Who has the Cheapest Bikes?

In part one of this series of articles, we looked at the importance of Christmas trading for the Cycling Industry. In particular, we looked at who has the Best Choice of Bikes for adults and saw that it was the specialist bike shops; Winstanleys, Tredz and Evans Cycles that were the clear leaders.

In part two, we looked at who has the Best Choice of Childrens Bikes and saw that, for choice, Amazon was the place to go this Christmas with 600 bikes for children. The specialist bike shops were once again well represented at the higher end of the chart, ahead of the supermarkets. However, Sports Direct, Argos, Asda and Sainsbury’s had a stronger presence on the childrens bike list than the adults and in fact, all had more bikes for children than they do for adults.

In this article, we move from choice to the question of Who has the Cheapest Bikes as many consumers look to grab a bargain this Christmas. Once again, the data was correct as of 1st Nov 2012 and was taken direct from the retailers own websites. We take no responsibility for any price changes and present this info only as being correct as of the date shown. Remember that these are the top 10 cheapest bikes for the bike shops under review but may not be the cheapest ten bikes – we’ll cover that later in the article. These are all Mens bikes and 26-inch wheels.

Top 10 Cheapest Mountain Bikes by Bike Shop

1.Sports Direct£74.99Sabre Serpent Senior
2.Amazon£79.49Reflex Topeka
3.Halfords£79.99Trax TR1
4.Tesco£80.00Terrain Ascent
5.Argos£89.99Challenge Emulator
6.Winstanleys Bikes£112.49Reflex Esprit
7.Asda£115.00Townsend Torrent
8.Sainsbury’s£149.97Boss Savage
9.Tredz£220.00Activ Dakota FSR
10.Chain Reaction Cycles£239.99Diamond Black Hill

The Supermarkets and mass-market retailers may not have the widest choice of mountain bikes but they certainly have the cheapest. Now, as a cyclist, I feel it necessary to point out that generally, you get what you pay for. This list may be the cheapest but it is devoid of the well-known brands such as Trek, Specialized, Scott and Cannondale. As always, there is a clear difference between buying on price and buying on quality.

Sabre Serpent Senior MTB

So what does a £74.99 mountain bike look like?

The Sports Direct website claims that the Sabre Serpent “is perfect for tackling the toughest terrain” but given that this bike has neither front or rear suspension, I wouldn’t recommend you try it.

Built on 26-inch wheels, this solid steel framed bike isn’t the lightest at 14kgs but it is cheap. It offers 18-speed gears via a twist grip style lever and front and rear v-brakes. The SD website make no mention on what groupset is used but if you’re looking to pay less than £100 for a bike, it highly unlikely this is either a consideration or a serious option.

1.Sports Direct£74.99Sabre Serpent Senior2.Sports Direct£75.00Maxima Hype Rigid3.Amazon£79.49Reflex Topeka4.Halfords£79.99Trax TR15.Tesco£80.00Terrain Ascent6.Sports Direct£84.99Sabre Trace Senior7.Amazon£84.99Activ by Raleigh Flyte II8.Tesco£85.00Terrain Atlas9.Amazon£87.99Reflex Arrow10.Amazon£89.54Reflex Samurai

Note: These are Mens Mountain Bikes, with 26-inch wheels. Prices were correct as of 1st Nov 2012 but are subject to change.

As you can see, if it’s a cheap mountain bike you’re after, Sports Direct and Amazon are the best options online with 7 of the top 10 places. Tesco and Halfords complete the top ten list to reiterate the point that mass-market retailers’ buying power wins again. Having said that, perhaps the specialist bike shops simply choose not to compete and as we saw from the previous top 10, they have made a conscious decision not to offer a mountain bike for under £100.

There isn’t much variance between these cheap bikes, they are all solid steel, which results in them being quite heavy, on the whole this being 14-18 kgs. They are 18-speed with 26-inch wheels and standard v-brakes. The only exception seems to be the Sabre Trace Senior from Sports Direct that offers front suspension.

Top 10 Cheapest Road Bikes

But what of cheap road bikes, do the mass-market retailers dominate the top ten or do the specialists offer a cheap alternative?

1.Tesco£130.00Vertigo Piccadilly
2.Amazon£158.51Vitesse Sprint SE 21
3.Amazon£159.97Vitesse Sprint 21
4.Argos£159.99Activ Fifth Avenue
5.Amazon£172.55Barracuda Vivante
6.Amazon£174.99Barracuda Vantos
7.Amazon£180.19Barracuda Team
8.Tesco£185.00Vitesse Sprint Race
9.Amazon£197.88Coyote Tra-Fix
10.Winstanleys Bikes£206.99Probike XRC2.0

Amazon absolutely dominates the list of cheap road bikes with 6 of the ten positions, followed by Tesco, Argos and the token specialist bike shop, Winstanleys Bikes.

Vertigo Piccadilly Road Bike from Tesco

From our research, the cheapest road bike available is the Vertigo Piccadilly from Tesco, and at just £130.00 it certainly lives up to the award.

So what do you get for your money and is it worth buying? The Picadilly is a basic road bike, no one can say otherwise. It’s use can be for gentle leisure and general fitness but racing, no. Tesco claim that it, “.. has a lightweight 21″ aluminium frame ..” but at 14kg, there are a lot of bikes that can be called lightweight and are much lighter.

However, let’s be fair to Tesco for a moment. This is a cheap bike and there is only so much you can expect for a bike that costs just £130. There are bikes in this low-price category that are much heavier so it’s not a lightweight carbon frame but then again, it doesn’t cost £2,000.

The Piccadilly is equipped with 700c spoke wheels, double wall rims to give you extra durability, quick release on both the seat and the front wheel plus 14 speed Shimano gears with thumb shift for quick gear changes. The Vertigo Picadilly comes with front and rear caliper brakes with Promax levers.

This bike is priced to attract first-time buyers who may be beginners or someone looking for a cheap bike to get to work. In that case, they’ve done a great job and I wish them well.

Like many cyclists, I've been riding bikes since I was very young and despite now being less-young, I love it just as much. I've done my time on touring bikes, have cycled throughout the UK, including Lands End to John O' Groats (yes, uphill!) and now have fun on a mountain bike in the hills, do regular charity bike rides and organised bike events on my road bike.