With so many entry-level women's bicycles on the market, cycling has never been more accessible. Even Victoria Pendleton is in on the action, releasing the Somerby Hybrid - an affordable run around town bike.
If you're looking to get back in the saddle, but don't want to break the bank - then look no further, we've rounded up a variety of entry-level women's bicycles, all available now for under £400
Expectations of entry-level women's bicycles under £400
In our article 'Buying your first bike', we raised the point of thinking about your riding goals before shopping for a bike. We can't stress this point enough. Cycling for many is addictive and a great way to get your exercise in. We don't want you to waste your money or be held back by a bike that's no longer fit for purpose.
We've seen it before; friends buying perfectly good bikes to ride to the shops and commute on but when they've wanted to take it a step further, they've been hindered by their weighty steed.
Essentially, the various entry-level women's bicycles featured in this piece are great options for those who would like a reliable set of wheels to pootle to the shops on, commute a short distance to work or gently venture off the beaten track on fire-roads.
Note: There's always the option to buy second hand, but we appreciate for some, this can be daunting and the worry of being sold a 'dud' bike can loom large in people's minds, so we're focusing on shiny new bicycles for the time being in this price range.
[part title='Budget: £200 - £250']
If you have a modest budget, it's worth looking out for end of season offers (2013 bikes will be reducing from as early as the end of the summer), especially if you're taller or shorter than average. There are some great bargains to be had, if you don't mind having last year's model.
Anyway, back to the price range, have a look for names you recognise, like Raleigh - who offer quite a few solutions in this purse friendly price range – just don’t expect any of them to be lightweight.
The Raleigh Alana Hybrid at £219 is one of the best urban bikes with 700c wheels and a mixture of reliable Shimano components. It’ll get you around town and looks like it should have a higher price tag.
Big manufacturers like Raleigh - and there are others readily available - buy in bulk, making huge savings on entry level components. They pass these savings on to the customer by keeping the price of their bicycles low.
The Alana Hybrid is a good example of a decent starter bike for those looking to cycle to work, the shops or a pleasant weekend ride.
If you're also on the look out for cheap accessories as well as a great deal on an entry-level women's bicycle, our 10 Bike Accessories for Under £10 should be helpful.
[part title='Budget: £250 - £300']
Even though your budget has increased by 25%, there's little change to the types of women's specific bikes on offer and components used. We've therefore chosen the 'Chic' Single-Speed, a lovely offering from Dutchie that gives you more bang for your buck.
A retro styled "sit up and beg"with a whopping 10 year guarantee on frame and fork. With its upright riding position you're in for a comfortable time in the saddle, and get this - comes already kitted our with;
- in-built pannier rack
- lights and bell
- mud and chain guards
- lock and stand
As the name suggests it has one gear so there’s minimal maintenance and it’s a true workhorse. Designed and built in Holland, it’s perfect for life on the bike. Did we mention - the price includes delivery too!
Interested in fixie single speed bikes? Find out all about them here: What is a Fixie?
[part title='Budget: £300 - £350']
This is the price range where mountain bikes could feature on your wish list and you’ll actually get a bike that you could ride off-road in comfort. Below this price range they tend to be a bit too heavy and clumsy.
Expect aluminium frames and Shimano EZ-Fire shifters and something like the SR Suntour M3010 fork with 63mm suspension. Female specific mountain bike frames in this price range tend to be step-through style design.
The GT Laguna Women’s bike ticks all the entry-level women's bicycle boxes and has Shimano Tourney derailleurs and a Suntour XCC T102 chainset, and all for just £299.99 too.
Wanting to get away on your new ride? Check out our 10 Cities Perfect for Mountain Bikers and plan your escape.
[part title='Budget: £350 - £400']
If you’ve got £350 to spend and want to ride around town, enjoying life and looking good, then have a gander at the Bobbin Brownie. On top of a reliable steel frame and forks, it has a pannier rack to hold your shopping, a set of mudguards and a chain-guard to keep your clothes clean and out of harms way.
Bobbin bikes are great entry-level women's bicycles are they are designed for everyday use; they’re elegant and stylish but more importantly reliable. The Brownie is no exception – constructed from steel, it has 26" wheels and Shimano 7-speed gearing, all good value we reckon. It’s available in Gloss Royal Blue or Pale Rose – lovely!
Not wanting to look like a typical cyclist whilst riding a stylish Bobbin bike? We've put together a guide on How to Not Look Like a Typical Cyclist.
[part title='Budget: £350 - £400']
Mountain bikes get lighter and come equipped with better components as the price tag rises. Trek’s Skye S women’s mountain bike falls in the middle of this price bracket and has a women specific aluminium frame with SR Suntour XCM fork with 100mm travel. These forks are much better than cheaper models and have preload adjustment.
The frame is a good investment and comes ready for future upgrades including disc compatible dropouts and replaceable hanger, plus the usual rack and mudguard mounts.
The components are definitely in the reliable and lighter-weight realm here – Shimano Altus and Acera gearing with 24 gears, plus the wheels are a significant step up in terms of quality and reduced weight.
It's finally Summer, so make sure to keep cool and in control with these MTB Gloves Perfect for Summer Riding.
[part title='Budget: £350 - £400']
Fancy a road bike with flat bars but thought this price range couldn’t possible offer you anything, then think again! The Specialized Vita range starts at £400 for the standard Vita. It’s a flat barred urban warrior, totally reliable and great value for money.
Featuring 8-speed gearing (24 gears in total), a steel fork and Shimano components including some Altus parts and EZ Fire shifters. Other noticeable parts include the quality Spec Nimbus tyres, which really do minimise punctures and the comfortable women specific saddle – the Riva.
With a great valued bike, comes great valued road bike accessories: 10 of the Cheapest Road Bike Lights.
[part title='What to expect from your £400']
If £400 is your budget for your entry-level bicycle, you really need to do your research and keep an eye out for end of season discounts to help you get the best bike you can.
If you’re after a road bike with drop handlebars to do some longer rides (over an hour) you’ll need to spend over £500, or opt for a flat barred road bike between £400-£500 - there are a couple to choose from now.
Mountain bikes and urban bikes are the most popular models in this price range, over £300 you’re likely to get a decent bike with reliable components and wheels, with weight improving as you go up the price scale.
Don’t forget you can use your ‘Cycle to Work’ or ‘Ride 2 Work’ scheme allowance. This pay monthly Government approved scheme designed to get people out of their cars, helps save you money when buying a new bike! Just think how much you’ll save on fares or petrol on top of that!
If you’re looking for an urban bike you should read our ‘How to get the best urban bike for your money’ feature, for more useful hints and tips.