Carbon. This much-coveted wonder material makes up pencil leads, diamonds and something we’re all much more interested in: bicycles. Immensely strong, incredibly lightweight and stiff. It’s the ideal material to build bikes from, and with engineering technology coming on in leaps and bounds, what was once the sole preserve of the pro peloton is increasingly available to us mere mortals. If you want to shave grams off your bike weight, a carbon frame is one of the places you can make the biggest saving.
Cycle manufacturers carbon technology means they can adapt the way carbon fibres are layered and woven to alter stiffness, compliance and shape to produce bikes suited for sportives, time trialing or endurance.
Not all carbon is created equal however, and carbon frames at the lower end of the price range are likely to be made from lower grade carbon fibres than the 10k wonder machines you have to remortgage your house to purchase.
And of course the bike frame is just part of the equation. Without quality wheels, gears, brakes and finishing kit, although you have a lightweight and strong frame, you may be looking to upgrade parts sooner rather than later.
So we’ve done the legwork and found 5 bikes that give the best value for money if you’re on the lookout for a sleek, light, speedy and downright stunning road bike.