How much did you fork out for your last bike? £700? £1,000? £4,000?
If you spend your Sundays clocking up the miles on a carbon darling or getting your fully-suss monster covered with mud in the woods chances are you don’t blink at these prices, even if your bank manager would.
Paying a respectable price for a bike normally guarantees you a strong, well-tested frame, nicely specced kit, and a ride you’ll probably fall in love with.
Unfortunately, all is not so rosy at the bottom end of the market.
Recently an Australian consumer watchdog forced an online retailer to stop selling a bike it was claiming was suitable for freestyle and trick riding.
In fact, the steel framed bikes were clearly labelled as not suitable for stunts by the original manufacturer – so the advertising gave customers potentially dangerous expectations about what the bikes could withstand.
And it’s not just about bikes that won’t handle hard riding.
People who cut corners by buying a discounted factory second online can end up with a bike that looks the part – and little else.
While I’ve been road-riding for 20 years, a growing interest in mountain biking means that these days I pay more attention to the MTBs I pass on my commute.
Any many of them are utter crap.
My fellow commuters are paying the price for being fashion and cost conscious.
Rather than going for a moderately priced hybrid or road bike, which are better for longer distances, they are getting sucked in by the looks of £100 MTBs which are sold flat-packed for home assembly to further cut costs.
But looks aren’t what matter. Prices this low mean often mean ridiculously bouncy full suspension on sucky heavy frames, or lighter frames with rock solid forks, cheap components and low quality giant tread tyres that just slow them down and won’t be much good off-road either.
I’m not saying there aren’t bargains to be found online, but better regulation is needed in this area where naïve commuters are, frankly, being ripped off.