The Best Road Bikes to Come in 2015
Bike brands generally begin introducing their next year's creations in the autumn, and 2015 models are now making their way to stores, ready to be snapped up by owners after a new best friend on wheels.
Michelle Arthurs-Brennan of Ride. Write. Repeat. has gathered the very best entry-level road bikes, disc-braked road bikes for long endurance miles, Cyclocross and Adventure Road bikes for muddy days, plus road race and triathlon or time trial geared models for 2015 for your perusal - enjoy!
Road Bike on a Budget
If road cycling is a new venture for you, we understand you're not likely to want to max out your overdraft for what could be a fleeting romance. In that case, the Pendleton Initial could be ideal.
The Initial, brainchild of the double Olympic track champion Victoria Pendleton, is currently on sale at Halfords for £249.99. The alloy model is clearly a road bike through and through, making it unique to the Pendleton family that primarily consists of hybrids and leisure bikes.
A sleek design with world champ stripes, which are sure to spark a little inspiration, the Pendleton Initial is only available in a 43" and 46" sized frame, which does exclude women over around 5' 7".
A chromoly fork, with 700c wheels and female specific road bike geometry, supports the Initial’s alloy frame. With Tektro brakes, and weighing in at 11.5kg, this isn't a high-end ride, but it is a perfect introduction.
The Initial has a compact chainset and 8 gears on the cassette, giving plenty of room to shift into a climbing gear, and brake and gear levers are combined for simple shifting.
If the Initial isn't up your street, another option is the Trek Lexa range.
Trek have carried out a great deal of research into women's specific frame builds, and the Lexa benefits from their knowledge, at a more affordable price point than the higher end models.
All the Lexa frames are alloy, but come with a carbon fork, which will dampen out road vibrations and lower the weight of the bike, compared to the Pendleton offering.
The Lexa starts at £575, for Claris groupset (in a beautiful ‘Aloe Green’ colour), and goes to £1,100 if you're after 11-speed gearing and a 105 drivetrain, with two models sandwiched in the middle to choose from.
Disc Brake Road Bikes
The common format in bike technology is that new kit appears in the pro peloton, before making its way on to super expensive bikes, then trickling down to the mass market. Not so with disc brakes.
Disc brakes have been banned by the UCI in pro racing over various fears, including concern over varying braking speeds in the peloton. For the average commuter or weekend warrior, who isn't likely to race alpine descents en masse, disc brakes are a valuable asset.
Disc brakes offer fast stopping that is not affected by wet weather, and the lack of rim braking cuts down wear, allowing for lighter rims – they’re perfect for all weather British riders after long miles in any conditions.
Disc brakes are appearing most commonly on road bikes with 'endurance geometry' - those that place the rider in a slightly more upright position, often with skinnier seat tubes and chainstays to decrease the transmission of road bumps and vibrations.
The number of disc equipped road bikes available has been increasing year on year. For 2015 Fuji - who have been supporting women's cycling since sponsoring pro-team Fuji-Suntour in the 1970s - added a new women's specific model.
The new addition this year is the 'Fuji Finest Disc' range. The 1.3 Disc model comes in at £750 – equipped with a Shimano Sora groupset, and cable discs. The cassette on the 1.3 is an 11-32, which teamed with a 50/34 compact chainset gives a lot of gears for tackling whatever the road throws at you.
The frame is created from double-butted alloy and teamed with a carbon blade fork this promises comfort and a low weight for the price. The finishing kit - seatpost, saddle, handlebars and stem are all from Fuji's sister brand, Oval.
Stepping up in price, at £1,100 – just over the cycle to work scheme threshold - is the 2015 Specialized Dolce Elite Disc C2 EQ.
A step up from the Finest, Specialized have used Shimano Tiagra components, but they still provide a compact (50/34) cassette and 12-30T tooth cassette - that's a fairly wide spread of ratios, more so than on a race bike, and that means hills will be more approachable.
The Tektro discs are mechanical, and the Dolce comes with Specialized Body Geometry female specific handlebars and saddle.
Cyclocross, Gravel Grinders & Adventure Road
If you want a bike that allows you total freedom to take any road, or indeed non-road, that takes your fancy - then a Cyclocross or Adventure Road bike is right up your street.
The sliding scale from endurance road, to 'Adventure Road' (usually called a 'Gravel Grinder' in America) to 'Cyclocross' has been a hot topic as new 2015 models trickle in.
Endurance road bikes are designed for comfortable long miles, often with clearance for fatter tyres and disc brakes. Cyclocross race bikes are created for one hour, 95% off your max heart rate efforts in muddy fields. Gravel Grinders, or Adventure Road bikes, are somewhere in the middle - perfect for on and off-road exploration.
