Whether you’re five years old or 75 years old, there’s no denying the sheer sense of joy that comes from riding a bike. The incredible human-powered machines may be one of mankind’s greatest creations, providing a means of transportation, exercise and entertainment. There are many companies making tons of awesome bikes, but how should you decide which bike is best for you?
As the master fitter and Founder of Fit Werx Ian Buchanan told us, “the very best bikes are the ones that match up well with the individual rider.” The perfect bike for you needs to match your needs, aspirations and body. Bike selection is a personal process and great bike shops like Fit Werx take that process seriously. When considering buying a bike, be sure to consult experts like those at the best bike shops and take your time finding a fit that feels right for you.
That said, there are some bikes that are objectively incredible rides, these are our top 30 picks.
“A pure road bike in almost every sense of the word, the Parlee Altum R captures the essence of carbon fiber’s potential,” said Founder of Fit Werx Ian Buchanan. The master fitter also added that “the very best bikes are the ones that match up well with the individual rider.” If you’re looking for a “light and nimble, yet stable and predictable” ride, this might be a top choice for you. The Altum R also comes with a Flex Fit top cap, which allows for more fit adjustments than most bikes.
parleecycles.com; starting at $3,999 for a frameset
Road bikes don’t come cheap—this is especially true of the newer models—but Cannondale’s CAAD10 is a high quality ride for a great price. The biggest difference from most other bikes on this list is that this bike is aluminum, where the others are carbon, but Cannondale insists that the CAAD10 can fly. Supposedly “lighter stiffer and smoother than many elite carbon frames,” this bike has won the hearts of new racers and seasoned club riders alike and frankly, it’s tough to beat the price.
cannondale.com; complete bike for $1,680
“Our best seller for 2015 and for good reason,” said Shaun Radley, Director of Operations at The Cycling House. “At $5299 for a boutique bike with electronic shifting you can't beat it.” Made with an emphasis on endurance, it’s the bike that The Cycling House Owner Owen Gue both races and rides and it’s the bike that Pro Continental Team Bretagne Seche Environnement rode for the Paris Roubaix. “In our testing the bike has proven to be extremely versatile. It can be a dedicated race rig or a high performance/comfortable charity ride ripper,” said Radley.
look675.com; starting at around $3,500 for a frameset, $5,299 for a complete bike
“Take it from someone who rides 10,000+ miles a year (for 10 years in a row)—The Cycling House Camp Director, Brendan Halpin,” said Radley. “If you are looking for a classic, comfortable, performance driven machine then Moots is the one.” The handmade frame can be custom built or ordered in standard sizing from Steamboat Springs, Colo.
moots.com; starting at around $3,300 for a frameset
This carbon frame is rigid in all the right places and is a top pick of 2015 for Jason Woznick of Fair Wheel Bikes. Made of one main piece, instead of three or four pieces molded together, the Ritte Ace is one of the sturdiest frames out there. Accepting all 25 millimeter tires (and some 28s), this bike is versatile and excels both on the race course and around the city.
rittecycles.com; $2,700 for a frameset
Undoubtedly one of the top road bikes available and a huge leap forward for Trek, the Émonda SLR 8 takes light weight to a new level, without sacrificing a great ride. Exceptionally proficient when it comes to steep climbs and long rides, the 13.5-pound (depending on frame size) SLR 8 strikes a near perfect balance between speed and comfort.
trekbikes.com; complete bike for $7,880
“The Pinarello ROKH is the perfect comprehensive bike for the avid cyclist,” said Radley. “With enough get-up-and-go stiffness for race day and a light enough frame to climb with anyone, the ROKH still offers enough comfort for daily mileage. The ROKH now comes in a full bike option with Ultegra components, [so] you don't have to break the bank to get into Italian greatness.”
pinarello.com; complete bike for $3,850
“Don't let the ‘comfort’ label sway you from this bike, it's the most versatile bike that Look sells,” said Radley, who has raced this bike all season. Need proof of its versatility? His dad (who is 73) also enjoys this bike. “It can be a full on carbon endurance bike or with a few tweaks if can be a performance driven group ride rocket. At $2,999 you can't beat the value. This 566 also comes in a Shimano 105 version for $2,399, same frame.”
