Endurance road bikes have fast become a popular choice in the world of road bikes, thanks to their relaxed geometry, in-built compliance and general focus on comfort, all without giving up performance. With an elongated headtube and shorter frame reach, endurance bikes take a comfort over aero approach that places the rider in a more upright position. In association with a longer wheelbase and slacker headtube angle, endurance bikes feature additional stability over their racier stablemates.
With 2018 model year bikes now well and truly adorning the floors of bike stores around the country, we've had a look through the latest crop and selected what we deem the best mid-range endurance road bikes for AU$3,500 or thereabouts.
What You Get for your Money
Endurance oriented bikes at this price point will get you almost all the same features the top-tier models offer. Buyers can expect to find a Shimano 105 or Ultegra level drivetrain, in a compact (50-34T chainring) setup, allowing for easier pedalling all day long.
The frame and fork will likely be made from carbon fibre. Disc brakes will be a popular choice, although rim brakes remain an option and offer a lower overall bike weight. Expect to see aluminium wheelsets that are disc compatible where applicable, paired with larger tyres in the vicinity of 25mm-30mm that will further aid comfort.
If you are contemplating spending a little bit more and wondering what you're missing from the next price point; weight, durability and more advanced compliance technology are the three things that improve as the price increases. To find out more about endurance bikes and what makes them special, read our Aero vs Endurance vs Lightweight Road Bikes Explained article which will explain everything you need to know.
Trek Domane SL5
Arguably “the benchmark” for endurance bikes, the Domane SL5 features Trek’s proprietary IsoSpeed decoupler technology at both the front and rear. IsoSpeed allows the fork steerer and seattube to move independently from the toptube, increasing compliance and creating a more comfortable ride.
Trek's 'H2' endurance geometry is also at play, putting the rider in a more comfortable position by lengthening the headtube and reducing the frame reach. The frame is made with Trek's 500 Series OCLV carbon fibre and is matched with a carbon fork up front.
Disc brakes are more or less standard equipment on endurance bikes these days and the SL5 doesn't miss a trick featuring Shimano RS505 hydraulic disc brakes to provide great stopping performance in all conditions. Shifting also comes courtesy of Shimano in the form of its workhorse 105 groupset. A Bontrager wheelset wrapped in 32mm wide rubber completes this well-rounded package.
Learn more about the Domane and its IsoSpeed technology in our review of the 2017 Domane SL 5 Disc.
- RRP: AUD$3,499
Giant Defy Advanced 2
As is the case elsewhere in the Giant road bike line-up, the Defy Advanced 2 shares the same Advanced-grade composite frame as it’s more expensive Advanced Pro 0 and 1 stablemates, however, with more modest wheel and drivetrain selections. With flat mount semi-hydraulic disc brakes(hydraulic calipers, controlled by mechanical levers), 12mm thru-axles, an ever-reliable Shimano 105 groupset and finished with Giant PR-2 Disc wheelset, the Defy is the cheapest bike on this list and represents fantastic value for money.
As well as an endurance focussed geometry, the Defy utilises a proprietary D-Fuse seatpost along with ultra-thin seatstays to help reduce road vibration and improve comfort. Check out our Early Release Giant Road Range article to get the low down on the rest of the 2018 range.
- RRP: AUD$2,699
Specialized Roubaix Elite
Featuring Specialized’s own “Future Shock” technology, the Roubaix Elite incorporates suspension at the front of the bike allowing 20mm of travel (otherwise known as movement) thanks to a piston type mechanism in the fork steerer tube. The latest cobble crushing release from Specialized also features additional compliance in the rear of the bike. The ‘CG-R’ (CobbleGobbler) seatpost once again features and the new ‘Drop Clamp’ allows more flex from the seatpost, and consequently, more comfort.
With a FACT 10r carbon frame and fork, Shimano 105 components and hydraulic disc brakes, the Roubaix Elite provides almost all of the features you’d expect to find top-tier offering, at a fraction of the price.
