7 Best Cheap Road Bikes Under $300 in 2021 (Review)
A cheap bike doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be getting a good road bike. We’ve looked through all the available and affordable bikes, and we have come up with the 7 best cheap road bikes under $300 in 2021. All 7 of these bikes will set you on the path to cycling fitness.
After looking at the bikes, we’ll bring you a checklist to make sure you know what to look for in a cheap bike. We’ll then explain upgrades and how you can slowly turn your inexpensive bike into a great bike that perfectly suits you. Finally, we’ll give you a rundown the best companies that supply affordable, durable bikes.
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The Best Cheap Road Bikes Under $300
1. Vilano Aluminum Road Bike
The Vilano Aluminum Road Bike comes with a name that describes precisely what it is. The Vilano road bicycle also comes with a classic road bike look. In its white colorway contrasted with black parts, it looks as good as a more expensive bike.
At the heart of the Vilano, you’ll find a 6061 aluminum frame. A frame that also features a threadless headset. A threadless headset is excellent on a road bike in this price range; not only will you be able to upgrade the fork at some point, but it also brings you better steering. It stiffens the front of the bike, and this makes your steering more predictable.
The wheels that are fitted to the bike are double walled. Double walled rims will allow you to get away with accidentally hitting potholes or riding your bike up curbs. They will also help to keep your wheels trued, especially when compared to single walled rims. This is a nice feature for entry-level road bikes to have.
2. 6KU Aluminum Fixed Gear Road Bike
The 6KU Aluminum Fixed Gear is one of the best road bikes for under $300 when it comes to getting you around town fast. With its oversized down tube, it is all about speed.
To make the transition to riding fixed easier, the 6KU comes with a flip-flop hub. One side of the hub contains a fixed cog, you have to pedal all the time and flip it over, and you have a freewheel, you don’t have to pedal all the time.
When running the freewheel, you’ll want both brakes on. When you run fixed, you only need to run a front brake, as your rear wheel also counts as a brake. If you stop pedaling, you’ll be stopping. You can also go for the full fixed messenger look and remove the front brake as well. It is just worth remembering this is likely to be illegal, and you’re risking your life.
3. Critical Cycles Classic Road Bike
With its skinny steel tubes, the Critical Cycles model certainly looks like a retro classic road bike. In its celeste colorway, it harks back to the classic Bianchis that you used to see dominating racing.
The main difference between the Classic and a late 1960’s racing bicycle is that the Classic comes with a bullhorn or pursuit style handlebar. A pursuit or bullhorn bar is the same style of bars, if you come from track cycling, you’ll call them pursuit, and if you come from fixies, you’ll call them bullhorn. They look like a set of bullhorns on the front of your bike.
The advantage of bullhorn bars is that they give you a comfortable forward position on the bike. They also offer a lot of different positions in which to hold your bars. You’ll be able to change about if you need relief from one position, which is not as easy on drop bars.
You’ll also find the requisite fixie flip-flop rear wheel to allow you the option to pedal all the time or allow you the chance to coast occasionally.
4. Vilano Fixed Gear
The Vilano Fixed Gear bike offers a unique prospect in the world of bikes. They haven’t put decals all over it. You get a bike that is just a bike and isn’t trying to scream brand allegiance.
What you do get is a hi-ten frame and fork. It won’t be the lightest, but it’ll last the test of time. The frame and fork are of the 1 1/8″ variety, so you’ll find it easy to get and fit new headset parts or a lighter fork.
To keep the Vilano comfortable, they have fitted 700 x 25 c tires rather than the usual 700 x 23 c tires you’ll find on a fixed bike. The extra 2 mm adds a nice bit of cushioning and helps to soften the ride.
As with the other fixed bikes in the review, you’ll find that the Vilano bike features a flip-flop rear wheel and removable brakes should you want to explore fixie culture. If you’ve been looking at hybrid bikes, the Vilano might be a faster and simpler choice for you.
5. Eurobike EURXC550
The Eurobike EURXC500 is a steel framed road bike. It only comes in sizes that will suit the shorter rider. Not many bikes companies bother to make a small bike size. If you’re around 5ft 3″, the EURXC55O could be a good entry in road biking.
