I have always been one to save a penny where I can; if I can find something for cheaper, without compromising quality, I will definitely go for it. I am particularly keen on this philosophy when it comes to bikes, and that’s why I decided to write something about the best beginner road bike under 500.
Here are our top 5 picks for best beginner road bikes under $500:-
- Vilano Shadow 3.0 Road Bike (Best Pick at 4.4/5 rating)
- Trinx TEMPO 1.0 700C Road Bike
- Giordano Libero Aluminum Road Bike
- Schwinn Phocus 1400 and 1600 (Men and Women) (Best Schwinn Road Bike)
- Pure Fix Original Fixed Gear Single Speed Fixie (Best Fixed gear Bike)
Comparison Table – Best Road Bikes under 500 for Beginners
My parents weren’t exactly wealthy, and many of the bikes my parents bought me when I was younger were second hand, or on sale. The one thing they were careful to do was to make sure that each was a solid, reliable bicycle.
As I grew older and started to make my own money I would use the same rules they did for buying bicycles: try to find something cheaper, a good brand that is long-lasting and that will not need many repairs during its lifetime.
Why Road Bikes?
A road bike is designed to be used on smooth (think paved) roads (read our guide on types of bicycles). Needless to say, road bikes are the most common type of bikes because they are practical, simple and easy to use.
Road bikes are designed to allow riders to achieve high speeds with little effort. They are usually lightweight, they don’t have a front or rear suspension, most have drop handlebars and a good number of them have a front for made of carbon fiber. They have skinny, light tires.
Road bikes are recommended for commutes to work or school, for easy rides around the neighborhood, and for short to medium daily commutes. If you are surrounded by rough terrain a road bike is not the answer; you will do much better with a hybrid bike or a mountain bike.
Top 5 Best Beginner Road Bikes Under $500 Reviews
1. Vilano Shadow 3.0 Road Bike (Best Pick)
This has been described as “probably the best value for bikes less than 500”. Even seasoned bike enthusiasts will tell you that it’s one of the best bikes they’ve ever owned. It is a good entry-level bike, but it can also be used by experienced riders who are looking for an affordable cycle that they can ride on commutes. By far, Vilano Shadow 3.0 Road Bike is the best beginner road bike under 500
One of the best things about the Vilano Shadow is the fact that it can go for more than 80 miles each day without breaking down and giving you any problems. The bike is quite sturdily built and a looker.
The bike is easy to put together, and many people are able to do minor repairs and maintenance by themselves without any issues. However, like I always say, if you are not gifted in DIY, it’s best to take your bike to a local bike expert for assembly.
- 6061 Double Butted Aluminum Aero lightweight frame with integrated headset
- Shimano STI shifters and brake levers
- Shimano front derailleur
- Shimano tourney rear derailleur
- Dual pivot alloy caliper brakes
- 14 speeds
- 700c Doubled Walled CNC alloy wheels
- Narrow rims offer great performance
What to like?
- Comfortable riding stance
- Efficient caliper brakes good for your safety
- Very durable and lightweight design
- Easy to assemble with clear instructions
- Comes with Shimano shifters
- Includes free pedals
What’s not to like?
The seat on this bike is a little hard, so some users who plan to cycle for long periods at a time swap it out for a softer seat. The wrapping on the handlebars also comes off with continued use.
However, these cons shouldn’t discourage you from getting the Vilano Shadow; it’s still one of the best entry-level road bikes under 500.
This bike is also designed in Italy, and it offers great value for the price. It looks great, and you can ride it every day without the need for many repairs. It is very light and made for long distances.
Some owners replace the seat and pedals, but other than that they are very happy with the value they get from the Trinx TEMPO.
I recommend this bike for beginners because it is lightweight and it has an excellent set of brakes. Putting it together isn’t very hard, and you can install upgrades to make it more comfortable.
- Hydroformed AI6061 Aluminium Alloy Frame
- Shimano 21 speed
- Trinx Hi-Ten Steel Fork
- Lightweight at only 25 lbs.
- Shimano A050 shifter, TZ31 Front and TZ50 Rear Derailleur and cassette
- WinZip Alloy brakes
- Trinx 430mm Hi-Ten Steel Road handlebar
- Trinx Alloy Double Wall rims
What to like
- The Shimano A050 shifter enables smooth shifting.
