5 Best Road Bikes Under $500

Last updated: August 25, 2020
BEST OVERALL
Ergonomic, Comfortable and Powerful Brakes
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BEST BUDGET
Sturdy, Affordable and High-Quality Shifter
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BEST WITH DISC BRAKES
High-Quality Components and Fantastic Handling
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BEST WITH QUICK RELEASE
Versatile, Durable and Great Tires
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BEST LIGHTWEIGHT
Slick, Light, Fast and Simple
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Your guide

Road bikes are enticing by nature – everything from the sleek design and slim wheels to the lightweight frames simply screams high performance.

But budgetary constraints are always an issue – and finding a good, dependable bike, even from a reputable manufacturer, takes quite a bit of effort. With so many options, it’s easy to get bogged down by the sheer amount of available choices.

For this review, we focused on finding the very best road bikes on the affordable side of things. We factored in performance, durability, and components – all the while making sure to keep things below a $500 price tag.

Road Bikes Under $500: Top 5 Picks

Road bikes are famed for the sheer speed that they provide – but they’re often unjustly maligned for a lack of versatility.

Another common misconception is that road bikes are expensive. And while we can see why you’d think that, we’re happy to report that it isn’t always so.

red road bike used by a model on a street

It took a bit of time and effort, but we’ve prepared a review of five great road bikes that cost less than $500 – and none of them offer anything other than top of the line performance.

 A couple of the models on this list veer slightly toward the hybrid side of the spectrum – but these were selected only when those features complemented their performance as road bikes, allowing them to rightfully take the place in their respective categories.

All of these bikes fill different niches – and they do so admirably. If you’re strapped for cash at the moment, but would still like to venture forth into the world of road bikes – take a look down below.

1. Best Overall - Giant Escape 3 Disc

Specifications:

  • Gearing → 21 speeds
  • Tire size → 700 x 38C
  • Weight capacity → 300 lbs
  • Weight → 27 lbs

Key Features:

  • Tektro mechanical disc brakes
  • D-Fuse Seatpost
  • Flat handlebar
  • Shimano drivetrain

Giant Escape 3 Disc Review

The fact that you’re on a tight budget doesn’t mean that you have to end up with a subpar product. It’s still entirely possible for you to get that trademark road bike high-performance experience. But you have to be careful – at this price range, durability and build quality are always a high-priority concern.

This is where the Giant Escape 3 Disc comes in – and it hits the mark with resounding success. Retailing at just under $500, it’s an impressive, well-built bike – and we’re confident in saying that in this price range, the Escape 3 Disc offers unbeatable performance.

Design, Materials, and Ergonomics

The Escape 3 Disc is available in four size options, which can accommodate riders from 5’3” tall up to 6’7” tall. The standover height varies from 28.1 inches at the lower end to 33.1 inches at the high end.

The bike makes use of a light yet durable Aluxx 6061 aluminum alloy frame which features butted tubes. Fully assembled, the bike weighs approximately 27 lbs, though the exact weight is never listed as per Giant’s policy, and it may vary slightly across the different size options.

The Escape 3 disc features a wide, ergonomic Giant Sport flat handlebar. Combine that with the frame geometry, which supports an upright seating position, and the fantastic Giant Sport Comfort saddle, and you end up with a very ergonomic, user-friendly bike.

The overall comfort level is further improved by the inclusion of Giant’s proprietary D-fuse technology, which allows the alloy seat post to dampen vibrations and reduce the amount of road shock that is transferred upward.

Speaking of road shock, the high-tensile strength steel fork also plays a part – ensuring a smoother ride. The entire frame is quite stiff, making it quite stable – and it also features a pair of integrated fender mounts, which can also be used to mount racks.

Performance and Handling

Now let’s move on to the bike’s performance. The Giant Escape 3 Disc might be a budget model – but it offers an undeniably high level of road bike performance.

The bike is equipped with a 21-speed Shimano Tourney drivetrain, which provides it with a sizable amount of versatility. This does a great job of offsetting one of the most common and pronounced flaws that road bikes, in general, suffer from.

Not only does the drivetrain do a fantastic job of handling inclines and hills, but it also allows you to gradually shift gears to maintain maximum speed at all times. The shifting is smooth and responsive, owing to the Shimano ST-EF41 shifters.

The Escape 3 Disc features a pair of durable Giant S-X3 700×38 tires that feature puncture-resistant technology. The tires are large and slick and glide effortlessly over the pavement. Their durability is further enhanced by the Giant GX Disc rims that feature stainless steel spokes.

