No matter how hard you train, there comes a time in any sport when you can’t out-train your equipment. Cycling is no different – you can be the best there is, but having the wrong bike will ruin your performance and prevent you from making a podium finish.
Even if you’re an amateur, choosing a quality road bike will make a massive difference in your hobby. Lousy equipment can make you feel like you’re fighting windmills and might even lead to you losing interest in the sport. However, top-of-the-line bikes can add a whole different flair even to a casual approach. Depending on the type, these products provide various riding experiences to divert anyone’s attention. So, regardless of how often you decide to go for a ride, you can pick the right bike for the job.
To that end, there are several aspects you need to look for in a bike. For example, consider its weight, size, geometry, aerodynamics, etc. On top of that, quality road bikes tend to be quite expensive and making the wrong choice will put a significant dent in your wallet. Hence, this only adds to the importance of due diligence on your part. To clear the air, we thoroughly researched the market and compiled a list of our top road bike choices. Should you want to do your research, our article will also set some ground rules for how to choose the best road bike under $2000:
- Savadeck Windwar 5.0 – Best Overall
- Kootu R3000-18S – Runner-up
- Savadeck Phantom 2.0 – Upgrade Pick
- Tommaso Forcella – Best Value
- Diamondback Haanjo 5C – Most Versatile
- Schwinn Phocus – Budget Pick
1. Savadeck Windwar 5.0
The Savadeck Windwar 5.0 is a high-quality road bike featuring a premium carbon fiber frame, fork, and seat post. The exact material in question is unique Toray T800 carbon fiber, which is lightweight and rigid. On the other hand, the wheels and handlebars use a sturdy aluminum alloy construction. As a result, the entire bike weighs only 21.6 lb.
The transmission on the Windwar 5.0 is a 22-speed Shimano 105, which is a high-quality enthusiast-grade groupset. Therefore, expect precise, lightning-fast gear changes when cycling. You won’t have trouble stopping either – this road bike features a pair of robust and reliable WINZIP V-brakes. V-brakes are often used on road bikes because they don’t weigh as much as disc brakes while still being reliable and effective. As such, they’re a common and practical solution.
On the other hand, the Savadeck Windwar 5.0 benefits from a comfortable frame and saddle. The frame’s geometry uses a design that puts the rider in a more upright position, allowing you to use the bike for endurance rides. On a similar note, the Windwar sits on top-of-the-line German Continental tires, which offer excellent all-weather performance, comfort, and a long riding life. Therefore, this is a solid choice even if you partake in more substantial sports excursions.
Considering all of the features of the Savadeck Windwar 5.0, we think it offers good value – it’s not often that you get a carbon fiber road bike at this price range. As far as drawbacks, none are too severe. Even though the bike comes 90% assembled, some users have trouble finishing that last 10%. That’s not surprising since carbon fiber requires experience and a precision toolkit. If you lack either one of those, best leave the job to a professional.
- Carbon fiber frame, fork, and seat post
- Very lightweight
- Comfortable enough for long-distance riding
- Good value
- Some customers report a complicated assembly procedure
2. Kootu R3000-18S
Our runner-up pick, the Kootu R3000-18S, is very similar to the Windwar 5.0 in many aspects. Kootu is a division of Savadeck – it’s their new, higher-end brand. Since the brand was unveiled only recently, there isn’t a large number of reviews yet. However, those that exist suggest that Kootu bikes tend to have a slightly more premium feel, with better fit and finish than usual.
In technical aspects, the Kootu is very similar to its cousin, the Windwar 5.0. They both use Toray T800 carbon fiber for the frame, fork, and seat post, while the handlebars and wheels are aluminum alloy. However, the Kootu benefits from wind tunnel research, resulting in a more aerodynamically designed tubing. That goes mainly for the bike’s frame and seat post.
The Kootu’s drivetrain differs from that of the Windwar as well. Instead of the popular Shimano 105 groupset, the Kootu uses the Sora R3000 system. It’s still Shimano, but it’s a lower-end model, so it’s less refined than the 105. The Kootu comes with a total of 18 speeds, which is a slight downgrade from the Windwar’s 22 speeds. However, the difference is not as big as it seems, especially if you don’t do a lot of hill climbing. Since it’s missing a few gears, the Kootu is also slightly lighter. Yet, the difference is so tiny that it’s hardly noticeable.
