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Top Five Entry-Level Road Bikes: Best Options for $500 and Under

Updated on May 27, 2016
Shared under Creative Commons licence.
Shared under Creative Commons licence. | Source

Riding a road bicycle is one of the best and most exhilarating exercises you can find. It's a wonderful combination of endurance, speed, and agility. If you're new to riding, or are hoping to get into it, finding a good entry-level road bike at an affordable price is really important. I know a lot of people who have invested a large sum in a bike only to find out they don't actually like riding all that much. A beginner road bicycle lets you get into the sport without investing a fortune.

There are a lot of bikes on the market and it can be confusing. A good entry-level road bike will have some specific features. They need to have efficient components that will ensure the ride is smooth and quick. They need to have a light frame and good geometry to let the rider pedal comfortably. Since the price tag is lower there will almost always be some compromise, but those components must still do a decent job.

This article will take a look at five of my favorite entry-level road bikes, giving a brief review of each one and offering my opinion on why you might consider it. We'll also talk briefly about some specific things you might want to avoid on an inexpensive road bicycle, to steer you away from a dud. Let's get started.

What to Avoid When Buying a Beginning Bike

 
• Unfamiliar Brands: There's a reason that big brands are successful. The best bikes for beginners are made by the big brands.
• Plastic Components: A good entry-level bike should have steel or aluminum-alloy brakes, shifters, and derailleurs.
• Poor Set-Up: You might have a great bike that's not adjusted for you. Use online guides for height, handlebar adjustment, and other settings.

Good Entry Level Bikes for $500 or Less

Obviously even the best entry-level road bike come with a lower price tag than a bike for experienced riders. With that comes lower value components, and while that's not necessarily a bad thing you should know what you're getting into. Here are a few tips to help you avoid riding around on a two-wheeled lemon.

  • Stick with well-known, proven brands.

A good rule of thumb is to stick with a brand you're familiar with. There's a reason that big brands are successful, and if nothing else you have a large company to turn to in case of a failed component. Some of the best bikes for beginners are available from bigger brands like Schwinn and Diamondback. They have the buying power to get discounts on decent components, which saves you money in the long run, so check them out.

  • Avoid plastic components.

I'm not a bike snob. I know that plastic has its place, but I still think it should be avoided on primary components. That means that a good entry-level road bicycle should avoid fully plastic brakes, shifters, and especially derailleurs. They just don't have the resilience that steel and aluminum alloy boast. They bend, snap, and wear out much more quickly. A good road bike doesn't have to skimp on component quality.

  • Set it up properly.

Sometimes a bike doesn't feel right, and it's not the bicycle's fault at all. Make sure that you set up your ride properly. There are some great online guides on standover height, handlebar position, and things like that. If you're not comfortable, look at those settings first before blaming your bicycle. Even cheaper bikes can benefit from adjustments like this.

Giordano Libero

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The Giordano Libero is a great beginner-level road bike that gives the rider a taste of higher-end components, luxury, and construction.

Based around a lightweight 6061 aluminum frame, it's an entry-style road bicycle that will please even experienced, seasoned riders. The Vitesse alloy 700c wheelset is light and spins really well for the price, and the silver Shimano 2300 shifters and derailleurs are quite smooth to shift as well.

It's available in multiple frame sizes depending on your height, and all of them are light and agile platforms, quick to start, and fast on long straightaways. Personally, I think they are very attractive bicycles too, with a subtle, race-inspired look and oversized tubing. It's also a breeze to upgrade components if you find yourself outgrowing them. This is one of the better entry-level road bikes on the market. Available in black or white.

Tommaso Imola

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Tommaso is not yet a very well-established or recognized brand, but it's one you should consider. The company consistently puts out an excellent product, including some awesome beginner-level road bikes like the Imola here.

