With a budget of $500 it’s possible to find a good road bike that will hopefully last several years and need minimum maintenance due to it’s quality and design. $500 allows us to start looking at carbon composite bike frames to reduce the weight of the road bikes even further and consider branded tyres and brake systems. The best road bikes under $500 are probably still consider to be entry level models. However some will be equipped with more advanced components which is helpful to the longevity and enjoyment of the bike.
If you’re in the market for an entry-level road bike for commuting that you can also use for more serious weekend rides and perhaps even dabble in a few races, then $500 is about the price point that you need to be looking at. While you can pick up a decent road bike at a slightly lower price, the better groupsets available at the $500 mark will serve you well in the long-run.
Introduction To Road Bikes Under $500
For the daily commute and weekend rides, our road bikes are perfect. The features vary from bike to bike but you can expect supreme comfort courtesy of ergonomic handlebars and saddles, lots of speed options and microshift gear shifters, and precision thanks to the lightweight frames and carbon forks.
Road bikes are lightweight, stiff and strong allowing for fast paced riding. At under $500 you’ve got a great range of road bikes to choose from and most fall into the endurance or sportive category. Less aggressive than race bikes, sportive or endurance road bikes put you into a more upright and comfortable riding position. Compliance features are also built in to the frame which helps to absorb the bumps and vibrations you get when riding on less than perfect road surfaces. These two features combine to reduce fatigue on long rides and help you to perform at your best for longer. Our pick of the best road bikes under $500 feature expertly crafted aluminium frames matched to carbon bladed, and even full carbon forks, with capable Shimano componentry.
Materials Used In Road Bikes Under $500
Aluminium is still the undisputed king of budget frame materials. Lightweight, stiff and cheap, brands are able to build great performing road and mountain bikes out of the metal, at a manufacturing cost that still enables them to spec decent quality parts and finishing kit. The drawback of aluminium is that it comes in tubes. When compared to carbon fibre, which is built up sheet by sheet into whatever shape a manufacturer wants. It’s difficult to mould it into shapes that are, for example, more aerodynamic, or promote stiffness and compliance concurrently. Although not impossible, as shown by some of the bikes in our roundup of the best aluminium road bikes .
Brakes Common On Road Bikes Under $500
Cable-operated rim brakes are very common on most entry-level road bikes. These generally work well, especially in clean and dry conditions but wet-weather performance can leave a little to be desired as rims and pads get contaminated with road grime. The industry trend is undoubtedly towards disc brakes. We’re starting to see this technology trickle down to the higher end of the best entry-level road bikes but usually only in cable-actuated rather than hydraulic. Disc-brake bikes have the advantage of a dedicated braking surface that’s moved away from the road and muck. This generally leads to more consistent performance in all conditions. Without the size restrictions of a rim brake caliper, frame manufacturers are also able to build in greater tyre clearance for added grip and comfort.
Road bikes all used to have sidepull caliper brakes – long-reach ones if mudguards were to be accommodated. Disc brakes are now increasingly popular. They add a little weight but are great for commuting: they work uniformly well, irrespective of wet, dirty or damaged rims; and they don't cause rim wear. Road bikes under $500 will have mechanical disc brakes.
You’re also more likely to find hydraulic or mechanical disc brakes on less expensive bikes these days. Compared to rim brakes, discs offer better stopping power, especially in the rain and on dirt and gravel roads. You have more control and less hand fatigue with mechanical disc brakes. They also require less maintenance than older rim brakes. This alone is a great reason to upgrade to a new bike.
Tires Found On Road Bikes Under $500
Recently, affordable bikes have started to come with the same wider, more-versatile tires found on expensive road bikes . Models with tires 28mm or wider are now common. The extra width softens the road because you can run lower tire pressure with less fear of flatting. This leads to a more comfortable ride. They grip better on dirt and gravel, opening new routes to explore. Wider tires can be heavier though. So if you’re strictly looking to do faster rides on smoother roads, tires in the 25mm range might work better.
Finding The Best Road Bikes Under $500
There’s a lot of value to be found, and fewer compromises than ever before. This piece is written to help you find the best bikes under 500 dollars. We’ll be reviewing each one, mentioning the style of riding it’s suited for, and any other concerns worth noting.
Some manufacturers concentrate on an overall package which represents great value to the consumer. Others simply find a cheap frameset and build to a high specification around that. If you want something visually impressive to wow your friends and work colleagues, consider the great frame option. However, if you’re after a bike for the long term, a more rounded package will offer the best longevity.
Today's beginner/cheap road bikes are lighter, ride better and are more comfortable than ever due to better materials and technology. Another nice side effect of these advancements is a more durable bike, today's starter road bikes can handle more miles and rougher roads.