Biking

Top-Rated 5 Best Road Bikes Under $500 Reviewed – [2019]

We Selected The 5 Road Bikes That Offer The Best Features, Components And Value For Under $500

This is a great roundup of good quality road bikes that can purchased for under $500. Like any type of bicycle, you can always get high-tech frames and components – but you’ll pay a serious premium for those. These bikes are adequate for most riders to get started in the sport, or to add a 2nd road bike to his corral – perhaps a bike for travel.

See the reviews below from our road biking editor, James McKenna, and you’ll likely determine the best road bike for under $500 to fit your needs and preferences. Also, see our buyer’s guide entitled, How To Choose The Best Road Bike Under $500.

Quick Answer: The 5 Best Road Bikes Under $500

  1. Merax Finiss
  2. Gravity Avenue A
  3. Windsor Wellington 2.0
  4. Schwinn Phocus 1600
  5. Tommaso Fascino Sport Performance

Best Road Bikes Under $500

 Merax FinissGravity Avenue AWindsor Wellington 2.0
editors choice
WheelsAluminum 700mmAlex Rims DA-18700mm
Special FeaturesFrame: Strong and Lightweight Aluminum Frame ,
Fork: 700C Steel Threadless
Frame: Aluminum,
Fork: Chromoly steel
Frame: double butted 6061 aluminum,
Fork: chromoly steel
Customer Ratings4.3 / 5 stars4.4 / 5 stars4.5 / 5 stars

Also see: Best $500 Road Bikes Comparison Table


  Best Road Bikes Reviews

#1 Merax Finiss

Features of the Merax Finiss

  • Frame: 6061 aluminum
  • Fork: steel
  • Wheels: aluminum 700mm
  • Gears: Shimano 21-speed
  • Brakes: rim

Almost every aspect of this bike is surprising. Surprisingly good that is! Despite its very low price, you get a visually pleasing road bike that looks like it should cost much more.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is to see so many Shimano components in the drivetrain. Both derailleurs, the cassette and shifters are Shimano while the rest are made up of Merax’s own brand components. Out of the box, the derailleurs will need some adjusting to get them working properly.

There are videos online to teach you how to do so but if you are not confident, then get your local bike shop to tune them up for you.

The 6061 aluminum alloy frame is strong and light. It is paired with a steel fork that dampens a lot of road vibration. Another surprise is the inclusion of good Kenda tires.

These are mounted to durable aluminum rims, which may not be entirely true on arrival. If this is the case, you should seek assistance from a shop unless you are 100% confident that you can do it yourself.

While you get a good quality bike overall, the package is somewhat let down by the poor quality brakes. These also need adjusting to get the best performance. Unfortunately the best performance of these brakes is somewhat lacking.

While they will slow you down, they do not have much power so early braking is necessary. Upgrading the brakes will actually allow you to ride faster, as you can brake later and therefore spend more time travelling at higher speeds.

Merax advise that some assembly and tuning is required. While it is obvious that a delivered bicycle will need some assembly, it is a shame that the gears and brakes do not arrive set up correctly. The fact that they do not is one of the reasons why this bike comes at such a low price.

If you are looking for a professional looking and functional road bike at the lowest price possible, the Merax Finiss is perfect. It has no stand-out features but consistently good components that perform more than adequately.

The one exception is the cheap brakes that you may want to replace sooner rather than later to enjoy more stopping power. While more than adequate for general road riding and commuting, the racers among you will benefit from spending a bit more for a lighter bike with better components.

#2 Gravity Avenue A

Features of the Gravity Avenue A

  • Frame: aluminum
  • Fork: chromoly steel
  • Wheels: Alex Rims DA-18
  • Gears: Shimano 14-speed
  • Brakes: rim

This bike is more suited towards general fitness and commuting rather than racing. The reason being that the semi compacted geometry of the frame puts the rider in a relatively upright position. Racers will want to be lower on the bike. However, serious racers are probably not looking at road bikes in this price range.

A 7-speed cassette (14 gears in total) also hints that this bike is for commuting. While this is by no means a small range of gears, it is less than would be expected on a bike intended for big rides with big climbs and descents. The drivetrain itself is mostly made up of Shimano components, with the exception being the chain, which is by KMC.

Everything rolls on Alex rims DA-18 wheels and double wall tires. Both are entry level but fine for commuting. The wheels in particular have a noticeable flex. When it is time to slow down, CStar brakes do a good job. They are not top performing brakes but can slow you down fast enough in traffic.

The aluminum frame is very comfortable to ride, mainly thanks to the relaxed geometry, but also the hydroformed aluminum used in its construction. The semi compacted geometry has a lower standover height and allows the bike to be fitted to a broader range of people. You should have no trouble tuning this bike to your preferences.

#3 Windsor Wellington 2.0

Features of the Windsor Wellington 2.0

  • Frame: double butted 6061 aluminum
  • Fork: chromoly steel
  • Wheels: 700mm
  • Gears: Shimano 21-speed
  • Brakes: rim

The vibrant yellow color of this bike really makes a statement and ensures you stand out on the road. Those looking for a more stealth look can choose the black frame. Apart from the color choice, the Wellington 2.0 looks like it is ready for some serious action, which it is!

