MY TOP 5 Best Budget road bikes
All Under $500
One of the greatest means of escape for the average person is biking along back roads. Whether you are preparing for a road race, enjoying the benefits of exercising or testing your stamina, a road bike fills the bill like no other.
Road bikes come in all price ranges and styles, which is why finding the one that best fits your body, your goals and your pocketbook is important. Road bikes are specifically built for long-distance riding over paved surfaces rather than taking them through the mountains.
There is more than one difference in men’s and women’s bikes. Women have shorter torsos and longer leg which means although a woman can reach the pedals on a man’s bike, the placement of the handlebars causes her to put additional stress on her spine.
For starters, you must measure your inseam and add between two to four inches for a comfort level fit between your crotch and the top tube crossbar. This is your “stand-over” height which is the measurements shown on the bike heights.
On that note, it’s important to mention that entry-level bikes should be durable, practical for the terrain and environment— and comfortable for those who alternate sitting and standing on pedals.
It’s very important to have a fixed budget for the bike of choosing, because of the additional cost of accessories you’ll be required to pay for. Water bottles and good helmets are just the minimum of necessities. A good helmet can run from $45 to $110+.
Below are our Top 5 best budget road bikes under $500:
Frame Material Type
lightweight 6061 double butted
Takara Kabuto Single Speed Road Bike
- Fits riders from 5 feet, 10 inches tall to 6 feet, 2 inches tall
- Rear Flip Flop Hub for fixed gear or freewheel
- Tig-welded steel frame and fork; alloy rims with alloy hub; alloy side pull brakes
- 31-inch stand over clearance
- Fits riders from 5 feet, 8 inches tall to 6 feet tall
Of all the road bikes that we reviewed costing less than $500, the Kabuto won hands-down. Besides being the least expensive of all the road bikes in this category, the Kabuto is one of only two bikes that are made with a steel frame. Steel frames take the abuse of long-distance riding much better without working of wheels and handlebars. This is the only road bike in this price range that has a steel seat post to handle the weight of a tired rider. In addition, the handlebars and fork are made of steel. All told, this means that every area of the bike that must endure the greatest amount of weight and pressure is made of steel.
The Kabuto is equipped with ergonomically designed side-pull brakes and alloy rims to prevent rusting when riding in inclement weather or being stored outside. The spokes on the rims on this bike are made of stainless steel. The yellow Kenda tires are larger than the normal tires on a road bike at 7 x 32. If you are seeking an entry-level road bike, this is the one you should look at. If you still can’t decide, take a look at our in-depth review of the Takara Kabuto.
Fact: the Takara Kabuto is ranked among the top three bikes in the world for practice workouts and road racing among professionals that like to challenge each other for fun.
GMC Denali Road Bike
- 21-speed road bike features a lightweight aluminum frame
- Alloy calipers and alloy brake levers
- High-profile alloy Vitesse racing rims
- Optional colors – Blue, Yellow, Silver – at slight add-on cost
- Shimano derailleur and Shimano Revo shifts makes it easy to change gears quickly and smoothly
- High-performance 700c tires are up to the challenge of rigorous street racing
The Denali bike is known among riders worldwide and in our comparisons, did well to come in at second place. Of the bikes reviewed, the Denali met 4 of the 6 elements that are important to durability and practicality.
All in all, the Denali is an excellent choice.
While the frame of this bike is not steel it is made of heavy weight aluminum with a steel fork to prevent twisting and drift in the front wheel, while the handlebars are made of steel.
The other two features, alloy rims and alloy brakes are found on this model. Finally, the price is just a few dollars more than the Kabuto.
Denali is the number one competitor of the Kabuto around the world, as many avid cyclists are torn between which is the best of the two. Many professionals own both the Kabuto and the Denali for pleasure and practice jaunts to keep in shape.
There is only one major downside to the Denali road bike and it may be the single issue that tips the decision for you. If you need to replace or repair any of the parts, they must be ordered from the overseas warehouse and shipped to the U.S.
This is true for the tools and repair kits as well. Average time for receiving packages from Europe is generally 21 to 30 days.
