As a novice cyclist, you may want a simple bike that you can learn from. Not too many speeds, no high-tech gadgetry, and no truly aerodynamic seat. Just a straightforward bike that comes under $500. That is not too much to ask, is it?
If you want to test your riding, it is better to do so on roads that you know. On new terrain during a long ride, you may struggle if you stick with a fixed gear road bike.
That might be great for commuting yet on unfamiliar roads you may get lost trying to work out which speed you should use. Some bikes come with so many gears to shift into, it is unclear whether you should go up or down.
The best beginner road bikes should be reliable. With a braking system you can understand and a lightweight, comfortable frame, even if the ride may be short. If you do decide to learn how to ride a bike, a fixed gear bike may be for you.
Even one with a limited assembly so you can learn how it is made yet can ride it soon enough.
10 Best Beginner Road Bikes
OUR TOP PICK
BEST FOR INTEGRATED BRAKES
For an all-round deal on a bike coming under $500, few can beat the Vilano Shadow 3.0 Road Bike. This should come in at the top end of your budget yet you are buying quality.
Choose from a modest 14 speeds in the integrated brake lever and shifters, which offer just enough versatility. Whether commuting to work, off on an adventure or simply enjoying some fresh air, controllable braking and shifting is convenient.
The light aluminum frame should really come in at a higher price, which we really liked in our testing. This is one road bike that you can keep for years and progress with. The 14 speeds are suited for building up your resistance while 700cc double-walled wheels are ample durability.
You would have to build part of this yourself yet once it has been checked and tuned you are ready to go.
- Integrated Brake Lever/Shifters - Reliable, controllable braking and shifting from one unit which is convenient when used on the road
- Light Aluminum Frame - The 6061 aluminum frame is lightweight yet stable for comfortable riding
- 700CC Double-Walled Wheels - Enjoy the durability that comes with 700cc double-walled wheels
- Requires Assembly - You will need specialized tools and a fair amount of patience to put the bike together. Perhaps even a qualified bike mechanic to check it over
BEST FOR IMPROVING YOUR CYCLING TECHNIQUE
If you are looking for a road bike as a beginner that you are confident you can advance with then look no further. The Trinx TEMPO1.0 700C Road Bike can begin as a commuting option yet with time you can use this for a high-end, endurance ride.
That is largely due to a 21-speed gearing set. That’s right, 21 speeds. You can start on a couple then try to complete the set as a road cyclist.
The lightweight frame and aerodynamic design are to cherish. Not only can you hone your technique but you will also maintain a great workout. The luminous green color scheme also stood out, which we liked in our testing.
For a road bike that draws attention to itself, you should be able to prove you can match it with your performance.
- 21 Speed Gearing Set - Plenty of options with that many speed gears
- Bright Green Color Scheme - This is a road bike that stands out from the competition and on the road
- Sport Geometry Saddle - Ideal for those long rides
- Aerodynamic Design - You should feel the benefits of the design whether riding casually or competitively
- Not Ideal For Casual Riders - With 21 available speeds, this may not be the best bike for commuters or casual riders
Also available on eBay
BEST FOR VALUE
This is another road bike that comes in under budget yet still offers room to maneuver. The Giordano Libero Aluminum Road Bike is ideal for a beginner rider who wants to try out new styles.
Perhaps after solely using your bike for commuting it is time to get out into sports cycling. You never know where you may get to after that.
With double-walled alloy rimmed tires that offer 32-holes and steel forks, this is a road bike that is built to last. Shimano shifters are just another example of how well-built the bike is with a quality that offers great value.
A 16-speed drive might just be enough to learn with, without being too overbearing, which we liked in our experience of this product.
- Versatility - As a beginner, this is a great bike to learn from and build up your skills
- Steel Forks - Durability is assured with steel forks that are built to last
- Lightweight 6061 Aluminum Frame - A solid design is exemplified by the lightweight aluminum frame
- Confusing Warranty - Some users have noted that the warranty is difficult to understand
Also available directly from Giordano
BEST HYBRID BIKE
Should you be a beginner that wants to enjoy a comfortable commute during the week then a fun off-road ride at the weekend, this is the bike for you. The Vilano Diverse 3.0 Performance Hybrid Road Bike is another bike that requires assembly but it is worth it.
