5 Best Road Bikes Under $1500 Reviewed In 2020

If you’re limiting yourself to spending only $1500 max for a road bike, I guess you’ll have to consider a few compromises.

But aren’t there a few bargains in this price range?

Luckily for you, the answer is yes. Well, I’ve searched for and actually found a few models that scream value.

Read on, and I’ll introduce you to the best road bikes under $1500.

Overview For Our Top Choice

Our top pick for the best road bike under $1500 is the Kestrel Talon X Road Shimao 105.

Top Pick: Kestrel Talon X Road Shimano 105
Versitile, lightweight, fast, and great features makes it hard to look past the Kestrel Talon.

Last update on 2020-09-26 at 05:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How To Pick A Road Bike For Under $1500

Before we get on to my list of top budget-friendly road bikes, we have to establish a few criteria on what to look for.

Let’s get right to it.

Determine The Type Of Riding You Will Use It For

Road bikes have evolved to become a huge category of bicycles that cater to many types of riders. Sometimes, it can be a little confusing to try to draw some lines between its subcategories.

Still, there’s a lot of benefit in knowing the few basic differences between various types of bikes and their corresponding purpose.

After all, if you know the type of ride you’ll be using the bike for, it’ll be easier for you to pick the right model.

Aero Bikes

An aero bike, also known as “aerodynamic bike,” uses the principles of aerodynamics to allow you to cycle in blazing speeds. The aerodynamic properties are largely attributable to the bike’s shape or “geometry.” Plus the material used.

Typically, an aero bike allows you to position your body and hands so that you can keep up with the terrain and with all the other challenges related to racing.

Performance Bikes

Performance bikes are like an overarching category of several styles of bicycles. From the term “performance” itself, these are the bikes that don’t shy away with a rider’s increasing demand.

In short, performance bikes are way better than comfort bikes in terms of speed and handling.

Since they’re a rather broad category, they integrate the good in aerodynamic, time-trial, and all-rounder bikes.

Clearly, there’s an overlap in the properties of these bicycle categories. In some cases, performance bikes are also referred to as endurance bikes. They’re used beyond casual cycling and cater to more challenging rides such as triathlons.

Comfort Bikes 

You may refer to comfort bikes as recreational bicycles. As the name implies, comfort bikes offer comfort and style above all else. You may use them for recreational strolling and even for daily commutes.

Comfort bikes, however, are not meant for races or for highly adventurous rides, so you couldn’t expect them to be very tough.

Time Trial Bikes

A time trial bike, as opposed to a triathlon bike, is designed to race against time — hence the name. Unlike triathlon bikes, which favor a more relaxed position, time trial (TT) bikes favor speed above all.

In essence, these are aero bikes that are optimized to go through flat, straight courses. TT bikes, however, could be so specialized for time trial races that they will have compromises on climbs as well as in round tight courses.

Gravel Bikes

Gravel bikes have characteristics that fall between a typical road bike (which performs well on tarmac) and a cyclocross bike (which kind of loves mud).

These bikes use larger tires, usually greater than 30mm, going up to 42mm.

With the kind of roads that they’re expected to be on, gravel bikes had to be large, grippy, and stable.

Often, gravel bikes are designed to give comfort when you have to take it to long-distance trips. Especially in usually bumpy places.

Cyclocross Bikes 

As I said, cyclocross (CX) bikes love to go through muddy cyclocross courses. They’re designed to compete during these high-speed races, which usually go beyond 2 hours in duration.

A cyclocross bike can run through muddy grass, fields, or sand. Typically, it will showcase plenty of mud clearance and some knobby tires.

Some riders, while not really into CX races, would rather buy a CX bike just to unlock more adventurous rides on their own.

By the way, compared to gravel bikes, cyclocross bicycles have more aggressive geometries and knobbier but thinner tires.

All-round Road Bikes

All-round road bikes are, essentially, a combination of everything good about the above classifications. They have aerodynamic designs and are made of high-end materials that are both lightweight and durable.

They would also have medium-width tires with just enough treads. Seeking to cater to even the daily commuter, an all-round road bike also gives priority to comfort and adjustability.

In short, an all-rounder is like a dream come true. But if you should find a good one, expect it to be heavy on the pocket.

But really, if you’re into any one specific kind of ride, you better get yourself a specialized bike. Optimize it for your kind of cycling so you wouldn’t have to compromise on any factor.

Check the Frame

Much of a bike’s identity is defined by its frame. After all, you can replace or upgrade the mini parts and you’d still recognize the thing as your bike — only with a new face. The frame, however, is the bicycle’s core and is what holds everything together.