lookcycle.com; complete bike for $2,999
This race-ready women’s-specific cycle is sure to help you dominate any race. It’s worth mentioning that many women prefer unisex cycles and ladies certainly don’t need to shop for women’s-specific frames, but for those looking for a gender-specific race option, this is one of the very best. From the composite frame to the SpeedControl SL brake system, every part of this cycle is top-notch.
giant-bicycles.com; complete bike for $5,325
Made for the roadie who loves to go the distance, the CX Zero Alu is built with an aluminum frame and a design that puts the rider in a more upright position, which tends to bring more comfort on long rides. A durable bottom bracket, chain stays that absorb some shock and available disc brakes ensure comfort and top performance on every ride.
colnago.com; complete bike for $1,750
“All great mountain bikes start with a great frame,” said Founder of Fit Werx Ian Buchanan. “And Ellsworth developed a unique and very effective frame design a long time ago.” The Absolute Truth 275 features 27.5-inch wheels that work well in the tight stuff and also roll through the fast stuff, according to Buchanan and the bike works overtime with simultaneous active bump absorption and pedaling efficiency. To top it off the muscular carbon aesthetics make this a looker on the trail and you can feel good about your purchase. “[Ellsworth is] one of the few companies bringing bike manufacturing back to the U.S,” said Buchanan.
ellsworthbikes.com; starting at $3,395
“I think the best mountain bike in the field right now is the full suspension Giant Anthem advanced SX,” said Owner of the Pedal House Dewey Gallegos. “I rode this bike at the Outerbike demo back in September…It changed my life.” A few of the features he loved most include the feel of the extra suspension in the front, the aggressive tracking in the corners that give a boost of speed and Giant’s Carbon Wheels.
This entry-level option is well-designed and easy on the wallet, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of their top selling models. The Mahuna frame keeps riders upright on 29-inch wheels and Shimano Hydraulic Disc brakes ensure a smooth stop when the trail gets narrow and steep. New riders will have a tough time finding a better option for their first time on the trails.
When two staffers at The Cycling House make this their top choice for the trails, you know it’s got to be a great ride. “It's the best deal for the money,” said Shaun Radley, Director of Operations at The Cycling House. “It comes with a full XT setup and an XTR rear derailleur. A carbon frame with this build at that price is hard to beat.” He went on to say that the Ultimate RC “climbs like a billy goat” and the XL size weighs in at just 23.8 pounds with a stock build. Radley calls this the go-to bike for anyone who wants a hard tail without mortgaging their house.
All about options—the Cannondale Trigger comes in both 27.5 and 29-inch models and both are outfitted with latest tools to take your ride to new heights. “The idea that you can switch the travel on the suspension is very appealing,” said Gallegos of the Pedal House. That’s the biggest selling point for racers and those who know you have to climb high to enjoy a great descent. “The colors are Cannondale specific, letting everyone know you’re riding one of the leading bicycles in the industry.”
cannondale.com; 29: $8,120 | 27.5: $8,340
“For the ladies, we have seen the new Liv line from Giant, and the responses from our riders have been fantastic,” said Owner of the Pedal House Dewey Gallegos. “The Obsess is one of our shop favorites.” This light and fast women’s-specific XC race bike takes quality parts and a great fit to a whole new level—from the 27.5-inch wheels up through the frame. “Giant has been working hard to make their company the right choice for all riders, and we are impressed with the build-up of parts,” said Gallegos. It’s worth mentioning that many women prefer unisex bikes and ladies certainly don’t need to shop for women’s-specific frames, but for those looking for a gender-specific trail option, this is one of the very best.
