I have written several posts about some absolutely fantastic urban bikes. See
For more generic issues see my older post 42: What makes the best urban Bike
Now time to address a "value" option, a bike for everyday use that is affordable for more people.
For me the Halfords | Carrera Subway 8 Hybrid Bike 18" looks like excellent value at £350.
- You get 8 gears (Shimano Nexus which should be fine for daily use if you are not attempting to break any speed records). The gears will require no maintenance (although be warned there are scare stories on the internet about people whose nexus gears have failed after a few 1,000 miles – but it looks like they were enthusiastic hard riders which the nexus is not designed for).
- You get roller brakes. Zero maintenance. Perfectly adequate if you are not expecting race bike responses.
- You get mudguards/fenders. Essential for everyday use. You stay much drier when there are puddles and the whole bike stays cleaner which means you do as well.
- You can fit rear and front racks which makes it easy to carry plenty of stuff without having to put it on your back (you stay drier and cooler and get less tired).
- Should be easy to get a basic chainguard fitted eg a SKS ChainBoard.
Available from many UK bike shops from around £15. Many shops will have other brands just as good.
I have seen so many people struggling with cheap, heavy mountain bikes. They end up walking up hills because the gears don't change properly (so many just can't get the front gear change to work at all). They can't fit racks so can't carry much. They have knobbly tyres that are slow and heavy. They have no mudguards so think you can't ride a bike if the ground is damp without getting dirty. They need bikes like the Subway 8 that are fine with all the off roading they ever do and work so much better around town.
If shops sold bikes like this people would ride them so much more than the cheap mountain bikes rusting away in sheds.
And the stupid thing is that I have visited the 4 nearest Halfords shops and not one has a Subway 8 for sale, some even tried to deny that Halfords sold them at all.
If you want a bike to ride around town and on bridleways and the National Cycle Network then do not let shops sell you a rubbish mountain bike. Demand a bike with:
- Hub gears (they will all work, they will work for years, you will not need to do any maintenance). If you are in anywhere that is not flat then look at more than 3 gears.
- Roller Brakes (no maintenance)
- Mudguards/Fenders (no bike cleaning, no special clothes needed)
- Rear Rack (carry shopping etc)
- Front Basket (makes like so much more convenient around town)
- Chainguard (one to properly keep the chain away from your clothes and water/dirt off the chain).
Happy to collect suggestions for alternatives.