Road Bike Reviews
Master the Road
I’ve always had a love of bikes and hitting the open road. There’s something about the wind in your hair and the exhilaration of hitting top speed under your own power that makes you feel alive. I remember as a kid when I finally graduated from my BMX to my first road bike, and my sense of excitement at the possibilities that were opening up before me. The BMX was great, but it wasn’t designed for long distances; that first road bike really gave me a sense of freedom. It was only a 12 speed, but it was all I needed at the time.
I put a lot of miles on that first road bike and I’ve owned a couple of others since. If you’re considering purchasing one of these bikes you have to be realistic and recognize that they’re designed strictly for road riding. If you plan on doing a little off-roading you should probably go with either a mountain bike or a hybrid bike, but if you’re more concerned with hitting the open road, a road bike is the perfect ride.
My Top 8 Picks
There’s no doubt that a road bike is a very different animal from either a mountain bike or a hybrid bike – it’s built to be aerodynamic and to push the limits that humans can achieve with pedal power. I love all types of bikes, but it really is a rush hitting top speeds on the pavement on a top-quality road bike. On this page you’ll find my choice for the top eight road bikes available today.
Best Road Bike under $250
Merax Finiss Aluminum 21 Speed
Merax is one of the most well-known names across all bike categories, so it’s no surprise that it has an entry in the road bike category that winds up near the top of my list. There is a beautiful Parkway near my house with lots of twists and turns; this bike would be absolutely perfect for it. It features a sleek design and the color scheme is fantastic – it’s a real eye catcher. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t buy a bike just because of its looks, but it doesn’t hurt to have a great looking bike. It’s also packed with some great features.
No Hill Is Too Large
This bike comes equipped with a Shimano derailleur, which is perfect because there are 21 speeds to shift through and you need a reliable manufacturer to help you with this. Shimano is one of the foremost names in gears, so it’s comforting to know that this Merax road bike has partnered with such a great manufacturer. It’s nice to have those 21 gears, but they won’t do you a lot of good if the bike doesn’t have a great derailleur to ensure a smooth transition between gears.
Maneuvering This Bike’s a Joy
One of the most important considerations for a road bike is ensuring you choose a bike that’s easily maneuverable, as riding at rapid speeds requires quick reactions. The Merax Finiss road bike has a frame made out of aluminum, which means it’s a nice light bike that just about any rider can handle. It weighs in at about 28 pounds, including the frame and all components. In general, the lighter the bike the quicker you can go – although it’s still nice to have a little bit of weight to react to your momentum as you hit the turns. >> Full Review
Best Drop Bar Bike
Schwinn Men’s Phocus 1600 Bicycle
The Schwinn men’s Phocus is a bike that simply looks fast – and it is. In fact, every aspect of the design of this bike has a purpose, even down to the way the spokes are spread on the wheels. When you’re looking to purchase a road bike that’s built for speed, you want to take advantage of every extra tool you can find. This bike doesn’t disappoint, as there is a lot of attention to detail that has been put into it. It’s also quite lightweight and maneuverable – certainly attractive qualities in a road bike.
Carbon Fiber Forks
The manufacturers of road bikes are always looking for a competitive advantage and one way they can do this is by including the use of lightweight materials that enable the bike to go faster. This bike by Schwinn sports a set of carbon fiber forks that reduces the overall weight of the bike and makes for quicker, more agile riding. Your forks are an essential part of your bike so it’s important that they’re not just lightweight, but also very strong. Carbon fiber may be a more lightweight material than common metals, but it doesn’t compromise anything in the area of strength.
Another set of parts that is extremely important for a road bike are the rims. The Phocus has a beautiful set of high profile alloy rims with paired spokes. These are strong and durable, as well as being pretty sharp looking. They’re certainly a lot more technologically advanced than the rims I had on that first road bike a few years back. The fact that they’re constructed out of aluminum materials also makes them very lightweight. It’s one more advantage that this bike gives you in your quest to become the fastest rider on the road. >> Full Review
Best with Shimano Brakes
There’s a very good reason this bike’s called the Vilano Shadow, as it has a sleek black design which makes it look like the intimidating road warrior that it is. I actually found it kind of interesting when I came across a road bike with the name Shadow in its title, as my my cousin had a bike he nicknamed The Shadow when we were 10-years old. He painted it black and liked to pretend he was a ninja while riding it. I doubt this bike will turn you into a ninja, but it’s definitely a slick-looking ride and you can certainly see where it got the name Shadow.
