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How Much Should a Good Road Bike Cost?

What makes a road bike "good" and how much should you plan to spend on one? We explain the three basic budget ranges beginner road riders should look at.

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:FAQs

If you’re new to the world of cycling, the one thing universal thing that every new cyclist likely experiences is sticker shock. Once you start researching them, you realize that bikes can get crazy expensive! 

Of course, you don’t need a $10,000 superbike, but if you want to get serious about riding, you also don’t want to waste time and money on something that will cause headaches or hold you back. So how much should you expect to spend on a good road bike? I’ll try to explain how to decide how much to spend based on your goals. 

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What Makes a Road Bike “Good”

Before we talk about cost, let’s talk about what makes a “good” road bike. “Good” is subjective. For a pro racer, a good bike gives them a competitive edge. But for most of us — the weekend warriors, recreational riders, daily bike commuters, or newbies — a good bike really only needs to be two things: comfortable and reliable. Buy a bike with these two traits you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a good cycling experience. 

A good bike is comfortable because comfort makes it more enjoyable to ride. You’ll be able to ride longer and more often. Endurance road bikes are often the top recommendation for riders seeking more comfort, but ultimately, the most important thing is to purchase A BIKE THAT FITS. 

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Buying the correct size is the top consideration. We have a good beginner’s sizing guide, but if you’re ever unsure about your size I highly suggest contacting our expert Ride Guides. They can talk with you one-on-one and help you understand what your size options are based on your measurements and any other physical considerations. 

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Next, a good bike needs to be reliable. This means a few things. First of all, it should be safe. Second, it shouldn’t break down easily. Third, if it does break down, it should be relatively easy to fix. A reliable bike will be built with parts that are proven to last and easy to source. If that’s the case, then most bike shops or home mechanics will also have no major issues performing services or repairs. 

For reliability, I have two basic recommendations: 

  • Stick to the major established name brands. 
  • Avoid bikes more than 15 years old. Ideally, choose bikes less than 10 years old.

When I say “major brands,” I don’t mean your bike needs to be anything fancy. Major brands are just brands that have a good history and reputation in the sport. It’s like choosing to buy a used Honda or Toyota rather than an Alfa Romeo as a first car. These brands tend to be trustworthy and reliable, and most bike shops will have no issues working on them. Here are some of the major bike brands I like to recommend new riders look at:

Of course, there are A LOT more brands out there. These are just the biggest bike brands in the world and the most common brands you’ll see on the road. They’re easy to find on the new and used market and you’ll have plenty of info and resources to help you out if you ever have questions or need service or repairs. 

These brands also produce a lot of budget-oriented models, and they tend to have better resale value. These budget models tend to use good entry-level and mid-range drivetrains from the two top manufacturers — Shimano and SRAM — which will make life easier for new riders.  

As for age, bikes become outdated very quickly. There is nothing wrong with riding an older used bike, but older bikes can often have mechanical issues that will be a headache for less experienced riders to deal with. It can also be harder to find replacement parts or tools for repairs. Bikes made within the last 10 years tend to be the easiest to live with and I’d only recommend looking at bikes older than 15 years if you’re very mechanically inclined. 

So How Much Should You Spend On a Road Bike?

Looking for a Bargain: $500-999

This tier is where a lot of new riders with limited budgets get their start. My first road bike was an $800 aluminum bike I purchased it from eBay. The key to getting a “good” (major brand and less than 10 years old) bike in this price range is to focus on used bikes. Pretty much any brand-new bike in this price range (often department store bikes) will compromise significantly on design and components so they aren’t very reliable, nice to ride, or easy to work on, and I don’t trust them to be safe. 

The Motivated Novice: $1,500-2,500

If you want to start strong without breaking the bank, $1,500 has been my standard recommendation for riders who are motivated to “get into it.” In this price range, you can find brand-new bikes from major brands that come equipped with entry-level Shimano or SRAM drivetrains. You can also find many well-priced used bikes that come equipped with mid-range Shimano or SRAM drivetrains. These bikes will be very nice to ride and will serve you well for many, many miles. You could keep a bike like this for a decade, keep upgrading it, and never need anything more. 

Cycling Is My New Thing: $3,000+

Some people like diving into the deep end and can afford to go all in from the beginning. If that’s you, then you can start looking at bikes in the $3,000+ range. Once you’re over the $3k mark, you start looking at brand-new bikes from major brands equipped with mid-range Shimano and SRAM drivetrains. You can also find a lot of used bikes from major brands with more high-end Shimano and SRAM components. These bikes are more than good enough for serious amateurs interested in performance or racing, and really, anything nicer than this (e.g., a $10,000 superbike) is only providing marginal performance gains.  

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