Our editors pick the products & services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Learn more.

Best Entry Level Road Bike Review And Guides 2020

best entry level road bike

If you do not have time for the details, here are our top picks for entry level road bike:

What type of riding will you do? 

The most important question to ask yourself when looking to buy the best entry level road bike is: what type of riding will I do? 

Some road bikes are suited strictly to pavement, others have the capability to move smoothly on gravel roads. Some road bikes feature a wide range of gears for hilly terrain, others have only one gear and can be ideal for flat routes. 

Road bikes also vary in geometry — some have aggressive race-fit geometry while others will be more upright, offering a more comfortable ride.  

Many people use road bikes for commuting or riding in town. This type of bike may offer a kickstand or rack mounts to optimize the needs of a commuter. 

Alternately, road bikes that are strictly suited for speed on smooth roads will have minimal extra comforts as they shave off ounces to add to their speed.  

What features do you need or want? 

There are many features to consider when shopping for an entry level road bike. This list will outline features to match you to your perfect road bike. 

Frame Material 

Road bikes are typically made of carbon, titanium, aluminum, or steel.  

Carbon is known as the lightest material for bikes.  

In fact, carbon is actually a tightly woven plastic. It offers not only lightness, but also a supple feel. 

Carbon is forgiving over bumps and can feel softer to ride than its metal counterparts. 

However, carbon is also breakable. In a crash, carbon frames are the most likely material to break. Carbon repair is challenging and often impossible after the material has been damaged.  

Further, carbon frames can be damaged from something as simple as a rubbing cable or a long car ride rubbing against a bike rack. While carbon frames are the lightest frame material, they do require care and caution to ensure the carbon retains its integrity.  

The second material used in frame building is titanium. 

Titanium is usually just a hair heavier than carbon frames. It is primarily used in custom frame building. 

Titanium is easily moldable and allows custom frames to be nearly as light as carbon while allowing for increased creativing in the geometry. 

Titanium is strong and snappy. Riding a titanium bike feels like the bike responds to you — it will bend back and let you push into the material. 

While very few entry level road bikes are titanium, it is an important material in the world of bike building.  

Next, aluminum is the most prolific material for bicycle frames. It is known for being inexpensive and relatively lightweight. 

Considering the steep deduction in cost for an aluminum bike rather than a carbon or titanium bike, aluminum stands out as an incredibly reasonable material to offer an unparalleled price for the performance. 

Aluminum is not as soft as carbon and will therefore feel a bit stiffer when riding. You may have heard that riding aluminum bikes feels jarring — the stiff material does not dampen many of the bumps as you ride, making aluminum frames vibrate more as you ride, typically reducing the ride quality. 

The vast majority of bikes are made with aluminum — the material remains popular for anyone looking for a durable frame, surprising lightness, and a great price.  

Finally, some road bikes are made of steel. 

Steel is known as the heaviest material for building bikes. However, steel is incredibly durable and steel frames are known to last for decades if taken care of. 

Steel bikes will feel springy, the material is softer than aluminum and will feel notably softer as you ride. 

However, titanium and carbon bikes will feel smoother than both aluminum and steel. Steel bikes are known for being inexpensive, heavy, and smooth. 

Depending on your needs, each of these materials offers its benefits. When paired with the proper components, each frame type has a place in the menagerie of road bike options.  

Fork Material 

Similar to frame material, fork material is an important component of a bike. 

Often, bike companies will pair two different materials for the fork and the frame. 

For example, many titanium or aluminum bikes have carbon forks. This offers the supple nature of carbon to absorb some of the vibrations from the front wheel while the rest of the frame can be cheaper or stiffer to offer a unique ride experience. 

Read also:

Weight 

The weight of a road bike can vary dramatically. Some bikes are as light as 12lbs while others can weigh more than 40lbs. 

Riding a lightweight bike is advantageous because it reduces the amount of weight you are carrying up the hill or along the flats. In general, lighter bikes are more expensive than heavier bikes. 

