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Thread: First bike on a budget

  1. #1

    First bike on a budget

    Apologies if there is a thread with this already, I've had a quick search and not come up with anything!

    So I have been thinking about buying a bike for years now. I am an avid cycling fan but never got around to owning a bike (unless you include the one I had as a kid).

    The problem has been that it is such an expensive start up cost. However, now that I am running more than ever, I think it might be a good investment for commuting/cross training/longevity, etc and for years now I have wanted to try cyclo-cross racing. Considering that I probably have zero bike handling skills this is likely to be very funny/messy.

    So, let's say I have saved my pennies and have around £500-£600 to spend, what's the best way to start?

    For a start, I don't know how reliable second hand bikes are. For example, would a second hand cyclocross bike be worn out/prone to mechanical problems and how likely is it that I am getting a bike that has been knicked? Are there any reliable online second hand retailers?

    Secondly, how important is related kit? Obviously I need a helmet, pump, lock, spares etc. but are cycling specific shoes and pedals a must? Can I get away with running shorts rather than cycling specific shorts, do i NEED a cycling jersey/ water proofs if I already have ones for fell running?

    Finally, a lot of things I have read go on and on about bike fit and most recommend going to a proper cycling shop for the first bike but most shops I look at seem to assume my budget is much (!) higher than it actually is. So how reliable are the basic height to frame size coversions?

    Thanks for any help!


    PS. On the cycle to work scheme: as a PhD student I get some funding to tide me over but I am not eligable for the cycle to work scheme because I am technically not employed by the university.

  2. #2
    Master Witton Park's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    This Felt is very good value if you want a road bike. Great frame, Shimano Sora on a bike in this price bracket is fantastic.

    I'd tend not to buy off Wiggle, I don't know where you are, but I'd go to Green Jersey in Clitheroe, my local Felt dealer and see if he could match or get close, as they would then sit you on a bikee and set it up for you.

    I was like you (still am ) a runner who decided to get a rode bike a year ago. I still don't hve the shoes, I have straps and wear trail shoes.
    If you are out up to 90 minutes, probs OK in running shorts or ron hills / lycras - but if over 90 minutes you'll need some padding.
    Watch the padding - there's padded felt in some and proper gel in others. The gel lasts longer and is comfortable for longer rides.

    Cold - it's a bigger factor than I ever imagined. Even on warm running days where I'd be T shirt, I set off and think why did I not put on a long sleeve - but I do get by with my running tops and waterproof.

    I haven't much clue with off-road bikes, but I only tend to go out on a road bike, it's mainly spring/summer and it's just for cross training - I can sometimes bike on days I can't run
    Richard Taylor
    "William Tell could take an apple off your head. Taylor could take out a processed pea."
    Sid Waddell

  3. #3
    Senior Member Lefty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Rossendale, Lancashire
    If you can support your local bike shop, they can usually give good advice and fix the bike if you have a problem. Most bike shops will offer a free service after so many miles clocked up which is essential. Cycling can be expensive compared to running but there's no need to pay the earth for a bike or kit, you can get a good bike with good gear for your money these days. Check out Planet X either online or at one of their shops in Sheffield or Rotherham. Their kit is ridiculously inexpensive and as good or better in some cases than some of the more expensive brands like Gore. Their bikes are also great value for money and I've given my Pro Carbon Planet X bike a proper thrashing with no problems.
    As Richard says cycling can be a cold and chilly affair and even the slightest wind is amplified on the bike. You can get cold on the downhills and it takes forever to warm up again. I find a windproof Gilet ideal for cycling in but always carry a half decent windproof, the cycling ones tend to be different than a running windproof being longer in the tail.
    When I first started cycling I used to carry a bum bag or small rucksack but find these days I can fit everything into my cycling Jersey back pockets so look for a jersey or jacket which has good pockets in the back for your essentials.
    A small seat back can take your other kit, a couple of spare tubes, multi tool and instant repair patches, I also take a chain tool and chain quick repair links. Lots of pumps available on the market these days in all shapes and sizes. I personally like the ones which have the flexible hose to connect the pump to the tube.
    Clip in pedals though are a must although probably not initially but they do make a big difference and you should practice and give them a try.
    For me as a fell runner for more years than I can remember and with knackered knees which say no more racing my lad, cycling has been a godsend. Mountain biking, road cycling and cyclo cross,all very different but enjoyable in their own way. Good luck.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    You can buy a Triban from Decathlon for around £550. They come with Tiagra and the spec is excellent for the money.
    You can upgrade the wheels (I got Mavic Aksium from the same place for ~ £120, which is a steal) as required.
    Not as romantic or satisfying as buying from a more authentic specialist shop - but right in your budget and a great entry imo.