The Tommaso Iola Lightweight Road Bike is a respectable platform and an excellent value, and it's definitely one of my picks for the best road bike for entry level riders. Like many of the competitors in this bracket, this bike uses a compact, lightweight, and strong 6061 aluminum frame, and many of the other components are from high-quality brands—stuff that you'd only expect on higher end models.

The Sunrace R-80 integrated shifters are precise and a lot of fun to use. The shifters are Shimano 2300, front and rear, offering 24 speeds in total. The cranks are all alloy making them light and strong enough to last. The bike ranges in size from 47cm up to 61cm, and it comes with a standard adjustable seatpost, so there's definitely a frame to fit most people.

I should note that this one doesn't come with pedals, so that's the only additional thing you'll need to pick up. On the whole, this is a light, responsive, and gorgeous entry-level road bicycle that I'd strongly urge you to consider.

Vilano Shadow

Beginner Level Road Bicycle by Vilano
Beginner Level Road Bicycle by Vilano | Source

Vilano is not necessary a name you'll recognize (notice a theme here?), but they boast some of the best entry-level road bikes in the business right now. I particularly recommend them if you don't have a lot to spend. Their prices are very affordable despite offering a decent set of components. The Vilano Shadow Road Bike is aluminum-framed and a prime example of what Vilano has to offer.

Don't let the name confuse you, these bikes are not Italian, but they're solid with many brand name components and good construction. I always like to go by customer reviews, and this one has had a great response.

It's the kind of bike you'll want to see up close. The paint is excellent, and it has a low key appearance that's not too flashy. With integrated handlebar-mounted shifters and a 6061 aluminum frame, it's light and responsive. The Tourney rear shifters are basic, but if tuned properly they'll work great for you. The bike weighs in at around 24 pounds. Contrast that with more expensive models!

The calliper brakes actually stop better than many disc varieties out there. The double-walled alloy rims make the bike look great and keep the weight respectable. It's one of my favorite inexpensive entry-level road bicycles out there today. Definitely give this one a look.

Schwinn Men's Phocus

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I've spent a lot of time building and repairing Schwinns and they consistently impress me as well-built and crafted. The Schwinn Men's Phocus is a great example of an entry-level road bicycle that will impress. It has a gorgeous, arched aluminum frame with oversized tubing for extra strength and rigidity. This is a snappy bike that you'll love zipping around town on.

It comes with basic but intuitive Shimano A050 shifters and derailleurs. You have 14 speeds, which is more than enough for most situations. The shifters are not integrated, which some people prefer and others don't.

The brakes are alloy calliper, which actually operate a lot better than the disc brakes that more expensive cycles come with. The frame is 18 inches, which is a medium frame, good for someone around 5'6 to 5'11, and the seatpost is adjustable. The wheels are quick-release, so be sure to pick up a cable lock to keep them safe too. It's a good road bicycle for beginners that's not a huge investment, but will probably last you for years to come.

Nashbar AL1 Road Bike

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Nashbar is another brand that's less well-known, but it's gaining notoriety by producing an excellent quality bicycle with great components for a decent price. They're primarily makers of cyclocross, mountain, and road bikes. The Nashbar AL-1 Road Bike is one of the best entry-level road bikes, albeit a bit more expensive than the others listed here.

This bike has a full aluminum frame that's lightweight and extremely responsive. Shimano Sora derailleurs and shifters are a cut above what you'll usually find at this price point, and shifting is a breeze. It has dual pivot caliper brakes that stop you on a dime. It comes in silver or matte black/blue. I encourage you to research Nashbar a bit to get to know the brand. The AL-1 is among the best road bikes for entry-level riding on the market.

Quality Indicators for Beginner Bikes

How to Buy a Quality Entry-Level Bike

Look for:
• Where the bike was made. Bikes made in China are often not as good as those made elsewhere.
• The brand. If a bike is "brandies" it might be a rebadged version of a less popular brand.
• Components. Look for branded, not "no name", parts.
• Customer reviews.
• Frame material. Steel is cheapest, then aluminum.

