A good bicycle for a beginner commuter? (and other tips)

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by qpop, 27 Jul 2012.

  1. qpop

    qpop New Member

    Hello all.

    I've just twisted my employer's arm to start a Cycle to work scheme in line with an office move commencing in Spring next year. The new office will be 4 miles away from home in the Leicestershire countryside, with 40/50mph and NSL roads between myself and it.

    The roads in Leics are pretty good (although I hail from Sheffield and I imagine that roads in Siberia probably look better than South Yorkshire's pothole ridden tarmac) and the route is relatively flat. Driving is sometimes unavoidable in my line of work but I'd probably 'bike in twice a week or so.

    I've looked around and it seems my best bet for buying a bike would be to head up the M1 back to Sheffield and go to either Edinburgh Co-op or Decathlon (where I have not-so-fond memories of a saturday job a few years back) and pick up an own-brander. Both shops subscribe to the Cycle Scheme I'm looking at our company joining.

    I was thinking that I would buy a 'bike & accessories costing £500-600. Sub £500 is useful because it makes the scheme cheaper.

    Having read around it looks like I have to make the decision of type of bike. I rode motorbikes in my teenage years and was a bit of a speed-freak so am inclined towards a road bike with "underslung" handlebars, but to counterbalance this I've never ridden one, had a generic mountain bike as a kid, and haven't cycled for at least five years.

    What are people's experiences and recommendations re: road bike vs "hybrid"/commuter bike?
    I don't particularly fancy going MTBing any time soon, but it might be nice to take a trip or two to Clumber park and similar; would a road bike be too inflexible to ride in that kind of environment?

    If I chose a road bike, it seems like the B-Twin (Decathlon) Triban 3 (£300) or Triban 5 (£500) might be a good idea, where-as if I went hybrid the Revolution Cross (£450) seems to have good reviews (still underslung handlebars though so maybe more road biased?)

    Also, what accessories do I need? I'm guessing puncture repair kit, allen key, water bottle, but I must be missing something!

    Anything else I've missed? A glaringly obvious flat-handled superbike for £500 with carbon everything and a guarantee that I'll look like an underwear model in three months flat?

    Finally, there is a requirement in my line of work to be suited and booted; what are the mechanics of commuting along country roads to work? There will be a shower installed at the new office so I was vaguely considering just leaving a suit there for the days I cycle in; do people do this? Are there any practical tips in this area?

    ps. I'm 6'3", 14st and relatively fit if that makes any difference.
    Peter Armstrong likes this.
  2. Peter Armstrong

    Peter Armstrong Über Member

    Sorry, Im going to ask you a question.

    How did you "twisted my employer's arm to start a Cycle to work scheme", My impression was that you employer has to buy the bike, but my friend says the govertment buy it, Ive been on the website and I just dont get it, What does my boss have to do, and what will it cost him?
  3. OP

    qpop New Member

    Hi Peter,

    Your employer has to stump up the cost of the bike (up to £1,000 unless they have a consumer credit license and will guarantee loans for more than this).
    They also have to (I believe) offer it to all employees.
    You then repay the "loan" over 12/18 months on a hire purchase arrangement. This is paid from your gross salary, saving you the tax and national insurance you would otherwise pay.
    Your employer also saves the NI on the salary you are sacrificing. If they're generous they can pass the saving onto you.
    Also, if your employer is VAT registered they can claim the VAT back, saving them 20% on the purchase price.
    All this time the bike is officially an asset of the company.
    At the end of the term you either "buy" the bike for a payment of 18/25% of the initial purchase price (ruining all your lovely tax savings), or pay a "deposit" of 3/7% of the bikes value which is held for another three years, and then the loan is settled automatically. This is a "workaround" to avoid the 18/25% payment and apparently totally legit.

