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Why cheap bikes are a bad idea


The article proposes to show that cheap new bikes are poor value, a false economy, not fit for use & damaging to the environment. After reading through it hopefully you will understand and agree with this proposal and can then make a more informed purchase. Throughout this article this type of bike will be referred to as BSOs - Bicycle Shaped Objects.


I am a bicycle mechanic of 20 years experience. I run a local business that services and repairs all types of bikes (including BSOs). There is no hidden agenda behind writing this. I'm not trying to persuade you to buy a bike from me, as we don't sell bikes. I want to try and make a contribution as I'm seeing more and more people buying these bikes and then discovering that they are useless for any purpose except landfill.

Anecdote/Internet Purchasing

Before we get into bikes themselves, some thoughts and an anecdote:

A truly global economy; the Internet, supermarkets - great aren't they? Delivering better value, lower cost products through increased competition, innovation and efficiency. Enabling the savings to be passed directly on to us, the consumer.

I bought a brand new cordless kettle a few months ago for less than a tenner. Bargain. It's here in the corner of the workshop being used every day. No complaints, it's working perfectly. But then, it's a kettle. It boils water. It has one moving part (the switch), casing and a filament. I don't take it out in all weathers, bounce it around, use it to transport me and other goods, leave it locked up in various locations and expect it to stop in a hurry if a washing machine suddenly pulls out in front of me. A little flippant maybe, but there is a serious point.

Last summer we had a booking from a guy who'd bought a bike on the internet that had come in a box and that he was having some trouble with. I went round to pick it up and knocked on the door. He answered and wheeled out this 'bike' - it was stunningly bad, a brand new cheap suspension bike. It was possibly the heaviest clunkiest, badly built bike I'd ever seen. The components were cheap and nasty, the frame made from huge heavy lumps of metal poorly welded together. It was a tank. Yet he looked at me and said "yeah got it off the internet, only a hundred and twenty quid. Went to a few bike shops but you wouldn't get anything like this for that cost". I was dumbfounded. To this guy, the bike shops were making loads of profit by ripping people off, whereas he'd got a great deal online. The opposite could not have been truer. Ask yourself which is more likely to sell a quality, reliable, well set-up bike: A local bike shop that you could take it straight back to if you were dissatisfied in any way or a business with a web site as the middle man and hundreds of miles between you and them? Don't get me wrong, you can buy excellent value quality bikes online and some bike shops can rip you off. But you cannot buy a new bike of any quality for silly money. You get what you pay for.

What makes a bike

A bike is not a simple toy. It is a means of transportation, a complex piece of machinery that has evolved over a hundred years. Today there are many types of bikes to suit all users and all purposes. A basic geared bike with no accessories consists of over a thousand pieces. As well as the frame and forks amongst the parts going into our bike are the stem, handlebars, wheels, tyres, inner tubes, rim tapes, brake levers, shifters, grips, cables, headset, bottom bracket, chainset, cranks, pedals, sprockets, derailleurs (front and rear), chain, brake arms and springs, brake pads, saddle, seat post (and clamp) and more. Some of these parts are in turn made from many other smaller parts, and this is just for a basic bike.

Let's consider just one of these for a moment: the bicycle wheel. What an incredible invention. Light, strong and versatile. A wheel consists of a hub (made from many smaller parts, see the image), a number of spokes, nipples (these screw onto the ends of the spokes) and a rim. The hub needs to be correctly set up so that the axle rotates smoothly within the hub shell with no play and minimum resistance. Spokes need to be correctly tensioned so that the rim spins round in a straight line with no 'bumps' or 'hops'. Additionally a rear wheel needs to be 'dished' to compensate for the sprockets on the right hand side of the hub. If the wheel doesn't run true the brakes can't work effectively and the bike won't ride well. And this is just one wheel, one piece of the final jigsaw. A bike is a complicated piece of equipment. So for those of you that might need the point clarified; a bike must to be built well in order to run well. The parts need to be correctly assembled, bearings greased, components aligned, bolts correctly tightened, cables tensioned, braking and gearing systems correctly set up, etc. This is a skilled process.

Add shipping, advertising, profit(!) and all the other activities involved in running a business and you finally get to the cost of the end product.

So can this be done for £LOW

Considering the description of what goes into a bike, how is it possible for them to be retailed for £69, £99 etc by supermarkets, catalogue stores and on the internet? Through savings achieved from modern manufacturing methods? Computerized stock control? Reduction of costs through retailing online? No. All these are already factored into the very competitive costs of decent quality bikes. Those prices are achieved through cuts in quality at every stage of component manufacture and subsequent bike build. The resulting bike is good for nothing and can be a dangerous death trap.

Another anecdote

18 months ago I went round to pick up a young guy's bike. He'd bought it from a well known high street catalogue store for a hundred pounds or so. It had been marketed as having been reduced from £150, or maybe even as half price (another common trick). Just a few months old, it was already coming apart. He'd contacted the warranty department of this store and had been told to get it repaired and send them the bill. We repaired it (it needed a new wheel amongst other things) and returned it to him, pointing out the poor quality components throughout. Six months later he called again. It turned out the store had refused to refund him the repair bill (citing wear and tear or normal servicing needs if I remember correctly) and now he had further problems. Having already spent money on the bike he was reluctant to write it off. It was hard to believe it was only a year old; rust spots were plentiful and spreading, cheap chrome plating was peeling away in places, the poor quality suspension forks dead - it was a sorry state. But we fixed it up and took it back. After taking it back he said with a rueful expression - "I thought I was getting a bargain originally, but for what I've now spent I could have got a decent bike to start with". A harsh lesson, but further proof that you really do get what you pay for.

What makes a BSO?

Now I can just hear the cynics out there thinking that I'm some sort of bike part purist. If it's not the latest top of the range, titanium coated, computer engineered, space tested, turboflipZX derailleur, then it's rubbish. Not so, though some of my customers are like that. You can get good quality bike parts for very reasonable prices, but when you scrape the bottom of the barrel you will get rubbish. Here are examples of some of the faults I have witnessed with BSOs:

  • Plastic brake levers and arms (these flex, warp and go out of shape) resulting in brakes that, er, don't brake.
  • Grip shifters (The gear changers you twist, similar to a motor bike throttle) are the shifter of choice on BSOs, a great invention but a lot more complicated than a standard lever. A gear shifter needs to make thousands of reliable changes and must hold a consistent position if the gear shifting is to work. BSOs use cheap, poorly made versions; they seize or snap at the first sign of trouble.
  • Badly routed cables, wrong lengths - won't work.
  • Headsets, bottom brackets, hubs poorly installed, not greased, cross threaded, loose.
  • Thin, pressed steel derailleurs, warped and bent, unresponsive; won't hold position, let alone shift a chain.
  • Forks installed back to front.
  • Handlebars on back to front or upside down.
  • Loose, loose - saddles, stems, seat posts, handlebars, grips, shifters, everything.
  • Warped, untrued wheels.
  • Cheap steel hubs where the axles have collapsed in.
  • Rust and peeling paint spreading everywhere after just a short time exposed to the elements.

Bike in a box

Often when you buy a BSO you get it in a box. Apparently all that's needed is to unpack it, pump up the tyres, fit the pedals, make a few adjustments and you're away… hilarious. And what do they give you to do this? Da da! Yes, a strange shaped soft piece of metal with a lot of irregular shaped holes in it. Finally you get this heap of junk into a semi rideable state and what does it feel like? Terrible. You ride it down the road and it's heavy, clunky and unresponsive. The braking is poor and uneven. The gear shifting is a joke. Where is the pleasure in riding a bike like this?


Suspension deserves a section of its own. Suspension in bikes - what a fabulous invention. You can get fixed frame bikes with a suspension fork known as 'hardtails' or bikes with both suspension forks and a variety of methods of having suspension in the frame known as 'full suspension' bikes or 'full-sussers'. The Mountain Bike came along in the 1980s and in many ways revolutionised cycling. A suspension bike is more complicated than its non-suspension sibling. A standard bike is designed to run along a continuous rolling surface, a road or track. A suspension bike is designed for throwing around, riding down the side of a mountain, off ledges, down jumps, across rocks, rough ground and many other surfaces. So guess what? If it's going to be able to take this sort of abuse and still work then it needs to have well made, good quality components or it will just fall apart. Cheap bikes are bad enough but cheap suspension bikes - please! Consider this: cheap bikes have poor quality wheels. For suspension to absorb the shock of riding a bike on an uneven surface these bumps must be transferred through the wheels into the shocks - but cheap wheels are not up to this, they just buckle and go out of shape. A susser frame has moving parts, a standard bike frame does not. Moving parts require maintenance and can go wrong, seize, break. Cheap moving parts don't last. I see suspension BSOs all the time, they don't last 5 minutes. If you want to get into mountain biking (and what a great thing to get into) you need to be prepared to spend a decent amount of money to buy a bike that is up to the task. If you want suspension for riding on the road think about a suspension seat post, a simple invention that can be a real bonus.

All is not lost!

Modern manufacturing methods have enabled a relative reduction of the price of many consumer goods. The bicycle is not exempt from this. For £300+ you can choose from a range of well-built bikes utilising quality components for almost any purpose. £300 is not expensive. Look at the following table. For further information and sources see end of article.

Average Weekly Wage Cost of reasonable bicycle No of Days to buy
1955 £8.25 £33 28
1980 £110.20 £200 12.7
2005 £518.70 £400 5.4

Today it takes less than an average week's wage to buy a good quality bicycle. Fifty years ago it took nearly a month. And the bike you'd buy today would be a far superior, more comfortable and responsive ride than its counterpart of yesteryear. You can sometimes get reasonable bikes for even less.

Still not convinced? You still want to buy a BSO for £99? Believe me, it will not last. If you get two years out of it (no chance) that works out at £50 a year for a heavy, clunky, unresponsive ride. The £400 bike will last at least ten years. That's £40 a year for something that's a real pleasure to ride. See where I'm coming from?

Environmental Impact

By riding a bike you can pat yourself on the back for a number of reasons. Every journey you make is having a direct beneficial impact on the environment. A human on a bicycle is the most fuel-efficient system on the planet. By keeping yourself fit, you're reducing your demands on society as a whole and the health service in particular. People who cycle live longer, happier, more satisfied and better fulfilled lives. Well done. Just one thing though. It takes environmental resources to create the metal and parts for a bike, build that bike and then ship it round the world (nearly all new bikes are built in Asia). BSOs are just landfill waiting to happen. Are you willing to buy a new BSO each time the last BSO gives out on you and isn't worth repairing? Nice one. Some environmentalist. A good bike will pretty much last forever with regular maintenance.

Someone once said to me "why should I get my bike repaired when I can buy a new one for £xx. At that price I can buy a new one each year". So we've reached the era of the disposable bike. One of the most environmentally beneficial inventions of all time has become a source of waste and pollution, part of the throw away disposable culture. Incredible.


Well we've got to the end. Congratulations on getting here. Don't buy a cheap and nasty new bike, it's not good for you or the environment. The only beneficiary is the profits of the short sighted business selling it. If you want to buy a new bike don't short change yourself. Buy a decent bike for a few hundred pounds, A good bike could give you ten years of pleasure with maintenance. £30-50 a year doesn't seem excessive to me. So when you're sailing along one day making silky smooth gear changes, with the wind rushing through your hair and a responsive steed between you and the ground, remember this article and think. 'You know, that guy was right'.


Average wage figures - thanks to Richard Hughes at the Office for National Statistics.

Price of a reasonable bike - Figures deduced from a variety of sources. Including Vintage Catalogues at Sheldon Brown and a 1981 Report by the Competition Commission

Also thanks to contributors to the BikeBiz industry bulletin board for invaluable assistance.


This article represents the authors opinions only.

Feedback on this article.

Alex Gordon - October 25, 2021

Excellent article - anyone thinking of buying a bike should read it. They won't, of course. The internet makes us think we know everything about anything and can find the rest out easily enough. We don't - and it's rarely about pointing to a few headline specs. Recently, we've seen waiting times of two or three months for repairs at some good bike shops - which to some I'm sure sounds strange when you can get a cheap replacement online, delivered next day.

Marcus wright - October 5, 2021

Well after resding the article it boils down to very simple logic. You get what you pay for. If you pay peaniuts you get poor wuality. Now somethings are cheap and last but most th8ngs these days nreak easy. Investment in a good bike depends on your budget so thats why people go to Asda or Tesco if you have mkney invest if you dont you could save or just have cheap bike. Its a no brainer.

Graham Macdonald - August 11, 2021

An interesting article but then I have been an adult cyclist for 45 years and know many of the pitfalls. I have two bikes (both Dawes, so a well-known make in the UK): one that cost £250 new in 1979 and used mainly for weekend jaunts in the country these days and one made in about 1989 I bought via Ebay for £70 last week I am using around the city, so not too disastrous if it is stolen. I can understand why some with less cycling experience might consider buying second-hand bikes from a stranger a bit risky though. You also have to realise that components do wear out, even on dearer bikes. A second-hand bike may need a new chain early in your ownership but a new, dearer bike will also need a new chain at some stage.

Christian Evans - August 6, 2021

My first bike had a buckled rear wheel, three speeds only two of which would work andf weighed a tonne. I loved it. Years later i got my first new bike, very smooth and nice. Now as a middle aged type I have bought a Ridgeback Comet and expect it to be great especially after a careful setup. Sop the article writer has a point but lets not forget the sheer snobbery exhibited by many bike shop mechanics. Lets face it, they are hardly the most experienced of auto engineers, hardly any are qualified and most learnt on the job, often learning poor practice as they go along.

DOUG GILBERT - July 20, 2021

I'm very sorry to have to disagree with you. About 8 years ago i bought my son a GT Aggressor XC2 from Halfords costing £500. What a complete waste of money. We had continuous trouble with the gears. In the end i went out and bought him a cheaper bike because Halfords were unable to fix the problem. The GT Aggressor just sits in the garage and can't be ridden. That is the reason that i have to disagree with you. Very sorry.

Billy Beehan - July 9, 2021

I work as a Cicle Tech at a big well known Store that sells Carrera and its own brand Apollo bikes. The Apollo bikes are the worst offenders when it comes to BSOs so many customers return to the shop within days of purchasing an Apollo and always with the same problems rear mech has gone out of index, gears are not responsive and wheels developed little buckles and hops. It is difficult to explain to customers that the quality of the bikes and components is poor and that is why they are so cheap. The marketing of these BSOs is all in the shiny bright paint finishes which really doesn't last long when out of the box and into the rain. I couldnt agree more with the above article spend £300 to 400 on a decent quality bike because when you buy cheap you inevitablly end up spending twice or three times.

David Beshoff - February 24, 2021

Indeed a very nice article and so true. This philosophy applies to most things in life. For me I cannot afford to buy cheap because in the long run it never is. I am now stuck in Germany due to this pandemic and needed two wheels to get me around. The last time I had a bicycles was over 50 years ago (Dawes red feather) and since then numerous motorcycles. Knowing nothing about bicycles I try to educate myself on the internet, I decided I wanted something with a steel frame. I narrowed my wishlist down to a couple of models which included the Trek 520, Diamant 135 and a couple of others. It seems that everybody wants to buy a bicycle during this pandemic and stocks are very low in dealers almost non-existent. So I began looking at what was on offer second-hand. Luckily the internet is full of them as there are many more cyclists here in Germany than in the UK. A few days ago I saw a Giant AT 730 for sale locally. The frame made of Chrome moly Steel 18 gears and it looked as if it was only a couple of years old yet this bike is from the 90s. Initially l did not buy it as the chainring seem to be out of shape, they look more like a rotating egg yet everything else on the chainset seemed fine, I spent 2-days scratching my head wondering what could be the problem. Eventually l discovered they are actually made like this to ease pedalling. So I returned and purchase the bike. It has been very well maintained by the previous owner. All for the cost of 70 euros. And I have no doubt it will still be rolling long after I have been planted. The only problem is that being a mountain bike with gearing is a little low but I am sure I will be able to sort that out eventually. I am glad I did not follow my partner's advice when she's told me, "look at that its cheap and looks nice". Thanks again for the nice article.