So, the bike is durable and fast – but what about handling? The versatile drivetrain goes a long way in ensuring a stable ride – but the Tektro mechanical disc brakes bear the brunt of the work when it comes to controlling. The brakes are very powerful and perform just as well in both wet and dry conditions.

Pros
  • Impressive brakes
  • Versatile drivetrain
  • Well-made frame
  • Puncture-resistant tires
Cons
  • Nontraditional handlebar style
  • Higher-end of the under $500 price range 

2. Best Budget - Goplus 700c

Specifications:

  • Gearing → 21 speed
  • Tire size → 700c
  • Weight capacity of → 440 lbs
  • Weight → 32 lbs

Key Features:

  • Adjustable saddle height
  • Alloy caliper brakes
  • Kickstand
  • Shimano A050 thumb shifters

Goplus 700c Aluminum Road Bike Review

The high-performance focus of road bikes naturally makes them expensive. Your average road bike is much more expensive compared to an average hybrid or mountain bike.

Be that as it may, it’s still possible to find well-made, fast road bikes that are truly affordable – you just have to look a bit harder than you normally would. And we looked hard – and far and wide. But we’ve found one such bike – and it’s unbelievably affordable.

Goplus’ Aluminum Road bike is a fast, versatile, and stylish machine that utilizes high-quality components. It’s a bargain – and an incredibly high-value purchase. If you’re on a really tight budget, give this bike a closer look – you’ll be surprised by what you’ll find.

Materials and Design

The frame of the bike is made from a durable aluminum alloy which provides a great amount of stiffness. The fork of the bike is also made from the same aluminum alloy.

The bike weighs 32 lbs – a tad heavy for a road bike, but the weight is manageable. On the other hand, the bike has an incredible weight capacity of 440 lbs – so the entire weight ordeal could be called a balanced tradeoff.

The bike features a comfortable drop handlebar with a classic design. The height of and the handlebar is adjustable, allowing you to tailor the ergonomics to your personal liking. The handlebar supports a variety of hand positions, while the steel handlebar stem provides plenty of durability.

The bike makes use of a PVC fake leather seat which is quite comfortable – but it could stand to be slightly more padded. The seat post height is adjustable, however, and this largely offsets the lack of padding. When it comes to comfort, finding a bike that fits you is the number one priority.

Performance and Practicality

Goplus’ bike makes use of an incredibly versatile 21-speed Shimano drivetrain which allows it to handle a variety of inclines and challenges. The shifting is rapid, yet consistent, due to the high-quality Shimano A050 thumb shifters.

The bike features a pair of fast-rolling 700c tires. They offer plenty of speed and acceleration, though this is slightly inconvenienced by the weight of the bike. Both of the bike’s wheels use a quick-release system, which makes changing tires much easier. While we’re on the topic of practicality, the bike also features a built-in kickstand.

The Goplus Aluminum road bike makes use of alloy caliper brakes. Due to the drivetrain, the bike handles well – and control won’t be an issue, so long as you pay a little extra attention to the road.

Overall, the bike is quite impressive, given the price range. It’s quick, versatile, and offers plenty of practicality. We would have liked to have seen a better pair of brakes, but that’s a small flaw on an otherwise excellent bike.

Pros
  • Low price
  • Adjustable seat height
  • Versatile drivetrain
  • High-quality frame
Cons
  • Slightly heavy
  • Subpar brakes 

3. Best with Disc Brakes - Eurobike

Specifications:

  • Gearing → 21 speeds
  • Tire size → 700c
  • Weight capacity of → 300 lbs
  • Weight → 31.5 lbs

Key Features:

  • Front and rear 160mm mechanical disc brakes
  • 21-speed Shimano drivetrain
  • Steel frame
  • Aluminum rims

Eurobike EURXC550 Review

Road bikes might be famed for their impressive speed – but handling and controllability are no less important. Handling mostly comes down to the tires and drivetrain – while how easy a bike is to control depends on the brakes.

Disc brakes offer superior performance when compared to the more common V or caliper brakes. They also happen to be more durable.

If control is a priority for you, you should prioritize getting a bike with a good set of disc brakes. And if you want an affordable bike that fits that criterium, then the Eurobike EURXC550 is a strong contender.

Materials and Build Quality

The first thing that stands out with the XC550 is the design. It features a stylish combination of red, black, and white, along with painted rims.

The frame is made from steel – which automatically means more weight, but also more in the way of durability. The thick steel tubes are very robust and will last for a long time.

However, the weight of the bike is far from unbearable – weighing in at 31.5 lbs, it will provide a smooth, stable ride without being too bulky. The frame has a maximum weight capacity of 300 lbs.

