There’s never been a good time to start cycling than today.
With more and more cities supporting the move for a greener environment, bikers have never had much leeway and protection than ever before.
We’re talking about prioritized parking spots, as well as separate lanes, among other things. Plus, cycling is one of the best cardiovascular exercises out there, and the bikes themselves are relatively cheap to maintain in the long run, making biking an ideal choice for those who want to help out the environment and stay active, as well as healthy, without necessarily putting a dent on their wallet.
But if you’re new to cycling, you won’t want to spend a fortune on your bike.
Luckily, the best entry-level road bikes today don’t cost a lot and don’t necessarily cut you short as far as features go.
With that said, we’ve rounded up what we think are the best entry-level bikes today.
|Tommaso Imola Endurance Aluminum Road Bike, Shimano Claris R2000, 24 Speeds - White - Large
|Diamondback Bicycles Arden 2 Womens Road Bike, 56cm Frame, Green, 56cm/Large
|Raleigh Bikes Merit 2 Endurance Road Bike, Silver, 54cm/Medium
1. Tommaso Imola
With over 30 years of experience in bike manufacturing, Tommaso is a known bike among bike enthusiasts and beginners alike.
However, despite its wide range of must-buy products, the Imola stands out – it’s easily one of the top entry-level bicycles today.
Lightweight, easily to assemble, and with lots and lots of features, it’s hard NOT to recommend the Tommaso Imola.
What Makes the Tommaso Imola so Good?
1. Multiple Designs and Sizes to Choose from
The Imola comes in three different colors, specifically Black, White, and Burnt Orange. You can also get it in six different sizes, ranging from XXS to XL.
2. Plenty of Non-Entry-Level Amenities
Most entry-level road bikes leave out most of the niceties to mid-trim and top-trim models, but not the Imola. In fact, it’s relatively lightweight, thanks to its SLA 60601 Frame, and comes with Shimano Claris components.
3. Relatively Affordable
At the $600-$700 price range, the value of the Imola is already hard to beat. But once you add the fact that it’s easy to upgrade – you can add new rims and replace the seat post for added comfort – and that it comes pretty much entirely assembled, it’s easy to see why many consider the Imola as one of the best entry-level road bikes available today.
Steel fork is much heavier than the rest of the body and adds some unnecessary weight to the bike. Although this is not uncommon for bikes within its price range, it’s still quite noticeable. It’s recommended you replace the fork with an aluminum or carbon fork as soon as you can afford to do so.
2. Diamondback Arden 2
Typically, beginners don’t go for endurance rides nor go for bikes meant for endurance riding, but we simply just couldn’t pass up just how good of a value the Diamondback Arden 2 offered.
From its rad geometric design on the top tube to the full aluminum frame, to a number of quality-of-life improvements made depending on the size that you choose, the Arden 2 is hard to beat, both at its price range and well above it.
What Makes the Diamondback Arden 2 So Good?
1. Best Bang for the Buck
$950 is a lot of money, but not for endurance bikes. Typically, people looking for endurance bikes at this price range are willing to make compromises. However, the Arden 2 makes little to no such things.
This endurance bike comes with an aluminum frame and mechanical disc brakes, among other things, that give it the light weight that it needs to go fast and the stopping power necessary to put you to full stop once you reach such speeds.
2. Comes in a Variety of Smaller Sizes
To accommodate a variety of riders, the Arden 2 comes in a wide range of sizes. It goes from XXS to L.
The smallest even gives it a women’s handlebar and saddle for added comfort for lady riders looking to get into the world of endurance riding.
3. Quite the Looker
The dazzling shade of rainforest green pairs perfectly with the top tube’s geometric design to create a good-looking bike.
A couple of cost-cutting components add a bit more weight to the Arden 2.
3. Raleigh Merit 2
Also one of the best entry-level road bikes available today, the Merit 2 is created by a reputable British brand (Raleigh) that has reputation for creating versatile, reliable, and affordable bikes.
The Merit 2 comes with everything that you would need from a road bike, and then some.
While the Merit 1 is Raleigh’s entry-level road bike, the Merit 2 is just so much better without being so much more expensive to warrant a bump and inclusion on our list.
What Makes the Raleigh Merit 2 So Good?
1. Perfect for Beginner and Expert Cyclists
Raleigh literally put everything entry-level on the Merit 2, as well as other features found on more expensive bikes. This includes a full aluminum frame, custom alloy work, and the Shimano Claris groupset.
Beginners will also love the fact that it comes with 700 x 28c tires, that help create a more stable ride.
2. Multipurpose design
Some bike’s geometry make them near-impossible to use on certain roads. The Merit 2’s classic geometry make that discussion moot.
You can use this comfortably as a city bike, commuter bike, as well as an urban bike.
3. Mechanical Disc Brakes
Compared to rim brakes, mechanical disc brakes are just so much better. They can put a quick stop to your bicycle with much less effort exerted.
This is especially useful on longer descents.
The Merit 2 doesn’t come fully assembled. It’s only partially complete and will take a good mechanic at least 2-3 hours to get prepped for the road.
Ideally, you’ll want to have it assembled by an expert mechanic for some necessary tune-up tweaks, among other things.
4. Diamondback Century 2
If the Arden 2 is just a tad too expensive for your tastes, the Century 2 from Diamondback is also worth considering.