Karl T - June 22, 2020

Great article, completely agree. I've been lucky enough to have grown up with bike racing so never had any BSO. I never had an expensive bike until recently but always good solid steel bikes. I see beautiful vintage bikes for sale now and find it hard to believe they go for less than a €100 at times. If I had a low budget I'd go for a vintage steel over a new bike every time.

warren adams - June 8, 2020

I couldn't agree more. I'm a mobile bicycle mechanic in Poole (Dorset) and I see some horrific bikes that I have to "wave my magic wand" at to revive them. I like your Website too and your ethos. All the best ! Warren

Nelly - January 4, 2020

I could not agree more with this article. I am in the painful process of accepting that my 11 year old son cannot appreciate the quality of the 1995 Marin Pine Mountain I built up for him, and desperately desires a Halfords Carrera sh@tebox like his schoolmates have. One of his friends brought his above mentioned bike with him to our house recently, as they came into the house my son asked ‘Dad could you have a quick look at Nick’s bike, the wheel fell off when he went down the kerb and now it’s making a noise’ They had replaced the wheel back to front (cable disc brake, mind..) and now the disc was bent over against the inside of the fork stanchion, and merrily chewing a groove in same. I straightened the disc and replaced the wheel, and thought I’d give the bike a check over... Almost every fastener I tried was barely more than hand-tight.... The thing weighed a ton, the suspension was awful and weeping, and both wheels were out of true. It was very clean tho, bar a lot of peeling stickers and rusting components, so I assumed they at least washed it.. I asked how long he’d had the bike. He’d got it new for his birthday.... the week before.. Besides the quality and weight, it was a truly ugly machine, but then I am out of fashion; I have only bought one brand new bike in my life, a new Raleigh Heritage Super-Tuff Burner, which is better built than the original I had as a tween in the mid eighties, but not quite as nicely spec’d. Still love it tho.. I own, ride and maintain many nineties Marin bikes, I am lucky in that I have enough garage space to keep them. There really is nothing like a reasonably high-spec mid-nineties mountain bike for looks, rideability, frame and component quality and longevity. I have covered many thousands of miles on Claud Butler, Marin and Raleigh bikes and loved every minute. Such a tactile and satisfying experience, and all for between £25 and £100 a time. This enables me to have examples of road, BMX, rigid, Hardtail and full suss available, and the decent quality (mainly Shimano STX/LX/XT etc) parts are readily available on eBay for peanuts. I have rescued, gently refurbed and given away to family/friends several of these bikes, and in every case the feedback has been ‘what a wonderful machine, can’t believe it’s so old and rides so nicely’ eBay, gumtree, boot/yard/garage sale, even the local tip sometimes. These bikes and their ilk are easy enough to find, and have been the best money I ever spent. BSO’s be damned!

James Robertson - November 24, 2019

Great article and I wish the writer had a repair shop in Hackney. I love his honesty and rationality. 10-15 years ago I bought a Ridgeback hybrid from a small shop. It was the "spend £50 more than the cheapest Ridgeback in the shop because the components are better" option. I am happy to spend around £75 today replacing the lost or stolen back wheel because the waste of chucking a working bike for the sake of a wheel is wrong.

Stephan - November 12, 2019

Great article. Fully truth. I removed fancy kids bike because the brakes did not work and possibly never worked used by kids. I do not want to count the time I spent repairing BSOs and fixing leaked tyres. A waste of time.

Trevor Arnold - October 13, 2019

Interesting article and thanks for posting. It costs £100 per month to park a car at my local railway station for a 45 minute journey into London. Bikes get stolen or damaged at the station from time to time so from that perspective having a nail to leave at the station isn’t a bad option.

Simon - September 15, 2019

Great article. I bought a used Marin Kentfield hybrid for 120 quid. Bike was in great condition been well looked after and maintained. 2 years on I'm using it for a 16 mile round trip to work and back and the ride is like a new bike still. Goes to prove that a quality bike will last. Wife bought a cheap hybrid from a chain retailer and it's rubbish. Gears are useless on it. Also with a bike like a Marin i doubt i would get rid but would probably upgrade as components wear out. You get what you pay for!

Nat - July 26, 2019

While I agree with the article that BSO's are generally bad, particularly for children as they often weigh too much, I do think the general public's acceptance of the BSO market is inevitable when independent bike shops are often so elitist. The secondhand market is great if you can afford the cost of bike tools, replacement parts and spray paint (because we all like a new looking bike) and you have the knowhow (although youtube helps). With one or two exceptions, I've taken secondhand or older bikes into independent shops many times only to be told they aren't worth fixing. I once took my very reliable 10yr old Giant XTC into a local specialist mtb shop for a disc brake repair, they kept it 3 days and then rang me to say it wasnt worth fixing unless I could afford £500 or I could trade it in for a new bike. I went to pick it up and they tried charging me £100 for their time even though they'd done nothing. I refused, walked out with my bike and took it to another independent, but low end bikeshop at the other end of the street that mainly sell BSOs but are very good with repairs. They fixed the problem for £12. I've also upgraded a few low end BSO-ish bikes with the help of this shop.

Kirstine Mcgugan - July 7, 2019

Yes totally agree bought my daughter a cheap bike from high st Sports shop several years ago and is a heap of junk .Not only are the parts rubbish but also the sizing .When sat on the bike for some reason the whole feel of the bike felt wrong. We used to go bike runs and she couldn't keep up on it and problems with the chain from day one..It was bought to replace a smaller kiddies bike and she had no problems keeping up behind me. On another note this may be a contradiction. My old faithful bike is now into its 25th year.. Bought it from my catalogue in 1993-94 costing £270..ok catalogues always add a bit on. But have read that Lew-ways were cheaper end of the bike market. This old relic of mine has been well used and I feel far better quality of bike than any I've bought since for my son and daughter over the years..Actually bought it when my son was coming 2..hes turning 28...only ever had a new wheel. Currently just giving the front forks a sand down and spray paint as a couple of winters ago they were kept outside covered but rain caused a bit of rust...but other than that this bike has been brilliant.. Maybe one day I'll invest in a new one..but dont feel the need.

Alan from Ratso Restorations - July 4, 2019

As someone who restores classic cycle parts I couldn`t agree more with your comments about BSO`s. The number of times someone will say to me how come you charge as much as £100 for a pair of rebuilt wheels when I can by a bike for that? The answer is fairly simple-those carefully rebuilt classic wheels will still be rolling in 20 years time whereas your £100 bike will either fall apart after a few miles or is so heavy that you will get fed up of riding it and it will end up in the shed never to be seen again! (My next door neighbours did exactly this - they bought 3x cheap new bikes knowing I could sell them rebuilt classic bikes and I have seen those bikes out once in 5 years (too heavy to ride they said-sigh). Anyhow nice article folks - keep up the good work!

Jason - July 3, 2019

I bought a "chicken chaser" second hand from a lady up the road for £30. It's a Raleigh Collette with 3-speed hub gears. It was enough to get me riding again after 25+ years out of the saddle. I think that even such a bike is a better bet than a BSO for that purpose. Now I am saving for something decent.

Ben - June 26, 2019

This article is true - cheap, new bikes are not really worth buying. However, you haven't mentioned the best option for cyclists on a budget - second-hand bikes. I have a 1982 Raleigh Clubman (road bike) which I got in 2010 for £100. I still use it today for getting around. Yes I've had to replace a couple of things. Both tyres were poor quality and burst at the sidewall after only a few months of use - I replaced the rear in an emergency for £30 (it's a good Conti tyre though) and the front with a £10 Schwalbe from Chain Reaction Cycles. Both have lasted for 8/9 years at this point so you could easily go with two £10 tyres. Also the rear derailleur smashed itself to bits, I think maybe from going too far into the spokes (you would have thought the bike shop that built this bike up would have adjusted the high/low crews properly, but hey ho) so I got a brand new Sora rear mech for £20 (you could easily get a second hand one for less on eBay though). Also I replaced the seat post for a higher saddle height with a £20 from a bike shop (but again these are cheaper online - there's a Ritchey one on Wiggle for just £10, and again, second hand ones would likely be cheaper). Also I recently replaced all four brake blocks for just £4 - and this is after 9 years of use. Also I replaced the left pedal recently because the old one sheared off (again after nearly 9 years of use - and it was clearly an old pedal) with one from a pair that was just £5 (might not last long but it looks relatively solid and it works for the moment). Also had to buy a new chain recently for £10 but that was my own fault - there was nothing wrong with the old chain until I managed to destroy it by using a chain tool incorrectly on it. So I've spent around £200 total on this bike over nearly 10 years of using it, and I could have got a couple things cheaper if I had got them from the internet, particularly second hand. So I would definitely recommend a second hand decent quality bike if you just want something for getting around town / around a city / to the pub. Especially if you're in a city, you don't want an expensive bike or it'll just get nicked - even the toughest locks can be defeated with a portable angle grinder, which some thieves do use. Old '80s road bikes from Raleigh, Peugeot, Dawes, brands like that, can usually be had for £100 (sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more) on eBay or Gumtree. Make sure everything works obviously - make sure there's no cracks in the frame, make sure the wheels are pretty true (not bent), make sure the gears work, make sure the brakes work. Yeah, there's the chance you could come across a real lemon, but a lot of these bikes will still be in good nick. Get a friend who knows a bit about bikes to come along and check out the bike with you if you're unsure. And hell, you can get even cheaper second hand bikes if you want - chicken chasers with just a couple of gears. They won't be suitable for big hills but they'll get you to the pub in a town or city.

Nev - June 25, 2019

Great article. Cheap bikes. Low cost production. High profit for online merchant. Landfill or dumped on the roadside. Transported right around the world adding to global emissions. Quality is worth the expense. Local bike shop gives good advice, allows you to familiarise with the bike. Had a bike ordered through a local bike shop from the manufacturer. Boxed and delivered from Germany. Ran superbly for 6 years with no adjustment. Quality!

Peter - June 22, 2019

This article is spot on, you’ll always get people who just want a cheap bike as a means of transport, to get to work and back, fair enough get a cheap bike, but if you actually want to go out and enjoy cycling as a hobby get a good bike. A cheap BSO is only really any good when your starting out, to dip your toe in the water of cycling, if you like it you can always upgrade at a later stage, everyone who is happy with their cheap BSO should ride on a good brand well set up bike, it will be like night and day. If your thinking of buying a BSO then stop, go on eBay or gumtree and look at what you can get secondhand for the same or a little more money, you’ll be surprised, I purchased a Kona Blast Deluxe, has Rock Shox front suspension, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, great condition for £50, all that was wrong was the pedal thread had stripped in one of the crank arms, I found a secondhand pair on eBay for £17, I’ve serviced it, new chain, new stainless gear cables, probably holds me £100 all in, it is a hoot to cycle. My first ever mountain bike when I was 16 was an Apollo, it did the job, wasn’t exciting to ride, deserved better so I upgraded to a Cannondale, I still have it more then 20 odd years on and it still looks and rides as sweet as the first day I got it.

Andrew Mitchell - June 10, 2019

Very good article. My daily ride is a Claud Butler Legend I've had since new in about 1992. As with another comment, the only original parts left are the frame and forks. I've also had a series of secondhand BSO mountain bikes as backups in the meantime, in contrast to the Claud Butler they're a nightmare to maintain, especially the "indexed" gears, and really heavy. The most worrying bike I've come across was a BMX that was a donor for a reverse-steering bike I was building, when I sawed through the frame, the metal was wafer thin. When considering what abuse these bikes get, that was worrying! In contrast at least the low end but not ridiculously cheap BMX bikes are often very heavily built to provide some strength!

Harry Wood - May 30, 2019

So true. The bicycle I ride today is the first and only one I have ever bought: a Ridgeback 602SIS LX, for £420 in 1989. Yes, THIRTY years ago! With its chromo frame, it is as light as my friend's new aluminium bike. It still looks good and handles very well. With proper maintenance, it will just keep going. Last year I performed its first major service: a new cassette and headset, its third ever chain, along with new ball bearings throughout and new pads. It rides like new, and almost looks new. The parts are mostly alloy so haven't rusted. Took it round the Lake District last year on a camping trip, retracing the route I took in 1995 on graduating. What a joy.

DangerousBob - May 29, 2019

Nice article! And wow, so many comments! I think many people don't quite get what the author meant by BSO. Either that or I've got it wrong too. It's not _necessarily_ the £120 bikes from Halfords/Decathlon, but rather the £80 no-name crap from Tesco or a high street discount store. For example, Halfords have an Apollo Slant for £117 that looks as though it wouldn't be a disaster -- steel frame, admittedly with cheap suspension forks, grip shifters, and plastic gear levers, but at least the drivetrain (and shifters) are Shimano. While I'd never recommend one to a friend, at least I'd be confident of setting it up to work reasonably well for short weekend rides. On the other hand, Halfords also have an Indi FS1 for £108. Full suspension and complete no-name drivetrain scream BSO. AVOID. Of course, that's assuming both are set up correctly and free of manufacturing defects. Which isn't a given. I think what's happened is that the bottom of the bike market is a lot lower that it was back in the late '80s, when I was growing up. Then, you'd get a "cheap" Raleigh or similar that generally had reliable components. And definitely no suspension! Probably costing around £100. Nowadays, you get all sort of cheap no-name components manufactured for pennies in China. Including bouncy front and rear suspension, of course. There's a whole new niche of BSOs out there that just didn't exist 20 or 30 years ago. Anyway, taking inflation into account, the equivalent of that £100 1988 Raleigh is probably something around £200 from the likes of Halfords...which'd get you a reasonable bike if you choose wisely, e.g. avoid the full-sussers! That said, in the UK at least, if you're spending £200 or less, secondhand is absolutely the way to go. I've just serviced a barely-used Claud Butler Urban 100 for a friend (who wants to start cycling after many years) that cost me £32 on eBay. It needs new tyres but everything else is fine -- it even had the calibration sticker still flapping around on its front derailleur! Thanks to the cycle to work scheme, eBay is full of £500+ bikes going for £150. If you can't service it yourself, pay a LBS to do it and you'll still have saved a packet.

Karlene Heath - May 5, 2019

My son bought a Claude Butler bike second hand for 50 quid. He had outgrown it. My son bought it with birthday money. Been perfect for years. Apparently British Eagles are made by the same company as Claude Butler and Dawes so does this mean the quality is equal? I bought one for my daughter's 7th birthday tomorrow.

Heather Jenkins - May 1, 2019

Well written article. I purchased a Python hybrid for myself a year ago; at nearly £300, I'm aware this puts me in the low end of high quality ranks. I'm happy with the bike, no issues yet, a smooth ride and a seemingly strong yet light aluminium frame. The last few weeks, I've been looking among 'quality' used bikes for my 12 year old son who I'm struggling to get out to do anything these days. So, yesterday I did the unforgivable and ordered the Apollo, Phaze from Halfords thinking that a shiny new bike might be an incentive over some slightly rusted better quality ones selling for £200 in my trusted local bike shop. It is £160 and most certainly is a BSO, but...I can afford it and it won't be used for proper mountain biking, I'm sure. Reading about bikes, you quickly become aware of the hierarchy and also the importance of better made components and suspension etc and it can scare some people off simply getting out and enjoying the wind in their hair and the many benefits of cycling. Yes, a bicycle is a complex piece of machinery and transport but there are different budgets out there and we shouldn't shame each other into spending £1000 for a midway quality bike. I'm seeing 13 year old boys leaving their £500 Cubes outside shops, unchained all the time...not necessarily in the best hands but they've no doubt pressured their parents into buying them decent bikes for all the wrong reasons? When my bright red, BSO arrives tomorrow (I might even tie a ribbon on it), I'll be perfectly aware it's not made to last and that I should have bought another Python, at least... but I think my 12 year old son will have fun using it when I coax him outdoors.

Marcus Alexander - April 26, 2019

Good article , I actually get attached to bike , I have a kona paddy wagon fixie paid about £500 for it six years ago , you coul dalos say the opposite , My kona is a racing bike and can fly a bit but also its a little bit tougher so you can ride it around normally and bump it abit , but its a joy to ride . unbelievably listening to Lance Armstrongs podcast, tour de france cyclists are amazed at the prices and bikes at the other end , as a man said hinccappie said "they cost more than the cars in the car park $20K plus" and much more advanced than the tours (which i found astonishing , I can see the buy cheap buy twice argument but do people really get anything better for oooddles and ooodles of money ? At £500 , Ive had great days out cycling 80 miles round trip to beach no cost , meet people , through new forest , I dont buy cheap because i enjoy my bike as it is thanks

Paul - April 26, 2019

Good article. It mirrors many of my own thoughts. The best reason for a new rider not buying a BSO is ride quality. When a new rider decides to get into shape, save gas money etc., the last thing they need is a poorly designed/constructed, uncomfortable, clunker. They will quickly tire of the BSO and assume all bicycles feel and ride the same. Then it will get put in the back of the garage or shed until it is scrapped some time in the future. I repair bicycles in my spare time and are frequently offered bicycles for free that people want to get rid of. More often that not, they are BSOs that are virtually new. Original tires, brakes, cables etc. All parts aged well past their prime and the BSO not worth the expense to replace these parts. I usually just have to disassemble the BSO and take it to recycling. What a waste.

