Best for Competition

Giant TCR Composite 1

This falls just above the $2,500 cap. But the TCR Composite 1 bucks the carbon-bikes-aren't-affordable trend. It has a featherweight frame and a wrist-flicking responsiveness and – thanks to a huge bottom bracket – enough watt-wringing stiffness to tear up any path. Add an oversize, tapered front end for precise cornering and out-of-the-saddle sprints, plus Shimano's Ultegra 6800 groupset, and you've got the best deal of 2014. [$2,550; giant-bicycles.com]