Cyclists can be very invested in their bikes, so it shouldn’t be surprising that many experiences cyclists will tell you that you can’t get a good road bike under 500. Fortunately, that just isn’t true. 500 is about where you start to see the benefits of your dollar, with minor improvements in the frame design and components of your bike that really pay dividends when you’re out on a ride.
Sure, this type of bike is not very well suited to the best cyclists and athletes looking to go pro. That doesn’t mean that this price point doesn’t offer a great starting bike and fantastic bikes for leisure riders and those just looking to have a good time.
You can even find some great commuter and urban bikes at this price point. Besides, cycling doesn’t need to be a hobby restricted to those who can afford to spend thousands of dollars feeding their hobby. There are plenty of fantastic options in this price range, and these are some of the most welcoming and best-performing bikes for this price.
We’ve picked some of the best bikes under 500 dollars and given each an in-depth review. These bikes might not be the cream of the crop, but they still offer impressive performance and durability for people looking to enter this hobby on a budget.
|Best Overall||Schwinn Volare Adult Hybrid Road Bike||
|Runner Up||Schwinn Phocus 1400 and 1600 Drop Bar Road Bicycle for Men and Women||
|Budget Pick||Hiland 700c Road Bike City Commuter Bicycle||
|Schwinn Sporterra Adventure Adult Gravel Bike||
|Eurobike Road Bike TSM XC550 Bike||
|Giordano Acciao Road Bike||
|Trinx TEMPO1.0 700C Road Bike||
The Best Road Bikes for Under 500 In 2020
Schwinn Volare Adult Hybrid Road Bike – Best Overall
Schwinn is one of those brands that, if you grew up in the United States, you probably grew up with. If you weren’t the one riding a Schwinn bike, chances were it was your best friend down the lane. Of course, nostalgia alone isn’t enough to create a great bike.
This affordable option is loaded with a full 14 gears. The shifter and derailleur are both Shimano make, which helps to improve their performance. The shifter isn’t fully integrated, and at this price point, it doesn’t have the weight advantage that more advanced components in the Shimano line offer, but it’s still more durable and long-lasting than the competition.
High profile double-walled rims offer reasonable speed and flexibility, though the wheel clearance is a little less than we’d prefer, you’ll still have plenty of options when it comes time to replace the tires. The 28 C tires that come with the bike are fast and relatively hard-wearing, though far from top of the line.
The alloy caliper brakes are similar to more expensive models and offer good performance in almost all conditions. No need to worry about slippage in wet weather or after riding through a puddle and slicking the rims.
An aluminum alloy seat post offers a good lightweight and highly adjustable connection, though we do generally recommend upgrading from the included Schwinn saddle. The saddle is comfortable enough for reasonably short commutes and pleasure rides but becomes uncomfortable if you need to cover longer distances.
Fork and frame are both made from aluminum alloy, and at 29.8 lbs, this model is a relatively lightweight option for this price point.
This bike gets our best overall rating because of its impressive performance, considering the price. Nothing in the frame or the components stands out too much (though we do like to see Shimano shifters and drive train, even if from one of their least expensive component lines), but the total is a very workable and adaptable bike.
With 14 gears at your disposal, this bike is better for hilly areas and climbing than many road bikes, and outshines almost all the competition under 500 dollars. The tires are reasonably good quality, responsive, and with minimal rolling resistance to increase your speed overall.
Brakes and shifter are easy to use, but the wires and protective casings are more vulnerable than integrated versions and detract slightly from the aesthetic appeal of the frame.
Another Schwinn model, the Phocus is similar to the Volare in most respects, including the frame design and even the paint job. Both bikes place the rider in a relatively aggressive riding position, and both bikes are designed with a 14-speed drivetrain.
That said, the two bikes aren’t entirely similar. The Phocus’ slightly higher price point gets you a carbon fiber fork, a lighter, and more durable replacement for the aluminum alloy fork in the Volare.
You’ll also get a Shimano Claris shifter, and integrated design. The Claris system still doesn’t have the weight advantages of better Shimano shifters, but the integration means it’s a slightly higher performing version over the Volare.
However, the dual caliper brakes are similar. Like the Volare, you can expect similar performance in almost all conditions, with no additional slippage due to the wet. That said, these brakes offer moderate performance in most conditions, with neither the stopping power of a more expensive brake or the shuddering and slow qualities of cheaper components.
The bike also arrives mostly assembled, with only a few last parts to put together before your new Phocus is road ready.
