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Hi folks

I'm looking to buy a new bike whithin cycle to work scheme budget limit. But the question raised by my better half, when she got informed about the price of the bike was: are the cheaper bikes really that bad?

So here I am asking you if someone has actually ridden an endurance/road bike bought for max £500 and upgraded to a £1k+ one and can tell the difference?

I know the difference in specs and this is what concerns me. With cheaper bike you get Shimano Clarissa or Sora, which in my opinion are not durable enough. I have already made my choice. Or let's say I'm debating between four bikes buy all are on Shimano 105 with carbon forks and hydraulic disc brakes. But maybe I should really buy a cheaper one first?
I believe that cheaper bike might be ok for few rides but it long term I might regret it.

At the moment I do 30 miles on Saturday or Sunday on my hybrid bike (Schwinn Searcher) which comes not that comfortable for longer rides and the plan is to go over 100 miles on a single ride next summer.

Thanks

18 comments

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peted76 [1207 posts] 3 weeks ago
3 likes

Decathlon Triban RC520 or the Ultra 900 AF.

In answer to your question ref cheap and expensive bikes, they all roll along, but some weight less and 'feel' a bit nicer.  I'm not sure there's a super amount of difference between £500 and £1000 but  I don't think you'll go too wrong with either of the bikes mentioned above.

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mike the bike [1125 posts] 3 weeks ago
3 likes

 

I'm not sure what you mean by £1000+ Tedez, but I think a decent, Shimano 105 equipped, hydraulically braked machine will cost you well over a grand.  Although the sales are upon us and maybe you can find the one you want ?

I wouldn't be so quick to ignore Claris or Sora, they are both well made and if they lack anything it would be lightness rather than reliability.  And, inching a little further up the scale, there is also Tiagra, which is 90% as good as 105, half the price and only a little heavier.

For many years I ran Sora or Tiagra on my all-weather commuter bikes and always found them great value for money.

Best of luck with that 100-miler.

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Tedez [4 posts] 3 weeks ago
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For £500 I can mainly get Claris, sometimes Sora. The mentioned Tiagra comes with bikes for £700+ In this case I'm happy to pay that bit more and get the exact specifications I want. The debate isn't between Tiagra and 105 as I know there is very small difference between them.

Thanks for the comments so far, I can't convince myself to a £500 bike I think. The job is to convince wife to the more expensive one  1

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vonhelmet [1350 posts] 3 weeks ago
2 likes

I rode thousands of miles on a Carrera TDF with 2300 and later Claris and then Tiagra gears. I loved that bike. Only sold it when I really couldn’t spare the room for it. That bike cost like £300 new, though I got it second hand for £230 with a pair of shoes thrown in. You can ride almost anything if it’s comfy and works well enough. If your budget is tight, there’s nothing wrong with a decent alloy frame and Claris groupset.

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FlyingPenguin [25 posts] 3 weeks ago
5 likes

If this isn't a passing fad, it's likely to be a case of buy cheap, buy twice.

There are some genuinely good value bikes at ~£500 and there's nothing "wrong" with them, they still go, they still handle fine, if that's your actual (financially prudent) limit then B'Twin do some great bikes that will serve you well.

But this sound more a case of justifying to a non-cycling partner ("why are bikes so expensive?  I can get a perfectly good [insert BSO here] from Halfords for £100...").  Be honest, above £500, you're really spending to increase your enjoyment (stiffer and lighter to get better handling), get more durability (better groupset or reputable wheelsets to reduce maintenance) and more comfort (better frame, saddles etc).

If regular longer distances are your aim, then undershooting your budget is likely to leave you wanting to upgrade piecemeal and you'll not be able to get C2W tax breaks on the upgrades.  Better (and more financially efficient) to get a good bike that you'll not outgrow soon than buy one you will feel the need to upgrade in the near term.

 

Personally, I've taken the approach of having "the conversation" once and then proving myself right with increased bike usage (and weight/health benefits).  Just leave it a little while before you broach smart trainers.... "you want to do WHAT in the living room?"

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KendalRed [252 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Agree with Penguin, get the best you can and take full advanyage of the tax break.  My first CTW bike was about £450 (about 10 years ago), and I wished I'd committed more as I upgraded about two years later when I was well and truly hooked.

 

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Joe Totale [93 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like

I agree with the Penguin. £1000 can get you a bike that will serve you well for years. The trouble with a £500 bike is that if you get in to cycling you'll soon have your head turned by fancier and better bikes and you'll probably end up replacing the bike a lot sooner. 

I would say though that Claris and Sora are as durable as Tiagra or 105. It's more a case of them not functioning quite as well, weighing more and also having fewer gears. 

I second the suggestion of heading to Decathlon as they've got some great bikes within your budget. It's also worth having a look at the Boardman bikes at Halfords. This one in particular comes with a fantastic frame which will be a top bike with some well chosen componant upgrades, only upgrade the componants though when the old ones wear out:

 

https://www.boardmanbikes.com/gb_en/products/2122-slr-8.9-carbon-grey.ht...

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FlyingPenguin [25 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like
Joe Totale wrote:

I second the suggestion of heading to Decathlon as they've got some great bikes within your budget. It's also worth having a look at the Boardman bikes at Halfords. This one in particular comes with a fantastic frame which will be a top bike with some well chosen componant upgrades, only upgrade the componants though when the old ones wear out:

 

https://www.boardmanbikes.com/gb_en/products/2122-slr-8.9-carbon-grey.ht...

 

That's actually the one I went for in the end, really nice handling bike.  If you want to avoid Halfords you can always go for Cycle Republic.

 

Definitely worth a test ride.

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Duncann [1439 posts] 3 weeks ago
2 likes

You can tell the difference, although part of that is just because bikes are different. You can also tell the difference between £1000 bikes!

