When you buy a bike, you want to make sure you are buying quality, which will last for years to come and help you get around with comfort and speed. The top cycling brands often have deep ties to the cycling community, with many of them being started by former racing greats.
What Makes Good Bike Brands
It can be challenging to identify what makes a good cycling brand. In some cases, it does come down to personal preference and opinion. For example, one rider might prefer one bicycle company because of brand familiarity instead of an objective review of its components.
Usually, a good cycling brand offers a range of different bike styles and a range of price points. Although it might have some models that only cost a few hundred dollars and use entry-level components, those bikes still provide a decent ride. A top-quality brand’s higher-end models will be the best bike you can get for the money.
Often, a great bike brand has some deep connection to cycling or the cycling community. For example, former professional cyclists created favorite labels which have since been adored by fans worldwide.
How We Chose the Top Brands
While picking out the top bike brands, we looked at a variety of factors. One was how many models a brand produced and whether it had a bike to suit various cycling styles or needs. For example, we tried to stick with brands that produce both road and mountain bikes, since a super-specialized bicycle company will appeal to fewer people.
We also looked at the price points of the bikes offered by the brands and the components used. Brands that only produce low-end, low-quality bikes were out. We also didn’t want to only focus on brands that produce the fanciest bicycles, so we also considered cheaper options.
Top 15 Bike Brands
Trek Bicycle Corporation got its start in Waterloo, Wisconsin, in 1976. According to CNBC, it is the largest bike brand based in the US. Although most of its production has moved overseas, the company still produces some bikes in the US.
Trek produces a wide range of bike styles at a full range of price points. It makes bikes for men and women (and even kids bikes) and biking gear and apparel. Along with traditional foot-powered bikes, Trek is also an electric mountain bike brand. Bike prices range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.
Although Trek might be the most recognizable name the company produces, it has a full lineup of brands in its stable. Those other brands include DreamBikes, Bontrager, and Electra. Until 2008, the company also produced LeMond cycles, a line of bikes initially developed by Greg LeMond, a US cyclist who won the Tour de France.
Cannondale is another top bike brand that dates back to the 1970s. While two buddies founded Trek over a glass of beer, Cannondale was birthed above a pickle factory in Connecticut. At first, the company didn’t make bikes but instead produced bike trailers, accessories, and apparel.
In 1983, the brand created its first bike, a touring model. It followed up with a racing bike the next year. Then, in 1997, Cannondale made waves at the Tour de France by having members of the Saeco cycling team (who rode the brand’s bikes) ride on aluminum bike frames. According to company legend, the leader of the Saeco team declared Cannondale bikes to be the best.
Today, the brand produces a range of bikes, including mountain bikes, road bikes, tandem bikes, and ebikes. It also has models specialized for children and women. Generally speaking, Cannondale bikes are at the higher end of the pricing spectrum. Most of its models are more than $1,000, and even its kid’s bikes are a few hundred dollars each.
Kona Bikes is a relative newcomer. The brand was started in 1988 by Dan Gerhard and Jacob Heilbron. The pair continues to own the brand today, and it remains to be based out of the Pacific Northwest.
Kona’s claim to fame is being the first company to produce a straight-leg mountain bike production fork. The brand worked with Brodie (aka Bruce Spicer) to develop the bike style. Currently, Kona has 10 versions of the fork, made for mountain bikes and asphalt bikes of various sizes.
Although originally Kona focused on mountain bikes, today it produces a full range of styles, including road bikes and cyclocross bikes. It introduced its first carbon bike frames in 2011, with a cyclocross bike and a Kula Watt 26″ hardtail.
Kona produces bikes at a range of price points, with its least expensive models starting at a few hundred dollars. But its high-end bikes can cost upwards of $5,000.
Colnago is a bike company based in Italy. The brand dates back to 1952 when Ernesto Colnago founded it in Cambiago. Ernesto Colnago was initially expected to take over his family’s farming business but pursued a career in cycling from a young age. At 13, he was an apprentice at a bike company and eventually opened his shop.
The Telegraph has called Colnago the Ferrari of cycling brands, describing it as a bike maker for cycling connoisseurs. The description is apt, as many of Colnago’s higher-end models are entirely handmade in Italy and feature top-quality components.
Colnago is not a budget-conscious brand by any means. Its most affordable models cost more than $1,000, and its top-of-the-line racing bikes go for more than $5,000 or $6,000.
Another Italian bicycle brand, Bianchi has the distinct honor of being the oldest continually operated cycling company globally. It dates back to 1885 when 21-year-old Edoardo Bianchi took it upon himself to add a chain to the famous “Ordinary” bicycles and reduce the front wheel’s size.
Bianchi Intenso Carbon Italian Road Bike
You could say his idea was a success. Over the years, Bianchi was credited with several other developments in the design and function of the bicycle. For example, he created the first-ever front brake in 1913.
Throughout the 20th century, Bianchi bikes were ridden in several major bicycling tournaments and often won those tournaments. For example, while riding a Bianchi, cyclist Fausto Coppi won his first Tour de France in 1949. Felice Gimondi also won the race on a Bianchi in the early 1970s.
Today, Bianchi produces city, mountain, and race bike models at various price points, starting at a few hundred dollars. It also makes electric bike models and kids bikes models.
