Choosing a new road bike can be tricky – but it’s worth investing some time in the decision. After all, the bike you eventually wheel away will hopefully be your faithful companion for years to come.
When you’re spending between £1,500 and £2,000 you can expect to pick up a quality, lightweight frame with components that will last the test of time - usually Shimano 105 or similar at the lower end and Shimano Ultegra or similar at the top end.
A 105 set is often seen as functional and effective - it will be sharp and crisp to shift, with firm, reliable braking. The jump to Ultegra just sees a drop in weight and slightly quicker responses and that does make a difference - it's often said that Ultegra and top end Dura Ace are very close in performance despite the major price hike.
You won’t be getting the added extras of a model over £2k, but by now much of the technology on these bikes has trickled down to less expensive models and you’ll often get an identical frame.
At this popular price point, there’s a wide range of options to choose from – each with merits that lend themselves to individual needs – sportive riders will probably put comfort first, whilst those planning to ride in all weathers could want disc brakes and a rider with racing in mind will want a more aggressive cockpit.
Here’s a round up of some of the best models in the price range. We've focused on female specific bikes, because we value the brands making an effort to spec bikes with components women won't need to change on purchase. However, do remember that not everyone needs a women's bike and some brands (HOY and Storck for example) will change the handlebars and saddle for you free of charge - so don't let the 'WSD' logo limit your search if these aren't for you!
Felt ZW5 Womens 2016 Road Bike - £1,450
It's not often we add in a bike that's just UNDER budget - but this Felt features a performance carbon frame that's been built around a women's specific geometry, as well as a Shimano 105 groupset which will provide shifting and braking you can rely upon.
Felt's 'Fit Woman' range focuses on keeping weight down so smaller women don't pay a penalty for their lower weight - you can see this in touches such as the SuperLite stem and handlebars. They've also used their own 'Felt Fit Woman' wheels - but we've yet to test these to discover what's female specific about them!
A bit of an all rounder, this isn't a race focused model or an all-day adventure sportiver specifically - though the compact chainset and 11-32 cassette means you've got a wide range of gears to choose from which could be handy if you're planning alpine adventures.
Liv Envie Advance 1 2016 Women's Road Bike - £1,599.99
With this Envie, Liv are giving their customers A LOT of bike for their money. For starters, there's the carbon aero frame which is designed to shave seconds off - and though you'd probably not notice that on a club run or when riding in a pack, you would hope to see a speed increase over a solo effort such as a time trial.
You also get a Shimano Ultegra groupset - more than a lot of brands offer at £1.5k. The only exception is the brakes and chain - the brakes are in fact Giant's own SpeedControl technology.
The rims are also Giant's aero variety - they might want upgrading over time, though they'll certainly be up to scratch for most riders, and the female specific contact points are in-house designs as well. Liv can swap the saddle for one with a Forward or Backward pressure relief channel, depending upon how you sit.
Trek Silque S 2016 Women's Road Bike - £1,700
The Silque is a smooth operator for those who want to a magic-carpet of a bike to make Britain's roads feel a little bit more forgiving. Using their 'IsoSpeed' decoupler, Trek have isolated the seat tube from the rear end of the bike to try reduce the fatiguing effects of bumpy roads and we could feel the difference last time we reviewed one.
Aside from this stand out merit, the carbon frame is also extremely lightweight and built from the ground up for women - Trek have invested a great deal of money and research into their approach to women's specific design.
At this price point, the groupset is all Shimano 105 and along with a compact chainset you also get an 11-32 cassette which offers extra gears to help you up the hills.
Scott Contessa Solace 25 Womens 2016 - Road Bike - £1,799
A bike designed with club runs, sportives, and all day adventures in mind - the Solace is all about comfort and that is clear in the relaxed, slightly more upright geometry.
Scott have also carefully engineered the carbon frame to provide power and stiffness around the head tube, down tube and bottom bracket, thanks to chunky materials which can absorb force without flexing. However, they've concentrated more on comfort at the rear end where road bumps are often transmitted - by connecting the seat stays at the side of the top tube, as opposed to at the seat tube where they can be easily transmitted to the rider's rear and and lower back.
The groupset is all Shimano 105 and entry level but reliable Shimano RS11 wheels are shod with super reliable winter ready Schwalbe Durano tyres.
Specialized Dolce Comp Evo 2016 Women's Adventure Road Bike - £1,800
Looking for the antithesis to out and out racer? Here it is! This is the only bike in our round up with an aluminium frame but that's because it's designed to endure quite a bit of bashing around.
When 'adventure road' bikes first came out the whole genre was epitomised by 'nothing and everything' statements about unexplored roads and searching for meaning on a bike. At the end of the day, an adventure road bike is a machine that is fit for all day, or multi-day, adventures on pretty much any terrain save for super technical mountain bike sections where you may need to push.
The Dolce Evo is a real favourite of ours. The Dolce has long been an aluminum endurance road platform for women, and in this model it's been tweaked to ensure the handling is precise for controlled for the trickier off-road sections.
Zertz inserts in the carbon fork help to absorb the bumps along the way an wide 30/32 Roubaix Pro tyres will also do their bit as well as featuring extra puncture protection.
The Shimano 105 groupset is complemented by Shimano hydraulic brakes which will be effective and long lasting, though do need maintenance every so often. A super compact 48/32 chainset is bolstered by extra gears on the 11-32 cassette, which will no doubt be welcome on sudden steep off-road climbs, and Specialized have added a saddle with it's own rear fixed bottle cage for storing drinks or tools.
Fuji Supreme 2.1 2016 Womens Road Bike - £1,849 here
If you're feeling thrifty you could save £300 and drop down to the 2.3 model, which comes equipped with Shimano 105 - but for your extra cash you will find the Ultegra groupset on the 2.1 sharper and more immediate. That, and the colour scheme on this version is (in our personal opinion) absolutely stunning. Stealth but feminine - Fuji have totally hit the nail on the head.
Designed to be a racing machine, the Supreme is still incredibly comfortable to ride, as we discovered when we tried out the 2015 model. The frame features the brand's signature 'RIB' tech - which effectively means extra slithers of carbon are laced throughout to add stiffness without the weight of extra tubing materials.
The bottom bracket is pretty chunky - promising excellent transfer of your efforts, and you also get internal cable routing and an aero seatpost. The finishing kit is all from Fuji's sister brand, Oval - with a fairly squishy female specific saddle and very comfy padded suede bar tape.
Cube Axial WLS C:62 SL Womens 2016 - Road Bike - £1,999
Yes, it's right at the top of the price bracket - but someone has to be at the top, right?!
This bike has been built with disc brakes in mind and the Shimano hydraulic system promises you fast stopping in any conditions you choose to ride in whilst quick release axles mean you don't lose any ride quality.
The full-carbon frame features oversized tubes and a mega stiff bottom bracket, which culminate to give the rider the feeling of explosive power whilst the slim seat stays offer a little flex on rough roads.
The groupset is an all Ultegra affair, and we're particularly impressed with the DT Spline R32 wheelset and the best-of-the-best Schwalbe Racing One Kevlar Tyres - though these are summer rubber so probably not as hardy as your winter ready brakes!
We hope there's something in there you like. If you want to spend more (or just enjoy looking at pretty things) check out our £2k+ round up, and stay tuned for the sub £1.5k options coming soon.