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).
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.
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.