5 of the Best Road Bikes Under $1,500

Looking at 5 of the best road bikes under $1,500, there’s still going to be a bit of give and take, but there are also lots of great options here,  and quite a few of them quite frankly offer exceptional performance. This is usually the price range where you start to get all-around great packages that you could feasibly take into a race. Overall, the bikes on here are a lot of fun and pack quite a punch.

Our picks for 5 of the best road bikes under $1,500

The above links will take you to eBay & Amazon, where you can check prices and see some similar bikes.

What should you look for in the $1,500 price range?

The Top 5 Road Bikes Under 1500 Dollars Compared

Our list of best road bikes under 1500 dollars includes a comparison of 54cm bikes, except for the Giant Defy 2 Disc, for which we used the Large (L) 53.5cm bike. In keeping the sizes of the bikes similar, we can compare their geometries and features more precisely, allowing you to determine which road bike might be your best option.

Effective Top Tube Length


Effective top tube length = the length from the seat tube to the head tube parallel to the ground

The top tube of the Defy 2 is significantly longer than the other bikes, which are right around the same length. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise, since these bikes are usually best suited for taller riders. The other top tubes are similar.

Chainstay Length


Chainstay length = the measurement of the distance from the back axle to the bottom bracket.

The average chainstay length of road bikes is between 405 and 410mm, which all of these bikes have except for the Giant Defy 2 Disc, which has a length of 420mm. This length is unique for a road bike, as you’ll more often see longer chainstays on mountain bikes that need to trek uphill frequently. This longer chainstay may not make the bike quite as agile as the others, but it’s also typical for a Giant bike’s geometry.

Wheelbase


Wheelbase = the measurement between the center of the front and rear wheels (the axle).

Again, the Giant Defy 2 Disc is entirely different than the other bikes in our roundup in its wheelbase length, which is 1022mm. Both the Allez and the Fuji Roubaix have relatively short wheelbases that over around 97mm, making them the more agile bikes of the pack.

Stack / Reach


Stack

Reach

We can see here that the bikes are somewhat similar in their stack and reach measurements, except that the Giant Defy 2 has a significantly longer stack than the others (characteristic of Giant bikes). This puts the rider in a more bent-over, aerodynamic position than the other bikes.

The shortest stack in the group belongs to the Ridley Fenix Alloy 105, putting the rider in the most upright position of the bikes.

Weight


Aluminum tends to be a little heavier than carbon. So, it makes sense that these bikes, all of which use aluminum frames, are on the heavier side for road bikes, although the weights here are nothing to be ashamed of either. The Fuji Roubaix 1.1 is the lightest of the bunch, boasting an aluminum frame that uses less material than others to keep it as lightweight as possible. The Emonda ALR 5 is also relatively light, weighing in at an impressive 18.67lbs.

Specialized Allez DSW Elite review

Specialized Allez DSW Elite Review
Stack
Reach
Weight

For this price point, you’ll likely be pleased with the amount of power, cornering ability, and strength you get from this bike. This bike is a more affordable version of the professional Specialized Tarmac, but you’ll get much of the same excellent handling as you would from the more expensive counterpart.

  • Frame
  • Groupset
  • Wheelset

The Allez DSW Elite uses a Specialized E5 Premium Aluminum with D'Aluisio Smartweld Technology.

Specialized made this bike for aggressive riders, and the aluminum frame with DSW technology meets that need. The DSW technology welds the frame in places of low stress to improve the overall stiffness and strength of the frame.  

While the setup is generally good here, everything comes together in a package that weighs a bit more than others on this list. Still, the nice, stiff frame makes up for it a bit.

Pros

  • cog
    This bike offers standard racing geometry, with a compact frame that positions the rider for aggressive riding and excellent aerodynamics
  • cog
    DSW technology creates a strong frame without welding on high-stress points
  • cog
    The bike provides a similar performance to Specialized’s more professional bikes at a lower price point.

Cons

  • cog
    The wheelset and tires can stand an upgrade to match the power of the rest of the bike.
  • cog
    The brakes on this bike may require an extended period of breaking in before they become less touchy.

The big draw here is just the performance similarity between the Allez DSW Elite and Specialized's higher-end models, like the Tarmac. The downside (a trend you might notice in this list) is the wheelset, which is fine but would is definitely one of the things we'd upgrade first.

Expert Opinions

“The main upgrade here from our previous Allez at the base and sport price points are that, here, we start to use the D’Aluisio Smartweld technique. That’s mainly related to the head tube area and the joints of the top tube to the down tube as well and that effectively stiffens up the whole front end, so our tracking and our cornering ability is enhanced.” – David Alexander, JE James Cycles

Trek Emonda ALR 5

Trek Emonda ALR 5 Review
Stack 
Reach
Weight

The Emonda ALR 5 is one of Trek’s mid-range bikes, and most of the time, you can find it just under our maximum price today. It features a superbly engineered frame that seems to represent Trek’s attempt at approximating the performance of a carbon fiber with an aluminium bike, using raw engineering willpower. In our view, it gives you one of the best bangs for your buck on the list.

  • Frame
  • Groupset
  • Wheelset

This bike uses Bontrager R1 Hard-Case Lite 700x 25c tires and Bontrager Tubeless Ready rims.

There are pros and cons to this wheelset for sure, and while you’ll be making a few sacrifices here, this is also likely where you’re saving a bit of money.