If you're considering an entry-level road bicycle that's outside of these selections, I want to encourage you to use this check list to make sure the bike is a decent buy. This isn't a sure-fire way to determine quality, but it can definitely help.

  • Check where the bike is made. If it's made in a factory in China, it probably isn't as high-quality as one made by hand somewhere else. That said, some Chinese factory bikes are really decent, especially if the manufacturer controls the quality.
  • Check the brand. Some bikes are "brandless," and that's a risky thing. Many, less popular, brands are just rebadged versions of more popular bikes. A big brand is an indicator of quality control, and something to look for.
  • Make a list of the components, and then research those brands. If most of the components are "no-name," the bike is probably not as good as one carrying lots of brand-name parts. If you're not sure of a component brand, post a comment below and I can let you know if it's any good.
  • Customer reviews are key. There are a lot of enthusiastic bicycle fans like myself that buy, ride, build, and review bicycles from all over. Read blog reviews and forum posts for a better understanding of the bike you're looking into. Also, if you're buying from a big online retailer, be sure to read the customer reviews and blurbs for a better understanding.
  • Check the frame material. Steel is generally the cheapest material, followed by aluminum and chromoly, and then carbon fiber and titanium. At this price point if you're able to find aluminum or chromoly it's probably a great deal.

If you're still stumped and looking for more indicators, please leave a comment and I'll try to help you out.

Brand Poll:

Buying a beginner's road bike, would you trust an unknown brand if it had good reviews?

See results

What do you think of these entry-level road bicycles?

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    • profile image

      jb 2 months ago

      Is raleigh a good brand?

    • profile image

      Jamie 5 months ago

      Hi,

      I'm looking for a bike that I can use pretty much daily to commute to the grocery store and so forth.

      In the past, I had a Miyata 10 speed that I really liked. I don't actually tour anymore, so I don't need a bike that highend.

      I want fenders, at least one rack and a bottle holder.

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 2 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi MIchaelRiley, I'd opt for the Specialized, great brand. Take it in to a bike shop to replace the chain and do a tune-up. It'll set you back $50 or so, but it's worth it if you're buying a used bike. :)

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 2 years ago from Vancouver

      I'd go for the Giordano or the Tommaso. Probably the Tommaso is better for you, though it's at the edge of your budget. Hope that helps!

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 2 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi Erica, the Forza is a great but higher priced model, actually as good or better than those listed in this article!

    • profile image

      MichaelRiley 2 years ago

      New Question sir. I'd like to do something more, but at this time my budget, and more so my wife won't let me heh.

      I imagine each of these could be talked down in price slightly. But for the money, which would be the best choice and why? Which would be your last choice?

      I used to own a Raleigh 531 tubing. It was super comfy in short rides, but I'd tire out over 10 miles. Yes I'm out of shape! I want something I can increase my milage. Up to 40-50 Mile trips.

      With time I'll upgrade what I can. I would like to buy one by the 08/07/2015

    • profile image

      MichaelRiley 2 years ago

      G'day sir. I had a 90's Raleigh steel frame 531 Tubing that I liked a lot, although just a little small. Mostly road it around town for transportation. 2-8 Miles at a time.

      I had to sell it when we moved. I want to get another bike. 2-500 dollars be it new, or Craiglists. I now work about 18 miles from home, and would like a bike to ride to work 1, 2 times a week. In addition to in town use.

      Which of these would be your top two selections, and if Craiglists, should I be looking for something like my Raleigh, or something different?

      I was told at the bike shop I should be on a bike 54-56cm.

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 2 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi Jon,

      Bikesdirect is a good site to buy bikes from, and I've had good experiences with JensonUSA, Nashbar and Amazon as well. That said, I've worked at a bike shop before, and there's no comparing the service and build quality you get at a great shop.

      Here's what I'd suggest. Buy that Dawes (components are much better), and take it to your LBS and pay them to put it together and tune it up for you, should cost a lot less than the $200 you've saved! Best of both worlds.