Needless to say, it’s critical to choose the bike with the right frame.

Material

Most cheaper road bikes offer a carbon fiber frame. Just note that carbon has the tendency to flex under heavier loads.

Carbon frames can also feel less comfortable, and in fact, more brittle, compared to aluminum or steel frames.

But carbon fiber frames are lighter, and almost synonymously, more expensive. (Yeah, the lighter the bike, the higher the price. Usually.)

And with road bikes, you’d actually want to switch to lighter materials overall, because you’d want to experience a smoother, faster, easier, and more comfortable ride.

Now, with a budget of $1500 or less, you can already find a carbon-fiber framed bike. Bikes on the higher end of this budget may even offer a carbon fork and gearset. 

Meanwhile, on the cheaper end, you can expect an aluminum body instead. 

Midway through this budget, you should be able to find some carbon-fork and aluminum-frame hybrids.

Geometry

The “geometry” of the frame refers to its structural design. Indeed, how the tubes have been put together can greatly affect the bike’s performance and handling. 

By geometry, we mean to refer to the angles of the tubes making up the frame.

If a bike has a “racy” geometry, then it wouldn’t be as suitable for longer rides. Of course, you get to enjoy the performance gains it offers.

Opposite to racy geometries are the more “relaxed” and comfortable ones.

Now if you wish to be geekier, there’d be three major geometric measurements at play:

Head Tube Angle:

Bikes with steeper head angles will have faster steering. Slacker, and it means slower steering.

The steeper the head angle, the less effort will be required of you to steer. Generally. Again, note that there are other factors at play.

Fork Rake (a.k.a. Offset):

Increased fork rake means faster steering.

Fork Trail:

With less trail comes faster steering.

Anyway, if you’re new to road cycling, there’s no need to pressure yourself on understanding all that jargon yet. For now, simply stick to the basics, and know if you want to be off to the races or simply enjoy a recreational ride.

Size

As for choosing the right frame size, I think there’s just no better way to tell you the approximate numbers than to present a table.

Rider Height Frame Size Written Size
4’10” – 5’0″ 47 – 48cm XX Small
5’0″ – 5’3″ 49 – 50cm X Small
5’3″ – 5’6″ 51 – 53cm Small
5’6″ – 5’9″ 54 – 55cm Medium
5’9″ – 6’0″ 56 – 58cm Large
6’0″ – 6’3″ 58 – 60cm X Large
6’3″ – 6’6″ 61 – 63cm XX Large

Consider The Parts Of The Bike

To optimize your road cycling experience, give some time to examine the parts of a bike before you make your purchase.

Saddle

Make sure the saddle has enough padding to give your comfort. Examine the shell base of the saddle to know how springy it is. With appropriate grooves and cut-outs, a saddle can reduce the pressure around your sensitive veins.

Connected to the saddle is the seat post. The more adjustable it is, the more versatile and comfortable your bike can be.

Wheels

You should look for a lighter and stiffer wheel if you want to maximize speed and handling. These factors are often determined by the kind of tires and rims used on a bike.

Tires

Refer back to your kind of ride to know what tire width is appropriate for your needs. Wider tires give more stability, while thinner tires have less resistance and therefore allow you to speed up better.

Rim

To be honest, it’s hard to find chromo-wheeled bikes in the $1500 price range. Anyway, you should look for double-walled rims to ensure durability.

Assess The Weight Of The Bike

Like many other riders, I prefer lightweight bikes. I’ve already mentioned this in passing, but for the sake of emphasis, a lightweight bike can give you a speedy ride.

So if you’re into road racing, you should seek to cut down on the bike’s weight. Else, a heavy bike will take a toll on your energy, and hence, your speed.

5 Road Bikes Under $1500 Reviewed

At last, it’s now time to examine our top road bike choices under $1500.

1. Tommaso Monza Endurance Aluminum Road Bike

Key Features

  • 6061 aluminum frame; carbon fork for vibration dampening
  • Shimano Tiagra Groupset
  • Shimano Tiagra Shifters
  • 20 speeds
  • Aero wheels
  • Compact frame geometry

The Tomasso Monza offers great value, especially if you’re just new into the world of road bicycles. Its aluminum-frame and carbon-fork combo can dampen vibrations while you’re on the ride. This means it can minimize the bumpy effects of light gravel and small potholes. The overall geometry can give you a more relaxed and comfortable ride.