This is a well-speced road bike that is more than capable of taking you on long tours, short commutes, or anything else in between.

Double butted aluminum 6061 is used for the frame. This alloy is light and strong and the double butting saves weight where material is not needed. A chromoly fork offsets some of the frame’s stiffness and absorbs road vibrations.

The entire drivetrain is made up of good quality Shimano components, as well as a KMC chain. You get 21 gears, which is the standard range to support you on any ride. You have easy gears for spinning up big hills and faster gears for blasting down again. In between there is a gear for every road and situation.

To slow down, the Wellington 2.0 comes with dual pivot rim brakes. While these brakes have good performance, the included brake pads are not so good. For commuting and city use they are good enough, but if you want to ride down long descents, you will probably want some more power.

Fortunately, brake pads are a cheap upgrade. The Wellington 2.0 rolls on strong (but not light) double walled wheels and quality Kenda tires.

Overall, the Wellington 2.0 is a great bike for recreational use or more serious tours. The 21 gears and Shimano components provide all the range and quality you need for any kind of riding. A brake pad upgrade may be called for if you are into big descents and the wheels could also be replaced to gain a bit more of an advantage. Out of the box however, you get a more than capable road machine.

#4 Schwinn Phocus 1600

Features of the Schwinn Phocus 1600

  • Frame: 6061 aluminum
  • Fork: carbon
  • Wheels: 700mm
  • Gears: Shimano Claris 16-speed
  • Brakes: Promax rim

Schwinn is a well known bicycle brand that has been making high-quality bikes since 1895. The Phocus 1600 offers you remarkably good value for money and is an excellent beginners’ road bike.

As is the standard on bikes in the price range, the Phocus 1600 has a light and stiff aluminum 6061 frame. It is surprising to see a carbon fiber fork at the front. Carbon components are usually only seen on bikes costing much more. You will enjoy the superior vibration damping from this fork, as well as the weight savings it offers.

The wheels strike a good balance between being strong and light. Double walled rims ensure that the wheels will not collapse if you accidentally hit a pothole. They may be heavier than other rims but the liberal spoke lacing design offsets this, albeit at the sacrifice of a bit of overall strength.

As long as you do not deliberately crash into potholes or against the curb, you should have no problems with this wheelset. The included tires are quite narrow and have a hard compound, so you may wish to replace them with a wider set for a more comfortable ride.

A Shimano Claris drivetrain is a great entry level drivetrain. Keep it tuned correctly and you will enjoy accurate shifting between the 16 gears. The Microshift shifters are integrated with the brake levers so you can reach both at once without moving your hands.

While it is possible to enjoy riding a road bike without integrated shifters, anyone serious about their cycling uses them because of the comfort, safety, and ease of use that they offer.

Braking is taken care of by Promax alloy dual pivot caliper brakes. The included pads are quite hard and will not slow you down as fast as softer models.

Although the Phocus 1600 is perfect for anyone looking for a high-quality bike to enter the world of road cycling, there is one potential downside. It only comes in one frame size: 56cm. If you are of an average height, it should fit you just fine. Shorter riders or women may want to look at the women’s version. Taller riders will have to look elsewhere.

#5 Tommaso Fascino Sport Performance

Features of the Tommaso Fascino Sport Performance

  • Frame: 6061 aluminum
  • Fork: steel
  • Wheels: Tommaso TC-20
  • Gears: Shimano Tourney 21-speed
  • Brakes: rim

The Fascino is for those who want to start road cycling as a serious hobby without breaking the bank and not compromising on components. Tommaso  believe that cycling and quality bikes should be accessible to all. To make this a reality and keep their bikes as cheap as possible, Tommaso only sell directly to consumers.

This sleek-looking racing bike has am aluminum 6061 frame and a steel fork for a perfect balance of strength, stiffness, and vibration damping at the front. Tommaso supply as many own-brand components as possible to avoid buying them from other manufacturers, which would increase the price of the bike.

As well as the frame and fork, Tommaso supplies their own TC-20 rims. Like the frame, the wheels are light and strong and have quality Kenda tires mounted to them. You will also find a Tommaso stem, handlebar, saddle and dual pivot brakes.

Tommaso intend the Fascino to be a serious road bike. For this reason, they have specced a complete Shimano Tourney drivetrain. By keeping it 100% Shimano and not mixing in cheaper or no-name components, the shifting and reliability of the drivetrain is guaranteed.

All the components work flawlessly together and the 3×7 setup gives you a huge range of gears, perfect for any ride and any mountain. A number of frame sizes are available so you should have no problem finding the right one for you.

While the Fascino is more than capable as a race machine out of the box, over time you may wish to reduce weight and upgrade components to give you a competitive edge. When you wish to do so, the Fascino frame makes a perfect platform for upgrades and there is no reason why you will not enjoy riding and racing this bike for years to come.