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 2 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi bucklejo77,

      I'm not familiar with the Dawes, but wow, great components! Tiagra is great. Alex rims, aluminum frame... on paper it looks great.

      The Century 1 is a fantastic choice too, though I've never see it below $700. It'd probably be my top choice, a known quantity.

      The Forza 4 is a step down from the Century and the Dawes, so it's hard to compare them. Basic shifters and components.

      Hope that all helps!

    • profile image

      Jon 3 years ago

      Would you be able to offer suggestions regarding purchasing online vs. local bike shop. It seems like the bikes you reviews are online. I am considering the Trek 1.1 from the local bike shop vs. Dawes lightning 2300 from Bikesdirect for $200 less, but without the service and support of the local bike shop. The Dawes also has the Tiagra/105 components vs. the Claris of the Trek. Are Bikesdirect bikes legit? Thanks

    • profile image

      football11 3 years ago

      Great Good Article. quite helpful

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 3 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi Joey777,

      I find the road bike riding position to be pretty comfortable, it's just a matter of getting used to the style. If you don't like leaning forward so much, you can always swap in some riser handlebars.

      Inches and cm are just different ways of measuring the frame size, usually done by measuring the height of the seat tube from the top down to the midway point on the bottom bracket. A 58cm or 22 inch frame should be about right for you... I'm 6'2 and that's around what I'd order.

    • erinshelby profile image

      erinshelby 3 years ago from United States

      Helpful for folks interested in going car-free or car-lite!

    • profile image

      Joey777 3 years ago

      Hi!

      This is a great resource! I am a total novice, looking to get a road bike for weekend riding and casual commuter trips. I'm leaning towards the Vilano Shadow based on the Amazon reviews.

      Is that good choice for someone who isn't hardcore and is looking to be comfortable on a bike (vs. crouching and aerodynamic)? I understand the racing position gets pretty uncomfortable after a time.

      I am also confused about sizing. I'm 6'1" and don't know if 58cm or 22-inch will work. What is the typical size for someone like me and what's the difference between cm vs. inches for sizing?

    • pradiiphira profile image

      Dr Pradip Hira 3 years ago from Ahmedabad-India

      i want to buy new one for me too but I will wait for more 2 months as here its monsoon time and at that time I will again refer your hub, as my budget is also around $400 - $500

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 3 years ago from Vancouver

      I'd say a hybrid bike might be what you'd want, they have thinner tires so your pedalling will be more efficient, but they can still handle some trails. The Diamondback Edgewood might be a good choice, or the Schwinn Discover. You'll probably want a 16 - 17 inch frame.

    • Tina RP profile image

      Tina RP 3 years ago from Papillion, Nebraska

      This was a great article, thank you. Can you give me some suggestions for a women's starter road bike. I have a condition that riding really helps. Currently I am only able to ride about 30 miles per week but want to increase that greatly. I am riding a Schwinn mountain bike. My area is rather hilly, I am slowly getting stronger (very slowly) and have difficulty on some of those hills. We do have great bike trails though, mostly concrete. I will continue with my mountain bike for the limestone trail I love, unless I could do it with a road bike. On a tight budget! I am 5'8.5", I would also appreciate your help with sizing. Thank you!

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 3 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi Alan, sorry for the late reply. Motobecane is generally awesome! They're a neat French brand with nice stuff, but they're a relative unknown around here. The Mirage SL has a nice set of components. I don't see Sora in the specs though, I'm seeing Claris and 2400, and that is a definite step down. The carbon fork is nice, though. I'd consider the SL to be roughly comparable to the Giordano or the Vilano reviewed here. If you're thinking about moving up to 105, I'd recommend it! It's a noticeable difference.

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 3 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi Jimmy, The Wellington 3.0 is a bike I've noticed, but I haven't had a chance to put it through its paces. Just based on specs it's fairly solid. I'm unsure about the Sora / 2200 mixture in the drivetrain, that could end up being finicky. But with a carbon fork and an alloy frame it could be a steal. If you give it a whirl, please come back and let me know what you think of it!

