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Best aluminium road bikes 2022

The best aluminium road bikes are better today than they’ve ever been, rivalling and in some cases beating similarly priced carbon bikes for overall performance and value.

Since carbon became the default material from which to make competitive racing bikes, steel has forged a second life for itself. However, if steel is vinyl – outmoded but charming – then aluminium has risked becoming an eight-track cassette tape – an unloved evolutionary stepping-stone doomed to the charity shop of history.

It wasn’t always so. For around a decade from the mid-90s to the early-2000s, aluminium was the material of choice, with Miguel Indurain being the first to win the Tour de France aboard an aluminium Pinarello in 1995.

However, with Lance Armstrong ‘winning’ on a carbon Trek OCLV Madone only three years later, aluminium has often since found itself largely consigned to brands’ entry-level machines.

Should I buy an aluminium road bike?

The Specialized Allez Sprint is one of the new breed of high-tech aluminium bikes. Photo: Matthew Loveridge

You certainly shouldn’t rule aluminium out, particularly if you’re spending less than £3,000 / $3,500.

Aluminium has been enjoying a revival, with new manufacturing methods once again making it a viable choice for race-winning bikes (or just plain fun ones). Aluminium bikes can be stiff, zippy and very light.

A note on nomenclature, by the way: aluminium is often referred to as ‘alloy’ which is strictly speaking quite vague, since all metal-framed bikes are made from alloys of one sort or another. 

Are aluminium bikes harsh?

Old-school aluminium bikes like this Eddy Merckx were much less sophisticated in their construction. Photo: Mike Massaro

They can be, but they don’t have to be. The ultra-stiff aluminium race bikes of the nineties and 2000s gave the material a reputation for harsh ride quality, but how a bike rides depends on multiple factors including frame design, spec choices and tyre pressure. 

The best aluminium frames build in some vertical flex for comfort, typically with skinny or dropped seatstays, or flexible seatposts. The trend towards wider tyres has helped here too – many road bikes now come with 28mm tyres as standard, and can accept wider ones still.

Why should you trust our advice?

Our team of expert testers led by tech editor Sam Challis has an immense combined experience of riding everything from the very cheapest entry-level bikes, up to the latest and greatest flagship superbikes. 

We’re riders just like you who love cycling for the joy, the excitement, and the physical challenge.

We value bikes that are at once easy to live with and a pleasure to ride, and we admire brands that dare to be different or that offer a particularly compelling package for the money. 

We will never recommend a bike we wouldn’t spend our own money on. 

8 of the best aluminium road bikes

  1. Cannondale CAAD13 Disc Ultegra: £3,000
  2. Specialized Allez Sprint: £2,650
  3. Trek Émonda ALR 5: £2,200
  4. Condor Italia RC Disc: £1,299 (frameset only)
  5. Canyon Endurace 7: £1,699
  6. Boardman SLR 8.8: £850
  7. Ribble Endurance AL Disc 105: £1,499
  8. Kinesis R1: £1,680

Products appearing in Cyclist buyer’s guides are independently selected by our editorial team. Cyclist may earn an affiliate commission if you make a purchase through a retailer link. Read our reviews policy. 

1. Cannondale CAAD13 Disc Ultegra

  • Price: £3,000

Cannondale was famous during the ’90s for its slinky-looking CAAD frames, which are still objects of lust for a particular breed of bike nerd. The new CAAD13, however, is likely to have wider modern-day appeal.

It’s lovely-looking and lighter than many carbon competitors, while its ultra-thin tubing also provides a ride far smoother than you’d imagine possible.

Now only available equipped with disc brakes, this range-topping CAAD13 with Shimano Ultegra is the go-to choice for aspiring racers.

The latest CAAD13 features dropped seatstays for comfort plus clearance for fat tyres up to 30mm wide, but it’s still light and racy. Combined with fast Fulcrum Racing wheels, a pro-compact crankset and aggressive geometry, the CAAD 13 remains living proof that aluminium can still more than match carbon.

2. Specialized Allez Sprint

  • Price: £2,650

At different times the Specialized Allez has been made from steel, carbon fibre and aluminium.

The standard Allez is Specialized’s entry-level, do-it-all road bike while the Sprint is a hardcore racer created to showcase the brand’s aluminium construction technology, and provide a real alternative to carbon.

