What bike?

Wheels for commuting

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29/03/2012 at 10:21

I am thinking of buying a bike for commuting and maybe leisure use in order to save money but more importantly get fit.

The commute is about 10 miles a day on 'conventional' roads.

Can any of you advise what to look for and what to avoid?

I have an Argos store card I am tempted to use to avoid the cash layout if nothing else and have set a nominal budget of £100 but that is not written in stone but it does not need to be top of the range but should be relatively light and comfortable.

It may be old fashioned but I don't like the idea of having the rear wheel spray mud and water up my backside so maybe mudguards might be useful?

I am looking at either a Hybrid or a Mountain bike.

My initial research suggest I should go for Shimano gears, handlebar gear change (twist grip), V brakes (maybe discs if not expensive) and brand names for shifters and rear derailleur, ie, Sunrun, Shimano, Revoshift, etc but if anybody knows of a budget setup with 'lesser' kit that does the job let me know

Any ideas, opinions?

29/03/2012 at 13:25
You will get a bicycle shaped object new for £100 at Argos or Halfords, but I reckon not anything that will provide comfort or reliability -- 10 miles a day isn't a huge distance, but it will soon add up. I know it's a pain when enthusiasts say you've got to spend more to get half decent gear, but in this case I reckon it's true. Decathlon do reasonable mountain bikes for around £200 and some of the Halfords Carrera ones at a similar level aren't bad. Otherwise look in local bike shops/papers for second hand ones and you might get a decent model for £100 or so.
29/03/2012 at 13:34

I've read that unless you spend silly money then suspension is a no-no and go for rigid forks.

If I were to up my budget and still go down the Argos route what should I expect to pay for something decent?

29/03/2012 at 14:28

For £100 look for a reconditioned or second hand IMHO.  There are some outfits (like Edinburgh's Bike Station) who rescue unwanted bikes and sell them on for bargain prices: highly recommended with only £100 to spend.  Check to see if someone does this in your area.

Mountain bikes are designed for off-road, which is Good, but are consequently less good on it, which is Not Good.  You can make life a lot better with a set of slick tyres, but a decent pair will be £30+ so if I were you I'd avoid MTBs, or (at this price) MTB-a-likes.

You're right about mudguards, and also about suspension.  You want to avoid discs for the same reason as suspension: done well they're great, but done well costs Real Money (TM) and I'm afraid we don't have that here.

If you're upping your budget (which I'd heartily recommend) I'd say don't go to Argos.  Go to a bike shop, where you can try things out for size and feel and talk to someone who knows what they're about.  Halfords may or may not count, it's very much down to the staff in individual stores.

For a ten mile commute a rack and panniers for any luggage is a lot better than a rucksack, so add budget for rack as well as mudguards.  And don't forget lights too...

A no-frills hybrid should be workable from about £150 (before you spend your extra on ;guards and rack) IMHO, but if you pay twice as much as that you'll get a lot more for your money.  The law of dimimishing returns will start to cut in above that.  I think Guy's starter level of £200 is a good one.  You can buy a bike for £100 but 10 miles a day will soon have inferior components suffering, and you along with them.  And if you buy cheap and nasty to upgrade later, the frame is the key to the bike so it'll not really be worth it: you won't turn a Fiesta Popular in to a Ferrari by adding cool mirrors and alloy wheels...


29/03/2012 at 14:36

Oi! Don't you be rude about Fiestas!!

29/03/2012 at 14:38
I would suggest something in the region of £300-500. Cheap bikes use cheap components which soon go out of adjustment and/or need replacing. I have a Scott hybrid (can't remember which model) which cost around £350 about 6 years ago.

Since I bought it I have done about 10-12,000 miles on it. I have just replaced the rear cassette and front big cog, for the second time. Apart from a broken free wheel which happened recently, the only other things I have replaced are brake and gear cables, bottom bracket. Brake blocks too of course.

I have also got touring bike, which I bought nearly 20 years ago, which I still use regularly.

So I think the message is spend a decent amount of money and get something that will last. A bike with decent components will need less money spending on it over the medium term and will probably feel much better to ride.
29/03/2012 at 16:37
Fully depending on who you work for and if they offer the scheme of not its worth asking about "Cycle to work"

It would appear to me that if you only have £100 to spend then you can't afford to be using a 'store card' as a quick google shows that an Argos Card is currently charging interest at a truly shocking 27.9% APR

I have no suggestion on what bike you should buy but want to say that in my early 20's I spent 6 months doing loads of overtime and saving to buy a Dawes Super Galaxy. At the time it was seen as an expensive bike. Forward to now and its done 20000?? miles and cost me the equivalent of £22/year. That bike today will set you back £1500.

