The best endurance road bikes will help you cover long distances and ride in comfort across a variety of terrain.
As a result, an endurance road bike is a great choice for riders who prefer a slightly more relaxed riding position than an out-and-out race bike.
Choosing the best road bike for your needs needn’t be a compromise, however, and the latest endurance bikes are faster and more versatile than ever.
Many of the newest models feature aerodynamic frame details, clearance for wide tyres (often up to 35mm), road disc brakes and generous gearing for climbing, making endurance road bikes suitable for a wide range of riding.
Thanks to their focus on comfort and ability to cover great distances with relative ease, endurance road bikes are also referred to as sportive bikes.
If you’re new to cycling, a sportive is an ideal way to challenge yourself, ride new terrain and meet other riders. In exchange for your entry fee, you’ll get signposted routes, feed stations and facilities at the start and end of the ride.
Here are the best endurance road bikes reviewed by BikeRadar. Keep reading until the end for our full buyer’s guide and tips on what to look out for in an endurance bike.
Best endurance road bikes, as rated by our expert testers
Fairlight Strael 3.0
- £2,900 as tested
- Very adaptable
- Dynamo integration
Sprightly yet comfortable, the Fairlight Strael, now in its third generation, is designed as a four-season road bike. Fairlight makes the steel frame in both regular and tall variants, to suit different rider morphology, with each bike built to order so you can choose your own spec.
There’s plenty of room for wide tyres – 36mm – and mudguards to get you through the worst of the weather. Endurance features include a third bottle cage mount.
We rated the ride quality as unobtrusive – the frame does a great job of smoothing the road, holds a line and climbs well and – as usual – we took in some bridleways on wider tyres, which were handled with ease.
Giant Defy Advanced Pro 2
- £3,499 / $3,900 / €3,499 as tested
- Bags of comfort from D-Fuse seatpost and bars
- Plenty of low-gear range, down to 1:1
- Quality spec with Shimano Ultegra and hydraulic disc brakes
- Carbon wheels and 32mm tubeless tyres
The winner of the endurance road bike category in Bike of the Year 2020, the Defy Advanced Pro 2 offers a great ride, handling and comfort, with the latest model including vibration-damping D-Fuse D-shaped bars and seatpost, along with carbon wheels and 32mm tubeless tyres.
The Defy’s ride position is on the sporty side and there’s the resilience to take on gravel roads. Gearing gives you ratios down to 1:1 to tackle the steepest gradients and the Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors up the stopping power.
You even get the option to fit mudguards, with hidden mounts that don’t spoil the bike’s aesthetics.
Cannondale Synapse Carbon LTD RLE
- £6,750 / $7,050 / €6,999 as tested
- Supple smoothness and exciting handling
- 35mm tyre clearance and all-terrain ability
- Integrated lights
Our 2022 Endurance Bike of the Year, the Synapse LTD RLE has Cannondale’s SmartSense integrated central battery and lights, a smart wheel sensor and a Garmin Varia rear-view radar in the spec.
It’s not just about the added safety features though. The Synapse is all that an endurance bike should be, with wide 35mm tyre clearance with room for mudguards and the same geometry as its cobbled-race-ready predecessors.
The Synapse comes with proportional tube profiles, for a consistent ride experience between sizes and there’s a threaded bottom bracket to ease maintenance.
For anyone wanting to go really long, there’s a third bottle mount and top tube bar mount, as found on the best gravel bikes.
In this spec, you get a Shimano Di2 GRX815 groupset and KNØT 45 wheels with Vittoria Terreno Zero 32c tyres, adding some all-terrain ability. Cannondale fits its aero HollowGram Save SystemBar.
The GRX gearing means that there’s plenty of low range to tackle steep climbs, but we didn’t miss the higher range that the 48-11t highest gear misses. The Synapse is comfortable, light and agile.
We’ve also reviewed the Cannondale Synapse Carbon 2 RL, a lower spec of the Synapse.
Canyon Endurace CF 7 eTap
- £2,849 / €2,999 / $3,999 / AU$4,649 as tested
- Beautifully balanced ride
- Excellent SRAM Rival eTap AXS wireless groupset
- Non tubeless-ready tyres
Canyon’s Endurace CF 7 eTap is one of the best bikes we’ve ridden in any genre, let alone the endurance category, in recent memory. It offers a first-rate ride, combining speed, comfort and impeccable handling in equal measure.
SRAM’s Rival eTap AXS wireless groupset is an inspired pairing with the frame, although we’d have preferred a 46/33 crankset for some of the hills around the South West of England.
