The Best Bargain Bikes

Getting into cycling doesn't have to put you in financial ruin. While some bikes can run upward of several thousand dollars, there are plenty of less expensive bikes available for beginners or anyone on a budget. When you're looking for a bargain bike, make sure you're getting one that won't end up in the shop in a few weeks. Investing wisely will keep you rolling for years to come.

Not Quite A Bargain

Getting a bike at a department store won't put you out much money, but the longevity of a department store bike doesn't hold up when compared to a bicycle from a reputable bike dealer. These bikes cut costs with heavy carbon steel, cheap components, and uncomfortable seats, and require frequent maintenance. You might save money initially, but a few trips to your local bike ship for adjustments and new tires will show you that your money can be better spent.

Seek Expert Advice

Your local bike shop has experts on bikes in all price ranges, especially near the budget-friendly end of a bike dealer's line. A bargain bike from an established bicycle manufacturer has a reputation to uphold, so these bikes usually far outperform department store bikes. A bike with better components and a lighter frame will be much more enjoyable to ride and will last through many years without letting you down. Having a bike that is fun to ride will be great motivation to get out and get more exercise.

Understanding Quality

A higher quality budget-friendly bike owes its slightly higher price tag to better frame materials like lightweight aluminum and cromoly steel, which are durable and lightweight. The tires use a higher quality rubber and are considerably lighter, further reducing the amount of work you'll have to put in on steep climbs. A better quality seat cradles your body weight to prevent any pain or numbness during a ride, and precision shifters and derailleurs make changing gears painless.

Mastering the Used Market

Getting a bike secondhand is a great way to save a substantial amount of money, but it requires a bit more legwork. Some bicycle shops sell used bikes, and can guide you to a perfect fit. barring that, thrift shops, yard sales and online classified ads are great sources for used bikes, but you'll want to consult your local bike shop before making a purchase to ensure the bike you're getting is of decent quality and the right size for your proportions. It's a good habit to get a used bike checked by an expert before you ride it to ensure it's safely adjusted and ready to go.

About the Author

Max Roman Dilthey is a science, health and culture writer currently pursuing a master's of sustainability science. Based in Massachusetts, he blogs about cycling at MaxTheCyclist.com.