Joy of the Ride

From low prices to high comfort, the best new road bikes share one basic feature: fun

1. Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL
Perfect For: Racers who want gain without pain.
Why It's Cool: Comfort meets world-class performance. Even with a lengthened wheelbase and radical curves—all designed for shock-absorbing vertical compliance—the frame is still so light and laterally stiff that pros race it on the open road.
Before You Buy: Not the best choice for a criterium, since the wheelbase makes the steering a bit sluggish for tight turns in shoulder-to-shoulder traffic. $6,000; 15.4 lbs, 56cm; specialized.com

2. Giant TCR-C3
Perfect For: Cyclists who enjoy dropping their friends on a bike that costs less than half of what the other guys are paying for custom carbon frames alone.
Why It's Cool: This is the same carbon frame used on Giant's pricier models; the only difference is components—with the C3, you get a set mostly made up of hardworking Shimano 105 parts. Handling is trigger-finger precise, stability sure as a safety latch. Bonus: the flashy dual-spoke Xero wheels—they even look fast.
Before You Buy: Serious sprinters and XXL riders may prefer a slightly more rigid frame. $1,850; 18.6 lbs, L; giant-bicycles.com

3. Bianchi Via Nirone 7 Ultegra
Perfect For: Anyone who measures the weekend incenturies, not miles.
Why It's Cool: The swooping aluminum frame is a head turner, but it also provides built-in vertical cushion for a pillow-top ride. Combined with the carbon-fiber seatstays and fork, which damp road noise, the result is a great bike for logging big mileage. It comes with a nearly complete Shimano Ultegra drivetrain—a steal at this price.
Before You Buy: Put away the scale. It rides lighter than its 20 pounds, but that still places it in the realm of club rides. $1,700; 19.9 lbs, 55cm; bianchiusa.com

4. Kona Paddy Wagon
Perfect For: Urban cyclists who need a fast rig that can handle city abuse.
Why It's Cool: The steel frame smooths the ride, and the whole package can tough it out on the front of a bus. The 42x16 gearing is versatile for a single-speed: You can ride up all but the steepest hills yet still cruise along in a pack. The flip-flop rear hub lets you choose between a fixed gear (for high-cadence workouts) and a freewheel (for easier rush-hour pedaling).
Before You Buy: Check your wardrobe. This bike is all about utility—it goes better with denim than spandex. $649; 22 lbs, 56cm; konaworld.com

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