Budget Race Bikes

Battle of the “Budget” Race Bikes. I use quotations because the term budget is always up for debate. One person’s “budget” is another’s “high end.” What I have in mind is 105 Di2 level spec. And more of a comparison between brands.

Few things. Some brands don’t have a 105 Di2 spec. Giant and Van Rysel have a Rival AXS spec which you could argue is the same. Specialized have the 105 spec for the SL7 but not the SL8. A lot of the price differences come down to whether they have alloy wheels vs a budget carbon set. Canyon as usual look to have the best value being the lowest price (apart from the Allez build) AND includes some decent DT Swiss carbon wheels. And some of these are the older model (SL7) or about to be the older model (new Madone and Aeroad coming soon).

  • Specialized Tarmac SL7 - $4500, alloy wheels
  • Canyon Aeroad CF SLX - $4200, DT Swiss carbon wheels
  • Trek Madone SL 6 - $5500, Bontrager carbon wheels
  • Cannondale SuperSix EVO 3 - $4500, alloy wheels
  • Specialized Allez Sprint LTD - $3500, alloy wheels
  • Van Rysel RCR - $5500, Zipp carbon wheels, Rival AXS w/ power meter
  • Scott Foil RC 30 - $4800, alloy wheels
  • Giant Propel Advanced 1 - $6100, carbon wheels, Rival AXS

What build would you go with? Does it just come down to brand preference and/or looks?

Edit: To add some things based on some responses.

Prefer new to get the warranty and shop support. Would consider used if the price is right. But to be honest, a lot of used bikes around me are price so high it’s funny. I’m looking for aero on a budget. Meaning I want hidden cables and an aero frame. Racing is crits and road races. And honestly, the whole crits are crash fests, just buy cheap thing never made sense to me, I’ve seen probably the same aount of crashes in road races. And it should be readily available in the US.

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I’d be taking a fairly hard look at last year’s TCR: TCR Advanced Disc 1 Pro Compact (2023) | bike | Giant Bicycles US
(Edit: with carbon wheels TCR Advanced Disc 1+ (2023) | bike | Giant Bicycles US)
Possibly even this year’s. Widespread dealer network for in-person support and the price is right. It’s not a dedicated aero bike, but nor is Supersix or Tarmac, and same stack/reach as Propel.

If you’re willing to go with a smaller brand and less in-person support, you might take a look at Van Dessel and Polygon as well.


Just last week I got a canyon endurace cf8 with ultegra di2 for 3399, dt swiss alloy wheels.

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What kind of “racing” are we talking about here? If budget American style crit racing, why not aluminum? The CAAD 13 is $3700 or the Specialized Allez LTD for $3500 both with 105 Di2.

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Second this. Finding a 105 di2 build second hand or new is easy peasy. If budget is the focus, crash replacement with Giant is second to none.

Do you have to buy new? There is an absolute glut of used bikes on the market right now.

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Yea, I thought about the TCR. One, the old has exposed cables. And I want integrated partly because I think it looks cool. But also I’m trying to go full aero. Hence why I chose their Propel. And yes, technically you could argue the SuperSix and Tarmac are not the aero bike, although they both seem to have become the only aero bike as the Venge was killed off and it’s looking like the SystemSix might be as well. The SuperSix was also tested to be pretty aero, close to the Propel and better than both Tarmacs if I recall correctly.

That’s a killer price. Wish the Aeroroad would have better deals. Maybe some incoming with the new model soon to be released.

Crits and road races. I don’t have anything against aluminum per se, as I listed the Allez. I just prefer carbon. I like how it rides better and you can get much more aero tube shapes for the weight. I listed the Allez because it’s almost an alloy Tarmac. The CAAD still has round tubes and exposed cables so it didn’t make the cut.

It’s not a requirement but the used market around me is laughable. People still asking $4500 for SL7 framesets or $8000 for mid-tier full builds. Honestly I’ve seen better deals on brand new bikes with lots of shops having sales. Maybe I’m missing them but I’ve seen more used ads that are delusional than reasonable or any kind of deal.

Ari Bikes (formerly Fezzari) Veyo

$4k for SRAM Rival AXS with DT Swiss P1800 wheels. Can upgrade wheels at checkout ($1k for Zipp 303S, $1.4k for Zipp 404FC). The Fezzari-labeled version is on sale for $3200 but has limited sizes. If I were in the market for an aero road bike I’d actually get the Fezzari version just because I like the paint schemes way better.

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My local shop just signed up to sell the new Haro road bikes. Price is right and the company has long been reputable in the bmx sphere, from what I understand.

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Yeah, I hear you that people aren’t being realistic. I spent $5k on a new Tarmac SL7 with Rival AXS days before they bumped it up to $5.5k. Looking back on it, I can’t believe I spent that much- since it was another $300 in tax and then I ended up buying $1k carbon wheels right afterward and I still had aluminum bars and an aluminum stem.

I think the value is in non-big-name bikes IMO. Felt, Scott, etc. Just as aero, 1/100 of the marketing and can get a great value in used. Some people are just so caught up in the S-Works, Madones, etc. I don’t really care.

For a new aero bike, I’d probably go a Van Dessel Arch65: VAN DESSEL™ ARCH 65 | PERFORMANCE CARBON ROAD BIKE – Van Dessel Cycles and do the $3899 for Ultegra di2 and Carbon Wheels.

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@Junk_Miles I’m not sure any bike manufacturer will support a warranty claim for accidental damage while racing or riding on the road.

Pre owned makes sense here with lots of bargains to be had and the old adage of race what you can afford to replace still holds true. It’s not simply about your ability, it’s the odd idiot you need to be careful of that can wipe you out.


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I wasn’t expecting that. I meant in general. Just having the shop and warranty if anything should happen. I know most places still honor the warranty for second owners but I have heard of people having issues as the second owner. Plus you never know what the bike has been through. If I’m saving thousands of dollars then yea it makes sense. But if a used bike is only a couple hundred cheaper than what I can get brand new in store, why would I take the risk?

One gen older frame with one gen older Ultegra for $6850? Really? I’m sure it’s a nice bike but I’m not paying that.

Compared to brand new with 12sp Ultegra. And $1300 cheaper.

Heck, I’d take the 105 Di2 over previous gen Ultegra. I’m sure there are deals out there, I just haven’t seen many. And the Factor is a perfect example of warranty issues because they state explicitly that the warranty is not transferable. So you’re out of luck if something happens.

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I think Giant does…

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Unless you are doing a lot of solo breakaways, do you need aero? If I was buying a race bike, I would personally be looking for one of aluminum bikes and 105 mechanical (but I hate Di2).

I have the Fezzari Veyo in a Dura Ace build (this why I know I hate Di2) and it is a nice bike, but I didn’t buy it to race.

I know the broscience is that aluminum crashes better than carbon, but I wonder if this is actually true.

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And for 4200 you get a canyon Abroad that already has a good wheelset and is more aero for critracing… You have to spend at least 700$ for a pair of wheels and better tires on those alloy frames… Don’t get me wrong alloy bikes are very good but from a value perspective the Abroad is just a better deal unless you need/want store support.

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I recently bought this with carbon 50s in the UK. Great bike.

Simply for being budget I’ll nominate the Polygon Helios A9X with heavy carbon wheels and Dura Ace for $5000

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All about sales. I picked up an orbea orca aero 12 speed ultegra with carbon wheels for £3700 new from leisure lakes with lifetime warranty. People were wanting more than that for second hand bikes.


That’s my move. So yes.

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