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 divided our bike reviews into entry-level road bikes under $1,200; mid- to high-end bikes, for more expensive bikes that offer the rider more speed, impossibly light weights, greater comfort, or an advantage against the wind; cyclocross bikes, more rugged rigs made to tackle both grass and dirt; the cyclocross bike’s country cousin, the gravel/adventure bike, designed for all road conditions, including dirt and gravel; and time trial bikes, the most aerodynamic of bicycles and a favorite among triathletes (but cyclists shouldn’t hold that against them).
The Time Fluidity is well, Timeless. A perfectly balanced and proportionate endurance road bike, with engaging handling properties. The Fluidity is positively snappy in the corners, not as quick as others in the test group, but secure and confidence inspiring. The Fluidity is a climbing delight with a slightly upright position, lightweight underneath the rider. This bike also may challenge my bias toward discs on a road bike; the Shimano Ultegra calipers are classic in design, and work really well and hem true to the nature of the Fluidity; similar to the design of the bike, which is classic.
Canyon is a German company that recently came to the United States to offer their direct to consumer bikes in the American market. The CF SLX is a full carbon frame and fork bicycle with a Shimano Ultegra build that will appeal to the value-minded consumer looking for a modern bike loaded with innovation. The Canyon has incorporated many aero design elements to the CF SLX included a wing-shaped aero bar with integrated stem, as well as internal cable housing and internal seat post “clamp.” There is a lot of innovation and technology wrapped up in the Canyon CF SLX.
Felt’s FR5 is a perfect bike for those who prioritize speed, climbing and perhaps racing on a budget. Weighing an incredibly light 17.1 pounds at a price under $2,000, the FR5 would make any weekend racer happy. Not surprisingly the FR5 also shines on the climbs where shedding weight is paramount.
Fuji’s Roubaix is an Shimano Ultegra spec’d entry level road bike that would easily line up for a race or do century ride (with a new saddle) out of the box. The aluminum framed Roubaix and carbon fork combines for a stiff yet comfortable ride that really comes alive at speed or on a long winding downhill. A shorter wheelbase than some bikes we tested makes for a perky ride. The Oval components increase the quality feel of the bike, where the bar feels substantial in hand, and the cranks have an added level of rigidity. The Roubaix is a $1,799 bike that you can truly ride long or race, made even more impressive by that price point.
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.
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.