The bike arrives 85% assembled – you’ll have to install the front wheel, pedals, handlebar, and seat, as well as inflate the tires. The instruction manual is straightforward and easy to follow – the entire process shouldn’t take up more than 45 minutes of your time, at most.

The XC550 features a classic drop handlebar, as well as an aluminum stem that is held together by 4 screws which should regularly be checked for tightness. The bike also makes use of a durable KMC chain.

The bike’s seat has an unusual design – with the front side tapering downward. Taller riders might find it slightly uncomfortable, but thankfully the height of the seat can be adjusted.

Stable and Easy to Control

This XC550 doesn’t just look the part – it’s a true high-performance road bike. The large, slick 700c tires allow you to reach high top speeds and accelerate quite rapidly. The fast-rolling tires are mounted on durable aluminum rims, and will effortlessly whizz across bike paths, roads, and pavements.

The tires are slightly wider than with your average road bike – this doesn’t decrease the speed by much, but it does offer a sizable increase in durability.

The 21-speed Shimano drivetrain gives the XC550 plenty of versatility. Due to the nature of the tires, it won’t be able to handle large bumps and obstacles – but slightly uneven terrain and inclines won’t pose any issues.

The weight of the steel frame and the slightly wider tires provide a good amount of stability and control, which is further improved by the front and rear 160mm mechanical disc brakes.

Overall, the bike handles quite well and consistently provides smooth, stable, and enjoyable riding. As far as road bikes go, it’s quite easy to control and beginner-friendly.

Pros
  • Sturdy frame
  • Powerful brakes
  • Impressive drivetrain
  • Easy to assemble
Cons
  • Heavier than most road bikes
  • Unusual saddle design

4. Best with Quick Release - Hiland

Specifications:

  • Gearing → 24 speeds
  • Tire size → 700c
  • Weight capacity of → 300 lbs
  • Weight → 28 lbs

Key Features:

  • Quick-release wheels
  • Kenda tires
  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • Shimano drivetrain

Hiland Aluminum Road Bike Review

Road bikes strive for the very best, as far as performance goes. Buying a good road bike is a great first step – but if you’re serious about this form of cycling, eventually, you’re more than likely going to have to switch out several components.

Even if you’re not into squeezing the maximum amount of performance out of your bike, it’s still handy to have a bike that you can easily tweak, adjust, or repair.

A road bike with quick release tires allows you to easily work on your bike. But that handy feature isn’t worth much on its own – not without a good bike.

Materials, Design, and Durability

The sturdy frame is made from an aluminum alloy – fully assembled, the bike weighs 28 lbs – but it boasts a maximum weight capacity of 300 lbs.

The sleek, minimalist frame has a clean cable management system and features a threadless fork. The Promax handlebar is quite ergonomic and comfortable, measuring in at 600mm or 23.6 inches wide.

The bike’s geometry is 100% road bike – and unfortunately, as such, it suffers from the all too common problem of a narrow and sparsely-padded seat. We wouldn’t describe the seat as bad – more like lackluster.

When all is said and done, you’re left with a well-made, dependable bike that has an impressive amount of durability. The bike’s quick-release wheels might make it a fixer-upper, but many components, such as the KMC chain, speak to a dedication to durability.

Drivetrain, Brakes, and Tires

The Hiland’s modest price tag doesn’t mean that it offers a modest level of performance. In fact, at the given price range, it offers a surprising amount of speed and versatility.

The bike features a pair of large 700c Kenda tires that are slick and fast-rolling. The bike’s aluminum frame meshes well with the large tires, allowing you to easily achieve high speeds. The tires are mounted onto a pair of durable and light aluminum rims, and both of the wheels make use of a handy quick-release system.

Hiland has incorporated a 24-speed Shimano drivetrain into the bike. That’s a lot of gears – and although this may be a road bike, it can handle quite steep inclines with relative ease.

The Shimano thumb grip shifters are responsive and dependable, and the amount of versatility that the drivetrain provides makes the Hiland aluminum road bike a solid all-rounder.

So, the handling and speed of the bike are remarkable – but what about stability and control? You’ll be happy to hear that it’s smooth sailing all the way with this bike – as it incorporates a pair of mechanical disc brakes. With a 180mm front rotor and a 160mm rear rotor, the Hiland has plenty of stopping power.

