Getting a Cheap Road Bike Online - Inexpensive, Low Cost Ways to get Riding!
Looking for the best cheap road bike out there? Having worked in a bike shop for several years, I have a pretty fair idea of what you should look for. I have seen -- and worked on -- my share of bad bike deals that people have purchased online.
There's NOTHING worse than being excited about your new bike.... and having it break the first time you ride it.
For this article I've gone through and vetted the top 5 cheap bike deals on Amazon right now. Listen, road cycling is an amazing sport, and I applaud you for finding a way to make it work in your budget.
Here are my top five favorite bike brands from Amazon. Check them out and don't forget to vote at the bottom for your favorite!
Getting a good deal on a bike requires understanding important things like bike sizing, what materials bikes are made of, the best bike brands, and so forth.
In short, you will probably want an Aluminum road bike with mostly Shimano Sora components and a carbon or steel front fork. Double-rimmed wheels with a spoke count of 32 or more is good, too, for added durability.
Update For March 3rd, 2013! Some of the bikes originally presented when this lens was written are now out of stock or outdated. I have adjusted the rankings and presented new bikes as the years and the product lines change.
Read on to see my reviews of quality road bikes under $300, under $500 and more!
#5 - Schwinn Prelude
I almost hate to include this bike, because the Vilano is such a great package.
However, Schwiin does have one major thing going for it: It's name.
Schwinn has been around forever, and I'd buy one for anybody I loved.
The Schwinn Prelude is designed with the commuter in mind. Like the Vilano Tuono below, It uses the AO50 trigger shifters which work great and are truly responsive. And it has an aluminum frame, making it lighter than the many steel bikes out there. However, it still weighs in about 26 pounds - heavier than the Vilano.
On importance difference between the Prelude and the Vilano Tuono, is that the Schwinn doesn't have a "granny gear". So if you live in an area with a lot of hills, you will want to get the Vilano. However, if hills aren't your concern, you can benefit from the smoother shifting that bikes with fewer gears have.
The Prelude offers a great value and is virtually identical to the Vilano Tuono -- just without the super-low gear and with more brand-name history.
For commuting and losing weight? You won't be disappointed.
#4 - Vilano Tuono Aluminim Road Bike Review
Super cheap. But it pedals.
I will be honest with you, I really, really, really want you to start your cycling career with something better than this bike.
However, this bike is better than about anything else Amazon has to offer at this price point.
Here's the wins. This bike is aluminum (they actually use the 6061 aluminum which is both light and stiff)and weighs about 24 pounds. That is a good 6- 9 pounds lighter than most of the other bikes in its price class and will make an incredible difference to you on your rides. So many other bikes in its price class use a stiff steel that creates a much heavier bike.
AND it is a much better overall bike in both construction and choice of components than the # 1 selling cheap road bike on Amazon: the GMC Denali. (Please, for both of our sakes, do not buy a GMC Denali. I've seen more new riders left stranded on the side of the road by those heavy, cheap bikes.)
The 21 speeds on the Tuono are more than you need. In fact, once you ride for a month or two there will probably only be about 10 gears you ever use. But it has some super-low gears for getting you over those incredibly high hills you are bound to find. The rear shifter mechanisms are not as robust as I would like to see, and you will want to use good shifting technique where you do a "light pedal stroke" when switching gears and don't shift under pressure.
I was unable to determine what country the bike was made in, but I would guess that it is like China or Taiwan since that is where most bike manufacturing is done these days (even for the big-name bike companies).
I also like the fact that they give you 32-spoke double-walled rims for your wheels. All of us are heavier than we would like when we start riding and having a double-walled rim with a high spoke count can help the wheels hold up a lot better.
You will want to buy a better seat or a real good pair of cycling shorts. Just saying. That seat is gonna' be a pain.
50 cm = 5'2" - 5'4"
54 cm = 5'5" - 5'10"
58 cm = 5'11" - 6'1"
#3 - Reviewing the Vilano Forza 4.0
If you are serious about getting into road cycling, you really need to get a bike with integrated shifters. Integrated shifters are basically a brake system that also has the shifters built into them. You just click little black levers on the inside of the brake to shift one way, or move the whole brake to shift the other way.
It's really simple, and, from a safety perspective, gives you the advantage of never having to move your hands from the shifters.
The Vilano Forza is the perfect entry-level road bike. It comes with a really good rear cassette and chain system that should last about 2 years of hard riding (or longer if you ride less).
The wheels are double-walled which means that standard road debris won't bend them -- even if you are a little heavier than you should be (something the two cheaper models don't have).
The other really neat thing is that there are a lot of different sizing options. This means that you can order the bike that is the right size for your body -- and get a more comfortable ride out of it. Cheaper bikes take more of a one-size-fits-all approach, and can be uncomfortable on longer rides.
