Road bikes are a great asset to anyone on the go, but is it okay to buy a less expensive bike? If you know what to look for, you’ll end up with a quality bike.
Here’s what you need to know about the 5 best road bikes under $500, reviewed for 2020.
Table of Contents
Overview For Our Top Choice
The Eurobike Road Bike was our favorite, it offers an incredible amount of control.
Things To Know When Buying A Road Bike Under $500
Sometimes when you’re looking at a bike’s size, you’re given a frustratingly vague option like Small, Medium, or Large. That may not be much help.
However, the size charts that manufacturers include is. Of course, it’s important to understand how the bike size charts work if you want a well-fitting road bike.
If you’re an averagely proportioned person, simply using the general height chart may work. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to get your measurements and compare them to the detailed charts.
You’ll often see ‘leg inseam’ as a measurement. That’s just the measurement from the bottom of your heel to your crotch.
Of course, you’ll also see this measurement labeled as the ‘stand over height.’ This is where the top tube reaches to. Essentially, you’re looking at an inch or two over inseam height.
Another measurement is ‘ape index,’ and it basically shows the length of your arms (spread out) in proportion to your height.
If you have shorter arms, it’s better to choose a smaller size and adjust the saddle height to compensate for leg length.
However, if your legs and arms are proportional in length, go ahead and get the bigger size for more comfort. You’ll most commonly see the measurements of the bike listed as ‘frame size.’
Frame & Fork Material
When you’re looking at a road bike for under $500, you have two main materials used in the construction: aluminum and steel.
Aluminum is fairly inexpensive, and it’s very lightweight. It’s a great material if you want to pick up speed. Aluminum is a strong, durable material, although it isn’t the strongest out there, it can take some abuse.
However, aluminum frames are better suited to more casual rides, since they can become uncomfortable on a long ride. Some road bikes use an aluminum alloy material for the frame, or especially, the fork. These materials are still lightweight, with added durability.
Your other option for frame and fork material (in the under $500 price range) is steel. Steel may up the price of your bike, but not enough to be out of the price range. Steel is highly durable, and it’s strong enough to take a hard impact.
It’s great to ride on the road and light trails, since it handles bumps really well. Yes, steel does require a little more maintenance than aluminum. It also weighs a bit more than your typical aluminum frame. That said, it’s more comfortable on longer rides, and it lasts a long time if you take care of it.
Wheels & Tires
When you’re looking at your (prospective) bike’s tires and wheels, you need to understand that they play a big part in how your bike rides.
Lightweight wheels are great; they’ll keep you moving at speed, and feel easier to move. The easier it is to move the wheels, and the more responsive they are, the better the ride you’ll have.
When you have to replace tires, they also have to fit with the specific measurements of the wheel.
Some tires come with a measurement that shows the inches of the diameter of the tire (for example, 25”) by the width of the wheel in inches (for example, 2”).
However, this is more common for mountain bikes or racing bikes. Road bikes often use measurements in millimeters. The first number still shows the overall tire diameter.
The second number still shows the actual width of the tire, too. If you’re not sure what the size of the tires are, just check the tire’s sidewall. You should have the wheel measurement there.
It’s so easy to overlook the components of your bike if you’re not well versed in bike construction and maintenance. However, when you’re looking for a good road bike under $500, the components make the biggest difference.
Bikes have tons of different components. We won’t overwhelm you, but here are the main components you should be looking at.
Saddles can be a touchy subject, literally. The fact is, if your saddle, or seat, isn’t comfortable, you either won’t ride, or you’ll replace it. Whenever you can, try out the saddle for yourself. Or, with the savings you have left in your budget, replace it for one you like.
Cantilever and caliper brakes are the most common rim brakes. Essentially, the rim is used as the surface to halt the bike.
V brakes, or linear pull brakes, are the next generation of rim brakes. They work similarly, with cables to control the brakes. However, they’re much stronger and more precise.
When you look at gearing, there are a few main things to check. First, check out the front and back derailleurs. Then look at the shifters. The ways these all work together is going to determine how smooth you can shift gears. Matching parts from the same brand is ideal.
