Road bikes with high-quality components are not cheap and can set you back at least thousands of dollars. If you are just starting biking (or simply just want an affordable road bike), then a quality option that’s also affordable is ideal. You may wish to save your money by finding a quality bike on the internet or a local bike shop for riding, training, or commuting.
You are probably wondering if there are budget-friendly road bikes available on the market. If you are looking for a road bike with a budget of under $500, then you have come to the right place. I will take you through your available options of road bikes so you can see what’s the best fit.
These road bikes are of good quality, but you may have to raise your budget by a few more dollars if you want bikes with cutting-edge technology and advanced features. On this page, you may have to lower your expectations, but I will tell you what to expect with the bike components and type of bike frame.
What is a Road Bike?
Before we discuss the best road bikes, let’s get an in-depth look at the definition of a road bike. Road bikes are mostly designed to be ridden on smooth pavement. They feature drop handlebars and smooth, slim tires. Road bikes can be used for on-road racing, although they lack hi-tech racing features found on a racing bicycle.
Road bikes are not to be confused with mountain bikes which feature a complex full-suspension. Mountain bikes have a low gear range for off-road trails, while bike roads are ideal for paved surfaces. Another core distinction between the two is that mountain bikes have upright or flat handlebars with wide tires while road bikes have drop handlebars with skinny tires.
Types of Road Bikes
Race – These bikes are built for speed, agility, and miles of racing on paved roads. They feature a lightweight design, slim wheels to reduce rolling resistance, and a narrow seat. Racing bikes also come with quality braking systems and are usually used by experienced professionals’ huge races.
Sportive – They are also known as endurance bikes and are slightly bigger than race bikes. Sportive bikes are designed to offer more comfort on the saddle for long commutes. They often have vibration-dampening inserts for rough roads and a wide gearing range. They are ideal for longer rides, thanks to their upright setup and geometry.
Time trial – These bikes are mostly used in triathlon racing, where riders compete to beat the clock. They are packed with aerodynamics designed to offer the least wind resistance and boost speed. Time trial road bikes are low as possible to keep the rider parallel to the ground and provide lower gear ratios for consistent higher speeds.
Aero – These bikes have a lot in common with time trial road bikes but with a few key differences. They are designed aerodynamically to cut down wind resistance with carbon fiber frames and low positions. They tend to weigh more, but the aerodynamic features and high gearing offer more speed.
Commuter – These road bikes are designed for optimal performance on paved and light trails. They offer an excellent balance between speed and aerodynamics and maximize comfort and durability. Most commuter road bikes are equipped with mudguards and racks, while the wheels are sturdy to increase strength and impact protection.
Touring – If you are looking for road bikes to cycle longer, touring bikes might be what you need. They are built for comfort and carrying loads since most of them come with a size-able rack. The wider wheels and tires increase the load-carrying capacity, while the higher spoke count increases durability and strength.
Buying Guide: What Do I Need To Consider?
Searching for an affordable road bike to start off riding can be a daunting task. Getting a first-hand experience by trying out bikes from a local bike shop can give you a solid idea of what you are looking for. Additionally, you can get more insight about road bikes from people working at bike shops since they have extensive experience and knowledge of road bikes.
Ultimately, you want a bike that will fulfill your adventurous spirit and get you on the road for a thrilling ride. There are many critical things to consider before selecting an entry-level road bike, with price being chief among them. Here are other factors you should take into consideration.
1. Type of riding
What kind of riding will you be doing? This is the first question that you should ask yourself. Aero and sportive road bikes are the main road bikes, although other road bike categories are becoming increasingly popular. The different types include performance bikes, comfort/endurance bikes, all-around road bikes, and off-road gravel bikes.
If you an entry-level rider, sportive bikes are an excellent choice due to their upright and relaxed riding position. They are also less expensive than aero road bikes. One distinct feature of sportive road bikes is their long head tube and shorter top tube.
