Buying Guides

Sixteen of the best aerodynamic road bikes

Want some inspiration for your aero bike purchase or just some bikes to drool over? Look no further

While we’re big proponents of putting the rider before the bike when it comes to improving performance, sometimes we just need to satisfy our desire for a machine that’s going to give us that final edge – and look damn cool, too. Step forward the aero bike, a tool that these days is often as fast on the hilly stuff as it is on pan-flat roads.

On top of that, there’s no doubting aero machines are among the most striking bikes to behold – it’s impossible not to stop and stare when you see one pass in the peloton or propped up outside the cafe.

Aero road bikes cut a striking profile, designed to slice through the wind

And with aerodynamic know-how improving year-on-year, with new wind-cheating tube profiles, integrated components, deep-section wheels, and improving carbon layups that keeps weight lower and compliance levels higher than ever before, they’re becoming more and more desirable.

So, if you want some inspiration for your aero bike purchase or just some tech to drool over, read on for our pick of 16 of the best aero bikes on the market.

Merida Reacto III

The new Merida Reacto was launched just ahead of the start of the 2017 Tour de France Grand Depart in Dusseldorf, and the headlines for the third-generation bike included the availability of rim and disc brake models, claimed aero improvements of five per cent, a reduction in weight for the rim brake version frame by 18.2 per cent to 1,010g, and a ten per cent increase in vertical compliance.

Merida launched the Reacto III in June and the latest generation of the aero bike is available with rim or disc brakes

Those are enticing stats, with Merida achieving them via new, slender tube profiling and the use of a Vision Metron 5D integrated bar-stem setup in the premium models to smooth airflow at the front of the bike. That’s also seen with the integrated headtube-fork layout, and a new and distinctive tapering at the front end of the toptube to smooth airflow behind the headset spacers. With the previous generation of the Reacto, NACA-informed ‘Fastback’ truncated aero profiling at the toptube and downtube was introduced, which in this iteration has been perfected to ensure the bike stays stable and aero in the real world.

This new Reacto is not only available in disc and rim brake framesets, but also each with pro-level CF4 carbon layup and geometry, or a more relaxed CF2-spec, which should provide a slightly more relaxed (and more affordable) ride. If you’ve decided to take the plunge and go with discs, the CF4 frameset layup will come in at only 50g heavier than its rim sibling, while the CF2 disc frame loses a mere 87g.

Specialized Venge ViAS Disc 

The Venge ViAS is one of the most striking aero bikes on the market in 2017, and in this form represents one of the fastest disc brake bikes to boot. Designed in Specialized’s fabled ‘Win Tunnel’, the frameset is a demonstration of the Californian firm’s aero prowess. From the distinctive bar-stem setup, to the cutaway profiling in the seattube and downtube, it’s clear that this is an out-and-out aero weapon.

Specialized’s Venge ViAS is another wind-cheating bike available in rim or disc brake versions

The tubing has been shaped using a combination of computational fluid dynamics (CFD), 3D prototyping and extensive wind tunnel testing, with further testing to ensure the disc brake version comes with minimal aerodynamic penalty. In fact, Specialized itself claims a 116-second advantage over the Tarmac race bike in disc format and the Venge ViAS Disc certainly hasn’t hampered Marcel Kittel in his quest for Tour de France stage wins.

You can have the Venge ViAS Disc in three versions, ranging from a mechanical Shimano Ultegra-equipped model with standard bar-stem arrangement, or with Shimano Ultegra Di2 or SRAM Red eTAP accompanied by that Aerofly front end. You can also have the disc frameset in a flouro green, white and black, or in a Peter Sagan-inspired ‘Superstar’ satin silver colourway.

Orbea Orca Aero

The Orbea Orca Aero is another bike to have broken cover during this year’s Tour de France and is the Basque firm’s first fully-blown aero bike, joining the Orca family of race machines.

Orbea launched the Orca Aero ahead of the 2017 Tour de France

As you’ll have read in our launch report, Orbea say they have taken advantage of the relaxation of the UCI’s 3:1 ruling, which limited the length and width of tube profiles, with the fork the most striking new addition to the bike. It’s significantly wider and deeper, contributing to a claimed four-watt saving over the previous version. Direct-mount brakes also keep things relatively sleek, while keeping things mechanically simple. Naturally, the Orca Aero’s tubes are profiled to reduce drag.

Orbea are offering the Orca Aero in six builds from £2,599 to £6,799, with everything from Shimano 105 up to SRAM Red eTap.