You'll love the custom sizing.
For the money, it doesn't get any better than the Vilano Forza.
...However, if you are ok with spending a little more for crisper shifting and more durability in your components, than keep reading my last two reviews...
Enjoy the excellent variety in sizing. Surprisingly they also have good sizing for taller cyclists as well. (It's rare to find that at this price point)
50 cm = 4'11" - 5'3"
52 cm = 5'3" - 5'5"
54 cm = 5'5" - 5'7"
56 cm = 5'9" - 5'11"
58 cm = 5'11-6'2"
Make Friends With Your Local Bike Shop!
The bikes ships in a big box and requires some assembly. Plus, their gears need to be adjusted first at assembly and again after one month of riding (break-in period)
Work out some sort've deal with your local bike shop for assembly and two adjustments. Typically this will run you $60 - $100.
#2 - Diamondback Century 1 Road Bike (2013 model)
Best value for your money.
Diamondback bikes started in 1977 as a maker of BMX bikes. Apparently their bikes are tough, because the company has stuck around.
First of all, I like the brand. Diamondback is carried in all the Dick's sporting goods, and in major bike stores across the nation. They have a good reputation, and they uphold it.
Secondly, I like how they did not cut corners with this bike. Take, for instance, the crank and front chainrings. Diamondback uses name-brand parts for this component, which means that you will be able to pedal hundreds of miles through rain and mud and then abuse it some more on dry summer days. Most people don't look at stuff like this. Diamondback did.
For 2014, they redesigned the frame to enable the rider to sit a tad more upright. This rotates the pelvis to a more comfortable position and enables cyclists who struggle with low back pain, neck pain, and arm pain to be able to ride comfortably -- no matter how far the distance.
I also love how stiff and modern the frame is. You'll get the comfort you need without sacrificing on durability.
Like on the previous bikes, Diamondback has solid wheels. It has a much better drive-train than the Vilano or the Tommaso and uses mostly Shimano Sora or Shimano 2300 components. I am plenty fine with that.
Standard geometry makes sizing a win and you'll get a comfortable, all-day-long ride out of this bike as you keep up with your riding buddies that have shelled out a lot more for their rides.
I understand that pedals are included, but the seat isn't that comfy. You'll want padded shorts anyhow if you are riding more than 30 miles. Don't forget to buy a water bottle cage and pick out a good bike water bottle.
Bottom line? Expect to pay $800-900 for this kind of value at most bike shops among competing brands.
50 cm = 5' - 5'4"
52 cm = 5' 3" - 5' 5"
54 cm = 5'5" - 5' 9"
56 cm = 5'8" - 5'11"
58 cm = 5'10" - 6'1"
#1 - Tommaso Road Bike Review (TIAGRA)
They are selling out. Get 'em while you can.
I've bounced this one between the #1 and #2 position trying to find its best spot.
I will just come right out and say it. this bike is the best bike on this entire list. Why is that? It's because not only does Tommaso start with a top-notch frame, but they go OVERBOARD on all of the bike parts. It is name-brand, all across the board and this bike is worth every penny and then some.
This bike is so well constructed that not only will you ride the crap out of it, but your kid will also want to borrow it when he goes to college. His daughter will sell it on eBay so she can buy a car (by then it will be an antique), and the new owner will ride it for two seasons before getting it stolen. The homeless dude that stole it will ride it for two summers before he crashes it into a parked car (happens when you're drunk).
We're not talking about buying a bike. We're talking about buying a family heirloom.
What makes it special? Two things. First of all, Hasa use all Shimano components. Not many bike companies do that because, well, it costs more to do it that way. And where they do not use Shimano, they use other, top-known brand names, like FSA components. Plus, they buy the really solid entry-level stuff from Shimano which means it can handle season after season of brutal abuse.
What this means is that with the Diamondback, you will need to buy a new front crankset after 3 years of hard riding. With the Hasa, you've got another coupla years on top of that.
And then, the wheels. I've seen so many bikes with wheels that are simply a mess because they can't take their overweight riders. This bike uses the Alex R450 wheel which is a strong, slightly aerodynamic wheel. I've raced on this wheel before and I can personally vouch for it. Its way better than anything these other bikes use.
A lot of my readers wouldn't consider it to be a "cheap road bike". It's cheaper than a lot of the other ones out there.
That said, if you can afford it, quit reading this article and go get one. You -- and your grandkids -- will be glad you did.
You'll have to buy pedals and a water bottle cage, and go for the padded shorts as well. This is a serious road bike.
Be sure to pick out your right size:
50 cm = 4'11" - 5'3"
52 cm = 5'3" - 5'5"
54 cm = 5'5" - 5'7"
56 cm = 5'9" - 5'11"
58 cm = 5'11" - 6'1"
60 cm = 6'1" - 6'3"
Serious About Cycling? - You may want to skip Amazon brands and buy a nicer, used bike on eBay
The top 5 bike brands we discuss below are, well, starter bikes.
