Best road bikes 2023: top reviewed bikes from our testing

The best road bikes we've tested at Cycling Weekly from value picks to top bikes from our race bike of the year awards

A group of cyclists riding a selection of the best road bikes
(Image credit: Future)

This year Black Friday is running from November 24th - 27th. We've rounded up all the best Black Friday bike deals - spanning fully built bikes, components and tech - in our main hub page. You're guaranteed to find a bargain.

If you're looking for the best road bikes, there are more and more options available at every price point.

Here at Cycling Weekly, we've tested a hundreds of road bikes. That ranges from the best cheap road bikes to superbikes priced at more than $10,000 / £10,000, including the nine superbikes we tested for our Race Bike of the Year (RBOTY) 2023 awards.

The road bike sector is more nuanced than it's ever been, with frame materials, aero features, wheel construction and tyre width all offering loads of choice. The best gravel bikes offers machines that you can ride on the road but that you can also take on tracks and trails, giving you more choice still in where you can ride. 

Here are our picks of the best road bikes for 2023 at a variety of different price points. 

The quick list

Best road bikes we’ve tested at Cycling Weekly

You can trust Cycling Weekly. Our team of experts put in hard miles testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

The entry level

The best entry-level road bike overall

Specialized Allez Disc on a yellow background

The Specialized Allez now has disc brakes and extra tire clearance

(Image credit: Future)
Best entry-level road bike overall

Specifications

Frame: Specialized E5 Premium alloy
Groupset: Shimano Claris
Wheels: Axis Sport alloy
Weight: 10.0kg / 22lbs (claimed)

Reasons to buy

+
Quality aluminium frame
+
Clearance for 35mm tires
+
Full carbon fork
+
Stable & assured ride

Reasons to avoid

-
Indifferent mechanical disc brakes
-
Getting expensive for an entry level bike

Specialized's 2023 update of the Allez has added disc brakes in place of the rim brakes on the older model. That has allowed it to increase tire clearance to a more substantial 35mm or 32mm with mudguards. That in turn has added an extra dose of comfort to the ride and means that the new Allez can handle light gravel duties and isn't confined to tarmac.

The base model bike has Shimano Claris 8-speed shifting and mechanical disc brakes. Claris has big jumps between gear ratios on the 11-32t cassette, while the mechanical disc brakes don't have the stopping power of hydraulics.

The Allez line-up now consists of just two models (plus the Allez Sprint). The higher spec Allez Sport has ten speeds and hydraulic disc brakes, but there's a big jump in price for what's otherwise the same spec as the base model Allez.

A wheelset upgrade would significantly improve performance, but all in all it's a decent package for the price, making the Allez reasonably competitive against the other best cheap road bikes we've reviewed.

Read more: Specialized Allez first ride review

The best entry-level road bike for racing

Caad 13 Disc

Cannondale is a master of alloy bike frame fabrication

(Image credit: Future)
Best entry-level road bike for racing

Specifications

Frame: SmartForm C1 Premium Alloy
Groupset: Shimano 105
Wheels: RD 2.0 alloy
Weight: 9.0kg / 19.9lb

Reasons to buy

+
Fast and agile
+
Frame ride quality - stiff yet comfortable
+
Well-specced at this price point
+
A frameset worthy of component upgrades 

Reasons to avoid

-
High front end is a bit out of character with the bike's racy feel

Cannondale has long been a master of performance alloy frames and the CAAD13 follows in that vein. It's got long and low geometry based on that of the pro-level carbon SuperSix, with aero tube profiles leading to handling which is second to none. Priced low enough to be a first bike it's a frame that you won't outgrow.

At this price point, you get a Shimano 105 hydraulic groupset with a RS510 crank set. The wheels have had a slight upgrade, so you're now getting DT Swiss R470 rims with the Formula hubs. The only thing that we found fault with was the rather high front end stack. It's easy to rectify but means you'll have to have your head tube cut down to avoid an ugly stack of spacers above the stem. 

Read more: Cannondale CAAD13 Disc full review

The best entry-level road bike for value

Giant Contend SL1

The Giant Contend SL1 is a quality entry-level option

(Image credit: Cycling Weekly)
Best entry-level road bike for value

Specifications

Frame: ALUXX SL-Grade alloy
Groupset: Shimano 105
Wheels: Giant P-R2 alloy
Weight: 9.0kg / 19.9lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Full carbon fork
+
Great ride quality, offering comfort over long distances
+
Assured yet nimble handling

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy - a tad over 9kg for a size small

Sharing features of Giant’s more expensive bikes, the Contend has a compact alloy frame with a sloping top tube. The D-Fuse seatpost and carbon fork are designed to add compliance at the rear and the front end respectively. Along with the endurance frame geometry this gives great comfort and handling, letting you ride for longer and inspiring confidence.