    • Pico Triano profile image

      John 3 years ago from New Brunswick, Canada

      Nice review article. I find the biggest failing right now for bargain basement bikes is the rear hub. I think they all come from the same factory. They're cast slightly out of alignment somewhere and as a result the cones keep losing up. For a clydesdale like me that is a disaster.

    • profile image

      Jimmy 3 years ago

      What do you think of the Windsor Wellington 3.0? How does its components compare with those on the rest of this list?

    • profile image

      Alan 3 years ago

      What are your thoughts on the Motobecane Mirage SL. Bikes direct has it listed for $399 with a sora Rd and shim fd. Shim cassette, sti brakes and shifters with weinman wheels.

      I know this isn't a top if the line bike, but it seems trustworthy enough to last a few years and maybe some sprints in between.

      Done a lot of research and for this price I haven't found anything comparable unless I jump into the $700+ range. Which that seems pointless since for a Lil more price you get into shim 105. I figure I skimp now and save for 6 months and get something in the $1500-2000 range.

      ultimately I need a reliable commuter but still be able to be novice competitive and club rides.

    • profile image

      TimmyB44 3 years ago

      Thank you! I will check that one out. :)

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
      Author

      Bikes 3 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi Timmy, if she's looking to do triathlons, I'd go for the Tommaso Imola, actually. It's a really versatile bike that's got a great stance for tris, especially if you get some tri bars. At 5'3 she'll probably want the 47cm model, which is good for that height.

    • profile image

      TimmyB44 3 years ago

      Hello, and thank you for a wonderful review. My wife and I are avid runners, and love to bike, as well. We have entry-level hybrids Trek's, which meet 99% of our needs. However, she wants to run a few less road races, and compete in a few more tri's, mostly sprint distance. The only one she has done, she did well, but obviously, the Trek hybrid was not the best choice for this! She is only about 5'3" tall, so it doesn't sound like the Schwinn is on the list. What entry-level road bike do you feel would suit her best? Thanks for your advice!

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
      Author

      Bikes 3 years ago from Vancouver

      I've never heard of Scorpio before! A bit of searching suggests it's a lower end, vintage brand that doesn't exist anymore. Sorry I can't be more helpful.

    • profile image

      Joey 3 years ago

      Hi I am planning to buy my first road bike, my friend is lending his old one, but the frame is not so familiar. What can you say about scorpio road bike frames? where is it made from? Thanks

    • erorantes profile image

      Ana Maria Orantes 3 years ago from Miami Florida

      Thank you for your article about the top 5 entry level road. Bikes. I like the information . You did a fantastic job about the bikes Mr. bikesbikesbikes.

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 3 years ago from Vancouver

      Australian bike, superficially quite similar to the Vilano reviewed above. It has the same A050 shifters as the Vilano and both Schwinns, which are very basic but intuitive. I have no idea of build, frame or ride quality, since I've never seen one up close (being a North American). If you go for it, let me know how you like it!

    • profile image

      Gareth 3 years ago

      What do you think of momentum r120

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 3 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi Kristine, what you're describing is perfect for any of the bikes listed, really. For flat riding, you'll want a good gearing range and a more aggressive riding position so you can hit higher speeds. I'd give the Giordano Libero a look, since they have a wide range of frame options, including male / female sized, and good price tag.

    • profile image

      Kristine 3 years ago

      Hi, thank you for the informative article. Can you suggest which may be best for the weekend riders, ranging 20 to 50 miles. We live by the beach so it is mostly flatter and windy. Thanks!

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 4 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi Scott, yeah the Nashbar is the best of the bunch in this price range, for sure. What kind of racing are you going to be doing specifically?

      I like Bikes Direct, definitely a good place to get a deal, but I'd caution you to research the individual brands carefully. They tend to get surplus stock from a lot of different companies, so also read up on whether they're going to have paint defects or something.

