Road bikes are designed for speed and distance, and for - yep you guessed it - riding on roads.
These bikes differ from chunky mountain bikes or fanciful city bikes due to their drop handlebars, lightweight frames, and super thin wheels.
The frame of a road bike is usually constructed from aluminum or carbon, and occasionally, steel or titanium, but these are usually used in more niche models.
Unlike other bike types, the road bike has stayed true to its traditional frame shape and aerodynamic design and hasn’t changed too much in time.
However, the most advanced modern road bikes may feature super-light carbon fiber frames, electronic 24-speed drivetrains, and more ergonomic designs.
However, you don’t need to miss out on a road bike just because you don’t have a couple of thousand dollars to spend on one.
There are plenty of affordable - but still perfectly decent - road bikes available on the online market, and we’re going to take you through the top models available for under 500 dollars.
What kind of bike will 500 bucks get you?
500 bucks can certainly get you a road bike, but bear in mind that this will be an entry-level model and the biggest compromises made are likely to be in the groupset (such as the gears) as well as the finishing kit, including elements such as the handlebars and saddle, meaning cheaper bikes are likely to be less ergonomic.
Bikes at the lower end of the range are likely to be crafted from aluminum, and this is slightly heavier than those high-performance carbon fiber bikes we mentioned above. No need to despair though, as aluminum is more durable than carbon fiber, which doesn’t endure knocks too easily.
A beginner road biker is also less likely to notice the difference between a cheaper aluminum frame and a more expensive carbon one. As you advance in cycling, you’ll also develop that “feel” for a quality, performance-enhancing bike.
Cheaper bikes probably aren’t going to be aerodynamically contoured, as they’re unlikely to have been tested in a wind tunnel to enhance their handling and responsiveness.
They’re also generally going to be constructed from cheaper materials, as is the case with most items that are purchased at a lower price point.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t get a good amount of bang for your buck - as bike technology evolves and the cost of such materials drops, we’ll start to see more and more advanced features creep into the lower end of the market - such as carbon fiber forks, disc brakes, and ergonomic features.
So, keen to see what’s on offer? Keep reading to find our top picks…
OUR TOP PICK
If you like to look the part - as well as feel the part - when you’re riding, this is a bike that looks highly professional considering the price.
That’s not all though, as it has a range of features which make it good value for money, including a 21-speed shifting system and dual disc brakes - which are less common in road bikes under $500.
The professional look of this bike is owed to its 3-spoke wheels, which provide an aerodynamic advantage for riders, meaning you can go faster and further.
The steel frame may be a little heavier, but it’s also more durable than aluminum or carbon frames, which is perhaps a blessing in disguise.
This bike comes 85% assembled so you only need to install front wheels, pedals, handlebars, and the seat. It has an ergonomic seat and handlebar design for maximum comfort when riding longer distances.
This isn’t much of an everyday commuter’s road bike, but it’s great for those just entering road cycling with the view to building up more speed and distance in the future.
Aerodynamic, 3-spoke wheels to increase speed
21-speed shifting system
Steel frame for durability
Racing style - looks great
Dual disc brakes
Ergonomic seat and handlebar design
Quite heavy due to the steel frame
This entry-level road bike is one of the most highly rated on Amazon, thanks to its lightweight 6061 Aluminum frame which not only makes handling and responsiveness effortless, but it also has a sleek, professional-looking design.
Featuring A050 Shimano thumb shifters for smooth, convenient gear-shifting through the 21 speeds and a 700c Doubled-Walled CNC machined wheelset with quick-release skewers for easy removal, the components of this bike are surprisingly smooth for the price, and won’t disappoint.
Whether you’re looking for a bike for daily commuting, or regular exercise and general leisure, this bike has everything you need to get to grips with road cycling, including mounting points for a water bottle cage and free pedals, and comes partially-assembled to get you on the road as quickly as possible.
