This post may contain affiliate links, which help to keep Discerning Cyclist rolling. Learn more.
While some cyclists do spend eye-watering amounts of money on their bicycles, cycling can actually be a very budget-friendly hobby, mode of transport and workout option — and far cheaper than running a car or paying for a gym membership.
There are some very cheap bikes on the market (some even under £200) and you can often get bikes even cheaper if you shop secondhand.
On this page, we’ll take you through the best way to buy a budget bicycle — both new and secondhand — and make sure you’re informed about all the pros and cons of each option.
Buying a Budget Bicycle
When it comes to buying a budget bicycle, there are several factors you should consider.
First, what do you want your bike for? Are you looking for a commuter bike to get you from A to B? A bike for longer weekend rides? A mountain bike for tackling trails? Of course, this will help you decide what style of bike you need, but also the features that you want your bike to include.
You should also think about whether you’d prefer to buy your bike new or secondhand. There are pros and cons to each, which we will go into in more detail later, but generally you’ll be able to get typically more expensive bikes for much less if you buy them secondhand, but that comes with the caveat that they may need work, won’t be under any warranty, and are probably ‘sold as seen’.
Of course, if price is a factor in your bike buying process (as it is for most people), do set yourself a reasonable budget before you start properly shopping for a bike. By ‘reasonable’ we mean not only a price you can afford, but one that will get you a bike that does everything you need it to do.
Also consider factors like longevity — are you willing to put in a little extra cash now to invest in a bike that will serve you better and longer down the line? Or would you rather save some money now, knowing that you might have to replace parts or even the whole bike in a couple of years’ time?
Buying a budget bike can seem like a bit of a minefield, but it really doesn’t have to be if you go in informed and with reasonable expectations. We’re going to take you through some of the pros and cons of buying a budget bike new and secondhand to help you make the right decision for your cycling needs.
Cheap New Bikes
Let’s start by looking at cheap new bikes. You absolutely can find budget-friendly new bikes from retailers like Decathlon and Halfords, so let’s take a look at what you should be looking for when shopping for a new bike on a budget.
Can You Buy a New Bike under £100?
Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to find a new adult bike for under £100. Budget retailers like Decathlon and Sports Direct often have bikes close to £100 when there’s a sale on, but you’d be hard pushed to find one with a price tag in double figures.
If you’re shopping on a tight budget, probably the most reasonable price you could hope for would be below £200. Decathlon have some fantastic budget options in this range and offer some of the cheapest models around, such as the Elops 100 and Riverside 100, and other retailers often have bikes under the £200 mark, particularly when discounted.
Remember to keep in mind any big sales – for example Black Friday – if you’re looking for a cheap new bike, as these are great times to find heavily discounted bikes.
If you’re looking to buy a bike for under £100, you would be best off shopping secondhand. We’ll go into more detail on secondhand bike shopping later, but it can often be significantly cheaper than shopping new.
However, we must add the caveat at this stage that buying a bike for under £100 isn’t totally recommended — when a bike is that cheap, there might be something wrong with it or it might not be great quality.
If you’re really shopping for a bike on a shoestring, consider bike leasing and sharing schemes. We provide more information on this further down this page, but essentially it means you’ll get all the benefits of having a bike without the big upfront cost by utilising a pay-as-you-go or subscription model.
Cheapest Bikes You Can Buy
As we’ve mentioned, Decathlon’s Elops 100 and Riverside 100 both come in under £200 and are both great options for those looking for a cheap new bike.
Muddyfox at Sports Direct also offers some very cheap options — for example the Recoil Ladies Mountain Bike and Recoil Mens Mountain Bike which both retail at £220 but are often reduced to closer to £100.
Halfords’ website even has a tab for Bikes Under £150, which predominantly features kids’ bikes but also includes the Indi ATB 1 Womens Mountain Bike, Indi ATB 1 Mens Mountain Bike and Indi TC1 Mens Hybrid Bike which all retail at £145.
It’s also worth noting that fixie bikes (single speed bikes) can be very cheap to buy compared to other types of bikes, although these can also pose some riding challenges for the inexperienced because they have no gears, so you will need to work harder at times than you would on a geared bike.
That said, they’re lower maintenance than geared bikes too, which means they’re likely to be cheaper in the long run as well, and are often a good option for commuters.
Where to Buy Cheap New Bikes
When it comes to buying cheap new bikes, you’re best off sticking to large chain retailers like Decathlon, Halfords, Sports Direct, Argos and the like.
These options will give you the widest range and the lowest prices — and while it’s usually great to shop at independent bike shops or smaller chains, these specialist shops often don’t have bikes at the lower end of the budget spectrum for various reasons.