If you are serious about this cycling thing, you are better off buying a name brand bike used. You often get better value for the money, even though the bike may be used.
Try to shoot for a major brand:
Because these bikes last forever, you can often pick up very old bikes online. Unfortunately, they may have very out-dated parts on them that can be costly to replace. Try to shoot for a bike that has some of these modern benefits:
- STI Shifters
- 9-speed (preferably 10-speed)
- Bike frame measured in Centimeters or by S, M, L
- Aluminum or Carbon bike frame
Here's a little spot to tell us about your favorite area to ride!
Gracey on November 21, 2017:
i really like to ready your web content thanks for sharing with us please keep sharing with us.
Cameron Eittreim from Oklahoma on August 08, 2017:
This is a very informative article, I have been trying to get into road biking for some time.
dave on September 23, 2014:
what is a lens?
topclimb lm on June 13, 2014:
I love to ride the front range trails of Colorado!
finalwebsites on June 02, 2014:
I don't see any GMC Denali Road bikes in your list. Is there a special reason for this?
brianvallois lm on May 09, 2014:
sethandressen on February 13, 2014:
Great lens! I have the Vilano Forza 4.0 woot!
Joebeducci on October 27, 2013:
I never knew you could buy road bikes this cheap! Very informative lens, thank you so much!!
KathyZ1 on October 17, 2013:
Great lens, enjoy it.
fazrolazraf on September 04, 2013:
Nice list. Good bikes for starter.
hamstring (author) on August 26, 2013:
@drmattshepard: It's hard to find a better bike than a cervelo. The cost, however...
drmattshepard on August 12, 2013:
nice lens. I prefer the cervelo. I haven't found a better road bike for me than that.
Doc_Holliday on August 07, 2013:
Having just watched the 2013 Tour de France, I get that itch to ride again. But I hear that the bikes they use are anything but cheap :-(
Chloe Peterzen on June 25, 2013:
I have always been liking to have one of these as I am a healthy conscious girl. My old bike has to go. Great Lens!
hamstring (author) on June 15, 2013:
@anonymous: You know, as a beginner, the Hasa R4 is going to do everything you could possibly want.
But, if you can afford the nicer one, you will get better gearing that shifts better.
Bottom line, though. Any of the HASA's will work great and will take you 100+ mile rides if you wish.
GameHelp on June 15, 2013:
I use to race a long time ago, I should get back into it. Great lens.
prakash-mishra-9212 on June 14, 2013:
anonymous on June 13, 2013:
Which Hasa do you recommend? It seems there are R1-R4 versions. I am truly a beginner and have to ride a 10 mile, hilly ride in August. Thanks
hamstring (author) on June 12, 2013:
@anonymous: I have bought a couple of really old bikes before. As long as they fit well and work, there is nothing wrong with 'em! In fact, I rode my first century on a steel Nishiki that was made in the early 1980s!
anonymous on May 17, 2013:
Is a 1981 Kia a good road bike? I am just wanting to exercise and weigh 120 pounds so not heavy by any means.... I was wondering what it was worth? Thanks!
h2ofs1 on April 06, 2013:
Got myself a Hasa road bike 2 weeks ago and got to agree with you, the bike is excellent and very good value indeed! Great Lens
Fart Pickins on April 05, 2013:
I love that Diamondback Podium bike! If I had that right now I'd be riding it around my neighborhood.
anonymous on April 02, 2013:
Twin Rivers Park on the Arkansas River
fixiefreedom on March 30, 2013:
@hamstring: Hey hamstring, nice lens. Would you be interested in reviewing some fixed gear bikes and our brand? Let me know!
chocochipchip on March 30, 2013:
Very detailed review!!! Thank you so much!!!
planes on March 09, 2013:
Very well done reviews of inexpensive and Good quality bikes! You do not need to spend big $ just to enjoy some great exercise on a bike while enjoying the outdoors. Cheers
BestForTheMoneyz on March 04, 2013:
Awesome info, time to bring out the bike soon when summer hits!
wiyadase on February 27, 2013:
nice review, thanks...
anonymous on February 24, 2013:
Sora is garbage... avoid it at all costs. Plastic parts in the shift levers WILL fail.
anonymous on February 23, 2013:
Excellent reviews here! Road bikes are awesome
cargoliftken on February 16, 2013:
I like riding my bike to work. It wakes me up plus it saves the planet. :-) Nice lens, hamstring!
Takkhis on January 02, 2013:
Great review! I like motorcycle than road bike.
Justin from Slovenija on December 26, 2012:
I am not much of a biker, so I can't add anything useful. I enjoyed the comparison anyway. It's great to know you can have a solid bike for hundred and a fifty bucks.