If your budget is under $1500, the good news is there are loads of options now available with the new designs and technologies. Many new bikes now come with features more often found on expensive models, such as disc brakes, carbon materials, and 10 or 11-speed drivetrains, as standard.
While premium bikes can go into the eye-watering thousands, there are lots of excellent options available on a budget – you don’t have to break the bank to find a good bike.
First we’ll present you our top bikes under $1500 and then continue with the buying guide. Make sure to read it before making a purchase.
The best bikes for under $1500
So, on to the best bikes available for under $1500.
The Tommaso Monza is the perfect bike for road cyclists who want to take their riding to the next level. The frame and fork are similar to other Tommaso road bikes, but this is a good thing.
The frame is made from a lightweight 6061 alloy and has racing geometry, which puts you into a very aerodynamic riding position. Tommaso has shaved off some extra grams by fitting the Monza with a carbon fork. The additional advantage of this is the improved vibration dampening properties, creating a smoother ride.
Your pedaling power goes through a Shimano Tiagra drivetrain. This is a great 2 x 10 drivetrain that gives you plenty of speed and climbing ability. The Tiagra’s gear shifting is smooth and reliable while being rare on a bike at this price point.
The fantastic rim breaks complete the Tiagra’s groupset and are trustworthy, even when you are descending quickly.
You will struggle to find a better road bike with such quality components and a carbon fork at this price point.
The State Bicycles Co. Undefeated Road
The State Bicycles Co. Undefeated Road is an affordable aluminium and carbon road bike for just shy of $1400. It comes with a carbon fork and a simple 1×11 SRAM Apex 1 groupset.
The 1×11 system has great range and is easy to maintain as there is no front derailleur. It also means that weight can be saved, which allows this bike to weigh under 8.5 kilos.
This bike has two bottle mounts on the frame and has v-brakes, which save weight and still perform well on a light road bike. The bike does not come with pedals, allowing the costs to stay down and the owner to provide their own.
This is reflected in the weight as with pedals the bike will be slightly more. The bike comes with Michelin Dynamic Sport tires and is a great option for a beginner rider as well as experienced riders alike.
2021 Trek Domane AL 3
The Trek Domane has been around for a while, and many road riders got their start on one of the Domane models. Every year Trek updates the bike, and many people wonder “can it get better than the Domane for under $1,500”?
Well, that question is tough to answer, but we don’t think there are many other bikes out there at this price point that can compete with the 2020 model of the Trek Domane AL 3.
The 2020 model of the Trek Domane AL 3 is built up with a Shimano Sora groupset. The Sora line from Shimano is an affordable and reliable groupset that will grow with you as you get into the sport more and your skills improve.
With a 9-speed cassette in the back and two chainrings in the front, you should always be able to find a comfortable gearing no matter what kind of road you ride.
The frame on the 2020 Domane AL 3 is made from Trek’s 100-series Alpha Aluminum, which provides stiffness while dampening road buzz.
A carbon fiber fork helps smooth the ride out even more, and also gives the bike better handling. You will feel confident enough to dive into whatever turns you encounter.
The Trek Domane AL 3, selling for approximately $1,000, represents a great value in the budget road bike category. You are going to be getting a bike that will grow with you, instead of limiting you, as your skills progress.
A worthwhile investment indeed. To purchase the 2020 Trek Domane AL 3, follow the following link to Trek’s website.
Triban RC 520
The Triban RC 520 is an excellent option for those on a budget. Famed for their budget bike range, Decathlon’s Triban is made with an aluminum frame, carbon forks, and nice and wide 28mm tires, helping to reduce bumps and road vibrations.
Remarkably, you can fit up to 36mm-wide tires if you want. The best thing about the Triban 520 is it comes with an 11-speed Shimano 105 drivetrain, which is usually found on mid-range and above models, with 50/34 chainrings and an 11-32 cassette.
That provides a really wide range of gears for cruising at speed and getting up climbs. Additionally, TRP HY/RD cable-actuated hydraulic disc brakes provide serious braking power.
- 11-speed Shimano
- Anti puncture tires
- 36mm compatible tires
- Cable-actuated hydraulic disc brakes
The Kestrel Talon Road Shimano 105 is more of a triathlon bike than a typical road bike but can be used for both. It’s quite unique for the budget range – it’s a carbon fiber bike made out of a mix of 800k and 700k carbon fiber to make it super lightweight, with a race-specific geometry.
It’s designed with an internal cable routing system and is built with aerodynamics in mind. The Kestrel Talon features a Shimano 105 groupset, giving it a more premium feel and extra pedaling power. Lastly, the handlebar is made from sturdy alloy.
Note: Kestrel Talon X Tri is also worth checking out if you want an aero road bike – view it here.
- A mix of 800k and 700k carbon fiber material
- Shimano 105 groupset
- Internal cable routing and aerodynamic design
As with the Felt VR 40, the VR6W is made with premium materials and specifications. Once more it’s on the more expensive side, but the performance is impressive.