Bianchi Oltre XR4 

We got our hands on a Bianchi Oltre XR4 as 2016 came to a close, and it impressed us then with its raw stiffness and efficiency while also being able to provide an impressive level of comfort through the rear end. That’s because Bianchi borrowed Countervail technology from its Infinito CV endurance bike, helping to mete out the road buzz its predecessor, the XR2, occasionally struggled with.

The Oltre XR4 is fabled Italian marque Bianchi’s aero machine

It lost none of its raw speed, however, with a bowed fork inspired by the Italian marque’s Aquila TT bike to reduce front end turbulence, while the Metron 5D integrated bar-stem unit is perfectly matched to the frame. Additionally, the headtube features a svelte hourglass profile, plus there’s truncated profiling on the downtube and seattube.

The XR4 is available in a number of premium builds, including Campagnolo Super Record EPS with Bora Ultra carbon clinchers, mechanical Super Record for devout traditionalists, as well as a slightly more wallet-pleasing Campagnolo Chorus build. If Campag drivetrains don’t hit the spot for you, then you can also opt for Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 R9150, mechanical Dura-Ace or Ultegra Di2.

Canyon Aeroad CF SLX

The Canyon Aeroad CF SLX is a bike that truly blurs the distinction between rim and disc brake bikes, with the German brand claiming the disc brake iteration only suffers a 0.8 watt shortfall to the rim brake machine. To mere mortals, that difference is virtually indistinguishable, while you get the other benefits of disc braking thrown in.

Canyon’s Aeroad CF SLX is also available with disc brakes

Both disc and rim brake frames feature what Canyon call ‘Trident 2.0’ tube profiling, designed to slice through the air from the front, while the rear sections are squared off to improve efficiency, weight and handling in crosswinds. This also makes the bike more responsive on climbs. The rear triangle is characterised by a distinctive seattube cutaway to reduce turbulence at the rear wheel, while there’s Canyon’s own bespoke H11 Aerocockpit to keep the front end tidy in all but the cheapest models.

You can have the Aeroad in a variety of forms, with the disc brake version maximising the latest offerings from Shimano and SRAM. The rim brake bikes are similarly well-specced, with mechanical and Di2 Dura-Ace.

Giant Propel 

The Giant Propel is infused with all the aero know-how of the Taiwanese brand, with manufacturing processes completely owned by the company. Giant’s version of aero design is known as the AeroSystem, which means all the tubes have been designed to work in synergy with one another to help the Propel be as fast as possible. It says it can save you 12-36 seconds compared to its competitors over a 40km distance at 40km/h.

Giant’s Propel has been around for a few years but it still cuts a fast figure

There are three tiers to the Propel range, the Advanced, Advanced Pro and Advanced SL. All feature Giant’s OverDrive steerer for sharp and responsive handling, with Giant completely self-sufficient in the finishing kit, with proprietary seatpost, shrouded brake calipers and own-brand wheelsets to complement the frameset. The Advanced SL features a lighter carbon layup, along with the most premium builds, as well as a fully-integrated seatpost for claimed improvements in aerodynamics and compliance.

Those builds range from Shimano Dura-Ace R9150 complete with Giant’s top-level SLR 0 wheels – still using Giant’s own brake calipers for maximum aero benefit – down to 105-spec drivetrains for those after a well-sorted aero frame on a budget.

Scott Foil 

Back in 2010, Scott introduced the concept of truncated aero tubing to its first Foil, the idea being to make the bike more stable in the real world, while also reducing the amount of material needed to create the frame, improving weight and stiffness levels. It’s a trend that’s caught on with good reason – every bike in this list features it in one form or another. The latest version of the Foil was launched just ahead of the start of the 2015 Tour de France, so while being a few years old now, its status of a trend-setter means it’s still very much up-to-date.

The Scott Foil helped set the benchmark for aero road bikes

The carbon frameset comes in at 945g for a medium, while the truncated tubing that the Swiss brand pioneered leads to a very high stiffness levels in tandem with a flared bottom bracket area that shrouds the hidden rear brake caliper. While profiled for aero performance, the seattube also forms a key deflection point under the rider, boosting vertical compliance by a claimed 86 per cent over its predecessor. There are flattened narrow seatstays for further comfort while improving aero efficiency, and there’s a proprietary Syncros Aero RR1.0 cockpit that’s designed to work seamlessly with the frameset it tops

If you want one, there are six options open to you, including the range-topping Foil Premium fitted with Dura-Ace R9150 Di2 gruppo and Zipp 303 Firecrest hoops. There are also Dura-Ace R9100-equipped machines, as well as slightly heavier frames with mechanical and Di2 iterations of Ultegra, and a 105 machine.