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 4 years ago from Vancouver

      Yes, the Nashbar is a capable bike for triathlons for sure, though you might want to add some triathlon bars to make your life easier! I do like Bikes Direct, although I will say they're a mixed bag quality-wise. Research the individual brands carefully, since they have a number of different suppliers.

    • profile image

      scott 4 years ago

      as far as for racing, would the nashbar be the best? also, what about some of these bikes online from sites like bike direct? it seems like you can get a pretty good deal on those. thoughts?

      Thanks,

      Scott

    • profile image

      keith 4 years ago

      i did my first sprint triathlon with a 1978 motobecane nomad, needless to say it wasnt much fun. i enjoyed and am looking to do a standard triathlon next summer. mostly im just a recreational rider though. would the nashbar be my best bet? also it seems hard to find them, and clues where to get one. also what do you think of the bikes from bikes direct.

      Thanks,

      Scott

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 4 years ago from Vancouver

      I'm not familiar with how hilly DC is, but I'd say the Vilano is a great all-around bike, and it's unisex. How tall is she?

    • profile image

      collette 4 years ago

      I'd like to buy my recent college grad daughter a road bike to ride around the DC area. Which one of the above would you recommend?

    • Eddie Camarillo profile image

      Eddie Camarillo 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      Thanks for the informative and straightforward article. After reviewing this and a few other similar "round-ups," I placed an order on Amazon for the Giordano. The owner reviews were the tipping point, of the 65 or so reviews, the only negative ones were from people reacting to shipping damage, tire failures and issues related to improper assembly or lack of tuning. While I will assemble the bike myself, I will take it in for tuning before hitting the road. Hopefully, I will remember to report back in on my personal experience. Thanks again for helping to make the internet useful.

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 4 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi Matteo, yes that's actually a pretty similar bike. It's a Vilano alright, but it's one 'rung' lower on the quality ladder, if that makes sense. The primary difference is in the derailleurs, the brakes, the crankset, the pedals and a few fit and finish items, all of which are much better on the 'branded' version. I think you might be disappointed by the cheaper version, but that's just my take on it. I hope that helps!

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 4 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi there, yes I have heard of Polygon before, they are an Indonesian brand and they're quite good! Even at the lowest end (price) they have mostly brand name components, sealed hubs and a great warranty. Great looking bikes too. So yes I think it's worth it for sure. Sorry for the late reply, I've been away!

    • profile image

      mco2808 4 years ago

      Thanks for the great article! I want to buy the buy the Vilano and I've found this cheaper version offered by a bike shop but I am not an expert and I don't understand if the 100$ discount is due only to the lack of brand or what. What do you think? thanks!! Matteo

      here's the "unbranded version"

      http://www.ebay.com/itm/Aluminum-Road-Bike-Commute...

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 4 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi Island Beginner, yeah it's tough in Canada. I think the Libero ships to Canada, but then there's shipping, duty and taxes. Best bet might be to ship it to 'Ship Happens' or another similar outfit in northern Washington and hop across the border to pick it up personally.

    • profile image

      Island Beginner 4 years ago

      The Giordano Libero keeps popping up on lists of great entry level bikes, but I haven't found anywhere in Vancouver(ish) to buy one. Any suggestions? In the US, Walmart has a "Genesis G500", which comes from the same manufacturer and appears to be essentially the same bike - but Canadian Walmart doesn't stock it.

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      Bikes 4 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi Sam, I'm with the naysayers. The Denali isn't a bike I'd personally trust. I'm sure it's not horrible, I've just heard mixed things like you have. For a little bit more you'll get a lot more bike.

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 4 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi Jerome, my favorite spot is Ride On Again on Broadway. Very affordable name brand stuff, unpretentious staff.