“It's hard to find a quality steel hard tail these days,” said Radley of The Cycling House. The P-29ER fits the bill. “The style and geometry of the P-29er is classic and has been a favorite for years. If you don't want to go boutique steel this is the bike for you.” The classic look and new black color option has been a big seller and when you buy the frame, the options are nearly endless. “This bike can still be built up under 25lbs with the right group and is crazy comfortable,” said Radley. He mentioned that the versatility of the frame also allows the rider to use the P-29ER as a touring bike.
richeylogic.com; $899.95 for the frame
Way more than just another cross-country bike, this one is set for speed, tough climbs and some of the most challenging downhill out there. The 4.2-pound carbon frame features 102 millimeters of travel, which meets either 27.5 or 29-inch wheels (depending on the size of the frame). The ASR C Race is a versatile bike that’s simply fun to ride.
yeticycles.com; frame only: $2,899 | ASR Carbon Race: $5,499
This fatbike/ full-suspension mountain bike fusion is a force. Built for the toughest terrain, the Bucksaw features top-of-the-line suspension that pairs with 4-inch-thick tires to take you anywhere. The carbon frame and RockShox Bluto fork propel this bike even farther, making even the toughest terrain entirely possible.
It just doesn’t get more polished than this, but make no mistake, the Cream SS can handle the trail with style and grace. The single-speed 29er is outfitted with a 100-millimeter fork and Enve M50 wheels that complement the titanium frame. It may not be the lightest bike out there, but it’s an undeniably enjoyable ride for those that can ditch the gears.
These 10 commuter rides simply stand out from the pack.
“If you want a cool and more ‘middle of the road’ commuter that can also do a decent job as your recreational bike, a bike like the Gunnar Fastlane makes a lot of sense,” said Founder of Fit Werx Ian Buchanan. “Disc brakes for all weather conditions, a wide range of rack/fender options, a multitude of sizes (including custom) and top quality U.S. built workmanship at a good price make for a smooth riding and dependable commuter year after year.”
gunnarbikes.com; frame from $1,000
When it comes to a fixed-gear commuter that’s anything but basic the Coolidge is a great option. Part of the premium series, this bike is a sleek and light ride with a steel frame and wrapped drop bars. Ready for the road at a bargain, there’s no reason not to bike commute now.
A commuter bike through and through, the Contro 3 was made for city streets and the most discerning commuters. A gold award winner at Eurobike 2014, this bike boasts a unique fork, disc brakes and it’s designed with a built-in rack, fenders and kickstand.
The classic best-selling commuter gets a tech upgrade in the Siva Bourbon from Pure City Cycles. Steel frame and fork pair with a USB charger that generates power as you pedal, so you’ll never have a dead cell phone as long as you have your bike. Vegan leather grips, fenders and rear rack included, the Bourbon comes in either 3-or-8-speed options.
This commuter-road bike hybrid is light, quick and incredibly versatile. Drop bars and a wide gearing range help you get there fast and rack and fender compatibility gives you the option to bring along anything you need. An aluminum frame and your choice of either canti or disc brakes contribute versatility and Trek offers a choice of four CrossRip models.
trekbikes.com; starting at $990
You would never know the Faraday Porteur was an electric bike unless you were riding it—and isn’t that exactly what you want? This beautiful bike is thoughtfully designed from the hidden battery to the Gates belt and even the finest details—the handlebars and seat—are immaculate. With just a three hour charge time, when you need a little boost, this is the ideal commuter bike.
Another Eurobike gold award winner, it’s tough to find a bike of any kind this visually appealing, but that’s far from the only thing to love about the Commuter 7.0. An aluminum frame meets a carbon fiber fork and an eight speed Shimano internal gear system pairs well with a rugged Gates CDN belt. Integrated Supernova head and tail lights are great added features on this well-designed commuter.
canyon.com; starting at €1,799
This comfort commuter takes the essence of a cruiser and makes it more functional. From the aluminum step-through frame down to the built-in bell, the well thought out bike is big on style and functionality. Throw in disc brakes, full fenders and a comfortable handlebar and the Coco is set for the city.
Folding bikes often get a bad reputation for not being as functional or enjoyable as typical bikes, Bike Friday is the best example of why that’s not always the case. The Infinity Drive Silk with a carbon belt drive rides quick and smooth, while folding down (or opening up) is a breeze. This is a versatile premium bike that just happens to fold.
The award-winning FUJI Denny isn’t available for purchase just yet, but it’s in the works and the wait will be worth it. The simplistic design of this incredible bike betrays the useful integrated features. From the removable handlebars that double as a bike lock to the lights that change automatically with the surrounding light, the FUJI Denny turned major heads at the Oregon Manifest bicycle design competition and it’s sure to make waves on the road too.
fujibikes.com; price TBD