The pro-level super bikes that fall into the price range beyond this bracket are truly amazing and it’s easy to be tempted by them. But don’t worry if you can’t get your hands on one without remortgaging your house, because the best road bikes under £2,000 still bring you into serious bike territory.
- Best road bike 2016 - how to choose the right one for you
- Best road bikes under £1,000
- Best bike: what type of bike should I buy?
Plenty of nice bikes fall into the £1,000-£2,000 price range. So many in fact, that picking one can be quite a headache. If your budget stretches up to 2K, you will be spoilt for choice so you really need to have a clear idea of what you want.
The main thing to bear in mind is that while all the bikes in this price bracket are suitable for any type of tarmac-related riding, they start to become more tailored to specific purposes — branching off down either the sportive or racing route.
Generally speaking, at this price weights will drop and you may start to see some features that have trickled down from the bikes ridden by the pros. Aero optimisation, for instance, whether it be the shape of the frame’s tubes, the position of the brakes or the depth of the rims. You can also expect a higher grade of materials and components.
Carbon is more common but there’s still a place for aluminium at these sorts of prices. However, it’s often worth prioritising the frame over the components at this price, as doing so will give you a great platform that can be upgraded with better parts as the ones supplied wear out.
Read on for summaries and links to all of our highest rated road bikes under £2,000. It's worth mentioning that the Cannondale CAAD 12 105 was named Cycling Plus magazine's Bike Of The Year 2016, winning praise for its outstanding handling and impressive blend of speed, stiffness and comfort. The 2016 model is no longer on sale unfortunately, but we'll definitely be testing the 2017 version as soon as possible, and will add it to this guide.
(This article was updated in October 2016)
Cube Attain GTC Pro
- Price: £1,499
- Full Shimano 105 groupset with hydraulic brakes
- Frame design blends stiffness with comfort
- High-quality, own-brand components
The disc-specific Attain’s frame follows all the latest trends. It has an oversized head and down tube paired to a beefy bottom bracket shell and chainstays, along with a narrowing top tube and slender seatstays that join the seat tube well below the level of the top tube — a feature that’s becoming ever-more popular on modern comfort-orientated bikes.
You also get a full 105 groupset and Shimano’s new BR-RS505 hydraulic brakes. Cube’s own-brand CPS parts are also a notch above those found on most similarly priced bikes, as they’ve been made in collaboration with Germany’s high-end component manufacturer Syntace. Syntace X12 thru-axles also feature at both ends.
On the road the Attain’s blend of stiffness and give create an intoxicating ride. It’s so willing to handle speed that we simply wanted to keep on pushing it as hard as we could, challenging its chassis through every corner, up every climb and down every descent. Firm yet smooth, nimble yet stable, this is a bike of contradictions, but one that we’ve developed a rather big crush on.
Giant TCR Advanced 3
- Price: £1,050
- Thrillingly responsive front end
- Rigid frame with a racy feel
- Ideal platform that won’t be eclipsed by upgraded components
The Overdrive tapered head-tube and steerer configuration gives the Advanced 3 the kind of planted steering that thrill-seeking riders will relish. And that taut responsiveness isn’t just limited to the fork. Giant claims class-leading figures for the TCR’s drivetrain stiffness, and on the road you instantly feel the frame’s rigidity. Its get-up-and-go response puts to shame plenty of bikes that cost twice as much.
The Advanced 3 gets Shimano’s Tiagra groupset, which may only be 10-speed, but its shifting performance equals that of the 105 and the climb-friendly gear spread never left us rueing the absence of an 11th sprocket, even on the steepest climbs.
Giant’s P-SL1 tyres are suitably soft, but wet-weather grip is no more than average and they suffered a few pinch punctures during the test period. And though there’s nothing wrong with the Tiagra brakes, we did find the standard, non-cartridge pads squidgy under heavy braking.