6061 aluminum frame
21-speed drivetrain to handle various situations
Shimano A050 Thumb Shifters
700c Doubled Walled wheelset with Quick Release Skewers
A sleek, lightweight frame
Drop handlebars 4
Expect to replace the tires with something more durable
The Vilano Diverse Hybrid road bike offers the perfect combination between speed and responsiveness thanks to the hydroformed alloy aluminum frame and fork which makes it an ideal bike for both weekday commutes and more relaxed weekend bike rides, as well as faster or longer rides, too.
This bike is particularly good value for money considering it comes with disc brakes for excellent stopping power in a multitude of weather conditions.
This hybrid bike offers the thin tires of a road bike so you can achieve speed and distance, combined with the ergonomic, upright handlebars for a more comfortable ride, perfect if you feel you’re not quite ready for drop handlebars.
This bike is 24-speed with Shimano gear shifters for swift, smooth shifting in a range of situations.
You also get free pedals with your purchase, and overall you’re getting plenty of bang for your buck with this bike.
Hydroformed alloy performance hybrid frame and fork
Disc-brakes for quick stopping
Hybrid model, so you get the speed of a road bike but with upright handlebars
Ergonomic design for comfortable positioning (less strain on the back)
24-speed with Shimano gear shifters
The seat isn’t the most comfortable
This road bike from Goplus is sturdy yet surprisingly lightweight thanks to the strong, aluminum frame which provides stability and power transfer for speedy, efficient cycling.
The anti-slip, wear-resistant 700C tires can handle a range of road conditions with ease and are light and durable. The quick-release mechanism on the front wheel allows easy installation and removal in a matter of seconds.
21-speed Shimano gears allow you to tackle hills with ease, while the left and right thumb shifters are a great touch, as these allow you to easily change gears with minimal effort.
The rear V brakes are efficient and there’s the bonus of a kickstand which saves you investing in one yourself.
The overall design of this bike is sleek and impressive, with a contrasting blue and white color scheme.
Sturdy aluminum frame
21-speed Shimano gears
Anti-slip 700C tires
Thumb shifters for easy gear changing
The fork is aluminum so less flex and resilience than steel/carbon forks
The Tempo road bike from Trinx weighs just 25 pounds thanks to its aluminum alloy frame, meaning it’s pretty lightweight considering the low cost.
It’s installed with Shimano 21 Speed gears and Shimano SL-A050 shifters for smooth shifting when tackling peaks and troughs.
The steel fork absorbs shock and vibrations well, while the aerodynamic drop handlebars and sport geometry saddle provide ergonomic positioning so you can reach peak speed.
This bike generally holds up well on endurance rides, and the bold color scheme certainly sets it apart from the crowd.
700C*(53cm or 56cm) Hydroformed AI6061 Aluminium Alloy Frame
Trinx Hi-Ten Steel Fork
Shimano 21-speed gears
Alloy double-wall rim tires
Winzip Alloy breaks
Bold color scheme
Trinx customer service isn’t the best
This Giordano Aversa women’s road bike combines quality and affordability thanks to the 6061 aluminum frame and high tensile steel fork for lightness, maneuverability, and durability.
The Shimano 14-speed drivetrain shifts smoothly thanks to the stem shifters, while the alloy dual-pivot brakes provide powerful breaking even at short notice.
This bike is lightweight yet sturdy and features classic racing handles for a sleek design.
It’s a good entry-level road bike without compromising on quality - you get plenty of bang for your buck, and, thanks to the cornflower blue finish, this bike looks as good as it rides.
Lightweight 6061 Aluminum Frame
High tensile steel fork
Alloy Dual Pivot Brakes
Alloy double-wall rims
Sleek, yet sturdy, design
The seat isn’t the most comfortable, and some people preferred to replace the seat and handlebars.
This Takara Oni road bike is built for simplicity and practicality.
Sure, it’s not going to be any good for racing or endurance rides over uneven roads, but this single-speed bike is ideal for everyday riding around the city or your daily commute.
The strong tag-welded steel frame is highly durable and can withstand the rough and tumble of urban life, while the steel fork provides responsiveness and flex, as well as strength.
The front and rear alloy side pull brakes provide efficient braking, while the flip-flop rear hub enables you to ride fixed gear or with a freewheel, depending on your preference.
