Five Great Road Bikes Under 500 Dollars Of 2017

One of the best feelings in the world is the feel of the wind on your skin, the sun on your face, and seeing miles of smooth black top before you. Road biking is a great way to experience the world around you while getting a great workout.

Getting a great road bike for less than a small fortune used to be nearly impossible. Not so much anymore. There are a number of great, inexpensive bikes on the market nowadays. These five bikes are some of the best-loved bikes sold today. If you are looking for the best road bike under 500, you have come to the right place.

Best Road Bikes Under 500

I’ll be looking at a few different criteria with each bike. I’ll be examining the frame material and geometry, the total weight of the bike, stock “group-set”, the gears and the sizes it is sold in. Finally, I’ll be looking at what real users have said about this bike.

Top 5 Best Road Bikes Of 2017 Under $500 Reviews

Name

Image

Frame Material

Weigh (pounds)

Number of Gears

CHECK PRICE

Giordano 700c

Aluminum

25 - 30

16

Giordano Acciao

Steel

28 - 30

14

Schwinn Phocus

Aluminum

nearly 30

14

Bavel

Aluminum

27.3

21

Schwinn Volare

Aluminum

29

21


All About The Frame

Most road bikes today are made from aluminum, steel or carbon fiber. Each material has its benefits.

  • Aluminum is strong, light and doesn’t rust.
  • Steel is strong, can be very lightweight and provides a comfortable ride.
  • Carbon fiber is strong, lightweight and compliant.

Downsides to each material will affect your ride. After all, nothing is perfect.

  • Aluminum frames are stiff enough to give you ‘road buzz’. This means you will feel every crack and bump in the road.
  • Steel at this price point can be heavier than other materials.
  • Carbon fiber can feel floppy as you ride. In very rare cases, carbon fiber can fail completely. It can crack and explode along weak points.

A road bike

I’m just going to be examining two very basic parts of the geometry of each bike. We will be looking at the visual length of the top tube and the visual length of the head tube. The top tube is the uppermost tube between the saddle and the handlebars. The head tube is the vertical tube between the front wheel and the handlebars.

Just by looking at these two bike sections we can tell a lot about a bike. In general, a bike with a longer head tube and a shorter top tube will be more upright and comfortable. A bike with a shorter head tube and a longer top tube is designed to let you stretch out, in the ‘roadie’ position.

Giordano Libero 1.6 Men’s Road Bike-700c

The Giordano Libero is a handcrafted lightweight 6061 aluminum frame. The rear fork has a replaceable derailleur hanger. While that may seem unnecessary, it means that you’ll be able to change out the grupo as your skills improve. This bike has a steel fork. Using a steel fork is a sturdy and inexpensive way to give you a smoother ride.

The Libero has a shorter head tube and a slightly longer top tube. This means that this bike will give you a real ‘racer’s position’, if you so want it.

Giordano Libero 1.6 Men's Road Bike-700c

Giordano Libero Acciao Road Bike

The Giordano Libero Acciao is basically a steel version of the Libero. It is also hand crafted, but out of a high tensile steel. The fork is also steel. The designer has given the bike a very classic Italian look, which is nice to see on a modern ride. In fact, Acciao is simply Italian for steel!

This bike has pretty much the same geometry as the aluminum Libero. The head tube looks a little longer, which means that this bike can be adapted to a slightly more upright position for those long rides.

Schwinn Men’s Phocus 1400

The Phocus is a sharp-looking offering from Schwinn. It is an aluminum frame bike, made in a style that emulates a much more expensive carbon fiber frame. I rather liked the angled, modern look of this bike. The fork is rigid, with a nice bend for comfort.

This bike has sportive geometry. This means two things. One, it’s not a true road bike. You really won’t be able to set it up to get a very low riding position. Two, even the most novice of riders will feel comfortable on this bike. Sportive geometry is slightly relaxed for those of us who want a road bike that is more forgiving on the lower back.

BAVEL Ultra Light Aluminum 21 Speed

The Bavel Ultra Light is a full aluminum frame and fork bike. The manufacturers took their time when building each frame, using a technique called down-hand welding. It’s just as tough, but it looks much nicer.

