Updated 23 August 2019
The history of carbon road bikes
Carbon fibre is the premier bike material of the 21st century and has come on a long way since manufacturers first started trying to use it back in the 70s. Although first used in the 1980s, it wasn’t until LeMond won the Tour de France on a carbon Look KG86 in 1986 that it became more common place. From then until now, it is pretty most the most sought after material type. This is mainly due to it being super light and strong leading to a very stiff frame. Carbon frames can also be moulded into any shape. However, they can also came with a hefty price tag.
However, buy carefully and you can get yourself a really great carbon fibre bike without blowing the budget. It’s good to note that most brands have their own name for their own carbon construction: Giant call theirs Advanced Composite, Specialized have FACT and Cervelo call theirs All-Carbon.
What to look for in a carbon road bike in 2019
It’s not just the quality of carbon you need to consider. Overall Shimano 105 (R7000) is new for 2019 bikes which makes for some particularly good value 105 equipped bikes with hydraulic disc brakes (non-disc 105 bikes still benefit from the update). In general the number of disc brake bikes continues to increase.
Below we run through a range of bikes to help you choose which is the best value carbon bike for you and your riding needs.
Great value carbon road bikes to consider:
Name: Whyte Wessex 2020
Why it’s in our best carbon road bikes for 2019 shortlist: This model continues on from 2018 however it’s now £250 cheaper!
Key details: Feature wise it’s designed for British roads and conditions running high volume 30c tubeless tyres with wide rims, has well sealed internal cable routing and accepts full mudguards. It’s also very competitively priced for a bike running Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes. We also stock the Di2 option (£3,650).
Name: Cervelo S5 Disc Ultegra 2019
Why it’s in our best carbon road bikes for 2019 shortlist: Although definitely not the cheapest, the quality still makes it good value.
Key details: The new S5 can take up to 28mm tyres but the main story is with the aerodynamics. The most striking feature is the new custom bar, stem and fork which allow for the cables to be fully integrated. Using Ultegra components brings the price down from owning a world tour level aero race bike (Cervelo S5 Disc Ultegra DI2 2019).
Name: Specialized Tarmac SL6 Sport Disc 2019
Why it’s in our best carbon road bikes for 2019 shortlist: This bike is a good example of the new 105 hydraulic disc brake groupset being used to bring down entry price point.
Key details: It’s a bike that can do a bit of everything with up to 30mm type clearance, good aerodynamics but comfortable enough for longer rides. In the past Specialized has only offered their newest frame design at the higher price points but this is changing. The Tarmac SL6 is a good example with this model being Rider-First engineered with every frame size having size specific construction.
Name: Liv Langma Advanced 2 Disc 2019
Why it’s in our best carbon road bikes for 2019 shortlist: Langma was a new platform last year and this year there are more disc options available. This gives customers looking for disc brakes a slightly racier alternative to the ever popular Liv Avail Advanced range while still providing good value for money.
Key details: This models uses new 105 and the updated Giant Conduct SL disc brakes (cable actuated hydraulic disc brakes). The updated brakes have been slimmed down from last year and continue to perform well. This model also uses Giant Gavia AC tubeless tyres which if ran tubeless will aid comfort, save weight and offer increased puncture resistance.
Name: Giant Defy Advanced 2 2019
Why it’s in our best carbon road bikes for 2019 shortlist: It’s always been popular but Giant has still made significant improvements for 2019.
Key details: The frame is new for 2019 with improved tyre clearance up to 32c, new cable routing (allows for further integration with a new stem fitted as standard on Advanced Pro models) and Giant has added D-Fuse handlebars to further improve comfort over the previous generation Defy. 28mm tyres as standard are tubeless ready and without inserts, pivots or suspension, the Defy is still one of the most comfortable endurance road platforms.
Name: Giant Defy Advanced Pro 2 2019
Why it’s in our best carbon road bikes for 2019 shortlist: Advanced Pro level bikes are specced with Giant’s own composite wheelsets which adds to a very competitive overall package.
Key details: The frame is shared with the Advanced 2 models mentioned above (the fork moves to the stiffer OD2 standard). The Advanced Pro 2 is the first model running full hydraulic disc brakes (105) and has the new SL Stealth stem which fully integrates the cables for a very clean look.
Name: Giant Propel Advanced 2 Disc 2019
Why it’s in our best carbon road bikes for 2019 shortlist: This model uses new 105 to offer a very competitively priced hydraulic disc aero bike (Giant’s next model is £2,999, Cervelo start at £3,999)
Key details: The Propel has always been a popular aero road bike in part due to being more affordable than the competition with a range that extends down to lower price points. Last year Giant introduced disc brake models and this range has been expanded for 2019. A custom stem neatly integrates the cables, the tyres are tubeless ready and the Propel continues to be one of the more comfortable aero road options.
Other road bikes to consider:
Okay, so these ones aren’t technically carbon so they should really be appearing in a blog about the best carbon road bikes but they’re still worth considering.
Name: Giant Contend SL 1 Disc 2019 Road Bike
Why it’s in our best carbon road bikes for 2019 shortlist: if your budget doesn’t stretch to carbon, this is a really great option.
Key details: The Aluxx SL frame and D-Fuse seatpost make it one of the most comfortable alloy road bikes. Like the Liv version below, they both run new Shimano 105 and updated Conduct SL disc brakes.
Name: Liv Avail SL 1 Disc 2019 Road Bike
Why it’s in our best carbon road bikes for 2019 shortlist: This is the female specific version of the Giant Contend SL 1 Disc above and is an excellent choice if you can’t afford a carbon road bike.
Key details: Much like the Giant Contend SL 1 Disc, this bike comes with a great spec to make for a more comfortable and responsive ride.