Tire size 

Traditional road tire size is 23c or 25c, this measurement is the diameter of the tire in mm. 

While many road bikes still have this width tire, the industry is shifting to wider tires. Many road bikes now come with 30c tires. 

Despite previous beliefs, wider tires can be faster than traditional narrower tires. 

Further, road bike recommendations for psi, or tire pressure, used to sit from 80-110psi. 

In recent years, some riders are shifting towards lower tire pressure and wider tires. This combination has proven to be faster in many tests than earlier knowledge that small and hard tires were advantageous.  

The jump to 30c tires is accompanied by a larger movement towards increasing gravel capabilities on road bikes. 

Many riders acknowledge the benefits of spending more time riding gravel roads. Often there are fewer cars, more space, an added challenge, and significantly more route options if road rides include gravel roads. 

Due to this shift, many road bikes are building frames with additional tire clearance, meaning a wider tire will fit in the rear triangle without rubbing the frame. If you are interested in riding gravel roads, or even slightly rougher paved roads, looking for a bike with increased tire clearance may expand the opportunities you have on your bike. 

Brakes 

In general, road bikes have two types of brakes. 

The first is called a rim brake or a v-brake — these brakes are usually attached to the front fork and just behind the seat post. When you pull the brake lever, the brake squeezes the rim of the wheel, eventually slowing to a stop.  

The second type of brake is a disc brake — these brakes have an external disc near the center of the wheel. The brake caliper is attached to the base of the fork and the base of the rear triangle. 

Disc brakes work by squeezing the external disc. 

Within disc brakes, there are hydraulic and mechanical varieties. Hydraulic disc brakes work through a pressurized fluid system where mechanical disc brakes work via a cable.  

Disc brakes are more effective and more powerful than rim brakes. They stop more efficiently and are typically advantageous in adverse or wet conditions. 

Within disc brakes, hydraulic disc brakes are more powerful than mechanical disc brakes. Many modern road bikes are transitioning to using disc brakes due to the safety advantage. 

Shifters and Gears 

Most high end road bike shifters are integrated in or near the brake levers. In order to shift, you may tap the brake lever horizontally or tap a small lever tucked next to the brake lever. 

This type of shifter is advantageous because you can keep your hands on the hoods and use both the brakes and the shifters. 

Some road bike shifters are mounted on top of the bars, near the step, while others are mounted on the stem or the frame. Each of these options is cheaper and usable, but not nearly as convenient as shifters that are integrated into the brake levers themselves.  

Road bike gears can also vary widely. Some road bikes have one gear in front and up to eleven gears in the back. More typically, road bikes have two or three gear options in the front and seven to nine gears in the back. 

The important thing to note with gears is the range of gears. While having lots of options can feel advantageous, it is quickly overwhelming and simplified systems with only one or two front gear options can be easier to use.  

What size do you need? 

Regardless of the features you choose, picking the right size bike is incredibly important. This table will help you understand which size will best suit your needs.  

Rider Height Frame Size (in) Frame Size 
4’10-5’0 47cm – 49cm XXSmall 
5’0 – 5’3 49cm – 50cm XSmall 
5’3-5’6 51cm – 53cm Small 
5’6 – 5’9 54cm – 44cm Medium 
5’9 – 6’0 56cm-58cm Large 
6’0 – 6’3 58cm – 60cm X-Large 

Comparison Table: 

