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Stirling Cycles Bike Buying Guide

So it's time for a new bike?

Over the past 20 years the range of bikes that you can choose from has seen a huge increase, making choosing the right bike for you a time-consuming task! We’ve put together a short guide that should help you to find the right bike for your unique riding style and requirements.

A great starting place is to ask yourself, "what will I be using the bike for?" Whether you are a performance focussed road racer, or simply looking for a more environmentally friendly way to get to work, this guide will give you an idea of which bike might match your needs.

If you already have a rough idea of what you are looking for and are interested in finding out if there may be some options that you haven't considered use the buttons below to jump to:

1. Road Bikes

2. Mountain Bikes (MTB)

3. Electric Bikes (E-Bikes)

4. Hybrid/Commuter Bikes

5. Gravel/Cyclocross Bikes

6. Junior/Kids Bikes

Mountain bikes (MTB)

Mountain Biker Riding In Forest

Mountain bikes are the ultimate do-it-all machine. In contrast to road bikes they prioritise maximising the variety of terrain that its possible for you to ride over out-and-out efficiency. This means that they have a range of useful features such as suspension, powerful hydraulic disc brakes and wide range gearing that guarantees that you will be able to ride almost anything you’re brave enough to try! Additionally, due to their relatively upright riding position and comfortable riding characteristics, mountain bikes can be great all-rounders unlocking miles of off-road exploration and ensuring a comfortable experience when you end up back on the tarmac.

With such a wide range of uses there are a lot of different styles of MTB to choose from:

‘Hardtail’ bikes are bikes that have no rear suspension, they are a great compromise between efficiency and capability with modern features such as wider tires and confidence-inspiring geometry making them almost as capable as a short-travel full-suspension bike! Combine this with a lightweight yet durable frame and a hardtail MTB can unlock endless options for riders that want to do it all.

Full Suspension
Full suspension bikes have both front and rear suspension, making them incredibly confidence inspiring to ride. With advances in frame technology lightweight full suspension bikes are now just as reliable as hardtails and offer far more efficient pedalling performance than the heavy, slow bikes of old. With extensive suspension tuning options and confidence inspiring geometry these bikes will help you to push your limits whether you are a dedicated racer or casual weekend shredder.

Mountain Bike Pros:
Suitable on a wide range of terrain
Comfortable for a variety of riders
The most versatile bikes

Mountain Bike Cons:
Less efficient on tarmac
Heavier than road bikes

How much does a mountain bike cost?
Mountain bikes range all the way from £500 to over £10,000! For younger riders and those with a budget of less than £2000, a hardtail MTB is usually the best option as it balances weight with high performance components. For serious riders and racers, full suspension bikes are becoming ever more popular as modern technology such as air suspension and lightweight components have resulted in incredibly capable bikes that can conquer a huge variety of terrain.

Road Bikes

Road Bike Riders Climbing Hill

Build around lightweight aluminium or carbon frames, road bikes are designed to maximise speed and endurance on surfaced roads. These lightweight bikes feature distinctive ‘dropped’ handlebars that enable road cyclists to maximise their aerodynamic profile and are equipped with narrow tires that reduce rolling resistance along with gearing that is optimised from speed.

Within the genre of road biking there are a number of different bike designs which riders can choose between in order to find the perfect bike for their requirements:

Road Race
With ultra-lightweight frames and geometry that demands an aggressive riding position, road race bikes are ideal for experienced riders that prioritise high-performance.

Sportive and Endurance Bikes
The classic all-rounder, these bikes are designed with long days in the saddle in mind, they feature more relaxed geometry and frames that are slightly more compliant in order to maximise rider comfort

Aero and time trial
Popular with multi-sport athletes, aero road bikes use aerodynamically optimised frames and wheels to reduce drag. This is beneficial for riders spending long periods of time at high speed as they are able to conserve energy.

Road Bike Pros:
Great for travelling long distances
Very energy efficient so can be used for commuting

Road Bike Cons:
Less robust than heavier bikes
Riding position can be less comfortable for casual riders

How much does a road bike cost?
An entry-level road bike starts at around £900 and usually features rim-brakes and a less refined drivetrain. Moving to mid-level bikes a budget of around £2000 will get you improved technology such as disc brakes and lightweight wheels and components. Over £3500 is the realm of high-end road bikes that may boast features such as electronic shifting and carbon frames.

Should I buy a road bike?
Road bikes suit a wide range of riders, from those looking to challenge themselves in road races, to casual riders that just want an easy way to enjoy the local area. If you like to get out in the fresh air challenge yourself and improve your fitness then a road bike could be the right choice for you!

