Buying Advice for the Best Road Bikes Under $1500

Photo by E. Dronkert, CC BY 2.0
Photo by E. Dronkert, CC BY 2.0

You have many options when considering the best road bikes under $1500 in 2015. At this price, you will get better quality Shimano or SRAM components than an entry-level bicycle.

But don’t expect to get a carbon fiber frame at this price. A solid aluminum frame, which is more impressive than a cheap carbon frame knockoff, will provide an excellent foundation for riding.

To help you find one of the best road bikes under $1500 for you, I want to provide you with some tips and tricks for buying one of these good beginner road bicycles.

Where to buy a road bike under $1500

A local bicycle shop should be your first stop. A department store bicycle is not a viable option.

The local bike shop will be able to help you with fit, which is important with a road bicycle.

They will be able to make fitting adjustments, including changing stems, and getting you a comfortable saddle.

They will also have bicycles that have higher quality components and will be able to tune the bicycle once the cables stretch, which is very common on a new bike. (Most shops will offer free lifetime tune-ups, too.)

You’ll also be able to take the bike for a short test run. This can be beneficial when determining the style of bike you want.

Determine the style of road bicycle

There are different styles of road bicycles, including those designed for racing competitions, sport riding, and touring.

The difference may seem subtle, but they are the difference between winning and losing a race, being comfortable on your rides, or being able to haul 70 lbs of gear to the next campsite.

  • Racing bikes

A racing bicycle has very fast handling. They are pleasure to ride, but the constant small steering corrections needed can fatigue muscles after hours in the saddle.

This style of bicycle is designed for a aerodynamic advantage, with really low handlebars.

A racing bike also has a gearing that may not be suited for beginners.

  • Sport endurance bicycles

A sport endurance bicycle represent a midway point between the fast handling road bicycle and a touring bicycle.

For those wanting to do charity rides or just get out and have a sleek, efficient road bicycle to ride, a sport endurance bike represents a good value.

This style bicycle has a more upright riding position, which allows a much more comfortable — yet still efficient — position.

Increasing the handlebar height has the effect of creating less back and neck pain for someone who’s not very flexible.

A sport bicycle, which will generally have rack and fender mounts and accept a wider tire, will not be as twitchy as a full-on race bike.

  • Touring bicycle

A touring bicycle is the bicycle equivalent of a work pickup. A touring bike has mounts for fenders and racks and has a geometry that is less fatiguing.

The handlebars are higher, the turning speed is slow, and the frames are usually made from steel, which can be a little more flexible than an aluminum frame.

Research major bike brands

You may find a bike you are comfortable on right away. It can be a good idea to do a little research before you buy, though, especially if you are trying to find what bicycle is right for you.

Best road bikes under $1500
Specialized makes good bicycles — their Allez is no different. Although this is an old school Allez, with down-tube shifters, their current model can be outfitted
with SRAM Apex components and sells for less than $1500. Photo by AlphaTangoBravo via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Bicycle manufacturers have the specifications of their bicycles listed on their websites.

This can provide an easy way to filter through bikes that may interest you. A lot of times they will have the MSRP on there, too, so you will know about what the bike will cost.

Using the information on the manufacturer’s website, you should have a better understanding when talking about bikes with a shop employee.

When you are at the bike shop, it can be important to make sure the bike shop specializes in road bikes. This will help make sure fit problems will be solved efficiently.

A shop that sells mainly mountain bikes may not have the same knowledge as one that sells road bicycles only.

If you are not comfortable dealing with the sales person at the shop, or just do not like the overall vibe there, do not consider spending any money there. Find another shop.

Best style of bicycle for you

Unless you expect to race or ride fast group rides, a sport endurance bicycle is, more than likely, the style of bicycle you should be looking for.

This will allow you to get a little bit better fit. What you should look at is the geometry numbers, which will be posted on the manufacturer’s website.

When looking at the numbers, you’ll want to look at the head tube number. This will be in millimeters, and the higher the number the taller it will be, making the handlebars a little higher.

You may also look at the specs page, where the stem size will be. Although the stem can be swapped out easily, you do want to look for one that is slightly shorter and with a higher rise.

An easier solution to looking at numbers is to go to the bike shop and ask to sit on a couple bikes. After this, you’ll get a feel for what is comfortable to you.

Parts on the best road bikes for beginners

The components on road bikes under $1500 are a little bit nicer than their less expensive counterparts — such as road bikes under $500.

A bicycle in this price range will generally have all Shimano, SRAM, or Campy components. Bikes at lesser prices will generally use a mixture of parts.

On road bikes under $1500, you will usually find Shimano Tiagra (possibly 105) or SRAM Apex — all of which will last thousands and thousands of miles.

Manufacturers such as Specialized offer models that feature SRAM and Shimano, so you get a choice, depending on your preference.

The biggest difference between them is the ergonomics of the hoods, so it’s more important to choose the brand of components on a bike based on comfort.

You would want to make sure that you get a compact crankset or a triple crankset if your fitness levels are lacking.

A standard double, which the pros use, generally does not have enough gears for recreational riders — the last thing you want to do is get off and walk your bike up a hill.

You can tell the difference between a standard and compact crankset by the number of teeth on the gears. A compact will have a 50×34, and a standard will have a 53×39.

Road bike buying guide parting thoughts

Although buying a road bike from a local shop may be one of the best ways to get a road bike under $1500, it is possible to buy from an online shop.

An online store may be appropriate if you know how to work on bicycles and are looking for a good value.

For most beginners, though, this may not be appropriate and a good bike shop will be the way to go.

With a few simple tips, you won’t have a problem at all finding one of the best road bikes under $1500 in 2015.