Let me start out by saying that I absolutely love riding a cheap road bike. Why? With a cheap bike, you can take in and fully experience the outdoors without breaking the bank. On paved street and trails, it’s like no other form of transportation. You get a gentle breeze and have unobstructed views while you travel in near silence… just the whispering of the wind in your ears.
The other things I love about riding a bicycle is that it’s an eco-friendly commute, keeps you in shape and saves you money all at the same time. How can you beat that?
When cheap road bikes just make sense:
- Trying to save money.
- Looking for an entry-level road bike for beginners.
- Not riding extremely long distances.
- Not yet sure if biking is for you.
- On a budget or living below your means.
- Riding for exercise.
Cheap Road Bikes Compared
|Critical Cycles Dutch Style Step-Thru||Commuter||48 lbs||Steel||7-Speed|
|Giordano Rapido||Urban||29 lbs||Aluminum||Single Speed / Fixie|
|Takara Sugiyama||Flatbar||36.4||Steel||Single Speed / Fixie|
|Vilano Edge Single Speed||Urban||41 lbs||Steel||Single Speed / Fixie|
|Schwinn Prelude||Commuter||33 lbs||Aluminum||14-Speed|
|Vilano Aluminum Road Bike||Racing||24 lbs||Aluminum||21-Speed|
|Takara Kabuto||Commuter||35.2 lbs||Steel||Single Speed / Fixie|
|Giordano Libero||Racing||26 lbs||Aluminum||16-Speed|
|GMC Denali||Racing||29 lbs||Aluminum||21-Speed|
Cheap bikes, just like other things, come in a variety of different sizes, colors, styles and price ranges. But just like buying anything else inexpensive, some low-cost road bikes are real bargains while others are complete junk.
Everyone has a different opinion on what “cheap” is, so I have organized the bicycles by price range so that you can easily find road bikes within your budget. Of course, you want to know that you’re buying the best road bike for the money.
I have focused on well constructed, higher quality road bikes under 500 dollars. If 500 dollars is still too much, there’s still a good selection of bikes for under 350 dollars and even a few road bikes under 200 dollars to be had as well. Many of these less expensive bikes are often mistaken for bikes costing a thousand dollars or more.
Save the expensive bikes for professional riders.
Road bikes at pro shops tend to be the highest quality, the best built and the lightest weight bikes around… but you pay for that. Even a lower end bike from a bike shop (by bike shop standards) can set your wallet back by at least 500 hundred dollars and prices tend to only increase from there. Buying a bike at a local bike shop may not be an option financially speaking.
If you are new to road biking or on a budget, it may not make sense to spend that kind of money anyways. If you are new to riding, how do you even know if you will enjoy it? It’s hard to justify or recommend starting out with an expensive road bike that may find itself collecting dust in a few months.
Some of the latest trends and options for road bikes:
Head turning bright colors.
The Takara Kabuto is a great example of this. Look at its bright yellow wheels and hand grips. This is all the rage now. Riding a flashy bike like this is sure to get you noticed and countless compliments for under the $200.00 price tag.
Single Speed Vs. Multi-speed
You want to buy a road bike with the type of handle bars that will match how you plan to ride it. Although there are many different styles of handlebars, when it comes to road bikes, there are two main choices. They are drop down bars and riser handlebars. On road bikes, drop down bars are the most popular.
|Drop Down Handle Bars||Flat Bars/Riser Bars|
If you are planning on long bike rides or racing as a sport, the better choice may be drop down bars. They do require you to lean farther forward but make for a more aerodynamic riding position.
If you are looking for comfort and a more casual rider, riser or flat handlebar bikes may be the better choice. The age of the rider may also be a factor when it comes to the riding position.
Make sure you get the right size frame so that the bike is a good fit for your body. When selecting a frame size and geometry, the rider’s height and leg length come into play.
You want to remove your shoes and measure from the inside of the leg from the floor to the crotch. You will most likely need someone’s help for this.
I recommend that you pinch a textbook or other large book between your upper thighs to simulate the top of the bike frame. Then measure from the floor to the top of the book spine.
Once you have your measurement, head on over to this online road bike frame size calculator. It will provide you with the best frame size depending on your gender, height and leg length.
An interesting fact is that women tend to have shorter legs and larger torso’s as compared to men of the same height. Women’s bike frames and the calculator take this into consideration. The seat height is not really a consideration because if the frame is the right size, the seat height can be adjusted to the desired position.
Keeping it cheap, protect your bike and yourself.
Of course, the true expense of owning a bike will depend not only on the purchase price of the bike but also how long the bike lasts and the replacement of parts or maintenance it requires over time.
The idea is preventative maintenance, in other words, don’t wait for something to break or rust… try to prevent it from rusting or breaking in the first place. This means keeping the bike clean, lubricated and adjusted. Storing your bike in a dry, preferably indoor environment is very important as well to avoid rusting.
One of the quickest ways to destroy a road bike is storing it exposed to the weather. Storing indoors is obviously the best case scenario, If you do have to resort to storing it outside, make sure to at least cover it and keep it well oiled. When it comes to transporting your bike, make sure it is well secured.
Show your inexpensive bike the same love and care as you would an expensive bike and it will serve you well. You want to get the longest life you can out of it and if properly cared for, cheap road bikes should last for a decade or more. By performing your own maintenance and repairs you can keep your bike it tip-top shape, save money and may even find satisfaction and enjoyment doing it yourself.