As we said, Kootu is a premium bike brand – therefore, the R3000-18S is slightly more expensive than the very similar Savadeck Windwar 5.0.
- Strong carbon fiber skeleton
- Excellent fit and finish
- Very light
- Aerodynamic frame design
- A little expensive
- Lower quality, 18-speed transmission
3. Savadeck Phantom 2.0
The Phantom 2.0 sits at the top of Savadeck’s road bike lineup. It comes with all the bells and whistles, including a carbon fiber frame, fork, seat post, handlebars, and even wheels. You would be hard-pressed to find any metal on this bike, not counting the transmission system. As a result, it’s light as a feather – at an astounding 17.2 lbs, it’s the lightest bike on our list.
Similar to the Warwind, the Phantom 2.0 also uses a Shimano transmission system. However, it’s the brand’s high-end racing model – the Ultegra. The transmission upgrade allows the Phantom 2.0 to offer faster, lighter, smoother, and more precise shifting. The brakes are also part of Shimano’s Ultegra range – they provide all the stopping power you’ll ever need, along with unmatched braking precision and control.
One of the premium features of the Savadeck Phantom 2.0 is its aerodynamic design. The sleek aesthetic of this road bike is not only visually attractive but also functional. Every aspect of the Phantom 2.0 has gone through extensive wind-tunnel research, resulting in a very low aerodynamic drag coefficient. Low drag means that with the Phantom 2.0, you will reach a greater top speed much more quickly and maintain it with less effort.
Another aspect in which the Phantom 2.0 differs from other bikes on this list is its frame geometry. The design of this road bike focuses on speed, and as a result, it features a racing frame geometry. That means that the riding position on the Phantom 2.0 is lower and longer than on bikes designed for endurance riding. Its race-ready frame offers unmatched aerodynamics and handling. However, if you’re into endurance riding, you should know that its lower riding position will probably be less comfortable than the more common upright one.
- Complete carbon fiber construction
- Premium transmission assembly
- Low drag, wind tunnel derived design
- Racing frame geometry
- Not very comfortable
4. Tomasso Forcella
As our value pick, the Tommaso Forcella offers plenty of performance at a surprisingly low price – not to mention classic Italian design. Built around a durable aluminum alloy frame, the Forcella is relatively lightweight and exceptionally resilient. The company is so sure of this; they offer a limited lifetime warranty on the frame and fork. Speaking of the fork – it’s carbon fiber, which means that it’s very light and provides excellent vibration dampening.
The Forcella’s frame comes pre-drilled to accept many different kinds of racks and fenders. A frame ready for fenders and racks is a rarity among road bikes – carbon fiber, while light and strong, doesn’t mix well with drilling and screws. However, the Forcella’s aluminum frame is one such example opening up the opportunity to turn this road bike into a quick commuter. Since this road bike has an endurance-type frame, riding comfort shouldn’t be an issue either.
The Forcella uses a full array of Shimano Claris STI transmission and braking equipment, including the crankshaft, groupset, and shifters. The Claris is the brand’s entry-level groupset, which is not unusual at this price. However, it performs well enough, and with 24 total speeds, it even outclasses more expensive models in that aspect.
Since the Tommaso Forcella uses an aluminum frame, it’s a little heavier than bikes using carbon fiber. However, we can’t blame the manufacturer for using aluminum at this price. It’s a difference of only a couple of pounds, and most riders won’t even notice it. If there’s one real drawback to this road bike, it’s that it requires professional assembly. The procedure is not incredibly complicated, but you’ll have to go to a bike shop if you want your warranty validated.
- Excellent price to performance ratio
- Durable frame and transmission set
- Pre-drilled frame accepts racks and fenders
- Great for commuting
- Not as light as carbon fiber bikes
- Requires professional assembly
5. Diamondback Haanjo 5C
The Diamondback Haanjo 5C is slightly different from the other bikes on this list. Belonging to the hybrid road bike category, the Haanjo 5C offers most of the qualities of a traditional road bike. However, it will also easily do things in which traditional road bikes don’t excel. This is due to its unique build.
The Haanjo 5C features a carbon fiber frame and fork. Both are rigid and very lightweight – no surprises there. However, the wheels and brakes are where things get interesting.
Road bikes usually have skinny tires, which offer low rolling resistance and good aerodynamics. However, they don’t do a very good job once you go off-road. The hybrid nature of the Haanjo 5C means that it comes with fatter, more comfortable tires that have no problem riding on gravel roads. They still offer decent road performance – casual riders will have difficulty telling the difference.