The Allez Sprint is very sculpted for an aluminium frame, employing SmartWeld technology to produce an aero-tested frame that’s effectively a metal version of the Specialized Tarmac SL7.

In fact, many features are nicked from the Tarmac including the geometry and while the Allez’s frame is a good bit heavier, its 1.5kg weight is still respectable enough.

The Allez Sprint is a stiff and lively bike, and we found a lot to like when we reviewed it. However, with a price that’s now only £100 shy of the entry-level Tarmac SL6, it’s all too easy to be tempted by carbon.

3. Trek Émonda ALR 5

  • Price: £2,200

That a company as large as Trek would bother to create an aluminium bike as nice as this proves there’s life left in the genre yet. The Émonda ALR looks for all the world like a carbon bike thanks to the effort that's gone into hydroforming each tube.

This has been helped along by something Trek calls ‘invisible weld’ technology. Chuck on a full Shimano 105 drivetrain and hydraulic brakes and most riders will find little to fault – other specs are available too.

There are bolt-thru axles and flat-mount fittings, and even room for a dedicated computer sensor buried inside one of the chainstays.

The Émonda ALR 5 is also available as a frameset which now comes in a very cool yellow–red fade.

4. Condor Italia RC Disc

  • Price: £1,299 (frame only)

London cycling stalwart Condor produces its range in Italy. The race-oriented Italia RC is a legitimately fast bike with a moderate price tag, ideal for regular racing and fast training.

Featuring an asymmetric down tube with a flattened profile to resist twisting, it should be happy to get thrown about.

Having previous eschewed anything as crassly modern as disc brakes or bolt-thru axles, this latest version sports both. Thankfully the Italia is still gorgeous to look at in deep two-tone blue.

The Italia is sold frame-only, and Condor will help build the bike up to match your requirements. You can also call on the experience of its in-house fitters to get it spot on.

5. Canyon Endurace 7

  • Price: £1,699

Canyon’s entry-level Endurace has been a go-to for new riders for years because it has always been a great package out of the box, with no gaps in the spec and excellent all-round performance. 

The 105-equipped model has usually been the sweet spot and, while it’s not as cheap as it once was (what is?), it remains a very appealing option that saves a chunk of cash over the also-excellent Canyon Endurace CF

The old Endurace AL was one of our favourite aluminium bikes and the latest version offers all the same good bits, with some subtle updates for 2022 including increased tyre clearance. 

Canyon sells direct only and long lead times may put some riders off, but the bikes are always good. 

6. Boardman SLR 8.8

  • Price: £850

Boardman has long been a leader on value and the SLR 8.8 is a fantastic introduction to road cycling, with a nicely finished aluminium frame that looks remarkably carbon-esque. 

Price well below a grand, there are some spec compromises in the form of cable disc brakes (as opposed to hydraulics) and a crankset that doesn’t match the Shimano Tiagra drivetrain, but nothing that stops this being a solid buy. 

The SLR 8.8 is fun and engaging despite being at the heavier end of the road bike spectrum. The brakes may be basic but they offer plenty of confidence, while a generous range of gears will get you up most hills.

For a little more cash, the Shimano 105-equipped Boardman SLR 8.9 is also worth a look. 

7. Ribble Endurance AL Disc 105

  • Price: £1,499

Ribble’s take on the sensible aluminium all-rounder follows a very similar recipe to Canyon’s, right down to the naming scheme. 

The Endurance AL is versatile, well specced and fun to ride. We’d opt for the Shimano 105 model but you can save yourself £400 and drop down to Tiagra if the budget is tight. 

8. Kinesis R1

  • Price: £1,680

Gravel bikes are all the rage, but for many riders something more like ‘all-road’ provides a useful middle ground. 

The Kinesis R1 is one such bike, a do-everything road bike that’s well-suited to year-round riding.

The 1× (single chainring) drivetrain keeps things simple while the 30mm tyres add comfort and versatility, plus you can go up to 34mm wide rubber to push things further off-road.

Kinesis also specs wider than typical bars for control and leverage, maybe even a spot of bikepacking

  • Read our full Kinesis R1 review
  • Buy now from Kinesis (£1,680) – available from December 2022

Need some help with the basics? Read our beginner's guide to the parts of a road bike

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