Griff - March 16, 2019

Very interesting article although I would challenge some the figures such as a weekly wage of £518 in 2005. I live in Wales I don't many people earning that much now in 2019. In 2005 I bought a cheap Chinese Mountain bike for £120 online. Much to my surprise 2 arrived it was buy one get one free. I gave one away and kept the other one. It is a heavy old lump but it's still going strong to this day.The only thing apart from an occasional dollop of lubricate its needed was brake blocks. Granted it's not used on a daily basis I'm pushing 70. But it gets plenty of use in the summer. It would be great to have a lightweight expensive bike but that's beyond many peoples budget. So my £60 bike sort of destroys you environmental argument I'd hazard a guess many expensive bike haven't lasted 18 years. Like any aspect of life 'you pays your money and takes your chance'. Maybe I was lucky.I bought a bog standard bike for next to nothing and it has proved to be a gem. I might have spent £500 on a so called quality bike and had expensive problems with it. How often do you see expensive modern cars stopped on the hard shoulder of the motorways. I would suggest a lot more often than old ones. At the end of the day if a cheap bikes gets someone riding again as long as its safe to ride where's the harm.

Keith - February 18, 2019

I'm going to buck the trend here. I have a 1993 £99 Apollo Kalamunda MTB, which has been used most weeks since and is currently being used daily for a 5 mile commute. never cleaned it, the rims are rusty but its still going. All I've ever changed on it (bar the consumables tyres etc) is one back spindle and bearings. the bottom bracket is still on its original bearings and have only replaced one back brake cable. However I have regularly serviced it, stripped and greased the bearings etc. The steel frame although heavy is showing no signs of rust. Maybe the quality of cheap bikes back then was better? Have no desire to replace it and the great thing is no one wants to steal it. (but I would be gutted if it were)

Keith - February 18, 2019

I'm going to buck the trend here. I have a 1993 £99 Apollo Kalamunda MTB, which has been used most weeks since and is currently being used daily for a 5 mile commute. never cleaned it, the rims are rusty but its still going. All I've ever changed on it (bar the consumables tyres etc) is one back spindle and bearings. the bottom bracket is still on its original bearings and have only replaced one back brake cable. However I have regularly serviced it, stripped and greased the bearings etc. The steel frame although heavy is showing no signs of rust. Maybe the quality of cheap bikes back then was better? Have no desire to replace it and the great thing is no one wants to steal it. (but I would be gutted if it were)

john - February 6, 2019

This article is quality, unlike some of the components fitted to my Carrera Crossfire 1. Whilst they could handle a flat commute of 17 miles a day, with only a bottom bracket change, when I changed job to a 10 mile commute with a medium 3 miles of climb then things have gone bang, big style. I have lost numerous spokes from the rear wheel, leading to a wheel change eventually. The bottom bracket failed again, then last night the rear cassette split away from the free-wheel, and fell off when I released the wheel.This means a complete drive train replacement from the chain back, and I suspect that the bottom bracket is on its way again. So now to the point. Can anyone tell me of a manufacturer of bikes, not BSO rubbish, who fit quality parts, and are not too expensive. ( up to £750 ish) and are robust enough to grind up hill?

VialPt - September 24, 2018

I have never had a faulty bike; I have only ever had 2 bikes from new: a 1992 Marin Eldridge Grade (£595) which I ride every day and an orange E4 2008.(£850). My friends advised me on size and spec etc. I saved till I could afford what I wanted. The world economy thrives on people buying crap goods over and over again because they are all bargains. Buy cheap, buy twice.

pete - September 2, 2018

So true.My first ride as a adult was a $450 mtb hardtail,fun as but 2years on i'm $700 poorer,mostly worn or broken bits,like $25 for derailleur tune only to have it bent 3min into a ride.Handed over $3000 on a suspension bike no problems at all,had big sticks caught up in between cassette and hanger,get it out and ride on,never had an issue, bloody amazing really.Also, don't go through any where near the amount of brakes,think that's because they actually work!!.After about 3months of my new ride I thought I might dust of the old ride and see how it rode,got 20 meters out the drive came back and sold it for 20 bucks.Yep,I reckon $3000 to $4000 is about the right amount of coin for decent bike for the average person.I need to find a lazy $4000,my 7 year old 26"rimmed bike is starting to look dated,bit like it's 54 year old rider!Cheers and keep riding.

Ken W - August 19, 2018

Looking to buy myself a new (pedal) bike after many years of playing around on motorbikes. I reckon I can get a decent enough (but basic) road bike for £249 from Decathlon. It won't set the world on fire but seems decent enough for the price. Cheapest decent quality adult bike I've seen on their site is the B'twin Elops 100 'Dutch style' single speed bike. If a huge company like Decathlon can't produce & sell a basic adult bike for less than this then I'd assume that anything below that price-point is not really worth buying.

David Harriman - July 24, 2018

Further to my original comment of June 22, 2012; my Dawes Streetwise is still going strong, and still in regular use. Sometime in the next couple of weeks I plan to strip it down and re-paint it. In 12-years it's had two new tyres and a new chain, that's it. Don't buy a BSO. If you are short of cash and want to own a bike there are some real bargains to be had if you buy a good quality used bicycle instead. ☺

Kev - July 21, 2018

Great article, and very well written. So I'm a carpenter. Take a look in the back of my van, and you'll notice that every piece of equipment is the absolute best available - Hilti, Festool, Mafell, Makita, DeWalt, Mirka - the list is endless. It's that way because after 30 years on the tools, the 'buy cheap - buy twice' rule exists everywhere. I decided that I'd like to get fitter, so I bought a BSO - principally because I wanted to pop a toe in the water, and do a self-test as to whether I'd really commit to it - a story which many people will identify with, I'm sure. I'm now up to 100 miles a week, and the BSO is already starting to show it's true lack of value. I'm now looking around for something better. Will I eventually end up with the Hilti of bikes? Maybe not, but I'm no longer prepared to tolerate the ALDI. Best wishes.

Shannon - June 16, 2018

Though some people have had different experiences with cheap bikes, i have to whole heartedly agree with this article. Having had several expensive bikes over the years and experienced BSO's as well. There is no comparison. After the obligatory BMX as a small child, my parents brought me an Appolo crusader road/touring bike. and though i did love it at the time, it genuinely was a piece of junk. The shifters chewed the cables, brakes where awful, And the handle bar clamp was simply dangerous coming loose leaving me wobbling about and falling off when the bars slipped to one side. Followed by another cheap bike (though miles better than the apollo) a Falcon Cheetah, though not dangerous this also fell apart in a few years. (Bearing in mind i am a trained Mechanic and have a lot of experience maintaining bikes). At 17 i brounght myself a Raliegh M-TRAX 325 for £600 Just before they where discontinued (such a shame). A rigid mountain bike with Deore LX groupset the works. This was an incredible machine, i rode it for 15 years with only the basest of maintenance, Tyres, cables, chain/spockets ETC. And considering i am quite hard on bikes (they take a real beating with me)I was devistated when it was stolen. I have had some bad luck with bike theft, 4 and counting. I then owned a Marin Nail Trail, another fantastic machine, unfortionately stolen. At this point i was having servere financial issues but need somthing just to get to work. So i brough a £100 apollo mountain bike as this was all the cash i could raise, while i saved for something better. This was stolen as well but i got it back (maybe that says something about cheap bikes, i dont know). My ride to work is about 10k so 20k a day riding, This piece of junk was virtually impossible to keep working correctly. Gears would constantly need adjustment, breaks as well. Eventually after around 12 months of riding, one day im going along when clunk i stopped to look and the rear axle had snapped inside the hub. At this point enough was enough. so i purchased a Boardman CX team cyclocross as i was now doing far more road work than off road. i got a deal as it was Halfords summer sale so cost me £550 (Yes i know halfords are about as useful as a chocolate teapot when it comes to building a bike). But this didnt bother me as i could set it up properly myself. In the 18 months i had it (Yes another stolen bike), I clocked up nearly 8000 miles with hardly any issues at all, apart from squeeky disk brakes, and having to adjust the rear wheel spokes twice, (obvious general maintenance aside). I now have a Carrera Crossfire 3 Hybrid £400 (And a Kryptonite m-18 lock for it), though not the most expensive bike it is good soloid machinery. So in conclusion if you ride regularly more than a couple of miles, this article is totally correct, BSO's are a complete false economy.

Simon Farnsworth - April 24, 2018

There is one big benefit to BSOs; when I was getting back into riding after a 10 year hiatus without a bike, a cheap BSO with the explicit intention to save up for a real bike while riding it gave me a cheap way to get back on two wheels and confirm that I wouldn't be put off riding to work by a bit of rain. Once it was clear that I still enjoyed riding, even in the pouring rain, I was able to use my savings to buy a decent bike, and gave the BSO to someone who couldn't even afford a BSO to ride. Net result was that I got back into riding; had I hated it, I'd not have lost a huge amount of money on the BSO, and someone else got a chance to ride instead of waking or taking the bus.

Patrick Kelly - February 12, 2018

Its true of many things, the cheapest of anything is often of unacceptably low quality. The manufacturers have to take shortcuts to keep the cost down, it's common sense. The BSO bikes stand out like a sore thumb usually, the first giveaway is threaded forks, the second is that it's often made from steel which is not butted and is therefore heavy, and the third is that the ride quality is often lacking.

Jamie - December 4, 2017

Why do people buy rubbish bikes? My view is because most people are neither hardcore cyclists nor mechanically minded, and genuinely can't tell the difference between a new decent (£300-£500) bike and new, freshly greased BSO unless there is something obviously broken. When I acquired my first "decent" bike, it was nothing spectacular, but it had good independent reviews, it was built by a reputable manufacturer and was set up by a well known bike store with a good reputation (not Halfords!). It replaced a nearly 20 year old steel framed BSO bought from a cash and carry in the 90s, but one which had stood up to nearly two decades of casual use. Now I'm pretty mechanically minded, but a casual, not hardcore, cyclist. The quality of the workmanship on the new cycle completely blew the old one away, it's lighter and the mechanics are named brand and maintainable, but quite frankly I'd be hard pushed to tell the difference between that and my 20 year old BSO (after some lube) from the sort of test that most people get to subject prospective purchases to, at most a quick lap of the car park. To sell more "proper" bikes to the BSO buying (and casual cycling) public, it's less of a case of berating them or their bikes, but practical and direct comparisons. What should I look for? Why does it matter? What are the pros and cons of each option? Most people get that engineering is hard, they don't care. No matter how you advocate for the latest and greatest tech, they aren't going to buy top of the range bikes. If not abused, BSOs can and do last for years of casual use. Even if they don't buy a "proper" bike, at least we should help them understand the options (even those at or near the bottom of the tree), the aim being to allow them to spot and avoid the worst of the BSOs.

Radu - September 29, 2017

Nice and unique writing on bike value. I liked the idea of expressing the bike value based on how many days you have to work for it. I live in Eastern Europe and here people are paid much less than UK, for an average person, to buy a 400 pound bike means to spend all his salary. Still I know guys that own 2000 euro bikes despite their low income. They just saved money to do it. However, there is a great counter-argument to buy an expensive bike. It may get stolen. I had 3 stolen bikes in the city and 4 stolen bikes from my home garage in the last 10 years. Some were worth more than 400 pounds on 2nd hand market. So, being desperate to find a better bike alternative, I have found this: If you buy an old road bike like Bianchi, better Peugeot or so, then maybe change rims, make a full service to the bike especially hubs, change the handlebar tape, the chain, pedals, perhaps even the tires, you get in the end an ultra fast, pleasant and elegant commuter bike costing no more than 200 pounds. Hipsters do this and they're not stupid to do it. The better vintage race bikes come with shimano 600 tricolore but shimano 300 exage or latter 105 are also acceptable. I have such a bike, I ride about 150 km / week in the city which means at least 5000km/year. I have been riding it no problems for 3 years and spend about 50 euro / year for maintenance. But for MTB you'd better pay that 400-500 euro and buy a new one, decent quality, 100% agreed!

Al - September 5, 2017

I enjoyed the article, yes it's funny how people want the best of other things yet may skimp on a bike, but maybe they are just not at that 'enthusiast' level to know the difference. The price of high-end bikes is relative. To me £5k is a year's rent, to some it's less than a month's wages. I doubt I'd pay that even if I could, but I believe in buying the best you can afford within reason (Need to leave it locked and unattended - what if it gets stolen?) Insurance I suppose (*note to self). Buying second-hand is a good option if you can find the type of bike you want in the correct size (XL sizes are rarer, particularly if you wish to add older parts that you already own). My primary concern is safety, I want to know the frame, forks and components are dependable. Bear in mind that an old steel frame could be rusting from the inside out. Aluminium also has a 'recommended working life'. Could your riding style overly stress the bike? I've kept an MTB going now for over 20 years, many total component changes, but I often wonder if it is false economy, especially in the years since disc brakes arrived. I go through a wheelset and drivechain every year or two - v-brakes wear through the rim walls eventually in wet muddy conditions. As already mentioned, if good parts last 4 times longer but only cost 3 times as much then it makes sense to use them. If you can afford them that is. Which goes back to the fact that you should use what you have to at least ensure you are out cycling, preferably on a quality safe bike.

Kev - August 28, 2017

Really good article for the doubters out there, I bought a Claud Butler "Dalesman" in 1977 with two months salary as an apprentice. I was out on it today for a nifty fifty miles. Admittedly its a bit like "triggers brush" the only thing that is now original is the frame, but that has carried me over a quarter of a million miles in the intervening 50 years; providing me with a means to commute to work for virtually no expense when I had a young family and countless days out and holidays. Buy cheap buy twice (at least).

Graeme - August 27, 2017

I purchased two Apollo bike for myself and her indoors a Slant and the girls equivlant, each bike £99. We have had them for 6mths and in that time what's gone wrong ?? Nothing other than the odd minor adjustment, my bike is used most days for commute and living in Preston Lancs we are lucky enough to have the Guild wheel cycle way 21 miles which we both do most weekends. The bikes have served a purchase they gave us a cheap in to see if we would like it (we do). We are both upgrading shortly to something around the £300 mark again not top money but within our budget and Iam confident that they will be an improvement on the Apollo's ride wise and equally reliable.

Dave Thomas - August 25, 2017

Excellent article. Among the six bikes we have is a Specialized Hard rock FS. I bought it new in1999 ( £400). It is still used every week and has had no major components replaced.

Anon - August 9, 2017

This is a great page and I agree. On road bikes the decent stuff starts with Shimano 105. On MTB its Shimano SLX. Stuff below that like Tourney and Altus won't last. In fact I had a pair of those "EF-50" (below Altus?) shifters and the left shifter chewed the cable on the inside of the shifter. Awful. Now I just take my time and wait for used parts to come up and will only buy Ultegra/Dura-Ace or XT/XTR parts. Yup, they last a long time. One guy said he properly maintained a Dura Ace derailleur and he is still using it today after 20+ years of use. Same guy said Ultegra rear mechs tend to last about 7 years. So the Dura-Ace ones last 3 times longer then Ultegra. The top bike parts really aren't just about showing off, thats just an inadvertent side effect lol.

Andy in Bournville - June 28, 2017

Just my experience. I had a £70 Trax TR1 bought for me as a gift 5 years ago. It came in a box, and I bolted it together. By revisiting my teenage bike maintenance skills, I've had little trouble with it, cycling around the local roads and parks almost daily. The only part I've just replaced is a new freewheel, after 5 years use. No rust or flaking. An occasional Shimano gear tweek and wheel true, cleaning with a bit of WD40, and a bit of oil has kept it running perfectly. I don't see why I won't get another 5 years of a smooth ride and smooth gear changes from this "BSO". So there.

Hobart - May 22, 2017

Thanks for the article. It's an interesting read and pertinent to me at the moment. I grew up in the countryside and got my first cheap bike when I was about 12, my second when I was 14, and after that I regularly used to buy second hand bikes down the local farmers market. Repair and ride them over a few months and then sell them on. Back in those days I'd be riding maybe 150-200 miles every week. 20 years later and about 15 stone heavier (25 stone in total) I decided enough was enough and I needed to get fitter. I had a quick look in the small ads spotted a bike of the right size and picked it up. Definitely a BSO. The gears were terrible the ride was appalling and I thought it was all down to my fitness and size. I then gave up for a bit, trying to work out if I was ever going to ride again. Then my wife signed up to a bike to work scheme (I'm not eligible). She got a loan of a new 2016 Ridgeback bike for a month. I then accompanied her on a ride and was irritated to see here flying along while I was left panting behind. After a while I motioned that I needed a breather, and while I sat wheezing she took my bike for a ride. The result she came back panting too. I then tried her bike, and while I wasn't exactly cruising it was a hell of a lot easier to ride. So my experience is that a decent bike can make all the difference. I'm currently considering getting the male equivalent Ridgeback and abusing it until I've lost a few stone and developed the ability to breathe properly while riding again. Any advice though would be welcome.