Overall, this bike gets our runner up rating not because it’s not as solid a bike as the Volare, in fact, the opposite is true. This bike offers slightly better performance in some categories than the Volare. However, the difference in performance doesn’t quite justify this bike being a little more expensive, so we’d recommend the Volare for riders who are looking for the best deal, and the Phocus to riders looking for a slightly improved bike in a similar price and with a similar frame and performance.
If you’re looking to get a decent road bike at the bottom of the under 500 price point, this model is a good option.
The 700c compatible wheels give you a lot of play when selecting your tires, which means that you have a lot more customizability to suit your neighborhood and needs. Choose a more aggressive tread for areas with a lot of hills or less predictable pavement or a smoother speed tire for flatter areas with greater predictability.
The 14 speeds on this bike (Shimano shifter and front and rear derailleur), also make it a significantly more versatile bike if you live somewhere with a few more hills and slopes to maneuver. Considering how affordable this bike is, it’s surprising to see a drivetrain with this many shifting options included.
The added versatility also makes this a good road bike for most commuters, since you’ll be better able to adapt to the terrain and demands of traffic.
Combined with the aggressive rider position, this is a bike that can get some real speed, without sacrificing stopping power needed for stop and go traffic.
However, this bike does have some quality control concerns, with several people reporting that the bike arrived in damaged condition ranging from minor handlebar tape issues through to frame damage that made the bike unusable.
That kind of thing is more common when you’re looking at the most affordable road bikes, so while it’s a concern with this model, it would be a concern with most adult bikes at the same price point.
The bike arrives 85% assembled, along with the tools and instructions required to finish assembly. The whole process shouldn’t take more than an hour, especially if you’ve put other bikes together before.
Overall, the weight is pretty reasonable. This bike is made with an aluminum alloy frame and fork, and with pedals on still comes in just under 30 lbs (though your weight may vary if you upgrade the tires or trade out for a new saddle).
So, despite occasional quality control issues, this bike is overall a good option for cyclists looking for a very affordable road bike.
Schwinn Sporterra Adventure Adult Gravel Bike – Best for Rural Areas
If you’re looking for a good road bike that can handle gravel, dirt, and other variable terrains as well as pavement, this bike is a good option. Another Schwinn model, and sitting right at the 500-dollar price range (as of this writing), this bike is designed to be just a little harder wearing than your average road bike.
In fact, this model is a great option if you live in a rural area or even small towns and suburbs with different road surfaces. It’s not an upgrade to a true hybrid or mountain bike but is significantly grippier and more durable than most road bikes.
Thanks largely to a slightly wider tire profile, a rigid fork, and a mechanical disc brake system, this bike works well on most solid terrain types and all conditions.
The real highlight of this system is the mechanical disk brake. Often considered the best mechanical brake option before you reach expensive high-end hydraulic systems, it’s more common to see mechanical disc brakes on several thousand-dollar bikes than road bikes at this more affordable end of the spectrum.
But when you’re designing a bike to be able to handle looser, less predictable terrain types, a mechanical disc brake makes a lot of sense and gives a lot more control back to the cyclist.
The Sporterra also comes with a set of go-anywhere tires that provide a lot more grip than your standard road bike tire, but without the treat lugs and thicker profile of a mountain tire. The combination gives you a little more bite in your tire without significantly increasing roll resistance or slowing acceleration.
A good model for cyclists who are looking for an entry-level cross-country bike, this bike comes with some impressive features and few downsides considering its affordable price and relatively low maintenance requirements.
Eurobike Road Bike TSM XC550 Bike 21 Speed – Best Modern Design
If you’re looking for more of an affordable bike that’s still a serious head-turner, this model might be the right choice for you. Designed with a slightly different frame profile, and there spoke fashion rims, this Eurobike is designed with fashion in mind at least as much as performance.
That said, that doesn’t mean that they neglected performance, giving the bike a good 21-speed shifter and disc brakes for better overall performance and versatility.
The brake system on this bike offers significantly more stopping more than more common V-brake systems, stopping faster without shuddering or other slippages. They’re better for stopping on a dime and provide superior control for cross country riding and urban riding alike.
The 21-speed shifter isn’t quite as smooth as a Shimano shifting system, but with that said, it’s not a bad system either. The design lets you shift between different gears relatively easily, and the wide range means that you have a lot of power to switch between different gears for hills and terrain conditions.