This frame is heavily inspired by track bike design. The stiff, straight fork, tiny head tube and pronounced ‘wedge’ shape of the frame would look at home at any time trial. It’s not a track bike, but it sure looks like one!

BAVEL Ultra Light Aluminum 21 Speed
Schwinn Men’s Volare 1200 Bike

The Volare is a modern style fitness bike from Schwinn. The frame and fork are made of lightweight aluminum. It has bottle mounts on both the seat tube and the down tube. The fork is ridge and straight, offering great control.

This is a fitness style frame. That means that it’s somewhat more relaxed than many road bike frames. It will be much easier for a new rider to go longer distances in comfort. I’d go so far as to call this one a hybrid, if it had wider tires.


How Much Does it Weigh?

Weight is what separates the least expensive road bike from the elite high-end steeds of the professionals winning those world-class races. When it comes to racing, every gram counts. When it comes to recreational riders like us, it’s not so important. Our bikes can be a little heavier so we can save a little money!

Giordano Libero 1.6 Men’s Road Bike-700c

This is a very lightweight bike for this price range. The small frame is barely 25 pounds. The large is just under 30 pounds.

Giordano Libero Acciao Road Bike

For a steel bike at this price point, the Acciao isn’t too heavy. A small weighs a bit over 28 pounds. The medium weighs 29 and the large just a smidgen more.

Giordano Libero Acciao Road Bike

Schwinn Men’s Phocus 1400

This bike only comes in one size. It weighs nearly 30 pounds.

BAVEL Ultra Light Aluminum 21 Speed

The Ultra Light is not that light. But, it’s not too heavy either. It weighs a respectable 27.3 pounds as shipped.

Schwinn Men’s Volare 1200 Bike

The Volare weighs a typical 29 pounds as it is shipped. Not too heavy, but not a lightweight bike either.


What Comes on the Bike?

Every bike comes with what cyclists call a grupo or group-set. These are components such as shifters, gears or cogs, chain rings and brake sets. An enthusiast level grupo will balance hardiness with lightweight materials. Racing grupos will be made to be as light as possible. Budget level grupos can be made of pot metal and plastic, they are really only OK for kid’s bikes.

Giordano Libero 1.6 Men’s Road Bike-700c

The Libero has a steel threadless 1 1/8 inch headset. The handlebars are 42cm wide and made of an alloy that is light but strong. The stem is Uno alloy with 100mm by -10 degrees in measurements. Shifters are Shimano ST2300 STI 16 speed with integrated brakes.

The rear derailleur is a Shimano Claris 8 speed RD2400nd the front is a Shimano FDAO50. The cassette is Shimano CS HG31 8 speed 11-30. The rims are Vitesse Alloy 700c 32 hole high V-profile in black. The saddle is a basic Velo road saddle. Brakes are side pull rim brakes.

Giordano Libero Acciao Road Bike

The Libero Acciao has much of the same equipment as the Libero. They share the same handlebars, the same dual water bottle mounts and so on. There are a few differences though.

This bike has a Shimano Tourney Road AO70 rear derailleur and the front is Tourney FDAO70. The shifters are Tourney STI 14 with integrated brake levers. The cassette is Shimano CS HG20 7 speed 12-28.

Schwinn Men’s Phocus 1400

There isn’t too much information on this bike’s grupo. It has a Shimano rear derailleur, AO50 shifters and a Shimano front derailleur. The wheels are high-profile alloy rims. The brakes are linear pull alloy rim brakes. The saddle has a quick release.

Schwinn Men's Phocus 1400

BAVEL Ultra Light Aluminum 21 Speed

This bike uses Shimano TZ-30 for the front derailleur and TX-35 for the rear derailleur. Shifters are Shimano EF-51-7. The brakes are disk for both wheels. The freewheel is Shimano TZ-21. Chain is a Z51 1/2” 3/32′ 108L in brown. The stem is 28.6mm by 31.8mm by 90mm. Tires are 700*23C.