Richard - May 17, 2017

Bought my first bike as a student in 1968 - a 1950s Raleigh, built like a tank. Moved on to a brand new, modern Raleigh in 1984. In 1989 the frame fractured at the rear right-hand dropout. Replaced under guarantee. That failed in the very same place in 1993. Replaced under guarantee again. This one failed at the same place in 1997. Thankfully all these occurred in England and not when I was in France on my annual cycling holiday. By now they couldn't replace like with like so the new replacement was a different model. That served until 2009 when rust on the lower surface of the chain stays persuaded me to look online and I came up with a 1980s Claud Butler. That has served me well for 8 years but the threads on on side of the bottom bracket will not now hold the bearing in place. You can get bearings that get round that problem, but I'm looking for another bicycle that has a longer top tube (greater than 61cm) as I've found that that will give me a more comfortable riding posture.

Pablo - May 5, 2017

Moving to the Netherlands, I was amazed at how expensive the bikes are on that country! However, after shelling a good chunk of change you end up with a very durable bike... 10 years on, riding every day back and forth in all weather conditions with all this moisture but still chugging along smoothly So I agree, with bikes, like with most other things it is pay me now or pay me later...

Tricky Dicky - April 27, 2017

I agree fully with this article, I have been into Mountain Biking for years and whilst I cannot shell out thousands of £s for bikes I would never consider bikes below £400, for taking offroad, I have had many faulty cheap bikes brought to me for repairs and the parts are crap, the bikes heavy , ok for riding up and down a street but not much use for anything else, if finances are an issue better to buy a good second hand bike from your local bike shop than a cheap new bike from an internet store or catalogue chain .. just my opinion of course ..

MK - April 25, 2017

A few years ago it was decided we were going to get into cycling so I bought a second hand hybrid and gradually upgrade, then decided I wanted a mountain bike as well.. Ended up with a second hand BSO with the twisty grip gears. Peeled all the stickers off so it was just a nice (for what it was) looking full suspension pile of s... I managed one ride on it, tying to ride up a muddy hill just resulted in numerous unintentional gear changes and lots of swearing. When we arranged a second 'none road' ride I was all over the internet the night before trying to find a decent bike the next morning.. Everything led to the Voodoo Bizango and I managed to pick up a second hand one locally. Felt great to ride and completely different from the BSPOS (sure you can work that one out). Regretted selling it last autumn as I didn't really get out on it that much, but after a phone call from my riding mate on Sunday to say he'd just bought an Aizan, I was straight out for the new Bizango (un-ridden second hand for 400 notes), and it feels just as good as the old one. Got a message off the mate starting 'can see why you like the Voodoo' after he'd ridden it five miles home.... If you're looking at a BSPOS due to cost, have a look for a second hand Voodoo, you won't be disappointed.

dave - April 18, 2017

I have a 2015 Carrera folding bike great quality bike paid £170 never had a problem so don't knock them also being English brought up with English bikes but my new folder is just as good

Alex - April 8, 2017

Amazing article! I am new to cycling but would have gone out to Halfords and bought a £100 bike if it wasn't for this. But what is a good brand and model to buy? Do you have any recommendations of bikes or retailers?

Steve on a bike - March 31, 2017

Biggest pile of c**p I've ever read there nothing wrong with cheap supermarket bikes the last two years when written properly not everybody wants to go jumping off mountains 100 squid for two years pennies a week. What you're saying is don't buy it cheap call it must be a Rolls Royce shameful if all you got is £100 then buy that bike it will do you good

Glenn - March 30, 2017

I found your article rather condescending. In our house we don't have that ''average'' wage.. nothing close, and i'm the only one earning. My wife only learned to ride a bike 8 months ago at the age of 30. (She never had a bike as a child.) She learned on my bike that i had for years and never used. So for her birthday i bought her an Apollo Jewel and yes it does feel a little flimsy in some areas, but its all i could afford... its her first ever bike, she loves it and we now go out riding along disused railway tracks whenever the weather is good. Her on the new cheap one and me peddling like a mad man on my Bmx, (i'm saving up, and watching ebay looking for a cheap second hand mountain bike for me) She was in the garden washing her bicycle today when i went home for lunch.. she's very happy with it, so am i. Simply saying not everyone has money to spare... and with any product in this world there is always the well marketed over priced labelled goods that suckers with money will over pay for such as '' Perrier water'' which is still only H2O after all, a Timex watch will keep good time just as well or better than a Rolex, and a Ford Fiesta will still take you to the same places as a Ferrari... just a little slower, but actually more reliably and will need less servicing, and lower running costs.

Ilsonlad - February 18, 2017

I've noticed that a lot of the replies to the original article are from the "look at me, look what I can afford brigade" and excuse me for saying it but it's obvious that some of the contributions have been made by people who have money to throw around Willy Nilly. Not everyone can afford to put out three or four hundred quid on a bike, does that mean that they shouldn't have a go at cycling and just stand with their faces pressed up against their sitting room windows watching people gliding past on their top of the range Boardmans? I'll give you an example. A friend of mine bought an Apollo hybrid from the dreaded Halfords, it was a cheap bike and as we all know not built to last. However it really was all he could afford and he was keen to have a go at cycling and try to get himself fitter. He started cycling a few miles almost every day... 2 years, 2 sets of tyres and some brake pads later and he's lost almost 4 stone. He (nor I) can believe what this "cheap" bike has done for him. He was suffering depression... gone....medical problems with his legs and feet... gone. So in conclusion, after reading an article like this what are people that CANNOT afford to put out 3 or 4 hundred quid supposed to do? Yes you get what you pay for but surely it's better to have a go at our wonderful sport than to be too frightened (by articles such as this) to at least try.

crazydave - February 10, 2017

Nice article, the approach of buying quality second hand usually works for most things as often they are bought purely because they are expensive by people with more money than they know what to do with and because it is a brand. so I pick up Nike goretex jackets never worn in anger, goretex walking boots that went no further than a pub carpark or my most recent purchase a 2001 marin rocky ridge off ebay for 230 quid. more expensive than it could have been as I ended up in a bidding war but a nice retro bike with under 200 miles on it, bombproof components, alloy frame and ridden by little old fella up and down the canal towpath then stored for 12 years. got a load of extras to empty his shed but all usefull so other than the train journey to pick it up I was well happy with a thousand pound bike for quarter the price. by the time I've upgraded the bits I want over time off ebay it will probably out last me unless it gets nicked. one thing with older bikes is you often know what you are getting, a taiwanese made bike is totally different to a chinese one. it also helps if you are familiar with the brand and how it rides. don't be afraid to tatty a bike up a bit, I had one of the best specced cannondales in york but the paintwork was so messed up and it was so grubby apart from where it needed to be clean that it never got any interest until it was stolen from work - inside the building at that. A friend of mine paints rust and dirt on his or least he says that's what it is. another plus side for second hand is retro often has its own cool and often these bikes got ridden a couple of times a month rather than 30 miles a day which is what mine used to be subjected to. I did just over 13000 in one year, I was gutted when the battery on my cateye went flat at 28k. as a price guide line for second hand they reckon half the purchase price then 10% off per year.

Chris - January 16, 2017

Great article. I just recently bought a new bike for £400. Before hand, the more I read about bikes the more I realised that getting a cheapo bike wasn't a good option. Would have liked to have spent £500 but oh well, couldn't stomach that. But so far it's been great, very light and fun to ride compared to the cheap one I had growing up.

Rob - January 12, 2017

I bought my Carerra Vortice from Halfords in 1996 at £260. IN that time I've fitted one set of tyres and just replaced the pedals as one cracked. That's it, I'm well capable of the maintenance but it's a cracking bike and I keep looking at used newer bikes but I feel good riding such a (now) unique bike in a fetching 90's bling polished alloy finish (7005) I agree, Id rather buy a broken quality bike (and repair it) than a chinese out of the box junker. Great article

Stan Doffarf - December 26, 2016

In many ways sage advice. But the BSO comes in many guises. Not all are equal and price is no measure. My brother in law specialises in almost annual purchases of the most awful piles of Chinese scrap, yet Decathlon has some almost acceptable BSOs at the same price point. While I would do much research at my local cycle shop for bikes for adults, the BSO is a solution for younger children. While she was learning my daughter had two successive Giants that were solid where it counted, but were poor and flimsy for the type of stuff that attracts kids to bikes. Now she's making a first foray into geared bikes (and riding without parents in attendance) a BTwin BSO is an ideal solution as it's good enough where it counts and, round here, is much more likely to be outgrown or stolen before anything needs repairing.

doug - December 26, 2016

Yes, but if you want something to go to the bars or something at night in a high crime neighborhood, a good bike is going to get stolen. I keep a "pub bike" for this reason.

Rey A - December 19, 2016

Awesome information. I learned quite a lot and technically saved me from the bad decision i was going to do buyibg a bike. I still don't know what specific kind of bike should I get, or if it even matters for a price tag of 400 quid

Ben - December 15, 2016

Great read. Another big point is that the bso's have to be recycled... probably for the next generation of bso's point being they are melted back to form othere products with chemicals and othere cheap alloys ect, which in turn uses loads of fuel making polution plus shipping it all the way back to china uses thousands of cubic tons of fuel. Think befor you buy. I ride a gt xc aggressor from 2006 great bike just changed the tyres this year ten years later!!!! Gears still mint brakes are great that was £450... 450÷10÷52=0.8666 so thats 86p a week.

Barny - October 31, 2016

Would be good to have a comment on the benefits of extra gears. Is the doubling in price worth the transition from 9sp to 10sp ? I dont think it is.

Paul - October 29, 2016

Excellent article, can't fault anything written there. I have friends who have bought such 'BSO's and they've pretty much experienced the same value for money as described. If you're on a budget then second hand is definitely the way to go. I've bought two bikes in the last year of eBay - eBay can of course be a gamble, but as most bike sales are collection only and cash on collection then you have the option not to pay of the bike's not as described. Last year I got a gorgeous Ridgeback Velocity from a man in Streatham for £137. Other than very minor gearing adjustments it's been flawless since I bought it, I've probably done a couple of thousand miles on it so far and it still rides like a dream. A couple of months ago I got a 1998 Specialised Crossroads, again off eBay, for my 18 year old daughter to take off to uni in Brighton with her. Initial cost for the bike was £72 It needed a new cassette, chain, part of the derailleur, and a new nut for the forks. Total parts and labour £90. So for the grand total of £162 she now has an excellent quality hybrid bike that rides like a dream, she loves it. Anyway, hope this is informative. Thanks or the article and keep on enjoying! :-D

sean - October 23, 2016

its all true, common sense really, you want good it costs money, if its cheap then its either crap or stolen !! my old mountain bike is from the eighties, heavy and built like a tank, but even though its hard work to get anywhere , its still going !!

Richard W - September 27, 2016

Learn how to fix EVERYTHING on your bike yourself. My bike started out as a Halfords cheapie, an Apollo Belmont. When the rear wheel bearings need adjusting then it is time to get the spanners out. If wheels rub on brake blocks, adjust them, or true the wheel. If a bike goes wrong on the road there is no equivalent of the AA or RAC. If a component is not up to the job, find out what is compatible and replace it yourself. The last time I took a bike back to a bike shop for repair was 1982. Putting LBS mechanics out of a job? Perhaps but I have to buy spares and components from somewhere.

Justin Wallace - September 18, 2016

Good advice, I don't bother buying new anymore, the cheap bikes are utter trash and the decent/high end stuff is far to expensive, my chosen route is eBay and look for a decent quality 80/90/00's bike from the likes of Marin/GT, ok they may need a new cable or two or a pair of tyres but still work out far cheaper than than a mid range bike of today, recently bought a 1996 'Saracen Powertrax' for £29, I've changed the tyres for 1.5" road slicks adjusted the cable for the front derailleur and have proceeded to put about 5-600 miles on it in 3-4 weeks without so much as a hitch, that's what I call a bargain...

Mike Alexander - September 18, 2016

Nice article. I bought a Specialised Hard Rock in 1996. It cost me nearly £400, which seemed a terrifying amount of money at the time. 20 years later I am still using it regularly - even did a sprint triathlon on it a few years back. It still has the original wheels, tyres and shifters - the brakepads, sprocket, gearset and chain are about all I've changed. I've spent just a few hundred quid on servicing. I would estimate a total outlay of under £700 over 20 years. Now £35 a year for a decent, light, strong bike is excellent value for money in my book!

Craig - September 10, 2016

Bought a cheap bike, got me back into cycling, was sub £100. But you're right it been a pain last 6 months. Today I have been out and bought a Boardman after riding a friends cyclocross bike

Clark slingsby - September 6, 2016

I couldn't agree more. What a well written piece. I wish I had read this before I wasted my money. I spent £300 on 2 full suss mountain bikes. I thought they looked great, all shiny with disc brakes and suspension. They were totally useless and horrible to ride. We hardly ever went out on them, and guess what? They both ended up at the landfill. This story does have an happy ending though. I wandered into a proper independent bike shop and had a good long chat with the owner and got all the advice I needed. It took me a few months to splash the extra cash, but I ended spending £400 on a trek Marlin 6 hardtail and fell in love with the sport. I now also own a giant stance full suss £900 and go to trail centers every chance I get. Owning a good quality, well built bike is the only way to enjoy and get the most out of this brilliant sport. Do not fall for the 50% off, catalogue piles of rubbish. Buy once, buy right Clark slingsby

Steve - August 29, 2016

Just to add some balance...I just bought a Carrera Subway 1 from Halfords for £186 (in the sale). Disc brakes, 650b tyres 24 speed Shimano. Amazing value. My older bike is a carbon Colnago with Campagnolo groupset. Both are brilliant. The Carrera is great for the gravel tracks and potholed roads round here and is well built and well set up. The Colnago is also great (actually brilliant) but I am constantly nervous each time I see a manhole/pothole/gravel ahead. I bought the Colnago on Ebay and changed the Shimano groupset to Campagnolo. Sold the groupset back on Ebay. So....when buying a bike look for discounts and a quality brand second hand. The frame is the most important component. Everything that hangs off it can be swapped out. Bikes that start cheap have frames you wouldnt want to hang anything on let alone yourself surrounded by traffic and other obstacles.

Colin M - August 28, 2016

I have to say I'm in agreement with Volker Lensch - by comparison with other mass-produced consumer items I do not see why you should have to run to £400 to get a reasonably serviceable bike. You can buy a Husqvarna petrol chain saw for £130, a Hyundai petrol mower for £120, a Beko washing machine for £180, Indesit fridge for £130 and a Beko full-size dishwasher for £190. These all require precision machined components and some require considerably more raw materials than a bike. Some also require electronics and electrical safety approvals testing. Why should a reasonable entry-level bike cost more than double any of them?

JC - August 26, 2016

Awesome article, but there is one scenario you are missing: Owning a bike in a town where bike theft is so common that it's basically a given (for example, NYC, where I live). There is a *huge* market for low quality, cheap BSOs here, because they make sense. You're a very lucky person indeed if you can keep that bike for the 6-12 months it takes to fall apart. If somebody basically has to purchase a bike per year, it's really tough to convince them not to go cheap, no matter how logical the argument is.

Frank Duffin - August 19, 2016

Agree entirely with your article. Bought a Trek hybrid about 20+ years ago for close to £700. First three months used it to get to work and back in Aberdeen. Trek chain broke three times. Bike shop advised me that the American chain was poor and offered me a French upgrade. No breaks since no matter the hill climb. This bike will freewheel on a 1 degree incline and requires little effort to ride fast. You get what you pay for.

Bert Norman - July 17, 2016

Great article! Wish I had read this before buying a Claud Butler last week for 310 pounds. Lasted for two miles before the crankshaft died.