The main complaint for these tires is usually that they’re not going to be as stable in wet conditions or going around corners at speed. They do, however, make very little noise and seem to be very durable (we couldn’t find any real complaints even with riders who’ve put several thousand miles on them). In dry conditions and on most roads, though, they’re a perfectly suitable starter wheelset.

This bike also features Trek’s H2 geometry, which is slightly less aggressive than their ultra-serious H1 geometry. Lots of people seem to love this fit, and it’s great geometry for most amateur riders (lots of triathletes apparently like it as well)

Pros

  • cog
    This is a well-engineered frame: strong, light, snappy, and looks sharp
  • cog
    Made with Trek’s hardest and lightest alloy, which helps approximate carbon fiber performance
  • cog
    Tapered headtube (formed with hydroform technology) improves responsiveness

Cons

  • cog
    The wheelset can be fickle and may not be great in wet conditions; however, the bike will fit bigger tires (up to 700 x 28) if you want to slap them on

The big draw of this bike is the frame. Trek goes out of their way to bridge the gap between aluminum and carbon with some creative metalurgy, using tappered tubes and vairable tube widths to create a pretty interested riding experience. Is it carbon? No. Can it do some really fun stuff at a considerably lower price point? Yes.

Expert Opinions

“The ALR 5 is a hard-to-beat performance value package.” - Durianrider

“If you’re looking for an entry-level race bike… if you’re looking for a bike that’s comparable to carbon… this is the bike… Everything works on this bike.” - David Vega

Fuji Roubaix 1.1 Review

Stack 
Reach
Weight

Fuji’s purpose for the Roubaix 1.1 was to create an aluminum-framed bike that was one of the lightest on the market without sacrificing the bike’s durability and responsiveness. This bike is the lightest one in our roundup, thanks to its frame technology that uses less material than most aluminum frames.

This bike has a typical racing geometry that improves its agility and comfort on the road. The Fuji offers somewhat of a mixed-bag of components that both lend to its weight and performance, but may not be ideal for those who like the look of having matching groupsets regarding looks and reliability.  

  • Frame
  • Groupset
  • Wheelset

The  Roubaix 1.1  uses the Oval Concepts 527 wheelset with Vittoria Zaffiro Pro tires.

This wheelset is an entry-level set from Oval Concepts. The set meets the needs of the amateur road racer, the target of this bike, offering a 27mm rim with Vittoria Zaffiro Pro tires. Zaffiro Pro is Vittoria's high-level "training" tires, made for endurance more than agility. They may not be the best choice on sharp corners or for comfort, but they’ll likely log lots of miles before needing an upgrade.

This bike has some excellent components for an amateur bike in the $1500 range, including a durable and responsive frame and Shimano mid-range components that are usually found on more professional bikes. But, it seems that the wheelset is what dropped the price on this bike and may warrant an upgrade.

While the Fuji is awesome for a lot of reasons, one of the areas it doesn't necessarily compete as well is in the groupset, which would be just slightly better (we think) if it were a full Shimano groupset, but, hey, you can't always have it all.

Pros

  • cog
    Shimano Ultegra brakes and shifters offer similar performance to the higher-level DURA-ACE, with just a bit of extra weight
  • cog
    This bike places the strength where it’s most needed in the frame and avoids extra, unnecessary materials in other spots for a lighter weight, increasing its ease uphill
  • cog
    Thick rim depth can help keep the bike more stable in and out of the saddle

Cons

  • cog
    The wheelset meets the needs of beginning riders but doesn't match the performance level of the rest of the bike
  • cog
    The somewhat mismatched groupset might not look as put-together as other bikes that use the same brand’s parts

Noticing a pattern? Aweosme bike, sub-optimal wheelset. But that's usually fine for most riders, and you can always replace them. The huge selling point for Fuji is the weight, which is impressive and makes up for the slight compromises in the groupset.

Expert Opinions

“I love riding it. I've got almost 1,000 base miles on it already on the same tires, and I can’t say enough about these Vittoria clinchers.” – David Vega

Ridley Fenix Alloy 105 Review

Stack
Reach
Weight

The Ridley Fenix Allow 105 is a bike for aggressive racers who want bent-over positioning and a compact, aerodynamic geometry that’s still powerful enough for top speeds and hill climbs. This bike also excels at absorbing shock and creating a comfortable ride for endurance cyclists, thanks to its diamond shape frame.

  • Frame
  • Groupset
  • Wheelset

The Fenix uses Shimano 105 crankset, cassette, and shifters, and Forza Stratos brakes.

The Shimano 105, one of the company’s mid-range groupsets, gives the Ridley Fenix 11 speeds and a variety of gears comparable to the slightly lighter Ultegra. Ridley opted for the Forza Stratos brakes, rather than the Shimano 105, which offers a smooth pull with little force necessary and quick braking.

The diamond frame is a good all-around frame that provides a solid combination of stiffness and shock absorption. The groupset is also good, and the only non-Shimano component here is the brakes, which are good in their own right, making this a great package overall.

Pros

  • cog
    The triple-butted aluminum frame helps distribute weight and disperse shock throughout the bike to prevent rider fatigu
  • cog
    The compact racing geometry of the Ridley leads to its good power transfer and agility
  • cog
    Forza Stratos brakes are a good complement to the Shimano 105 groupset.

Cons

  • cog
    Ridley could have improved the Fenix’s shock absorption even more with less rigid tires
  • cog
    This is one of the heaviest bikes in the roundup, which could put it at a disadvantage when climbing hills.

Leave a Comment