Trek Madone 9-Series

The Trek Madone boasts one of the most striking profiles of any bike, aero or otherwise, thanks not only to the Kammtail tubing used across the frame and fork, but a host of technology that’s integrated for optimum aerodynamic performance.

The Trek Madone bears all the hallmarks of a fully-fledged aero machine

You’ll find shrouded front brakes with fins that open to smooth airflow when cornering, and an integrated carbon bar-stem arrangement that also sports Kammtail profiling, along with an integrated seattube-seatpost that features Trek’s patented IsoSpeed Decoupler technology to boost comfort.

The top level Race Shop Limited machine is a near-replica of the bike used by the Trek-Segafredo team, with Trek’s 700-series OCLV carbon layup and Bontrager Aeolus 5 hoops and a full Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain. That bike comes in at a remarkable 6.77kg for a 56cm frame, ensuring the Madone is super-light, as well as super-aero.

Cervelo S5

The Cervelo S5 is a bike you’ll find under Mark Cavendish at Team Dimension Data. In fact, you can see his bike here, while the S5 frame itself features some of the most aggressive-looking aero profiling in the pro peloton. One look at the fully tapered seattube that shrouds the rear wheel is enough to tell you how tightly-wound this bike is in the pursuit of aero efficiency.

The Cervelo S5 is used by Mark Cavendish’s Dimension Data team

Cervelo has gone to fastidious levels of detail to maximise real-world aero performance, with a truncated downtube that helps to shroud bottles, a dropped top section that allows the front wheel and downtube to function as one aerodynamic unit, as well as that tightly-tapered seattube section. The seatstays are also offset for greater aero efficiency behind the rider, as well as to help shroud the rear brake caliper, which retain a single-bolt design, and boost rear-end compliance.

Living up to the exclusive image Cervelo embodies, you can have the S5 with SRAM Red eTap or Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 groupsets, both of which come with high-spec ENVE 3.4 wheels, offering up the dual benefit of a shallower front wheel married to a deeper rear hoop.

Ridley Noah SL 

Belgian brand Ridley’s aero bike is the Noah SL and it can be spotted under German sprinter Andre Greipel. The frame features Ridley’s own approach to improving aerodynamics, with F-Surface technology in-moulded into the frame’s tubes. Employed at strategic points, it ensures that air stays attached to the bike for longer in areas where it would usually detach and cause drag and a less stable ride.

Ridley offer the Noah SL is a range of builds, including Campagnolo Potenza

The fork also features Ridley’s ‘s F-Split technology, so it’s actually physically split twice in each leg to help guide air through and around the turbulent wheel area. Elsewhere, offset seatstays offer a visibly small rear triangle, that’s partially moulded around the wheel to minimise rear-end drag. The bladed seatpost fits neatly with a wedge-style fitting system.

The top level bike available to consumers is fitted with Shimano Ultegra Di2 and Fulcrum Racing Quattro wheels, while there’s a mechanical Ultegra version too with Fulcrum racing Aero hoops. Ridley are one of the few brands to have fitted Campagnolo’s Potenza groupset to a bike in the factory, complete with Campag’s Scirocco wheels, in a nod to Lotto-Soudal’s tie up with the Italian manufacturer.

Factor One 

The Factor One is French WorldTour team Ag2r La Mondiale’s aero weapon of choice, and features at its heart a distinctive split downtube, which helps guide air shed off the front wheel along the bike. As a result, the One is said to be very stable in blustery weather because it can manipulate the air with greater ease.

The Factor One has a distinctive fork and headtube

The front end is also characteristic of Factor’s aero-optimising thinking, with an extended fork which integrates with the headtube in a unique design. The bowed fork legs are also said to help reduce turbulence around the front wheel, while the integrated bar and stem (known as the One Total Integration System) cleans up air flow at the cockpit.

The One is positioned as an ultra-premium road machine, and so has one option as a complete road bike, coming fitted with Shimano Dura-Ace groupset and BlackInc wheels.

Lapierre Aircode 

The new Lapierre Aircode broke cover in the pro peloton under the FDJ team at the spring Classics, and was officially launched on the Cote d’Azur in June. At that launch, Lapierre confirmed the new Aircode had received tweaks to its geometry to closely imitate the Xelius climbing bike, while the bike was sharpened up in the handling stakes with shortened chainstays and altered fork rake angles.

Lapierre launched the redesigned Aircode in June

The result is a bike that is said to be easier to ride – look out for our forthcoming first ride review in the coming weeks – while still delivering a turn of speed that the likes of star rider Arnaud Demare will appreciate. Kammtail-inspired tubing dominates, and there’s a flared seattube to smooth airflow around the rear wheel, along with direct-mount dual-bolt brake calipers and plenty of stiffness. Compliance has also been addressed with an elastomer section integrated into the proprietary seatpost.