Jezabel - June 9, 2016

Thank you thank you thank you for this article! I was soo damned close to buying a 'cheap as chips' cruiser style brand new from china bike off of ebay! I came across this article and now am on the look out for a sturdy vintage Raleigh or other quality second hand bike. Saying that, my trusty Apollo Jewel (yes a Halfords purchase) has done me quite well over the last 2 or 3 years. Several child seats, basket, pannier and towing a full up to the brim and HEAVY Burley De-lite trailer - it is nothing short of a work-horse and has been great value for money. Only advice would be to take out a service-plan if you do get a BSO from the likes of Halfords, regular checks and maintenance is the key to keeping these cheap beasts in good and safe condition (had new tyres and a new back wheel in 3 years - which I dont think is too shabby for a 100 odd quid bike!). But time to move on, MTB's are great up to a certain age I think, but the riding position and pressure on my wrists are beginning to take their toll. Sit up and beg vintage old school style - here I come :).

Dave - June 6, 2016

I've had issues with both inexpensive and high end bikes. Some years ago I purchased the giant warp full susser (not cheap by any means) the frame snapped...replaced by giant and again snapped frame then just for good measure a third snapped in the same place. So went for a hardtail option by kona (also not cheap At All) the frame was great the seals went on the fork in a few months and the bottom bracket was complete rubbish. I salvaged parts from the bike and bought a relatively inexpensive muddyfox therapy. The brakes have since been replaced the rst fork replaced with marzocchi the stem replaced the handlebars replaced the wheelset basically completely rebuilt the bike. Luckily some of the parts I had and some I bought 2nd hand but realistically for the cost time etc it would have been cheaper to invest in something decent new. Now riding norco and never had an issue.

Volker Lensch - May 25, 2016

Trends like automation, globalization, standardization and economy of scale have also helped to bring consumer prices down. I agree, that a good bike mechanic is highly recommended for building, testing and maintenance of a bicycle, and buying online with build it yourself might be risky, however, the large bicycle retailers such as Halfords or Evans should have enough quality control to do the needful. For 200 GBP you should get a decent bike from them. Independent bike shops are better for the high end sector, where expensive bikes gives them enough margin.

JuliaZ - May 23, 2016

I bought my front-suspension mt bike in 1998 for $700 US - it was last year's model but brand new, so kitted out, its full retail was $1000. I just spent $140 at the local bike shop on a complete tune up including cables and brake pads and springs, and $60 on new puncture-resistant tires, tape, and heavy-duty inner tubes. So for less than $900, I've had a bike for 18 years. My first car, by comparison. cost $700 to put on the road, and lasted 2 years before the engine was kaput. My "expensive" bike was a bargain and I'm glad I didn't buy a BSO.

Mike - April 4, 2016

Great article - a few years ago I bought what I thought was a 'proper' bike but which turned out to be a BSO. It was from what I thought was a reputable brand whose initials are 'CB'. IT was supposed to be a 'hybrid' but in fact it was a heavy, steel framed mountain bike with lots of extras, none of them any good. Unlike most BSOs it didn't have fake suspension or grip shifts, instead it had horrible fat tyres, bottom of the range disk brakes and it never felt steady at any speed. Its hard to explain how horrible it was, and of course I lasted only about 3 months before giving up. I've just invested in a decent hybrid - lightweight, decent rims and tyres, good quality components all round - such a difference.

Simon - March 19, 2016

Alex, the average wage figures are simply for comparison. Average is just that, whatever year it is. £400 is still excellent value. This gets you a good bike, a means of transport, a gateway to fun and freedom. Compare it to mobile phones, computer consoles etc and it's far better value (and it won't be crippled by an OS 'upgrade' in 18 months time). The difference between a BSO and a real bike is night and day and no-one who has any sense and experience can argue against it. If you want something to ride short distances and leave in a risky location (but still securely locked!) then it might be sensible to pick up a cheap, used one with as few gears as possible and no suspension. Otherwise they are a complete waste of money. Thanks for a great article.

Alex - March 7, 2016

For many people, a bike for £400 is just plain expensive! Remember what "average wage" means - it means when you account for a skewed distribution of wealth, a healthy majority of people make less! This article is misleading because it implies you need to work for a quality, brand new bike, or you're a danger and a threat for riding something inexpensive. It totally neglects the millions of high quality bikes that have been churned out throughout the years, particularly the boom produced Japanese bikes of the 70s and 80s. These bikes are made of good steel and use quality components, and you can pick them up for less than a day's wage, forget a week. If they've been maintained or you're willing to restore them, they will ride as well as anything you can buy today. Better, in fact, considering how many modern bicycles sacrifice comfort and features for racer looks.

Joe - December 11, 2015

I still don't understand why my work colleagues find logical to get the latest iPhone for 600 EUR which will only last 2 years (they are made like that) but find expensive the bikes I recommend for 350 EUR, which with the right maintenance will last forever

Grape Smuggler - November 18, 2015

I'm honestly struggling to comprehend the BSO love. Yes there's a place for cheap bikes, but not at the expense of the safety and enjoyment of the rider. Kids bikes are some of the worst offenders and not a good way to get kids into cycling. I'd never get my kids a bike that's heavier than mine, but halfrauds have the cheek to sell a bike aimed at 3 year olds that's over 9kg; some kids that age don't weigh much more than that. BSO's really are terrible, just get a 2nd hand single speed bike; low maintainance, lighter and durable bikes with fewer moving parts, cheaper to boot. I've got one for running around town on, but I'm also fortunate to be able to afford other bikes too; if you try Campagnolo gears you could never say a BSO is good with a straight face again.

Chas - November 8, 2015

Nicola, I've had a ridgeback bike for 2 years without one ounce of trouble. They are known as good British designed conservative designs. The designers work for Genesis, Saracen and Madison. All of the parts even on the cheapest models are good quality shiman entry level group sets. The tyres are continental puncture proof commuting and trekking tyres on every single entry level commuting model they do. Whilst I'm sure that you love your Viking, the Viking and ridgebacks are in different leagues. I suspect that your story is a fabrication (who buys 2 mid level bikes and then goes for a super-budget brand) ? I love my ridgeback and gave had nothing but reliability and pleasure from it.

Ray - Nov, 2015 - November 4, 2015

Brilliant article. It's a sad fact that we live in a throw-away society these days and sadder still to think that the bicycle has become another victim of this waste-heavy culture. But that's the price we pay for entrusting manufacturing to the far east and Asia. My advice - buy a good quality second-hand bike from a reputable on-line site (e.g. e-bay or Gumtree). Do a little research first and familiarise yourself with which manufacturers can be relied upon to have produced consistently good bikes. There were some great bikes produced in the early/mid nineties by the likes of Trek, Specialized, Saracen, Orange, Cannondale, even Raleigh (to name but a few). They cost a few hundred quid back then, but you can bag a bargain now for between £40-100. If you're no good with a spanner though, forget it. Don't get me wrong, bike mechanics is not rocket science and anyone with a modicum of common sense and a little technical ability can learn the required skills to get and old bike running sweet as a nut again, or even re-build one. But if you're really not endowed with any practical skills at all, take the advice given in the article and buy yourself a decent machine.

John Bradshaw - November 2, 2015

I stumbled across this article by accident and it is probably the best article I have read on this subject. The writer is not calling for people to spend ££££££s on an exotic bike, he is quite clear in advising that a cheaper entry level bike from a recognised manufacturer sold via a bike shop will be a good bike. At this time of year (Autumn) the end of season clearances and discounts of 20-40% on last seasons models means that a proper bike from bike shop need not even cost that much more than a BSO. And if you go second hand there are some terrific bikes that undercut BSOs. For those who call this bike snobbery, try riding a decent bike and then comparing it with the stuff sold at certain toy shops and in catalogues. Yes you will pay a bit more but the change in quality is huge. Cycling is a wonderful way to get fit, an efficient and eco friendly form of transport and just plain good fun, spending a bit more on a decent bike transforms cycling.

Nicola - October 2, 2015

I bought two Ridgeback bikes brand new from a reputable cycle shop. They were both literally falling apart within three months. I replaced one with a Viking bought online for half the price. Still running beautifully and smoothly almost a year on. On both sides you can't always guarantee what you will get!

biggs682 - September 25, 2015

The other option is to buy a decent made bike 2nd hand

Jono Rezzillo - September 7, 2015

Great article indeed! I've just purchased 2 Ridgeback Traditional cycles and so glad I read artice..hope u can give me advice on the purchased Ridgeback (Traditional) £349 each Thanks

Jason Evans - September 7, 2015

If you absolutely have to buy a cheap bike, say you are on a very low budget and cannot afford £400, or like me live near the sea where any bike will corrode quickly, why not buy from a second hand dealer who also repairs?

Dave - September 2, 2015

I agree entirely, but I have an 11 year old, quickly growing son, who lives (away) in a flat, so doesn't get that many opportunities to cycle, plus skint parents means that halfrauds might be the only viable option......

Dave - August 31, 2015

Bought a cheap bike $150. Lasted 2 yrs. was fixed under warranty. Maybe 3-4000 kms on it. Donated it. Another bike 5X the cost. Over 10,000Kms. Was always breaking spokes until they were replaced. Lots of maintenance because of miles. Broke an axle. Same price range: folding bike 4-5.000 kms. Steering broke off. Got rid of it. Manufacturer couldn't give a damn about dangerous defects. Also bought a bargain basement 10 speed many years ago. Sold it. Bought it back. Maybe 20 years later dumped it. While you might get a lighter bike for more bucks there is no tried and true value equated to the dollar value. Heavy bikes may or may not be more dependable, may be as fast as lighter bikes on level ground. Getting something that is comfortable and reliable even if heavier and at a reasonable price is more important than paying a lot of bucks.

Chris - August 22, 2015

Now 2015, brought 3 bso's. 2 awesome pieces of well organised Asian manufacturer and one piece of crap poorly assembled shite. There is some great bikes out there but anyone should learn from my mistake, immediately return any bike which isn't functioning correctly, demand a refund. Other than that, look on YouTube, these bikes are easy to adjust.

David Christmass - August 17, 2015

Great term, bicycle shaped objects, love that polite term for trash, although I am not to sure about the comment about handlebars the wrong way up, in days of old often handlebars were reversed upside down as a means of shifting center of gravity on load for roadsters in village point to point events. I think, bso should also extend to include tig welded frames, as lug frames are clearly more standard and sure in design, where tig welds are more design as you like. That means weak in some instances.

Craig - August 14, 2015

Great article! Basically quality lasts and works out cheaper long term for person & planet For the tight or low waged there is a middle gound. I ride 1000s of miles a year, quailty, speed & comfort are very important to me. I'm also very tight. But you can get a very good quailty second hand bike very cheap if you look for a week or so. Ebay - gumtree etc. ask a friend for help if needed. A second hand bike is great for the environment and a quailty second hand bike is immesirably better than a BSO. I've got all my bikes this way - three in the last 11 years (two stollen) and never paid more than £200 for a bike - always been quailty. I looked the other day I could pick up a ribble audax for £150... My current bike from the 80's looks great. (I had it repainted last year £120) and may out last me. (I've had it 7 years) Which is disappointing as I can't justify upgrading when it works so well... And it's no clunker either I ride just about 20mph commiting to work (10miles hilly) and 15-17mph inc breaks on longer rides around North Wales... So if your broke or tight don't give up hope. Buy quailty... My 2 cents worth....

Johnny - August 13, 2015

This is a brilliant article. If you don't know what you are looking for a cheap bso seems brilliant. I bought an Apollo steel frame from Halfords and it did do for about 3 months but as stated by so many people on this site, a cheap bike is actually a bad bike. Brakes immediately bind, wheels easily buckle and gears are so badly built that they rarely move. I bought my daughter a 14 inch frame mountain bike with front and rear suspension from Halfords. It is heavier than an adult bike and the gear levers are plastic. Plastic. It looks the part to my untrained eye but after spending months trying to get them both road worthy I realised that I was waisting my time. I decided to invest £300 on a Ridgeback bike. I have hammered that bike on and off road for nearly 10 years and it has let me down once, when the derailier holder snapped. Yes I have changed some spokes last week, but after 10 years I feel that is pretty good. A BSO is a false economy. Buy a second hand quality bike on eBay and it will last for years. Incidentally Halfords bike parts do not{or did not} fit regular bike accessories. Stems and handlebars are different size. This leaves you INA different position when you want to upgrade or repair. The job for about

William - August 12, 2015

Very good helped me a lot but I found a bike for £130 and it looks alright. The Apollo Feud? Also second hand decent bikes are good for the price-weary...

Nick - August 2, 2015

An interesting read, I've just come across this while looking for something more 'official' than my opinion! One of my neighbours has just appeared with a bso out of a box, which he thought was a great bargain, but as i ride a bike can I just look at the front brake for him.......its a muddy fox branded full suspension bike, he bought it because it's a brand name he recognised and it was cheap. The front disc brake was virtually useless, the two halves of what passed as a caliper were not fully acrewed together..personally i think this is shocking, its a dangerous fault- two minutes with the Allen keys and some loctite and it was done, but it shouldn't have come out of the box like this. Many of these from the box bikes are bought for kids for Christmas or birthdays, and this is downright dangerous! I'm no bike snob, im regularly breaking the rules, baggy MTB shorts on a road bike, peak on my helmet, and I ride a red btwin triban, proof that you can, or could a couple of years ago, anyway, get a decent quality capable bike for not a lot! This fox weighs an absolute ton, the bearings are rough, the fork has play in the stanchions, it's all round horrible, and I just can't see it lasting more than a few months, its sheer weight will probably see it at the back of the shed before the months out....

Amit Dewan - July 28, 2015

Great article man! Why didn't I come across this before. My first bike was a BSO,,, a Chinese steel MTB with hopeless shifters and derailleurs. It was Acid Green and looked ok, after I disposed of it I bought a Giant Revel 2 with decent components.... Now I have a GTA .. Yes BSO's are worthless and they should stop making them .

Shaun - July 24, 2015

Bought a cheap bike off halfords 12 months broke it first time I used it, but the replaced broken part. Spent £150 Apollo one used it 6 times hated every minute of it. But I'm gonna have another go. Wish I read this before, gear change really bad gonna have a go at fixing myself.

Mark York - July 24, 2015

I do like this article, but its does fail to point out that you MAY get a good BSO. Look at some of the TOP cars and how many problems they have. Lots of Skoda's and Lada's were sold many years ago.I do not think I could afford a new bike, even a cheap BSO. I have however bought a few BSO's second hand, Some had the plastic brake parts but at my 7 -9 mph they worked fine. I did however get a Dunlop full sus to replace a full sus i had sold, the disk brakes were useless, honest the rear one might well have not been there. the ride was terrible. I sold it a few days later. I got an Apollo Slammer and got 5 years use out of that, it is still running smooth. As for the tale about the forks being fitted the wrong way, is that the fault of the bike ! Put them the right way and the problem has gone! All said, I would not buy a dirt cheap new BSO, but i would and do buy cheap used BSO's if they are useless they get scrapped, If they are ok i service them and give to Volunteers. Many people want to buy a bike and the £100 - £150 mark is enough for them, but they also want it to be new. I am using an old Marin Hardtail i bought for £30, it is still one of the cheaper bikes, but it is 100% better than the £120 BSO's.

DWGillies - July 6, 2015

I have been a bike enthusiast since age 12, a mechanic since age 8, and my first bike was a Raleigh Grand Prix in 1973. In 1981 my Grand Prix was stolen - and my other high-quality bike was at college. As an experiment I purchased a BSO on the classifieds newspaper ads for $35 (AMF Ten-speed). I decided to strip it down and "make it perform like a fine machine". I removed the brake lever extensions and wrapped the bars and brake levers with rubber tire - hoods! I adjusted the derailleur system to perfection, and tuned the brakes until it worked to perfection in my mom's garage. I then got on and rode around the circle at my house. The brakes no longer were adjusted. "Cable stretch" I thought as I adjusted them again and took another trip around the circle. They were immediately out of adjustment again! - and rubbing against the wheel. I think I did it 1 more time before I realized that the caliper arms were BENDING when I applied them. The cheap pot-metal would NEVER stay adjusted! I had learned why BSO's are a maintenance nightmare! I rode it for the rest of the summer and gave it away.

