Looking for the best less expensive road bike out there? Having worked in a bike shop for several years, I have a pretty fair idea of what you should look for. I have seen — and worked on — my share of bad bike deals that people have purchased online.
There’s NOTHING worse than being excited about your new bike and having it break the first time you ride it.
For this bike buying guide, I’ve gone through and vetted the top 5 cheap bike deals on Amazon right now. Listen, road cycling is an amazing sport, and I applaud you for finding a way to make it work in your budget.
Getting a good deal on a bike requires understanding important things like bike sizing, what materials bikes are made of, the best bike brands, and so forth.
In short, you will probably want an Aluminum road bike with mostly Shimano Sora components and a carbon or steel front fork. Double-rimmed wheels with a spoke count of 32 or more is good, too, for added durability.
Some of the bikes originally presented when this lens was written are now out of stock or outdated. I have adjusted the rankings and presented new bikes as the years and the product lines change.
Read on to see my reviews of quality road bikes under $300, under $500 and under $700!
#5 – Schwinn Prelude
I almost hate to include this bike, because the Vilano is such a great package.
However, Schwiin does have one major thing going for it: It’s name.
Schwinn has been around forever, and I’d buy one for anybody I loved.
The Schwinn Prelude is designed with the commuter in mind. Like the Vilano Tuono below, It uses the AO50 trigger shifters which work great and are truly responsive. And it has an aluminum frame, making it lighter than the many steel bikes out there. However, it still weighs in about 26 pounds – heavier than the Vilano.
On importance difference between the Prelude and the Vilano Tuono, is that the Schwinn doesn’t have a “granny gear”. So if you live in an area with a lot of hills, you will want to get the Vilano. However, if hills aren’t your concern, you can benefit from the smoother shifting that bikes with fewer gears have.
For under $300, the Prelude offers a great value and is virtually identical to the Vilano Tuono — just without the super-low gear and with more brand-name history.
For commuting and losing weight? You won’t be disappointed.
#4 – Vilano Tuono Aluminim Road Bike Review
Super cheap. But it pedals.
I will be honest with you, I really, really, really want you to start your cycling career with something better than this bike.
However, this bike is better than about anything else Amazon has to offer at this price point.
Here’s the wins. This bike is aluminum (they actually use the 6061 aluminum which is both light and stiff)and weighs about 24 pounds. That is a good 6- 9 pounds lighter than most of the other bikes in its price class and will make an incredible difference to you on your rides. So many other bikes in its price class use a stiff steel that creates a much heavier bike.
AND it is a much better overall bike in both construction and choice of components than the # 1 selling cheap road bike on Amazon: the GMC Denali. (Please, for both of our sakes, do not buy a GMC Denali. I’ve seen more new riders left stranded on the side of the road by those heavy, cheap bikes.)
The 21 speeds on the Tuono are more than you need. In fact, once you ride for a month or two there will probably only be about 10 gears you ever use. But it has some super-low gears for getting you over those incredibly high hills you are bound to find. The rear shifter mechanisms are not as robust as I would like to see, and you will want to use good shifting technique where you do a “lighter pedal stroke” when you switch gears and don’t shift under pressure.
I was unable to determine what country the bike was made in, but I would guess that it is like China or Taiwan since that is where most bike manufacturing is done these days (even for the big-name bike companies).
I also like the fact that they give you 32-spoke double-walled rims for your wheels. All of us are heavier than we would like when we start riding and having a double-walled rim with a high spoke count can help the wheels hold up a lot better.
You will want to buy a better seat or a real good pair of cycling shorts. Just saying. That seat is gonna’ be a pain.
#3 – Reviewing the Vilano Forza 4.0
If you are serious about getting into road cycling, you really need to get a bike with integrated shifters. Integrated shifters are basically a brake system that also has the shifters built into them. You just click little black levers on the inside of the brake to shift one way, or move the whole brake to shift the other way.
It’s really simple, and, from a safety perspective, gives you the advantage of never having to move your hands from the shifters.
For under $500, the Vilano Forza is the perfect entry-level road bike. It comes with a really good rear cassette and chain system that should last about 2 years of hard riding (or longer if you ride less).
The wheels are double-walled which means that standard road debris won’t bend them — even if you are a little heavier than you should be (something the two cheaper models don’t have).
The other really neat thing is that there are a lot of different sizing options. This means that you can order the bike that is the right size for your body — and get a more comfortable ride out of it. Cheaper bikes take more of a one-size-fits-all approach, and can be uncomfortable on longer rides.
You’ll love the custom sizing.
