Road Race Bikes - Bespoke’s Complete Guide

For riding fast, nothing quite beats a road race bike. These are bikes built purely for riding as fast as possible, weight and stiffness are key priorities here.

While these are bikes designed for racing, they don't have to be raced; they're ideal for fast-paced rides with friends or solo blasts, as well as longer events like sportives and gran fondos.

Many road race bikes have been developed to meet the demands of professional racing cyclists, and designed to be as light and stiff as possible. Advances made over the last couple of decades have produced bikes of unbelievable low weight and incredible stiffness.

We've said it before, but we'll say it again, there really has never been a better time to buy a bike. The level of performance available from the latest road race bikes is simply stunning. And thanks to the UCI's strictly enforced minimum weight limit of 6.8kg for the professional racers, it's perfectly possible to build a bike that is much lower than can be legally raced by the pros.

There are two key choices to make when buying a road race bike, whether to go aero or not. Most bike brands now offer dedicated aero race bikes alongside more conventional road race bikes which still can't be beaten when low weight and stiffness matter most greatly.

Which you choose comes down to personal preference and the sort of rider you are and what type of riding you are. For road racing aero generally trumps weight but for riding in the mountains there's no greater feeling than a super lightweight road bike for helping you to battle the effects of gravity.

We took a closer look at the aero versus weight argument in this in-depth feature which is worth a read.

The other thing to consider is whether you want rim or disc brakes. Disc brakes are becoming increasingly popular with more Bespoke customers choosing discs for their dependability and braking performance in all weathers, and many bike brands are now offering top-end race bikes with a choice of braking systems. For the lowest weight rim brakes are hard to beat still but if you want superior braking discs are an appealing option.

Below we've rounded up some of our favourite and most popular road race bikes. A look through the Build Gallery reveals some stunning road race bike creations as well and is worth a visit.

We've previously looked at endurance bikes, built for the cobbles and ideal for taming potholes, and adventure and gravel bikes for trips into the wilderness and bikepacking adventures.

Specialized S-Works Tarmac

The new S-Works Tarmac is Rider-First Engineered to provide every size frame with the hill destroying stiffness and legendary descending prowess the Tarmac is known for. It's a no-compromise race-bred machine ready to be built up exactly how you want it.

Specialized Venge

The Venge is fast. Plain and simple. Behind it sits a myriad of science, testing, aerodynamic tweaking and design. What does all this mean for you? A bike that's faster in the flats, faster over rollers, and faster in sprints. The Venge will save you 22 watts over 40kp/hr compared to a Tarmac. Couple that with FACT carbon that's nearly as light as it is stiff and the only excuse you have for going slower are those things you're standing on.

Trek Emonda SLR

If you're looking for the ultimate lightweight bike, for climbing or simply for the "wow" factor, the Emonda is the Trek for you. The top of the range SLR 10 weighs just 4.65kg for the complete bike, but the entire range is remarkably light, and the mid-range models, in particular, represent incredible value for money.

Trek Madone

Every detail of Madone is engineered for unprecedented futuristic performance, ride quality and efficiency, putting every single watt you earn toward demolishing your competition. And thanks to the fully integrated Isospeed decoupler, it's smooth as well.

Cannondale SuperSix Evo

Built with race-ready geometry, the SuperSix is the flagship Cannondale model, as seen in all the big stage races worldwide. It's also a great all-round machine that can be ridden enthusiastically in all conditions, despite its low weight.

Colnago C64

There are few brands as prestigious or steeped in history as Colnago, an Italian powerhouse in the cycling world. Building on years of in-house carbon fibre development, the latest C64 succeeds the previous C60 with a lighter and stiffer frame and space for wider tyres. As before it's available with rim or disc brakes.

Read our first ride on the new C64 right here.

Parlee Z-Zero

Unlike 99.9% of modern road bikes, the Z-Zero is 100% made to order, with the optimum performance characteristics and technical requirements perfectly met for each individual rider. We simply do not start fabrication without knowing the riders needs perfectly.

Available in 16 effective semi-custom sizes and full custom geometry, the Z-Zero simply fits a wider range of athletes than any other carbon road design. With custom finish and paint options, the Z-Zero is as individual as you are.


Yes, the latest Altum is lighter than it's predecessor. Yes, it has many striking new features and technologies. But the heart and soul of this bike is centred on how it rides. How it leaps into action when you stand up and sprint. How it carves through corners with unrivalled confidence and disappears beneath you on long, gruelling rides. Subtle, evolutionary refinements have long been the Parlee way.

Of course, it's not just about stiffness and weight. Much of the carbon layup strategy is based on Parlee's goal of attaining a certain ride quality. The Altum is engineered to feel "snappy" when you stand up and sprint but have just enough compliance, especially in the rear triangle, to give it a smooth ride quality. All of the Altum models use a traditional round 31.6mm seatpost with a hidden, integrated binder.

Cervelo R5 and R5 Disc

Now available at Bespoke Cycling, London, the Cervélo R5 and R5 Disc is a true reinvention of their classic race machine. The R5 makes no compromises as an ultralight race machine first and foremost. Team Dimension Data's World Tour riders also praise its new pro fit, stable and responsive handling, and unrivalled stiffness.

Whether you're attacking epic climbs or speeding over cobblestones, the R5 will help you survive, thrive and dominate. This ultra-lightweight race machine sets new benchmarks for performance, usability and confidence-boosting control thanks to integrated disc-brake technology, a new pro fit, unrivalled stiffness, stable and responsive handling, and myriad aero enhancements.

Cervelo S5

The new S5 has revolutionised the aero road segment - again. It combines many incremental improvements across the frame to deliver one huge improvement to you: more speed. The model that BikeRadar calls "spectacular in terms of raw aggression and savage speed" now offers increased stiffness, race-ready geometry and improved ride quality to produce Cervélo's fastest road bike ever.

Bianchi Oltre XR4

The Oltre XR4 brings the maximum aero advantage possible while maintaining rider comfort with Countervail technology, which utilises a unique fibre architecture that cancels up to 80% of vibrations while increasing the stiffness and strength of Bianchi's carbon frames and forks.

Read our in-depth review of the Oltre XR4 on the blog.

Bianchi Specialissima

At just 780gm, the Bianchi Specialissima frame changes the game in the ultralight frame category thanks to the use of MSC's patented Countervail integrated vibration cancelling system for cycling, developed for NASA by Materials Sciences Corporation. The new Bianchi's Countervail® ultralight carbon formula is specifically tuned to smooth out the inherent nervousness of ultralight frames.