ImageProductFeatures
scmtbl-table__image Best for: Beginner Best for: Beginner Vilano Forza 3.0
  • Material: Aluminum Frame Carbon Fork
  • Tire Size/Clearance: 23c
  • Gears: 3x8
  • Brakes: Rim
VIEW ON AMAZON →
scmtbl-table__image Best for: Overall Best for: Overall Diamondback Century 2
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Tire Size/Clearance: 28c
  • Gears: 2x9
  • Brakes: Disc
VIEW ON AMAZON →
scmtbl-table__image Best for: Budget Best for: Budget Vilano Tuono 2.0
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Tire Size/Clearance: 25c
  • Gears: 3x7
  • Brakes: Disc
VIEW ON AMAZON →
scmtbl-table__image Best for: Mid-Range Best for: Mid-Range Schwinn Fastback AL Claris
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Tire Size/Clearance: 25c
  • Gears: 2x8
  • Brakes: Rim
VIEW ON AMAZON →
scmtbl-table__image Best for: High-End Best for: High-End Tommaso Monza Endurance
  • Material: Aluminum Frame Carbon Fork
  • Tire Size/Clearance: 23c
  • Gears: 2x10
  • Brakes: Rim
VIEW ON AMAZON →
scmtbl-table__image Best for: Women’s Specific - Road Best for: Women’s Specific - Road Diamondback Arden 2
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Tire Size/Clearance: 28c
  • Gears: 2x9
  • Brakes: Disc
VIEW ON AMAZON →
scmtbl-table__image Best for: Women’s Specific - Adventure Road Best for: Women’s Specific - Adventure Road Diamondback Haanjenn 1
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Tire Size/Clearance: 28c
  • Gears: 1x9
  • Brakes: Disc
VIEW ON AMAZON →
scmtbl-table__image Best for: Single Speed Best for: Single Speed Takara Kabuto
  • Material: Steel frame, steel fork
  • Tire Size/Clearance: 32c
  • Gears: 1
  • Brakes: Rim
VIEW ON AMAZON →
scmtbl-table__image Best for: Versatile Best for: Versatile Mongoose Elroy Adventure
  • Material: Aluminum frame, steel fork
  • Tire Size/Clearance: 40c
  • Gears: 2x7
  • Brakes: Disc
VIEW ON AMAZON →
scmtbl-table__image Best for: Commuter Oriented Best for: Commuter Oriented Goplus Road Bike
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Tire Size/Clearance: 23c
  • Gears: 3x7
  • Brakes: Rim
VIEW ON AMAZON →

Comparison Review: 

1. Diamondback Century 2 – Best Beginner Road Bike 

The Diamondback Century 2 is a well designed, straightforward road bike. It offers significant capabilities with clearance for 28c tires, disc brakes, and 2×9 shifting.  

The Century 2 offers as lighty more upright position than some super competitive road bikes, allowing you to ride for hours while still feeling comfortable. This bike will be able to climb, descend, and fly through smooth roads, rough roads, and smooth gravel roads alike. 

The wide gear range and integrated Shimano Sora ST shifters mean braking, shifting, and maneuvering can be a breeze on the Centruy 2. 

If you are looking for a safe, stable, well thought out road bike, the Century 2 may be the perfect bike for your needs.  

2. Vilano Forza 3.0 – Best Overall Entry Level Road Bike 

The Vilano Forza 3.0 is an aluminum road bike with a carbon fork, offering a great combination of comfort, durability, and cost. 

This bike comes with 24 speeds, three chainrings in the front and eight in the back. This number of gears should give you plenty of options to climb and descend any roads you can find.  

The rim brakes on this bike will suffice to keep you safe as long as they are well maintained. The Forza comes with 23c tires, these are narrow and compact, capitalizing on traditional ideas of speed.  

If you are looking for an entry level road bike that will not break the bank, the Vilano Forza 3.0 could be a great option for you.  

3. Vilano Tuono 2.0 – Best Budget Road Bike 

The Vilano Tuono 2.0 is an awesome entry level aluminum road bike that offers great components at the price point. 

This bike, unlike many in its class, has disc brakes which make it safer to ride as the powerful brakes will be more responsive than rim brakes. Further, disc brakes tend to perform better in wet or adverse conditions.  

The Tuono 2.0 comes with the Shimano A050 shifters. The shift levers are mounted on the top of the bars, meaning that in order to shift, you will need to move your hands to the top of the bars.  