Precision Shimano Braking Power
The brakes are one of the most important items on any road bike and the Vilano Shadow comes equipped with one of the nicest set of brakes and braking equipment you’ll find on any road bike. It features a Shimano STI integrated brake/lever shifter with extremely precise braking and shifting, all tied into one unit. If you’re used to older bikes where these functions are separated, you’re probably well aware of what a pain shifting and braking could be. This is a feature which really impressed me.
An Impressive Frame
As you may have already known, or least you should know by now, the lighter a road bike is, the better. Any bike will have some weight to it and that’s not a bad thing, otherwise you might have difficulty on a windy day. But it certainly pays to reduce the weight of a bike as much as possible. The Shadow has a nice lightweight aluminum frame that keeps its actual riding weight under 30 pounds. That’s pretty impressive, as I think my first road bike was closer to 50 pounds; needless to say, it didn’t handle the best. >> Full Review
Best 21 Speed Road Bike
Road bikes come in all different shapes and sizes and there is no common standard for how many gears a road bike should have. The best ones tend to have at least 21 speeds, although this is not as common as you might think. One great choice for a bike with 21 speeds is the Vilano Aluminum Road Bike 21 Speed. With all those gears to choose from it’s a good thing that this bike comes equipped with a Shimano shifter for quick reaction times and reliability.
Not Quite As Light As a Feather
I don’t know what impressed me more about this bike – the fact that it’s priced under $300 or the fact that it weighs an insignificant 24 pounds. For a bike this lightweight you’d expect to pay a lot, but it’s actually very reasonably priced. Not surprisingly, the frame is made out of aluminum – obviously a much lighter material than the traditional steel that’s still a common construction material for many low-cost entry model bikes.
Another great feature of this entry-level Vilano 21 speed is that it also has some nice customizable options. When I go for a long bike ride I tend to work up a thirst and, fortunately, this bike has included a mount for a water bottle holder so that you don’t have to worry about dehydration while you’re out riding. It also has a mount for a rear rack if you want to add one as well – this may not be for everyone, but if you intend to use your bike for some type of courier service it may be ideal.
Best Single Speed Track Bike
Critical Cycles Classic Fixed-Gear
The next bike on our list is a bit of a variation from anything else you’ll see here. The Critical Cycles Classic Fixed Gear Single Speed Track Bike is a very specialized piece of equipment. By fixed gear they mean it has only one gear. There are no derailleurs to worry about and no shifters either. That means fewer moving parts and this can actually make for a much smoother ride. Why choose a bike like this? People who like these types of bikes believe strongly that they eliminate the tendency to drift into cruise mode. You always have to pedal constantly and that makes for some better exercise.
Where Are the Brakes?
What may be even more radical in some people’s eyes is the fact that this particular model of bike doesn’t come equipped with hand brakes on both sides. It has only one hand brake, which is located in the center of the handlebars and stops the rear wheel. It takes a bit of skill, but the type of people that ride these bikes love the extra bit of challenge. If you’ve always considered yourself a bit quirky and different, then this may be the exact type of bike you’re looking for – not only will you stand out in a crowd, you’ll have a lot of fun doing it as well.
Ride the Bull
I absolutely love the handlebars on this bike. They’re called pursuit bullhorn handlebars and if you look closely they do strongly resemble a set of bull’s horns. It actually makes for a very comfortable grip, which is also helped by the soft rubber grip material that surrounds the bars. The handlebars are also positioned below the level of the seat, which leads to much more aerodynamic positioning on the bike and really helps to give you an extra speed boost.
Best with Flat Handlebars
Schwinn Men’s Volare 1200
Another unique entrant in the road bike category is the Schwinn’s Men’s Volare; it has most of the familiar qualities you’ll find on other road bikes, but it also has a flat pair of handlebars which makes it look like a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike. Not everybody likes the aerodynamic style of handlebars common on most road bikes and this makes for a good compromise. Personally, I do prefer the style of handlebars you find on a mountain bike and I found this particular design quirk quite enticing.