Pure Fix Cycles Fixed Gear Single Speed Urban Fixie Road Bike
- Fixed gear single speed fixie bicycle with deep-dish 50mm wheels
- Flip-flop rear wheel hub allows changing from single-speed to fixed gear with ease
- High-tensile, fully Tig-welded steel frame is built to last
- Ingeniously engineered Magnetic Latching System
- Easily removable front brake
- Brand name components include Kenda Tires and Tubes, Oury Grips and KMC Chain
Our third place finisher is the Pure Fix road bike. One of the features that only this bike offers is that it comes in a wide range of colors, including white-on-white and black-with-purple.
The frame and fork are made of tig-welded steel and it does come with the alloy brakes. However, the handlebars, rims and seat post are made of an alloy metal.
The term “fixie” means that the rear wheel is a fixed-gear mechanism with a flip-flop hub, which directs the motion of the rear wheel. Even though this is classified as a Road Bike, this is also the choice of trick riders because the back wheel does all the work.
These are the types of bikes that are most notably used by trick cyclists in competitions where they are spinning and jumping on the back wheel and the front wheel is in the air. So the Pure Fix Cycles are the perfect bike if you are into this kind of activity and don’t want to spend money on another bike for commuting. The price is about $75 higher than the Kabuto but still it is found to be mid-range in this category.
Schwinn Men's Phocus 1600 700C Drop Bar Road Bicycle, Silver, 18-Inch
- Schwinn aluminum road frame with carbon fibre road fork for quick agile riding
- Shimano Claris 14 speed derailleur and integrated shifters
- High profile alloy rims with paired spokes are lightweight and strong, front quick release
- Promax alloy caliper road brakes for great breaking power
- SR Suntour alloy crank for wide gear range
Schwinn’s Phocus sports a good quality alloy brake lever, shifting component that is integrated with the drive train and alloy rims to protect the wheels from rusting out when riding through pedals or storing it outside.
Overall, the build quality is excellent right out of the box. With that said, neither the frame nor fork are made with steel which means that if you put a fair amount of weight on the frame or handlebars, there is a possibility that the fork will twist out of shape. The plus side is that the fork is made of carbon fiber, which makes the bike a lot lighter. If you are a casual user who just wants some smooth ride every now and then, the Schwinn Phocus is perfect.
One additional note that you should pay attention to is that the seat on this bike is very flat rather than contoured to fit the body. Hence, riding this bike for extensive periods may require some custom adjustment of the seat.
Vilano Shadow Road Bike - Shimano STI Integrated Shifters
- Wheelset: 700c doubled walled CNC machined side
- Shimano STI Integrated Brake Lever/Shifters offer precise and controllable braking and shifting in a convenient single unit designed for the road
- 6061 Double Butted Aluminum Aero frame with integrated headset
- Fork: 700c 1 1/8" threadless, brakes: dual pivot alloy caliper
- Free pedals included
Pulling up last place in our top 5 reviews is the Vilano Shadow road bike. It is considered as a bike more suitable for riding with family members or clubs rather than as a sport or competition bike.
The brakes and rims of the bike are made up of alloy but the frame and fork are both aluminum. The frame is good quality aluminum but not the heavy-duty type that Denali uses.
Of all the components that are superior compared to all the other bikes in the group, the seat is well-made and designed for comfort. This bike is not made for those over 6’2” and even at that height, if you have long legs it may be uncomfortable to ride. It is advertised as including “free pedals” but there are reports that these are very cheaply made.
At this price, we lean towards the well-made, durable bikes like Kabuto or Denali. However, it’s always nice to have an alternative that provide reliable and smooth rides.
The Takara Kabuto is our number one recommended budget road bike for sports, club, family and road biking. It is well-made and durable. Because it does have a steel frame, and handlebars it holds up well when ridden hard and has enough weight to resist sliding on wet pavements.
The Denali is definitely a contender but having to send for replacement parts that take as much as a month to arrive is still a major annoyance for those who own just one bike. On the plus side, it is well made and does have sufficient weight to resist slipping under wet conditions.
The Pure Fix Cycles are terrific for the younger crowd who love doing wheelies and learning tricks. However, at this price and the fact that the handlebars are not reinforced with steel rods, it is more likely to need replacement parts if used for long periods of time. It is not the most suitable bike for use on long-distance rides since the front wheels do none of the pulling which means that your legs must do more work.
Neither the Shadow nor the Schwinn Phocus come with Kenda tires, which are standard on the top 3 bikes. While this doesn’t seem to be essential on the surface, both Schwinn and Shadow have had complaints of flat tires when the recommended tire pressure was not maintained. They are still very good bikes for casual users.
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