    edit: Basically the total cost is £0 to the company, they just have to stump up the cash in the first place. There is also a slight payroll burden to administer the scheme but most scheme providers seem to do that for free (not sure where they make their money, probably backhanders from affiliated stores). The cost to you is the gross value of the bike net of your marginal rate of income tax + NIC (usually around 25-30% if you're a basic rate taxpayer and 45-50% if you're higher rate I reckon)
    Peter Armstrong likes this.
  4. Peter Armstrong

    Peter Armstrong Über Member

    Chears, but how does my boss get his money back?
  5. OP

    qpop New Member

    You pay him back! The loan repayments are made out of your gross salary over 12-18 months.
  6. Peter Armstrong

    Peter Armstrong Über Member

    So its basicly a loan from my boss, got it, chears. My mate told me the goverment pay for it or somthing, even though I read the website over & over.

    P.s sorry for highjacking your thread. :sad:
  7. OP

    qpop New Member

    No worries! Hopefully somebody will come along soon and answer some of my questions :smile:
    Peter Armstrong likes this.
  8. BrumJim

    BrumJim Poster

    I'd go for either of those options. Looks like a good choice. If you can, try them out and see which one you like the best.

    Hybrid bikes give you a more heads-up position, and are favoured by less confident and less speed-obsessed riders. Given your history in riding motor bikes, this doesn't sound like you.

    I'd get a pair of padded cycling shorts and some cycling tops or merino tops. Personally I prefer merino as it doesn't stink after a few hot days.

    I'd get some kit from Lidl or Aldi when they have their special sales (keep your eye on CC for these), and then upgrade to SPDs, better kit, etc, when you decide that you enjoy it.

    No experience of Clumber Prk, but generally road bikes are OK on anything up to (btu not including) rutted paths.

    Underslung (dropped) handlebars can be tricky, but I ride mostly on the hoods anyway, and that may be essential with 2300 changers. Shop will show you the hand positions available, and how to change gear. Don't leave until you are sure you can start, stop and change gear with both hands.
  9. wealthysoup

    wealthysoup Active Member

    I'd recommend the cheapest cycling shorts from decthlon. Around 7 quid and I've used them for up to around 30 miles with no problems. If your going for the triban 3 then a charge spoon saddle is a good comfort upgrade
  10. OP

    qpop New Member

    Hi guys. Had a name change.

    Interestingly I went along to Nottingham Decathlon today and the guy had no interest whatsoever in the Triban 3 or 5, instead he was trying to flog me the following:
    which was on "offer" at £350.

    The guy reckoned that was a far better bike for a marginal amount more, and that was that; no opportunity to try out the Triban.

    What are your thoughts on what he said?
  11. defy-one

    defy-one Guest

    Looks all show no go to me. Go back and insist on looking at the tribans
  12. vickster

    vickster Legendary Member

    Viking has Sora gears versus the lower 2300 on the Triban, but the Triban is a kilo lighter and it's red..I'd probably go for it on that basis alone
  13. OP

    qpop New Member

    Is there anything else inside of £500 worth buying? I notice the Triban 5 has the higher rated gears but is it enough of an upgrade for a 66% increase in price?


    Anything else worth looking at in the road-bike category at < £500 ?

    Incidentally I had an epiphany in that I could get my cheapo 10 year old £200 MTB cleaned up at a LBS to satiate any desire to go to Clumber Park / elsewhere and therefore the decision to get a road bike is getting stronger.
  14. vickster

    vickster Legendary Member

    The Triban 3 got a fantastic review in this month's Cycling Active - 92% - punches way above it's price point apparently. There probably are some good sale deals out there, but you are unlikely to be able to access them on C2W - would have to pay full price. An alternative would be a 0% finance deal, bit depends on your tax band, the length of the loan and the terms of the scheme as to which is better for you
  15. OP

    qpop New Member

    well for 500 I wouldn't mind just paying cash. I'm a basic rate tax payer so a 500 quid bike would yield a 25pc saving over the term but if I found an amazing bike elsewhere that was worth picking up as a bargain I would certainly consider it
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