This bike has good, if somewhat older, bike technology. Unlike the other bikes we’ve looked at so far, this bike doesn’t have drop bars. It uses a mountain bike style straight handlebar. That’s great if you plan on riding under 20 miles at a time. It’s not so great once you start riding centuries.

Schwinn Men’s Volare 1200 Bike

Schwinn is often a little tight-lipped about the grupo they use on individual bike models. This one is no exception. It has Shimano EZ Fire shifters and a Shimano rear derailleur. The cranks are alloy, as are the front and rear linear pull brakes. The frame is stiff and the wheels are lightweight alloy racing style.

Schwinn has designed this bike for riders who want a comfortable bike to ride on the weekends. The mountain bike style straight handlebar is great for that. You’ll want to change it if you want to go more than 20 miles at a time.


How Many Gears Does It Have?

Road bikes are known for having plenty of gears. Plenty of gears allow a road rider to reach high speeds quickly. More gears also make it easier to climb hills. Too many gears can make picking one overly-complicated and make the drive train more delicate. The trick is finding the right amount for your riding level.

Giordano Libero 1.6 Men’s Road Bike-700c

The Libero has an aluminum compact road crank with 50-34 teeth. The rear cogs range from 11 to 30. This bike has a total of 16 gears. It’s enough to climb all but the steepest hills.

Giordano Libero 1.6 Men's Road Bike-700c
Giordano Libero Acciao Road Bike

This bike has a Prowheel Alloy Arms 170mm 34/50 road front chain ring and 12-28 on the rear. This bike has a total of 14 gears. While not as many as some bikes, it’s still plenty for most riders.

Schwinn Men’s Phocus 1400

This bike has Shimano parts that offer you a total of 14 gears. While I can’t give you the cog tooth numbers, I can say that many users are very happy with the spread.

BAVEL Ultra Light Aluminum 21 Speed

The Bavel Ultra Light has a total of 21 speeds. It uses a triple crank in the front with 24/34/42 chain rings. It’s a great bike for hilly areas. You might run out of gears on flat sections though.

BAVEL Ultra Light Aluminum 21 Speed
Schwinn Men’s Volare 1200 Bike

The Volare has 21 speeds. Users remarked that shifting was fast and easy, even under a load.


Size Options

Most makers produce frames in small, medium and large. Not every manufacturer uses the same measurements! Other companies make frames in incremental sizes, letting you get the perfect fit easily.

Always get a frame that fits you comfortably. A too big frame or one that is too small can be dangerous.

Giordano Libero 1.6 Men’s Road Bike-700c

This bike comes in the standard small, medium and large sizes. This is a man’s bike. The small will fit a guy from 5 feet one inches tall to five feet eight inches or who has an inseam of 28 to 30 inches. The medium will fit a man who’s five feet eight inches to six feet or has an inseam of 30 to 32 inches. The large will fit a gay who is six feet two inches to six feet five inches or who has a inseam of 33 to 35 inches.

Giordano Libero Acciao Road Bike

This bike has the same measurements as the aluminum Giordano Libero.

Schwinn Men’s Phocus 1400

This bike comes in one size. It has a 22 inch seat tube. It’s really just for men. Riders under five feet five inches or with less than a 30 inch inseam will run the risk of self-injury.

Schwinn Men's Phocus 1400
BAVEL Ultra Light Aluminum 21 Speed

The Ultra Light is sold in three sizes. The 48cm is the smallest, and is suited for riders over five feet tall but under five feet five inches. The medium is the 51cm size. People under six feet tall but over five feet four inches will be comfortable on it. The largest size is 54cm. It’s suitable for those around six feet tall.

Schwinn Men’s Volare 1200 Bike

This bike only comes in 56cm, or what they call men’s medium. It should be comfortable for those of us who have at least an inseam of 32 inches. Height-wise, that’s people who are five feet seven inches to a bit over six feet tall.

Schwinn Men's Volare 1200 Bike


User Reviews

Who better to ask about each bike than those who own it? Users are always happy to rant and rave about their bikes! If something bothered them, they’ll let you know. If they really liked something, well, they’ll still tell us all about it. I read through many reviews for each bike so you won’t have to. Here is what those owners have to say about each bike.

