Cheap bikes: what you should look for

Our guide to buying on a budget

The less you spend on something then the more savvy you’ll have to be with your purchase. The same goes for a lot of things, but it’s especially true when it comes to buying a cheap bike.

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Buy sensibly and you’ll be amazed at just how good some cheap bikes are nowadays, but make a bad choice and you’ll soon regret it.

Making the correct buying decision is just a case of knowing the right information and that’s what this article is all about.

So, before you commit to making a purchase, be sure to read the following advice.

The golden rule — keep it simple

The most common mistake that we see when people try and buy a bike on a budget is that they’ll get suckered into buying bikes rammed with bits they do not need.

A classic example would be someone looking for a cheap bike to cycle to work on who ends up buying a cheap full-suspension bike with disc brakes.

Steer clear of supermarket specials

We’ve yet to find a decent bike that’s come from a supermarket. There’s really not much more to say on the subject.

Avoid full-suspension on a budget

Cheap full-suspension bikes, such as this one, should be avoided at all costs
Cheap full-suspension bikes, such as this one, should be avoided at all costs
Steve Behr

If you’re spending less than £500 / $600 / AU$800 on a new bike then here’s the truth: you’ll be better off without a full suspension bike. Cheap suspension can be more of a pain and less enjoyable to ride than a bike with no suspension. Cheap full suspension bikes will always hold serious spec compromises compared to a hardtail (that’s front suspension only) or rigid (no suspension) bikes at the same price point.

Try to stick to brands you trust

Big brand names do not want to be associated with bad bikes and although this cannot be taken as a rule, you should be able to take some confidence in seeing a brand such as Trek, Specialized or Giant on the side of the frame.Although you shouldn’t panic if you haven’t heard of the brand before, plenty of smaller companies are coming out with excellent bikes. A great example is Calibre Bikes, a brand from retail giant Go Outdoors that stocks some of the best budget bikes around.

Still, if you haven’t heard of the brand before then the next point becomes especially important.

Look for reviews

Checking BikeRadar's vast reviews database is always a wise move
Checking BikeRadar’s vast reviews database is always a wise move
Immediate Media

Here at BikeRadar we love affordable bikes and have spent many hours testing all sorts of budget models.

For those looking to browse the best bikes at lower price points take a look at the following links:

As well as these lists, we’ve got a huge archive of bike reviews for you to browse through, simply use the search function at the top right of the site or filter through our vast reviews database using the ‘reviews’ menu at the site header.

If you can’t find a review of a bike that you’re looking to buy on the BikeRadar website then please do send us an email and we’ll do our best to try one out.

Consider buying a used bike

If you’re confident enough to buy a bike second hand then it can be a great way of making your money go further.

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Check out our guide to buying a used bike for more information.