The Haanjo 5C comes with Shimano’s Dura-Ace groupset, with an astounding total of 27 speeds. The Dura-Ace is one of Shimano’s best models, implementing race-derived technology and precision. The number of speeds it provides will make hill climbs much easier.
The Haanjo 5C comes with disc brakes instead of the V-brakes, more commonly found on road bikes. Necessity is part of the reason for choosing disc brakes: V-brakes don’t allow for a lot of clearance, so thin wheels are a must. With discs, on the other hand, you can choose as fat a tire as you want, the fork being your only limit.
While the Haanjo 5C makes a perfect go anywhere, do anything bike, its road performance does take a slight hit. As a result of the fatter tires and disc brakes, the Haanjo 5C suffers from a slightly higher weight, aerodynamic drag, and rolling resistance. However, the upside is that you get a much more versatile bike.
- Very versatile and durable
- Good off-road performance
- Comfortable frame and tires
- Slightly worse road performance
6. Schwinn Phocus
The Schwinn Phocus is a budget road bike with an aluminum alloy construction. While not as light as carbon fiber, aluminum is a very resilient material. As a result, the Phocus’ frame and fork can take a lot of abuse. When you also consider the price, it’s evident that the Schwinn Phocus is a good choice for beginners and casual cyclists alike.
The Phocus features a comfortably designed frame with a more upright riding position – ideal for novice cyclists. Its groupset is Claris, Shimano’s entry-level model. A Shimano groupset is impressive at this price point – it comes with solid alloy trigger shifters and a 24-speed drivetrain. A total of 24 speeds is exceedingly rare in the budget road bike category. Most of the bikes on this list offer a 22 -speed transmission, and each of them costs much more than the Schwinn Phocus.
Despite its many virtues, the Schwinn Phocus is still a budget bike, which means there’s bound to be some cost-cutting. Fortunately, Schwinn hasn’t skimped on the basics – the Phocus has a solid frame, fork, and drivetrain. However, since the Phocus uses an all-aluminum alloy construction, it’s heavier than more expensive road bikes. Granted, this is a beginner’s road bike – only experienced cyclists will be able to tell the difference, and they’ll probably be looking at more expensive bikes anyway.
Another area where the Schwinn Phocus falls short is cable management. While expensive bikes route the brake and shifter cables inside the frame tubes, the Phocus chooses to leave them exposed. Although it can slightly affect aerodynamic drag, that’s a primarily cosmetic flaw, and it’s not a big drawback at all for the price.
- Amazingly low price
- Durable and aluminum construction
- Shimano drivetrain and transmission
- Great for beginners
- Heavier than its more expensive carbon counterparts
- Exposed brake and shifter cables
Buying Guide For The Best Road Bikes Under $2000
There are many different road bikes on the market, each with its own features. Carbon fiber, aluminum alloy, speeds, groupsets – the options are seemingly endless. So, how do you choose what’s right for you? The answer depends on your preference and expectations. In any case, here’s what to keep an eye on:
Consider the Weight
Weight is one of the essential qualities of a road bike – the lighter it is, the faster you’ll be. Manufacturers often use high-tech alloys and even carbon fiber to lighten their bikes’ heavier, more cumbersome parts. The frame and fork are the parts that most often get this treatment.
A lower weight doesn’t just improve speed – it has a positive effect on handling as well. Using lightweight materials for parts such as the seat post and handlebars will give your bike a lower center of gravity. On the other hand, lightening the wheels will transfer into much lower rolling resistance. As a result, you’ll have an easier time even during prolonged sessions.
Set Your Budget
High-tech materials like carbon fiber are solid and light, but they can significantly add to the cost of your bike. That’s why you need to compromise and find a balance between the price of your chosen bike and the performance it provides.
When deciding on price points, the most crucial factor should be your own riding experience. If you’re in the beginner stages of cycling, we doubt you’ll be able to feel a weight difference of a pound or two. Likewise, those few pounds might make the difference between winning and losing for someone at the top of the sport. That’s why you should always strive to choose a bike suitable to your skill levels.
Choose Your Riding Style
As we briefly mentioned in our reviews, road bike frames come with two main geometry options: comfort and racing. A comfort frame geometry offers a more upright, laid-back riding position, perfect for long-distance cycling. On the other hand, racing frames will put you in a lower stance, improving handling and aerodynamics. However, riding comfort will probably take a hit.