The contact points are excellent, and our tester got on particularly well with Fizik’s Tempo Argo R5 saddle.
The Endurace negotiates rough road surfaces superlatively, taming ruts and potholes, and although its all-black aesthetic may look unassuming, the ride is anything but.
Simplon Kiaro Disc
- £4,406 / €4,529 as tested
- Neat cable integration
- Aero features
- Quality wheels and tyres
- Limited UK dealer network
The Kiaro Disc from Austrian brand Simplon has a frame designed to absorb bumpy surfaces and aero features such as full internal cable routing through the one-piece bar and stem.
The spec includes a mechanical Ultegra groupset and quality alloy DT Swiss ER1400 wheels. They’re tubeless-ready, as are the Schwalbe Pro One 28mm tyres.
The Kiaro Disc is light at 8kg for a size large, although a bit difficult to find in the UK, with a limited dealer network.
Specialized Roubaix Expert
- £5,400 / $8,000 / €7,000 as tested
- Future Shock 2.0 headset to absorb road hits
- High-quality spec
We really rated the comfortable, performant ride of the Roubaix, with its Future Shock 2.0 headset helping out enormously up front and a compliant rear triangle. It’s a bike that extends the endurance remit off tarmac, like many of the newer breed of such bikes. It’s pretty light too.
Disappointingly, Specialized doesn’t equip the Roubaix with fender mounts – something of an oversight in a modern endurance bike, which meant that all-weather rides weren’t as comfortable as they should have been.
The current Expert spec has 12-speed Shimano Ultegra Di2 and the tyres have filled out to 30mm from the 28mm fitted when we tested. Carbon wheels are back too.
BMC Roadmachine X One
- £5,700 / $6,699 / €6,499 as tested
- Lightweight, light-gravel spec
- Single-ring SRAM AXS groupset
- Great comfort and control in all weathers and conditions
The reach and stack of the Roadmachine X are similar to the Cannondale Synapse LTD RLE and like that bike, it’s an endurance bike that is specced out for allroad adventures.
There’s a SRAM Force eTap AXS XPLR single-ring, 12-speed groupset and you get BMC’s own carbon wheels with 35mm depth and 21mm internal width, with lightly treaded WTB Expanse 32mm tyres.
That leads to great comfort on tarmac and a confidence-inspiring ride in poor weather and on light gravel. The Roadmachine X is light too for an allroad spec at 8.1kg.
- £2,750 / $3,415 / €2,850 / AU$4,400 as tested
- Great downhill performance
- Comfortable ride
- Something different from the norm
A steel frame, big clearance and 650b wheels with 47mm tyres set the Bombtrack Audax apart from the usual run of endurance road bikes. Despite looking like a gravel bike, with the mounts to match, the Audax’s geometry is thoroughly road-going with a sporty, rapid ride on tarmac. It’s even faster on descents, thanks to the grip from the wide tyres.
The Audax is well specced for the endurance rider too, with comfortable Ritchey bars and a mixed Shimano 105/Ultegra RX drivetrain and a 48/32t Bombtrack chainset.
There’s plenty of comfort thanks to the tyres too, with the bike wafting over poor surfaces – and yes, you can take it on gravel too. It’s a great long-distance option.
Cervélo Caledonia 5 Ultegra Di2
- £7,000 / $8,500 / €7,300 as tested
- Cervélo’s aero heritage coupled with endurance comfort
- 30mm tyres smooth the road
- Mounts for mudguards and a rear light
The Caledonia 5 is Cervélo’s take on the endurance road bike: a machine that combines the brand’s performance focus with the versatility and comfort we’ve come to expect from this category.
That means you get a frame with aero features and a cable-free cockpit, alongside clearance for 34mm tyres (28mm specced as standard on the 25mm internal width Reserve carbon rims) and stealthy mudguard mounts.
As for the geometry, the Caledonia 5’s angles are more relaxed than the company’s R-series bikes, but still on the racy side for an endurance bike.
The latest Shimano Ultegra Di2 12-speed groupset finishes things off, with a 52/36t chainset and 11-34t cassette giving slick changes and closer ratios across the spread than an 11-speed. With Bluetooth included, you can also set up your shifters’ third buttons to operate one of the best bike computers.
Cube Agree C:62 SL
- £4,000 / €4,300 as tested
- Great handling with racy endurance position
- High-value component package
The Agree is towards the more racy end of the endurance bike spectrum, with a fairly aggressive ride position, short head tube and 72.5-degree fork angle, although the rear is more relaxed. All this leads to agile handling and fast acceleration.