Pros
  • Practical quick release system
  • Great brakes
  • High-quality tires
  • Quite ergonomic
Cons
  • Average seat
  • Requires some assembly

5. Best Lightweight - Retrospec V3

Specifications:

  • Gearing → 1 speed
  • Tire size → 700 x 25c
  • Weight capacity of → 250 lbs
  • Weight → 25  lbs

Key Features:

  • Reinforced carbon fiber fork
  • 6061 aluminum frame
  • Flip-flop hub
  • Promax Radius alloy brakes

Retrospec Drome V3 Review

When it comes to road bikes, every pound counts – shaving off every sliver of unnecessary weight is often a priority.

If you want a road bike that prioritizes speed above everything else, Retrospec’s Drome V3 is a simple, no-nonsense bike that combines top of the line build quality with a high level of performance.

Although it’s at the higher end of this price range, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better lightweight road bike that costs less than $500.

Well-Made and Well-designed

Retrospec’s bike features a durable, lightweight, smooth welded 6061 aluminum frame that weighs only 25 lbs. The frame features double-plated drop out inserts, oval aerodynamic tubing, and a tapered head tube. All of these features result in a sturdy, robust, yet incredibly light frame that doesn’t sacrifice anything when it comes to durability.

The Drome V3 is available in 5 size options, which will fit riders from 5’2” to slightly over 6’3” tall. The bike makes use of standard road bike geometry, which lends itself to a forward-leaning seating position. The bike has a maximum weight capacity of 250 lbs.

The bike features a classic handlebar design – the Compact Drop bar measures 31.8mm x 420mm and features a Promax alloy 90mm stem. The saddle is Retrospec’s proprietary racing saddle – like most road bike saddles, it is slightly small, and could stand to be a tad more comfortable.

The bike also makes use of a durable KMC Z-series chain, as well as a pair of low-profile reinforced nylon resin platform pedals.

Speed, Handling, and Tires

The bike’s aluminum frame goes a long way in reducing the overall weight of the bike – but Retrospec had another ace up their sleeve. The reinforced carbon fiber fork significantly cuts down on the weight, while still providing a lot of durability and ruggedness.

The Drome V3 is a single speed bike that features a flip-flop hub – allowing you to ride either freewheeled or single-speed. It’s a handy feature – but a single gear option can be pretty restrictive for some.

However, we wouldn’t consider this a drawback. The V3 isn’t geared toward versatility – speed is the name of the game. The bike is purpose-built to easily achieve breakneck speeds on even, flat, predictable terrain – and it does that exceptionally.

The bike is equipped with a pair of large 700 x 25C Kenda K1018 road tires, which perform optimally at a high pressure of 125 psi. The tires are mounted on a pair of Alloy Star 43mm double-wall rims that feature stainless steel spokes.

As far as handling goes, the Drome V3 makes use of a pair of Promax Radius alloy brakes. We would have preferred to see a pair of more responsive disc brakes instead – but the brakes that come with the bike are perfectly decent – so long as you remember to brake slightly earlier than you normally would.

Pros
  • High-quality tires
  • Very fast
  • Incredibly light
  • Well-made frame
Cons
  • Single gear
  • Unremarkable seat 

Road Bikes Under $500: Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Road Bikes Good For?

Road bikes feature light frames, large, slick, and fast-rolling tires, and often have drop bars. In terms of pure speed, no other type of bike comes even close.

As far as the terrain goes, road bikes are best suited to predictable, urban routes - which is to say, concrete, roads, or pavement. They don’t generally handle all too well when it comes to rougher terrain.

Can Road Bikes Handle Bumps or Go Off-Road?

Speaking in general terms, road bikes can handle a bump here and there - the sort that you’d usually come across in an urban environment. Their large tires go a long way in handling small bumps - but going off-road is another matter entirely.

Going off-road with a road bike is highly inadvisable, as the name would suggest. The rough, uneven terrain doesn’t mesh well with the slick tires, nor with the seating position of a road bike. If you’re interested in going off-road, you should look at getting a good mountain bike.

Are Road Bike Tires More Likely to Puncture?

The high PSI of road bike tires, together with how narrow they are, makes them a tad more susceptible to running a flat. Most high-end manufacturers are switching to tubeless-ready systems which alleviate this concern somewhat, but the fact still remains.

Are Disc Brakes Worth It on a Road Bike?

Disc brakes are always a better choice in contrast to pull brakes or caliper brakes. Whether or not they’re worth the extra investment depends.

Road bikes are fast - so their ability to come to a halt should be commensurate to their speed. If a bike has a set of serious high-performance tires or a very versatile drivetrain, we would recommend also looking for a model that includes disc brakes.

So the answer will depend on your needs, as well as your skills as a cyclist. But in general, we believe that disc brakes are always worth the additional cost.

5 Best Road Bikes Under $500 in 2020 — Bike Hacks