With the Tour de France kicking off in Leeds next week, cycling enthusiasts across the country are getting ready to strap on their helmets and squeeze back into Lycra shorts. If you have yet to be bitten by the cycling bug, this summer might be the ideal opportunity to start pedalling. So to help you find your perfect bike, here is Savoo’s guide to buying the best bike on a budget.
Mountain bikes are great all-rounders, but are best suited to rough ground. They have a wide range of gears which makes them ideal for getting up hills, and their powerful brakes and knobbly tyres have excellent grip on non-tarmac surfaces.
However, being fairly heavy with clunky suspension forks, mountain bikes are not the fastest on the road. You can add slick tyres to reduce resistance on tarmac, but they will never win you any races and can be cumbersome on your morning commute.
Road bikes are designed for racing, and only serious cyclists need apply. With thin tyres and drop-handlebars, road bikes create an aerodynamic position and have low rolling resistance- ideal for extra speed on the road. Combine with shaved legs and Lycra for the ultimate ‘smug cyclist’ look.
Whilst these bikes are perfect for going fast on the road because of their lightweight frame, they are not made for rougher terrain- and often lack the ability to add mudguards or a rack. Beginners or commuters should stick with a hybrid.
Hybrid bikes are the perfect marriage between a road bike and a mountain bike. Ideal for commuters and cycling newbies, they feature the flat handlebars of a mountain bike rather than drop handles. But because they don’t need to be as sturdy as a mountain bike they are built a little lighter, and the larger wheels and thinner tyres make them easier to ride on the roads. Despite travelling fast on tarmac, hybrids can still cope with gentle off-road tracks.
Note: Not all hybrids are created equal, so make sure you speak to a specialist if you are unsure what features you need.
Folding bikes are the equivalent of a clip on tie: they get the job done, but they are not something you are particularly proud of owning. However, if you are pushed for space then a folding bike could be perfect; with the ability to fit in cars, trains and under desks, one of these babies can go with you everywhere. But remember to avoid cheap and cheerful models because they are often badly made (and you might be left red faced when you can’t fold the stupid thing up at a crucial moment).
The roadster, or ‘town bike’, is a classic British design that is perfect for a leisurely ride in the city. Created for travelling short distances over flat terrain, these bikes can be seen all over Europe where transport cycling is common- particularly Denmark and the Netherlands. The Boris Bike has put roadsters back on the map in the UK, and with practical features like a rear rack, mudguards and a wide saddle you can see why they are making a comeback.
Fixies have a reputation for being a hipster’s best friend. A fixed gear bike with no free wheel, when the wheel turns so does the pedal. These bikes are particularly popular in London, particularly East- but are largely impractical if you are serious about cycling.
1) Set your budget
Good quality bikes come upwards of about £250. Whilst you could potentially spend hundreds of pounds of a top of the range model, if you are a cycling newbie there is no real need to splash all your money at once; you can invest in a more expensive bike later down the line when you are sure cycling is for you.
2) Choose a shop
Newbies should always pick a bike from a specialist shop, ideally members of the Association of Cycle Traders with qualified mechanics on hand. It is important to get a frame that fits you properly (you should be able to stand over the frame with your feet flat on the floor and a gap between your body and the bike itself). Bring along more experienced friends their opinion, and always take the bike for a test ride before forking out your hard earned cash.
There is never any harm in asking for a discount, especially if you are buying an expensive bike or a package including other related items (helmets, shoes etc.). For a real bargain, try and find a model left over from last year’s stock or an ex-display bike which you can get at a reduced price.