The Eurobike comes with 2 wheels options. You can buy it with spoked wheels, or you can buy it with a set of BMX-like mag wheels. Don’t be tempted to buy the mag wheels. They may look cool, but you’ll have a set of wheels you can’t true, and they’ll also add a lot of weight to the bike, buy the alloy rims version.
As well as coming with basic Shimano gearing you’ll find that the Eurobike comes with disc brakes. It is the only bike in our bike review feature that comes with disc brakes. Disc brakes will offer you an enhanced braking system in the wet and when coming downhill. It’s always nice to know you have brakes that you can totally depend upon.
6. Goplus Commuter Bike
The Goplus Commuter Bike is a road bike that is designed to get you to and from work fast. It’ll be a less comfortable ride than a hybrid, but it’ll certainly be a lot faster. It would also be a great option if you have a 5 mile plus commute.
Attached to the lightweight aluminum frame and rigid fork you’ll find a set of quick release wheels. QR wheels make changing a tube a faster and easier job if you get a puncture on your commute. You’ll want to make sure you lock them with a chain when you park the bike work.
As well as QR wheels, you’ll also find a quick release seat clamp which makes changing your seat height quick and easy. To allow you to change gears easily, you’ll find a Shimano groupset that takes care of that function for you. Like the other geared bikes in our review, the Goplus uses Shimano’s thumb shifters, and a Shimano derailleur, rather than their STI integrated shifters. Given that STI levers cost around the same as the Goplus it would be unfair to expect them.
Goplus is like a range of hybrid bikes with drop bars.
7. Sundeal R7
The Sundeal R7 with its radially laced front wheel and a curved rigid fork, looks like a fully-fledged road bike. It’s 6061 aluminum frame helps in keeping its weight down, as you’d want from a bike that does look ready to race.
The R7 comes with a 14 speed Shimano Tourney groupset. Like all good race bikes, this is achieved by a double chainring setup at the front, and it then has a 7-speed freewheel at the back. It is higher geared than a hybrid bike as the R7 is designed around speed.
The R7 features QR wheels which feature a small detail you may miss. The wheels feature brass nipples. Brass nipples are a little bit heavier than alloy nipples, but they are a lot more robust and will take a beating.
The R7 would be a great choice if you’re just dipping your toe into road cycling and want to see if it’s for you. The bike will also make a good upgrade platform. As you get more into cycling you can slowly upgrade as your finances allow.
Cheap Road Bike Buying Guide – 5 Tips to Avoid Disappointment
Go single speed
As you can see many of the bikes here are fixie bikes. These are an excellent introduction for cycling. Since you’re not paying for gears, you’ll get a more straightforward and higher standard of bike for the same money. Fixie bikes make the best top commuter bikes for those who don’t like doing maintenance.
Get the right size
Getting the right size is a great rule for every type of bike. Never be swayed by the price — if a bike doesn’t fit you, move on.
Get a flat bar if you want
Some people don’t want to ride a bike with a drop bar. They will then buy a mountain bike to get a flat bar, but lose out on the speed of a road bike. You’ll find that some of the bikes in this review come with a flat bar such as that you’d find on most mountain bikes. Buying one of these bikes will bring you mountain bike comfort but road bike speed.
Don’t be put off by narrow saddles
Many people think narrow saddles will be uncomfortable, but on a road bike, they work well with your riding position. You’ll be in more pain with a fat padded saddle.
Don’t go for fancy paintjobs
Simple block colored bikes mean that more money has been spent on the parts that will make a difference. A fancy paint job won’t make a bike any better.
Should I Avoid Cheaper Road Bikes and Invest in a Better Quality Bike?
If you have the money, you should, but it won’t necessarily make you a better cyclist. It will probably save you from becoming a better mechanic though, and it will save you a trip to the bike shop. As you go up in price, you’ll find lighter, stronger, and more and durable parts — parts that will take abuse and are easy to find replacements for.
All of the bikes in this review can be upgraded to match a higher level of bike, so if you think you might be into cycling for a long time, there is no need to worry. The best bit about upgrading your bike is that you’ll learn how to build and fix your own bike. Knowing how to do this will save you a lot of money in the long run.
You will have to remember that an affordable road bike will not be as great as a $1000+ bike. You don’t buy a Chevrolet Spark and expect supercar performance. You’ll be able to convert road bikes under $1000 into bikes that ride like they cost more than a $1000.