There’s bags of low gearing, down to 1:1, to tackle uphills and Shimano 105 gives you quality shifting, although the rather heavy weight doesn’t make for sprightly performance. It's a good value proposition for its price though.

Read more: Giant Contend full review

The best road bike for versatility

Vitus Venon Evo 105 Di2 road bike on a pink background

The Vitus Venon Evo is available in road or gravel specs

(Image credit: Future)
Best road bike for versatility

Specifications

Frame: Venon Evo Carbon
Groupset: Shimano 105 Di2
Wheels: Prime Attaquer alloy
Weight: 7.8kg / 17.2lbs

Reasons to buy

+
40mm tire clearance adds versatility
+
Comfortable but sporty endurance ride
+
Capable on fast gravel trails

Reasons to avoid

-
28mm tires look swamped in the large clearance frame

The Vitus Venon Evo has a trick up its sleeve. With its wide tire clearance of 45mm it's not glued to the road and you can buy the same frame specced out for gravel duties, with a series of models with a GR suffix; we've also reviewed the Vitus Venon Evo-GR gravel spec bike.

The carbon frame weighs under 1kg and has plenty of compliance built in. The road-going specs are fitted with Michelin Power Cup 28mm tubeless tires on Prime Attaquer alloy wheels. We tested the 105 Di2 model of the Vitus Venon Evo, but there's a whole range of electronic and mechanical groupset options from Shimano and SRAM. 

The ride on the road is well balanced and firm but comfortable and there's plenty of room to fit mudguards on the hidden mounts, making the Venon Evo a good option for year-round use. It's lightweight as well.

Read more: Vitus Venon Evo-RS full review

Swipe to scroll horizontally
BikeFrame materialGroupsetTire clearance
Specialized Allez AluminiumShimano Claris35mm
Cannondale CAAD13 Disc 105AluminiumShimano 10530mm
Giant Contend SL1AluminiumShimano 10528mm
Vitus Venon Evo-RSCarbonShimano 105 Di240mm
Cervélo S5CarbonSRAM Force AXS35mm
Giant PropelCarbonSRAM Rival AXS30mm
Trek Madone Gen 7 SL 7CarbonShimano Ultegra28mm
Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi Mod 2CarbonShimano Ultegra34mm

RACE BIKES

Race Bike of the Year 2023: Overall winner

Cervélo S5 on a yellow background

The Cervélo S5 mixes a fast, aero ride with comfort and handling

(Image credit: Future)
Race Bike of the Year 2023: Overall winner

Specifications

Frame: S5 Carbon
Groupset: SRAM Force AXS
Wheels: Reserve 52/63
Weight: 8.2kg / 18.0lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Space for 35mm tires
+
Quality wheels plump up the tires for better handling
+
Smooth, fast ride

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the lightest of high-end bikes

The Cervélo S5 garnered top spot in our Race Bike of the Year awards in 2023. We rated its straight line speed, but also its cornering ability and superb ride quality. It's the handling that sets it apart from other fast aero bikes though: fast to respond to a change of line but not twitchy.

We rated with Reserve wheels, with their internal width helping to add comfort to the tires and progression when cornering. It's not the lightest bike, tipping the scales at over 8kg, but you don't feel that when riding.

If you want some validation of the bike's qualities, how about 2022 Tour de France yellow and green jerseys and a slew of one day race wins?

Read our review of the Cervélo S5 in our Race Bike of the Year 2023 coverage.

Race Bike of the Year 2023: Best value

Giant Propel on a orange background.

The Giant Propel offers a lot of bike for its price

(Image credit: Future)
Race Bike of the Year 2023: Best value

Specifications

Frame: Giant Propel Advanced Pro
Groupset: SRAM Rival AXS
Wheels: Giant SLR 1
Weight: 8.5kg / 18.6lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Great value, particularly for lower specs
+
Quality builds
+
Now lighter and more agile than its predecessor

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as smooth handling as some of the other bikes tested

The latest model Giant Propel has slimmed down the previous model's chunky frameset, to reduce weight and increase comfort, but has still improved aerodynamics and adjustability over