As noted by others, you can can some very decent bikes for £500. Whether you spend more is partly down to how much you'll use it and for what. So what's worth paying more for...? 

  • lighter weight (and stiffness) - you'd probably notice the difference in a back-to-back comparison but quickly forget most of it. And when it comes to performance (esp. "aero", which is usually more important than weight), it's really not about the bike...
  • better components - no doubt that 105 is sharper and smoother than (perfectly functional) Claris. So a benefit, although not a huge one. Do you need more gears? It can give you more range with smaller gaps - again a benefit - how much do you value it? Hydraulic brakes are definitely better in some circumstances (e.g. if you ride a lot in wet conditions)
  • upgradeability - obviously you can put £1000 wheels on Carrera Zelos - but you probably wouldn't. It's worth having something you'd invest in later - unless you're the sort of person who treats bikes as disposable objects to be replaced entirely and regularly
  • geometry, feel - more expensive bikes aren't necessarily racier and more stretched out (especially these days) but £500 bikes are probably more relaxed fit. What do you want? It's a personal thing, depending on you and what you'll do with it
  • intangible but real - this is probably where most of it is for most of us. Our OHs may scoff but there is real benefit in having something that makes you feel good about owning it, looking at it. If you just think about the price tag, or worry about what others think, then again it's maybe not about the bike. But maybe a little bit...

So my answer is... err, I don't know. You do get more - but probably not that much more, and what each extra £100 gets you is as much about you as the bike.

I agree with others that component durability probably isn't much different - and the much cheaper replacement cost for 8/9/10 speed is also worth factoring in (although 11spd will probably get cheaper in time)

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SpikeBike [131 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like

I had a 2014 specialized Allaz which I got for £600 (actually ended up paying £450 because of the cycle to hire scheme). I upgraded nearly all of it over the years (replaced wheels, groupset, seat post, saddle, stem). Best upgrades where a carbon seat post and brakes from the groupset (105). Basically if I knew I was going to keep on cycling (I suspected I might jack it in after a few months) I would have just brought a better bike with the better spec already on it as it would have been cheaper.

Last year I brought a AL canyon for £1000 which had all the bits my current bike had rather than replace all the bits that it needed (brake caliper, brake pads, chainset, chain, cassette, wheels). IMHO I couldn't tell the difference between the bikes (when Allaz was in its best state) but I could if it was £500 new Allaz vs £1000 Canyon.

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Tedez [4 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Thank you all guys!
You were more than helpful. Im confident now what bike I should get.

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risoto [89 posts] 2 weeks ago
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Just a few points in case you didn't buy the bike yet. Disc brakes do not brake any better. I have both systems. Rim brakes on 105 will serve you just fine. So save some money there. Claris and Sora are perhaps even more durable than more expensive sets. They are thougher and weigh more. And therefore cheaper. it's not about durability. Weight of bike is not important unless you wish to kill yourself climbing high mountaines. But a light bike feels different. The ride is 'crisper', more lively and therefore more fun. 

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alansmurphy [1944 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like

Been there, done that - for me the groupset will be your friend.

 

I have a 7 speed (i think) Claris on what has now become my winter hack. Liked it fine when I got it. Got a bargain Cannondale best bike - carbon, 10 speed 105 groupset, lovely.

 

When my next C2W came along I decided on a wet bike to sit between the 2 and got a GT Grade AL (10 speed 105 also) with discs for around £850. It is much closer to the best bike than the winter hack, and now I hate the winter bike. 

 

With a compact groupset and running 11-32 the jumps between the gears are just awful, you never actually feel comfortable.

 

Get your leg over a few and go with the one that makes you happy. If in doubt there's always the chance to trade in for a better model in the future (wife or bike)...

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CygnusX1 [1073 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like

Did you tell her the full RRP?  If so that's your first mistake. 

Tell her the cost to you (RRP minus the savings on income tax - on their site especially if you're a higher rate taxpayer - the C2W scheme should have a calculator on their site to figure this out).

alansmurphy wrote:

Get your leg over a few and go with the one that makes you happy.

Sound advice - also applies to bikes! smiley

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Tedez [4 posts] 2 weeks ago
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CygnusX1 wrote:

Did you tell her the full RRP?  If so that's your first mistake. 

Tell her the cost to you (RRP minus the savings on income tax - on their site especially if you're a higher rate taxpayer - the C2W scheme should have a calculator on their site to figure this out).

alansmurphy wrote:

Get your leg over a few and go with the one that makes you happy.

Sound advice - also applies to bikes! smiley

Of course I've done that! I started with savings, but she knows me to well and asked for the RRP. Even the price after the discount didn't work. ATM looks like I can spend what I want anyway (xmass, birthday combined together etc - I can't believe I have to do that in my age! But hey). :-P

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alansmurphy [1944 posts] 2 weeks ago
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Are you using it to C2W - if so it's an investment! Mine gave up asking eventually  1

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Tedez [4 posts] 2 weeks ago
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alansmurphy wrote:

Are you using it to C2W - if so it's an investment! Mine gave up asking eventually  1

I'm using C2W to get a new/second/better bike  3
I already get to work in eco way - electric car.
So this argument doesn't give any points unfortunately.
I'm waiting for Friday, when hopefully some bigger discounts will be applied... Fingers crossed.

Funny enough, for C2W the sale price does not apply. When you ask them for quote, they come up with a different price so I might get the bike for cash if the prices drop even more on Friday.

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Ratfink [212 posts] 2 weeks ago
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Depends who you shop with wiggle/chain reaction will give you the sale prices on c2w,I got a MTB on the c2w reduced from £1600 to £960 a month or so back. For those days i take the offroad commute of course.