Cube has a reputation for good-value specs for the price and the Agree comes with an Ultegra Di2 groupset and Newmen carbon bars and seatpost. The Fulcrum Racing 77 DB wheels seem a bit below expectations though; they’re heavy and worthy of an upgrade.
Felt VR Advanced Ultegra Di2
- £4,819 / $6,499 / €5,599 as tested
- Smooth ride and comfortable position
- Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8000
- Carbon fibre wheels
The Felt VR range is designed around comfort and distance, with the VR (Variable Road) acronym denoting an ability to go up and down, and conquer bad road surfaces.
It’s clear this bike is geared towards comfort from its silhouette alone, with a long stack and short reach. What you can’t see is that the frame is also geared towards a smooth ride. Different carbon fibres ensure the frame is compliant in the seatstays to absorb road buzz, and stiff in the bottom bracket to aid power transfer.
Pair this frame with the Ultegra Di2 groupset and carbon wheels, and you’ve got a bike that will float over the road and has been specced wisely.
The only niggle we had is the internal cabling isn’t quite as optimised as we’d like. But this isn’t detrimental to the ride.
Liv Avail Advanced Pro 2
- £3,499 / $3,900 as tested
- Fast feel
- Sizing suits smaller riders
- Unsettled on rough surfaces
The Liv Avail is designed to be fast and comfortable, and it had a major upgrade in 2020. The frame’s steeply sloping top tube makes for a low standover, suiting shorter riders, and the bike responds quickly with precise handling and a race-focused feel.
Although the frame design does make for a less compliant ride than some other endurance machines, that’s alleviated somewhat by the dropped seatstays and carbon seatpost, isolating the saddle. There’s just enough clearance for the 32mm tyres, which also help.
Ribble Endurance SL
- £2,419 as tested
- Aero tube profiles and cockpit option
- Rim brake Ultegra groupset
- Bike builder lets you choose your preferred upgrades
Ribble says it has decreased drag by 28 per cent from the previous version of the Endurance SL, with truncated aerofoil profiles, while the optional one-piece carbon aero cockpit routes the cables internally for extra slipperiness.
Our up-spec added £420 to the Ribble’s £2,000 price tag. But even without, it’s an impressive package. You get an Ultegra groupset, although it’s rim brake rather than using discs, and the 11-28 cassette we chose reduced low-end options over a wider-range cassette.
Trek Domane SL6 eTap
- £4,300 / $5,000 / €4,700 as tested
- Front and rear IsoSpeed decouplers to improve comfort
- Super-wide clearance for 38mm tyres
- Tool compartment in the down tube
The Trek Domane endurance bike comes with aero features and massive tyre clearance: you can fit 38mm rubber in the frame, which includes Trek’s front and rear IsoSpeed decouplers for increased ride compliance on bumpy surfaces.
You still get mudguard mounts and a compartment in the down tube with a tool wrap to store your tools and a tube. We reckon it’s a great bike for longer rides on less-than-perfect roads.
Spec-wise, this SL6 eTap comes with SRAM Rival eTap AXS 12-speed shifting with 46/33 x 10-36t ratios for both fast riding and super-steep hill climbing. Wheels are wide Bontrager Paradigm 25 with 32mm Bontrager R3 tyres. The bars are designed to fit Bontrager’s gel pads under the tape.
We’ve also reviewed the next-spec-up Domane SL7, which comes with Ultegra Di2 and Aeolus Pro aero carbon wheels for £4,900 (as tested), the next down (non-eTap) Domane SL6 with 11-speed Shimano Ultegra and the £2,450 (as tested), 105-equipped Domane SL5, for a comprehensive spread of Domane specs.
Note too that there’s a new Domane in the works and ridden to victory at Paris-Roubaix Femmes, as well as making an appearance on the cobbled stage of the 2022 Tour de France, although there are no details yet on when it will be released.
These bikes scored fewer than four out of five stars in testing, so we haven’t included them in our main list, but they are still worth considering and might tick the right boxes for you.
Orbea Avant H60-D
- £1,159 / €1,350 / AU$2,300 as tested
- Integrated cockpit is a class touch
- Good descending ability
- 8-speed Claris is a low-spec groupset for the price
With quite a high front end, the Orbea Avant places you in a more upright, comfortable ride position. It’s not a light bike and the wheels are on the heavy side, so climbing is a bit of a chore, although it makes up for that with fast, planted descending.