Raleigh Bikes is a British cycling brand that started in 1887, making it one of the oldest bike brands out there. At the time, the brand produced around three bikes per week. But as early as 1896, production had increased to 30,000 cycles per year.
Raleigh Hybrid Bike
Throughout the 20th century, demand for the bikes increased, and the brand continued to grow, producing more and more cycles each year and expanding the size of its factories and plants. It even dabbled in motorcycles for a while. Demand was high in the US for the brand’s 10-speed cycles.
Like a few other top brands, Raleigh is no stranger to the Tour de France. Cyclist Joop Zoetemelk of Holland won the race on a Raleigh bike in 1980. In 1989, the French team Système U rode Raleigh bikes when it lost the Tour by just 8 seconds to Greg LeMond.
Today, the brand produces a mix of city/commuter bike models, mountain bikes, and road bikes. Its prices are relatively moderate, with some of its bikes costing in the $300 to $400 range and its higher-end bikes topping out at under $3,000.
Cervelo is another relatively young bicycle brand, started in Canada in 1995. The goal of the company is simple: It aims to design the world’s fastest bike. To that end, it’s probably not a brand that you’re going to check out if you’re new to cycling or if you’re looking for a bike for commuting or occasional use.
But if you regularly feel the need for speed on your bike, whether you’re training for an Ironman or the Tour de France or just enjoy a weekend ride, this might be the brand for you. Cervelo has five road bike series: the C series, P series, R series, S series, and T series.
None of its bikes are cheap. The lowest-end models (the S series) start around $5,000, while the P and R series easily cost more than $10,000.
Orbea is a Spanish bike company that began life in 1840 as a rifle company. It didn’t start to make cycles until the 1930s. It employed thousands of Spanish citizens during the Civil War era and was eventually bought by its employees and turned into a cooperative corporation in the early 1960s.
Then, it built a larger factory and began producing recreational bikes and road/race bike models. Today, the company produces a range of recreational bikes, road bikes, and electric bikes.
As you might guess from the name, BMC Switzerland has its headquarters in Switzerland. The company began in 1994 and currently has around 120 employees around the world. BMC supplied bikes to the Phonak Cycling team, a Swiss team that Andy Rihs oversaw. Rihs eventually took over the entire company in 2000.
Since then, BMC bikes have won several bike tournaments and races, including the Tour de France in 2011. The brand currently makes a full range of bikes, including road, mountain, and recreational cycles.
The founder of Merida Bikes, Ike Tseng, got the idea for the company on a visit to the US in the early 1970s. Tseng went to a bike shop and found a note there stating that the repair shop wouldn’t work on any bikes produced in Taiwan, due to the low quality of those cycles.
Tseng set about to create a bike brand and high-quality bikes that were made in Taiwan. Merida, which was officially founded in 1988, does just that. The company combines Taiwanese manufacturing with an R&D arm based in Germany. Today, it produces a range of bikes, including city/commuter bike models, mountain bikes, and road bikes.
Focus Bikes is a German cycling brand that got started in the 1990s. The company was founded by Mike Kluge, who was a cyclocross bike champion.
At first, Focus bikes focused on mountain bikes, but eventually expanded its range to include touring cycles, road bikes, and city bikes. Today it offers a full range of bicycles, including e-bikes, cyclocross bikes, and bikes for kids.
Jamis Bikes started in 1979 when it launched the Earth Cruiser, a boardwalk bike that’s often said to have kickstarted the beach cruiser trend. A few years later, in the 1980s, the brand began producing mountain bikes in addition to its cruisers. By 2001, Jamis’ Dakar Comp was named the Best Bike in the $800 to $1500 range by Mountain Biking Magazine.
Today, Jamis continues to produce a range of bikes, including adventure cycles, mountain bikes, road bikes, and commuter cycles.
Eddy Merckx is another high-end, high-quality cycling brand created by a former cycling champion. Many people say Merckx was the best rider who ever existed. He won five 5 Giro d’Italias, five Tours de France, and more than 500 races throughout his career.
Merckx started his bike company in 1980 and remained for several years, contributing to the design of cycles and test riding new models. The brand produces road bikes for men and women, a gravel bike model, and cyclocross cycles.
Castelli is known for producing cycling clothing. The brand traces its origins back to a tailor named Vittore Gianni, who was active in the 1800s. In the 1930s, Armando Castelli began working with Gianni and eventually purchased the business from him.
In the cycling clothing world, the brand is credited with many first. It developed the first Lycra-spandex shorts, the first colored shorts, and the first thermal cycling clothing. Today, the brand continues to engineer and design performance cycling clothes.
Created by Giovanni Pinarello in 1952, Pinarello is another Italian cycling company. Giovanni started the company after he was fired from his cycling team at the last minute and given a considerable sum of money as a parting gift.
The brand began producing handmade bicycles in the early 1960s and won its first Giro d’Italia race in 1975. In 1988, the brand won its first Tour de France. Today, Pinarello produces many bikes, including “fixies,” road bikes, mountain bikes, and track bikes.
Specialized: Known for their Roubaix and Allez models, Specialized is revered as a fierce and fast brand. Roubaix is a high-end racing series whereas the Allez series is an entry-level, reliable ride.
Peloton: Peloton produces shoes and indoor bikes. It’s a great starting point for riders who want to exercise inside!