Marje - July 4, 2015

I read this article with interest as the owner of a BSO that was purchased at a cost of £170 from a well know retailer about 18 months ago, which at the time was what I needed to tootle up and down the canal towpath. I now find that I want to go a little farther afield and the 6 gears make it hard going up hills, however I cant afford to pay £300+ for a bike so am looking to buy a second hand one for £100 - £150, can anyone suggest a few names that I should look for that might be suitable.

bruce - July 4, 2015

hi ive just bought an apollo from halfords, brakes rub and move onto the wheel, back wheel was buckeled, gears at the back were jumping, front gears would not go into position and took a while to change over, puncture within ten miles, with no damage to the tyre, and now my bottom bracket has broke and my pedals and front gears wobble, not impressed with the set up halfords have done, plus when riding my mud guards move down and rub against my tyre there a joke, with in a day i was back about the gears, two days later for the gears again puncture and mud guards which only the puncture got sorted, this was a little more at 180 and ive had three weeks worth out of it

Russ Taff - June 21, 2015

Good article, should appear more widely. One suspects the 2005 monthly wage of 2 grand is less in 2015... but £300+ remains a fair price for something fun, sturdy and reliable. It's easy to slam a big name like Halfords, but they do sell the VooDoo bikes (£300 hybrid rigid, £400 mtb hardtail) which are very highly rated. Sadly British roads and bikesheds are still full of these atrocious bargain basement full suspension really heavy bikes that took off early this century. Buying 2nd hand off eBay, you *can* get some epic deals (£500 vgc bikes for a few hundred), but of course, bikes are evolving fast now, parts keep changing (650B wheels for example), and pre-owned off-road bikes may well have been thrashed quite hard. If you do love cycling, mid to long distance reguarly, across varied terrain, it's well worth saving as long as possible for a nice, rugged hybrid bike, and then just get out there :)

John - May 30, 2015

Most of my bikes cost nothing. I just rebuild what others have binned.For no money I've a Bates track bike , a nice Trek Antelope, various 531 raleighs and horror of horrors my wife's Reebok Freedom. It does the job. I maintain it and despite many miles it never breaks down. Stop being such snobs. Go out and enjoy the freedom!

Phil - May 18, 2015

Interesting scope of feedback on here. I think you've got a reasonable split between people who've had a bad experience with a cheap consumer bike - the haters; and those who accept that they're a cheap bike and (mostly) don't expect it to last very long. Many of us are on limited household budgets and have kids that grow like bamboo. It's not practical to buy quality bikes for kids, as much as we parents try to educate kids leave their bikes out in the garden every day, they forget to lock them, they crash them, abuse them, don't maintain them and then grow out of them. Of course if you're taking cycling seriously then invest in a quality bike. However, the vast majority of people either cycle a mile or two to work, go out for a ride with the kids at the weekend (if the weather's ok) or leave the bike in the shed for weeks on end. Cheap bikes for the masses fill a demand for the masses who are unlikely to ever attempt a downhill course or a ride of more than a few miles. I do agree however with cheap suspension. I've bought cheap suspension bikes for my kids because they want to be like the other kids. But not without explaining again and again how cheap suspension bikes are heavy, hard work to ride and 20mm of travel is quite useless. Doesn't stop them wanting them of course. As a lad in the '70s the only way I could have a bike was being able to maintain it myself, fixing it with cheap or secondhand parts, servicing, greasing, adjusting. If you look around at the bikes cycling past how many have cables hanging off, missing brakes, broken gears and flat tyres. This is ignorance, cheap bikes may break more often but parts are cheap and plentiful and a pump costs less than a Big Mac.

Alex Hitchin - May 6, 2015

This was a great read. I couldn't agree more. How ever After have a very tight 3 years with very little income and 2 kids, I found that if you know how to build your own bike and have the knowledge you can weed out the truly trash bikes, And end up with something really nice thanks to these things being filthy cheep you can pick them up used for next to nothing. Then replace all the dire and truly awful parts for better quality one's and get to work with your kids. My older brothers helped me build my first bike from dead bikes in the basement that had accumulated over the years I was 10 and ever since i have built and serviced my own bikes. In the feed back there is a chap that used to work for Halfords he said they where all junk, but I bought my ten year old a second hand trax bmx knowing full well it was terrible. I have maintained it standard for 8 months now. I can truly say off the shelf the parts are awful. How ever the frame and wheels have lived. So much so that its just received new brakes, brake levers, cable, saddle, seat post and grips, Also a used sprocket, crank and chain ring with better gearing for the ramp parks. As he progress's in bmx I am sure either the frame will crack or the rims/ hubs will die and I will replace Them for better quietly one's.

Roland Debenham - April 6, 2015

Not everyone buys a cheap bike to save a few quid. I can't ride the vast majority of modern bikes, because bike geometry was changed some years back,resulting in the rear tube being near vertical above the bottom bracket, which in turn has been raised, presumably to cater for "off roaders". Unfortunately this change has been carried through to all bike types, including the "sit up and beg" classics that I am interested in. As I said, I have trouble riding these modern machines because, although I have an inside leg measurement of 27 inches, my upper leg bones (femurs?) are short (relative to my lower leg bones). This physical limitation means that, on a 17 inch frame (for example), when I have the seat at a height where I can just reach the ground with my toes, I cannot do a complete 360 degree turn of the pedals, because when the rear pedal is at 3 'clock, I can just about get my heel on the rear pedal. Alternatively, if I raise the seat to get sufficient "leg stretch" in order to pedal through a full 360 degrees, I cannot then reach the ground. My initial solution was to buy, at great expense, a "feet forward" Dutch bike. I was/am able to ride this bike quite successfully but it is so heavy ("built like a tank" comes to mind, that I can't lift it onto my car towbar to transport it (I'm not as strong as I used to be). As for ordinary Dutch bikes, they don't seem to be built in frame sizes less that 20 plus inches, I can only assume the Dutch are all very tall. So I looked for an "off the shelf", conventional bike. I initially looked at several different makes and models in both 16 and 17 inch sizes, all with 26 inch wheels because this wheel size would put me nearer the ground, but they weren't the answer. I then thought a 17 inch frame with 28 inch wheels would give me a bike with a longer wheelbase than a 26er, which would enable me, with the aid of a hockey stick seatpost, to position the saddle further back than normal to get the "leg stretch" that I spoke of earlier. The only bike that I managed to find that had a 17 inch frame and 28 inch wheels and (most important, this), a more relaxed rear tube, was the "Real Ideal Classic" retailed by Halford's. I missed out on the Deluxe version, which has a 5 speed SA hub gear because it had become unavailable, so I had to settle for the non-deluxe version, but it has proved to be great little bike which cost me about £230. The only shortcoming as far as I'm concerned, is the height of the bottom bracket (11 inches), for my needs I would have preferred it to be nearer to 9 or 10 inches from the ground. I'm now nearly 80, overweight, ex heart attack who needs exercise. Sadly the British bike industry (in common with every other country, it seems)does not cater for the likes of me, it seems it is more concerned with young riders with 30+ inside leg measurements who either road race or ride "off road".

Mr Fella - March 12, 2015

Nice article making some great points. I ride a +35 years-old Peugeot steel-frame road bike that's still in great condition thanks to being looked after, and so I reckon "ten years of use" can be increased a lot more - a good bike with good maintenance could last way longer.

david philips - March 5, 2015

great advice, some cheap bikes are so unconfortable with plastic grips and rock like seats that tbh if bits started to fail it would be a blessing as you would perhaps purchase a better quality bike witch with better brakes etc would be both more fun and safer.

Paul Elson - February 8, 2015

I have several bikes in my household - a vintage road bike, a couple of cheap kiddy MTB's, a Dawes MTB, Specialized custom MTB, Gary Fisher custom MTB, a cheap full suspension MTB, 2 full custom BMXs and another roadbike. Cheap bikes have a place in the market, some people are on a limited budget and the only option they have is to purchased one of these cheap bikes with cheap components - good on you if you are one of the people that have purchased one out of necessity (much better than relying on public transport and will keep you fitter). Poor welds are not limited to this type of bike, I have had to get a couple of frames re-welded due to substandard welding, poor components are also not limited to this type of bike - my daughters £350 Dawes MTB had an atrocious groupset with grip shifts on it (not now, Deore throughout). I tend to recommend that people look on the second hand market to purchase a bike on a budget, but make sure that they put some money to one side so they can have it professionally serviced. There is a bike on the market now days for every one, the cheap out of a box units that come in at around £100, to multi thousand pound bikes and everything in between. As everyday cyclists / mechanics we have a duty to educate people new to this hobby, but this doesn't necessarily mean stopping people only spending £100 on their new wheels, but giving them advice about their choices, suggesting other places to look for a bike, but most importantly not bullying them into making their purchases because you are a brand snob or wouldn't dream of buying second hand.

Nick - January 4, 2015

I used to own a Bianchi C2C 2012 model as a first road bike. For a brand name it had basic components, the cheapest components. It's rear derailleur sheared off on an uphill climb and gear change, the wheel needed rebuilding. I got it from a good bike shop. It had a foam saddle and normal pedals and it was quite heavy for a road bike, when it got stolen I got a Felt F95 2014 road bike reduced to 365.00 online, without riding it from a mail order company and am very happy with it. I have had clunky old mountain bikes that while heavy have ridden well as they have been maintained well. The Bianchi, for the price you would have thought would have had decent components on it and while Shimano, they were the cheapest of the lot. I also have a Scott Sportster 40 2012 model that cost me 600.00 pounds, and this has had it's problems but you need to maintain all your bikes which I do and it rides very well. I think my point is no bike is perfect whatever money you pay and like anything it needs to be serviced regularly. I pretty much reckon I can ride any bike at the speeds I do "heavy" or not. The point I am trying to make is that in my opinion the quality of a bike is all down to the owners servicing of it. The parts should last you years, but of course things happen on the road and that is all part of cycling.

A Bike Guru - December 30, 2014

I found this "article" while looking-up a bike I just took in as trade. While I agree with some-of-it, I think your an over-rated, EGO-maniacal, ELITIST! Typical "bike-Shop mentality". I too have worked on bikes for over 20 years. My favorite story is of a Certified Toyota mechanic who came to me with his BSO. A 12-year-old Huffy, and wanted to up-grade the shifting. After making sure he knew what a new one costs(with a $50 proper-assembly fee) he said "NO, I've tried $600 bike-shop-bikes and none FEEL like this one,..I know it's a tank, but it is bullet-proof, and I just want this-one to be retro-fitted with newer/better gears & brakes". he spent over $200 on his BSO and last I talked to him, logged 750 miles on it-NO problems. You see the biggest problem with BSO's is, assembly and maintenance. If you want to make a difference, HELP people who cannot afford your bikes and "expertise". Reach-out to the public, and educate them on proper assembly and care. Maybe the department stores will start training their assemblers better & have free "break-in" & adjustment warranties! You ever consider offering your knowledge to the local department store? Didn't think-so. I have, sometimes they listen. The least you can do is try to understand why they will ALWAYS out-sell you 20-to-1. it's not the hubs fault the bearings were way over tightened at the factory and never properly re-adjusted before ridden. I've seen TREK bikes come from the factory with exploded BB, HS, and hub bearings. Specialized & Giants with stripped threads and wrong size spokes. Get over yourself, Pal. Or at least be fair.

Rich B - December 19, 2014

"I see these BSO things being ridden. Hand on heart I've never slung a leg over one (nor would I). But I can understand why people buy them, They have no idea what a proper bike will do or how efficient they are." That's not true, I've a quality bike for touring on (Orbit with a 531 frame) however I use a BSO (a Magna with the dreaded plastic brake levers) on an almost daily basis. Why? Because I can quite happily leave it locked up at a train station/shop with minimal fear that some thief would bother to steal it! It's a sad state of affairs but I'm probably not alone in doing this. BSOs with a little bit of basic maintenance knowledge can be quite reliable commuters.

Nigel - November 29, 2014

I've owned a £3k Orange 5 Pro and upgraded it with a few hundred quid immediately to make it fit for challenging trails. I also have a 2008 Carrera Fury from Halfords for £500 that I really like and replaced the weakest parts before they failed - headset, bottom bracket and crankset. I have never had a problem with either bike but I am a stickler for cleaning and maintenance. My point is that before I bought these bikes and knew nothing, I bought my daughter a £100 full susser thinking it was a bargain. She rides it regulary, it never gets maintained, its horrible and heavy but the odd thing is, it has never failed - not even a puncture. Note it is only ridden on the road and paths and not MTB trails.

Ted McDonald - November 26, 2014

Good article, sound advice, but I wish I was earning the £518.70 now which your figures quote for 2005, I know they are probably government figures which are probably as bent as some BSO's

Neil - November 16, 2014

Great article. I only took up cycling a number of years ago because I gave up smoking. First bike was a cheap Decathlon BTwin bike which was okay, second a Raleigh which I never really liked but the bicycle that I own now I love. It's a Claud Butler Explorer 200 that I bought for 380e in the autumn of 2011. It's on its 3rd set of tyres, back sprocket and chain, has been robbed though I miraculously recovered it by pure chance of being in the right place at the right time though the brooks saddle and the suspension seat post had been replaced. In the summer of 2013 I cycled 1400km from Kilkenny to Lyon and suffered no more than one broken spoke and since then I have been cycling 12km and back to work each day without any problems whatsoever. Great bike. Keep a good bike clean and well oiled and it will last a lifetime.

Nige - October 30, 2014

Interesting article on the pitfalls of buying cheap.Your guy talks a lot sense and I agree with the basic concept of 'buy cheap,buy twice' [or three times!] My mantra in regard to buying kit when taking up a new interest is go for the best you can afford after doing plenty of research.My first bike was an Apollo Vortice Hybrid from Halfords for under 200 quid,hardly exotica but then again,not a £90 BSO.The bike is nice and light and I've had no probs with components packing in.At the time of buying I wasn't 100% sure I'd take to this biking lark,so no way was I going to shell out big bucks.Two years on Ive upgraded to a nice intermediate £500 hybrid,which I consider an outlay in line with [a] my available disposable income and [b]the amount of time I actually spend riding.This to me is a sensible approach,totally ignoring the snobbery and macho tosh element that does unfortunately infect biking as well as other interests/pastimes.P.S The Apollo is still in commission and provides a perfectly ok crap weather/winter hack.

Nick Taylor - October 13, 2014

Totally agree! However, I am almost certain you are "preaching to the converted" and the uninformed are difficult to reach. I have to say, having "been there, done that" regarding BSOs it still took me some time to really figure it out!How are you going to convince anyone to buy a 15 year old reasonable quality bike with repacked hub bearings, trued wheels, upgraded brakes, new BB, stainless cables and thoroghly tuned for the same price as an off the shelf BSO? ANSWER: - You're not!So how do you "educate" the uninitiated? I dont know! I would be pleased to receive any ideas for my "Recycle Rental" scheme which takes in klunkers and BSOs and turns out rideable bikes. Nick T Xylonbikes

Paul - September 22, 2014

In 1980 a wage after apprenticeship was 600 per month. a bike 100. Now, with minimum wage you get 900 per month. A bike should cost therefore 150. If I earned 500 per week I'd be able to afford the insurance for a car.

PB - September 17, 2014

What's even worse that buying a cheap BSO is when you pay a lot of money for a BSO you thought was going to be a real bike. When I was a kid in the 60's I had Raleigh bikes and assumed they were still bikes. Around 10 years ago I bought a 24 gear Raleigh hybrid for around 500 euros - it looked good and it was a Raleigh (I had been brainwashed into believing everything British was the best as a kid). Well it turned out to be the crappiest BSO ever. It was a US Raleigh thrown together with the cheapest available components. While the guarantee was valid (one year) I took it back to the shop around 30 times - every single moving part on it broke at least once. One the guarantee expired and it continued to fall apart I threw it away. I will never buy a Raleigh again - they are BSOs sold at real bike prices. I now have an excellent quality German Kalkhoff and an Austrian KTM mountain bike. The Kalkhoff was expensive but worth it. The KTM was an entry level mountain bike but so far no complaints about it.

PB - September 16, 2014

I bought a BSO. I keep it at work and use it to do short trips around town close to work. For that sort of use it's OK and I don't have to worry about it being stolen - I could leave it unlocked and nobody would nick it. Bits and pieces keep falling off it but I just bolt them back on. It doesn't have gears or suspension so not that many moving parts. It wouldn't last a week of real use but has lasted a few years the way I use it.

Faeye - August 3, 2014

Weekly wage from 2005? LOL,I cry so as not to weep. That's my monthly wage. A lot of people are in the same position as me. I read the off hand comments about buying a 1000 pound bike and weep. There's a reason people buy cheap bikes. It's going to take me close to a year to save up for a 1000 pound bike (I've got rent and food) and I just need it to go around now, that's all! I have bought second hand ones but got ripped off. Stop mocking us poor people. We are cheap for a reason.

graham everitt - August 1, 2014

I have had plenty of bso's over the yrs n 14yrs ago i was finally abke to buy a proper bike. I bought a carrera banshee with the 7000 series frame. A looney from my work bought it brand new n coz they released a version with disc brakes 2 wks after ojrchasin sed bike, he sold me the banshee for £80. I still have that bike n although ive had2 have it repaired a couple of times over the 13 or so yrs it was the best £80 i ever spent. The parts are a little exoensive compared to bso's but i wont part with it. I'l never go bk to havin a cheap bike. The difference between comfort and performace is unreal.

