Cycle to work buying advice

Discussion in 'Bikes and Buying Advice - What Bike?' started by Marmo720, 25 Oct 2018.

  1. Marmo720

    Marmo720 Member

    Hi all,

    I recently started cycling and want to do so regularly to commute to work. Distance between home and work is 13.5 miles. Most of that is on one of the cycle super highways in London but 1/3 is on combined cycle/pedestrian pathways.

    I would like some advice on the bike options available to me. My company cycle 2 work scheme has upper limit of £1500 and I set myself a limit of £1000. My own limit isn't hard set so if there is good reason to go slightly above my limit then I am happy to do that. I am limited though to Halfords, Cycle Republic or Tredz.

    Based on the above limits, I have had a look at Tredz and there are a few options. However, I would be happy to receive advice on any bikes that I don't mention below.

    Options 1: Cube Attain SL 2018/2019. Both come with 105 but the 2018 is obviously older version. Is the new 105 + any other differences worth the extra £200?

    Option 2: Cannondale CAAD Optimo 105 2019. This seems to be combination of 105, FSA and Tektro brakes. For the same price as the Attain SL 2019, wouldn't the Cube be better with full 105?

    Option 3: Other bikes from Orbea etc that you guys consider better value for money. Or should I wait for any sales in Jan? I have annual travelcard for work if needed during the wet winter months.

    Thanks in advance for all assistance and advice.
  2. vickster

    vickster Legendary Member

    There are plenty of LBS that will take a Halfords voucher if that’s what you have

    Make sure you have the bike fully insured as you’ll be liable for the repayments even if the worst should happen

    Bike wise, just try them out

    Sales wise, you can’t always use the voucher on a reduced bike or there may be a surcharge

    Sales aren’t confined to January either. There are already reductions on 2018 models

    Why wouldn’t you commute in the wet if committed to it. Get a bike that takes full length fixed mudguards. I’d have a rack too so as to not have to wear a backpack for an hour. You can get these with the C2W voucher, as well as clothing

    Also, join a cycling organisation to cover you if you are involved in an accident, be it yours or someone else’s fault (LCC, British Cycling or Cycling Uk the main options)
    Marmo720 likes this.
  3. OP

    Marmo720 Member

    @vickster Thank you for the advice. I wasn't aware that some LBS would take Halford's vouchers so that opens me up to more bike options!

    I will certainly get insurance (I work in that industry) and join a cycling organisation. I have done 3 return cycles to work and witnessed 4 cyclist/driver fights, 2 near misses and 1 cyclist under a Tesco truck. It has certainly taught me to be extra careful!

    I plan to test ride a shortlist of bikes and see what feels comfortable. Thanks again for the advice.
  4. humboldt

    humboldt Active Member

    If you click on 'I am looking for an alternative to Halfords' you'll get the option to see independent shops who will accept the vouchers. The list is not that up to date though so always best to check with the shop via phone/email. Also dropping in to see them and speaking to them is sometimes good; I had one who were not generally willing to take Halfords vouchers as they charge them a higher fee than any other C2W provider, but were willing to accept me splitting the fee with them out of my own pocket once we'd chatted (think it only ended up being about £40 and they invoiced me properly, wasn't just cash in hand). Also have a look at any local shops' websites as sometimes they will tell you there they accept the vouchers even if they're not on that map. Worth going to a local place and seeing what options they recommend in terms of London commuting bikes and what they can spec in terms of commuter-friendly extras like the aforementioned rack and mudguards and maybe dynamo lights; always nice to have them fitted properly right off the bat when you pick it up.
    Ribble and Dolan will also take the vouchers (though Dolan charge an extra percentage for the inconvenience) and potentially get you better value and service than Tredz with more scope for customisation when it comes to buying online.
    John_S and Marmo720 like this.
  5. Drago

    Drago Guru

    Value for money = equals the bike that rides the best, and best suits your needs for the money. The only way to determine that is to try your prospective purchases.

    Don't fall into the trap of thinking shiny bling = value for money. More often than not it adds little or nothing to the business of commuting.
    Salty seadog and Marmo720 like this.
  6. Pale Rider

    Pale Rider Guru

    Close to 30 miles commuting on London roads is hard use for any bike.

    Something reliable with components that are cheap to replace is what's required.

    High end bike bits tend to be lighter, but less durable and, by definition, more expensive.

    Which is a long-winded way of saying a cheaper, lower spec bike may be a better proposition long term.

    For example, lots of stopping and starting means you may get through chains and cassettes.

    Components for nine and 10 speeds are cheaper than for the latest 12 or 13 or whatever speeds they've got to now.
    Marmo720 likes this.
  7. OP

    Marmo720 Member

    Thanks everyone for the great advice - I am learning loads and appreciate your help.

    I went to several bike stores yesterday to test ride a few bikes and some geometry felt a lot better than others to me. In particular, I liked the Boardman team carbon and my local Halfords had the 2016 model (yellow/black) in my size which they put aside for me for a couple weeks (price = £750). I couldn't find it online but here is a review of the white version:

    A model with the 105 and disc brakes for £1000 is also available but not sure if that is worth the extra?

    Finally, Ribble have this bike on sale at size 47cm which their sizing guide fits with me being 5 ft 5-6. The above two bikes are 52-53cm. As I don't have any experience with Ribble or how their geometry compares with the Boardman bikes, can anyone advice on this bike please?

    What do you think about the above selection and any swings towards one bike over the others?

