If you want to save loads of time learning what to look for in your first road bike, this guide is for you. We have tested tens of entry-level bikes to find the best and compile a go-to reference of all features you need to consider before purchasing.
Why the best bikes for beginners are not the cheapest bikes out there? That’s a very good question, and here’s our take on this. Nowadays you can find a new road bike for $200 or $300, and in case your budget is limited at that price point, such a bike is still better than no bike. However, we think that in starter road bikes it’s extremely important to find a sweet spot in terms of price and quality.
We think that beginner cyclists should start with the right piece of equipment right away in order not to become disappointed with cycling through buying a BSO (bicycle-shaped object) from local grocery or home improvement store, instead of a real bike. We don’t say a good entry-level bike should cost thousands, just the opposite. You can, and should buy a cheaper bike if you’re beginning your cycling journey, but you also have to make an informed choice and purchase the best bike for the money.
To make things easier for you, here’s a list of best entry-level road bikes for beginners.
Giordano Libero 2.0 Road Bike
In our opinion, Giordano Libero 2.0 is the best entry-level bike for the money a beginner can buy. First of, it has Shimano Sora groupset, while other bikes at this price (and even more expensive) will have a Shimano Claris, which is lower-grade. Next, it has a Carbon (!) Fork, which no other bikes at this price have. Only these two facts make it easily win.
Add to this a handmade aluminium frame with universal geometry and you get a perfect allrounder. The quality of components used means that you will not worry about replacements and upgrades for quite some time.
Now, the downsides. First, it’s the color. In our opinion, white is not the perfect option for a road bike - so if you want to keep it clean, be ready to spend some time. White bar tapes make things even worse. Next, it’s the brakes. Of course, they will still stop you, but it’s something to keep in mind with this bike.
Even given the negatives this bike has, considering the components used here, we think it’s just the perfect bike for a beginner.
Raleigh Merit 1
Another amazing bike for those just starting out. Raleigh is a reputable Canadian brand with impressive track record of creating affordable, yet very reliable and versatile bikes. Merit 1 is their basic model in road lineup, nevertheless, it has everything an entry-level bike should have: Shimano Claris groupset, full aluminium frame and custom alloy work for better handling. Beginner cyclists will appreciate wider 700X28c tires for stability.
Thanks to classic geometry it’s not only usable on group rides around the city, but also as an urban and commuter bike.
It comes only partially assembled and you will likely need to bring it to a good mechanic for assembly and tune-up, otherwise it will take you a good 2 or 3 hours to get it prepared for the road.
It’s the best-selling model of Tommaso brand, and for a good reason. We think it provides amazing value for the price. It’s lightweight aluminium frame is extremely versatile and can be easily converted even to a touring or commuter bike. Endurance-type geometry will only support this by offering optimum comfort on longer distances.
Handlebar is another advantage of this bike since it features a relatively wide flat portion which will release a lot of pressure on your wrists.
It has very basic Shimano Claris groupset installed, but at its price it would be strange to expect something more advanced. Still, you can easily upgrade shifters or derailleurs later if you feel you have outgrown entry-level tech.
What to look for in road bikes for beginners?
It’s important to set your expectations right. See, a $1000 bike is better than $500 bike, and $2000 is better than $1000 bike. We can continue that until we reach astronomical amounts you would never believe a bike can cost, however road bikes costing more than a car are not rare nowadays. So even if you have cash, you need to understand where to stop and get optimum quality for lowest price possible. Want to see more categories? See our full guide first. Now, back to entry-level cycles, here are the main things you need to consider:
Even if you can afford carbon, we still suggest to choose aluminium as a frame material for your first bike. In case of crash (and for beginners, they’re almost inevitable) your bike made of aluminium will survive. Carbon is less resistant to cracks. Second reason - for the price difference between carbon and aluminium you can expect components of higher level, which consequently, will make it a better bike overall. Third reason, as a beginner you will hardly notice any difference, so why pay more?
This is a very important factor and you need to be extremely careful with. Some manufacturers can lower the price of a bike by installing low-grade details. When it comes to most brand, Shimano, we advise to look for Claris and more high-level Sora lineups of components. If there will be Tiagra or even 105 components - even better, but for a starter bike it’s not necessary. You will rarely find Campagnolo groupsets in bikes sold in the US, but Xenon lineup is a good start, Mirage and Veloce are even better. Another manufacturer, SRAM, has no entry-level comparable components, but at higher levels we’d like to see Apex series and probably (but not likely), Rival series.
The mentioned sets will be easy to maintain or replace, but still will give you a great performance, and more importantly, an understanding of what road cycling really is.