Electric Bikes (E-bikes)

Electric Bike In Mountains

Over the past ten years electric bikes have grown from an ‘out there’ niche in the bike world to a hugely popular option for a wide range of riders. With options for electric mountain bikes, electric hybrid bikes, and even electric road bikes on the market there really are options for every rider! The reason that so many riders are falling in love with electric bikes is simple: you can do more with every ride. Whether you are an older rider that would like a wee push on that steep hill on your way into town, or an experienced racer that wants to spend more time descending and even have fun on the way back up, E-bikes are an amazing innovation that can open your eyes to huge new possibilities.

Electric Bike Pros:
Ride further, spend more time having fun
Have the confidence to push your limits knowing that you will always be able to make it home
Open up options for carrying more luggage
An electric bike can be a fun, cost effective substitute for a city car

Electric Bike Cons:
E-bikes are heavier than ordinary bikes so you will need somewhere suitable to store it

How much does an electric bike cost?
Electric bikes start at around £2000, however if you are able to budget for a mid-range bike at around £3000 it can be really worth it. This is because these bike are equipped with larger batteries and more interactive controls. For performance electric mountain bikes £4000+ will get you a capable bike with enough battery capacity to keep you riding for hours!

Hybrid/Commuter Bikes

Cyclist Commuting In UK

Hybrid and Commuter bikes are designed to be comfortable and convenient, blending technology from both road and mountain bikes into a great day-to-day bike that is fast, reliable, and able to handle unexpected bumps and pot-holes. With a classic upright riding position and flat bars, many people find hybrid bikes far more comfortable than a performance-oriented cycle. Hybrids often feature accessories such as full-length mudguards and sturdy pannier racks that make them a practical option for many people that are looking for an alternative to the car when nipping to the shops or a way to liven up your daily commute!

Hybrid/Commuter Bike Pros:
Very practical, with mudguards and pannier rack options
Upright riding position for maximum comfort
Medium width tyres offer balance of comfort and efficiency
Available with low step-through frames

Hybrid/Commuter Bike Cons:
Heavier than high performance road bikes
Not designed for off-road use

How much does a hybrid cost?
Hybrid bikes are intended to be a practical and comfortable mode of transport. As such they are generally prioritise value over high performance components and as a result prices can start from a very reasonable £400 and up, however we feel that a mid-range bike of around £800 often offers the best compromise between value and longevity.

Gravel/Cyclocross Bikes

Combining the efficiency of a road bike with technology from touring and mountain bikes, gravel bikes have become increasingly popular in recent years. Based around a classic rigid frame with drop handlebars, gravel bikes feature wider tires, disk brakes, and more relaxed geometry, which makes for a confidence inspiring ride when the going gets tough. Designed to cope with rough terrain and adverse conditions these bikes can often be fitted with mudguards and pannier racks, making for a truly capable mile-eating-machine.

Gravel Bike Pros
More versatile than a road bike
More efficient than a mountain bike
Great for touring and rougher tracks

Gravel Bike Cons
1X gearing can limit performance on road

How much does a gravel bike cost?
An entry level gravel bike starts at around £1000, and due to their intended use these will come with cable actuated disk brakes and robust components. Moving into the mid range of £2000 - £3000 is often worth it for the significant upgrades in components such as hydraulic disk brakes and lighter-weight frames. Due to the rugged terrain gravel bikes are designed for, high end carbon gravel bikes are often a great option as carbon frames are known to have superior vibration damping characteristics compared to aluminium, and over £3000 is likely to secure you a truly great all-rounder.

Junior/Kids Bikes

Kid Riding High Performance Junior Bike
Long gone are the days of heavy, single-geared kid’s bikes! Young riders now have an awesome choice of lightweight bikes that are often kitted out with wide range gearing, disk brakes, and suspension forks, so they can explore to their hearts content. The right bike for a younger rider is usually determined by the size of the bikes wheels, and with a range of sizing options from 16” up to 24” you can find exactly the right bike for your young shredder. Options for junior riders in the ‘tween’ phase are now far more accessible, offering incredible performance in youth-friendly sizing

How much does a kids bike cost?

For an entry level ‘get out and ride’ Kids bike, prices start at around £350, as less material is required during manufacturing. Lighter weight, performance oriented kids bike uses many similar components to an adult bike and as a result can cost over £500.

If you’ve read this guide and feel that you have more questions than you started with, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we will be happy to answer all your bike related queries!