The Best Road Bikes
Our highly experienced reviewers perform extensive field tests and score products on objective criteria to determine the best bikes in five different categories.
We currently have tests for Road Race Bikes which are among, if not the, top model in this category for each brand, and Endurance Road bikes which have a slacker head tube angle than their Road Race cousins, along with longer head tubes and chainstays/wheelbases, narrower, and/or shaped seatstays, skinnier seatposts, etc.
While it’s clearly an endurance bike, the Scott Solace Premium is also relatively light and offers superior stiffness in key areas like the bottom bracket, downtube and fork for excellent acceleration and responsiveness. The combination means this bike can easily go from gravel grinds to road races without much sacrifice on either. We only found a few minor drawbacks including some instability in the front end and some bounciness in the saddle, especially while climbing or at a high cadence.
Best For Railing Corners
Eddie Merckx Mourenx 69 Black Anthracite RedBiking, Gravel Bikes, Road Bikes & Road Race Bikes
Eddy Merckx's entry in the Endurance Road category is the Mourenx69, named after Merckx's legendary solo victory in the 1969 Tour de France that finished in Mourenx. Itsgeometry is firmly in the endurance category, but the Bottom Bracket and head tube junctions are noticeably stiffer than the others. Whether all-out sprinting, standing up and grinding a steep grade, or diving into a corner faster than you might be comfortable with, the Mourenx handles it beautifully. It’s still noticeably smoother than more racy geometries, but it lacked a bit of the “float” feel of the others, especially on really rough terrain. And with the cost savings, Ultegra makes this bike an amazing value, especially for the more speed-needy.
As the only Titanium entry in our roundup, the Moots Vamoots DR was able to shine in the ride feel category—no composite can ride like Ti, with its buttery smooth compliance and vibration-sucking nature. And the handmade quality of this machine is immediately apparent on the road or in the garage! The Ultegra Di2 group always excels as a lower priced, but barely noticeable difference in quality, option to Dura Ace with smooth and precise shifts, even under load. While the Mavic Ksyrium wheels are incredibly durable and sufficiently fast and light. However this may not be the bike for criterium racesor crushing steep climbs. But for the majority of endurance riding, the ride can’t be beaten, and Ti’s legendary longevity means this bike will last.
With a quality carbon frame, light nicely built wheels, and solid components the Haanjo Comp Carbon is an all-around high performer. The Haanjo was impressive on the climb where the geometry (slightly slack), tight frame, and components created a perfect climbing platform, although the brakes hindered the downhill enjoyment. The Haanjo comes in at a very competitive price point and is highly worthy of consideration.
A stainless-steel frame, carbon fork, and Shimano 105 components make for an epic, albeit nostalgic ride. Steel is the optimal material for a gravel bike, famous for its sufficient stiffness, outstanding compliance, and dampening of vibration—plus you’ll never have to worry about rust. The only downside is the mechanical disc brakes, which are not up to the gravel-riding challenge—it's worth the upgrade to the Ultegra version if you can afford it.
Mongoose’s Selous provides a lot of ride at a reasonable price. We rode the Selous extensively, testing its very limits, and by and large the Selous rode outside of its pay-grade. The gearing is excellent, with a Shimano cluster in back, 11-32 married to a FSA 50X34 double up front—providing ample gearing for painful grunts or downhill flying. Front and rear through axles and a tapered head tube provide for outstanding carving in the turns, and appropriate stiffness when required.
If a pure racing machine is what you’re looking for, the Specialized S-Works Tarmac is the best overall bike in the group (also the most expensive), with a rare combination of pure speed and handling with a fairly comfortable ride. The carbon frame is extremely stiff in all the right places, including the bottom bracket and steer tube assembly, but the layup allows for decent compliant in the rear which soaks up road vibrations. With carbon aero wheels and Shimano’s Dura Ace 9000 group, along with full carbon spec, this is a top-end racing machine worthy of the many pro teams currently racing on it.
As an all-around Road Race bike, Cervelo R5 has that rarest of combinations of extreme light weight and outstanding stiffness and power transfer. And in this case it also offers an excellent ride quality and some legit aerodynamic advantages. This was unquestionably our favorite all-bike—equally adept at climbing, descending, breakaways and even some sprinting. If it weren’t for the considerably high cost—most likely thanks to the Di2 setup—and what we feel is a mediocre wheelset for a bike of this quality, this would have won Best in Class. As it is it’s a very close second, but our testers’ clear go-to for everyday riding.
For long steady power and out-of-the-saddle sprints or climbs, the Diamondback Podium Equipe is a stand-out in this group. The carbon frame is extremely stiff in all the right places, including the bottom bracket, rear triangle and steer tube assembly, and the Shimano Dura Ace group is always a top performer. Plus, strategically placed aero tubing plus deep-dish wheels add a huge advantage in the wind. The ride is a bit stiff and bumpy, and turning can be sluggish, but if raw speed is what you crave, this is an excellent choice.