Investing £1000 in a bicycle represents a significant milestone in your triathlon journey, so it’s crucial to maximize its value. In this review, we compare two road bikes that offer great features for the price. Seasoned athletes often spend over $5,000 on a new bike, but for beginners, £1000 can seem like a substantial investment. Nevertheless, it’s essential to understand what you can expect when searching for a bike in this price range.
We have tested two affordable road bikes that are excellent choices for individuals taking their first steps into triathlon or seeking a budget-friendly option for training, winter rides, and commuting. The contenders in this battle of the budget road bikes are the Giant Contend AR 3 and the Vitus Zenium Tiagra.
Giant describes the Contend AR 3 as a bike designed to enhance the road riding capabilities of aspiring riders. It boasts an appealing design and features 9-speed Shimano Sora and Tektro mechanical disc brakes. The rest of the components are from Giant’s own lineup, including the comfort-enhancing D-Fuse seatpost and a tubeless-ready wheel and tire pairing.
On the other hand, Vitus’s Zenium is a modern carbon road bike that differs significantly from road bikes of the past decade. It has a 10-speed gearing system with a wider gear range, a lower bottom gear, and mechanical disc brakes with front and rear thru-axles. The Zenium stands out with its T700 carbon frame, full-carbon tapered fork, and tan sidewall tires.
Finding a full carbon road bike at this price point is rare nowadays, with the Vitus Zenium and Boardman’s 61,100 SR 8.9 being the only competitors, and the latter still sporting rim brakes.
Vitus describes the Zenium as suitable for local criteriums, speedy sportives, weekend club runs, or as a reliable training bike. It has all the features you would expect from a modern road bike, including a well-designed frame with internal cabling, exceptional handling, and impressive climbing and descending abilities. The Zenium’s TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes offer good control, and the braking performance is enhanced by the thru-axles.
Equipped with Shimano’s 10-speed Tiagra groupset, the Zenium provides a wide gear range and smooth shifting. Its aero handlebar with flattened tops offers advantages in terms of aerodynamics and comfort.
While the Vitus Zenium shines with its carbon frame, the 2021 Giant Contend AR 3 may not match it in terms of components. It is also £150 more expensive than its 2020 version. However, Giant is known for producing high-quality bikes, and the Contend AR 3 is no exception. Its attractive “garnet” paint job sets it apart from its competitors. The bike features an aluminum frame, a composite fork, and Shimano Sora 9-speed components paired with Tektro MD-C550 mechanical disc brakes. The Contend AR 3 offers excellent long-distance comfort, thanks to its compact frame, D-Fuse seatpost, and 32mm tires. The tubeless-ready wheelset allows for lower tire pressures without compromising on puncture resistance.
While the Giant Contend AR 3 may not have the same level of race-oriented geometry as the Vitus, its comfortable ride makes it an appealing choice for middle- to long-distance racing. Its handling is impressive, and it performs well on climbs and descents. The braking performance is reliable, and the overall package is well-designed.
both the Vitus Zenium Tiagra and the Giant Contend AR 3 are excellent bikes worth considering. The Zenium stands out with its carbon frame, remarkable performance, and attractive price, making it an ideal option for training and racing. Meanwhile, the Contend AR 3 offers a smooth and comfortable ride, making it a solid choice for riders seeking an all-round experience.