2. Bike fit and sizing
Finding the right size of an entry-level road bike will ensure you are comfortable and ride more efficiently with minimal risk of injury. A small frame can lead to injury from holding a cramped position and limit you from delivering your full range of movement and power. On the other hand, if your bike is too big, you will not handle it efficiently or adequately deliver power.
Cost shouldn’t be the one and the only factor you consider while buying a road bike, as it may turn out to a mistake. To ensure you get the right size, you can start by measuring the frame size that covers that area between the middle of the crank and the top of the seat tube. Bike measurements are given in centimeters.
The secret to getting a road bike that is a perfect fit is to make sure the pedal goes to the bottom all the way. Your knee should bend slightly at a 20-degree angle to ensure that your legs do not get tired. The bike should offer about two inches of clearance when standing over the top tube and allow you to reach the brake and handlebar comfortably.
The common frame sizes and recommended fit include:
• 48cm for 5’1 to 5’3
• 50 cm for 5’3 to 5’5
• 52cm for 5’5-5’7
• 54cm for 5’7-5’9
• 56cm for 5’9-5’11
• 58cm for 5’11-6’2
• 60cm for 6’1-6’3
• 62cm for 6’3 to 6’5
There is a complete bike fit and sizing chart available online where you can get more measurements.
3. Frame and fork material
The frame and fork material is another key aspect to consider when shopping for your first road bike. The commonly used bike frame materials include steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber. Most entry-level road bikes are made of carbon fiber and aluminum.
Carbon fiber offers great vibration absorption, while aluminum is cheap and provides a good balance between robustness and reliability. You can mix an aluminum frame due to its affordability with a carbon fiber fork, as it offers greater lateral stiffness and a lower weight ratio. This will also improve your comfort and speed.
Groupset consists of a bike’s transmission and brakes specified in the description of the bike. The common groupset manufacturers include SRAM, Shimano, and Campagnolo. These brands have different groupset models that are designed for various bike performance levels, weights, and prices.
If you a looking for an affordable road bike with a high-end feel, then I recommend you go for Shimano. It has five levels of groupset that offer more gear choice, smoother shifting, and overall lighter weight. For beginners, you can choose the Sora level or the Tiagra, while 105, Dura-Ace, and Shimano Di2 offer pro-level performance and super-lightweight.
5. Brake type (caliper or disc brakes)
Before purchasing a road bike, you should ask yourself whether to get a caliper road bike or a disc brake road bike. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages. Disc brake offers consistent stopping power in wet and dry conditions.
On the other hand, caliper brakes do not offer enough stopping power in wet conditions. On the upside, they have many choices of wheel upgrades, and they are cheaper and easy to maintain. The final choice comes down to you depending on your preference and budget.
Top Road Bikes Under 500 Dollars
There are many types of road bikes to choose from that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Each bike is equipped with features that ensure you have a pleasant experience and extend the use of the bike. Here are the top ten best road bikes that you can find under $500 in 2021.
1. 6KU Road Bike – Rated best overall
If you are looking for a road bike that is simple and efficient and fits below the $500 budget, then the answer is the 6KU road bike. It features a lightweight design made from a high-quality aluminum frame. This bike is fully equipped with both front and rear brakes and a ride fixed gear with a flip-flop hub.
The 6KU road bike offers a comfortable ride with quality frame materials. You get various options to consider with several different sizes allowing you to get one that fits you best. The double-walled alloy wheels are instrumental in improving the quality of your ride, ensuring you have a smooth cruise.
With the bike weighing just under 30 pounds, the materials used are lightweight, and I can even carry the bike on my shoulders. You get two available colors, including charcoal black and white, and an urban design that will match your personality.
