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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 find the right affordable road bike for your needs.
This guide covers everything you need to know about picking a cheap but reliable beginner road bike. We cover the best affordable road bikes for a range of riding styles and give you tips for picking the best bike for your needs.
Our Top Pick for the Best Cheap Beginner Road Bike
Top 3 Cheap Beginner Road Bikes at a Glance
10 Cheap Beginner Road Bikes That Outperform Their Price Tags
All the bikes on our list are of excellent quality given their reasonable price, but only the Vilano Shadow 3.0 exceeds the limitations of this price tag.
This is a great bike for frugal riders. You should be able to find it at a price that’s within your budget. 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 Like It
This is the best overall deal you’re going to find for a cheap beginner road bike. The Vilano Shadow 3.0 offers all the essentials and is built to a standard well above this budget. You’ll get years of road rides out of this bike, whether you are a commuter, looking to test the waters of sport riding, or want to join a local bike club.
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 think that one day you’ll want to transition from being a cyclist who just happens to ride a road bike to a real 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 can 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 Like 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.
3. Vilano R2 (Best Road Bike for Commuters)
The Vilano R2 is our pick for the best road bike for commuters. If you’re looking for a beginner road bicycle with an affordable price tag that you can reliably use to get back and forth to 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 Like 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 need a bike that offers you a smooth and reliable ride.
This bike provides a decent ride for commuters while also giving you plenty of opportunity to use it to exercise or go on long bike rides.
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 cycling. 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.
Its gearing, brakes, and durable frame can help you manage difficult surfaces, and it will hold well on a daily commute.
- Respectable Shimano Claris STI shifters and front and rear derailleurs
- Lightweight aluminum frame hovers around 24 pounds
- Integrated shifters with 24 speeds allow 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 Like 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 enable you 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 optimal performance on steady inclines and long flat rides.
- The carbon fork is a pleasant surprise on an affordable road bike
- The unique style of this bike stands 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 bicycles, you might want to switch out some Poseidon-branded components with better alternatives
Why We Like It
If you fit into the limited sizing options, this is a great bike for riders who are interested in moving from commuter or casual rides to a more competitive scene.
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 are 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 Like It
This is a great bike that helps 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 for transitioning 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 create a design that is just as at home riding in your local neighborhood as it is 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 tune-up
- Included tools are a little underwhelming
- European racing style might be too bold for some
Why We Like It
You deserve to have a bike that’s assertive on the road. This is a great entry-level option for people looking for something a little more sporty with 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 its 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 or poorly 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 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 Like 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
- Lightweight and agile steering
- You’re going to want to test out the fit of this bike before you commit to the purchase
Why We Like 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 skimp 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 Like It
The Vitus Razor proves that you can still have luxury even when working on a budget.
Buying Guide for Cheap Beginner Road Bikes
There are a number of things to consider when shopping for a beginner road bike on a tight budget.
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 the most common. You won’t find many carbon frames.
Certain parts, such as hydraulic disc brakes will be hard to find at this price point. If you still want a bike with disc brakes, mechanical disc brakes are beginner-friendly and offer excellent 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 are 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.
Race 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 bikes are built for athletes who are racing against the clock. These bikes are typically ridden on closed tracks and aren’t 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. This bike type is 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 extra comfort as well as the ability to support additional cargo. They might have slightly wider tires.
This can be a great choice for commuters who have a longer distance to cover or who want a bike with comfortable geometry that can do double duty as a touring bike and a commuter 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 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. Here are a few answers to the most common questions asked about beginner bikes.
How do you choose a good but cheap road bike?
The key to choosing a good but cheap road bike 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 limited budget, and helps you grow through your first miles as a beginner road cyclist.
Are there good road bikes that are cheap?
There are plenty of good road bikes that are cheap. 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?
Higher-end 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 cheap road bike last?
You can expect to get at least five years out of a cheap bike. Bikes can last your entire lifetime as long as you keep them well maintained and in good shape. We recommend taking your bike to your local bike shop for a seasonal tune-up to make sure it stays in good shape.
How many gears should a road bike have?
A road bike can have anywhere from 1 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 give 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 tune-ups 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 cheap?
Yes, you can buy a good used road bike for cheap. 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 the staff at your local shop.