If you know me, you know I live and breathe bikes. That’s why I’m a lot of people’s first port of call for advice on buying one.
Most of the bikes I get shown are totally unsuited to the job they will spend 90% of their lives doing. It’s like showing a pair of ice-skates to a friend who works in the shoe industry, and asking for their opinion. Great if the Thames freezes over, but otherwise not much good on your commute to work.
Some bikes can do a bit of everything, some are very specific, so:
1. Work out what you’re going to use your bike for.
If your bike is for commuting, maybe you need something that can handle a rack? If you want to keep up with your mates at the weekend, maybe you need something under 10kg? Do you have space for only one bike, and want to be able to do a range of things? If you’re not sure, look for something versatile like this.
2. Components components components
Most people are looking at the frame when they buy a bike, now the frame is obviously important but so are the components you hang on it. The most important components for you to be thinking about are brakes and gears. You can have the most beautiful handmade carbon fibre frame in the world, but if the components are bad you’ll still want to throw it in a canal before the year is up. Look for branded components, particularly Shimano (and try and avoid the cheapest Shimano parts). Components are so important, they were almost the starting point for us building our new bike, which comes with Shimano internal hub gears, MT-200 disc brakes, and Gates Belt Drive technology instead of a standard greasy chain, if you’re interested in learning more you can check it out here.
3. OK, now we’ve talked components, I’ll admit it. The frame is also important.
Components you can upgrade, but if you replace the frame your other half is going to tell you it’s a whole new bike. The best value frames tend to be alloy (ideally 6061, or 7075). The easiest way to tell how well made your alloy frame is is to look at the welds. Do they make the bike look like it was put together by a Soviet era welder who had 300 more to get through that day? The bike below is our new Zeppo, with smooth welds and stunning two tone paint. If you’re spending a bit more on your bike, high quality steel and carbon frames come into play.
You’ve got the perfect bike pictured in your mind, it’s got a little basket on the front and mudguards on. Check whether the frame comes with lugs to attach mudguards, racks, bottle cages etc to. If it doesn’t, it’s going to make your life difficult in the future.
A £400 bike is cheaper than a £700 bike, but give it two years and ask yourself which one will still be running. If you can afford to upgrade, look for something in the £550-850 bracket, as this is often where value meets budget. Quality components at a reasonable price. If you can’t afford anything in this price bracket, you may well be better spending your £400 budget on a second-hand bike rather than on something new but low quality.
If you’ve reached the end of this article, and still think I’m talking sense, head over and check out our new bike the Zeppo. Shipping 8th May.