Best 2019 Road Bikes for Beginners

Words by Cycles UK

on 18/02/2019 10:36:22


Road bikes for beginners need to do a couple of things. They need to be fast enough to keep up on group rides, well made enough to see you through at least a couple of years of riding and be comfortable and stable enough to let you learn the ropes.

Traditionally road bikes were built with a very race focused geometry and ride position where you are bent right over the handlebars with a very flat back. This is great for super fit pros with amazing bike handling skills and high pain thresholds, not so great for Sunday morning café rides. That’s why a lot of road bikes for beginners tend to use a more ‘endurance’ focused geometry. This means a more upright riding position, slightly longer wheelbase and more predictable handling. Most endurance bikes will also come with wider tyres and be designed to soak up the bumps on your local country lanes.

We’ve rounded up some of our favourite road bikes for beginners which meet the basic criteria of being fast, road focussed and being fun to ride. All of the bikes we are looking at will be in the typical £500 to £700 range which most people spend on a first road bike.

Trek Domane Al 2 - £595

2019 Trek Domane AL 2 Blue

Trek’s entry level road bike is made for beginners and is the best value entry level road bike we sell. They describe it as “an ideal, comfort-first introduction to road riding”. The Domane Al 2 is based on Trek’s endurance geometry. It’s a proper road bike that’s designed to be ridden fast for several hours at a time but which sacrifices a little bit of speed to give you a more comfortbale riding position and stable handling. It comes with an aluminium frame and carbon fork and 16 speed Shimano Claris gears.

This is a light bike, with the 56cm size bike coming in at 9.7kg and it’s good for riders up to 125kg (nearly 20 stone). With a bike this light it is going to be fast but Trek have made sure the handling is predictable and stable and the fork comes with their Isospeed technology to help soak up small bumps and vibrations.

There are men’s and women’s versions of the Domane AL 2 available and you can get it in a couple of differenc colours. It also comes with mounts for mudguards and racks and a lifetime warranty. The Domane Al 2 is hard to beat on value and is a great riding bike.

What’s the next bike up? – The Trek Domane AL 3 is £750 and is available in men’s and women’s versions. It comes with 18 speed Shimano Sora gears and nicer wheels and tyres. The frame and fork are the same and the weight is identical but the rest of the parts are nicer quality and will last for longer.

Specialized Allez and Specialized Dolce - £630

Specialized Allez

The Specialized Allez (men’s bike) and Specialized Dolce (women’s bike) have been the bike to have as a beginner for years. Loads of staff at Cycles UK have had them and it’s a bike we would always recommend. However, for £630 you get exactly the same 16 speed Shimano Claris gears that comes on the Trek and a very similar quality frame, fork and wheels.

The riding position on the Allez is slightly more racey and aggressive than in the Trek Domane so if you think you might be doing a triathlon or want to get into really fast group rides it will give you an extra boost. It is a little bit more expensive than the Trek but these are such good bikes it’s hard not to recommend them. The Allez is available in either red or black and comes with all the mounts you need for mudguards and racks.

What’s the next bike up? – Theres’ quite a jump up to the Specialized Allez Sport and Specialized Dolce Sport at £850. They come with the same gears as the Trek Domane 3 at £750. Again the Specialized bikes are really nice to ride and are great for beginners but they are not amazing value.

Cannondale CAAD Optimo Claris - £549

CAADOptimo,Road,GRA,700 M CAAD Optimo Claris,

Cannondale call the CAAD Optimo a ‘gateway road bike’, designed to get you hooked on road cycling. The geometry on this bike is modelled on their CAAD12 aluminium race bike and is much closer to a traditional road bike than anything else we will be looking at. If you are looking for a bike to do a triathlon on this is it. If you are doing a long charity ride, or leisurely weekend rides around the local country lanes go for the Allez or Domane.

The CAAD Optimo is not as extreme as Cannondale’s full race bikes and has been softened down for beginners but is still very much for riders who want a bike that is all about speed. As always with Cannondale it comes with a really high-quality frame that has built in flex zones to help soak up the bumps while being stiff enough that it will accelerate like a rocket out of corners.

At the moment there is no women’s version of the CAAD Optimo but Cannondale tend to use the same frame on their women’s and men’s bikes, just changing the saddle and handlebars so it would be easy to convert.

What’s the next bike up? – The Cannondale CAAD Optimo Sora at £750 uses the same gears as the Trek Domane 3 but continues with Cannondale’s more race focussed geometry.

Forme Longcliffe 2 - £650

2019 Forme Longcliffe 2

Forme are a new British brand making bikes specifically designed for UK riders. Their entry level Longcliffe is very similar in style to the Tek Domane and Specialized Allez. It comes with an aluminium frame and carbon fork and 16 speed Shimano Claris gears. Like the Trek and the Specialized it tries to balance speed with a more comfortable and forgiving ride.

If you want something a little different, and don’t want to buy a big brand bike, the Forme Longcliffe is a great alternative.

What’s the next bike up? - There is a Forme Longcliffe 1 at £825 which comes with the same Shimano Sora 18 speed gears found on the Trek Domane 3, Specialized Allez Sport and Cannondale CAAD Optimo Sora.