    Regards the kit - you buy it as you can. Pick up bits from eBay. You will want a pair of shoes.

  5. #5
    Senior Member HUGH JARSE's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    The Flatlands of Gargrave!
    I bought my first ever road bike this year, (age 48!)
    I got a full carbon Cube Agree with full tiagra groupset. £800 from Chain Reaction. I'm no expert but I'm pretty impressed

  6. #6
    Master MickTor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    The Nail Side
    Yeah second the Triban. Had one fir my first road bike, excellent bikes. Highly recommended! - My art and running blog! Go on.. Take a look!

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    edge hill
    agree with the planet x bikes and gear . bought a pro carbon a few months ago and was worried about spending that amount of dosh on the click of a button and not seeing it , needn't have worried its been excellent . as for the gear no better value than aldi when they have their cycling specials .

  8. #8
    Thanks all for your feedback! So it seems that the consensus is for a new bike rather than second hand. I quite like the look of the Boardman CX team bike at Halfords. Having disk brakes would be an easier sell to the girlfriend who's dad was a very good club cyclist who's life was changed by a very nasty crash. Plus I do harbour ambitions to try cyclocross racing.

    Thanks for the comments about the cold! I'm one who doesn't get many problems with the cold so I would have probably set out way underprepared, assumed I would get warm over the course of a ride, and learnt that lesson the hard way.

    Thanks with the advice regards the kit, I think I will look at the cost of pedals and shoes. Although that looks like an whole other can of worms!

    The Planet X stuff looks good! Although their bikes look just out of my price range but I will keep them in mind.

    I'm planning on getting around some local shops this weekend armed with this advice, so I have a better expectation of what I can get!

    Does anyone have any experience of the Edinburgh Bicycle Coop? There's a shop in Leeds I notice.

  9. #9
    Master RichardAThackeray's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Normanton, Wakefield. West Riding of Yorkshire
    Also look at Ribble Cycles

    They've got about 12 different frames on offer at the moment


    I bought one of their (blue) 7005 aluminium 'winter'/'audax' frames as built-up (to my spec) bike from them, & quite fancy replacing my Ridley, with one of their HF83 frames

    You can specify most component sizes, ie; crank length, chain-ring teeth, cassette, stem-length, har width
    (however, that feature may not be ideal/too confusing for a novice??)

    It has been said before, to buy the best you can afford, or you may find yourself returning to the shop to buy another bike in short order
    (N + 1)
    Generally to be found plodding along with ''

  10. #10
    Senior Member Lefty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Rossendale, Lancashire
    Disc brakes on road bikes are becoming increasingly popular and I have 2 bikes with them fitted. A Boardman CXR9.2 which is marketed as a cyclo cross bike but I use it for everyday. It's got cable pull discs Avid BB and they are just fantastic. Great stopping power, easier on the arms and hands and no rim wear. I also have hydraulic discs on my Cannondale Synapse and they are equally brilliant. I wouldn't consider a road bike without discs anymore, whenever I go back to rim brakes it's a disappointment. ( oh and forgot about my Specialised Cross Bike with cable pull discs brilliant ) if you go for a bike with discs you won't be disappointed.

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