A hydroformed alloy aluminum frame and fork mean it will stand up to tough conditions. You may even prefer the riser bars as opposed to the more common drop bars.
Durable too with mechanical disc brakes for those emergency stops when you truly need them. For an off-road bike, you should expect a few additional features to back up its performance.
Here that includes an adjustable seat and flat riser handlebar which we enjoyed in our testing. For the build quality and performance, this is a road bike you should improve on.
- Hydroformed Alloy Aluminum Frame - Both the frame and fork are made from a light alloy aluminum which offers durability and rugged conditioning
- Reliable Disc Brakes - Amidst testing conditions, you should feel peace of mind with the stopping power
- Adjustable Seat - For added comfort on long rides, the fully-adjustable seat is appreciated
- Riser Bars - A lot of riders may prefer the riser bars which are included here instead of drop bars
- Requires Assembly - Some assembly and tuning is required upon delivery
Also available directly from Vilano
BEST FOR LONG DISTANCE
Schwinn is a brand you can trust when it comes to road bikes. Their Volare Adult Hybrid Road Bike brings all their knowledge and technology into a hybrid you can rely on.
Especially over long distances with a lightweight aluminum frame and fork. A Shimano derailleur makes for easy and responsive gear changes which we liked in our testing.
Most importantly, the caliper brakes are dependably designed for reliable stopping and speed control when you need them.
Throw in some three-piece cranks for optimum gearing and you would be surprised this is under budget. For road or pavement riding, you will have to look hard for a better performance over long distances.
- Ideal Road Or Pavement Riding - A sporty saddle and impressive riding performance makes this great for a long ride
- Caliper Brakes - For crisp, reliable stopping and excellent speed control, you can rely on caliper brakes
- Double Wall Alloy Rims - Further durability with light and strong alloy rims
- Three-Piece Cranks - Requires less maintenance yet still provides optimum gearing
- Designed For The Tall - Those who are shorter than average may find long rides more uncomfortable
BEST FOR A STEEL FRAME
If you are looking for a bike that can handle itself in difficult conditions then check out the Eurobike Road Bike. The transmission is something to behold and you may be tempted to try it over dirt roads and slopes, even in temperamental weather.
A durable, high carbon steel frame also means that the road bike will last, though may be a bit heavier than its aluminum counterparts.
The 700*28c road bike tires are set for uneven conditions and even reduce the fatigue typically caused by vibration which we liked in our testing.
This should be a comfortable ride from curved handlebars and 21 speeds where you can easily shift the transmission to suit you. This road bike also comes well under budget too, which may be a surprise considering the high-quality build.
- Curved Handlebars - For faster riding and a reduction in perceived effort
- Excellent Transmission - Ride in the wind, the rain, over slopes, and on a dirt road, this road bike will stand up to it
- 700*28C Road Bikes Tires - Should reduce painful bumps, reduce fatigue and improve comfort
- High Carbon Steel Frame - A sturdy, durable frame that you’d be pleased comes in under budget
- Heavy - The frame does make this bike reliable, it does come in a bit heavier than others
BEST FOR FIXED GEARS
For a fixed gear bike, there really is a lot to admire from the 6KU Track Fixed Gear Bicycle. Without providing a wealth of speeds, they have kept it simple for beginners.
A high-quality, solid design and construction that you can trust in the city. This is also an ideal road bike that is more than suitable for absolute beginners.
If you are keen to remain on the road and steering away from racing then riser bars instead of drop bars may be ideal. There is also a limited amount of assembly work required which we liked in our testing.
That largely comes from the premium design yet if you are struggling there’s a free video available on their website. 6KU has even thrown in $30 of tools to help, which should also help with the easy maintenance.
