10 best road bikes: serious carbon and steel bicycles

Ace road bikes to lift you above the peloton, all under £2000

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The best road bikes under £2,000 will NOT be taking part in the world's greatest cycling race, the Tour de France.

However, we bet the sight of 198 skin-suited psychopaths, burning 3,519km across France as fast as they can, on bikes that cost more than most family cars, has got you thinking about upgrading your own bicycle.

Competitors in this year's Grande Boucle will tackle nine mountain stages, battle two individual time trails and spend just two days in three weeks nursing saddle sores, resting legs and generally questioning their sanity.

If that hasn't spurred you on to want to achieve more on a bike, we can't help you. But if you want to dominate the next sportive, boss your local time trial, or glide past Bromptons whilst adjusting your tie, here's a selection of rides that won't break the bank, but will give you a massive injection of speed.

Cheaper carbon bikes: know the facts

Although it's ever so T3, we admit carbon fibre isn't necessarily the be-all and end-all of bike riding for most cyclists.

Yes, you can get a full carbon road bike for under £2,000 but the material might not be the right fit for you. Cheaper carbon tends to flex under load, so if you're carrying a few excess pounds, this could prove a problem - or it could push you to lose the weight, who knows?

It can also be less comfortable in general and some carbon composites can be brittle and less dependable than their steel or aluminium-framed counterparts.

Plus, if the carbon frame is a peach, manufacturers will tend to balance the books by scrimping on things like the groupset (gears and brakes), wheels and finishing kit (saddle, bar tape and cabling).

For example, an entry-level groupset, such as Shimano's Tiagra or Comapagnolo's Veloce, could reveal its flaws during a long sportive or timed weekend ride, when competitors require razor sharp cog swaps and bulletproof reliability.

But for those simply looking to rack up the miles on gentler rides or take it easy during a friendly competition, this may not be such an issue.

The same can be said for wheelsets. Ideally, the lighter and stiffer the wheel, the better for speed and handling but don't forget this will typically mean a compromise in comfort and budget.

Similarly, the geometry of a frame and its construction will greatly affect the way it performs and handles. A racy geometry - the angles of the tubes that make up the frame - can be a pain on longer rides, despite performance gains. A fact that's well worth considering if you're simply looking to add a little swag to your daily commute.

Ultimately, it pays to do some research. That said, our countdown of the best bikes for less than £2,000 is the ideal starting point, if we say so ourselves. Bikes are in descending order of price and rated using a TOTALLY scientific scale for performance for your £, or bang for your buck.

The best road bikes from priciest to cheapest (RRP)

1. Specialized Tarmac Comp

Punters here receive a full FACT9r carbon frame that shares plenty of DNA with the S-Works models ridden by the professionals but there is a bit of compromise to get it on budget.

First off, the Fulcrum S4 wheels will probably require upgrading if you're serious about bossing your local Strava Segments and the Shimano Ultegra groupset is offset by a slightly cheaper Praxis Works crankset.

Regardless, that frame is an absolute belter and you can bet your bottom dollar it features Specialized's racing-winning formula.

T3 rating 4/5

2. Vitus Vitesse Evo

This full carbon, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) accredited frame tips the scales at a race-legal but featherweight 7.59kg thanks to its high-modulus T700 carbon fibre frame, but it also comes equipped with Shimano's excellent Ultegra 6800 groupset.

In fact, there's very little compromise here and the overall frame geometry manages to remain speedy yet surprisingly comfortable. Great news for those with miles to munch.

T3 rating 5/5

£1,900 | Buy Vitus Vitesse Evo

3. BMC Team Machine SLR02 105

This Swiss-made stunner is the result of many professional stage wins from the likes of Cadel Evans and Tejay van Garderen, who have been integral to the overall design and feel of the bike.

The frame and forks are pure carbon but it's slightly heavier than rivals due to a beefier finishing kit and the reliable but weighty Shimano WH-RS11 wheelset.

BMC create solid bikes that will happily pound mountainous climbs day after day and the Team Machine doesn't disappoint.

T3 rating 3/5

4. Eastway Emitter R1 Ultrgra Di2

This is another full carbon beauty that packs a serious amount of kit for the money. How do they do it? In short, retailer Wiggle owns the Eastway brand, so can pass on savings to the customer.

The upshot is a sharp lightweight frame, a tried-and-tested Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheelset, as well as Shimano's top spec Di2 electronic groupset. It's an understated machine that hides plenty of performance prowess up its sleeve.

T3 rating 4/5

5. Cannondale CAAD12 Ultegra 3 Disc

Proof that carbon isn't the only material for high performance machines, Cannondale's aluminium alloy CAAD12 manages to remain light, stiff and ultra-reliable, while packing Shimano's brilliant Ultegra 6800 groupset.

In fact, this machine is finished beautifully yet tips the scales at just over 8kg. Plus, it's absolutely plastered in Cannondale logos, which will appeal to showy sods.

T3 rating 4/5

6. Canyon Endurace CF 9.0

If you ever needed a reason to take the plunge and purchase your bike online, Canyon is a great starting point. The firm provides kit for pro Team Movistar, yet manages to offer bikes with similar DNA for less than £2,000.

The Endurace CF 9.0 nicely blends comfort and agility with a 7.0kg, race-ready carbon frame that's rapid but remains relaxed over longer rides.

Add the fact that it's furnished with Shimano's really excellent Ultegra gears and brakes, with optional, carefully selected finishing kit that won't break the bank and you have an absolute steal.

T3 rating 5/5

7. Boardman Road Pro Carbon

The Boardman brand is widely respected among the cycling community despite predominantly being sold through Halfords, and the 2016 Road Pro Carbon is further proof that great value doesn't have to mean compromise.

It packs Shimano's mid-range105 5800 groupset, as well as an excellent C7 carbon frame pinched from the more expensive SLR (Super Light Racing) model.

Throw disc brakes into the mix and you have one affordable, robust and lightweight weekend warrior that's perfect for those dipping a tentative toe into the world of 'proper' cycling - or, indeed, cycling in general.

T3 rating 3 Stars

8. Trek Domane ALR 4

A neat introduction into the world of performance bicycles, Trek's ALR 5 takes inspiration from the rugged Domane family, which in turn has been designed to offer great dependability over harsh surfaces.

More experienced riders will likely snub the Bontrager rims and entry-level Shimano Tiagra groupset, but it's a solid set-up for the price – you can get it for about a grand if you shop wisely – and one that can soak up the punishment of a daily ride.

T3 rating 3/5