That said, this bike frame is made from significantly heavier steel instead of aluminum. That means a slightly smoother ride but will also slow you down if you’re looking to accelerate quickly or need to bike at higher speeds to make your commute.
The only part of this bike that switched to aluminum alloy is the fashion rims on the wheels. Those fashion rims look flashing moving and still, but the weight difference of switching to aluminum doesn’t provide any real speed advantages. It does, however, mean that the wheel profile is a little thinner.
However, that heavier steel design might be more worth it when you consider that the manufacturer provides a lifetime warranty on the frame, complemented by a 1-year warranty on all components.
Giordano Acciao Road Bike – Best For Beginners
If you’re looking for a good road bike that’s suitable for beginners, but that’s also able to grow with you as your skills and experience as a cyclist improve, this bike is a good option. Its design is good for cyclists at the beginning of their biking journey but still holds up to the demands of more intermediate riders who are looking to start improving their skills more intensively.
The bike is exceptionally durable, built with high-tensile steel that’s higher strength without adding additional weight over a typical steel frame. Both the frame and the fork are made with the same high-tensile steel.
The wheels are double-walled for added durability as well and made from a lighter aluminum alloy for a more standard rim design. The bike arrives with 700c x 25mm tires, which is a nice standard size for most road bikes, and gives you a lot of options when it comes time to decide on new tires.
The alloy dual-pivot brakes are anything special, but they’re relatively effective overall. You may need to adjust to stopping a little more slowly than other road bikes, thanks to the higher weight (and therefore higher momentum) of the steel frame.
Still, the brakes are effective enough to provide good control.
The Shimano Tourney shifters offer nicely smooth action, perfect for building your skills and learning new riding techniques.
The frame is available in small, medium, and large sizes. The medium is suitable for adults anywhere between 5’4″ and 6’0″ with proper fitting. The small and large make this bike suitable for most adults.
However, it’s worth noting that the biggest downside of this bike is its weight. It’s certainly heavier than most intermediate bikes, and the heavier weight is usually why cyclists decide to upgrade away from this model.
Trinx TEMPO1.0 700C Road Bike – Best For Speedy Riders
Best for cyclists who don’t mine an extremely aggressive riding position on a bike designed for speed and lots of it. This whole design is meant to give cyclists on a budget something a little faster despite being in a much lower price point than a lot of the faster designs and lightweight components out there.
This bike uses a relatively lightweight aluminum alloy for the frame, though still not as lightweight at a good carbon fiber frame. It’s a little heavier thanks to a steel fork, but that fork also provides greater stability.
In addition, a steel fork will last slightly longer than an aluminum fork, which makes it a good option for cyclists who want to have a longer-lasting design.
This model also uses a Shimano drivetrain. The shifter isn’t quite the most affordable option in their line, but still a little heavier than their more advanced options. Still, will 21 gears and exceptionally smooth shifting, these components are designed to create an effective and very speedy design.
The front and rear derailleurs are both Shimano as well, as is the Cassette. These components all being made by the same manufacturer means that they have more synergy of operation, creating a smoother and more effective design.
At 25 lbs, this is also one of the lightest bike designs in this price category, which also helps to increase the top speed of the bike, improve acceleration, as well as allowing a better stopping speed. It comes with a matching set of tires that are designed for minimal rolling resistance, reducing how much work you need to do to keep the bike gliding, and reducing the effort needed to accelerate.
Of course, while we stand by all the bikes, we reviewed as good examples of high-performing road bikes under 500, that doesn’t tell you what makes them good options, or how to pick a good road bike in this price range.
So, we’ve put together a buying guide so that you can evaluate any bikes you consider with more certainty of which options are the best. In addition to our tips, these features are also some of the most important, and you should always pay attention to these components when choosing a new bike.
Tire and Rim
When it comes to road bikes, you should look for a relatively narrow rim since narrower tires will help reduce rolling resistance and maintain a higher top speed with less effort. Double-walled rims are also significantly more durable than single-walled alternatives. They also resist bending and denting much more effectively than single-walled rims, an important consideration since road tires are typically relatively thin and don’t absorb much impact.
Speaking of tires, look for a tire set with a minimal tread if you’re looking for speed. It shouldn’t be totally smooth; you still need a shallow tread to provide grip and balance as you ride. But you don’t need a thick or bumpy tread like you’d expect to see on a mountain tire or hybrid design.
700c tires are popular for road bikes, and wheels designed to fit this design will give you significantly more options when it’s time to purchase new tires.
