Best carbon road bike 2024: what makes good quality carbon and six bikes to consider

We pick our favorite carbon road bikes for varying applications

Cycling Weekly's reviewers testing the best carbon road bikes
(Image credit: Future)

Carbon is pretty much the number one material of choice when it comes to mainstream frame construction and as such there are an awful lot of carbon bike frames out there and there's no one 'best carbon bike'.

Whilst the frame material is at the heart of the bike, there are other elements to consider when choosing a new steed - the geometry, specification and value for money being key points as well as intended use. Do you want a race bike? Or perhaps you're after something for longer riders on varied surfaces? Are aerodynamics or low weight more important to you?

We've listed some of the most well-renowned carbon-framed road bikes which have fared well during our recent testing. We also have other dedicated guides which include the best road bikes, the best aero bikes and the best road bikes under $2500.

But for now, here are our picks of the best carbon road bikes...

The Quick List

The best carbon road bikes 2023: Our picks

Best carbon race bike

Cervélo S5 carbon road bike on a yellow background

Cervélo S5 carbon road bike 

(Image credit: Future)
Best carbon race bike

Specifications

Groupset: SRAM Force AXS
Wheels: 52/63 Reserve
Weight: 8.2kg
Sizes: 48, 51, 54, 56, 58

Reasons to buy

+
Super fast
+
Great handling
+
Very comfortable
+
More user-friendly handlebars 

Reasons to avoid

-
There are lighter aero bikes

The S5's race credentials make for impressive reading. As one of the bikes ridden by Jumbo-Visma it's racked up back-to-back Tour de France wins, a green jersey in the same event as well as numerous stage and one-day races. Having sublime talent like Jonas Vingegaard, Wout van Aert and Marianne Vos certainly helps. But clearly the S5 isn't holding them back.

Like the Jumbo riders we were impressed when we tested the updated S5. So much so we awarded it our Race Bike of the Year for 2023. In simple terms it does everything well. It's straight-line speed is incredible, as is its cornering prowess - and unlike many aero race bikes it's also comfortable to ride. 

The Reserve 52|63 wheels have a wide internal rim width - 25mm up front and 24mm out back. This in turn had the 28mm Vittoria Corsa tires actually measuring 31mm. When combined with the frameset, the result is a sublime ride quality - bags of grip, with much of the road chatter silenced. It adds up to plenty of speed when the surfaces are less than ideal. 

At 8.22kg for this SRAM Force build, the S5 isn't light. However it doesn’t feel ‘heavy’ to ride and with it's aero properties and low rolling resistance it's still lightening quick.

The S5’s gains across the board – it’s handling, comfort and aerodynamics – more than make up for the extra mass. As the complete package, the Cervélo S5 deservedly wins our 2023 Race Bike of the Year award.

Read more: Cervélo S5 SRAM Force full review

Best carbon aero bike

Trek Madone SLR 7 carbon road bike on a pink background

Trek Madone SLR 7 carbon road bike 

(Image credit: Future)
Best carbon aero road bike

Specifications

Groupset: Shimano Ultegra Di2
Wheels: Bontrager Aeolus Pro 51
Weight: 7.5kg
Sizes: 47, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, 62

Reasons to buy

+
Super smooth ride
+
Light for an aero bike
+
Striking aesthetics

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Limited adjustability
-
No power meter

The revamped Madone gained plenty of attention on release, in no small part due to the radical frame design. The new IsoFlow technology, which replaces the IsoSpeed decoupler, reduces weight and improves airflow. To achieve this Trek engineers have created a 'hole' in the frame around the junction of the seat tube and stays, which allows turbulent air to pass through more efficiently.

Further aerodynamic enhancements come courtesy of the new cockpit. When we reviewed the Madone we found the handlebars to be an excellent design, supporting our wrists much better than more traditional bars and enabling us to stay lower for longer. The bars measure 42cm at the drops. But at the hoods, they narrow to just 39cm, helping create a more aero position without compromising stance width when descending. 

It all translated to fast handling, with the bike responding to the smallest shift in weight and the tiniest tweaks of the bars. Yes the tire clearance could be more generous by today's standard (30mm) but the ride quality is still impressive. As our reviewer wrote, "If you have the budget and want a WorldTour-level race machine with exceptional handling and ride feel, this is the bike."

