The Best Mid-Range Bikes
Your ideal racing bike needs to fall within your ideal budget. If you're looking for a high-quality bicycle that performs well for racing and training with a less-than-ridiculous price tag, finding a mid-range bicycle that combines good materials with high-end components is a must. Maker of the best mid-range bikes don't compromise on components that get a lot of wear, and they save you money by not including features you can live without.
Finding Your Material Sweet-Spot
The best professional bikes use carbon fiber for the ideal balance of weight, aerodynamics and lateral stiffness. Unfortunately, this performance comes with a hefty price tag -- well over the budget of many riders. Aluminum alloy frames make for a nice compromise. They're a bit heavier, but they offer great stiffness and aerodynamic shaping at a fraction of the cost of carbon. An aluminum frame can perform admirably for years and offers good durability against wear and tear. Aluminum wheels are also good alternatives to carbon fiber wheels, keeping your bike in the middle of the market's price spread.
A budget bike shouldn't use budget components. The best mid-range component sets use lightweight, durable materials and precision manufacturing techniques to help you shift faster, brake quicker and spend less time in your local bike shop waiting on repairs. Stepping up into the best component set you can afford will give you the best return on your investment, since part quality improves with each price increase in the major manufacturers' product lines. You might be able to save money on brakes, as those at all price points usually perform adequately.
Max Roman Dilthey is a science, health and culture writer currently pursuing a master's of sustainability science. Based in Massachusetts, he blogs about cycling at MaxTheCyclist.com.