Best Road Bikes
Regardless of whether you’re riding for recreation, fitness, a commute, racing, or long distance touring, finding the right road bike for your needs can be intimidating.
- Award Winner 2021
Leitner Berlin · includes 2 listings
The Leitner Straight Bar (also known as the Berlin Cruiser Electric Bike) offers a powerful and popular electric bike that’s suitable for riders 165cm or taller, and can be ridden at speeds of up to 25km/h.
Smooth riding experience, even on steep hills
5 levels of pedal assistance
Highly accommodating customer service
Comes with $150 worth of included extras
Leitner Milan · includes 2 listings
With a durable design and low-step frame, the Leitner Step Through is ideal for a leisurely ride whether you're a fitness enthusiast or fitness newbie.
Great value for money
Helpful customer service
Trike Bike’s Three Wheel Adult Tricycles have a sturdy build and plenty of carry space for you to easily take you and your cargo where you need to go.
Climbs hills with ease
Difficult to understand assembly instructions
Reid Falco · includes 2 listings
Suitable for entry-level riders and cycling enthusiasts alike, the Reid Falco has high-quality parts that make it lightweight yet durable, reliable, and suitable for commutes as well as longer rides.
Easy to maintain
Reliable and versatile gears
Reid Vintage Ladies · includes 6 listings
Cruising around has never been more picture perfect than with Reid’s Vintage Ladies Bikes, which combine style and comfort to get you from A to B.
Sturdy, stable frame
Simple to assemble
Comfortable to ride
Some parts not as durable as expected
What distinguishes a road bike from other bikes?
Generally speaking, road bikes:
- usually place the rider in a lower position compared to other bike types, so that they can better activate muscle groups such as the hamstrings and glutes.
- have drop bars to allow for multiple hand placements, although flat bar road bikes are available.
- have thinner tyres (usually 23mm, 25mm, or 28mm wide) than , and .
- don’t have suspension, as they’re designed for use on flat, smooth surfaces.
- have multiple gears to allow riders to go at all kinds of speeds depending on whether they’re climbing a hill, descending one, or riding along flat ground.
These features make it easier and faster for road bikes to cover long distances than other bike types.
Types of road bikes
Endurance road bikes are designed for long-distance rides, and so are built to be lightweight and comfortable - riders have more stable handling and are in a more upright position. These bikes are among the most popular road bikes, and are a great road bike for beginners.
Gravel road bikes can tackle off-road terrains such as tracks and trails, while still offering up durability and comfort. They tend to have disc brakes, and are similar to endurance bikes, except they have more clearance for wider tyres and lower gear ratios.
Aero road bikes are built for speed, meaning they’re aerodynamic and weight and comfort isn’t prioritised in their design. They’re mostly used by racers who often sprint, ideally on longer, flatter courses.
Race road bikes are racing all-rounders: they’re lightweight and designed to go fast. They don’t have the wide tubing of an aero bike or the longer wheelbase of an endurance bike, but are more so designed for climbing and descending mountains.
Touring road bikes are designed for comfortable riding over long distances, particularly while carrying heavy loads (such as camping equipment). They’re heavier than other road bikes, and often have steel frames for durability. Riders are usually in a more upright, stable position on a touring bike.
Recreational road bikes are usually designed with comfort and ease of use in mind, and are great for those wanting to bike for fitness or looking for a reliable way to get from A to B. They usually have flat bars, flat pedals, simple gearing, and wider tyres.
Other types of road bikes
- Cyclocross bikes are designed for cyclocross racing, in which riders tackle a mixture of terrains and require the rider to frequently dismount the bike and carry it along parts of the course - this means they’re lightweight yet have stronger wheels than regular road bikes, which is making them gain popularity with commuters.
- Electric road bikes give you a boost when you ride, and are mostly used for recreation and commuting - you can read more about them in our .
- Triathlon bikes are designed to go as fast as possible and come packed with aerodynamic features, positioning the rider lower.
Factors to consider when choosing a road bike
The material of your bike frameset will affect your bike’s weight, durability, cost, and how it feels to ride. However, this doesn’t mean that one material is necessarily better than another - it’s more about how bike manufacturers use these materials in their designs.
- Aluminium: Aluminium is the most common frame material in both inexpensive and higher-end bikes, as it makes for stiff, lightweight frames. Some frames also have butted tubes, where the ends are thicker than the middle to reinforce joins.
- Carbon fibre: Carbon fibre is generally preferred for road bikes, however there can be huge differences in quality across different types of carbon fibre, which is why you probably shouldn’t opt for a carbon fibre frame unless you’re willing to fork out quite a bit of money for it. A high quality carbon fibre frame is stiff, lightweight, and comfortable.
- Titanium: Titanium frames can be as light as aluminium and as durable as steel, and also possess corrosion-resistance properties, however it’s a difficult - and thus expensive - material to work with.
- Steel: Steel was the frame material of choice until the 1980s, but now it’s mostly used on custom and touring bikes. It’s heavier than aluminium, but can be quite comfortable.
On a road bicycle, you’ll spend lots of time in one position, as opposed a mountain bike, on which you’d move around a lot. That’s why accurate road bike sizing is even more important on a road bike, as spending long periods of time in the wrong position can lead to aches, pains, and even injuries.
You don’t need to fuss much about buying a specific mens road bike or womens road bike: the right fit for you often depends on your height and inseam.
