Out of all the bicycle categories out there, road bikes are the fastest, sleekest, and most efficient. A road bike is designed for pavement, and is the best option for riders looking to go farther with more speed and efficiency than on other types of bikes. Road bikes can also be astronomically expensive, making it hard for casual riders or commuters to get into the sport. Luckily, there are plenty of reasonably priced options out there for new riders.
Keep in mind that while these are solid entry-level bikes, the lower prices mean you’re going to compromise on at least some level of component durability and riding comfort.
What to Consider
Caliper (Rim) Brakes Versus Disc Brakes: Like other styles of bicycle, road bikes come with either caliper brakes or disc brakes. Disc brakes are relatively new to the world of road bikes, and usually come at a slightly higher price point than caliper / rim brakes. Rim brakes work by applying pressure to the sides of the wheel, while disc brakes are mounted on the hub of the wheel. Disc brakes can offer more stopping power, and are more often seen on mountain bikes and touring bikes.
Gear Ratio: A bike with more gears will allow for a greater range of pedaling force on varied terrain. Look for more gears if you plan to use this bike for races, triathlons, or longer rides in an area with big climbs. Check out the specs on each listing—for instance, a bike with a 3 x 7 crankset will have 21 gears, a solid option for a variety of extended climbs and descents.
Handlebar Style: Road bikes will come with either flat handlebars or drop bars. Drop bars have three different hand positions, which is nice for switching positions on long rides. They also allow you to lean further over the bars for more efficient pedaling uphill. However, flat handlebars can feel more secure, have more accessible brake levers, and are often found on more affordable bikes.
How We Selected
To choose the best cheap road bikes, we decided on a reasonable price range, then looked at the best options under the maximum price. We compared components and style, along with intended use for all categories. From there, we went with expert opinions and our own experience on road bikes and commutes to find the best road-style bikes for everything from in-town commuting to long weekend group rides.
This bike has a lightweight-yet-durable aluminum frame and double caliper brakes for the front and rear. The bike is sleek and efficient for commuting via roads, but will also feel at home on longer rides outside of the city or on paved bike paths thanks to the 21 gears.
This bike is easier to assemble than some of the others on this list, and the well-fitted components will be rideable without a tuneup for at least a few hundred miles. This is a solid all-in-one bike without a lot of need for upgrades, and the seat position and drop bars are classically styled like more expensive road bikes.
- 21 speeds
- Classic road bike style
- Seat can be uncomfortable
Equally suited for the daily commute as well as longer weekend rides, this sleek 21-speed aluminum bike is a prime example of an affordable road bike with powerful disc brakes.
It has fast acceleration, easy shifting, and a comfortable saddle compared to other comparably priced bikes. The Vilano Tuono T20 is also one of the easier at-home assemblies out there, with well-fitted components and fewer instances of parts not fitting together.
As with all bikes you put together yourself, we definitely recommend getting them tuned after a few rides, but overall this bike comes well-packaged for people to finish assembling on their own.
- Disc brakes
- 21 speeds
- Smooth shifting
- Sizing chart can be off
- Shifter can be loud at first
This bike is built on a durable steel frame designed with commuters in mind. It comes with attachment points for panniers and bags, as well as a wide frame geometry for a frame bag. The bike only has eight gears, so this won’t be an endurance or racing bike, but the rear drivetrain is simple and low-maintenance, which is nice on more affordable bicycles.
We love the unique colorways and designs on these bikes, currently in collaboration with the National Park Foundation. This road-style bike can hold its own technically against similar commuter competitors, with a vintage design that sets it apart from the rest.
- Solid components for reasonable price
- Bonus for design points
- Large space for bike bags
- Only eight speeds
- Less reactive brakes
We love the styling of this road bike, but be aware that it’s not as durable as others on the list, which makes sense given the low price point. The bike has 21 gears and a carbon steel frame, which makes for a smooth ride on a variety of road conditions.
The drop-bar styling and responsive brakes help with efficiency during the ride and confidence when stopping, and the geometry of the bike aids in wind resistance on exposed sections or when you’re battling a fierce headwind on the ride home.
- 21 speeds
- Very affordable
- Disc brakes
- Not the most durable
- Some components can arrive misshapen
This bike is equally comfortable on the morning commute or during a fast weekend group road ride. It comes with a reliable Shimano derailleur, shifter, and cassette, and weighs just 25 pounds. This bike is smooth and shifts easily through the 21 gears. It’s simple to assemble on your own, but we recommend taking it in for a tuneup to make sure the brakes and shifters don’t need any adjustments after the first few rides. The drop bars offer multiple grip options, and as a bonus, it comes in a fun, eye-catching colorway.
- Versatile for all types of riders
- 21 speeds
- Shimano components
- Will need adjustments after a few rides
- Seat can be uncomfortable
This bike is an affordable road bike you can feel confident taking out on longer group rides or even in entry-level races. The curved seat is comfortable for endurance riding, and the geometry was designed for longer rides.
It might be a bit on the heavier side compared to higher-end endurance road bikes, but for $850, this bike fits the sweet spot between a pricier ride and a more generic road-styled commuter bike. The higher front end is easier on the cyclist’s back, and the flexible alloy frame can absorb bumps, making long rides easier on wrists and back.
- Durable components
- Versatile for commuting and endurance
- Upright position for more comfort
- On the pricier end of affordable
- Heavy for long-distance riding
Though still technically an “entry-level” road bike, this offering from Schwinn is well suited for group rides, races, and will last year after year. It has an aluminum frame and fork, built to absorb chatter on the road and help stave off fatigue during long rides.
The bike has Shimano shifters and derailleurs for smooth, efficient gear changes, along with Schwinn’s road hub for lightweight travel on pavement. The saddle and handlebar tape are designed for longer rides in comfort, along with a slightly forward position for more efficiency during extended climbs.
- Reliable shifters
- Comfortable for long rides
- 14 speeds
The perfect intro bike for kids ages 8 to 12, this durable road-style bike is well suited for pedaling around the neighborhood or taking off with the parents on a longer ride.
The bike has seven gears and 24-inch wheels, which means easy adjustments for kids 53 to 56 inches tall. The responsive alloy brakes allow for fast stopping, and the seat post is easily adjustable. Raleigh builds reliable, safe bikes and their children’s line is no exception.
- Wide height range
- Durable frame and shifters
- Somewhat heavy