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 4 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi Keith, I'd recommend the Nashbar. It's the priciest, but it's also the lightest and most 'touring' friendly, meaning you won't be punished on that long ride. I'd also recommend getting a good leather saddle, like a Brooks. After the break in period, they're the most comfortable for long rides by far.

    • profile image

      Keith 4 years ago

      Which would be your top recommendation for regular 40-50 mile rides? I live in a small town with plenty of scenic highway routes and I'd like to start getting into much longer rides (I'm on a mountain bike now).

    • profile image

      Jerome 4 years ago

      Hey I noticed that you are from Vancouver. I don't know anything about bikes but I'm interested in trying cycling for exercise or at the very least use it to commute from one place to another. Do you have any suggestions for places to look at bikes?

    • profile image

      samwise 4 years ago

      How about a genali dmc for a first road bike on a tight budget ? I have been looking at the reviews and there are fairly mixed. The experienced ones think that its a complete failure but there are more people who do recommend it for a novice.

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 4 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi LuisB: of the bikes above, I'd probably recommend the Giordano. You might consider a cyclocross or touring bike if you're going 'off road' on that trail at any point. The Diamondback Steilacoom is a good one, but it's above $500.

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 4 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi John, The Interval Elite is a beauty! It's more of a hybrid bike in geometry, but it's road oriented, if that makes sense. A mix of Tiagra and 105 drivetrain, and a pretty light frame. It'd make a great light touring bike or commuter.

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 4 years ago from Vancouver

      Pedro: Yes, it's a great bike! The carbon fibre front fork doesn't make a huge difference, but the Sora drivetrain components do. Also sealed bottom bracket, formula hubs, it's a smooth running bike and a step up from the Vilano I've reviewed here (but also costs more, of course!)

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      Pedro 4 years ago

      Is the vilano 3.0 forza a good entry level bike?

    • profile image

      john 4 years ago

      your thoughts on the 2013 diamondback intervaal elite.

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      LuisB 4 years ago

      Some friends and I are planning to do a 100 mile trail in about 3 months. Which road bike would you recommend, new and second hand, under $500?

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 4 years ago from Vancouver

      The Nashbar has nicer components, it's easier to upgrade and a better choice if you get more into cycling ( longer rides, races, etc). But the Vilano is a great choice for commuting that distance and it's a lot less expensive. I'd go with the Vilano. Hope that helps!

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      cyclingtoschool 4 years ago

      Should I get the Vilano Aluminum or the Nashbar Al-1. I would like to use the bike mainly to get to school. The route has some small hills and inclines and it is about a 5 mile ride.

    • bikesbikesbikes profile image
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      Bikes 4 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi Rob, excellent question. They're really close, similarly equipped and almost the same weight. Personally I'd go with the Giordano. Slightly better drivetrain and shifters. With regular tune ups either one would last a couple of years easily. Hope that helps!

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      Rob 4 years ago

      If you had to pick between the Vilano and the Giordano which on would you go with? I'm a student on a seriously tight budget and hope one of these might last me a couple years, thanks.

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      Bikes 4 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi Danny, thanks for the respectful comments. I do agree the 'one size' thing is frustrating. And there are definitely tradeoffs at lower prices. For anyone accustomed to an $800+ road bike, riding any of these bikes would be tough, like switching from a Lexus to a Honda compact.

      But don't discount Schwinn or other big manufacturers (all of whom have full warranties). My sister in law is still riding the Schwinn road bike I recommended she buy 4 years ago. It's perfect for her and rides great still today. And reading the customer comments on the bikes I listed, there are a lot more happy, satisfied riders than not.

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      Danny Dydek 4 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      I'm going to have to respectfully agree with CyclingFitness. While it's true many shops and manufacturers overcharge for cheap products, no one undercharges for quality products. Schwinn was a great name in bicycles until about 20 years ago when they went bankrupt numerous times and were eventually bought out by Pacific -- *not* a great name in bicycles. Even the Schwinns you list here only come in one size -- fantastic if you're an average 5'6" to 5'11" ish, not so great if you're anywhere outside that range.