Another note, fashion spokes, and rims can be attractive, but they are often weaker than traditional spoke and rim designs. Especially in fashion rims, check to make sure they are double-walled and have other reinforcements for increased durability.
Almost all bike rims in this price range will be made of a high-quality aluminum alloy, so checking the material content is usually less important than checking reviews for reports of rims that are easily damaged.
More: Maxxis Ardent Review
Road bikes usually have less need for different gears than mountain bikes, which cross-country models being the exception. However, having plenty of gearing options can make it easier to ride your road bike in a range of conditions. Higher gear counts can also be useful for cyclists who want to increase their skills and technical ability on a bike since road bikes are usually a relatively safe place to practice.
Shimano is the biggest name you’ll see in shifters, derailleurs, and other drivetrain components. However, a bike using something other than a Shimano shifter isn’t a reason not to purchase it, so long as users aren’t reporting that there are problems with the shifters.
For a good road bike, we’d recommend looking for designs with at least 7 gears. That’s enough to give you quite a bit of flexibility and make climbing hills significantly easier. However, it’s possible to find good road bikes under 500 with up to 21 gears anymore, since there have been some advancements in technology and design that make those components much more affordable.
Bike suspension is usually one of the first things that go when you’re looking at a road bike under 500. Road bikes typically have very light suspension anyway, since they aren’t designed for rough terrain or difficult paths, so when you’re looking for a way to reduce the costs of bike manufacturing, it makes sense to cut out suspension.
Road bikes in this class usually have fixed forks and limited, if any front suspension.
At best, look for a bike that’s designed to minimize bumps and absorb some vibration and bumps before it reaches the saddle.
There are two general types of brake that you’re likely to see on a road bike in this class. The first, and most common, are V-brakes, also known as linear-pull brakes and direct-pull brakes. These are the kind you probably saw on your first few childhood bikes, and they grip the rim to slow and eventually stop your bike.
V-brakes are relatively effective and reliable but require regular maintenance and occasional new brake pads. They can also be slightly less effective in wet conditions since the traction between the brake pad and the rim is reduced.
Disc brakes are the rarer, and usually more expensive, option for road bikes. These brakes have only been used on road bikes at all relatively recently, and before that were mostly used on mountain bikes.
Instead of applying pressure to the rim of the wheel, these brakes apply tension to the rotor area in the center of the bike. Disc brakes offer incredible stopping power, letting you stop much faster, and making speed corrections much faster than a v-brake can.
Most road bikes don’t need mechanical disc brakes to be effective, but they are generally considered the higher quality option.
Bike Frame Materials
When it comes to road bikes at this price point, there are only two frame materials you can expect to see: aluminum alloy or steel.
Aluminum alloys are usually the more common option, being that they are lighter and nearly as durable as long as they have welded seams. They tend to be a little more reactive than steel though, so they aren’t as smooth riding.
Steel is significantly heavier and offers a slightly smoother ride and slightly improved durability but isn’t the preferred material for most cyclists because it’s added weight will slow you down.
You may be able to find some alternatives that have a carbon fiber fork, but carbon fiber is usually too expensive to be used on a frame in this price point.
More: Vilano Forza 4.0 Review
There are two things to consider for handlebar shape on road bikes, the width of the handlebar, and how much the curve drops.
The width of your shoulders largely determines the width of your handlebars. This consideration is one that many cyclists ignore, but the most comfortable handlebars should be tailored to your shoulders, narrower for narrow shoulders, and wider for wide shoulders.
This can be especially important if you purchase a unisex bike and have either particularly narrow or particularly wide shoulders. You may want to get a new handlebar, and a professional fitting for it, if you notice shoulder strain riding your new bike.
The other consideration is the drop in the curve of the handlebar. Deeper drops allow you to use a more aggressive riding position when it’s warranted, while you can move your hands closer to the middle of the handlebar for a more upright position when needed.
But ergonomic bike handles usually offer a less aggressive drop, and therefore a slightly more comfortable (and less effective) riding position.
The right handle for you largely depends on your personal preferences and proportions, and it can be hard to know what will work best until you give several different handlebars a try. This is where a professional fitting can help since your local bike shop will have several options to try.
We’ve covered some of the best road bikes under 500, as well as the most important features to consider when looking at different road bikes. Hopefully, you not only have a shortlist of some of the best affordable options out there but also feel more confident comparing the merits of any two bikes.