You should also be able to stand over the frame and have at least a couple of centimetres between you and the top tube. When sitting on the seat, you shouldn’t be able to feel pressure on your seat or hands.
Here’s a rough size guide to get you started (these numbers vary slightly across different bike manufacturers and retailers), but you should have your bike fit assessed in a specialty bike shop for a better idea of which bike you need.
|Rider Height||Frame size (effective top tube length)|
|148cm - 152cm||47cm - 48cm|
|152cm - 160cm||49cm - 50cm|
|160cm - 168cm||51cm - 53cm|
|168cm - 175cm||54cm - 55cm|
|175cm - 183cm||56cm - 58cm|
|183cm - 191cm||58cm - 60cm|
|191cm - 198cm||61cm - 63cm|
Road bikes usually have two chainrings on the front of the bike and up to 12 gears on the rear cassette. Three front chainrings are usually just found in entry-level, recreational, or touring bikes, and might be more suitable only if you’re not as confident in climbing hills or building up speed.
It’s not necessarily better to have more gears - sometimes this can overcomplicate gear shifting, and while having just one chainring (this is common in cheaper commuter bikes) may limit how quickly you can build up speed, it can reduce the risk of mechanical issues arising.
You’ll come across two main brake types when bike shopping: rim brakes and disc brakes.
The stopping force on rim brakes occurs on the wheel’s rim, using a cable system to close the caliper on the edge of the wheel.
- Lighter than disc brakes.
- More aerodynamic than disc brakes.
- Easier to repair and maintain.
- Places less strain on the spokes and fork legs, helping them both stay true and last longer.
- More affordable.
- Less effective stopping power than disc brakes.
- Don’t offer particularly reliable stopping power in wet weather.
- Wear out your rims faster than disc brakes.
- Difficult to run different wheel sizes.
Disc brakes work by applying pressure on a rotor closer to the middle of the wheel. You can choose between hydraulic disc brakes and mechnical disc brakes: the former uses hydraulics to push the brake pads against the rotor, while the latter uses a cable.
- Have better stopping power and speed modulation, which can be handy on long descents.
- Offer more precise stopping, letting you control exactly how much braking force you need.
- Don’t heat the rim, reducing the risk of tire blowouts on descents.
- More effective in wet weather.
- Compatible with wider tyres.
- More expensive.
- More difficult to repair and maintain.
- Heavier than rim brakes, although developments in disc technology is closing the weight gap.
The average rider who rides for fun might find that rim brakes work just fine for their purposes, while commuters - particularly those riding in wetter conditions - might want the extra security that disc brakes offer.
The saddle, pedals, and tyres, can all be adjusted or changed to suit your preferences.
The right saddle for you is really a matter or personal preference. Ideally, you shouldn’t go for one that’s too soft and allows you to sink too far into it. A well-fitting, firm, but lightly padded saddle will be comfortable and supportive for longer rides.
If you’re racing, you’ll want to go for fast, lightweight tyres, while commuters and recreational riders should generally go for wider, heavier, more puncture-resistant tyres that are better suited to tackle rough roads and longer distances. These wider tyres however mean that more of the tyre comes in contact with the road, so there’s more friction to overcome when pedalling.
Depending on what you prefer, you can also choose to use clip-in pedals. While they’re more energy efficient over longer distances, you do need clip-in cleats to wear with them, meaning if you’re commuting to work, you’d need to carry your usual shoes with you.
- Helmet: A well-fitting, safety approved helmet can save your life. Also look for adequate ventilation, lightweightedness, an aerodynamic design, and easily removable and washable padding. Bright colours or reflective strips for increased visibility also make riding safer.
- Lock: A sturdy lock can be the difference between having a bike and not having a bike, so go for a high quality lock if you don’t want to be met with a nasty surprise.
- Lights: Whether you expect to be riding mostly during the day or night, you need lights. While riding at night in Australia, you need a white light on the front of your bike, and a red light and red reflector on the back. Ensure that your lights are as long-lasting for your needs - going for USB rechargeable lights can also make this easier.
- Bell: Look out for bells that are easy to mount on a variety of bar diameters, that are also loud enough to be heard in noisier environments.
- Basic repair kit: Having a kit with a spare tyre, a multitool, and a hand pump, can help make your bike roadworthy again before you get it to the closest bike shop for a more thorough look.
You might also choose to purchase a water bottle rack to take the stress out of staying hydrated. A pannier rack can also be useful if you’re carrying quite a large load or don’t want to wear a backpack.
A road bike can cost you anywhere from $250 for entry-level, recreational bikes to over $10,000 for elite racing bicycles. The more you fork out, the more lightweight, stiff, durable, and comfortable you can expect your bike to be - however, you can find a decent bike regardless of what your budget is.
Cheap road bikes under $800 to $1000 - often designed for recreation - usually have rim brakes, with a steel or aluminium frame. When you reach the $1000 to $2000 price range, you’ll start to see carbon fibre frames and disc brakes.
Models over $2000 are usually specialised road bikes built for performance, and typically have carbon fibre frames, as well as features like aerodynamic tubes and a bike geometry designed for racing.
If you can, go for a test ride to get a feel for a bike’s fit, geometry, and other features. If you can’t simulate the conditions you expect to be riding in, then consider whether the bike you’re testing out has what it takes for your riding style.
Taking your particular biking needs into account when visiting your local bike shop can help ensure that you go home with a road bike that’s right for you.