Five Good Entry-Level Road Bikes Under $500: 2019 Picks
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 many people who have invested a large sum in a bike only to find out they don't actually enjoy riding it. A beginner road bicycle lets you investigate 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 need efficient components that will ensure the ride is smooth and quick. They also need a light frame and good geometry to let the rider pedal comfortably. With a lower price tag there will be some compromise involved, but those components must still do a decent job.
Finding the Best Entry-Level Bikes for $500 or Less
This article will take a look at five of my favorite entry-level road bicycles, 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 Beginner Road Bike
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.
Avoid unproven brands
There's a reason why big brands are successful. Some of the best bikes for beginners come from bigger brands like Schwinn and Diamondback. They have the buying power to get deep discounts on componentry, which saves you money in the long run.
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.
Watch for Poor Setup
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.
1. Pure Cycles Classic: A great, vintage-styled, modern entry-level road bike
Based around a super strong 4130 chromoly frame, it's an entry-style road bicycle that will please even experienced riders. The alloy 700c wheelset is light and spins really well for the price, and the Shimano Claris shifters and derailleurs are quite smooth shifting when tuned nicely.
It's a light and agile platform, quick to start, and fast on long straightaways. Personally, I think they are very attractive bicycles too, with a vintage diamond frame look and subtle retro paint.
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 and a variety of frame sizes.
2. Tommaso Fascino: Affordable, modern, entry-level road bike for new riders
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 Fascino here.
The platform and an excellent value; an easy pick for best road bike for entry level riders. Like many of the competitors in this bracket, this bike uses a compact and strong 6061 aluminum frame, and many other components from high-quality brands—stuff you'd only expect on higher end models. Tommaso Fascino is a lightweight road bike
The Shimano Tourney integrated shifters, cranks and derailleurs are precise and a lot of fun to use, offering 24 speeds in total. The bike ranges in size from 47cm up to 61cm, and it comes with a standard adjustable seatpost, so there's a frame to fit everyone.
Note: 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 well under $500, and you should check it out.
3. Mercier Galaxy SC1: An incredibly affordable beginner road bike
Mercier is not necessary a name you'll recognize, but they're an older brand, and 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 Mercier SC1 Galaxy road bike is a simple, aluminum-framed option with great reviews.
Don't let the name confuse you, these bikes are not French, but they're solid with great customer reviews.
It's the kind of bike you'll want to see up close. 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.
The bike is let down by the so-so linear pull brakes, but you can upgrade those. The double-walled alloy rims make the bike look great and keep the weight respectable. It's definitely one of my favorite inexpensive entry-level road bicycles out there today.
4. Schwinn Volare: Deeply inexpensive, fast and fun
I've spent a lot of time building and repairing Schwinns and they consistently impress me. They're well-built and crafted. is a great example of that. It has a slick aluminum frame with oversized tubing for strength and rigidity. This is a snappy bike that you'll love zipping around town on. The budget-friendly Schwinn Volare
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 and brakes are not integrated.
The brakes are alloy linear pull callipers, which operate better than many mechanical disc brakes. The 18 inch medium frame is good for someone around 5'6 to 5'11. 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 be a good entry point.
5. Nashbar AL1 Sora: A cheap road bike with premium components
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. is one of the best entry-level road bikes, albeit a bit more expensive than the others listed here. The exciting and attractive Nashbar AL1 Sora
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 AL1 is among the best road bikes for entry-level riding on the market.
What Are Some Quality Indicators for Beginner Bikes
Some questions to ask:
• Where was the bike was made?
• Is it a recognizable brand?
• Do you recognize the components?
• What do other customers have to say about it?
• What's the frame material? Steel, aluminum?
If you're considering an entry-level road bicycle outside of this list, make sure you know what you're getting into.
- Check where the bike is made. Many Chinese bikes are not very trustworthy. That said, some Chinese factory bikes are fantastic.
- Check the brand. Some bikes are "brandless", and that's a risky thing. A big brand is an indicator of quality control, and something to look for.
- Make a list of the components, and then research them. If most of the components are "no-name", watch out. 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 awesome. 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 interested in.
- 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.