In addition, large chain retailers often offer warranty on their bicycles, for example Decathlon usually offers a two year warranty on its products. Cheaply made bikes can have things go wrong — parts might break, or things might not always work as you’d expect them to — so having this warranty buffer is a great idea so you don’t end up shelling out more money when you’re already on a budget.
Another great way to buy a bicycle on a budget is to get a used bike. Second hand bikes are usually much cheaper than buying new, so you can find great brands and models for a much lower price.
Of course, there are also some cons which come with buying used bikes. Parts might need replacing or have problems, so it’s really important to fully inspect the bike you’re looking to buy to make sure any work you have to do on it isn’t going to cost an arm and a leg or be too much effort for the price of the bike.
Used bikes also won’t usually come with a warranty like new bikes, so if anything goes wrong with it down the line you will have to bear the cost.
That said, buying secondhand is much more environmentally friendly than buying a new bike, and helps keep streets and landfill clean of unused bikes — there’s already enough of those in the world!
Let’s have a look at some of the pros and cons of buying used bikes.
Used Bikes Pros + Cons
|Cheaper than buying new||Can be more expensive in the long run|
|Get a better model for less||Danger of scams/stolen bikes|
|Environmentally-friendly||Need some bike knowledge to research|
How Much Do Second Hand Bikes Cost?
Second hand bikes cost as much as you want them to! Within reason, of course. With second hand bikes, there really is a bike to suit every budget, but as with anything, you get what you pay for.
You might be able to buy a second hand bike for £50, but it is unlikely to be in good condition or last you very long.
You could also spend thousands on a second hand bike if you want to — and this could be well worth doing if the RRP of the bike you want is double that!
It’s always worth setting aside a little bit extra when buying a second hand bike, though. As we’ve already mentioned, second hand bikes most likely won’t come with a warranty, so you’ll be responsible for paying for any repairs or replacements it might need down the line.
Of course, always make sure to thoroughly check over your second hand bike before buying, ask lots of questions to the seller, and speak to a professional if you’re not sure. A used bike isn’t a bargain if it ends up being unrideable and costing you hundreds in new parts and servicing after you take it home!
Where to Find a Cheap Used Bike
There are so many options for places to buy cheap used bikes, so it’s definitely worth shopping around.
You’re bound to find plenty of second hand bikes on Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and eBay, and these sites connect you directly with the seller so you can check out the bike before you buy and ask lots of questions to the person who, presumably, knows the bike well as a rider.
When buying from these sites, it is important to watch out for scams. Remember, if it’s too good to be true then it probably is — so make sure you’re informed, thoroughly check over the bike, and don’t send ANY money until you’ve seen the bike in person and are ready to take it home.
It is also important to make sure that you are not buying a stolen bike. As any cyclist knows, bike theft is alarmingly common, particularly in urban areas, and these bikes are often resold to unwitting buyers looking for a bargain.
There are some things you can do to protect yourself from buying a stolen bike. First, make sure the cost isn’t too good to be true – if it’s much cheaper than other similar bikes, that’s not usually a great sign. Check that there are lots of good quality pictures of the exact bike you’re buying – not just ones copied from online retailers or from other sellers.
Also, if you’re buying from a site like Gumtree, eBay or Facebook Marketplace, check what else that seller has for sale – if they have lots and lots of bikes for sale and they’re not an official second hand bike store, that most likely means the bikes they’re selling are nicked.
Lots of independent bike shops also sell used bikes, so it’s well worth checking out any bike shops in your local area. You might pay slightly more, and there may be less room for negotiation, but buying from a professional seller often means a more reliable sale, and your used bike may even come under warranty.
Bike Leasing and Sharing Schemes
If you don’t have a lot of money to invest in a bicycle, or want to see how much you might use a bike day-to-day before splashing the cash, bike leasing and sharing schemes could be a great option.
Urban bike sharing schemes are becoming more and more popular, with many of the UK’s cities now having their own version.
In London, so-called Boris Bikes — Santander Cycles — are found in docking stations across the city, and cost £1.65 for up to 30 minutes of use and then £1.65 for every additional 30 minutes. There’s also an option for monthly and yearly memberships too, if you think you’ll be a regular user.
Private companies also offer short-time bike rental in other cities, such as Lime, Uber bikes and more, so it’s definitely worth checking out what’s available in your local area if you think this could be the right option for your needs.
There are also plenty of companies offering long-term bike leasing. Buzzbike, Swapfiets, Brompton and Zoomo all offer bikes on monthly leases or longer at various prices, so it’s worth looking into these options if you’re not sure you’re ready to commit to a bike purchase.