Quick Reaction Shifting
It’s hardly surprising to discover that a road bike comes equipped with Shimano equipment, but it certainly puts your mind at ease. This manufacturer is simply one of the best and I was happy to find out that the Volare is equipped with a set of Shimano EZ Fire shifters and a Shimano rear derailleur. When you’re ripping down the road at full speed you often only have a split second to make a decision and you need to know that you have equipment that can respond to your decisions – that’s not a problem with a bike that’s equipped with Shimano shifters.
It’s All Aluminum
Aluminum has two big advantages over steel – it’s lighter than steel and it doesn’t rust as easily. This bike has an aluminum frame, aluminum wheels, and an aluminum crank. All of these components add up to make a very lightweight ride that reacts extremely well to your body movements. It may not be uncommon to find aluminum materials on many road bikes these days, but it’s somewhat less common to find so many components on a bike made of aluminum materials.
Best Commuter Road Bike
Vilano Road Commuter
Any road bike will do a decent job as a commuter vehicle, but the Vilano Aluminum Commuter has a couple of key advantages that makes it one of the better choices among road bikes for a commuter bike. It can be a scary prospect riding your bike through the city streets – no matter how good a rider you are, you always have to be wary of the drivers on the road around you. This bike is well equipped to help you zip in and out of traffic and make quick decisions that may save your life.
Shift with Your Thumbs
As much as it may seem to be the case today, our thumbs aren’t just for texting. In fact, the Vilano Commuter is designed to let you shift gears quickly with the touch of a thumb. Your gear-shifting capability with this bike is only really limited by your own reaction times. The second you touch the gear it clicks into the new gear that you’ve selected. To accomplish this type of precision shifting, the manufacturer has included a Shimano A050 thumb shifter for accuracy.
Rims for Speed A road bike needs a lot of qualities to become an efficient machine made for speed, and one of those qualities is a nice set of rims. This bike has a pair of 700c aluminum alloy rims, which are 29″ diameter wheels that give you maximum coverage of the road as you ride. Larger rims like this mean you don’t have to work as hard to travel the same distance. That extra wheelbase can really give you an advantage if you’re participating in a road race.
Best 24 Speed Premium Road Bike
HASA R4 Shimano 2400
If you’re looking for a bike that stands out in a crowd you could do a lot worse than the 2015 HASA R4. This is a bike designed to take your road-riding to a different level. It surpasses the industry standards in almost all categories and it really is a quality ride. I’d be lying if I said I’ve ever owned a bike in this premium category before, but after checking this one out it sure is tempting to change that statistic. I could definitely see myself on one of these.
In a Weight Class of Its Own
Any road bike that’s under 30 pounds makes for a nice smooth ride, but this bike is in a different class altogether. It has a super lightweight aluminum frame and overall the bike’s total weight is only about 21 pounds. You won’t have any problem making this bike react to subtle adjustments in your body positioning. While checking out this bike I sought the advice of a road cyclist friend of mine who’s been riding road bikes competitively for over 20 years; he was quite impressed with the lightweight nature of this bike.
Taking It to the Next Gear
The Hasa R4 isn’t just impressive because of its lightweight nature; it also gives you the capability of shifting it up a gear – quite literally. This bike goes above and beyond the industry standard of 21 speeds, providing you with an impressive 24 different gears to shift through. It might just be the difference between first and second in a long race. Not surprisingly, it relies on the expert knowledge of the Shimano company in this area. In fact it uses the Shimano ST-2400 shifters as well as the Shimano ST-2400 brake levers. There isn’t much not to like about this bike.
Road Riding Fun
There is something just a little more exhilarating about riding around town on a road bike. Mountain bikes may have just as many gears to shift through, but they simply don’t have that aerodynamic quality to them. If you can afford to own multiple bikes for multiple purposes then it may not be a big issue for you in deciding whether or not a road bike is the right choice, but if you do have to make a choice, selecting a road bike is not a bad decision at all. We’ve looked at just a few of the bikes available in this category, but they also happen to be some of the most popular ones. They’re all great rides.