Marcus Ward - July 3, 2014

Considering how old this article is, it is still getting its fair share of comments. Great to see. I agree that cheap bikes are nasty. We bought a bike (a fair few years back) that really couldn't be called that for my oldest daughter. It was one of those Apollo brands for about £120. I really should have known better but truth be told, I knew she wouldn't use it much. She didn't! It was heavy and the twist grips far too stiff and the rear mech had a mind of its own. I currently own and use (almost daily) a Specialized Sirrus Elite Disc 2014 (Flatbar/Hybrid) and it's a nice bit of kit, runs fast & smooth, brakes are great and the frame is nice and light. But at £800 it's a bit on the expensive side for the average run on British crater sites (roads). Having said that, in late 1998, I bought a Carrera Banshee (from Halfords - sorry) for about £350. It's an old school hardtail with basic RST suspension forks. Standard Shimano gears, levers and V-Brakes, 7005 frame etc... But I still have it. It's a little on the heavy side but it's nothing I can't cope with. Apart from the seat and the brakes everything else is original and still working fine-ish. I replaced the bog-standard V's with some nice XT's and after that it stopped! Replaced the seat with a gel seat from Italy and I could sit on it all day. It's been a bloody great bike and later this year I shall strip it down completely and get it powder coated in a nice new BOLD colour then replace the other parts. Going to upgrade to discs, new lighter forks, and new crank & set and f&r mechs. I think the old girl deserves it. Lets see if I can get another 16 years out of it! On the opposite end of the spectrum, I still have a late 1980's handbuilt time-trialling road bike on Reynolds 653 frame/forks and Mavic rims/hubs with Campag, Shimano & Cinelli compoments. A great work of art and still runs sweet. So really cheap bikes are a waste of money but don't diss the lower mid-range stuff. It does last as my Carrera proves.

Tom - June 26, 2014

I run a hs bike club, love all kinds of bikes, and am not a bike snob. But you have eloquently and without the deep frustration I often hear described this situation. I fix bikes for friends and when they come with a BSO I show them all these things, usually something has broken like a brake lever in a way that a quality bike just wouldn't. Well written definitive article on the topic. Thanks.

Erik - June 8, 2014

Excellent article! However you left one important thing out; for the price of a new BSO you can get a 15 year old high quality bike, I think it's worth mentioning.

Kristin - June 8, 2014

Great article, have been googling for info on bad bikes, let me tell you in the USA it is even worse. I squarely blame Walmart for creating this business model, everything ,must be CHEAP. Also even among bike specialists high volume chains are taking over and hurting smaller shops. These are only a little better, the bikes themselves are a notch better but they don't employ really skilled mechanics like the best shops do. Oh, and I saw a bike (sold online) called a GMC Denali, name officially licensed from General Motors to promote their jumbo luxury monster 4x4 SUV. It has a dropped racing style handlebar *chopped in half* and fitted with cheap grip shifters in the middle so the stem holds it together!I am not making this up.

like a bos - May 27, 2014

I'm expecting delivery of a boxed bike today. 200 euros, everything is bottomline shimano. It's made of 7000-series tubing instead of the 6061 you find most good bikes made of. It weights about 12kg regardless and due to the heavier tubing makes an excellent touring bike. I don't waiste money, despite you thinking that's what most people buying cheap bikes do. I research and buy the best stuff the money can buy.

Dan - April 27, 2014

Excellent article. Just don't forget second hand. I bought my bike from one of the brilliant second hand bike shops in Hove (G-whizz). It's a battered old frame lovingly restored with high quality components for £250. Ridden it round town daily for 6 months and couldn't be happier!

Simon Davies - April 25, 2014

Your mileage may vary when it comes to Halfords bike mechanics, but I thankfully have had nothing but a good experience with them to date. You will find that if your bike was assembled by the Saturday guy, you may not be onto a winner - but they do have their seasoned mechanics in the odd shop. Even these rare few lament the quality and limitation of their compatriots work and abilities. Myself and my wife bought Carrera II Hybrid Bikes back in 2009 for around the £250 mark, both bikes are still going strong. My wifes bike is completely original (she doesn't put the miles in I do), and there is no rust or play in the brakes or problem with the handlebars or wheels. The Truvativ bottom bracket and crank seem bomb proof to date. I've punished it quite severely on times :-) I have had three 'incidents' on the bike involving cars and various objects that decided to try and occupy the same space as me, hence why I have rebuilt a lot of the bike myself :-) I bent the rear mech, did something nasty to the front mech, sh*gged the rear wheel hub and all sorts. When it came down to it - the frame is solid and not heavy at all, it took the abuse I gave it. The gears were changing badly after my incidents and the wheels weren't happy. As I was starting to consider commuting to work 11 miles each way I thought I would spend a bit of cash on it. Replaced the brake levers, rear shifter, front and rear mechs, rear cassette (9 speed as opposed to 8) both wheels, front brake (switching the old 180mm front brake/rotors to the back, giving me 180mm brakes front and back. I even shelled out for some fancy grips and bar ends. Oh yes and a new chain as the other one had some *very* stiff links in it (and a bit of corrosion) *blush*. In fairness it probably cost me almost the same again to bring an already half decent bike up to a very good spec. The frame, forks, bars, headset, BB and crank etc were a good platform to build on. Again, your mileage may vary - this was some years ago but I have done thousands of miles on my various bikes (two of them from Halfords, one (Road bike) from an evil internet place [it wasn't cheap!] ;-)). P.S. People should tell you things such as carbon seatposts should be removed regularly for greasing and checking! Just one of the latest things to pop up and bite me!

Rich - April 20, 2014

Don't be too quick to pooh-pooh all the cheaper brands. I bought a Viking San Demo in 2012 which was amazing. Basic, yes. But simarly specd bikes from more premium retailers were heavier, had cheaper gearing components and were a bit ugly! It lasted really well with nothing going wrong other than a seized rear brake.. Which i put down to my lack of cleaning more than anything. The important thing is to do a bit of research and not just buy something because of the name or because its cheap.

Anthony Faulkner - April 11, 2014

Thanks very much for an excellent article. I had my fingers burnt a few years ago with a BSO,never again. My current Trek Navigator 300 is still going after 11 years.Thanks again.

Anonymous - March 31, 2014

I'm the chap who exchanged the BSO for a much better quality Voodoo Marasa - See: Anonymous - November 18, 2012. I wanted to add further commentary - I never had a decent bike as a child because we had different (and, might I say, valid) priorities - For that reason my 'mountain bike' (good luck with that) was very heavy and would probably qualify as the BSO of the era. As I didn't enjoy riding the BSO, ultimately, I rarely used it and rapidly lost interest in cycling. So, now that my own son is five, I have bought him a nice, light Islabike Beinn 20, and we go out cycling together. Islabike residuals are great, so I expect to get most of the value back when I sell the bike, effectively trading it for the next size up. What happened to my the BSO that I posted about in November 2012? I gave it away for free to someone walking past my home. Perhaps I should feel guilty? A few days later I noticed what I believe to be the same bike on the back of a rag and bone man's flatbed lorry.

Andy - March 18, 2014

My son's friend's Apollo bike lost it's rear hub bearing soon after he bought it. Damn thing is a kids scooter bearing. You are so right about these cheap bikes. Here in New Zealand the bicycle retail stores sell these. And it's not cheap to be ripped off at $399 NZD = 190 British pounds. I always buy good used bikes with Shimano etc. Knock off products are a bad idea. Some people in NZ even apply for finance to buy these so called bikes.

Scott - March 17, 2014

Great article. I made the mistake of buying a Saracen from Halfords some years ago. Dual suspension. 300 smackers. The bike ended up rotting in my shed with numerous very costly repairs needed.It still looked nice and shiny and someone pinched it.In fact, I was glad to be rid of it and was put off cycling. Then, last year I bought an old Raleigh Mustang off of Gumtree for 20 smackers. What a bike. Bmx bottom bracket and all. All original, although it has been mildly pimped. I've been doing 5 miles to work and back every day for over a year atop 46 lbs of steel and can honestly say it's the best 20 quid I ever spent. It's perfectly aligned and has decades left in it if looked after. It's a pity that they don't make Raleighs any more. Kids today are subjected to such rubbish.

Greg - March 5, 2014

Very helpful, informative article and still relevant 8 years later. Thanks.

Ajeya - February 18, 2014

I wish I had the average weekly wage projected!. I get less than half that as monthly pay LOL!. I got a bike , the cheapest available, others (in StackExchange) and probably you call it BSO. Thanks for the other parts of the writing, it was a good read.

Matt tricker - February 15, 2014

Loved the article, I have had a few Apollo bikes, and they never last, every month I have to take my bike back to Halfords, I know the staff by their first names as I'm in their so often! going to try a Boardman next.

David - February 12, 2014

Absolutely! The bicycle is the most efficient form of transportation yet devised and bike technology has improved amazingly - in recent years.BSO's are invariably made from heavy and 'dead' feeling 'Hi-Ten' steel and the components and tolerances are so poor that they are of no use whatsoever. Many people - me included - have no mechanical leaning, whatsoever. We just want things to work and work every time. We want performance and durability. I paid one thousand pounds for my Cannondale in 2006 - it was half price. It has bullet-proof Mavic Kysrium Elite wheels, a CAAD 8 Optimo frame - with hand finished welds and a full Ultegra Group Set. It has arguably the best crankset in the world - Cannondale Hollowgram with carbon cranks, a carbon premium plus fork and carbon FSA seatpost. It just works as an extension of my body - every time, all the time: it is a joy to ride. When I need to go somewhere I go on this - I don't race. It is my transportation. I am 49 and have no interest in driving. Maintenance is minimal and I have found someone who works from home and charges very little to adjust the gears or service components, from time to time. I ride all year round - with breathable waterproofs and neoprene over-shoes: it is never a problem. I run low end spd pedals and shoes as on "road shoes" you are reduced to waddling like a duck, off the bike. I have no interest in racing or competition. If I want to rest my back - I can easily take my hands off the bars and ride without hands for a moment - it is beautifully balanced. I understand that people think a bicycle should be cheap but that is nonsense - labour is expensive and if you have to take a piece of rubbish into the bike shop to get it "fixed" - understandably they will not be interested and - if they are - the maintenance is likely to cost more than the bike itself. Even if one wanted to "do it yourself" - one would have to buy tools - none of which are cheap. I understand that very few of you will want to go "high end". That's fine - just please don't buy a BSO! Don't bother with heavy suspension, don't get seduced by all that marketing nonsense about number of gears - it is the ratios that matter most, not the number. One of the best value all round bikes for those who want to keep the money to an absolute minimum - today - appears to be Halford's "Carrera Subway Hybrid Limited Edition 2014" at two hundred pounds. As a bike to start on and a reasonable commuter for the terrible roads in the UK - it looks fine. Plus, if you put "knobblies" on it - you could have fun enjoying "light" off road. I don't work for Halfords or in the bike industry at all - I work in social care! Apart from the "Subway" exception - a 2014 bike - always buy last year's model: or older! Look for "clearance" bikes and so-called "soiled" bikes. Sometimes "soiled" bikes will simply have an imperfection in the paintwork or an almost indiscernible scratch but - as a result - are massively discounted. For circa £300 pounds it is possible to pick up a decent bike by "Pinnacle" or "Specialized", for example. Yes £300 will buy you a decent "Hybrid" or "Mountain" bike. However, decent "Road" bikes appear to start at circa £400. With bikes - in a sense - the more you spend the less you get. Here, I refer to bike weight. Partly why my bike is such a joy to use is that it is light. Light is not necessarily faster - that is down to power, endurance and aerodynamics - it just feels good and it is easier to carry a light bike, of course. Don't buy "Apollo" or "Viking" bikes or any similar thing because essentially they are not really bicycles - they look like a bicycle and that is where the similarity ends. It is cheap bikes in childhood, adolescence and - rarely - later that I believe is partly responsible for the rush to the car. If more individuals could simply experience how enjoyable and how easy riding a modern, perfectly set-up bike - of the correct size - actually is - the world would be a better place (?) 'Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.' - H.G. Wells

Fly - February 10, 2014

I agree wholeheartedly with this article. My own recent bikes: 1. Free (with UK mobile phone) mountain bike in 2003. The claimed retail price was about 100 quid. OK bike but heavy, unresponsive and always needing adjustment. It was later stolen when being used by a friend. What a relief! 2. Free Trek hybrid road bike 2005-2007. I scored this for free after it had sat outside uncovered for at least 2 years. I cleaned and lubed everything that didn't need disassembling, installed a new chain, pumped up the tires and off I went. Gears were smooth, very light & responsive compared to the shitty mountain bike. Only other repairs needed were about 4 months before it was stolen after about 20 months of regular use - brakes and new back wheel. 3. Trek hybrid front suspension bike 2007 to now: Decent new bike from a bike store for about 350 or 400 quid. The front forks are a waste of time and needs regular cleaning to hold rust pitting at bay. That aside, the bike is still great on the road or light off-road. Like my earlier Trek, the components are very good - not top of the range mind - but decent quality. Apart from semi regular lubes (when I get round to it), I'm not constantly wasting time sorting out the brakes or gears. The wheels are still closer to true than I'd ever get them myself, blah blah. Although I get the idea of burning more calories riding a tank, given my semi-infrequent riding, I'd rather enjoy my rides feeling able to go that extra mile with the confidence that the next time I go to ride my bike it will work for me first time without wasting half the day sorting out issues that a couple of quid (or dollars for me now) spent earlier would have avoided. Same goes for motor scooters. I have a well used 1972 Honda C50 which is covered in surface rust, blows a bit of smoke when it gets really hot but rides nicely and works every time I choose to ride it. I talk to guys who have bought cheap Chinese 50cc bikes and have constant problems with threads stripping on nuts and bolts, bits constantly snapping off, falling off etc.

Lee - February 2, 2014

I fully agree with your article in some respects. But, this is a big but!! A BSO cheap £100 bike can suffice even for regular use if the rider learns to accept the bikes limitations and learns how to carry out the adjustments to the cheap headset. I am a regular rider with a 8 mile hilly round trip commute and use such such a bike (an old Apollo XC.26 from Halfords, I paid £25 second hand). I have had very expensive bikes in the past, my usual commuter is a Trek and the yes a quality bike is much nicer to ride in all respects; that does not mean however a cheap bike is not fit for general use. For a start, someone using it to try and get fit. They have to work harder and use more calories! I constantly get overtaken by fellow cyclists on my way in to the Airbase that I am currently stationed, they are usually on super slick, light roadbikes. Do I care no! they are only gaining a few minutes on me with the Apollo. This Bike has been doing this journey daily for over 5 years and has been overseas. Ensuring your bike is correctly setup both mechanically and adjusted to the rider is the most important thing to ensure if you are going to use a cheap bike, poor setup from the box or department store is not a reason to not buy a cheap bike! A bike is a bike! your legs and fitness levels are key even though the bike is heavy, yes you go up hills a bit slower but be careful with gear changes and self service checks the bike will last. Enjoy your riding if you become a regular rider get a better bike, I personally still enjoy riding this very cheap bike especially when overtaking people on very expensive Hoofin fast bicycles at times :-)

Andy Collins - January 28, 2014

The BSO is the reason why many people don't ride a bicycle. The buy a BSO reasoning that they're not 'good enough at cycling' to spend more. Go out for their 1st ride on a sunny afternoon, and return knackered. What they don't realise is, that it wasn't them, it was that heavy, cheap built crap they were trying to push along. If £100 is you're limit then buy second hand. I bought a second hand GT Palermo for £25 and even though it's 10 years old its got another 20 years of life in it. ps Ed commenting on apr 13 2013 is a liar

MJK - January 17, 2014

Excellent article. Most of the people commenting in favor of BSO most likely do not actually ride trails, or if so, probably fire road. Cheap bikes simply cannot stand up to the rigors of actual mountain biking especially freeride and all mountain.

johnny - December 16, 2013

i really admire your word here.An era of disposable bikes, I learned this lesson the hard way. i knew it when you describe what it is, i own a bso but it's still good after a year and expect another year from it. it did not last because of its quality it lasted because i loved my bike(Always doing maintenance) it just cost me less than 80 dollars. after everyday of cycling to school i really notice how low the quality is but i adapted and took care of it. any way the bottom line is the guy who wrote this article is so RIGHT. if you are going to buy a bso be sure to know how to love a bike.

