to get into racing. Think about how you plan to use your bike and that will help you pick the right one.
You also want to consider materials and parts. Steel is one of the best materials for bike frames and forks, but at this price range aluminum is going to be the most common. Certain parts, like mechanical disc brakes, are beginner-friendly and offer greater support during those first few rides.
Size and comfort are also a big consideration. You can head into your local bike shop to try out different sizes and riding styles to find out what’s going to be most comfortable for you.
You should also consider that many of these bikes are shipped disassembled. If you are new to the world of biking, it might be a good idea to get a professional bike mechanic to assemble your bike at a local bike shop. Most mechanical errors for beginner cyclists happen because their bikes were not properly assembled.
Types of road bikes
It might surprise you to know that there’s more than one type of road bike. Here are a few of the most common types of road bikes and what you should know about them.
Racing bikes are designed to be competitive, lightweight and fast. They have high-end brakes as well as a powerful drivetrain. These bikes handle quickly and move with agility.
Racing bikes have a higher price range and most will be out of the budget for beginners. These might not be the best bikes for a beginner, but they’ll give you a lot of excitement down the road.
Time trial brakes are built for athletes who are racing against the clock. These bikes are typically ridden on closed tracks and don’t make a great choice for commuters. If you’re looking to explore biking as a sport, this could be an exciting opportunity.
Sportive bikes are another type of road bike designed for competitive riders. These bikes are designed to be ridden for long periods of time during extended races. A sportive bike can offer the commuter something a bit more efficient and sports-driven.
Touring bikes are road bikes designed to be ridden for extended periods of time, as you would on a multi-day cycling trip. They’re designed for maximum comfort as well as the ability to support additional cargo. This can be a great choice for commuters who have a longer distance or who want a bike that can do double duty as a touring bike and a commuting bike.
Aero bikes are built with aerodynamics in mind. These bikes get up to high speeds very quickly, and they’re designed for intermediate or more experienced riders.
So which one of the bikes on our list is the right one for you?
Finding your ideal beginner road bike for less than $500 comes down to balancing your needs with your budget. Whether you’re looking for the best performance, or a bike you can grow into as you improve your skills, you can find a great road bike on our list.
Let us know which one you picked and where it’s taking you!
Budget road bike FAQ
If you have a question about beginner road bikes, we have an answer for you. Here are a few answers to the most common questions asked about beginner bikes.
How do you choose a good road bike under $500?
The key to choosing a good road bike under $500 is to choose a bike that has the features that meet your needs. You should look for a bike that matches your style, fits your budget, and helps you grow through your first miles as a beginner road cyclist.
Are there good road bikes under $500?
There are plenty of good road bikes under $500. Any of the bikes on our list are going to be a great choice for a cyclist who’s mounting this style of bike for the first time and wants to do it affordably.
Are expensive road bikes better?
Expensive road bikes are absolutely better than entry-level models, but beginner riders might not notice the difference until they become more experienced. More expensive bikes have a higher build quality, superior parts and better features. Just like with a good car, the more money you spend, the higher quality vehicle you’re going to get.
That said, the beginner bikes on our list should be able to stick with you for years to come as you build up your cycling prowess.
How long will a road bike under $500 last?
You can expect to get at least five years out of the bikes on this list. Bikes can last your entire lifetime as long as you keep them well maintained and in good shape. We recommend taking your bike into your local bike shop for a seasonal tuneup to make sure it stays in good shape.
How many gears should a road bike have?
A road bike can have anywhere from one to 12 gears. The number of gears yours should have will depend on your needs. The more gears a bike has, the more easily it can respond to different types of terrain. More gears also gives you finer control over your acceleration. However, the more complicated a bike’s gearing is, the higher the learning curve and greater the need for regular tuneups to ensure precise shifting.
You can always head to your local bike shop and try out some different options to find the gearing that’s right for you. We have also published an explanation of how bike gears work.
Can you buy a good used road bike for under $500?
You can buy a good used road bike for under $500. You may even get better value than you do with a new bike. We recommend heading to your local bike shop. They usually keep their stock in much better condition than the folks on Craigslist. Until you get more experience with what to look for in bikes, you can rely on the expertise of staff at your local shop.