Which are the best road bikes? It's a common question - after all everyone buying a bike wants the best one possible - but the question is one that is impossible to answer!
The answer depends on what you are looking for i.e. what you mean by 'best. First you need to consider which of the following is important to you':
- speed over comfort
- comfort over long distances
- a great looking bike
- cheap or at least great value
- easy to upgrade in the future eg frame that is good enough to merit much more expensive wheels in due course
That carbon fibre model that looks so great and feels so light might be very tiring over long distances and hard work to keep it motoring along if it is very rigid - but great for whizzing your way up the nearest steep hill...likewise rigid wheels and a bumby route can make your life pretty tough.
To confuse matters further people will disagree about which components you should have on the bike - are SRAM components better than Shimano? Are you better off paying more for the frame and less on, say, the gears? The permutations are endless. Anyway you see the problem - there is no best bike!
However that is no good as an answer, you came here wanting to know which is the best bike. Here are suggestions for bikes that get consistently great reviews and will be ideal whether you want to travel great distances or enter local races:
Best bikes - a (very) small selection
1) Trek Madone 6.9. Ridden to victory in the Tour de France numerous times, the new Trek Madone 6.9 is, according to Lance Armstrong, 'the best bike in the peloton'. About £5,000 but can be significantly cheaper if you 'downgrade' the wheels and gears at the time of purchase. It can also be more expensive if you want a super-duper paint finish or a copy of the 'Live Strong' paintwork.
2) Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL2 (or the new SL3). Price around £5300. I've only seen good reviews for this bike, it comes from a company with a very high reputation, and it looks great as well. I wish I had the money to buy one myself!
3) Colnago. I'm less familiar with Colnago bikes personally but they are are extremely highly regarded and should also appear on your short list of best road bikes. how about the Colnago CLX Ultegra - a snip at £2600!
Note: it is really very unlikely that you would buy a bike of this price and equipment range as a first bike unless you are very wealthy. Most people would start with an entry-level bike (say £400-£600), then perhaps upgrade to a bike in the £1000-£2000 range after a season or two, and only after a couple more years start looking at bikes costing over £3000. By that stage you will be much more familiar with your own cycling strengths and weaknesses, and that will help a great deal in your final choice.