    Thank you again for all the great help.
  8. vickster

    vickster Legendary Member

    Do they take full length fixed mudguards? And wider tyres? I wouldn’t want to commute those distances on London roads on less than 28mm tyres without guards

    I’d want a fixed pannier rack too. And probably disc brakes (not essential but saves on rim wear as well as better braking). My preference is for mechanical discs as I like secondary brake levers. Someone posted quite recently about issues with the 105 hydraulics if you search

    As to the point above, I wouldn’t go ultegra on a commuter due to cost of replacement parts, and your commute won’t be a race with lots of other cyclists and peds around so you don’t need the lightest fastest bike
    Last edited: 28 Oct 2018
    Marmo720 likes this.
  9. J1888

    J1888 Über Member

    I had the 2016 Boardman Team Carbon - was a brilliant bike, alas it got nicked. I replaced it with the Boardman Road Pro Carbon SLR which is lighter, better wheels, better groupset...and I don’t like it nearly as much
    Marmo720 likes this.
  10. tom73

    tom73 Über Member

    I've a sportive love it great fun to ride.
  11. NorthernDave

    NorthernDave Never used Über Member

    Cycle Surgery take Halfords C2W vouchers, or did last year when I bought a Giant Contend SL1 Disc:
    Now reduced to under a grand with next years model being out - and I've been more than happy with it at full price.

    In answer to your question above, I'd definitely get a disc brake equipped bike if it's being used year round
  12. IanSmithCSE

    IanSmithCSE Senior Member

    Good morning,

    After pondering the advice on bikes offered by others, I would like to throw a spanner into your plan, possibly just a chocolate one.

    I don't know how much this will take out of your monthly pay check but if it is a lot remember that the scheme is for a fixed duration and you can not cancel it so you will be paying for it whether you use the bike or not.

    13.5 miles each way is easily doable if you enjoy it, or it is a lot if you do not, so it may be worth just looking at bikes for a few more rides before committing yourself.

    I used to commute using a race orientated bike and was getting through rear tyres every two month and front every 3 months, chains and cassettes once a year and a snapped chain meant a new rear mech, cassette and chain. Someone pinched the rear wheel so I had to replace the wheels as a pair along with the rear mech as it was broken.

    Commuting by bike was almost as expensive as commuting by car! So maybe an 8 speed cassette with wider tyres and more tread would be worth considering rather than a 10/11 speed cassette and tyres with no tread.

    I have both a 8 and 10 speed bikes and I very very rarely use the extra two sprockets, the 12 and 14 tooth ones.

    8 Speed: 11,13,15,17,19,21,23,25
    10 Speed: 11,12,13,14,15,17,19,21,23,25


    Marmo720, Cycleops and burntoutbanger like this.
  13. OP

    Marmo720 Member

    Thank you all for the advice and assistance.

    I have taken C2W vouchers to the value of £850. This works out as about £45 per month. Due to my work hours, I haven't used my gym for a few months now which costs me £30 per month. I am cancelling the gym so in reality the bike isn't costing me a huge amount. I am also more likely to cycle to work because I have enjoyed it the last few times and also the total journey time is the same as my train commute. The aim is to commute to work 1/2/3 times a week until spring and then move towards more or less full time. I already have annual travel card that runs out in June so can take the train if needed.

    At the moment, my leading bike of choice is the Boardman team carbon. I reserved a white 53cm in another store (£800) and I have the black/yellow 51.5cm reserved at local Halfords (£750). Does anyone know the difference? Spec wise, they seem identical and I am not sure if one is older or they just released them in different colours? I will test ride each again before deciding based on comfort.

    My company provide me with £60 extra on top of my voucher for accessories and Halfords are running extra £75 of accessories when bought with any Boardman. Local Halfords have told me they can be stacked so I will have between £185-£235 to spend on accessories if I take the above two bikes. Any non essentials I can always get on the sales from Decathlon etc.

    @J1888 Thanks for the tip there. A lot of the reviews between the two suggest the team carbon is much more comfortable so I am happy to save the extra £200 and be more comfortable!

    @vickster I checked and the above bikes can take 28mm but without full mudguards or 25mm with full mudguards. The main weakness seems to be the brakes so I will probably upgrade those first when I get the chance.

    @NorthernDave I haven't had the chance to ride one but will give it a go soon. I seem to be unpopular size for test bikes so very few places have bikes I can test ride in my size!

    Thanks again all and happy to hear any further tips/bikes you can share.
  14. nonowt

    nonowt Senior Member

    Something to bear in mind that a new bike is very attractive to thieves because it's so easy to resell. Make sure you get decent D-locks (i.e. two) and learn how to lock your bike properly (if possible leave one at work to save carrying it). I've seen a few C2W bikes stolen from outside my work where they've only been locked through the front wheel or locked with a loose fitting lock or a crappy cable lock.

    I don't let potential thieves put you off though. I commute 5 miles each way in London (in all weathers) and absolutely love it. It's so much faster, cheaper and less stressful than public transport. I know, the odd puncture aside, that I'll be at work in about 30. No this bus terminates at the next stop, no strikes, no being squashed against the train doors...

    For me, mudguards are a must. They're great - they (obviously!) keep you much drier, they stop you (and cyclists behind) getting covered in road filth and help protect your bike from grit and crap too. On the topic of the weather, it's doesn't actual rain as much as people think.
    Last edited: 2 Nov 2018
    Marmo720 likes this.
  15. vickster

    vickster Legendary Member

    No but roads and paths can be mucky and puddles can hang around. It’s not rained here for a few days but the park I ride through was full of wet leaf mulch and puddles and my legs still got speckled even with full mudguards

    I’d have taken the full £1k to be able to buy guards, rack, panniers, gloves, buff, reflective clothing etc
    And also the security. Top locks are £60+
    Marmo720 likes this.
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