The bike features Shimano Tiagra shifters and derailleurs, and an FSA Omega Adventure crankset. The compact gearing makes for efficient climbing performance.
The best thing is the addition of hydraulic disc brake technology, making control when descending and cycling at speed easily.
- Shimano Tiagra shifters and derailleurs
- Hydraulic disc brakes
Diamondback Arden 2
Specifically for women, The Diamondback Arden 2 is a great option for endurance riding, at a very good price. It’s made with a sturdy aluminum frame, with a nice shade of rainforest green giving it an eye-catching look.
Because it’s female-specific, the Diamondback offers smaller sizes, from XXS to L, and the geometry is also suited for women.
It includes a women-specific handlebar and saddle, which vastly improves comfort on the longer rides. The bike also comes with mechanical disc brakes, offering improved braking power and performance.
- Mechanical disc brakes
- Quite heavy
NORCO VALENCE ALUMINUM 105
The Candian Norco Valence Aluminium is an all-rounder that performs up there with the best. It delivers long-distance cycling comfort in a sleek package. The Valence is made with an aluminium frame, featuring excellent vibration dampening while maintaining stiffness for power and speed.
That makes the bike feel very responsive, particularly when climbing. The endurance geometry, with a slightly upright position, ensures stability and control at high speeds. Powered by the Shimano 105 R7000 groupset, the Valence also features carbon forks, and a GIZMO internal cable routing system.
Diamondback Century 2
The Diamondback Century 2 is seriously stiff, comes with hydraulic disc brakes, and an aluminium frame. It’s got impressive speed, expected with a stiff frame, but with a nice focus on comfort too. The Enhanced Performance Geometry features a taller head tube, reducing the stress on your back and neck.
The Century 2 is made with lightweight 7005 aluminium, and components include Shimano hydraulic road disc brakes, Dbr amp disc carbon road forks, a 2×11-speed Shimano Ultegra drivetrain, and HED wheels, stem and seat post. It also features 700x28c tires.
Felt VR 40
The Felt VR 40 is on the top end of the $1500 budget but it’s a beauty. It’s superb for longer, epic road rides, and focuses on the comfort and smoothness of the ride.
It might not be carbon fiber, but it’s made with an extremely durable aluminum frame, which Felt has called FLite. The riding geometry is optimized for comfort, and stable and reliable handling is prioritized to ensure descent and corners are easily navigated.
The aluminum frame comes with a fork crafted from UHC Advanced-level carbon fiber to improve handling even more and reduce excessive road chatter. Disc brakes are included, which is a real game-changer.
That means the VR 40 has superior braking performance in every weather, as well as greater durability. The cable management system is compatible with all drivetrains and is capable of using tires of up to 30mm wide.
- 30mm capable tires
- Modern endurance geometry for a broad fit range
- Custom butted aluminum frame, advanced-level carbon fork
- Shimano Tiagra 10-speed drivetrain
2019 Fuji Roubaix 1.5
The 2019 Roubaix 1.5 is a road bike designed to be one of the lightest aluminum racing bikes available. The A6-SL super-butted 6066 aluminum frame weighs under 1100g, which is impressive.
The Roubaix doesn’t sacrifice power or speed, though. the Roubaix doesn’t sacrifice strength or stiffness to be a featherweight.
It’s designed for speed and acceleration and has an aggressive riding position favoring racing. Additionally, carbon forks and internal cable routing are nice touches.
- Race geometry favoring aggressive cycling
- Full carbon fork
- Internal cable routing
- Extremely lightweight
The majority, including the frame, handlebar, and seat post are made from carbon fiber, which makes the bike nice and lightweight. The BO-CB0012B features a 700c fork, helping streamline your ride on various terrains.
Plus, you get 20 speeds, making riding at speed pretty easily without too much effort. Lastly, clip brakes provide full control over speed when you need to stop.
- Durable carbon fibre
- Really lightweight
- LTWOO Rear Switch 20 Speeds or Shimano Tiagra
Specialized Allez Sport
- E5 aluminum frame
- Shimano Sora groupset
- 18 speed
The Specialized Allez series might just be the most commonly picked beginner’s road bike series in the world. The Specialized Allez Sport brings you the knowledge that Specialized have built up through their years of experience releasing this range.
The knowledge that is used to construct the Allez Sport helps to bring one of the lightest bikes in our review feature. Not only is the E5 aluminum frame light, but it is also stiff, all of your pedal stroke will help to propel you forward.
The frame is so good you’ll probably not get the green-eyed monster when you see other more expensive bikes, in fact, you’ll probably feel better when you fly past them on your Allez.
As well as the lightweight frame, you’ll find a lightweight full carbon fiber fork. The fork is helping to reduce the road buzz coming to your hands, and giving you less weight to carry uphill.
To help you find the correct gear for riding uphill, the Allez Sport features an 18-speed Shimano Sora groupset. The 18 gears bringing you enough of a range to make sure you’re always going as fast, or slow, as you need to be going.