Giordano Libero 1.6 Men’s Road Bike-700c

This is a well-loved bike for novice road riders. People believe that the grupo, while no longer the best available, gives great value for the money. The frame is comfortable enough for newer riders but aggressive enough for speed demons.

Most riders suggested replacing the saddle with something more ergonomic. A few wanted to remind new riders that the light weight wheels will need to be trued after a few rides. All told, it’s a great bike for the money.

Giordano Libero Acciao Road Bike

Users of this bike were mostly newer riders. Some were more experienced cyclists, but didn’t want to spend a small fortune. In general, this bike is very well reviewed. People love riding it and love getting compliments on how it looks.

The issues people had are minor. Basically, they are the kind of things that crop up when inexperienced riders try to put a bike together themselves. Most reviewers are honest enough to say just that.

Schwinn Men’s Phocus 1400

This bike has a number of problems. While many riders love their Phocus bikes, many others reported problems with quality control. One reoccurring issue was the wheels. One user reported that his bike had badly installed and twisted rim tape which made two tubes explode. Nearly every user suggested having the derailleurs professionally adjusted for the smoothest shifting possible.

Schwinn Men's Phocus 1400
BAVEL Ultra Light Aluminum 21 Speed

Most users like these bikes. People liked the disc brakes and the sharp looks of this bike. People also liked how smooth it rolls. People did not like the thin, track style tires. 23C is very narrow and does not absorb any road noise. You will also feel every single bump with the all-aluminum frame.

People also found the track-style frame to be a little uncomfortable. It forces you to put a lot of your weight on your wrists. It’s not as novice friendly as the other bikes. Many users also found themselves changing the handlebars.

Schwinn Men’s Volare 1200 Bike

Users bought this bike expecting to tune up little shortcomings. These shortcomings include the saddle, the freewheel and the handlebars. Other users switched out the bottom bracket, the chain and the wheels. Once each person fixed whatever it was they disliked about a bike at this price point, they became very happy with their purchase.

Schwinn Men's Volare 1200 Bike


The Best of the Best

I took a number of things into consideration when picking the best road bike under 500 dollar. First, those of us looking to spend 500 dollars or less are probably newer riders. We don’t need the latest bells and whistles. We also don’t want a bike that will make us uncomfortable.

Weight is important, but at the under 500 dollar price point, it’s far from being the most important thing! Instead, I focused on the quality of the bike, the quality of the components and how satisfied users are with their bikes. I also factored in looks, as who among us want to ride a shoddy looking bike?

With all of that in mind, I had to select the Giordano Libero Acciao as the best of the best. Why? Well, this bike hits all of the points that a newer rider needs to succeed at and enjoy the great hobby that is road cycling.

Giordano Libero Acciao Road Bike 

First, it is comfortable. We novice and non-professional riders don’t need or want to suffer on uncomfortable bikes with delicate light-weight components. The pros are paid very well to do that, we are out here for fun and fitness! We won’t have any fun and we won’t get any fitter if it hurts to ride more than a few miles.

The steel frame and slightly relaxed ‘touring’ geometry will let you strengthen your body and toughen up as a new rider. Once you are comfortable, that same frame and geometry will let you tackle those long distance rides with ease.

Giordano Libero Acciao Road Bike
Yes, it only has 14 gears. I don’t see that as a handicap. I see that as both a bonus and an opportunity. With fewer gears, your strength and fitness will improve faster. Fewer gears also mean a more robust chain and drive train. You’ll have fewer problems with it, once you have it properly adjusted.

The frame is well made. The components are great quality for this price point. You won’t need to replace much more than the seat to get out on the road. You might not even need to replace that, some users don’t! Tires are good quality too, something you don’t always see at this price.

And finally, it’s a red bike. Everyone knows that if you want a fast road bike, then you need to pick one that has a lot of red in the paint job. The red makes it faster, of course! All joking aside, it’s a good, solid bike that’s is a great choice for someone who doesn’t want to spend a thousand dollars on a bike.

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    Johnny

    I love cycling

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