For commuters who want to travel faster or further, a road bike is hard to beat. But it needs to be practical too – like these.
A steel frame, steel fork and rim brakes might seem anachronistic in this age of hydroformed aluminium, carbon forks and disc brakes, but Kona's Tonk is a thoroughbred commuter. Steel is durable and resilient. The frame's taller head tube and shorter stem provide a more comfortable, head-up riding position. Its longer-reach Shimano R451 brakes will clear bigger tyres and/or mudguards, making for a more comfortable, cleaner commute. The rims are tubeless compatible, so you can upgrade inexpensively to even better rolling, self-sealing tyres. Gearing is 2×9 Shimano Sora, which is fine for the daily grind. It'll take a rear rack too.
Cyclescheme Price: £675.04*
An endurance road bike rather than a racer, this Liv Avail is proportioned for the female cyclist who wants comfort as well as speed. While the fittings on the aluminium frame and carbon fork aren't obvious, all Avails can be equipped with mudguards; Giant make a pair specially, called Speedshield. The TRP Spyre brakes should require less tinkering than other cable disc brakes as both pistons move, so pad wear should be even. They work well too. Secondary bar-top levers mean you can be on the brakes immediately, wherever your hands are, which is handy in traffic. Gearing is 2×10 Shimano Tiagra, with the same range as Sora but smaller steps between gears.
Cyclescheme Price: £732.10*
Not a pure road bike but a carbon-forked gravel bike that 'lives on a diet of tarmac, potholes, mud and gravel', the Mustang Elite is well suited to bad roads and good tracks. Its wider (35mm) tyres can be run softer, even more so if you take advantage of the tubeless rims and ditch innertubes for sealant. A SRAM 1X Rival groupset means there's just one chainring, with alternately thick-thin teeth to stop the chain derailing, and a huge 11-speed cassette (10-42 teeth). Gear shifting is simpler and more reliable, and the range is fine. TRP HyRd brakes are bulky but effective, combining hydraulic callipers with conventional cables.
Cyclescheme Price: £750.88*
The CK7 is that rare thing: a road bike that comes equipped with mudguards. It's been a popular winter training and commuting bike for some years, and for 2017 it remains at a Cyclescheme-friendly price. The aluminium frame and carbon fork are designed around longer reach brakes, so there's room for grit to rattle through between the guards and the 25mm tyres. It'll take a pannier rack too. The gearing is Campagnolo Veloce rather than the ubiquitous Shimano, so you'll get an approving nod from old roadies. Also, the thumb-button shift lever on the hoods is a bit easier to use than Shimano's paddle-lever in bulky winter gloves.
Cyclecheme Price: £750.89*
Whyte's road bikes were designed for discs from day one; it's all they've ever offered. Clearances are accordingly generous, with room in the carbon fork and aluminium frame for plush 30mm tyres like these Schwalbe S Ones as well as mudguards. There are fittings for a rear rack as well as mudguards. Another neat feature of the frame is its threaded bottom bracket, which promises longer, less creaky service than a press-fit design. Gears are 2×10 Shimano Tiagra with a decent range, while the brakes are the same smoothly powerful TRP HyRd hybrid units as the Raleigh Mustang Elite.
Cyclescheme Price: £849.89*