• It has a light and comfortable design that fits all riders
• There are various available sizes for a wide range of riders
• Affordable price with high-quality materials that enhance durability
• Easy maintenance and upkeep
• Increased safety with front and rear brakes
• Good starter bike for beginners
• Comes with only two available color options
• Average top speed that makes it unsuitable for racing
2. EURXC550 Road Bike – Rated best for big guys
The EURXC550 Road Bike is an excellent choice that is equipped with wonderful features and a great look. It is a heavily geared and multi-speed road bike with 21 speeds that allows you to ride on multi-surfaced and rough terrains. It is affordable and durable, offering comfortable control riding experiences on the trail.
The EURXC550 Road Bike comes almost in full state, so there was minimal assembling work required when I bought this model. The bikes come with an assembling manual, making the task very easy and fast. There are only two available frame sizes meaning it does not cater to all riders’ heights.
• Easy assembling with minimal tools required
• Sturdy steel frame construction that offers great shock absorption
• Iron casting handlebar for better control and easy handling
• 21-speed shifting system for different riding experiences
• Good gear and comfortable saddle seat
• Available only in two sizes
3. Eurobike HYXC550 Road Bike – Rated Best for exercise
The Eurobike HYXC550 Road Bike is an ideal men’s bike that costs just under $500. The process of attaching the pedals took me over an hour, but the performance made up for the hassle. It features a high-quality steel frame and fork that add extra weight to the bike. It also enhances stability and control on poor terrain.
The 21-speed shifting system offers above-average acceleration and top speeds making the bike ideal for beginners. The steel frame is more suitable for male riders, although female riders are not exclusively left out as they can also give it a try. It comes with a stylish design and better handling, thanks to the tires and handlebar.
• 21-speed shifting system and dual disc brakes enhance your riding experience
• The frame geometry is ideal for male riders
• Offer acceptable acceleration and top speed
• Requires buyers to buy some of the components
4. Hiland Aluminum Road Bike – Rated Best for Commuting
The Hiland Road Bike comes from a well-praised manufacturer and features an ultralight and sturdy aluminum frame. This model comes with 21 speeds and offers a comfortable high-speed experience. It is suitable for long-distance cycling, and it is my ideal choice when commuting to work.
This model maintains the same simple construction and lightweight as the above model but comes with a lower frame design. This means it requires less power for long rides. The wheels also enhance its high-speed experience and a comfortable ride.
The Hiland Aluminum Road Bike brake system features double caliper brakes that provide total control and no issues with bike stops. It comes 85% assembled, making it easy to assemble since I don’t like the struggle of assembling bikes. I highly recommend this bike, especially if you have little or no experience with how to assemble bikes.
• Suitable for long-distance riding due to its comfortable design
• Easy assembling with clear and easy to follow instructions for beginner riders
• Offers powerful riding with 21 speeds
• High-quality aluminum frame for a lightweight and reliable riding experience
• The frame construction is ideal only for men making it unsuitable for women
5.Vilano R2 Road Bike – Rated best for beginners
This is an excellent choice of entry-level rod bike for riders who are just starting bike riding. The Vilano R2 Road Bike is best for cost-conscious beginners due to its easy-to-control mechanism. It comes at an affordable low price and makes an excellent commuter that you can use for exercise or going to work.
One of the many features that stand out in this model is the double-butted aluminum aero frame. This makes the bike lightweight and suitable for beginners to support during acceleration. It also offers more balance and ease of control thanks to the quick-release skewers and wheels with thin rims.
Entry-level riders can choose their ideal riding style from the 21 speeds drivetrain that can handle any terrain. You also get free pedals, and you need to assemble and tune the bike after purchase.
• 21 speeds drivetrain that can handle any situation
• Ease of control due to its super lightweight nature and good, responsive design
• Front and rear suspensions that provide optimal control and better performance
• The frames weigh less, allowing cyclists to ride with minimal difficulty
• Not ideal for high-speed racing since the top speed is below average
6. Trinx TEMPO1.0 Road Bike – Rated best for Fitness Training
This is another great choice for enter-level riders and falls in the middle of the $500 price range. The Trinx TEMPO1.0 Road Bike features a lightweight aluminum frame that lowers the bike’s weight to around 20 pounds. The frame also provides beginner cyclists more control of the ride.