Read more: Trek Madone SLR 7 full review

Best value carbon road bike

Giant Propel Advanced Pro 1 carbon road bike on an orange background

Giant Propel Advanced Pro 1 carbon road bike 

(Image credit: Future)
Best value carbon road bike

Specifications

Groupset: SRAM Rival AXS w/ power meter
Wheels: Giant SLR 1 50 Carbon Disc
Weight: 8.46kg

Reasons to buy

+
Aerodynamic
+
Smooth
+
Includes power meter
+
Great value

Reasons to avoid

-
On the heavy side

The new Propel Advanced Pro has been redesigned to add compliance and comfort to its impressive aero credentials. Giant have sought to achieve this balance by slimming down the tube shapes in places, notably the frame's rear triangle, and introducing a sloping top tube, which works alongside the narrower seat post.

And it works. When we reviewed the Propel Advanced Pro we found that it retained the speed of the outgoing model but now with more "native comfort". It's not the lightest of bikes, and if you live or ride regularly in very hilly terrain it might not be best suited. However, we found that the extra weight wasn't noticeable while our higher average speeds were. 

While a road bike in the $/$5k range might not scream 'value', the Propel does deliver plenty of bike for your money, especially when viewed in comparison to some of the other big-hitting aero road bikes. 

Read more: Giant Propel Advanced Pro full review

Best endurance carbon road bike

A red Wilier Granturismo SLR carbon road bike on a yellow background

Wilier Granturismo SLR carbon road bike

(Image credit: Future)
Best endurance carbon road bike

Specifications

Groupset: SRAM Force AXS
Wheels: Wilier SLR38k
Weight: 8.1kg
Sizes: XS-XXL

Reasons to buy

+
Incredibly comfortable and noticeable compliance at rear end
+
Agile bike despite relaxed geometry
+
Wheelset and finishing kit same as top end models

Reasons to avoid

-
Even wider tire clearance would be ideal
-
Tire choice not ideal for heavily potholed roads
-
Lack of mounting points for fenders/ bags

The Granturismo SLR is what all good endurance bikes should be: comfortable yet still fast. But it's not always an easy balance to find.

Wilier has achieved it by using geometry that matches a higher stack height with a shorter reach, alongside its 'Actiflex 2.0 vibration damping system'. This bit of trickery is found at the intersection of the seat stays and the toptube, with the  elastomer providing up to 5mm in vertical travel for the rear wheel. You can also adjust comfort levels, by slecting either the hard or soft settings via a dial.

Combined with a wheelset that turned our 28mm tires to ones that measured almost 32mm (the bike's stated maximum width), it made for the ideal companion for back-to-back big days in the hills. Even the terrible road surfaces were no match for the vibration dampening powers of the Granturismo. However, despite the plush ride quality it's surprisingly agile.

Read more: Wilier Granturismo SLR full review

Best carbon climbing bike

Cannondale SuperSix Evo 4 Hi-mod Ultegra carbon road bike on pink background, front on

Cannondale SuperSix Evo 4 Hi-mod Ultegra carbon road bike

(Image credit: Future (Richard Butcher))
Best carbon climbing road bike

Specifications

Groupset: Shimano Ultegra Di2
Wheels: RSL50
Weight: 7.69kg
Sizes: 51, 54, 56, 58

Reasons to buy

+
Super stiff, responsive frame
+
Planted handling which responds quickly without feeling unwieldy
+
A frameset that is more aerodynamic than many other climbing bikes

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly compromised compliance on longer rides

The SuperSix Evo has benefitted from a redesign which has helped cement it's place as one of the best race-focussed climbing bikes out there. In fact the aero enhancements, notably a a cleaner cockpit and revamped tube shapes, alongside wider tire clearance (now room for 34mm) and dropped stays have made it a great all-round race bike.

Naturally, if climbing is your thing you're likely to pay close attention to weight. And the SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod doesn't disappoint. Our test bike weighed 7.69kg for a size 54, which is certainly competitive for a build of this nature. Move up to the LAB71 carbon frame, replace the Ultegra Di2 groupset with Dura-Ace, and swap the RSL50s wheelset for something lighter still and you'll be heading towards a sub 7kg weight. You will of course have also spend lost more money.

As for the ride, the handling is "top class". It's agile but not skittish and handles flat terrain as well as it does the climbs. Vitally, during our review period it also proved to be great on the descents, inspiring plenty of confidence. 

Read more: Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod full review

Best carbon all-road bike

Vitus Venon Evo 105 Di2 carbon road bike on a pink background

Vitus Venon Evo 105 Di2 carbon road bike

(Image credit: Future)
Best carbon all-road bike

Specifications

Groupset: Shimano 105 Di2
Wheels: Prime Attaquer wheels
Weight: 7.8kg
Sizes: XS-XXL

Reasons to buy

+
Endurance position is great for long days in the saddle
+
Versatile frameset can take fenders if needed
+
Can accommo