Featuring a full Shimano Tiagra 4700 drivetrain — which includes the cassette, crank, shifters, front/rear derailer, chain, and brakes — the Monza can provide you with smooth shifting. Apparently, it consistently performs well in all kinds of road conditions. Well, occasionally, you might feel a few stutters if the bike is heavily loaded.

Meanwhile, Monza’s self-branded TC-40 wheelset can feel a little heavy. Although it should not be too taxing on the overall performance of the bike.

Just a side note. You’ll find that the brake and gear cabling in this bike has been routed externally. (You might want to take note of this detail as you go through the other bikes I’m including in this list.)

And finally, the saddle might feel it has virtually no cushion. You might want to replace it later with a more comfortable seat. Also, if you’re new to road bikes, it would be best to have this bike professionally assembled.

Pros

  • Rides like a dream (gives you really smooth rides)
  • Minimizes road bumps
  • Value for money
  • Great handlebars
  • Smooth brakes
  • Responsive gear switch
  • Feels very light
  • Looks attractive
  • Durable
  • Wide speed range
  • Shifters transition smoothly between speed levels

Cons

  • The tubes and tires are a little too thin and could easily get flat (you can replace them with thicker ones)
  • The seat padding may not be enough
  • The pedals are rather cheap and not optimized
  • Beginners might need to have this bike professionally assembled

Last update on 2020-09-26 at 05:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. Schwinn Phocus 1400 and 1600 Drop Bar Road Bicycles for Men and Women

Key Features

  • 41cm/Small or 56cm/Large Aluminum Frames
  • Shimano 14-Speed or 16-Speed Drivetrain
  • Carbon Fiber Fork
  • 700c Wheels
  • Alloy double-wall rims with paired spokes
  • Promax alloy dual-pivot caliper road brakes
  • Alloy crank with a wide gear range

The Schwinn Phocus Drop Bar Road Bike sports a hybrid of an aluminum frame and a carbon fiber fork. With the other, smaller parts being made of alloy, this Phocus road bike feels fairly light.

Overall, the Phocus can give a comfortable ride, minimizing the bumps. It’s quite suitable for beginner riders and bicycle commuters.

Now, it’s important for you to choose the correct size for this bike. For instance, if you’re over 6 feet, you might find the 45-cm medium frame to be pretty small. Whereas, a person who’s shorter than 5’8” would already find that size to be a little big.

The good thing is that there’s also a small 41-cm frame, which should turn out to be favorable to shorter riders.

Since this bike is quite affordable, you may purchase it as a way to try out road cycling.

If you find that road bicycling is actually your kind of ride, then that’s the time where you could upgrade to a higher-end road bike. Or, you could simply retain the frame and upgrade specific bike parts, such as the seat, pedals, bottom bracket, and crankset.

Pros

  • Decent parts and performance for its price
  • Easy to assemble
  • Rides greatly
  • Feels light
  • The brakes work well
  • Soft rubber covers in the handlebars
  • Comfortable saddle
  • Durable
  • Good shipping package

Cons

  • May have some quality-control issues with the bottom bracket where the pedal cranks should connect
  • The tubes might be very thin (you could replace them with thicker tubes)
  • May need a few tune-ups for the bike to shift smoothly

Last update on 2020-09-26 at 15:29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3. Diamondback Bicycles Century 1 Road Bike

Key Features

  • Available in 52, 54, 56, 58, and 60-cm frames (around 20 to 23-inch frames)
  • Hand-built 7005 aluminum frame; aluminum fork
  • Enhanced performance geometry
  • Shimano Claris/FSA 2×8-speed drivetrain
  • Tektro Lyra mechanical disc brakes

Diamondback offers a variety of sizes for its Century Road Bikes, so you should be able to find just the right frame lengths for yourself.

While the Century Road Bike has an aluminum frame and fork, it still feels light overall (although not really carbon-frame light).

Moreover, it features a bike geometry that makes you sit slightly more upright compared to how you would sit in most road bikes. This might lose you some aerodynamics, but that’s probably fine — especially when you consider how this bike keeps your head, neck, and back feeling fine. Even after a really long ride.

The disc brakes function quite smoothly and quickly, too. They work great whether you’re placing your hands on top of the hoods or when you’re tucking them down on the bar’s drop part.

It’s just that you might find a slight issue with switching from the smaller chainring to the larger one. Well, it’s not really much of a problem since you only have to do that shift by the end of your climb. As for the cassette shifter, it does its work well.

