Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with new picks for 2017. You can find last year’s picks on Page 2.
Picking the best road bikes will always create an uproar. At the end of the day, factors like fit and desired ride quality mean that, for some riders, one bike could be the greatest thing since handlebar shifters, while to others it seems more like a Softail mountain bike. For that reason, we decided to simply pick our favorite bikes out of the ones we’ve ridden so far this year. Hours of deliberation, meticulous research, and most importantly, riding, are boiled down into the bikes that we dug the most. Whether it was the pristine paint job that won us over, or the impeccable craftsmanship, or the feeling of confidence we had with the bike beneath us, these bikes all gave us what we desire most in a road bike.
Scott Solace 10 Disc
I’m getting older. And I’m getting slower. And sometimes my back hurts. And I don’t climb like I used to (which, if we’re honest here, wasn’t that great anyway). And so, for the first time in my cycling life, I found myself in among the majority of cyclists out there shopping for and buying bikes — I was in the “endurance” geometry market. Thankfully, endurance isn’t a dirty, bad, boring word. Rather, it’s a quite nice word, and one that sets you up for a quality ride at, typically, a fantastic value. Scott sent me a Solace 10 Disc to try on for size, equipped with mechanical Ultegra and Scott’s Syncros components and wheels. It fit perfectly. The bike comes stock with 28mm tires (my favorite size for road), hydraulic disc brakes, through axels, and a color scheme and geometry that could easily be confused for a “performance” bike. It rode like a dream. It was — if I may let my old man side run wild a bit — regenerative to ride. Fatigue took longer to settle in, the ride was comfortable without being bland and the bike quickly became my go-to steed for anything other than crit or circuit races. And, right in the mid-$3,000s, it’s one of the best values in bikes. – Matthew Ankeny
Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Disc 8.0 Di2
Over my bike testing years, I’ve fallen hard for a lot of two wheeled Sirens. But over time, some of the amore wears off and logic takes control. You start to parse out not simply by “life-partner” or “summer fling,” but by what’s a solid value, what’s a good ride for a particular rider, what’s a “future proof,” smart buy, et cetera, et cetera. The romance wears away, and things become more cerebral. With this Canyon, all that’s out the window. I love this bike. I am in love with this bike. It’s perfect. The right mix of racy, stiff, responsive, fast, with steady, secure, supple and comfortable. In this groupset — Ultegra Di2 and Mavic Cosmic wheels — you can’t find a more trustworthy, long-term bet. Add on the hype of Canyon coming stateside, and you cannot hear a more seductive carbon fiber call than this. Give in; there’s no shipwreck with this one. – Matthew Ankeny
BMC Roadmachine 01
The BMC Roadmachine 01 is the pinnacle of the Swiss brand’s road bike line. It’s fast, confidence inspiring and comes with all of the bells and whistles you could hope for in a road bike. The version we tested came kitted with Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 and hydraulic road disc brakes which make you feel like you’re riding a space-age terminator version of the Roadmachine. Virtually every piece of the bike is integrated and internally routed — which makes for a buttery smooth and clean aesthetic. On the flipside, it also makes the bike a bit of a hassle to get set up. Once the bike is fit to you however, the struggle is well worth it for the payoff in aesthetics.
At the end of the day however, aesthetics only take a bike so far and ride performance is where it really counts. The Roadmachine knocks it out of the park. It’s a race-bred steed that isn’t too absurd to designate as your go-to road bike. Don’t get us wrong, it’s not the most comfortable bike out there, but it’s stiff in all the right places and offers compliance enough to tackle your favorite 60-miler.
Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod Disc Ultegra Di2
To be frank, it doesn’t get more pro than the SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod. The V-brake version is the bike of choice for many of the riders on the Cannondale-Drapac professional cycling team during the Tour de France (notably American Taylor Phinney). The disc brake version, in our opinion, is even better (damn UCI and its silly rules!). The frame is laterally stiff, yet compliant in all the right places. Even riding through the less-than-smooth streets of NYC, it isn’t totally jaw shattering — that’s pretty astounding for a hi-mod carbon performance road bike. If there’s one knock on the bike, it’s the aesthetics of the fork (it’s a bit too lean for our tastes). But last I checked, aesthetics have little to do with performance and the one-piece BallisTec fork saves weight and provides some next-level ride quality.
