Away from the dystopia of COVID-19, one of the more promising aspects of the new world we’re now facing is an upturn in cycling. In May, Brompton, the UK’s largest bike manufacturer saw a fivefold increase in orders since April and Halfords has also reported improved bike sales. Scotland has seen cycling increases, and English cities including Manchester and London have also seen notable jumps in people taking to two wheels.
So where do you start when it comes to bikes? Here’s our round-up of the best brands for new cyclists and those looking to upgrade.
If you’re looking for your first road bike you can do a lot worse than Decathlon road bike brand Triban. For years the outdoor retailer has been producing excellent quality, entry-level road bikes for less than £500 and as the overall quality of group sets and frames has increased, the brand have managed to fit even better quality into a value package.
Their RC120 model is a particular standout: fantastic kit, comfortable frame and a great gear range make for a bike that’s ideal for both punishing weekend rides and speedy weekday commutes.
For classic British style sensibility, think Pashley. The company has been hand-building bikes in the UK since 1926 and they make the sort of statement cycles to be seen on.
From large upright frames like the Countryman or Roadster to mean-looking low handlebar bikes like their iconic Guv’nor or Speed 5, the level of detail and craftsmanship going into a Pashley cycle is unrivalled, thus making for a lifetime investment piece.
If you’re after something well-made, speedy and easy to stowaway in-between commuting, consider a Brompton. The little London-made bikes are perfect for city commutes or day-to-day cycling thanks to their foldability, which makes them ideal for stowing away at work or breaking up commutes on public transport.
Key to the Brompton brand is quality and accessories. Interchangeable features including saddles, mud guards, frames, tyres, lights and baggage systems make their bikes customisable for every need.
The American bike brand has come a long way from the early 1970s when founder Mike Sinyard sold his Volkswagen Bus to fund a cycle trip across Europe. Since then the company have been instrumental in the cycling revolution and were responsible for the first ever mass-produced mountain bike.
For seasoned cyclists Specialized offers a wealth of optimum performance toys for trail and road cycling alike, but for those just looking for a solid all-rounder, the brand’s Sirrus model offers comfort, speed and good looks.
Designed and engineered in Germany, Canyon are another world-class bike maker who have a firm eye on performance and aesthetics. With a range that covers mountain, road and hybrid bikes, there’s something for everyone in the Canyon range.
It’s worth noting that Canyon were chosen for luxury cycling brand Rapha’s recent club bike, the Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 Aero. As Canyon puts it, it’s “the cycling equivalent of a supercar”.
Another British bike company that comes decorated with awards galore, built on founder Chris Boardman’s record-breaking success. It’s no secret that people tend to win things when they’re riding a Boardman bike but that doesn’t mean that they’re not accessible for everyone.
Away from frankly remarkable performance road bikes, Boardman also produce off-road, hybrid, recreational and e-bikes as part of their offering. Their SLR offers a lot of tech for the price, notably a full Shimano hydraulic groupset usually seen on more expensive bikes, making for a serious road bike upgrade.
They do road bikes but it’s the mountain bike technology that catches our eye with Cannondale. Modern tail geometry, proper tail spec and groundbreaking suspension technology – they’re mountain bikes for people who love mountain biking.
The brand’s standout mountain bike, the Habit, is a thing of beauty. Proportional Response means that no matter what your build is, every rider experiences optimum suspension and performance.
Lancashire’s finest, Ribble are a sure bet for high-performance bikes and have been a favourite among British cyclists for decades. The brand caters to all cycling needs – road, off-road, gravel, hybrid and e-bike included – and are renowned for providing high-performance in an all-encompassing value package.
Ribble boast the world’s lightest E-road bike range and their Endurance SL e model is a futuristic beast that in one press of a button harnesses hidden electric power assistance – perfect for tough climbs or pack-leading boosts.