When choosing a bike, buy for your terrain, advises Stuff magazine. A road bike with drop handlebars is great for speedy Sunday rides, for example, but light cross-country bikes can be just as fast while giving you suspension to soak up the bumps on off-road jaunts. If you’re not sure what to go for, head to your local bike shop and try a few out. But don’t be tempted to buy too cheaply, says Stuff – especially if you’re in the market for your first bike, a budget model may “kill your cycling passion” or “leave you craving a better bike just a few months down the line”. Here are some of the reviewers’ favourites.
Electric bikes are “powering a massive new interest in cycling”, providing a simple, fun and green way to get around our congested cities or commute to work, says Martin Love in The Observer. Smart technology means the batteries are now lighter, last longer and recharge more quickly than they have in the recent past, and the bike frames are being designed with integrated motors as opposed to simply having the mechanics added post hoc. You don’t need a licence or to pass a test to ride one either.
One of the best is the Gocycle Portable G3 (pictured above). “It is loaded with smart tech, but is simple to live with. No cable, no chains and no oil all mean no mess.” Its predictive electric gear shifting ensures you are never in the wrong gear either, says Bikes Etc magazine, and the motor provides “plenty of oomph” to make short of work of hills. (Price: £3,499. Contact: Gocycle.com.)
If you’re after a first road bike, the Vitus Razor VR (above) is perfect, says Stuff magazine. It combines a lightweight alloy frame with a carbon fork to get the perfect balance between “price and pothole absorption”, and it has a relatively upright riding position that is perfect if your main use will be for commuting. (Price: £495. Contact: ChainReactionCycles.com.)
If you have a bit more to spend, the Genesis Equilibrium Disc 30 (above) could be the reliable “bike for life” you’ve been looking for, adds Stuff. It has electric gears and hydraulic brakes, and a Kermit-green colour to help you “stand out from the Sunday pack”. (Price: £2,000. Contact: GenesisBikes.com.)
If your preferred terrain is the future, there’s never been a better time to buy technologically impressive bikes, says Marc Abbott in Bikes Etc. For less than £2,000 you can now buy bikes with electronic technology that only recently would have cost you as much as a family saloon, and with frame technology available only to millionaires. The high-end research and development that made this possible for top-end bikes eventually “trickles down” to more affordable machines.
The best all-round package is the Emonda ALR6 (above). It employs its trickle-down tech simply and holistically: the high-tech alloy frame, electronic gears and puncture-proof tyres make it “spring with aplomb” to make short work of climbs and gives assured handling. (Price: £1,600. Contact: TrekBikes.com/gb.)
Electronic gear shifting was once the preserve of the pros, but these days it’s offered by all the major brands on mid- to high-end models, says Matt Page, also in Bikes Etc. One of the best bikes you can buy with all the electronics already installed is the Litening C:62 Pro (above). It is a comfortable machine for all-day riding, says Page, with a smooth and refined ride, and it uses the most popular gear-shifting technology on the market. This is a “near-perfect” bike that is “hard to fault” and “an absolute joy to ride”. (Price: £2,999. Contact: Cube.eu.)
Folding bikes are popular with commuters – many journeys on train and Tube can only be made with bikes that fold. The Brompton (above) is one of the classiest: it’s handmade in London, and once you’ve tried one of these nippy, stylish bikes, “you may never go back” to any other model, says The Independent. The Brompton Nickel Edition is a “limited-edition stunner”, says Stuff, and will “turn heads faster than your pedals”. It folds away in seconds. (Price: £1,470. Contact: Brompton.com.)
If mountains are your preferred terrain, the YT Industries Jeffsy CF Pro 29 (above) is one of the fastest “29er” mountain bikes we’ve tested: it has a turn of speed that will take your breath away, says Paul Burwell in Mountain Biker Rider magazine. (The 29 refers to the tyre diameter in inches – enthusiasts debate furiously which size is best, but beginners and all-day trail riders will probably be better off with a 29er.) The Jeffsy is “tons of fun and will flatter any rider, no matter what their ability”. (Price: £3,399.99. Contact: YT-Industries.com/uk.)
What Mountain Bike magazine gave its trail bike of the year award to the Canyon Spectral CF 8.0 EX (above). You must buy direct from Germany, but it makes for an “unbeatable complete package”. There has been “no compromise” in the build quality, with top-quality components throughout, and the result is a bike that “just feels superb whatever you are doing”. “We simply can’t think of a better example of a modern, state-of-the-art trail bike, certainly not one at such an excellent value price.” (Price: £3,099 plus £33 shipping. Contact: Canyon.com/en.)
Finally, to find the best sportive racing bike, the top contenders were put through their paces on the Fred Whitton challenge in the Lake District, the “daddy” of rides for serious cyclists, says Peter Stuart in Cyclist magazine. The route takes in 3,900m of vertical ascent with repeated steep bursts of 25% gradient over 180km. For work like that, you’ll need a bike with the best combination there is of comfort and forgiving engineering to reduce road vibration, yet that’s also fast on the flat and light enough to tackle big climbs.
The Giant Defy Advanced Pro 0 (above) is the bike for the job. “With a wide range of gears, a tall front to throw from side to side, excellent tubeless tyre traction and a low overall weight, I think the Defy could deliver me up here even on a bad day.” (Price: £3,875. Contact: Giant-Bicycles.com.)