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The Best Budget Bikes, Starting At £160

Bike
(Image credit: Getty Images / Susumu Yoshioka)

Cycling can be an expensive pursuit, with enthusiasts prepared to spend up to five figures on top-end road bikes. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re looking for a cheaper way to get around it’s possible to pick up a new bike for the cost of a couple of tanks of petrol, and you can save even more on figure-hugging Lycra by cycling in your civvies.

If you’re shopping at the affordable end of the market, it’s safe to assume you may be new to buying a bike, so we’ve rounded up the best budget bikes from major UK retailers, as well as a couple of entry-level models from established, big-name brands. All are ideal for leisure riding and starting your active travel journey, although it might be worth investing more if you’re looking for a commuter bike. Fortunately, the Cycle to Work scheme can make this a much more manageable and affordable outlay.


Hybrid bike

(Image credit: Halfords)
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1. Apollo Transfer

Great build quality at an affordable price

Specifications

RRP: £160
Frame: Steel
Number of gears: 18
Brake type: V-brakes
Weight: 14.9kg

Reasons to buy

+
Good value
+
Solid construction
+
18-speed gearing set

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited features
-
Real entry-level model

At £160, it’s hard to find a cheaper model than this hybrid bike from Halfords’ in-house brand, Apollo. A steel frame provides you with a strong and durable bike and its upright position, swept-back handlebars and wide tyres deliver a comfortable ride on roads and paths. An 18-speed Shimano-branded gearing set-up is a highlight at this price. It’s available in two sizes (18in, 21in) and should fit anyone from 1.6m to 1.9m tall.


Hybrid bike

(Image credit: Decathlon)
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2. Riverside 120

An everyday road-and-trail bike that loves to climb

Specifications

RRP: £229.99
Frame: Steel
Number of gears: 8
Brake type: V-brakes
Weight: 14.7kg (in size M)

Reasons to buy

+
Ideal for daily rides
+
Good value
+
Main parts’ lifetime guarantee

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited gear set
-
Not ideal for longer rides

Decathlon is renowned for making high-quality bikes at budget prices and the French firm’s Riverside line is aimed at leisure riders tackling everyday terrain. Although the range starts with the £179 Riverside 100 (opens in new tab), the cheapest in-stock model is the 120. For the extra £50, you get better wheels,  a slightly reduced weight, and an eight-speed Microshift drivetrain that should be able to handle all but the most extreme inclines. The frame, fork, stem and handlebar have a lifetime guarantee, while the rest of the parts come with a two-year warranty.


Vitus Dee City Bike Tourney

(Image credit: Wiggle)
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3. Vitus Dee City Bike Tourney

A lightweight bike just at home on commutes as fun rides

Specifications

RRP: £314.99
Frame: Aluminium
Number of gears: 7
Brake type: Cable disc
Weight: 12.7kg

Reasons to buy

+
Disc brakes
+
Lightweight
+
Versatile

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited gear set
-
Limited sizing: S/M and M/L

Lightweight aluminium frame? Check. Disc brakes? Check. A fraction over £300? Check. Wiggle’s in-house brand, Vitus, might not be as established as some of the others in this round-up, but in the Dee City Bike, it has created something that ticks all the budget-friendly bike boxes (and there’s an even cheaper single-speed version (opens in new tab) if you live in a relatively flat location and gears aren’t essential). If you do want to be the proud owner, though, you will have to move quickly because the 2021 edition is currently on sale with a 10% discount.


Pinnacle Lithium 1

(Image credit: Evans Cycles)
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4. Pinnacle Lithium 1

Off-road bike with flashy features and a solid reputation

Specifications

RRP: £350
Frame: Aluminium
Number of gears: 24
Brake type: Rim
Weight: Not currently available

Reasons to buy

+
Range of sizes
+
Vee Speedster tyres
+
Off-road-friendly

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited features

Evans Cycles’ Pinnacle range has been going since 2006, so you’re in safe hands when saddling up on its entry-level Lithium 1. It’s the most off-road-friendly budget bike in our round-up, in large part thanks to its grippy 40c Vee Speedster tyres, and has room for chunky 2.2in MTB tyres if you really want to venture off the paved surfaces. Evans is part of the Fraser group, so you can also try one for size in branches of Sports Direct and House of Fraser.


Hybrid bike

(Image credit: Trek)
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5. Trek FX 1 Disc

High-end, versatile bike built for speed and admiring glances

Specifications

RRP: £475
Frame: Alpha Gold Aluminium
Number of gears: 21
Brake type: Tektro Brake Pads
Weight: 12.9kg

Reasons to buy

+
High-end brand at affordable price
+
Shimano Tourney/Altus drivetrain
+
Easy to ride

Reasons to avoid

-
More complex than other budget models
-
Less comfortable seat for longer rides

Trek is one of the world’s biggest cycling brands and its most expensive rides tip into five figures. Its entry-level hybrid, the FX 1 Disc, is more expensive than almost all the others here, but are you actually getting more bike for your money? Well, no – but that’s kind of the point. Its light, aluminium frame requires a lot less effort to ride than the steel alternatives above and its 21-speed Shimano Tourney/Altus drivetrain is a higher-quality range than any of the cheaper alternatives. It’s the finishing kit, though, where you’ll notice a big difference: the smattering of Bontrager components boost comfort at each of the bike’s key touchpoints (saddle and grips).


Specialized Sirrus 1.0

(Image credit: Specialized)
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6. Specialized Sirrus 1.0

Hybrid model from an elite brand, but without the off-putting price

Specifications

RRP: £499
Frame: Aluminium
Number of gears: 14
Brake type: V-brakes
Weight: 12.8kg

Reasons to buy

+
Design
+
High spec and construction
+
Shimano Tourney/Altus drivetrain

Reasons to avoid

-
Outdated V-brakes
-
At the top end of the budget bracket

A £499 bike is probably the upper limit of what can be considered a budget model.The Sirrus 1.0 is the most affordable model in Specialized’s range and, like the Trek FX 1 Disc, it’s a hybrid bike with a skeleton that combines an aluminium frame and steel fork. It too has a Shimano Tourney/Altus drivetrain, although the 14-speed set-up provides a similar range for slightly less weight. Where it falls down is its V-brakes – a slightly outdated form of braking even on budget bikes.

Charlie Allenby is a journalist with a passion for pedalling. He contributes features and buying advice about cycling, and is participating in RideLondon in 2022 as well as covering it for Coach. 


As Charlie is also training for a triathlon, he has become Coach’s chief whey and casein protein powder tester, trying as many brands as possible.


Charlie’s first book, Bike London (opens in new tab), is out now. He has written for The Guardian (opens in new tab), The Independent (opens in new tab), BikeRadar (opens in new tab) and others.