Lapierre have confirmed that the Aircode will be available in various builds from a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 flagship machine down to a more budget-friendly Shimano 105 build, while the distinctive FDJ team paintjob will also be available for those wanting to make a statement.

NeilPryde Nazare

The Nazare is NeilPryde’s aero road bike and you’ll actually find two frames in the range: the flagship Nazare SL and the ‘regular’ Nazare. The SL uses a higher grade of carbon fibre, so it’s a little lighter at a claimed 940g for the frame.

The NeilPryde Nazare delivers a stiff, responsive ride

Both frames share the same wind-cheating profile, however, with deep, purposeful tubs which deliver a rock-solid ride. Up front you’ll find an integrated bar and stem, while the seatpost has aero shaping, naturally.

We recently reviewed the Shimano Ultegra-equipped Nazare, and while we found the ride a little firm, this is a bike to be ridden fast and the Nazare’s stiff chassis provides the ideal platform to do just that. NeilPryde also offer the Nazare in a Shimano 105 build, while the Nazare SL comes with Shimano Ultegra or Shimano Dura-Ace.

Wilier Cento10 Air

The Wilier Cento10 Air featured in the 2017 RCUK 100, and with good reason. It was one of the most striking bikes to be launched last year, cutting a eye-catching figure with its aggressive, aero-profiled tubing. Riding it out in Majorca revealed how Wilier’s full-aerofoil approach to the design produced a rip-roaringly quick machine.

Wilier’s Cento10 Air is a stunner

As with many of the bikes on show here, integration is key to improving airflow – no more so than at the front end of the bike. Here, Wilier’s Alabarda cockpit dominates the show, with NACA profiling informing the shape, with cables tidily routed through the headset. The Cento 10 Air also received a reprofiled fork that provides more space for smoother airflow around the front wheel, while a similar trick has been pulled off in the dropped seatstays.

If you want one, Wilier currently stock a premium SRAM Red eTap version with DT Swiss carbon clinchers as it’s range-topper, with Ultegra-spec options also available alongside a Campagnolo Chorus bike. The Italian brand’s custom programme allows you a greater range of groupset and build options, from Shimano’s Dura-Ace Di2 to SRAM’s Force 22 and everything in between from the three major gruppo manufacturers.

Colnago Concept

Colnago has a reputation for being something of a traditionalist in the bike industry. However, the Concept represents Colnago’s first foray into the fully-fledged aero bike market, and the historic marque has clearly been watching the big players before making its own move.

The Colnago Concept sure looks fast

The front end is a svelte affair, with a slim headtube and tidy fork integration. Naturally, aero profiling in the fork blades and frameset helps the bike to cut through the air, complete with squared-off truncated sections. There’s a flaring at the bottom bracket area that simultaneously helps to shroud a low-fitting bottle cage, while there’s a lot of work in the back end of the bike, with a wheel-hugging seattube, dropped seatstays and integrated seatpost design.

Colnago see their bikes as works of art – we do too, to be honest – so builds are customisable to provide the perfect ride around the frameset. Furthermore, as we demonstrated with our RCUK 100 bike, you can have the frameset in some seriously striking designs, making a Concept a real ‘dream bike’ purchase.

Pinarello Dogma F10

The Pinarello Dogma F10 may not be considered a fully-fledged aero bike in some quarters – it’s positioned as more of an all-rounder – but there’s plenty of aero-optimisation going on that justifies its place on this list. And, if it’s good enough for Tour de France terminators Team Sky, it’s more than good enough for us too.

The Pinarello Dogma is an all-rounder with an aero flavour

Among claims of increased stiffness, lower weight and improved aero efficiency, Pinarello took an approach to designing the Dogma F10 that would’ve impressed Team Sky head honcho Dave Brailsford, given that it’s all about the details.

Central to this is the use of super-high-grade T1100 1k ‘Torayca’ carbon fibre, with a downtube that features a concave profile to improve aero performance with a bottle in place by a claimed 12.6 per cent. An integrated Di2 junction box, with Bolide time trial bike-inspired dropout positioning, is said to improve efficiency by around ten per cent in that area too. Elsewhere, there’s truncated aero tubing, along with some flared shrouding around the seatstay junction.

Needless to say you can have this most premium of premium framesets with any of the top-level groupsets, including Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, SRAM Red eTap, and Campagnolo Super-Record EPS, among top-of-the-range mechanical gruppos too.


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