If you are looking for a good cheap bike there is a bewildering choice of bikes in the £350-600 price range, the typical starting point for a road bike, and it is difficult to know where to start. Virtually all mainstream bike manufacturers have entry bikes in this price range.
To confuse matters further, your bike supplier will often have last years models at reduced prices, and often available at extremely tempting prices. There is little benefit for the beginner in having the latest model - so if last years version of the same bike is available at 25% reduction it is likely to be a bargain.
Frames at this price will usually be steel / aluminium / alloy - unfortunately for the time being we can only dream of carbon fibre frames! The equipment will usually be at the lower end of the range (e.g. Shimano Sora or Shimano Tiagra gears etc) but still works perfectly well. Just because it is possible to spend £5,000 on a bike doesn't mean a £500 bike is no good!
One popular improvement featured by bikes in this price range is the use of a carbon front fork, which notably improves the handling and lightness of many models, although this may not be available on bikes in the better known ranges and brands.
Readers of this site will know that we are great enthusiast of Trek bikes and Specialized bikes. We have also had good experiences with Bianchi. but the other mainstream brands each have their own 'low budget' bikes as well - just because we haven't tried them ourselves is not a criticism!
Hints and Tips
Buy a cheap bike from a brand that also makes expensive bikes. If the brand of bike you are looking at also makes much more expensive models (Giant, GT, Trek, Specialized, Bianchi etc) there is a good chance that:
- some of the technology has filtered down to the cheaper bikes
- they are a large company with significant expenditure on research and development
- with years of experience they will have ironed out any little problems
- the dealer will be familiar with the bike, and your local bike shop will be happier repairing it (and parts will be readily available)
Among the frequently recommended bikes in the ?250 - ?500 price range are:
When you are choosing an entry level bike, it is not necessary to spend a fortune to get good quality - bikes in the lower price range are certainly good for several thousand kilometres, and you'll appreciate the benefits of a lighter bike much more when you have more experience on the road.
Hints and tips
Don't be tempted into buying a very expensive bike either by an over-eager salesmen or your own enthusiasm! A £400-£500 bike is more than adequate to pass a couple of years finding out if you are enthusiastic before you spend loads of money.
Whether you are buying a top of the range super bike or a decent cheap bike one bit of advice always applies: it is strongly recommended that you buy from a bike supplier, however, rather than a general sports supplier or even worse from a local hypermarket. Bikes from these tend to be made for shop appeal rather than road efficiency.