If you're thinking of getting out on the road on a bicycle, it's important to have reliable equipment. While you can spend anywhere from $500 to more than $10,000 on a road bike, the sweet spot for a good beginner's bike is $1,000 to $2,000. These three bikes are a great way to get going. All are from top-notch companies who know how to make bikes for every level of rider.
The $1,000 Range
Trek makes excellent bikes for every price range, from starter models like the 1.5, to Tour de France winners, like the Madone. This U.S. company has defined the growth and prestige of American cycling for more than 30 years.
The 1.5 is a great starter bike in the $1,000 range. The frame is made from stiff and durable Alpha aluminum, with an in-house carbon front fork to soften the bumps. A solid Shimano Tiagra 9-speed grouppo (a grouppo is the combination of gears and cranks that handle the front and rear shifting) does the shifting, and there are a variety of crankset options, including a triple crankset--if you're worried about tackling the hills. The 1.5 will get you started on the road on a budget, with money left over for clothing and other cycling accessories.
The Cannondale CAAD9 5 keeps aluminum as the frame material, but is a step up in the parts department versus a $1,000 bike like the Trek 1.5. Gear parts are from the improved Shimano 105 Series for slicker, more precise shifting. Other key elements--the wheels, fork, brakes and saddle--are also of a higher quality.
The design of the CAAD9 5 lends itself to performance and comfort. It's a good choice when you're just starting to get some miles under your belt, and it will continue to be a strong, smooth bike as you build your engine.
The $2,000 Mark
At the top range, the Felt Z5 is the choice for the rider who wants to combine lightness, performance and comfort in a quality package. The frame is made of strong and light carbon fiber, with a geometry that's forgiving and comfortable for newer riders.
While you'll appreciate the carbon fiber frame when you're climbing, the bike's components are also strong. The Mavic wheels are light, smooth rollers and there's a solid-shifting 10-speed Shimano 105 grouppo on the front and back. With the Z5, you'll enjoy your first road trip, and have plenty of room to grow.