- Riser Bars - Instead of drop bars, this bike has riser bars which can be the preferred choice for children
- Handy Assembly Video - There is a helpful video showing you how to build the bike out of the box available on their website
- Two Colors - This road bike is available in Crisp White or Shadow Black
- Easy To Maintain - Not only have they provided a build tool kit but the bike should be easy to maintain due to how simple the design is
- More Suited To Beginners - The riser bars and lack of gears makes this ideal for beginners willing to learn how to ride a road bike
- Lightweight Pedals - There are some reports that the pedals feel a little too lightweight
Also available directly from 6KU
BEST FOR A ROAD AND RACING BIKE
Some bikes are made to look good at speed. One such model is the Hiland Road Bike Aluminum Frame 700c Racing Bike.
Perhaps by glancing at the name you have noticed it is both a road and race bike. With that in mind, this may be one for a rider already willing to take the step up from a beginner.
The lightweight aluminum frame is ideally suited for the road and racing, making easy work of the terrain. An attractive paint job simply insists on being taken out and gaining speed.
Double caliper brakes are also a welcome feature once you do hit some speed. That is after it has been assembled, thankfully this one is 85% done with the installation tools provided.
- Attractive Paintwork - A sleek look is completed by the professional paint job
- Double Caliper Brakes - Safety first with double caliper brakes for an immediate, reliable stop
- Lightweight Aluminum Frame - Easy and reliable riding from a frame you can trust
- Almost Completely Assembled - Unlike a lot of bikes in this budget, this one is already 85% assembled and comes with free installation tools
- Advanced Set Up - This may be a bike more suited for a rider who is comfortable taking the next step up rather than remaining a beginner
Also available directly from Hiland Road
BEST FOR COMMUTERS
For those who are confident of tackling the road for their daily commute, there is the Vilano R2 Commuter Aluminum Road Bike. As with the other Vilano bikes, this does require professional assembly yet it is worth it.
With 21 speeds, it should make easy work of the road to get you to work on time, no matter what route you take.
Vilano tends to specialize in high-end bikes so they know which features can offer something worthwhile.
This includes mount points for your water bottle yet goes further than that. From the lightweight frame to the convenience of thumb shifters for a smooth gear change, you should feel well looked after. Just what you need ahead of, or after, a trying day at work.
- 21 Speed Drivetrain - Ideal for finding your right speed and changing it when you want to
- Thumb Shifters - Convenient and reliable gear changing from thumb shifters
- Mount Points - An ideal spot to hold your water bottle
- Adjustable Seat And Handlebar - The road bike is ideal for men and women, plus the seat and handlebar are adjustable for a comfortable ride
- Requires Assembly - As with the other two Vilano bikes, this will require assembly and likely some tuning from a qualified mechanic
Also available directly from Vilano
BEST FOR NOVICE CYCLIST
Occasionally, you may want a bike that has the option to learn yet does not seem bewildering to ride. The Giordano Aversa is such a bike. With just 14 speeds, there are bikes with more speeds yet you may not want that, which we liked in our experience of this product.
The frame is made from 6061 aluminum which is a precipitation-hardened alloy and ready for most weather conditions.
What you really want may simply be that reliability. A limited performance that comes from a durable bike that you can trust.
While you may be confining yourself to the roads you know, having a caliper braking system that is reliable and highly responsive is great peace of mind. There are higher-performing bikes out there but for value for money from simple commuting, this is an excellent option.
- 14 Speed Drivetrain - With just 14 speeds, you should be comfortable finding the right speeds for your casual riding
- Caliper Braking System - The powerful caliper braking system is reliably safe
- Lightweight 6061 Aluminum Frame - Enjoy the comfort of an ultra-lightweight frame for easy, comfortable riding
- Limited Performance - For a higher performance under budget, there are better bikes but this is great for a novice rider
There are several road bikes to choose from that come under $500. At the higher end of the budget, you may be looking at a steel frame or multiple speeds to give you ample versatility.
You may prefer a fixed gear bike if you strictly want to remain on the roads and do not need to go any further.
That is fine yet a high-quality build and exceptional braking system are good options to have if you decide you want to go on a few adventures.