Overall the TCR is a seriously impressive machine. You get enough of a feel of the bikes that the Giant-Alpecin pros ride to make for a very rewarding cycling experience. The geometry is racy without being too extreme and the handling is impeccable. And if you like an upgrade project, this Giant is one hell of a starting point.
Trek Émonda ALR6
- Price: £1,400
- A standout bike regardless of its frame material
- Comes with a full Shimano Ultegra groupset
- Nimble, exciting ride
Trek’s aluminium Émonda bike has to be taken very seriously. With a weight that’s comparable to similarly priced bikes with carbon frames, but significantly higher equipment levels, the case becomes compelling for going with the metal option over more fashionable composites.
The alloy Émonda gets a full-carbon fork that matches the classy metal of the main frame beautifully and enables the bike to tip the scales at an impressive 7.75kg (for the 58cm test bike).
Helping get you up to speed is the flawless shifting that comes from the complete Ultegra groupset. The rest of the bike’s components are a mix of Bontrager (Trek’s component brand) alloy parts, which are decent enough.
Through the twists and turns of fast rolling terrain, or on descents, the ALR feels nimble yet assured, never tipping into twitchiness often found on sharp-handling, shorter-wheelbased bikes. Overall we’re hugely impressed by the ALR — in this guise it’s light, well-equipped, exciting to ride and relatively forgiving on your wallet. With a better set of rubber it’d be the complete package. But even as it is, it’s one of 2016’s truly standout bikes.
Canyon Endurace AL 7.0
- Price: £1,049
- Engaging ride
- Great value for money
- Accomplished but understated
The Endurace AL takes the entry-level mantle from Canyon’s outgoing Roadlite model, but borrows its geometry from the carbon Endurace CF. As the name suggests, this is not a bike aimed at racers (unlike the Ultimate series), but rather it’s a straightforward sportive/fondo machine built around a simple alloy frame.
In design terms it’s gloriously conventional. Granted, the gear cables run inside the down tube, but the bottom bracket is a threaded unit, the head and steerer tubes are un-tapered and of standard dimensions, and overall there isn’t a gratuitous curve in sight.
Despite the understated package, it’s nonetheless a thoroughly competent one. Shimano’s Ultegra groupset is as boringly brilliant as ever, and it’s complete, aside from the KMC chain. Mavic’s Aksium One wheelset is a solidly trustworthy companion, particularly when it’s fitted with proper tyres like the Continental GP4000S IIs here.
The riding experience is as unsurprising as everything else and, as with most Canyons, it’s extremely pleasant. The fact is, it’s a thoroughly good road bike that’s decently light and a pleasure to ride. In fact, it’s about as much bike as you could reasonably expect for the money. All we could really find to criticise is its lack of fittings for mudguards/fenders.
Eastway Emitter R1 Ultegra Di2
- Price: £2,200
- Astonishing level of equipment for the money
- Technically excellent, and exciting to ride
- You can’t test one before you buy though
The Eastway Emitter R1 Ultegra Di2 has a very decent circa-1kg carbon fibre frame, based around near-classic race bike geometry. The 73-degree head and 72.5-degree seat-tube angles, 590mm reach, 401mm stack and a wheelbase a shade over a metre create a position on the aggressive side of sporty, which encourages you to ride hard and should appeal to a wide range of riders.
On paper the combination of Shimano Ultegra Di2 and Mavic’s ever-popular Ksyrium wheels should also prove a hit with cyclists, especially given what is a very attractive price. The Emitter is impressive on the road, with its taut handling and sharpness at the limit most welcome. Wrap that up with Ultegra Di2’s impeccable shifting, here with a 52/36, 11-28 combo, and you’ve got a machine that’ll be with you all the way when you want to push it fast.
The ride is firm, but nowhere near what we would describe as harsh. Hit a poor patch of tarmac and you feel noise, but the excellent 25mm Continental tyres and quality contact points counter any shortfall in the chassis’ vibration-cancelling qualities.
