While high-end race bikes are plenty of fun to drool over, you don’t need to drop a ton of cash to get a nice ride. Whether you’re an urban commuter or weekend warrior, these 10 bikes — all priced at less than $1,000 — offer value and performance for those of us living in the real world.
1. PURE CYCLES ROAD BIKE
If the simplicity (and pricing) of yesteryear is what you’re looking for, consider this attractive new road model from Pure Cycles. Though it won’t break any speed records, the straight tube chromoly frame and fork provide a very comfortable ride at an extremely affordable price. The straight 1 1/8 steerer and relaxed geometry make the bike easy to control and enjoyable for rides in the 30–40-mile range.
While this bike probably won’t be your first choice for rides longer than 50 miles or so, recreational riders looking to tackle the occasional weekend ride and cyclists who want a commuter that’s tough and durable won’t be disappointed. Sixteen-speed Shimano Claris components, Pure Cycles alloy wheels and Hutchinson tires provide excellent value and won’t hold you back.
Built with an endurance geometry, the aluminum-framed Dolce Sport offers a stable ride and confident handling whether you’re climbing or descending. The geometry is slightly less aggressive than what you’ll find on most traditional road bikes, and when combined with the 25mm tires, the occasional off-road ride isn’t out of the question.
Though the Shimano Sora 9-speed components aren’t legendary, the specs should be good enough for most entry-level cyclists. The Body Geometry Riva Sport Plus saddle and the Axis Sport Disc wheels are two of our favorite features.
3. TREK 1.1
For a performance-minded cyclist looking for a bike to ride the occasional century or Gran Fondo, the Trek 1.1 should be on your short list. It features a lightweight aluminum frame and carbon fork with an aero tube shaping similar to Trek’s higher-end carbon models to save you seconds out on the road.
If racing isn’t your thing, the 1.1 is versatile enough to do well as a high-mileage training bike or for those dealing with lengthy commutes. Front and rear mounts for fenders and racks along with Bontrager alloy wheels and a mix of Shimano Claris and Sun Race components offer durability and reliable performance.
4. TOMMASO MONZA
While not as well-known as some of the other top bike makers, Tommaso offers some of the best value bikes on the market. Whether you’re training, racing or commuting, the Monza is as solid a bike as you’re going to find under $1K.
A Shimano Tiagra component package is an upgrade from the more common Claris, and the 40mm Tommaso wheelset gives you an aero advantage out on the road. Factor this with a solid aluminum frame and a lightweight carbon fork, and you’ve got one of the best buys on this list.
5. RALEIGH GRAND SPORT
A seriously good looking retro steel frame makes the Raleigh Grand Sport a stand out among other bikes in the $1K category. While it isn’t the lightest bike, it conquers climbs easily and cruises along quite comfortably on rides up to about 40 miles.
The 28mm tires and Weinmann rims make for plush ride, while endurance geometry saves your back and neck on longer efforts. Shimano Claris components, a Raleigh Classic seat and fender mounts should make this an attractive option for commuters and cyclists looking for a solid training bike that performs well in foul weather.
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6. DIAMONDBACK CENTURY
As the name suggests, the Diamondback Century is made for those long days in the saddle. The aluminum frame is one of the fastest you’ll find at this price point, and the Tektro disc brakes offer reliable all-weather performance.
The 28h Equation rims and Shimano Sora components are also a solid value. While this bike has plenty of straight-line speed, it handles well at top speed and is smooth over rough roads. The inclusion of 28mm tires along with the disc brakes, make it a bike that wouldn’t be out of place on the occasional off-road ride.
7. FUJI TOURING
Not every bike needs to be built for racing. For those looking for a bike for long, slow efforts, this touring bike from Fuji is workhorse ready to be ridden cross-country. A lower bottom bracket and a wider wheelbase make it incredibly stable even when carrying gear on the racks, and the 3×9 gearing enables you to tackle tough climbs easily.
A sturdy steel frame, Tektro brakes, Shimano components and Vittoria Randonneur tires should stand up to miles and miles of abuse, but it’s the Oval Concepts saddle and handlebar that add serious value and won’t require any upgrades down the road.
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8. LIV AVAIL 1 (WOMEN’S)
The compact design of the women’s specific Liv Avail 1 frame achieves a good balance between stiffness and comfort. This makes it just as good on the hills as over rough roads, and the sloping tube makes finding the right size a simple task.
Modern graphics and Shimano Sora components are other standout features, but the Giant SR-2 wheelset sets it slightly above some other models. For a women’s-specific bike at just more than $800, this is about as good as it’s going to get.
9. BROOKLYN BICYCLE CO. WYTHE
Less maintenance, durability and low-overall costs are a few of the reasons single-speeds are a good choice if you’re an urban commuter. And while fixies may have a slightly bad rap for their inclusion in hipster culture, this Brooklyn-made bike blends function and style in a way that makes it suitable for just about anyone.
The lightweight steel frame and smooth-rolling wheels are plenty responsive, and the Wythe accelerates quicker than you might expect around corners. A clean, matte-black finish and puncture-resistant tires are perfect choices for cruising city streets.
10. CANNONDALE ADVNTURE 1
If city cycling on a road bike doesn’t seem like a reasonable option, this fitness-style bike from Cannondale is lighter than you might think despite its larger tires and front suspension — which, by the way, makes for a pretty cushy ride.
It’s also very smooth and stable out on the road, particularly if you have to deal with things like railroad tracks and potholes. Reflective graphics and solid components should make this a top option if you ride less than 10 miles each way for your daily commute.