Whether you're looking for performance on rough terrain or are a touring cyclist, whether you're preparing a cyclosportive or you like to travel the country the concept of an endurance bike probably rings a bell. At once powerful, light and comfortable, usually equipped with a suspension system and sometimes with off-road tires, this type of road bike benefits from a compact frame geometry, providing the comfort and endurance sought by cyclotourists and cyclosportifs.
So what's the best endurance bike of 2022? If you're planning to buy a "gran fondo", this article might just give you some pointers. We take a look at the endurance lines of the most famous bike manufacturers: Specialized, Trek, Cannondale, Canyon, Lapierre, etc.
What is an endurance bike?
An endurance bike is a road bike designed for long distance riding and is ideal for long rides, even on the roughest roads. As opposed to the light bike (or "climber"), which performs well in the mountains, and the aero" bikeIn contrast to the light bike (or "climber"), which performs well in the mountains, and the "aero" bike, which is designed for speed, the endurance bike focuses on control and versatility. Its lightness makes it suitable for hilly or even mountainous courses; its sturdiness, for rough roads, uneven surfaces, or even rocky paths (even if, in this last case, a Gravel will be a priori more suitable). But these bikes stand out above all for their comfort. On the one hand, the specific geometry of the frame (shorter horizontal tube, longer head tube) induces a higher riding position, more "seated", a more upright riding position, favourable to long hours in the saddle. On the other hand, some endurance bikes are equipped with an integrated suspension system, which, on the most difficult sections, will have the merit of protecting you from shocks. Finally, the large clearance between the fork and the frame allows for the use of wide tires, for (even) more grip and comfort on the asphalt.
So, not bad, right? If you're new to cycling or approaching retirement, if you're adventurous by nature and like to rack up the miles at a relaxed but steady pace, an endurance bike might be a good choice, but beware! While their geometry undeniably reduces postural fatigue, these bikes are still in the "road" category! You won't win a sprint with this kind of bike (though), but you won't go easy either: the Specialized Roubaix and the Trek Domane have won races. Translation: if you think you're penalized by a less than aggressive geometry, you're wrong. Whether it's in mountain or in the plain, you will follow your friends without any problem, and you will even tire less quickly than them. If you are still unsure of what type of bike is right for you, see our comparison guide.
What do you need to know before you buy?
Your decision is made: dreaming of to go on an adventureYou have chosen an endurance bike. Before reviewing the leading products on the market, we'll look at the points to keep in mind when making your choice. For more information, consult our buying guide.
How much does an endurance bike cost?
Let's face it: for a good new road bike, be prepared to spend at least €2,000. Below that, you'll get an aluminum frame and brakes with pads. That's good, but for an extra €1,000 you'll get carbon and disc brakes. Buying a bike is too rare an event in our eyes (and the price gap is too small today) to avoid taking a look at the mid-range.
How do I choose my bike size?
All manufacturers provide a calculator on their website. Most of the time, two measurements are enough for the simulation: your height and your inseam length. Even if the calculation is generally correct, we recommend that you go and try the bike of your dreams in a store (or ask for advice). If your budget allows it, take the opportunity to do a postural study to adjust your bike to your riding style (height and type of saddle, handlebar width, stem length, etc.). It's an additional cost, but no cyclist I know has ever regretted this effort.
Aluminum or carbon frame?
Is a good aluminum frame really better than a bad carbon one? Certainly, but technology has progressed enough today to make "good carbon" affordable to most people. If yours allows it, we advise you to take the plunge.
Disc or pad brakes?
Here again, no need to feed ther the debate. More powerful and therefore safer, disc brakes should eventually replace rim brakes. Some major brands have already taken the step: no more pads! Even Christopher Froome, four times winner of the Tour de France with pads, seems to be back on his initial reluctance!
Which development to choose?
On this subject again, no headaches! Endurance bikes are almost always equipped with a "compact" crankset (with two chainrings) and a high ratio cassette. This configuration is sufficiently "all-purpose" to handle steep hills and to push on the flat. With its 50-34 crankset and 11-34 cassette, the Shimano 105 groupset will be the ideal choice for its quality/price ratio.
More than on the development, your attention will be focused on the type of groupset (mechanical or electric) and on its version (e.g. Tiagra, 105, Ultegra). The higher the range, the lighter, more precise, more durable... and complete (this is important) the groupset will be.
Does the weight matter?
Not as much of course as in a "climber" or "aero" profile, but still! In endurance, expect, at least on the first models, to pay a slight weight penalty in favor of comfort.
The market leaders
🇺🇸 Specialized RoubaixIf there's one brand where comfort and performance go hand in hand, it's Specialized. The Roubaix was the first endurance bike ever designed (2004), named after the famous Paris-Roubaix "Queen of the Classics," for which it was specifically designed. With seven victories to its credit (Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara, Peter Sagan!), the Roubaix is the most successful bike in the history of this race. There are 7 models of the Roubaix, the most affordable of which, mounted in Tiagra, costs 2 850°€, and the most expensive of which (whose price we won't mention), equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset, Roval Rapide CLX carbon wheels and the cream of S-Works components, is said to be the best performing road bike ever built (more aerodynamic than the Tarmac, which was designed to "dominate everything"). Yes, yes.