The differences between Cyclocross and Adventure Road bikes are minor spec and geometry tweaks, making a CX bike more suited to racing, and an Adventure Road better for comfortable long miles. Nothing is stopping you racing an Adventure Road bike or spending all day on a Cyclocross bike, but it makes sense to shop with the primary use in mind.
The Pinnacle Arkose Women's One Adventure Road bike is a great £700 option. The 2015 model has seen some tweaks to the geometry around the forks, making steering nimble and reliable off road, and the tubing has been on a diet since the 2014 models.
The women's 'One' is on the entry level end of the Arkose scale, with a Sora Groupet and cable brakes. Created in house at Evans Cycles, higher spec versions of the women's model are on their way for the early months of 2015.
The tyres, Kenda Small Block 8's are a balance between road speed and off-road grip, if you want to attack some muddy cyclocross races, you would likely want to swap these for a tyre that sheds mud faster. Similarly, if you were more focused on using the bike on the road, slick tyres would decrease resistance and increase your speed dramatically.
If racing is on your mind, a race specific machine will have more room for mud clearance, and a higher bottom bracket - this reduces the chance of catching the BB on a tree root or rock and is more appropriate for fast off road riding.
Elsewhere Giant offers the ‘Liv Invite 1’ (£849) and ‘Live Invite 2’ (£699). The Invite is pitched as ‘adventure bike’ for a ‘comfortable ride on roads, gravel or dirt’, and the higher end model comes with SRAM BB5 mechanical discs.
Out and Out Road Racers
If you're a speed demon, you'll be looking for a light, stiff frame, with nimble handling, and if you're spending big bucks, a high end groupset.
You couldn’t go far wrong with the 2015 Envie Advanced Pro 1. With a full carbon frame, Giant P-SLR0 Race wheel set, and Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 gearing, plus integrated handlebar and stem combo, this is a thoroughbred racer.
At £3,699 it's not in everyone's grasp, but a few steps down is the Envie Advanced 1, which is available now for £1,649. This model still enjoys a carbon frame, and Ultegra groupset, plus a Giant P-A2 wheelset. The seat post, brakes and stem still have Liv's magic aero wand waved over them, creating a wind-cheating machine at a genuinely stunning price.
Also creating race ready bikes with female specific geometry at front of mind are Trek, who last year brought out the Silique as an ‘endurance race’ bike.
The Trek Silique has been created to give women a smooth, well-balanced, fast ride. Trek have been researching women's specific frame builds for years, and they've established that a woman's centre of gravity is lower than a mans, so they've built the Silique with this and other differential factors in mind.
Like the ever popular unisex Trek Domane, the Silique uses their 'IsoSpeed' tech on the rear end to reduce harsh road vibration, whilst delivering a stiff ride.
The range begins with the Silique C, for £1,400, with Tiagra groupset, carbon fork and frame. At the top end of the scale, is the £3,000 Silique SLX C 2015 with Ultegra groupset. There are two models in between, too - and all come with Bontrager women's specific handlebars and saddle
Thinking of Triathlon?
If you're riding age group triathlon, or perhaps time trials, and aiming to be at the top end of the field, you may want to consider a time trial or triathlon bike - but that means having a road and time trial bike, amounting to extra expense and a lot of storage commitment.
Specialized understand not everyone wants that - so they created the Alias. The Specialized Alias looks, at first glance, like a road bike with clip on bars. However, where a road bike with clip on bars doesn’t provide quite the same aero advantage as a time trial bike, the Alias is superior.
Unique to the Alias, Speiclized have created a bike with two riding positions. Each Alias comes with a 35mm offset seat post, and a zero offset seat post. The zero offset post puts the rider in a 'forward riding position' favoured by time trialists. For road riding, you can simply swap the seat post for a traditional set up.
Only available with female specific geometry and components, the Alias is a special treat for the ladies - models begin at £2,000 for the Shimano 105 equipped Alias Sport Tri and go up to the £4,500 Alias Pro Tri, with Dura Ace and Ultegra components, plus Roval Rapide CL40" wheels.
If a full TT bike up your street, then the 2015 Liv Envie Advanced Tri is a great option. Tested by pro riders, including Rabobank-Liv's Marianne Vos, it’s been fine tuned to meet high standards.
The Envie Advanced comes in at £2,749, for an full carbon frame, Shimano Ultegra drivetrain and Giant P-SLR1 Aero Wheelset.
Whatever you choose, make sure you select a bike that fits you – take a look at our article on How to: find a bike to fit you for some more advice.
If you can, try to ensure you get a test ride before you buy, as that really is the best way to assess if a bike feels ‘just right’. Finally, happy shopping – and we hope you enjoy the miles of smiles a new bike brings.
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