3 of the Cheapest Commuter Bikes are Put to the Test - Total Women's Cycling

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3 of the Cheapest Commuter Bikes are Put to the Test

Is a cheap bike a money saver or simply a waste of money?

We appreciate that cycling can be an expensive hobby. But if you are just starting out then it doesn’t have to be, especially if you are looking to do short journeys and more leisurely pootles. You just need to know where and what to buy and it needn’t cost you an arm and a leg.

The bike of course is the most expensive item you are going to have to buy. With so many options out there we decided to put three of the cheapest commuter bikes to the test.

1. Challenge Dreamer 26″ Mountain Bike

As the cheapest bike in our test, the Dreamer proves that sometimes it’s best to spend a little more

As one of the cheapest commuter bikes on the market, we have to say, we didn’t have hopes for the Challenge Dreamer mountain bike. But with an open mind, we assured we  gave it a fair test.

Weighing in a 15.5kg, the first thing you notice about the bike is the fact that it is heavy – really heavy. Equipped with thick mountain bike tyres, it is not the quickest mover in the world either.

While the bike is perfectly fine to ride, there were a number of elements that flagged concern with us. The first is the gears. There are 18 gears on this bike which are operated with a thumb shifter. This unfortunately did not work so well. The gears shifted with irregularity and without ease and often skipped more than one gear at a time.

[In the market for some cheap cycling clothing? We put some of the cheapest cycling clothing on the market to the test and we have to say we were pleasantly surprised. We have even rounded up a host of bike accessories for under £10 too]

Secondly there are a couple of elements that you would need to change to make this bike a comfortable ride. The saddle is unbearable and the handlebar grips are also uncomfortable. Taking those additional expenses into account, we feel you are better off buying a second hand bike for the same price that has a slightly higher spec or digging a little deeper, as we found out, you do get a lot more for just £40 more (see below).

This bike is suitable for very short recreational use a couple of times per week but not much more.

Price: £89.99

Stockist: Argos

2. Apollo Excelle Women’s Hybrid Bike

The Apollo is one of the cheapest women’s hybrid bikes on the market

At just £40 more than the Challenge Dreamer Mountain Bike, you get a lot more bang for your buck with this option. Weighing in at 15kgs, it is not the lightest. But thanks to its larger tyre size, there is no doubt that it is a speedier ride than the Dreamer.

The bike is equipped with 18 gears which means it will cope with any pesky hills you may encounter too. The gears shifted without too much trouble and far smoother than the Dreamer.

The saddle is pretty comfortable, perhaps not for any long distance riding, but it should be adequate for a mid to long commute. Saddles of course are a very individual thing, check out our top tips for  buying a saddle.

All in all this bike is a good option for those looking for a sturdy commuter bike that will get you from A-B without too much effort!

Price: £129.99

Stockist: Halfords

3. Matex BFOLD 3 Folding Bike

This cheap folding bike offers great value for money

If you are in the market for a folding bike that won’t break the bank then I would highly recommend this one. It is a robust little bike that offers exception value for money and is perfect for those who are hoping to bike and train to work.

The bike is single speed, perfect for a flat city and in my opinion a great asset if you are opting for a bike at the lower end of the market as it reduces the risk of pesky mechanicals further down the line.

Robust 20″ BMX wheels do no provide the fastest ride in the world but they take uneven road surfaces with ease and provided a pretty good ride.

The bike is not the most efficient folder in the world, but it folds just as well as other more premium brands such as Tern and Dahon. In terms of weight, at 14kgs, it is on  the heavy side so might not be ideal if you are planning to carrying the bike for any distance through stations etc. It does however come with a handy carrier bag that makes transportation much easier.

Elsewhere a bell and kick stand come as standard which is a nice touch.

Overall this is a great choice for people using the bike for short journeys and who are short on bike storage space.

If you have a little more to spend why not check out our round up of the best folding bikes under £500

Price: £139.99

Stockist: Decathlon

Also worth a read: 

How to ride yourself fit in 5 easy steps

How not to look like a typical cyclist

Cheap Cycling Gear: Where and what to buy


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