This post may contain affiliate links, which help to keep Discerning Cyclist rolling. Learn more.
People who are looking to buy a bicycle for the first time in a long while are often plagued with questions and insecurity:
- How much should I spend?
- How many gears do I need?
- Are electric bikes worth it?
- Which bike should I buy?
And it’s completely understandable. There are just so, so many different types and models of bicycles out there. Likewise, the advice around this is often needlessly complicated.
For most people looking for a bike for riding around a town, this is all you really need to know:
- Cheap bikes are absolutely fine (especially if you take care of them – plus you can always upgrade later)
- Seven gears are plenty for the vast majority of commuters
- Electric bikes are amazing, although they’re much more expensive than a normal bike (although still miles cheaper than any motorised vehicle)
- Hybrid bikes are the most versatile bike around (although everyone’s needs are different)
Until recently, I’ve been riding hybrid Decathlon bikes almost exclusively.
Why? Because they’re cheap and they get me from A to B. I’m not trying to beat a personal best, nor am I scaling a mountain.
Here are three Decathlon bikes I’ve ridden and enjoyed. Why three? One I had to leave behind after moving country. One was stolen (RIP) and the third (Riverside 500 – pictured below) is still with me.
Best Cheap Commuter Hybrid Bikes
🇬🇧£350 🇪🇺€300 🇺🇸$549
Lightweight, front suspension, 7-speed and very comfortable to ride. Really nice frame design too.
🇬🇧£500 🇪🇺€450 🇺🇸$600
A super practical hybrid city bike that comes with fenders and built-in lights as standard.
🇬🇧£200 🇪🇺€220 🇺🇸$349
If you’re on a really tight budget, this a good and reliable for simple rides. 6 gears and pretty light.
Which Type of Bike if Best for Daily Use?
If you want just one bicycle that can handle your daily needs – something that you can comfortable ride on a smooth street or a bumpy trail – I’d recommend a hybrid bike. Hybrids are the generalist of the bicycle world – they’re not the lightest, fastest or most durable, but they can
Each time I’ve bought a hybrid bike. I like hybrid bikes because they can do a bit of everything and can handle most surfaces. They’re not the fastest, lightest or most durable – but they are quick enough, you can carry them down a set of stairs and you can go on a trail with them.
Obviously, everyone’s needs are different, so here’s a quick TL:DR; summary of who each type of bike is for:
- Hybrid bikes are suitable for individuals who want a versatile bike that can handle a variety of terrains, including paved roads and light off-road trails.
- Road bikes are suitable for individuals who enjoy cycling on paved roads and want to cover long distances quickly and efficiently.
- Mountain bikes are suitable for individuals who want to ride on rough, rocky terrain and navigate steep inclines and declines.
- Folding bikes are suitable for individuals who need a bike that is easy to store and transport in small spaces.
- Gravel bikes are suitable for individuals who want a bike that can handle a mix of pavement and rough, unpaved terrain.
- City bikes are suitable for individuals who want a comfortable and practical bike for short commutes and city riding.
Should I Buy an Electric Bike?
I love electric bikes. It’s like cycling with an endless tailwind. What’s more, people who purchase an e-bike see their average bicycle use rise to 9.2km per day (from 2.1km per day for traditional bikes). This discounts any “lazy” arguments aimed at e-bike owners, as people ride more than 4x more on average.
That said, electric bikes are expensive compared to normal bikes (although still miles cheaper than owning and running any motorised vehicle).
However, there are a few relatively cheap e-bikes around that are perfect for commuting. In particular, I’d recommend the Engwe P26, which offers everything you need in an commuter e-bike.
Best Budget E-Bike for Commuters
Still not sure which type of bike to buy? Use our 10-second quiz to find your perfect bike.