5 Best Road Bikes Under $500 Reviewed
1. Pure Fix Original Fixed Gear Single Speed Fixie Bike
- Flip-flop rear hub for quick freewheel to fixed gear changes
- High tensile steel frame is fully tig-welded
- Synthetic leather seat
- Available in 30 different color options
- 30mm alloy riser handlebars
The Pure Fix Fixie is a simplistic, yet powerful bike with a strategic design. It’s built for maximum performance and comfort and is a great bike if you’re still getting used to riding a fixed gear bike.
Typical fixed gear bikes are often pretty intimidating, but this one is not only easy to assemble, it’s super easy to operate and customize. The construction is very strong and durable so you can feel confident riding for years.
The flip-flop hub is by far the best part of this bike. It allows you to effortlessly flip between fixed gear and freewheel riding. Freewheel riding is perfect for just cruising and coasting and fixed gear allows you to set your pedal resistance to the perfect level for any situation.
- Ideal for both leisure cruising and road biking
- Lightweight build makes it very easy to store, carry and travel with
- Available in 7 different size options so you can select the perfect match for you
- 40mm Thickslick tires have excellent control and comfort
- Ships already 90% assembled, so you there’s little work on your part
- Tires are not going to be as long lasting with heavy use and on city streets
- Tires do not handle impact well
- Seat is very firm with little to no cushion
- Hand grips are not very comfortable or ergonomic
- Handlebars are a bit narrow and short
2. Takara Kabuto Single Speed Road Bike
- Flip-flop rear hub to switch from fixed gear to freewheel riding
- Durable, handcrafted steel frame and fork
- Alloy hub and side pull brakes
- Wide profile wheels that support 700 x 32 tires
- Weight in at just 29.5 lbs
This is a perfect commuter bike that was built for long-term road use at a single speed. The steel frame is ultra sturdy with horizontal dropouts that withstand rough city roads. The tires are also built to last through regular use on all types of terrain, even in less than ideal conditions.
The option to switch from fixed gear to freewheel riding makes this bike ideal for commuting and recreational riding, as well as workouts. For being so durable and resilient, the design itself is actually very minimalist and lightweight.
Being a single speed bike, the ride is very smooth and comfortable even when switching gears.
- Ability to withstand the turbulence of riding in the city and poor road conditions
- Highly visible, unisex color options keep you safe on the road
- Relatively easy to assemble, even for those with little to no experience
- Extra component on the hub for easy freewheel coasting
- Brake cables exit internally through the handlebars
- Seat is very hard and some people might consider changing it
- Might not be ideal for some riders depending on your height, especially if you are below 5’6
- The welding on the bike isn’t as smooth looking as it could be
- The seat tube is extremely tight, making it difficult to remove
- Brake levers need to be adjusted very often
3. Vilano Diverse 3.0 Performance Hybrid Road Bike
- 24 speeds with a EF 51 ⅜ shifter
- Mechanical disc brakes for optimal braking power in all conditions
- Comes with high quality Kendra 700c X 35c tires
- Weighs in at just 24 lbs
- Upright handlebars for comfort
This 26 speed road bike is excellent for commuters and beginners just starting out on a road bike. It’s a very smooth and easy ride on all terrains, but especially shines on concrete and roads.
The gears shift effortlessly in all types of weather conditions, so you know you can rely on this bike at all times – even in the snow.
The seat height is very easily adjustable so you can quickly customize it to comfortably fit your height.
The upright handlebars and disc brakes are extremely helpful if you live in a hilly area because they make the bike easier to control your steering and speed inclines.
Aside from just the performance on this bike, it’s got a very sleep design that looks very expensive and classy.