How to Upgrade a Basic Road Bike
The first upgrade everyone tells you to get for a bike is better wheels. Complete bikes always tend to have wheels that are a level below the rest of the bike. We would suggest before you do that, you try new 700c tires.
Cheap tires are heavy, and by buying some new ones, you can take a lot of weight off your bike. Making your bike lighter is also a great way to make them faster. Lighter tires are more supple, helping them to grip the road, and you’ll feel a difference in the handling of your bike. You’ll be able to fire your bike around corners now, and climbing will become a second or two faster and a little bit easier.
Another thing to think about is upgrading your seat post. A good seat post will help to bring some comfort into the area where you want it most. It will add a little compliance if we’re going to use cycling speak. It will also help you shed a few more grams from your bike weight. Remember that seat posts come in varying diameters, so check the diameter of your current seat post before ordering a new one. You can usually find the diameter written on the seatpost
If you want to add more comfort and shed some more weight, then try a new fork. The bikes in this review all feature a 1 1/8” headtube and most have a steel fork, and you should be able to find lighter forks and if your budget gets high enough a carbon fiber fork. A carbon fiber fork will help to reduce road vibrations, and this will save you from fatigue.
After you have committed to this, it might be time to look at wheels. If you’re looking at a new wheelset, remember that the majority of fixie bikes have 120 mm rear hub spacing and the geared bikes have 130 mm hub spacing.
It is also worth noting that you turn a geared bike into a single speed bike by running a single speed conversion kit but a 120 mm rear bike will always be a single speed and can’t be upgraded to running gears.
To upgrade your wheels in a way to make the upgrade worthwhile you will be looking at around the price of the bike again. You will though get a huge improvement, and you’ll also have also raised the bike’s performance up to around the level of a $1000 bike.
You might not have the same level of groupset as the $1000 bikes, but your bike will certainly be as fast or faster if you pick a nice aero set of wheels. If you want a similar level of groupset on your geared bike, you will need to upgrade your groupset all at once. You won’t be able to do it in bits at a time. The reason for this is that the STI integrated shifters all use more gears than is on offer on any bike here, and this makes them incompatible.
You will get a slicker gear change from upgrading your groupset, but the jury will be out on whether it is a performance upgrade. It might just be more a mental upgrade than a physical one. In many ways, you should just let your legs do the talking and not a bunch of fancy parts on your bike.
What is a Reasonable Price to Pay for a Good Low-End Road Bike?
You’ll definitely want to start above $200 for a geared bike. The bikes below $200 are what is known as a BSO (bicycle shaped object) on the internet. You’ll also find that the bikes above $200 will be able to be upgraded following our ideas above.
Below $200 and you can find obscure parts that have been found lying around the factory and trying to get spares will be a nightmare. You might have to deal with weird standards, and you’ll be looking at 1” headsets rather than 1 1/8” headsets. The older standard will limit how much you can upgrade your bike.
All of the geared bikes in our review come with easy to use Shimano gearing. They all have aluminum wheel rims rather than the steel wheel rims you get on cheaper bikes. Steel rims will not allow you to brake in the wet. It can be like taking your life in your hands. None of the bikes in our test come with cottered cranks, and there is nothing like trying to find a cotter pin. If it falls out your more than likely looking for a new chainset, these will all be found on bikes under $200.
You’ll be able to find good fixie bikes from $170 up. You can get a good fixie for less, as you’re not paying for gears and freehubs. These all add costs and complexity. A fixie could be a simple and easy choice if you don’t have a lot to spend, unless you live somewhere really hilly.
What are Some Top Low-End Road Bike Brands?
Vilano has been providing low-cost affordable bikes since 2008. You can see the knowledge that they have acquired through their bike ranges. All of their bikes are well specced for the money, and they come with parts that might not be the flashiest but have been thoroughly tested and proven to be reliable.
Critical Cycles is part of the Retrospec family of bike companies. Like Vilano, Critical Cycles are only interested in the affordable end of the bike market. Retrospec is a company that wants us all to engage in green transport, and this is the defining reason why Critical Cycles are highly affordable.
are also only interested in affordable bikes, but they have imbued their company with a little bit of millennial style. They offer low-cost bikes that all have a nicely thought out color scheme and look more stylish than their price tag says they should.