The 21 speeds drivetrain is extremely diverse and allowed me to ride comfortably on different terrains. However, you need to assemble the bike after buying it, but you get clear and easy-to-follow instructions to follow. The fork is made of steel to absorb shock vibration, while the brakes have a linear-pull style.
The geometries of the frame and seat are sporty and aerodynamic to allow the performance to shift greatly. It also increases comfort and endurance during rides.
• Ideal for beginner riders since it is easy to control
• 21-speed drivetrain that accommodates all types of surfaces
• Offers high-quality components and frame at an affordable price
• Durable and super lightweight that ensures it lasts long under frequent riding
• Needs to be assembled, but it is not complicated
7. Vilano Shadow 3.0 – Honorable Mention
Vilano Shadow 3.0 Road Bike surprised me as a good inexpensive bike that offers a comfortable ride even on rough terrain like gravel. It is also ideal for casual riding, exercise, and commuting to work.
This entry-level bike features a double aluminum aero frame that is not usually found in road bikes under this price tag. The frame gives the bike stable control and overall lightweight.
One of the best features of this model is the Dual Pivot alloy caliper that is easy to use and very responsive. Additionally, it offers stability and smooth riding on a wide range of surfaces, including gravel terrains. I also liked the integrated shifters that provide accurate and controllable shifting and braking in a convenient single-unit design.
The bike assembly is not easy since I had a hard time with this bike. If you have bike assembling skills, they will come in handy after purchasing this bike.
• Features high-quality components that improve efficiency, speed, and performance
• 14 speeds to ride on all-terrain even on gravel
• Dual pivot caliper brakes offer responsiveness with minimal shock
• Comes partially assembled, meaning riders will have to use a lot of time to assemble the bike for riding
8. Schwinn Volare 1300 Men’s Drop Bar Road Bike – Honorable Mention
Schwinn Volare 1300 Men’s Drop Bar Road Bike has received a good rating from riders due to its unique features. It has a great reputation for its ease of assembly and is lightweight. It has an ergonomic design allowing you to handle it comfortably with no pain.
One of the features that stand out in this bike is its lightweight. The low weight allows you to move at high speed and boosts your performance when riding. This bike is suitable for both first-time riders and experienced riders as it can serve multiple purposes.
The bike is easy to assemble and typically takes a minimum of two hours to get the bike ready to hit the road. It comes with an instructions manual which you must follow carefully to ensure you get it right. You are also provided with all the necessary tools to assemble the bike.
The company is known to deliver top-of-the-line performance bikes with high-quality features. This model offers the same quality as others and can take you through any road regardless of the terrain. It is ideal for exercise, casual riding, and commuting purposes and delivers value for your money.
This bike offers impressive responsiveness with a perfect gear shifting system. It is packed with a good braking system featuring an alloy caliper allowing you to stop at any time. The 14 gear set will allow you to switch between high and low speeds.
• Offers versatility allowing you to use the bike for various activities
• It is user-friendly as it is easy and fun to assemble and ride
• Lightweight feature that enables it to achieve higher speeds than other models
• The bike is stylish, and it is available in different color combinations that you can choose from
• Highly durable and affordable
• Many people find it challenging to get the best fitting size since the height or size is not adjustable
Road bikes are mostly used on paved terrains and can take you fast and far depending on how your legs manage. Riding road bikes is an ideal way to commute as it helps to keep you fit and healthy. It is also very affordable, and you get to enjoy the outdoors. Cycling is also good for the environment since not a lot of emissions are produced.
You can get a high-quality bike at an affordable price. Even though you may not buy into the idea of the best road bikes under $500, there are great options for you to choose from. Any road bike from the above examples will not disappoint you.