The Oni Fixie also features bolt-on hubs for safety and theft deterrence, making it ideal for city-dwellers.
Strong steel frame
Steel fork for responsiveness
Front and rear alloy brakes
Flip-flop rear hub
Ideal for commuters or casual riding
Steel frame means this bike is slightly heavy (34.2 pounds)
With 21-speed Shimano Tourney-series derailleurs and shifter system, this Loocho road bike is equipped to provide smooth, intuitive shifting to tackle a range of road conditions.
The mechanical dual disc brakes give you fast stopping power in year-round ride conditions, whilst the precision-welded frame has a solid feel and an aerodynamic design in a matte finish.
This bike comes 90% assembled, minimizing the assembly time so you only need to install the front wheel, handlebar, pedals, and seat, which should only take around 15-30 minutes, meaning you’ll be on the road in no time at all.
Considering the price, you get plenty of bang for your buck with this bike: sleek frame geometry, disc brakes, and smooth gear-shifting.
21-speed Shimano gears
Mechanical dual disc brakes
A lightweight frame with aerodynamic geometry
Responsive steering and braking
The steel frame is slightly heavy
This professional-looking road bike not only looks the part but feels the part too thanks to its ergonomic handlebars which reduce resistance and the anti-slip tires for smooth riding even on rough surfaces.
The light and strong alloy rim tires allow you to achieve maximum speeds, while the unique Outroad design on the rims set this bike apart from others on the market.
The aluminum frame makes for agile, aerodynamic riding, while the 21-speed grip shifter allows you to tackle a multitude of riding situations with ease.
The steel fork provides a great degree of flexibility and durability, allowing you to endure distance rides with maximum comfort.
Steel fork for flex and agility
21-speed grip shifter
Lightweight alloy-rim tires with anti-slip design
Sleek, professional-looking design
The frame is a little on the heavy/bulky side
This road bike from Hiland has a lightweight, aluminum alloy frame and fork, providing responsive steering that is perfect for every day riding.
It has a double Caliper braking system and Shimano 14-speed drivetrain for control and smoothness at all times and left and right thumb switch gear levers for effortless switching.
This bike has a sleek, racer-style geometry for improved speed and appearance, and the thin, 700C wheels provide a good grip on the road and allow you to achieve speed and distance without compromise.
Lightweight aluminum frame
700C aluminum double-walled rims
Sleek racer geometry
Doesn’t come with clear instructions
Gear shift levers not pre-installed
Purchasing a road bike for under $500 is straightforward enough, and there are plenty of opportunities out there to get a lot of bang for your buck.
You’ve probably noticed by this point that there are a few compromises to be made along the way.
It’s pretty impossible to find that golden road bike with a lightweight aerodynamic frame, ergonomic seat and handlebars, steel or carbon fork, and disc brakes for under $500 - and if you do, you’re seriously lucky.
That said if you’re looking to purchase a low-end bike we’re guessing that you’re either just taking up road cycling, or you want a simple bike that will get you from A to B or suffice for casual weekend bike rides.
The good news is that most of the low-end bikes look far more expensive than they actually are. The compromise is going to come in terms of the quality of the parts.
The brakes, drivetrain, fork and frame are generally going to be less durable than the more expensive models, whilst the seating and handlebars may not be as ergonomically designed, either.
This shouldn’t be too much of a problem if you’re just easing into the world of road cycling, especially if you’re not going to be spending more than a couple of hours on the bike at any one time.
$500 is likely to get you an attractive, aerodynamic aluminum frame bike, with a steel or aluminum fork for responsiveness and flex, and a Shimano drive chain.
Some models will have extras such as thumb shifters for convenient gear switching and a kickstand for easy parking, and most will at least have 700C aluminum double-walled rims, lightweight, anti-slip tires, and caliper brakes - or if you’re lucky - disc brakes.
If you’re thinking you’d like a bike that can endure longer distances and is made of more durable materials, it’s worth considering investing that little bit extra into a higher quality road bike.
For beginners and amateurs though, there’s plenty of bikes out there which will offer plenty of bang for your buck and get you geared up for some serious road riding.