For the money, it doesn’t get any better than the Vilano Forza.’
Make Friends With Your Local Bike Shop!
The bikes ships in a big box and requires some assembly. Plus, their gears need to be adjusted first at assembly and again after one month of riding (break-in period)
Work out some sort’ve deal with your local bike shop for assembly and two adjustments. Typically this will run you $60 – $100.
#2 – Diamondback Podium 1 Road Bike (2013 model)
Best value for your money.
Diamondback bikes started in 1977 as a maker of BMX bikes. Apparently their bikes are tough, because the company has stuck around.
First of all, I like the brand. Diamondback is carried in all the Dick’s sporting goods, and in major bike stores across the nation. They have a good reputation, and they uphold it.
Secondly, I like how they did not cut corners with this bike. Take, for instance, the crank and front chainrings. Diamondback uses name-brand parts for this component, which means that you will be able to pedal hundreds of miles through rain and mud and then abuse it some more on dry summer days. Most people don’t look at stuff like this. Diamondback did.
For 2013, they redesigned the frame to enable the rider to sit a tad more upright. This rotates the pelvis to a more comfortable position and enables cyclists who struggle with low back pain, neck pain, and arm pain to be able to ride comfortably — no matter how far the distance.
I also love how stiff and modern the frame is. You’ll get the comfort you need without sacrificing on durability.
Like on the previous bikes, Diamondback has solid wheels. It has a much better drive-train than the Vilano or the Tommaso and uses mostly Shimano Sora or Shimano 2300 components. I am plenty fine with that.
Standard geometry makes sizing a win and you’ll get a comfortable, all-day-long ride out of this bike as you keep up with your riding buddies that have shelled out a lot more for their rides.
I understand that pedals are included, but the seat isn’t that comfy. You’ll want padded shorts anyhow if you are riding more than 30 miles. Don’t forget to buy a water bottle cage and pick out a good bike water bottle.
Bottom line? Expect to pay $800-900 for this kind of value at most bike shops. The 2012 model was a steal. The 2013 is not as big of a deal, but Amazon sells it for about $700 which is a great value.
#1 – Hasa Road Bike Review (SORA)
They are selling out. Get ’em while you can.
I’ve bounced this one between the #1 and #2 position trying to find its best spot.
I will just come right out and say it. this bike is the best bike on this entire list. Why is that? It’s because not only does Hasa start with a top-notch frame, but they go OVERBOARD on all of the bike parts. It is name-brand, all across the board and this bike is worth every penny and then some.
The best bicycle seats is so well constructed that not only will you ride the crap out of it, but your kid will also want to borrow it when he goes to college. His daughter will sell it on eBay so she can buy a car (by then it will be an antique), and the new owner will ride it for two seasons before getting it stolen. The homeless dude that stole it will ride it for two summers before he crashes it into a parked car (happens when you’re drunk).
We’re not talking about buying a bike. We’re talking about buying a family heirloom.
What makes it special? Two things. First of all, Hasa use all Shimano components. Not many bike companies do that because, well, it costs more to do it that way. But by using all the same components made by Shimano the entire drivetrain has better alignment and will shift better and last longer. Plus, they buy the really solid entry-level stuff from Shimano which means it can handle season after season of brutal abuse.
What this means is that with the Diamondback, you will need to buy a new front crankset after 3 years of hard riding. With the Hasa, you’ve got another coupla years on top of that.
And then, the wheels. I’ve seen so many bikes with wheels that are simply a mess because they can’t take their overweight riders. This bike uses the MAVIC CXP 22 wheel which is a strong, slightly aerodynamic wheel. I’ve raced on this wheel before and I can personally vouch for it. Its way better than anything these other bikes use.
On sale this bike is over $600. Worth every penny. But a lot of my readers wouldn’t consider it to be a “cheap road bike”. It’s cheaper than a lot of the other ones out there.
That said, if you can afford it, quit reading this article and go get one. You — and your grandkids — will be glad you did.
You’ll have to buy pedals and a water bottle cage, and go for the padded shorts as well. This is a serious road bike.
Serious About Cycling?
If you are serious about this cycling thing, you are better off buying a name brand bike used. You often get better value for the money, even though the bike may be used.
Try to shoot for a major brand:
Because these bikes last forever, you can often pick up very old bikes online. Unfortunately, they may have very out-dated parts on them that can be costly to replace. Try to shoot for a bike that has some of these modern benefits:
9-speed (preferably 10-speed)
Bike frame measured in Centimeters or by S, M, L
Aluminum or Carbon bike frame