On rolling terrain the R1 is a decent ride and it’s not that the Emitter is excessively firm or sluggish, but it does feel a little less refined than some similar bikes. That said, the R1 is great value with a top spec for the price.
The Eastway does have one big plus — it’s a very good climber. The frame feels stiff and direct under pedalling. Mavic’s fine Ksyrium wheels are at their best going up, where their stiffness and shallow, lightweight rims come into play. Downhill it’s easy to hustle it up to speed and control it through fast, sweeping corners. We had to hold back a tad on descents, just because you feel the coarseness of a poor surface more, but this is still a bike you can really nail descents on; you just need more of your wits about you than on some of its rivals.
Bianchi Freccia Celeste
- Price: £1,700
- Delivers a lively, frisky ride
- Old-school racer looks
- Nice mix of components
Just how exciting can an alloy bike be? Well, in this case the answer is: exciting enough to make it a contender for Bike of the Year 2016 in our sister mag Cycling Plus’ road bike mega-shootout.
The Freccia Celeste’s triple-butted tubes’ dimensions look quite restrained and classical alongside some of today’s beefy carbon competition, and its sloping top tube design and short head tube give it old school race bike looks.
The component spec is good, although only the levers and derailleurs are Shimano Ultegra. The rest of the groupset is made up of a 105 cassette and FSA’s new Gossamer Pro crankset. Fulcrum provides the Racing 7 LG wheelset that sports 25mm-wide Vittoria Zafira Pro Slick tyres while stopping is taken care of by Bianchi’s own smart Reparto Corse brake callipers.
The Freccia Celeste doesn’t have race-bike reflexes, but is a lively ride nonetheless and feels like a frisky puppy, always wanting to charge up the road. It goes far more quickly and feels far more lively than its spec sheet and overall weight would suggest.
Lapierre Xelius SL 500 CP
- Price: £1,800
- Springy rear-end provides bags of comfort
- Comfortable frame
- Overt French theme throughout with Mavic wheels and Michelin tyres
Lapierre is the longtime bike supplier to the French FDJ cycling team, and this frame — with different kit — is the same as its riders use on mountain stages. It has a claimed frame weight of just 850g and features a massive BB86 bottom bracket shell, while the fork has a muscular crown that segues seamlessly into the tapered head tube. The inset front brake adds to the beefy, purposeful look.
On the road the Xelius is an absolute revelation. We expected light, of course; we expected stiff, too. But we didn’t expect so much suppleness or the sort of spring at the back that you’d expect from a high-quality titanium or steel frame.
The 52/36, 11-28 gearing of its 105 groupset is spot on for going quickly without leaving you overgeared for steeper climbs, and the Mavic wheels run as smoothly as expected, although they did need a bit of fettling with a spoke key to even the tension.
Although the Michelin tyres are narrow for 25mm and, at around 300g, a little weighty, their grip in the dry is very good and they manage to perform well in the wet too. That said, lighter, racier rubber would still be the first upgrade we’d look to make.
Specialized Tarmac Sport
- Price: £1,500
- Optimised design, so ride feel remains the same regardless of size
- Balanced ride with quick steering response
- Excellent tyres, bar tape and saddle
Specialized’s Tarmac Sport frame shares the same shapes and tube profiles as the range-topping S-Works Tarmac, featuring its signature arched top-tube that flattens out in profile as it nears the seat-tube. The seatstays are triangular and curve in an hourglass shape.
On twisting, technical roads the Tarmac always feels connected, with quick yet controlled steering. The race-bike-like steep head-angle and long reach are countered by a mid-height stack to offer a very balanced ride. And while ‘balanced’ isn’t a term that summons up much excitement, we reckon this Sport-level Tarmac is capable of delivering as big a dose of thrills as Alberto Contador’s Specialized.
Shimano 105 accounts for the shifters and most of the drivetrain, though the crankset is FSA’s new and radical-looking four-arm Gossamer. The old Gossamer looked and felt like a step down from 105, but not only is this version stiff, the new machined chainrings handle shifting as if they’d come from the Shimano factory.