Best $500 Road Bike Comparison Table

Best Road Bikes  PriceWheelsSpecial FeaturesGearsCustomer Ratings
Merax Finiss$229.99Aluminum 700mmFrame: Strong and Lightweight Aluminum Frame ,
Fork: 700C Steel Threadless
Shimano 21-speed4.3 / 5 stars
Gravity Ave A$299.95Alex Rims DA-18Frame: Aluminum,
Fork: Chromoly steel
Shimano 14-speed4.4 / 5 stars
Windsor Wellington 2.0from $339.00700mmFrame: double butted 6061 aluminum,
Fork: chromoly steel
Shimano 21-speed4.5 / 5 stars
Schwinn Phocus 1600from $500.37700mmFrame: 6061 aluminum,
Fork: carbon
Shimano Claris 16-speed4.2 / 5 stars
Tommaso Fascino Sport Performancefrom $499.99Tommaso TC-20Frame: 6061 aluminum,
Fork: steel
Shimano Tourney 21-speedN/A

How To Choose the Best Road Bike Under $500

The lightest and fastest models from the best road bike brands can set you back several thousand dollars. While these bikes are top performers, not everyone can afford them. Fortunately, if you are looking to get into road cycling, need a bike for commuting, or are looking for a cheap winter training bike, you do not need to invest a lot upfront. There are many affordable options for you under $500.

If your budget is $500 or less, you will need to accept that you will be making sacrifices when it comes to weight and quality of the frame and components. Cheap components are almost always heavier and you will not get the top-level performance of more expensive versions.

Merax-Finiss-Aluminum-Racing-Bicycle guide image

If riding a light bike is important to you, then you will have to spend more. If, on the other hand, you can live with the weight penalty and components that still get the job done, it is easy to find the best road bike for the money. You can always upgrade components in the future.

To help you decide which is the best road bike under $500, we have outlined what you need to look out for. We have also selected the best road bikes within your budget to save you the time needed to research.

Frame

The frame is the heart of any bicycle and its design determines the handling and ride feel. In this price range you will find simple aluminum or steel frames. Aluminum frames are actually an aluminum alloy, chosen for stiffness and durability.

Steel frames have a bit more flex that makes for a more comfortable ride as the flex dampens road vibrations. You are likely to find a simple threaded bottom bracket shell and external cable routing to keep the cost of the frame low.

You want your bike to be comfortable to ride, so check the size guide to make sure that you get the correct size frame.

Wheels & Tires

Wheels also have a decisive influence of the feel of a road bike. Stiff wheels are responsive to pedal input and transfer more power instead of flexing. Light wheels help to keep the overall weight of the bike down and ease acceleration.

Road bikes under $500 will not come with stiff or light wheels as both of these properties require the use of more expensive materials. You will get entry level wheels that are unlikely to have an aerodynamic profile.

Likewise, the tires that come on a road bike under $500 will not be anything special. You can expect hard compounds that will work fine at moderate speeds in dry conditions.

Once you get more serious about your cycling, upgrading the tires should take almost top priority, followed by the wheels.


Drivetrain

This refers to all the components that work to transfer power from your legs to the wheels. Your feet push on pedals, each of which is connected to a crank arm. The two crank arms are connected through the frame by a bottom bracket.

On the right-hand crank you will find chainrings, which pull the chain and turn the cogs on the cassette, which is connected to the hub of the rear wheel. To shift the chain into different gears, there is a derailleur above the chainrings and one below the cassette. Each is cable actuated by a shifter mounted on the handlebars.

It is common to find Shimano drivetrain components on road bikes under $500. Expect some components to be from unknown or generic brands.

Although the generic components will give you all the performance you need, look out for Shimano derailleurs, shifters, and a cassette/chainrings. This well-known brand makes components for every budget and can be easily tuned and serviced by any mechanic.

Even if some of the drivetrain components are from generic brands, this is no reason to shy away from buying the bike. Components wear out over time so you can upgrade them as necessary. In the meantime, you will still be able to shift gears and pedal the bike.

Cockpit

Although you may not expect it, the stem and handlebars can have a profound influence on how comfortable you are riding a bike. The stem connects the handlebar to the steerer tube of the fork. A longer or shorter stem can be fitted to fine tune the fit of a bike.

As long as you choose the correct frame size, the length of the stem should be just about correct, as should the handlebar width.

If you find you find yourself uncomfortable riding your bike for long periods of time, the cockpit setup could be to blame. Getting it right should be your first priority before anything else gets upgraded. At the end of the day, you can have an expensive bike with flawless shifting, perfect wheels and tires, but if it is uncomfortable to ride, then you will not want to actually use it.

Brakes

Obviously any bike needs a set of brakes to slow it down. Expect rim brakes, or entry level disc brakes if you are lucky. Hydraulic disc brakes have exceptional stopping power but cost a lot more to manufacture, so you will probably end up with rim brakes on a road bike under $500.

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James McKenna

Monday to Friday, James is a freelance writer, translator and subtitler based in Barcelona. He uses his weekends to get out camping, cycling and running around the Catalan countryside. When he has time he goes further afield, having cycled from Krakow to Amsterdam, London to Barcelona and Budapest to Budapest.

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