Cannondale CAAD12 Disc Ultegra
This CAAD12 might just be the best bike, in terms of value, in cycling. Constructed out of rigid, lightweight 6069 aluminum alloy, the bike is spec’d with Shimano’s Ultegra drivetrain, flat-mount disc brakes, a carbon fork and Cannondale’s proprietary HollowGram crank. It’s quick, no doubt. And just plain pretty. For the price, no other bike comes close. – Jack Seemer
This season, I’ve been riding the Breadwinner Lolo. I’m not one to care a great deal about how aero my bike is or how fast I can sprint off the line. The thing that matters most to me is comfort sprinkled with a bit of performance, and the Lolo delivers. The workmanship on the frame is incredible — the weld seams on the Columbus Life tubing are nearly invisible. If I could only have one pony in the stable, the Lolo would be it. – AJ Powell
At the upper end of high-performance road bikes, the product descriptions (and the prices) begin to resemble exotic cars. We talk about sensational handling, ultra-lightweight constructions, wind-tunnel testing. So it’s no surprise that BMC has partnered with Lamborghini, Specialized with McLaren, Look with Maserati — and with the V1-r, Colnago with Ferrari. Ferrari consulted on the choice and layup of carbon fiber (as they did on Colnago’s first carbon bike in 1987), resulting in the company’s lightest frame ever, which, thanks to truncated tube profiles and extensive wind-tunnel testing, is also very aerodynamic. That translates to a ride that’s stiff, responsive and fast, whether out of the saddle in a climb, accelerating on the flats or descending on a winding mountain road. – Jeremy Berger
Argon 18 Gallium Pro
In 2005, Argon 18 launched their first full-carbon monocoque frame. Today, the Montreal-based brand is best known for their award-winning triathlon/TT bikes, but the Gallium Pro, the descendent of that monocoque they’ve refined for over a decade, is still the most beautiful bike from the Canucks. The years of fine-tuning generate a responsive ride both when climbing and sprinting, an engineering feat rarely accomplished. And for all the stiffness, the handling is smooth on descents and the bike works with the body to absorb road noise. In a performance geometry with a matte-black finish and a pop of red on the seat tube, it seems that for the Gallium, time has fostered perfection. – Matthew Ankeny
First impressions from riding a 2016 road edition? This isn’t a cute, talk-about-your-steel-bike kind of steel bike. The stock geometry is racier than most carbon frames and relatively large tubing means that it’ll sprint and descend with the best of them despite having that trademark steel comfort. But the reason you buy a Speedvagen isn’t really the geometry or the tube set — just look at the damn thing. The finish work is miles beyond anyone else (see: painted components, stainless brake bridge, hidden Di2 battery cap, infinite other things) and all of the stock paint schemes are immaculate (if you’re going to get one though, get the “Surprise Me”). This is a bike that, a bit like a golden retriever puppy, manages to justify its exorbitant cost when you catch your first glimpse of it. Then you can’t imagine another day without it. – Henry Phillips
Out of all the lightweight carbon bikes I’ve ridden over the years, the Altum was the first one to provide a sensation similar to riding a steel bike. We all love the idea of lightweight bikes, but most of the time, stability or comfort is sacrificed in the name of weight savings. Some carbon bikes can bounce around too much or make you nervous during a fast descent. Parlee claims to have come up with a “new layup process that places the high-modulus carbon fiber in strategic areas to maximize weight reduction without negatively impacting strength or stiffness.” Their new process certainly helped them create the best lightweight bike I’ve ridden. It didn’t bounce around while hammering in the city and it provided a great deal of stability during fast descents (I was able to achieve my first 50+ mph descent.) Paired with Di2 and Mavic carbon wheels, it’s the best bike I’ve ever ridden. – Sung Han