The Avant has an integrated cockpit with internal cabling – a feature more usual on much more expensive bikes, although the Shimano Claris 8-speed groupset is low budget for the bike’s price and leads to large jumps between ratios.
It’s a comfortable, controlled ride on the 28mm tyres and there’s space to up that to 35mm if you want to take on some light off-road rides.
Vitus Zenium CRS Ultegra Di2
- £3,000 / $3,700 / AU$4,680 / €4,200 as tested
- Huge value
- Impressive ride quality
- Shimano Ultegra Di2
The Vitus Zenium is aimed at sportive and endurance riders, but is on the sportier side of things with a low stack height and long reach.
The bike is very well balanced, with a compliant frame and ride position that builds on its smooth feel. It’s fast on flat, smooth roads and its low weight makes it a great climbing companion.
It also has a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset, which is impressive value considering the £3,000 price tag.
This bike is held back by the fact we experienced problems with the bottom bracket creaking in testing – although we haven’t heard anyone reporting similar issues.
Wilier Triestina Garda Rival AXS
- £4,680 / €4,500 as tested
- Composed ride
- Pricey for the spec
The Wilier Triestina Garda is a superbike-inspired endurance road bike.
The geometry is pretty aggressive for this category, with a steep seat tube angle and racy head tube angle.
This might not be appealing for some riders, but if you want a rapid Wilier with greater tyre clearance than the brand’s dedicated race bikes, it might just work for you.
Wilier has specced the bike with SRAM’s third-tier Rival eTap AXs groupset and an alloy seatpost. This means it does struggle against the competition when it comes to value.
Buyer’s guide to endurance road bikes: what to look for
What is the difference between an endurance road bike and a race bike?
An endurance road bike will be designed to enable you to cover the distance in comfort.
That means the ride position will be a bit more upright than a typical race bike, favouring ride comfort over ultimate aerodynamics.
The frame may also be designed with additional focus on compliance – or even micro-suspension. They’re designed to take away some of the fatigue induced by road imperfections on an all-day ride.
Endurance road bikes tend to have wider tyres than race bikes, to aid comfort and help create a smoother ride.
While the latest race bikes are generally limited to a maximum tyre size of 28-32mm (though this is much wider than just a few years ago, thanks to the rise of disc brakes), some of the latest endurance road bikes have room for 35mm tyres – which is wider than the tyres on cyclocross bikes and not far off some of the best gravel bikes.
Endurance road bikes also tend to have a lower gear range than race bikes. Compact 50/34t chainsets and cassettes with 32-teeth sprockets are not uncommon and some bikes will even have a sub-compact chainset, which will help you crest steep ascents at the end of a long day.
Greater versatility is built into endurance road bikes, too. Race bikes might forgo features such as mudguard mounts, but endurance road bikes tend to have these and are consequently better for riding all-year round.
Endurance road bikes are made with a range of different frame materials. Most of the bikes in this list have an all-carbon frame, which helps create a lightweight and compliant ride. Having said this, alloy frames can be designed to be very compliant and tend to offer a price saving.
Many of the best steel road bikes and best titanium road bikes fall into the endurance road bike category, too. These materials tend to be favoured for comfort-orientated, long-distance bikes because they both do a great job of absorbing any road buzz.
You might want to look for an endurance road bike with mudguard mounts. They used to be a rarity, but you’ll increasingly find them even on top-end endurance machines and they’re often hidden so they don’t spoil the bike’s aesthetics if you decide not to fit guards.
If you’re lucky to go out on dry roads, you may not need them. But if the heavens open on the day of your ride, you’ll enjoy it much more if your bike is fitted with mudguards and you and your bike are protected from wheel spray. And if you’re riding in a group, those following you will definitely thank you.
Mudguards are also a good bet through winter if you live somewhere with a wet climate, making an endurance road bike a good choice for a four-seasons machine.
The best mudguards normally require mounts on the frame to provide full coverage, so look out for a frame with the appropriate mounting points if that’s important to you.
What is endurance road bike geometry?
Many bike brands will label their bikes as having either racing or endurance geometry.
Racing geometry will typically give you faster handling, a lower position and the ride may be firmer, whereas endurance geometry gives a more upright riding position and more stable handling.
All our picks above are from the brands’ endurance road bike ranges. You can also read our explainer on road bike geometry to better understand the angles and measurements involved.
Are endurance road bikes slow?
Firstly, this is because the more upright position of endurance road bikes means you are less aerodynamic than on more aggressive road bikes, and consequently it takes more effort to travel at the same speeds.