- Winzip Alloy brakes help comfortable hard stop.
- It is a lightweight road bike
- Perfect for a long-distance ride.
What’s not to like?
Anyone who’s owned the Trinx Tempo 1.0 will tell you that it has a lot going for it. The only problem with it might be that it doesn’t come with a more comfortable saddle, but that can be replaced.
Italians have some of the best bikes in the world – Pinatrello Dogma, Olympia Boost Disc, 3T Strada, Bianchi Specialissima, Colnago – to name a few, and the Giordano Libero fits easily with this lot. It is crafted with high-quality parts and workmanship and is safe and comfortable for all who ride it.
People who have the Giordano Libero love it for many reasons: its quality, affordability, lightness, looks, the fact that it can ride for long distances and more.
I chose this bike as one of the best entry-level road bikes for under 500 because I am yet to come across an owner who isn’t happy with it. Looking online, you will find that most people who own it give it a five-star review and even those who complain are only unhappy about minor things like assembly.
This bike is great if you are a frequent commuter, a weekend enthusiast or plan to become a competitive cyclist.
- Lightweight aluminum frame
- 16-speed Shimano Claris STI Shifters and Rear Derailleur
- Aluminum road 50-34 compact crank for easy climbing
- Comes in men’s medium, small and large
- Vitesse Alloy High V-Profile black rims
- Vitesse Alloy High V-Profile black tires
- Velo Road Steel saddle rails
- VP Plastic Body with Alloy Cage pedals
- Seatpost has a clamp alloy back
What’s not to like?
The only problem with this bike is that it has fewer gear options than some may like, but if you are a beginner they are more than sufficient. Some people feel that the saddle could be better and I can understand that, especially if they plan to use their Giordano Libero for long periods at a time.
4.Schwinn Phocus 1400 and 1600 Drop Bar Road Bicycles for Men and Women(Currently slightly above $500)
I am partial to Schwinn road bikes for beginners and have owned many of them over the years (for an in-depth review read Best Schwinn Road Bike Reviews). Schwinn Phocus 1600 is one of my favorites, and it’s a bike that’s loved for many reasons.
It offers great value for money, it’s made of durable materials that last a long time, it’s comfortable for commuter rides and it can go for long distances without the need for repairs. Putting the bike together is quick for cyclists familiar with bike assembly, and you can adjust the seat for a more comfortable ride.
The bike itself looks great and has a great finish and it can carry more than 250 lbs. with ease. It is a great bike for daily commutes and weekend rides for beginners and seasoned users alike.
- Aluminum road frame with Carbon fiber road fork
- Shimano Claris 16 speed derailleur with Micro shift integrated shift and brake lever
- Lightweight double-wall rims with paired spokes
- Front Quick Release
- Promax alloy dual pivot caliper road brakes
- Alloy crank with a wide gear range
- Different sizes to cater to both men and women
- Quick-release saddle for easy adjustment
What’s not to like?
There isn’t much that’s not to like about the Schwinn Phocus 1400 and 1600. The most frequent complaint is that it doesn’t come fully assembled, but all bikes that you buy online will require some assembly. If you aren’t sure you can do it properly pay a few bucks and have an expert do it for you.
This is an excellent bike for short and medium commutes. It works well for those who want to build leg strength as it’s a single-speed bike. It is made of high-quality parts that last a long time and is quite comfortable to ride.
The bike comes 90% assembled, so putting it together takes a short time – just install the seat, handlebars and pedals. Although it’s a single-speed bike, it can go quite fast which makes it perfect for beginners and seasoned cyclists.
The bike’s design is simple but beautiful and for the price range of less than $500, the Pure Fix Original delivers lots of value.
- Durable, fully Tig-welded high tensile steel frame and fork
- Front alloy dual-pivot brakes for quick stopping
- Flexible flip-flop rear hub
- Comes in many different colors
- Riding freewheel to coast and cruise paved roads
- Lifetime manufacturer warranty on frame and one-year warranty on parts
- Lightweight; weighs between 22 and 25 pounds
- Easy customizable to suit your size and style
What’s not to like?