The brakes are Specialized’s own Axis 2.0s, and their long cable anchor means plenty of lever travel before you get any real bite. The soft pads make up for this to some extent, but they feel woolly compared with 105 items. And though the Tarmac’s ride is firm, the comfortable Toupé saddle, excellent bar tape and tyres help to smooth the edges from the roughest road surfaces.
Giant Defy Advanced 2
- Price: £1,299
- Decent braking from cable-operated discs
- Modest specs but outstanding performance
- Stays comfortable over the roughest roads
At a price where some brands aren’t able to offer worthwhile carbon framesets, Giant offers the Defy Advanced 2 with a raft of trickle-down technology from the models far higher up its extensive range.
From the outset, the Defy outperforms its spec sheet, seeming to float across the roughest broken tarmac, and feeling far lighter than it is. We’ve ridden endurance bikes costing more than double the price that don’t ride as well — the Defy’s bump-smoothing ability is incredible.
As a package, it works superbly well, efficiently ticking the miles off but always letting you know there’s more speed on tap. That compact rear triangle helps whip it up to speed, or uphill, while the oversized steerer helps the front end feel positive and stable at high speeds.
TRP’s chunky Spyre cable-operated disc brakes are reliable stoppers with good, positive lever feel, progressive power and are simple to maintain. While not up to the performance of hydraulic offerings, they’re pretty much as good as cable-actuated discs get.
Elsewhere, the black 105 drivetrain is at least matched by the RS500 compact crankset, and the 34x32 lowest gear should get you over just about anything short of the side of a house.
Focus Cayo 105 Mix
- Price: £1,299
- Great platform for upgrades
- Racy position
- Fast, nimble handling
The Focus Cayo features no-nonsense frame geometry and clever construction techniques that make it a rigid, yet smooth and direct handling machine.
It has a fairly aggressive ride position that’s far more sport than sportive. It’s not so low and flat-backed as to be uncomfortable, but if you’re used to spending time cruising on the tops you’ll probably find your perfect ride partner elsewhere. The short wheelbase of just 992mm will, however, find favour with anyone who likes to enjoy and exploit fast handling and nimble reactions to steering inputs.
At the back, the substantial boxy chainstays further add to the chassis’s impressively direct feel, and super slender seatstays are there to add a decent level of noise reduction. It makes the overall feel of the Cayo a fine blend of racy stiffness and vibration reduction.
Focus pitches the Cayo as more of a racing machine, so has specced it with a pro-compact 52/36 ring combination on the cost-cutting Shimano RS500 crankset. This may not have the lighter 105 arm design, but retains Shimano’s superb tooth patterning to its rings and clean, smooth two-piece design.
Don’t forget this is a Grand Tour-proven frameset, available with a decent, workable spec for a very reasonable price. The Cayo is most definitely one of the star upgraders available right now, worthy of every improvement you can throw at it.
Eastway Zener D1
- Price: £1,800
- Great value for money
- Hydraulic disc brakes and a full Ultegra groupset
- An endurance/sportive bike with a fairly aggressive position
The D1 is at the top of the three-bike Zener range, each of which has the same frame that’s designed for endurance riding and sportives/fondos.
In typical Wiggle style it looks to offer a lot of bike for your dosh too — not only do you get full Shimano Ultegra, it also comes with BR-R785 hydraulic disc brakes and some high-quality Ritchey finishing kit.
Although targeted at the endurance rider, the Zener has a reasonably aggressive riding position. Also its wheelbase isn’t that long, which results in pretty sharp reactions, but Eastway has tempered this by slackening the head angle, which slows the handling down slightly.
The Zener may not have wowed us quite as much as Eastway’s Emitter, but you’re getting a lot of bike — and some superb kit — for your money. The reborn Eastway brand has delivered another pretty compelling bike, and one that’s stable and composed enough for all-day riding.