Popular with commuters, leisure and fitness riders alike, flat bar road bikes are perfect for riders wanting a more spirited riding experience.
Sportier than both urban and hybrid bikes, flat bar road bikes feature quicker handling, lighter weight and gearing optimised for speed. These bikes will generally offer similar technology and performance as a traditional road bike but without the aggressive riding position of drop-down handlebars. The greater comfort and visibility make them a perfect vehicle for recreational riding, fitness or commuting. There is no suspension on flat bar road bikes, as this would add unnecessary weight.
The relaxed geometry improves the bike's overall stability and puts you in an upright position, allowing you to see far ahead and past traffic when commuting. There is typically a wide range of gears to choose from that enable leisurely pedalling regardless of the terrain.
Related Reading: Learn how flat bar road bikes compare to urban or hybrid bikes.
What to Expect
At around AUD$1,000, flat bar road bikes are starting to mirror the same specification found on traditional entry level road bikes. Aluminium will be the common frame material, with most models offering carbon fibre forks (usually with metal steerer tubes).
Expect eight, nine or ten-speed shifting, while braking will typically come courtesy of either mechanical or hydraulic disc brakes. The tyres will be wider than traditional road bike tyres but narrower than urban or hybrid bike tyres, ranging from 28mm to 35mm. The larger tyre size allows for a right balance of rolling efficiency and puncture protection as well as some additional security from urban obstacles like tram tracks and curbs.
If you're a year-round cyclist, it pays to look for fender and rack mounts to make load-lugging and riding in inclement weather that little bit easier.
Spending a little more than AUD$1000 should see a more premium frame and fork used, saving weight and improving ride comfort. Shifting (changing gears) will become more precise, braking will become more secure, and the bike as a whole will be more durable. Jump up a few price points, and you'll typically see flat bar road bikes become more like their racing siblings. Expect carbon fibre frames, higher-end components and a ride that's lighter, faster and more comfortable.
And now onto the bikes, in no particular order, here is our selection of the best flat bar road bikes to be had for AUD$1,000 (or close to it).
Merida Speeder 100 Disc
The Speeder 100 Disc courtesy of Merida features a quality hydroformed aluminium frame paired with a full carbon fibre fork. Moving to stopping power and the Speeder 100 makes use of powerful hydraulic disc brakes. While a little heavier, disc brakes offer superior brake control and durability, especially in the wet.
With the premium features mentioned above, the gearing is a more basic eight-speed setup, affording a total of 24 gears spanning a wide range. Double-walled aluminium rims wrapped in durable 32c Maxxis Detonator rubber complete the specification.
Giant Fastroad SL 2
The Fastroad is a long-standing member of the Giant product line-up and for a good reason. With a quality aluminium frame mated to a carbon fork that helps soften road vibrations at the front of the bike, the Fastroad is perfectly at home traversing city streets and bike paths.
A nine-speed Shimano Sora groupset takes care of the shifting and is mated to a quality FSA 50-34T crankset. A supremely wide range 11-34T rear cassette (rear cogs) features at the rear to prove the largest gear range of any other bike on this list. Hydraulic disc brakes feature, also courtesy of Shimano while Giant provide the double-walled alloy wheelset wrapped in its own 32c puncture-protected tyres.
Trek FX 3 Disc
Industry stalwarts Trek are no strangers to the fitness bike game, producing a range of flat bar bikes suited the urban environment. The FX is most at home in the city, featuring an aluminium frame, mated to a carbon fork, meaning that this is one bike that is engineered to last.
All-weather hydraulic disc brakes feature, as does a Shimano Acera nine-speed groupset mated to a standard compact (50-34T) crankset. The gearing on offer here is nearly identical to a traditional road bike. A Bontrager handlebar, stem and seatpost take care of the contact points while a Bontrager wheelset wrapped in commuter-friendly reflective 32c tyres complete the build.
Specialized Sirrus Sport
The Sirrus has been the flat bar bike of choice in the Specialized line-up for many years now. While it's the most expensive bike on this list, it has the component specification to match. A premium A1 aluminium frame is mated to a FACT 9r carbon fibre fork to provide a vibration dampened ride.
Shimano provides its Sora nine-speed groupset which is complemented by an adventure-spec 48-32T crankset paired with an 11-34T cassette out back. Tektro hydraulic disc brakes paired with 160mm rotors provide the stopping power. A double-walled aluminium wheelset shod with 32c wide reflective Specialized Nimbus rubber completes the specification and should prove plenty durable.
Scott Metrix 30 EQ
While Swiss outfit Scott is most well-known for its quality range of road, mountain and e-bikes, the Metrix range of commuter-friendly flat bar bikes are quickly becoming just as popular.
Sitting as the entry-level option in the flat bar range, the Metrix 30 EQ is loaded with quality components that should serve commuters well regardless of the terrain, or weather on their commute. With a quality aluminium frame and fork, Shimano Claris drivetrain, hydraulic disc brakes and quality Schwalbe rubber with mudguards as standard, this is one ride that needs nothing more from the showroom floor.
Polygon Bend FX4
As we mentioned earlier, flat bar road bikes are sportier than both urban and hybrid bikes and have gearing optimised for speed. No bike on this list typifies that more than the Polygon Bend FX4.
Much like a standard road bike, the FX4 has only two chainrings at the front which reduces weight and potential mechanical issues. The groupset and build kit are the most impressive found at this price point, something that we've come to expect from big value, brand-direct companies like Polygon (sold exclusively through BicyclesOnline in Australia).
Outfitted with a Shimano Tiagra ten-speed groupset, flat-mount hydraulic disc brakes and a quality aluminium frame, the FX4 is one of the sportiest bikes selected. It's worth noting, however, that as a result of the speed-over-comfort emphasis of the build, don't expect as smooth of a ride as you'll find with the other bikes featured here. If that's not an issue for you, then this is one bike that screams speed and value for money.
Cannondale Quick 5 Disc
American company Cannondale have offered it's Quick range of urban and fitness bikes for a number of years now, with the moniker now stretching across both flat bar road and hybrid categories with the Quick CX. The Quick 5 featured here sits at the midpoint of the range.
A SmartForm C3 aluminium and fork serves as the foundation of the Quick 5 and features provisions for racks and fenders. Once again we see three chainrings on the front which is mated to a mixed nine-speed Shimano Altus/Acera groupset. The 35c Schwalbe tyres are the equal largest of all the bikes on this list and are paired with double-walled alloy rims, providing plenty of strength and security.
Marin Fairfax City 3
Mountain bike specialists' Marin have offered its Fairfax line of flat bar road bikes for some time now, with the entire range seeing a specification tweak for 2020.
Sitting in the middle of the range, the value-packed Fairfax City 3 makes use of a quality 6061 aluminium frameset mated to a quality carbon fibre fork. Shifting comes courtesy of a Shimano Sora groupset, while Tektro provides its quality R290 hydraulic disc brakes as stopping power. The Fairfax City 3 also comes complete with provisions for racks and fenders at both ends of the bike and is finished off with a quality aluminium wheelset wrapped in durable 32c Vee Baldy tyres.
All quoted prices are recommended retail prices as of the publish date.
In the market for a new commuter or fitness bike and confused by the choices on offer? Check out our flat bar vs hybrid vs urban bike comparison for all you need to know.