Above all, you should choose a bike that provides a comfortable ride. This may be from the adjustable handlebar or the seat that fits just right. You could also prefer riser bars if you know you are going to encounter some downhills and need the extra control.
There is also the question of assembly, a lot of bikes require building on arrival and you may need a qualified mechanic to finish off the job.
The wheels are also highly important and thickness is key. While your road bike is not strictly designed for speed you should expect thicker wheels, rims, and tires.
Unless you have trained on race bikes, the thicker designs should be better, and safer, on the road.
If you want a lightweight frame then your best option is aluminum. You will still be getting durability but the material is also surprisingly light.
Another option to look out for is 6160 aluminum which is a precipitation-hardened aluminum alloy that is ideal for wet conditions while remaining lightweight. That is compared to steel which can handle itself really well yet comes in a bit heavier.
You may prefer how solid the steel feels and a high carbon steel frame can excel at the sturdiness it offers. Steel also tends to come in at a higher price so you may be surprised to find it for under $500.
Ideally, whether aluminum or steel, you should be looking at a frame that weighs between 20 and 30 pounds.
For a budget of $500, you should be expecting thickness. That goes for the wheels, as well as the rims and tires. That means durability and a quality build but not necessarily speed.
Most road bikes tend to have 25 cm 700c wheels and dual-alloy walled rims for added sturdiness. The tires should also have a diameter ranging from 26 to 29 cm.
Types of Road Bike
There are several types of road bikes available and it may help your decision-making if you know which one you want.
Built for speed, racing bikes are super lightweight and aerodynamic in design. These come with a formidably powerful drivetrain and excellent, high-end braking systems.
Unlike your commute which may involve traffic, these are designed for non-stop movement so expect agile movement and responsive handling. Racing bikes tend to come in at a higher price yet you would expect that due to their need for speed.
Your more traditional road bikes tend to be called commuter bikes. That is their main purpose after all and they should be prepared to face all types of weather. They are designed to go over paved roads and favor comfort and balance rather than speed.
Their builds tend to be durable and solid rather than a light, aerodynamic design. The wheels are also reliably sturdy and should come with mud flaps for that occasionally wet ride to work.
If you are expected to go further than your regular commute then you may be looking for an endurance bike. These road bikes take a lot of care in how comfortable they are, which is ideal for a longer ride.
Not necessarily built for speed, but they are made to last. These tend to have a lightweight construction that can provide more comfort over distance.
If it is durability you are craving then a touring bike may be for you. These are designed with larger wheels to support heavy loads over formidable distances.
Out of Box Assembly
Several manufacturers present their bikes partly assembled with the rest of the job down to you. This could mean a few hours spent finishing it off as some bikes can already be 85% assembled or more.
However, with other, more complex road bikes you may simply want a qualified mechanic to do it. They can also tune the bike properly and have the relevant tools if the manufacturer has not provided them.
Type of Handlebar
The road bike you get may come with drop bars. These handlebars allow you to relax on the flat length that goes across the bike or you can grip the side when you need to push on.
You should look out for an adjustable handlebar as if it is too low, you may find yourself leaning over to ride which can get exhausting over time.
There are also riser bars that are straighter and offer an increasingly modern cycling position. This is to maximize your riding control and your torque.
A riser bar should keep your head and torso higher which can aid your control over descents.
Number of Speeds
The number of speeds, or gears, can go a long way to how quickly you learn how to ride your bike.
This is essential for beginners as too many speeds can seem bewildering and too much to take in. You may simply want a fixed gear bike which gives you limited options instead.
Going further up, bikes that have between 14 and 21 speeds tend to offer more versatility.
Certainly, on more uncertain terrain you may find yourself changing speed quite often. This is also helpful on long bike rides where you may encounter slopes and want to go up and down gear. Having a fixed gear bike going up, or down, a hill really takes some doing.
For your road bike, you should expect a reliably responsive set of brakes. Especially when out on your commute when traffic can become dangerous and you need an immediate stop.
Specifically, you should consider mechanical disc brakes for a stop you can trust.
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