And while wider tyres can often be faster than old-school narrow tyres, there may be an aero, rolling resistance or weight penalty here, too, if your endurance road bike is using all of its generous frame clearance.
Having said this, endurance road bikes, like all bikes, exist on a spectrum and there are some that have racier geometries than others. On top of that, the latest endurance road bikes occupy a finely balanced sweetspot between speed and comfort.
And remember, endurance bikes place a greater focus on comfort. So whether that allows you to ride further, or gives you the option for light off-road detours, you’ll ultimately end up at your destination quicker than a race bike with an uncomfortable position and limited versatility.
Endurance road bike gearing
Endurance bikes are designed to meet the challenge of long rides over up and down terrain, allowing riders to tackle it in relative comfort, rather than being forced to turn a massive gear.
If you’re going to take on sportives, these are designed to give you a bit of a challenge and much of the ride is often on rolling terrain. Most sportives will throw in a few steeper hills, while some routes take you up and down as much elevation as possible. That means having a good gear range is paramount.
A compact chainset with 50- and 34-tooth chainrings is a good starting point for any endurance bike.
At the back, you’ll normally get a cassette that goes from 11 teeth for its smallest sprocket (or 10 teeth for SRAM’s latest eTap AXS 12-speed groupsets) up to 30, 32 or 34 teeth for its largest.
That should give you plenty of low range to tackle steeper uphills, with lowest ratios at or close to 1:1. You’ll also have enough top-end gears to ride comfortably on faster, flatter sections.
Some brands may spec a semi-compact 52/36t chainset on their endurance bikes. These give you a bit more top-end gearing, but paired with a wide-range cassette you still have the lower gears for easier climbing.
However, if you’re relatively new to cycling, live in a hilly area or are planning on taking your bike to the mountains, a compact will give you more gearing options for climbing.
A quality road bike groupset will give you light, precise shifting, with a broad range of gears for a wide variety of terrain.
Most endurance bikes come with 11-speed or 12-speed groupsets. Shimano groupsets are most common, with Ultegra or 105 seen on mid-range bikes, though don’t discount Shimano Tiagra on bikes around £1,000 – the 10-speed groupset still provides excellent shifting and braking.
Higher-end machines are increasingly coming with electronic shifting: Ultegra Di2 is the starting point for Shimano, but on a top-end machine look for Shimano Dura-Ace Di2.
Campagnolo and SRAM also have 12-speed electronic options, with SRAM Red eTap AXS, SRAM Force eTap AXS and SRAM Rival eTap AXS offering wireless shifting, alongside more affordable mechanical groupsets from both brands.
Modern bikes are almost entirely equipped with disc brakes.
Disc brakes will give you more consistent braking performance, in the wet or dry, than rim brakes and usually more outright stopping power or modulation.
They’re a pricier option than traditional rim brakes, although you can now find discs even on entry-level road bikes.
Disc brakes can be either hydraulic or mechanical. Hydraulic disc brakes are more effective, but they’re also pricier, so you’ll find them on higher-spec machines.
Rim brakes are fine in drier weather, but you need to be more careful how you ride if it’s wet (and especially if your bike has carbon rims), allowing for more stopping distance.
You’ll want to be comfortable as you ride and a good-quality saddle that suits your anatomy is important. There’s a huge range of options. Many endurance-oriented bikes will come fitted with a quality saddle, which you might find perfectly serviceable.
However, if you find that you don’t get on with your saddle, it’s worth swapping out for another model. Aftermarket saddles come at a range of price points and most saddle ranges will have a budget option. It will be heavier than a pricier saddle further up the range, but should have similar ride characteristics. More expensive saddles typically come with carbon rails to drop the weight.
Saddle brands usually have a fitting system to narrow down your choice, so it’s worth trying these. For some, you’ll need to find a dealer, while for others you can input your details online and get a selection of models to choose from.
Some brands will offer the option to try before you buy or return a saddle after you’ve used it a little, if you don’t get on with it. It’s worth trying some options rather than suffering in silence.
It used to be that most bikes came with 23mm-wide tyres, but most newer road bikes will come with at least 25mm – and even this is considered narrow by today’s standards.
The trend now is for even wider tyres of 28mm or more, and our endurance road bike picks come with rubber up to 32mm wide, and even wider in some cases.
The extra width means that you can drop the tyre pressure on your road bike without sacrificing speed and add a lot more comfort to your ride. Many of the best road wheelsets also offer the option to run tubeless tyres.