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Best bike for commuting £500-650?

EasyPeezEasyPeez Posts: 25
edited September 2014 in Commuting general

I've started commuting to work (approx 25mile round trip) but after 6 months grinding along on my old Land Rover mountain bike am thinking it's time to get something more suited to the task. I'm hoping my employer will sign up to the cycle to work scheme, and if so my ideal spend would be around £500 but I could stretch £100-200 higher if it would make a big difference in quality and durability.

My route is mainly tarmac roads and paths with a bit of gravel track. I'd also like to use the bike for 20-30 mile evening rides on gravel tracks (old railway lines etc) and country lanes a couple of times a month. Priorities are something easy to maintain, quick, lightweight but comfortable over longer rides with bag(s). I use a backpack atm...did wonder about panniers but not sure...

I've only ever had a mountain bike and am finding the breadth of options a bit bewildering so would appreciate any advice as per road/hybrid/cyclocross (not even sure what the difference is in the latter 2?). Bit scared of roadbikes because of riding position but open to all good arguments around best styles for my needs.

The Boardman hybrids looked good in Halfords today, but even there I didn't really understand the difference in the team/sport/Fi models - are they worth a punt and if so which would be the best Boardman for me do you think?
Also saw a Cannondale Quick 4 that looked tasty and my mate said something about Tribans but haven't actually seen or heard of those myself.

Would prefer to use a local independent shop if poss.
Do shops let you take a couple out for a test spin? Seems daft spending £500-700 on something without being able to give it a go?!

Thanks in advance for any help. Andy


  • MichaelWMichaelW Posts: 2,226
    road/hybrid/cyclocross (CX)
    CX is a "road" bike built for easy off-road CX racing, ie no jumps. Tyre clearance is usually around 32-38mm. Entry-level CX bikes come with rack and pannier mounts, which are a essential for any serious commuter. Disc-brake versions are preferred in foul weather. They work well as touring bikes and grocery-getters.
    CX tyres are knobbly but can be switched for something slicker and more hardwearing
  • snowstersnowster Posts: 582
    Worth a look 1000 miles+ this year and no problems worth every penny ... -bike-2014
  • InitialisedInitialised Posts: 3,047
    Road endurance is the way to go, they are like CX bikes with geometry leaning towards racing bikes but unlike a CX they tend to come with road rubber rather than CX tyres (which are designed for mud plugging). Think of them a a more up to date version of the tourer. They also tend to come with disc brakes which can make the transition from a mountain bike easier.

    Here's a good example: ... e-ec055667

    I spent a bit more on a Specialized Secteur last year, I've done over 10000 miles on it now the only time I don't choose to take it is if I have to lock it up in town or if I'm going to a trail centre. Gravel paths etc aren't a problem even on 23mm slicks. Moorland paths, single track, rocky/muddy/icy descents and gravel over 1" chunks make me slow down a fair bit and wish I was on the MTB but generally it'll handle typical commuter/NCN/C2C routes easily.
    I used to just ride my bike to work but now I find myself going out looking for bigger and bigger hills.
  • I just bought the Boardman Hybrid Comp, it was a display model (slight mark on TT but who cares) so I got a really good deal (well under the £500 RRP :-) ) which makes it even more enjoyable. Halfords can be a bit hit and miss (but so can any shop), where I got this from they were great, that said the bike is great, and the smooth welds around the top tube, you could be forgiven for thinking it was carbon. That said nothing wrong with Alu. Hint if you choose Halfords join British Cycling for £20 save you another 10%, so that would be £50 on this bike, net £30 saving offset the BC cost. All helps. Make sure you get the right frame size (if you choose this), the TT is on the long side even in the Medium frame (im 5'10") so it is more like a flat bar road bike IMO. It does fit you just don't fully realise in the shop, well i didn't, as u cant really test ride properly, even though you may know the numbers. Also, you can give it some beans and it will go some too :-).
    The Boardman bikes - the main differences are in the components basically, more money better components (Boardman website has all the specs), and I think the Fi is the female version that said it has wheels and pedals so if it fits who cares. They also have the mounts for guards and rack etc if you want to commute. The Comp has disc brakes, which work well, SRAM gearset 9 speed works well good range of gears. And its a compact which I prefer personally. The changes are direct, albeit a bit 'KLunky' thru the upshifts, not in a bad way, just not as smooth as my road bike anyway. Once you get the right position of the shifters on the bars they are very easy to use. I had never used them before but really like them I have to say. I think the best advice is just make sure the bike fits you, whatever u choose, no point having a lovely bike if you cant ride it as its a bad fit.
    I have a road bike too, but I have to say I love this bargain Boardman more every day, bizarrely.
    Hope this helps. Happy hunting, and good luck and let us know what you choose.
  • mr_eddymr_eddy Posts: 764
    Rutland Cycling currently has a crazy sale on, They are doing a Forme Calver CX Sport cross bike with Full Shimano 105 groupset / Carbon Fork / BB5 Disc brakes for £699 instead of £1100. That is a VERY good price for a very good spec bike. The same spec from the likes of Specialized or Giant would probably run close to £1200-£1500.

    Being a CX bike it can do a bit of everything.
  • For that budget, I wouldn't go new. First place I'd look is the Classifieds forum on this site. A couple of really nice bikes at around or slightly above your price. And, no, I don't have one for sale there.

    I'd definitely go for road bike, although I'm biased.

    Measure yourself up with cc fit and cross check with your existing bike and the maker's website. Maybe a quick google on the model for reviews, feedback.
  • ill second the board man, i love mine would def get another
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