This bike does come with relatively cheap plastic pedals that may suit your needs or can be easily swapped for different pedals.  

If you are looking for a great road bike that can get you across town or through longer road rides, the Tuono 2.0 may be the bike for you.  

4. Schwinn Fastback AL Claris – Best Mid-Range Road Bike 

The Schwinn Fastback AL Claris is a great entry level road bike for beginner to intermediate riders. This bike has an aluminum frame and an aluminum fork, meaning it is relatively lightweight and will feel stiff and snappy while riding.  

The Fastback comes with 25c tires and has clearance for slightly larger tires. This bike comes with metal pedals complete with toe baskets to help riders pull and push on the pedals as they ride. 

The range of gears on this bike is 50/34T front chainrings and an 11-34T cassette in the rear, rounding out standard road bike gearing. The shifters on this bike, the Shimano STI shifters are integrated with the brake lever, making shifting a breeze.  

Coming in at 22.9lbs this bike is reasonably lightweight and will offer any entry level rider a great machine to take you where you want to go.  

5. Tommaso Monza Endurance Aluminum Road Bike – Best High End Entry Level Road Bike 

The Tommaso Monza Endurance is an entry level road bike that capitalizes on the combination of an aluminum frame and a carbon fork. This bike combines materials to maximize comfort and price. 

Tommaso has chosen to stick with a complete Shimano groupset, ensuring compatibility and simplicity amongst the components.  

Interestingly, the Monza comes with various mounts for racks. If you are planning on commuting with racks or even bikepacking, this could be an advantageous addition to the bike. 

The geometry of the Monza is relatively relaxed and comfortable compared to many other road bikes. If you are hoping for a road bike that feels great and can take you across town or over the mountains, this bike may certainly suit your needs.  

6. Diamondback Arden 2 – Women’s Specific Road Bike 

The Diamondback Arden 2 is truly an incredible mix of technologies and design. 

This bike is considered an Endurance Road Bikes, meaning it is slightly more upright than a race-oriented bike. This will make the Arden 2 feel great for hours of riding. 

Diamondback has chosen 28c tires for the Arden 2, a great decision which adds stability, comfort, and even speed to the bike.  

This bike comes with disc brakes, which provide adding stopping control over rim brakes. 

The Shimano HG400 shifters and 2×9 drivetrain make the shifting on this bike simplified, lightweight, and capable. By maintaining the same range of gears and offering fewer options, Diamondback has picked an incredible set of components for this bike.  

It is important to note that women do not need to ride women’s specific bikes. However, bikes like the Arden 2 offer a slightly more compact geometry and more comfortable saddle than other bikes that are designed with men in mind.  

7. Diamondback Haanjenn 1 – Best Women’s Specific Entry Level Adventure Road Bike 

The Diamondback Haanjenn 1 is a women’s specific adventure road bike that offers slightly different features than many bikes on this list. 

For starters, this road bike has flat bars, similar to that of a mountain bike. This option may feel more stable and easier to maneuver than drop bars. 

Additionally, the Haanjenn 1 has a drivetrain with only one gear in the front. This option simplifies shifting significantly. While the range of gears is certainly smaller than other bikes, the simplified nature of this gear setup may outweigh the costs of added weight and complexity found in other drivetrain setups.  

If you are looking for a unique road bike with significant capabilities for riding roads, commuting, and taking on gravel, the Haanjenn 1 may fit your needs. 

8. Takara Kabuto – Best Single Speed Road Bike 

The Takara Kabuto single speed road bike stands out amongst this list because it only has one speed and is a highly simplified road bike.  

This bike has what is called a flip-flop hub. 

When the rear wheel is oriented one direction, the bike works a single speed with a free hub, meaning you can coast. 

However, when the rear wheel is oriented the opposite direction, the hub is fixed, meaning the wheel will only move if the pedals are moving. This orientation is called a “fixie”.  