- RRP: AUD$3,800
Fuji Gran Fondo 2.1
True to the origins of its name, the Gran Fondo range from Fuji, features a more traditional endurance geometry and are best suited to longer rides. This includes a taller and more relaxed headtube, wider wheelbase, greater tyre clearance and angled seatstays that improve rear end compliance.
Wide and plush 30mm tyres combined with a special blend of carbon fibre that sees polyurethane added to the lay-up helps smooth out road buzz. The whole frame also features unique tube diameters and carbon layups depending on size, providing a consistent ride quality across the full size range.
An upmarket Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc groupset takes care of shifting duties and is paired with an 11-32 cassette to provide a huge gear range. Rolling stock comes courtesy of in-house brand Oval Concepts that are wrapped in Vittoria rubber.
- RRP: AUD$3,999
Cannondale Synapse Carbon 105
Described by Cannondale as the “Ultimate machine for full-gas, full-day exploits”, the Synapse is perfectly suited to long, hard days in the saddle. Adopting what Cannondale refer to as “Endurance Race Geometry,” the Synapse has a slightly increased headtube height, wheelbase length and a shallower steering angle than its more racing focussed SuperSix and CAAD brethren. Despite this, it’s still class leading for weight.
The key to the Synapse's comfort is in the uniquely shaped fork and rear triangle. The fork has a curved shape and offset dropouts to help cancel out some road vibration while at the rear, helical-shaped seatstays flex under load to further aid compliance. For more information on the 2018 Synapse, check out our ten things to know about this capable steed.
As its name eludes, the Synapse Carbon 105 comes equipped with a capable Shimano 105 groupset and rolls on Formula RD 2.0 wheels shod with 28mm wide Schwalbe Lugano rubber.
- RRP: AUD$3,499
Bianchi Intenso 105
If you are looking for a little heritage with your comfortable ride, it’s hard to look past industry pioneers Bianchi. Part of Bianchi's endurance line up, the Intenso has a more relaxed geometry with a taller and slacker headtube combined with a longer wheelbase for added stability. The Intenso is one of the few bikes on this list to feature rim brakes, which is a rarity for endurance models these days, however, they do have the added benefit of reducing the overall weight of the bike.
Complete with a Shimano 105 groupset, Fulcrum Racing Sport Wheelset, and a Reparto Corse finishing kit, the Intenso is ready and willing to have you take the long way around.
- RRP: AUD$2,999
Focus Paralane 105
Introduced in 2017, the Paralane takes over from the Cayo as the endurance offering in the range of hugely capable Focus road bikes. A tried and true endurance bike, the Paralane features a traditional endurance geometry that places the rider in a more upright position.
A Shimano 105 groupset and flat mount hydraulic disc brakes take care of the going and slowing. With space for up to 35mm wide tyres, there’s a huge amount of tyre clearance on offer, however, the 28mm Continental tyres the Paralane is shipped with are sure to smooth out any road.
Not limiting its design to comfort alone, Focus have invested significant effort into the frame to improve power transfer. The headtube, oversized down tube, large bottom bracket area and bulky chainstays all help to convert your effort into speed on the road, while pencil thin seatstays provide plenty of comfort.
- RRP: AUD$3,499
Merida Scultura 6000
The Scultura family of bikes from Taiwanese company Merida span right from the entry-level offerings, through to featherweight WorldTour rides. Whilst the geometry here is a little racier than others found on the list, the headtube height, angle and wheelbase of the Scultura 6000 is within spitting distance of what would typically be considered an endurance geometry, so it made sense to include it.
Sitting in the middle of the range, the Scultura is outfitted with a slick shifting R8000 Ultegra groupset, Fulcrum wheelset and proprietary finishing kit. This is one ride that needs nothing more than a willing rider in the saddle. The Scultura is also amongst the lightest on our list, tipping the scales at a claimed 7.9kgs.
- RRP: AUD$2,899
New to the world of road bikes or just want to know more? Check out our Ultimate Road Bike Buyers Guide to upskill yourself on these two-wheeled wonders.