- Very easy to maintain and tune up on your own
- Includes a free set of pedals
- Disc brakes aren’t typically seen on bikes in this price range
- Always packed very securely for shipping for extra protection
- The matter black finish effectively hides dirt and scratches
- Doesn’t include a kickstand, so you will have to purchase and install one yourself
- Gears are not protected by a dust cover
- Handlebars are not adjustable, which can be an issue for very tall people
- The two available sizes may not be ideal for people shorter than 5’9
- Straddling clearance is limited by the arched top tube
Last update on 2024-03-04 at 12:04 / Commission Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
4. Eurobike Road Bike EURXC550
- Disc brakes for better stop control
- Includes Shimano groupset
- Steel frame and aluminum rims
- Multiple colorful designs to choose from
- Comes mostly assembled (85% complete)
This road bike will impress you from the very start. Yes, there are plenty of bikes you can order online and assemble yourself. However, even some of the easier ones can take an hour or two.
Even with zero hands on bike experience, it easily takes 20 to 30 minutes or less to put it together. Plus, all the tools you need are included with the bike?
It feels sturdy through and through. The frame is made of high durability, super strong steel. Of course, it weighs more than an aluminum frame would. However, you can definitely tell it’s much stronger and will get through some heavy impacts, too.
It has a smaller chain wheel, which is really going to impress riders that live around hilly areas. The smaller chain wheel does give the bike more power after you get going, but it also makes it easier to keep your momentum as you go up hills.
This Eurobike also comes with a complete Shimano groupset, which is a huge bonus for any rider. In essence, the Shimano groupset means you get superior precision, speed control, and on a dime braking.
While the frame is made of steel, it isn’t as heavy as you’d expect. Overall, it’s a swift, smooth riding bike for just about any road you want to take.
- Feels very smooth and fast
- About ½ hour assembly or less (tools are included)
- Frame is extremely durable and well made
- The saddle isn’t very comfortable so you need to replace if you take long rides
5. 6KU Fixed Gear Single Speed Urban Fixie Road Bike
- Single speed gear for easy riding
- High quality steel and aluminum construction
- Built for easy assembly and maintenance
- Includes all tools needed for service and assembly
- Upgraded design with vibrant color options
This 6KU bike is ideal for people that want smooth, reliable transport to anywhere they need to get to in town. First, it’s a great looking bike, and that first impression sets the stage for what you’ll find out about the rest of the bike.
It has classic, timeless geometric structure that turns heads no matter where you are. Since it comes in a ton of bright and classic colors, you can get the perfect commuter bike to fit your style. You don’t need to sacrifice functionality to do it, either. This bike is a great way to get to your destination, and fast.
There’s no need to worry about changing gears every few minutes. Since this is a single speed commuter bike, you can focus on what you really need to: the road. The one gear drivetrain is smooth, seamless, and just plain great as an addition to the bike gear.
While it may sound nice to get a bike that has a million different switches to flip, it’s not practical for maintenance if you’re not well versed in bike mechanics.
That’s another area where this bike really stands out. It’s easy to take care of yourself and the bike requires very little maintenance. Even better, any tool you could possibly need to get it together and maintain or service it is included.
This is a seriously lightweight road bike. Commuters and apartment dwellers alike will love how easy this bike is to move around. Because it’s so light, it’s also very easy to maneuver around the city, especially when you need to make a sharp turn.
- Very easy to set up and take care of
- No hassle rides and good agility
- Very budget friendly, but looks like a much more expensive bike
- Built with taller gears (which can be harder on sore knees)
- Saddle could be more comfortable (or replace if it bothers you)
Last update on 2024-03-04 at 18:48 / Commission Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
If you’re only visiting your local bike shop when you’re looking for a good road bike, you’ve probably had a case of ‘sticker shock.’ Luckily, now the marketplace for high quality, speedy, and easy to maintain road bikes is very open.
We took a look at some of the best road bikes for under $500, and we were surprised at what we found. Of course, the biggest surprise was that bike that ended up being our top pick.
The Eurobike Road Bike was our favorite. First, it offers an incredible amount of control. The disc brakes are super precise. However, it also keeps momentum really well too.
Once you get going, it starts to feel like the bike is doing all the work. It’s a workhorse of a bike, and just from feeling the sturdy steel construction you can tell it’ll last forever.