As the icing on the cake, since 2017 the Roubaix has been equipped with a 20mm active suspension, called Future Shock. It not only offers a more reassuring and comfortable ride, but also reduces fatigue and increases speed on difficult sections. In terms of tires, the Roubaix ships with up to 33 mm.
🇺🇸 Trek DomaneIn 2013, Fabian "Spartacus" Cancellara completed the Paris-Roubaix Tour of Flanders double on a Domane. Designed the previous year at the approach of the spring classics, 8 years after the first Roubaix, Trek has not waited long before hitting hard! The American company is now a major player in the endurance market. Trek offers a wide range of products, from the Domane AL 2 (899 €, the only one with skates) to the Domane SLR 9 eTap (13 099 €) and the Domane SL 6 (4 299 €)... In short, aluminum (Domane AL) and carbon (Domane SL and SLR), mechanical and hydraulic disc brakes, mechanical and electric drive systems (all Shimano represented), not to mention the family of electrically assisted bikes (Domane+)... all available in every color of the spectrum (or almost). Keep smiling, there really is something for everyone... and every wallet.
Last but not least, the IsoSpeed damping technology (front and/or rear depending on the model) neutralizes road irregularities so you can pedal harder, farther and faster. Disc brakes, ample tire clearance and fender and/or rack mounts (depending on model) give you the versatility you need for adventures on any terrain. Finally, the frame-mounted storage compartment provides convenient storage for snacks and tools.
In the land of endurance, Cannondale has nothing to envy its compatriots. The first carbon frame of the brand, the Synapse has become the flagship model of the road range. Launched in 2005, it has been evolving ever since, and the 2022 version brings even more comfort and speed, while adding confidence and safety on the road with SmartSense technology. So the brand's "most versatile, most ready for anything, most pure" machine is now smart! SmartSense is an integrated lighting and radar system that communicates with the rider, the bike and the environment, and is powered by a single battery. In addition, the Synapse offers the option of mounting 35mm tires for added flexibility and grip. The numerous mounting lugs allow you to equip it with the accessories of your choice, such as water bottles, mudguards, etc. Powerful.
Powerful, comfortable and all-terrain, the Synapse is a bike for everyone, or rather for people who can afford it: equipped with Shimano 105, the first model of the range (out of 5) is available at a price of 3 599 €...
The outsiders of the market
A visit to its website is enough to convince you: the German Canyon has not stolen its place among the suppliers of the World Tour peloton. The Endurace range, with its impeccable aesthetics, clean lines and successful colors, is divided into four groups, depending on the type of frame material: AL (aluminum), CF (carbon fiber), CF SL (ultra-light carbon fiber), CF SLX. The first carbon fiber and disc brake bike, the Endurace CF 7, equipped with a Shimano 105 R7000 groupset and Fulcrum Racing DB 900 wheels, is on sale for €1,999. You prefer Ultegra? Treat yourself to the Endurace CF 8 for €2,299. For an extra €500, upgrade to a high-end frame and DT Swiss wheels. Impressive.
Fan of brakes with pads? The French company Lapierre is one of the few manufacturers on the market (if not the only one?) to offer a full carbon endurance bike equipped with rim brakes: the Pulsium 3.0 CP (€1,849), in Shimano Tiagra 10s - the disc version is €2,199. For the record, the Pulsium was born in 2014 from the collaboration of the Lapierre group with the FDJ pro team; it has long accompanied its riders in perilous races such as Paris-Roubaix. Some models feature patented SAT (Shock Absorption Technology). Taking the form of an elastomer ring, this system improves vertical comfort while preserving lateral rigidity.
Cock-a-doodle-doo! Famous for its famous Mondrian color and, incidentally, for having invented automatic pedals, the French manufacturer offers an amazingly comfortable endurance bike. Designed for painless mileage, the 765 Optimum will delight both the hardcore cyclist and the recreational athlete. Equipped with hydraulic disc brakes, Shimano RS 171 wheels and a full Shimano 105 groupset, its frame features the innovative "Carbon + Flax Fiber" technology. Great art accessible at a price of 2 799 €.
Here you are at the end of this article, with, we hope, a little clearer ideas... Most of the big brands offer high quality endurance bikes. This article focuses on our favorites, but there are many others (Giant Defy, Scott Addict, Bianchi Infinito, Cervelo Caledonia, etc.). If your budget allows it, go for a carbon frame, disc brakes and a high performance groupset (Shimano, 105 or more). Wheels are an important component, but easier to change/upgrade.
In a context of parts shortage, availability is an important criterion. If you've fallen for a particular model, you may have to wait... Don't hesitate to check the manufacturer's websites to see if the tires are clear, if you can attach or store accessories (mudguards and panniers). If you have the possibility, go and discuss, try, weigh in store... Thank you for your loyalty, and see you soon on the road!