When the bike is set up as a fixie, there is technically no need for brakes because the rider can slow their pedaling which will slow the wheel to a stop.  

The Kabuto comes with removable brakes, a chain guard, a kickstand, and reflectors. These combined features mean the Kabuto is an incredible road bike commuter that can also be taken on longer rides.  

If you are a beginner road biker, the simplicity of this bike may make riding more enticing and welcoming.  

9. Mongoose Elroy Adventure – Most Versatile Entry Level Road Bike 

The Mongoose Elroy Adventure bike is truly a road bike built for more than the road. 

This bike offers 40c tires, leaving plenty of space to take this bike on gnarly roads and even some trails.  

The Elroy offers mounts for rear racks and comes with a front rack, equipped with a bottle opener. This bike has significant space for frame bags, with bottle cage mounts below the frame and an arched top tube to add clearance within the frame.  

The Elroy has a 2×7 drivetrain, offering two gear options in the front and seven in the back. While this is not a huge range, it will likely be enough for most of the hills you encounter. 

The Elroy also has mechanical disc brakes which will offer added braking power over rim brakes, an essential component particularly if your bike is weighed down with gear.  

The Elroy is a great bike if you are looking for a road oriented bike that has significantly more capabilities and can be taken off road or across town. 

10. Goplus Tempe Road Bike – Best Commuter Oriented Road Bike 

The Goplus Tempe is an incredible commuter oriented road bike. 

This bike has an aluminum frame and fork, capitalizing on aluminum’s inexpensive and strong qualities. This commuter road bike comes equipped with a kickstand as well as reflectors to maximize ease and safety while riding. 

The Tempe has 21 speeds, three chainrings in the front and seven in the back. This range should allow you to ride any hill you come across.  

The Goplus comes with Shimano A050 shifters which are mounted on top of the handlebars. To account for the need to move your hands to the top of the bars to use the shifters, Goplus has added a second set of brake levers on top of the bars; therefore, you will be able to shift and brake with your hands in one position.  

If you are looking for a road bike that will fill all of your commuting needs as well as have the capabilities to tide on longer road rides, the Tempe may be a great option for you.  

FAQ 

How do I know which bike is best for me? 

-Think about where you’d like to ride. 

Each bike is built for a specific purpose and generally has secondary capabilities. If you plan on commuting and occasionally taking your road bike on longer rides, choosing a commuter bike that has some features of a road bike may suit your needs. 

Alternately, if you are planning on riding on the road and occasionally taking your bike on gravel roads, picking a road bike with some gravel capabilities, such as wider tires is likely your best bet. 

What do I need to bring with me while road biking? 

-While riding, it is important to always wear a helmet and bring the proper tools to fix your bike if you encounter small mechanicals on the road. Typically, riders carry a multi-tool, an extra tube, tire irons, and a pump. 

 It is important to know how to use these tools before you begin road riding. 

I feel uncomfortable on my bike, what can I do? 

-A proper bike fit can alleviate much of the discomfort you feel while riding. 

While bike fits can be pricey, if it allows you to ride more often, it is typically worth it 

Additionally, some seats can be quite uncomfortable. Your local bike shop can help you find a seat that is built for your sit bones. This switch can significantly increase your comfort while riding.  

Conclusion: Best Product 

Of the products reviewed here, I think the Diamondback Arden 2 and the Diamondback Century 2 are the best entry level road bikes.  

The Arden 2 offers incredible components and capabilities at a great price point.  

The Century 2 provides a straightforward and sensible road bike that will fulfill all your road bike dreams without breaking the bank.  

Both of these bikes have clearance for wider tires, a shift that more road bikes will likely make in the future. Further, both of these bikes have disc brakes and a simplified 2×9 drivetrain. 

When looking for the best entry level road bike, the simplified choices Diamondback made for both of these bikes mean both options will be a great choice for an excited and aspiring road rider.  

Scroll to Top