      Many shops have payment programs; if your budget is that tight, start paying on the bike at the beginning of the off-season when you won't want to ride anyway. By spring, you'll have a good bike that fits, with a good warranty, and a relationship with the place that will eventually be doing the repairs on your bike. All three of those things can't be offered by mass-market bicycle retailers.

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      Bikes 4 years ago from Vancouver

      I was a bike shop mechanic for 3 years building and repairing mostly entry level bikes (many Schwinns, actually), and I take pride in my recommendations. I dislike thin, low information articles too. I've had very positive feedback from readers on my bike related articles.

      As I mentioned before, I think it's really about what your expectations and needs are, and our opinions differ here I think. I've put friends and family on $300 -$400 road bikes and they've been totally happy. They have no intention of upgrading at any point. They just want a decent quality bike that will last a few years and let them ride recreationally on the weekends. That's what this price range is meant for, and I think it's great. :)

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      Liam Hallam 4 years ago from Nottingham UK

      I've read quite a lot of hubs and articles on the net regarding best bikes under 500 dollars or best cheap road bikes as there are a lot out there already and am very dubious of the information that is portrayed. Many of the high ranking articles from sites like squidoo are from internet marketers trying to make a few dollars out of beginners who know very little and potentially miss-selling as a result based on very duff information in my opinion.

      It seems North America is embracing the disc-brake craze for road and cx more than us Europeans. We have cheap discs on mtb's but aside from a few brand's they're yet to go mainstream on the road except the odd touring bike. Seems very strange for them to integrate into road cycling.

      I worked in retail for a company that produces low price budget road bikes and the amount I saw come back to the shops based on componentry was quite shocking even though fitted with shimano equipment and to upgrade important components like the driverchain over time will simply not be ideal hence the Nashbar bike with full entry level Sora being the best option in my opinion. Anything with 7 speed such as the Schwinn featured will require full upgrade of the groupset and therefore isn't really a cost effective long term option for upgrading if you consider prices for a new groupset compared to the cost of the bike.

      I started with a bike at the bottom of the pile and have built up from there. I started with a bike that cost around 7-800 dollars and from experience that's the point I would recommend anyone to enter the sport at unless they're buying second hand. I would put very little trust in bikes at that point

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      Bikes 4 years ago from Vancouver

      Hi! My target audience is beginners to road cycling, or those with limited budgets. Not everyone can afford the $800+ that a bike shop charges for a basic bike.

      I respectfully disagree about your point on price. It's totally possible to find a good road bike for under $500, provided you're open to the concept of upgrading components over time. Keep in mind you're coming from the perspective of an experienced rider. It's all about your expectations. Besides, I've owned $1000++ bicycles in the past and believe me, price is not always a great indicator of quality.

      Regarding brakes again I disagree, mechanical disc brakes are almost always inferior to caliper in my experience, especially when tuned properly. Hydraulic is a another story, but it's a non factor at this price point.

      It may be a Canadian thing, but I've seen disc brakes popping up on entry level road bikes lately, touted as an 'upgrade'. I wanted to address it, since as I mentioned before I don't think they stop as well.

      Anyway, thanks for the read and comments, glad to see another cycling fan here.

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      Liam Hallam 4 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Out of the set you've given I would only make considerations of the Nashbar bike on your list. It's very difficult to produce a good quality bike for 500 dollars and therefore sacrifices need to be made. I would personally bump it to the top of your list and as a road cyclist it's the only one really worth any consideration.

      Nashbar is also quite a well known brand in North America although not a mainstream manufacturer.

      I'm a little worried that you talk about disc brakes. Very few road bikes will have disc brakes and certainly not unless you're starting to look at touring or cyclocross bikes around the 1000 dollar plus region.

      You will find that disc brakes are better than a caliper for stopping- however for road riding a caliper brake is perfectly adequate to the task so there's no need to even consider disc's.