I'm almost certain that if you buy a 'cheap' bike any savings you intend to make will be swallowed up in maintenance or replacing a knackered bike after 6 months. IF your serious budget a serious amount for the bike.

29/03/2012 at 18:02

"I would suggest something in the region of £300-500. Cheap bikes use cheap components which soon go out of adjustment and/or need replacing."

That's not really been my experience. Many a bike in the £300 plus range has the same frame as cheaper models from the same manufacturer, but with a few slightly more expensive componens added. These might be a bit lighter or more modern, but I'm not convinced they're always that much better. In particular the budget end disc brakes on £300 bikes are no better than V brakes imo.

29/03/2012 at 19:10
Neither of my bikes has disc brakes. For my use they would be an unnecessary expense. Prices of decent components may have dropped since I bought my last bike.

However, over the last three years we have bought a bike each for the children. These have cost around £300 - they are not adult sized bikes. They have had some quite hard use and I haven't had to replace any components, or do more than minor adjustments to things like the brakes. Before they were old enough to cycle much we got them cheaper bikes costing around £100 or less. I was forever fiddling with these to keep things like gears working. I reckon that they will get 4-5 years use out of the bikes before they get to big for them and I don't expect to have to replace any major components.
29/03/2012 at 19:37
If you want a cheap bike for commuting, forget a mounatin bike and get an old,  lightweight racing bike from Ebay or through the classified ads. Mountain bikes are heavy and no fun, unless you intend using them off-road. No need for fancy brakes, suspension etc, unless you intend using them off-road.....
29/03/2012 at 19:39
A  Second hand Specialized Langster
29/03/2012 at 19:43

Islabikes for your kids, geek?  That's what our kids use, most impressed.  And they keep their value well too (their Beinn 20Ls were sold on and made a big donation to ther current Beinn 26Ss).  They now do a big-person sized model too, where all your money goes on useful stuff, but it's quite a lot over the £100 mark.  It should give a good idea of how to sensibly spend more money, though.


29/03/2012 at 20:17
Please make sure that you have good lights if you are going to cycle outside full daylight hours. In my opinion LED lights are the way forward with rechargeable batteries that hold their charge (and carry a spare set!).
29/03/2012 at 20:43
Davey's suggestion is a good one if you're just going to use the bike on roads. There always seem to be lots of good 2nd hand road bikes outside my local cycle shop, but even poor mtbs go very quickly.
29/03/2012 at 23:15
if there are no significant hills on then route, get a single gear, they are less weight expence and faff and open out the opportunity of having a fixed wheel (incomparable bike control).
30/03/2012 at 09:21
Peter Clinch wrote (see)

Islabikes for your kids, geek?  That's what our kids use, most impressed.  And they keep their value well too (their Beinn 20Ls were sold on and made a big donation to ther current Beinn 26Ss).  .

I didn't know about them, or I  might have bought from them. One of the girls bikes is a Specialized, the other a Marin. I think that they will last another one to two years before they outgrow them. So they will have had around 5 years use out of them.

Te last bike we bought for my son has a small sized adult frame. He has outgrown it now, but it should be OK for at least one of my daughters indefinitely.

My son is now nearly as tall as me (6ft 2"), although he is only 14. He should really get a bike with a bigger frame. However, the next bike he gets should last him for many years.

30/03/2012 at 09:39

Please make sure that you have good lights if you are going to cycle outside full daylight hours. In my opinion LED lights are the way forward with rechargeable batteries that hold their charge (and carry a spare set!).

Lights are indeed a good call, and on a 10 mile commute in winter in the UK it's entirely likley you'll need them.

LED certainly much better now than "normal" bulbs.  Altogether better in pretty much every way.  IMHO better than rechargeable batteris are dynamo hubs, so you never have a battery snafu.  But again we're in to budget problems as a good dynohub and associated wheel build will suck up your original budget before you add anything else.  It's worth bearing in mind for the future though, and other readers who'd rather not faff about charging batteries all the time might want to think about a dynohub too.


30/03/2012 at 09:49
TK Maxx always have a selection of lights at decent prices.
30/03/2012 at 11:52
Go for a hybrid or a tourer with drop handlebars.

I would never buy a bike from Argos.

You'll generally get a lot more for your cash if you go 2nd-hand.

Make sure the bike fits you properly - a bargain is not a bargain unless it fits (same as boots!).

If you are on a really tight budget - look at your local tip. I got a perfectly serviceable MTB for my little lad for £2. It needed the back wheel truing a little bit, and a new gear cable. Many of the bikes there just need a bit of TLC to give them a totally new life.
30/03/2012 at 12:28
Also worth noting as others have alluded that the bike is just the start of the 'costs'. You'll need to budget for lights, lock, helmet etc etc
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