If you’re looking to choose the correct frame geometry, you’ll first need to decide what type of riding you’ll do most. Many people are initially drawn to the idea of a racing frame, only to find out later that they can’t ride for very long. That’s why beginners should always go for an endurance-type frame first.
Choose the Right Size
Choosing the correct frame size is a learned skill worthy of its own separate article. However, in simplified terms, frame size depends mostly on your height. A rider of average size would probably want a 56cm frame, but take that with a grain of salt – each manufacturer will offer its recommendations.
Another thing to consider is that frame size directly relates to the riding position. Therefore, if you’d like a racing frame but find it uncomfortable, sizing down will give you a more upright riding position. The opposite is true as well – choosing a larger comfort frame will add a bit of that racing feel.
Ask the Community
Once you’ve narrowed your choice down to a few bikes, it’s always good to ask fellow cyclists what they think of your choice. Hearing other people’s opinions can be very helpful, especially if they have the necessary experience.
The cycling community has an extensive online presence. Therefore, you will probably find a review on whatever bike you have your eye on. That way, you’ll get an idea of its strengths and weaknesses.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How many speeds do I need?
Most of the available road bikes offer 18 to 27 total speeds, with 22 being the most common number. When choosing, the main factor to consider should be your planned routes. If you’re mainly riding flats, an 18-speed transmission should be plenty. If you plan on climbing the occasional hill, you will benefit from a 22-speed bike, allowing for smoother power transfer. 24 and 27-speed bikes will do great work on hill climbs. Remember, however, that more speeds mean more weight – it might not be much, but it can add up.
2. Should I buy a traditional road bike or a hybrid?
Hybrid road bikes offer a bit more versatility in riding terrain. Therefore, if you find yourself often riding on gravel roads, know that a hybrid road bike will do a much better job. A hybrid’s thicker tires will also climb curbs with ease. However, there is a downside – a hybrid bike won’t perform as well as a traditional road bike on smooth tarmac roads.
If you’re serious about cycling as a sport – a traditional road bike is what you need. However, if you’d like to add commuting, a more versatile hybrid bike would probably be best.
3. What’s the deal with carbon fiber?
Carbon fiber is a highly advanced, strong, and lightweight material, making it perfect for use on a road bike. Liberal use of it in bike building allows manufacturers to save weight and lower the center of gravity of their bikes, improving handling.
However, carbon fiber has two significant drawbacks: it’s pretty expensive and tends to be brittle. As a result, you should take great care when making adjustments on your bike – you’ll need to tighten each screw to a precise torque rating. Otherwise, you risk cracking your precious frame and rendering it useless.
4. What is a groupset?
A groupset is a set of parts whose job is to move and stop the wheels of your bike. On modern bikes, the drivetrain and the brakes are interconnected. As a result, you use the same levers to brake and shift gears.
The groupset is a vital and expensive part of a road bike. It’s responsible for providing quick, smooth gearshifts and precise braking, so you shouldn’t try to cut costs on it. Since the groupset is an essential aspect of any road bike, we ensured that all the bikes on our list use high-quality Shimano gear.
5. Should I go for V-brakes or discs?
Disc brakes are unnecessary with road bikes – many top models don’t use them. V-brakes will provide more than enough stopping power, and they tend to be lighter as well.
The advantage of disc brakes is that they offer more consistent performance. V-brakes can suffer a performance hit if your rims get wet or muddy, whereas discs don’t have that problem. However, dirty rims are not a common issue with road cycling – it’s more of a mountain bike thing. Therefore, you shouldn’t view V-brakes as a drawback.
The Finish Line
The current road bike market offers a wide variety of choices. However, while having freedom of choice is excellent, it might make your decision difficult. The $2000 category is exciting since it’s the entry point for high-performance, full carbon fiber bikes.
Choosing the best road bikes under $2000 is not an easy task. It requires that you carefully consider your riding style, preferred routes, budget, etc. Our list has a little bit of everything: carbon fiber, wind-tunnel racers, comfortable commuters, and versatile all-rounders.
Before combing through the options, determine what you’re looking for. For example, whether you value comfort, speed, or endurance. Also, consider the weight of the bike since it is the first thing that might feel strange as soon as you try it out. Keeping a clear vision in mind will allow you to conduct a quick elimination process. At the same time, consider our advice when it comes to choosing the best road bikes under $2000.