While it’s not your typical entry-level road bike – it costs a bit more than what most beginners would prefer to spend – the Century 2 rewards those who are willing to invest more with a set of features fit for beginner and advanced-level riders alike.
What Makes the Diamondback Century 2 So Good?
1. Shimano Sora Groupset Components
The Shimano Sora is considered a step above Claris and makes several improvements. But the biggest difference is that it is nine-speed over the Claris’ eight-speed.
This gives beginners an extra gear to call on once they start getting used to riding their bikes, significantly reducing the number of jumps necessary between cassette and sprockets.
2. Tektro Disc Brakes
Tektro’s disc brakes aren’t necessarily better in terms of stopping power.
However, they’re built specifically to provide long-term value, with the company’s testing and manufacturing facilities known for having stricter-than-average standards.
3. Enhanced Performance Geometry
The “Enhanced Performance Geometry” design puts you in a slightly upright position, which is ideal for beginner cyclists.
This is also the same preferred position by experienced riders for longer rides as it is more comfortable and less strenuous on the body.
Outside of the slightly elevated price tag (especially for beginners), it’s hard to find anything wrong with what the Century 2 has to offer.
5. Giordano Libero 2.0
Another strong contender for the title of the best entry-level road bike today, the Libero 2.0 ups most of the entry-level features found on other bikes at similar price ranges while making little to no compromises.
Although it’s not perfect, it’s also the closest thing to it for beginners who don’t know what they’re looking for in a bike just yet.
What Makes the Giordano Libero 2.0 So Good?
1. Shimano Sora Groupset
We’ve already featured the Shimano Sora groupset before with the Diamondback Century 2.
A step-up compared to the Shimano Claris, this is enough of a reason to at least consider buying the Libero 2.0 over other similarly-priced road bikes.
2. Carbon Fork
This is where the Libero 2.0 really stands out. Most entry-level road bikes come with steel forks. Some are made out of aluminum. But its fork is made out of carbon.
This means that it’s lighter and more comfortable to ride without sacrificing durability. You’ll find that no other bikes in its price range have carbon forks out of the box.
3. Handmade Aluminum Frame
The universal geometry of the handmade aluminum frame makes the Libero 2.0 the perfect allrounder.
The color isn’t ideal for a road bike, and it doesn’t come in other color schemes. You’ll be spending a lot of time keeping the bike clean and ready for your next ride.
Additionally, the light weight of the Libero 2.0 is pretty easy to stop, but it’s still worth noting that it comes with regular V-brakes.
6. Schwinn Volare 1300
That’s one way of describing the Schwinn Volare 1300.
Created by a company that has since seen better days, the Volare 1300 is a value purchase that doesn’t feel like one.
It’s a budget road bike but rides like something that even advanced bikers won’t mind using on a daily basis.
What Makes the Schwinn Volare 1300 So Good?
1. It’s Cheap
The Volare 1300 is the cheapest bike on our list, by far. It’s perfect for people who are simply looking for something to sit and ride on.
2. Sit and Ride
As long as you’re not that finicky, the Volare 1300 is a sit and ride type of bike. You won’t need to change anything out of the box unless you’re looking to make it lighter and faster, in which case, it’s also still pretty easy to upgrade.
While Schwinn has found itself sold and resold many times over the recent years, this lack of stability hasn’t really affected the quality of their products. Rest assured that the Volare 1300 will last you for a very long time, even when used as a daily commute.
Don’t expect the most comfortable and lightest ride with the Volare 1300. Remember, you get exactly what you pay for. Also, you’ll want to upgrade a couple of parts after a year or two for improved ride comfort and stability.
Are Entry-Level Road Bikes Worth the Money?
Not all entry-level products are worth spending money on. This is especially true for people looking for a reliable alternative to their usual mode of transportation.
However, the increased number of competitors in the bike market has led to much higher quality than ever before at more affordable price ranges.
In fact, you’ll find that some of the features found usually on expensive bikes are also available in entry-level road bikes.
Speed, lightness, and an aerodynamic riding position are all factors that we took into considering in our round-up of the top entry-level road bikes available today.
If you’re new to bikes, these entry-level road bikes we recommended will give you a lot of value for your money.
You might even end up keeping them far longer than you’d like, albeit making a couple of necessary improvements as you start gaining more expensive and knowledge about which parts make for more comfortable and stable rides.
Can You Assemble an Entry-Level Bike On Your Own?
Yes, but we don’t recommend it.
Even if most of the best entry-level road bikes on our list come partially assembled, you’ll still want to take it to a shop for some much-needed tuning and adjustments.
It doesn’t matter if you can build it yourself. Remember, you’re new to bikes, and as much as DIY will teach you a lot, your safety is on the line in case you mess up with your build.
We’re not trying to scare you or anything. We’re simply stating facts.
For $50 or so (some might even charge lower), you can have your entry-level road bike assembled and tuned for use in an hour or two. Not to mention, you can use this chance to learn more about bikes in general.
Don’t be afraid to ask your local bike shop some question. Most will be glad to answer your basic queries.
Even though we tried our best to round up the best entry-level road bicycles available today, you have to keep your expectations realistic.
At the end of the day, these are still entry-level road bikes.
That means that they won’t be better than bikes twice their price range, but there’s a chance that they’ll be as good or that the difference won’t be as drastic.
With that said, we did try to make sure that our recommendations will give you the best value out of your money.