2021 Masi Vincere Tiagra (Unavailable)
The Masi Vincere is an entry-level road bike with an alloy frame and carbon fiber fork. The matte black paint has subtle gradient red accents, creating an understated yet tasteful look.
The Vincere features an endurance geometry with a taller headtube for a more upright riding position which makes for a more comfortable ride over long distances.
This version of the Vincere model range comes with a 2×10 Shimano Tiagra drivetrain and the proven TRP Spyre-C mechanical disc brakes which offer excellent shifting and stopping power against other components in the price point.
The Vincere offers ample tire clearance, fitting a maximum of 32Cmm tires.
Cannondale CAAD Optimo Sora
Cannondale’s CAAD Optimo Sora is a great example of expensive technology trickling down to less expensive bikes. That technology makes this bike a great option for beginners, at a really good price.
The bike is made of the same materials as Cannondale’s aluminum race bikes and comes with full carbon forks to dampen road vibrations. The Optima Sora has Shimano’s Sora 9-speed drivetrain, which isn’t the best but is perfect for more casual riding.
- Aluminum frame with carbon forks
- No disc brakes
- Shimano Sora 9-speed
British bike manufacturer Ribble’s R872 Disc Tiagra is made with carbon fiber. It’s at the top end of the budget, but because it’s carbon fiber it’s light and speedy. It’s more of a race geometry than standard.
The Ribble bike has a particularly stiff front end, and it feels like a much more expensive model. It comes with an alloy handlebar, and everything feels very sturdy and reliable.
It might not be the fastest bike ever, but you’ll love the rigid feel when climbing out of the saddle and taking sharp corners.
The lightweight carbon frame and forks come built with Shimano’s ever-reliable Tiagra 4700 10 speed groupset. Additionally, mechanical disc brakes improve braking performance in all conditions.
- Carbon fiber build
- Mechanical disc brakes
- Shimano Tiagra 10-speed
- Mavic Aksium Disc wheels
Here’s our guide on the best bikes available for this budget and what you should expect when buying one.
What to expect?
While really expensive bikes have advanced shifting features, less expensive bikes are more simplified. More modern bikes are started to get 8, 9, or 10-speed drivetrains, however. Even 11-speed budget bikes have become a fairly common sight.
What this means is budget bikes can still have two cogs, more gears, and faster shifting, massively improving the overall bike performance for a wider variety of cycling – speed and cycling.
Tires and brakes
Affordable bikes have started to adopt wider, more versatile tires. Again, this trend is typically suited for expensive models but has become more of a standard for cheaper bikes.
Tires now 28mm are becoming more and more popular, with some options going even wider. That improves ride comfort and performance. Wider tires are slightly heavier though, less suitable for racing.
When it comes to brakes, traditionally it would only be rim brakes on cheaper bikes. Now, hydraulic and mechanical disc brakes are often found on less expensive bikes. That means you can benefit from the increased braking power for less effort.
At this price range, you shouldn’t expect a real racer. Most bikes are designed for general road bike use, with the exception of a few. General designs favor commuting, casual riding, adventure cycling, and longer rides.
That usually makes them more comfortable, as they are less harsh in terms of riding position. You are more likely to be more upright, taking the strain off your back and neck.
Of course, if you spend thousands on a bike you’d expect it to be light. On the flip side, less expensive bikes will obviously be heavier.
While carbon forks and a mixture of materials have made them lighter, you’ll still find cheaper bikes being on the heavier side than more expensive models.
That doesn’t mean you can’t find a lightweight option, however, but you will likely have to sacrifice something else to lose bike weight.
What to think about when buying a road bike?
Firstly, think about what you want a bike for. Do you want to cycle to work? Cycle longer all-day rides? Racing in sports? Make the decision and base your decisions on what fits best.
For instance, commuters will want something lighter, reliable, and easy to move about. Whereas someone who wants to do longer casual rides might favor a wider range of gears and comfort.
If you know that all-day adventures are your thing, look for a bike with a relaxed geometry (which would be a shorter stem reach and taller stack). If you’re thinking of racing, or just want to be fast, choose a bike with a shorter stack and longer reach.
If you’re just into cycling, opt for the happy medium. Always try and test ride a bike if you can, unless you know what size you need already.
What things do you need to consider?
The key things to consider when buying a bike are the components, the build, the look, and the size of the bike.
- Components: You want the best components your budget can get. Think about reliability. Components range from gears and drive sets to seatposts and cranks.
- Build: The frame needs to be durable and made of good quality materials. Carbon frames are the best available but are more expensive. Aluminum frames are pretty common for less expensive bikes.
- Design: Not much to do with the performance, you still want your bike to look the part. That being said, the more aerodynamic the design the fastest it will be.
- Size: Make sure you get the right size frame for your height. Getting it wrong will result in knee, back, and neck pain, as well as a seriously uncomfortable ride.
Founder of Vivi Nation, the cycling, running and active living brand. Chris is a sports enthusiast, occasional triathlete and experienced cyclist, having led multiple cycle tours across Europe.