There isn’t much that’s not to like about this bike. Some people complain about assembly, but always remember if you buy a bicycle online you have to do some assembly. The only serious flaw with this bike is that it doesn’t come with a rack, but that’s an addition that you can make yourself.
If you are into electric bikes check out Best Electric Bikes under 500
Best Entry Level Road Bikes Under 500 – Women
Most of the bikes that I’ve talked about so far are designed for men (and can be used by women), but there are some excellent entry-level road bikes that fit the category of best women’s road bike under 500. They include:
Types of Road Bikes
Now that you have an idea of the best entry level road bikes under 500, I would like to very quickly like to mention the different types of road bikes to help you make an informed buying decision.
- Race – As the name suggests, these are for racing. They have a very light design and quality braking systems. They are not recommended for beginners.
- Sportive – These are a little bigger than race bikes, and are designed for endurance racing. They are therefore more comfortable, and you can ride them for longer without tiring. If you have a long commute every day a sportive road bike is a good idea.
- Time Trial – These are bikes for seasoned cyclists who race often. They are race bikes that are designed with less wind resistance and high speeds. As the name suggests, they are bikes for seasoned racers who want to beat time records.
- Aero – Think of these as time trial bikes but without all the extras. They are great if you would like an aerodynamic bike that has moderate to high speeds they are a good place to start.
- Commuter – Most road bikes fall under this category. Commuter road bikes are designed to allow you to get around easily on paved roads. They are more about comfort and balance than aerodynamics and speed. They tend to have sturdy wheels, mud flaps and many brands will have a rack.
- Touring road bikes – As you become a better rider you may want to cycle for longer, and touring road bikes are the answer. They are designed for comfort and you can ride them for days at a time without tiring yourself out. These bikes aren’t built for speed and most of them have a sizeable rack.
Buyers Guide -Best Road Bikes under 500 Dollars
When looking at best road bikes under 500, you should take care to choose the best. There are many bikes within that price range that aren’t nearly as good as the ones I’ve talked about here. Here are some things to keep in mind as you choose the best entry level road bike under 500:
- Look at the specs of the frame. It should be lightweight (between 20 and 30 lbs.) but durable. The best road bikes in this range have a frame made of aluminum, carbon, steel or titanium (titanium and carbon frame bikes will cost more than $500). Some bicycles are made of alloys.
- Think about the fork; a road bike will have its fork-mounted at a steep angle and it doesn’t have a suspension. The best bikes have forks that are made of a strong material like steel or carbon or an alloy of metals.
- Road bikes have thin rims and tires, so special care needs to be taken. Choose a brand that has the right tires for faster speeds and reduced friction. Most road bikes that cost less than $500 have 26 – 29-inch tires with 23mm to 28 mm rims.
- Brakes are most important especially if you are a beginner; you want to have a bike that has the ability to stop even in the steepest of inclines. Brakes on road bikes are mechanical but read the specs carefully to make sure that you’re getting a bike that you can maneuver easily.
- Handlebars go a long way to determining how comfortable a bike is. If they are too low you will have to bend over to ride which can be very tiring. The best road bikes have drop handlebars that allow you to ride in an upright position.
- Saddles are a topic of contention for bikes in the under $500 range. They tend to be rather hard and don’t make for a comfortable ride if you plan to do many miles every day. The good thing is, you can replace the saddle of your bike to make it softer, wider and more comfortable.
- Wheels matter too. If you don’t like the wheels that your road bike comes with you can have them replaced but make sure that you choose the right type and size.
- Size is very important; if you buy a bike that’s too big or too small you will not be able to use it. Read my post on finding the right bike size and I’ve also discussed Women’s Bike Size Chart. Read these posts to ensure that you get a bike that will fit you perfectly.
Cycling is a great way to commute; it keeps you fit and healthy, it’s cheap, you get to enjoy the outdoors and it’s a great option for the environment. You don’t have to break the bank to get a bike of superb quality.
The best road bikes under 500 may not sound like an appealing proposition, but there are excellent ones out there. If you pick any of the ones that I have mentioned in this post you will not go wrong.