Pros

  • Feels light
  • Keeps your back and neck fine even after a long ride
  • Looks attractive
  • Aerodynamic design
  • Excellent packaging and shipping service
  • Good customer support
  • Value for money

Cons

  • The seat may feel hard (you can purchase a replacement seat instead)
  • Not the most aerodynamic
  • It might feel a little tough to shift from the smaller to the larger chainring

Last update on 2020-09-26 at 05:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4. Kestrel Talon X Road Shimano 105 Triathlon Bike

Key Features

  • 800K ultra-high-modulus carbon fiber frame
  • Shimano 105 front & rear derailleurs
  • Shimano 105 11speed STI shifters
  • Reversible seat post for road or triathlon positioning
  • Oval Concepts 327, 700c 20/24H wheelset
  • Vittoria Zaffiro Pro, 700 x 25c, folding tires
  • Oval Concepts 310 ergo handlebars

Do you consider yourself a serious rider or a triathlete? If so, the Kestrel Talon X Road Shimano Bike might be the one for you.

It’s surprisingly versatile, giving you road and triathlon modes in just one bike — thanks to the reversible seat post. Yes, you can simply change its position and you’re off to the races. (Or to a leisurely ride at the park.)

Featured with a full carbon frame and fork, and designed with aerodynamic contours, the Talon can send you to swift speeds.

The Talon 150 is also equipped with a fully internal cable routing, which ensures clean airflow all over the bike. The saddle, on the other hand, can even dampen vibrations to ensure you’ll have a smooth ride.

Plus, the Shimano 105 groupset is like the “icing on the cake.” The components offer you comfortable ergonomics and smooth shifts.

This is one big bike, by the way, so you should consider if yours will be a matching height. But if that’s not a problem, then you might want to try the Talon for a speedy road/triathlon ride.

Pros

  • Super light
  • Extra fast
  • Responsive
  • Comfortable
  • Gives smooth rides
  • Versatile
  • Can cater to both road and triathlon rides
  • Great value for money
  • Aerodynamic
  • Ergonomic handlebars
  • Saddle dampens vibrations
  • Fully-internal cable routing

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with pedals (you have to purchase them separately)
  • Assembly might be a bit tough (you can call in a professional to help you with it)

Last update on 2020-09-26 at 05:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5. BEIOU Carbon 700C Road Bicycle

Key Features

  • Toray T800-M40 Carbon Fiber parts (unibody frame, fork, handlebar, seat post)
  • 20 speeds
  • 3K Glossy Red/Orange/Blue/Silver finish
  • Ultra-light at 18.8lbs
  • Wind-breaking design

If you want a racing road bike with top-performing parts, then you can opt for the BEIOU Carbon 700C Road Bicycle.

Featuring a lightweight unibody carbon fiber frame and fork, this BEIOU road bike can give you really smooth and fast rides. Its wind-breaking geometry allows for swift acceleration. Its 700c wheels feel stable, while its caliper brakes enable you to still be in control.

Other parts of this bike are also made of carbon fiber, including the drop bar and the seat post. Meanwhile, the bearings and wheelsets are made of aluminum. Now you can have a sense of how lightweight this bike feels.

The BEIOU Carbon Road Bike also offers an efficient speed control mechanism. If you’re fond of cycling on the road for hours and hours, you would love the comfort this bike can give. Thanks to the internal cable routing, you can refrain from getting those cables tangled while you’re handling the bike.

Pros

  • Assembly can be effortless (about 30 to 40 minutes of assembly time)
  • Gives your brisk rides
  • Effortless to ride
  • Quick and responsive
  • Switches smoothly between gears
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Attractive design
  • Value for money
  • Offers customized bike color (just email the customer service)

Cons

  • You might need to do some fine-tuning before getting into the road

Last update on 2020-09-26 at 05:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Top Choice

Considering all the juice you can possibly get with a budget of $1500 or less, I’d say the Kestrel Talon X Road Shimano 105 Triathlon Bike comes out as the winner here.

There’s a lot to love about this road bike.

  • It’s versatile as it can handle both simple road cycling sessions and highly demanding triathlons.
  • It’s super light, thanks to its carbon fiber frame and fork. 
  • It’s blazing fast with its aerodynamic contours.
  • It features an optimized Shimano 105 groupset that provides all the smooth shifts.
  • Its saddle can dampen vibrations.
  • It’s ergonomic and fully comfortable to ride on.

Now, I’ll leave you to it.

Last update on 2020-09-26 at 05:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Perry
Perry
Hello, my names Perry and I've been a freelance writer for the past 5 years and a cycling enthusiastic since I can remember. I love the road, but my main passion is mountain biking.