Mark Cummings - December 14, 2013

Whilst I agree with the sentiment, and agree that you do get what you pay for, my BSO has done me very well..... in 1993 I paid £99 for a Jumpro mountain bike (sorry BSO) from Kwik Save. I was a student at the time. 20 years later I still have it and it is fine.... What have I had to fix on it in this time? Well I bought some lights, and about 5 years ago I fitted some new tyres, and then bought some better lights last year, but cant really blame the bike for light technology moving on! oh, and I fitted a pannier rack and bought some bags a few years ago. Last year I bought some nicer bags with a quick release system. In that time, I have covered literally thousands of happy miles on that bike, including up and down mountains in Wales (on the road, i'm not into that through the trees stuff), have done the London to Brighton twice and the London Bikeathon at least 10 times and always put in a very respectable time (and I am not that fit). Yes, it is a heavy bike, and it will never win any speed trials or a fashion contest....but I love it and it has never let me down. That said, I have just bought a Carrera Zeus 2014 for the occasional sprint commute to work (mainly because I am trying to get into the top 10 on a number of segments in Strava), but I will continue to ride the Jumpro as well, and looking at it, I am pretty sure it will last another 20 years, although new bikes will probably hover by then!

Tim Burbick - December 13, 2013

There are cheap bikes that are of superb quality... ...have a pre war model! These are still given away free (I was given mine). The quality and solidity of such a bicycle is so amazing. With Steel rims, white wall tyres, sometimes rod brakes, a 'proper' Brooks saddle and a 'Lucas King-of-the-road' chrome bell what more can one require from such a steed!

Jsson - December 3, 2013

I bought a claud butler 1992, at the time I was on good wages for my age ( 20 ) so decided to treat myself, I have since passed it on to my father

Phil - December 1, 2013

Great article.May I make a very small argument in favour of a BSO? I bought a used Apollo Slant for 20 quid as an emergency back-up for my Trek.The Slant is heavy and not a great ride for the 10 mile round trip to work. So my point is I would never buy a BSO as my main bike but a used BSO as back-up is not a bad idea.

Douglas - November 10, 2013

I think this is an incredibly valuable article. I don't think everyone should buy very expensive bikes but far too many people seem to buy very cheap bikes which look good to get started cycling. Sadly, they end up thinking cycling is difficult and they get less joy from it as a result. This article gives excellent advice.

Anon - November 9, 2013

Having just spent a year working in Halfords (incidentally, the mechanics at my Halfords are great) I agree whole heartedly with the comments made. All Apollos and some of the Raleigh's are not fit to be called bicycles. Trax are just a joke. We need to have eaten our weetabix to lift the full sussers into the work stand. Trying to set up the gears on these bikes is nigh on impossible. Grip shifts are stiff on a lot and they expect kids and women to be strong enough to turn them. Wheels are always untrue. We are supposed to take 20 mins to assemble each bike out of the box which is a joke. Some can take up to an hour once you have taken wheels off to sort out hubs and re true, At Xmas we don't have time to do this so make the best of a bad job. They are an embarrassment to sell. We do our best to discourage people buying them and to spend a bit more on a Carrera which aren't bad bikes. I also personally tell them that the suspension on these bikes is a gimmick and will break if you ride it over so much as a kerb. I'd probably be sacked if the manager heard me. We are then supposed to sell bike care plans with these bikes, believe me they need it because it will break! The problem is that kids grow out of bikes, they are often thrown around and thus parents don't want to spend much money on them. They themselves know that the life expectancy is only a year and that they will throw it after a year. Thus the market is there for companies to exploit by producing cheap crap. There is no excuse for an adult to fall into the same trap though. As said, we at our branch are honest about the bike and try and explain the benefits of spending more. Unfortunately, not all Halfords staff are like this, owing to the pay, hours and lack of prospect, most mechs are straight from school using it as a fill in job whilst at uni or until something better comes along It's a shame because Halfords do sell good bikes too.

mark - November 8, 2013

Iam still amazed it is common for such piles of dangerous rubbish to be sold.I commute to work in all weathers and have had bikes brought to me at Christmas to unbox for friends in the past. Some are barely rideable and many had to have brakes replaced for ones that actualy work. Refused to do this again. These bikes were for children to ride safely.How many have been put off cycling because of the pretend bike they had as a child? Second hand good bikes work if the stigma of having an old one can be got around.I prefer to call mine classics. Many people research buying washing machines etc but spend little or no time on purchasing a bike. My next triple butted steel framed mountain bike may cost me more than the 30 pounds I paid for the last one if more people spent some time on the internet getting a little wiser. But the one I have Will outlast me I think.

Dazoo - November 5, 2013

Never a true word said to be honest. All this bollocks about cycling being elitist and for rich people is exactly that, bollocks. I'm not rich and save up for my hobby. You get what you pay for plain and simple. I have a Specialized FSRxc full susser and decided to take a family member out for an off road ride on his Apollo BSO. The thing fell apart. The supposed suspension didn't work, the gears kept jamming and spokes got bent which could have been dangerous. We only did 8 miles of a local loop which wasn't taxing at all. My "overpriced" bike just lapped it up. It's just not worth it in the long run at all.

Ben Wylie - November 2, 2013

Absolutely brilliant, I love this guy!

Tim - October 26, 2013

In reply to 'Aston Villa' - I used to think like that and so do the majority of people who ride a bike to the shops and that's about it. Even then, if £75 is your budget you'd have a more reliable bike that a shop will likely be prepared to repair when it needs it (and it's not likely you will), if you bought a reasonable simple second hand bike for going to the shops for the price. A £75 very heavy very cheap full sus will not last at all. Something fails and repairs are expensive so it sits in the shed for the next 10 years. I spent £300 back in 2000 on effectively a BSO and I thought that was a hell of a lot. It was heavy and a pain to ride, so not much enjoyment out of it. It was only for local shops and park etc anyway. Sat in the shed for 5 years. I then found singletrack and started riding it actually off road. It fell apart almost instantly. Then it was clear. I now own some seriously expensive kit and ride hills, mountains, even the Alps. However that doesn't mean you have to. If you just still want a bike to ride to the shops there's plenty of proper bikes you can get for a low budget or better second hand. This is not about cheap is bad, but about cheap BSOs are bad.

Eric Phillips - October 20, 2013

I repair bikes. The writers sentiments are spot on. But the biggest problem is that a lot of people who buy cheap expect skilled mechanics to fix them for a cost relative to the cost of the bike. All bikes will need maintenance. Cheap bikes have cheap parts. They don't last as long and the labor for repair is no different. If you want to buy a cheap bike, just don't expect mechanics to give you a breakjust bebecause you think it shouldn't cost more than your bike to fix it.

Nigel - October 15, 2013

This is an amazing article which should be printed and taped to the window of every Halfords shop in the UK. Sadly, I guess there are laws to prevent it being allowed. I bought what for me was an expensive bike, ( a Voodoo Bakka, which at around £400 quid is a solid little beast. But dear oh dear oh dear, Halfords really need to get their act together when preparing the bikes for delivery. Mine was rattly, the brakes not quite right, saddle loose and bell missing. I'm not bothered about a bell, but in exchange for £400 and the choosing of a reasonable brand, I got home disappointed. And this is something Halfords need to address.

Moz - September 28, 2013

Great article. Our imported Welsh mechanic introduced the term to us and it's stuck. The shop I work in charges $100 just to look at a BSO (we're in Oz). Trouble is, once we touch it every single problem with it from then on is our fault. So we try very hard not to touch them at all. If you can't afford a new bike that works, buy a second hand one. The old three speed bikes still work, my theory is that anything that's still rideable after 10 years of use will go almost forever.

Steve - September 23, 2013

Nothing like the subject of money to divide folk and get people on the defensive... The point is not about how big your wallet is, more how wisely you use it. I used a well known auction site to pick up a used Cube cyclocross bike with full Shimano 105 groupset, for just over £100 (I asked suitable questions to ensure it wasn't stolen). It has now replaced my £1000 road bike as my first choice for enjoyable riding.

Kevin - September 19, 2013

I pretty much agree with this. I recently bought a Claude Butler Hybrid for £350, everything works great and it flies.My wife and I share it and she commutes to work on it with ease.My bike snob friend reckoned I needed to pay twice as much. Some of these people make me laugh, they buy these incredible expensive bikes totally forgetting that they are grossly overweight and unfit. It is like fitting a 1980s Skoda engine in a Porsche! I just gave my 8 year old daughter a mountain bike I made from 2 that had been left out by somebody for the scrapman. It works great for getting to school, brakes good gears precise.I know it will need very regular maintenance but who cares it was free and serves a purpose.

Kali The Destroyer - September 16, 2013

I saved up for a LONG time (& used my redundancy chq too) to buy my Dawes Galaxy. That was 18 yrs ago, she's been hit by a car twice, and still rides as good as new. No rust, no bent bits, and she still carries up to 7 carrier bags of grocery shopping, plus dog (in the trailer). Buy good, buy only once in a lifetime.

Dave - September 13, 2013

I think I agree with the general idea that if you buy cheap you have to buy twice. However, some of us can't afford expensive bikes. My urbanlite from buybuybikes has lasted me over 2000 miles with no issues apart from having to get a service before I used it. Not a bad little bike if I don't say so myself for circa £200!

Andrew Carr - August 23, 2013

A succinct attempt by someone passionate about bikes to do those people thinking about buying a bike for pennies a favour. DON'T!Most other reviewers seem to agree. What I would add is that second hand bikes can be bought cheaply but allow buyers to trade up in performance compared to what they would have been able to afford buying new. £75 for a new complete bike? Forget it! I wouldn't use it to hang clothes from. £75 on ebay, now I would start to listen, with caution...NO 1 bit of advice is ASK SOMEONE WHO IS A KEEN CYCLIST THEIR ADVICE, likely they will point out a reasonable buy and not say that there's nowt worth having below £1000. Thing is, as with all things and all people, there are cyclists and there are cyclists; a small minority will buy cheap and only use every weekend to nip to the corner shop or ride on a flat pavement so will not reach the very limited abilities of a cheapo ride. Within reason, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR *ABOVE A CERTAIN LEVEL* Bikes, houses, cars, care homes. This is not snobbery, but a quest for functionality. Want a bike on a budget? Speak to your friendly bike shop/ask around friends and family/ebay/freecycle. Keep wheeling guys, suck it up.

Aston Villa - August 21, 2013

What a biased article that does not take into account that not everyone is a snob with cash falling out of their pockets as they walk. Everyone I know has a relatively cheap bike - i.e. cost up to £150 (usually far less) and none of them have any problems; some of these people have owned them for years. My kids all have bikes that cost under £75 each and I've saved an absolute fortune if the ridiculous prices being flaunted on this site are to be believed. So, yeah go ahead and throw your money away if you want to keep fooling yourself and want to continue acting like an elitist snob. Me and all the people I know will continue to pay peanuts in comparison and have no noticeable detrimental effect on our riding experiences and will spend the money we've saved on useful things.

steve Padmore - August 17, 2013

I am a poor man and can't afford cheap cheap and buy twice. Excellent advice in a well written article.

Keith - August 16, 2013

'Bloke' turned up on the doorstep with an 'old style' bike. Turns out to be a Raleigh Ventura from about 1985. Asked for £10.. deal. It has now become a restoration project given it was/is in a sorry state. Probably left in the compost heap for the last 15 years. Given I am doing it you should have some sympathy for the bike, live and learn. I did not haggle over the £10. It is a bike in the old mould and it will, already has, cost me more than a BSO to end up with a pile of bits in my bedroom and there will be more because I am salvaging its bits as much as I can rather than 'buying new'. Some of those will be due for a later tidy up or replacement. Why? I'm an old bloke and today bikes are just plart. Assuming I do not pop my clogs prior to riding the restoration this one will be for life. Buy good and take care of it.

grant oddy - July 17, 2013

while i agree with your article.. but i must say not everyone can afford anything more than a cheap bike.. i have a bike that cost me £200 and i could never afford to pay out more than that.

Terry Sullivan - July 9, 2013

When I bought my bikes (a Cannondale MTB and a Principia/Ultegra road bike) I was able to test ride them before purchase as well as knowing that they would not only be put together well but also set up for me in terms of saddle position etc. They weren't cheap (but not top of the range either) but certainly good value for money. I've had them 15 years now, kept them clean and regularly serviced and they are still a joy to ride. I often get comments from other riders about how they look and even offers to buy them. I know it's tough when budgets are tight but I would certainly recommend taking a bit longer to save up in order to get the benefits in the long term.

Adrian hook - July 6, 2013

I remember when a bike was just ... A it's some overpriced envoirenmental statement .ooooh look at me ,I spent 5 grand on a push bike and I'm saving the planet.!! Take me back to the good old days when all we needed was a purple chopper and bag of cola cubes. 5 grand on a bike, it's sounds more ridiculous the more you say it!!!! I bought my car for less it's got a heater 4 seats and a stereo.your 5grand bike gives you nothing but debt and a sore arse.

Ade Myers - July 2, 2013

I certainly agree that buying a proper bike is a better investment than a BSO. I bought a Trek Singletrak 920 (non-suspension mountain bike) in the late 1990s for about £350. I chose this bike because I wanted a decent quality bike that was mechanically simple. I left the bike in a zip-up nylon cover in a semi –derelict garage for 12 years. When I removed after all those years, it was in absolutely pristine condition and in perfect working order, it just need the tyres pumped up to be back on the road. It is a shame that the bike manufactures don’t seem to do this category of model anymore, ie. Simple but good rigid MTBs. I suppose the nearest equivalent in the current market would be a cross bike. It is also shame that the BSO market is driven by impressive looking spec s and features rather than quality production and components. They could actually a produce something much closer to a proper bike is they ditched the fancy looking (but totally rubbish) suspension, disk brakes, multi gears, etc.

Matt - June 27, 2013

This was really interesting! I have bought a cheap bike two times. The first time it was a complete waste, the rear derailluers didnt move at all or change... Soo I thought I'd give it another chance and bought another bike(full suspension). The rear suspension didn't even move and you could've called it a hardtail, except I rode it A LOT forctge two weeks I had it and the front forks had started to bend. After that I decided never to buy a cheap bike again and I was serious about it

Paul - June 12, 2013

I certainly agree with this article, although not with all of the comments. I joined my employers cycle to work scheme, however I was limited to one place to purchase from- Halfords. I chose a VooDoo and picked it up fully assembled the next day, it was a pleasure to ride and I had absolutely no problems ( until it was stolen). I'm now thinking about getting a carrera hybrid.

Rich - June 5, 2013

Stumbled across this after my cleaning lady asked me to have a look at her BSO after just 18 months - it's made by "McKenzie" which is popular in germany. I really couldn't believe the state of it and the quality of components when I started looking at it. I've got plenty of spare bits and bobs, so managed to replace the wheels, rear mech, cranks, bottom bracket, brake levers and calipers (i.e. everything that moves) which were all well on their way out. When you consider what that the components and labour would've cost compared to a new reasonable bike, it's a definite false economy unless you're literally only using it a couple of times a year.

Mark B - June 5, 2013

I'm in two minds about this article, but I completely appreciate what is said. I bought a BSO from a Decathlon store in 2009, one of their bottom-of-the-range 'Original 3' hybrid models for £109 . Admittedly I haven't riden it a huge amount, but I've chucked it about a bit on road, off kerbs and along bumpy trails and not had a single problem in the 4 years I've owned it. As far as I can recall, as regards maintence, I've only had to adjust the brakes once, and that's it. But two days ago I decided to upgrade to something a bit more comfy due to a back problem, so got an 'Original 7' for £229, which has front and rear suspension and a gel saddle. I cycled to and from work yesterday (about 3 miles total!) and felt a clicking through the pedals, like a dodgy bearing in the main pedal crank. At one point this slipped and crunched audibly. Also, the gears kept jumping out of place, and looking down I noticed the pedal cog was slightly warped. And the 'expensive' gel saddle included was not half as comfortable as they touted it. I'm taking it back today and (hopefully) getting a refund. So I think, as regards my experience with BSOs from large French chainstore retailers, it's a case of pot luck. I'm going back to my original BSO, fitting a comfier saddle and looking out for one of those suspension seat posts that the article author mentioned.

graham - May 30, 2013

i bought a Trax TR1 5months ago in halfords, cost me 84.99 euro. (with my 15% axa card discount) put it together in 5minutes have to say i cycle it nearly everyday and the only mishap i had was the chain came off once

Spokey Dokey - May 28, 2013

I see these BSO things being ridden. Hand on heart I've never slung a leg over one (nor would I). But I can understand why people buy them, They have no idea what a proper bike will do or how efficient they are. Why buy a £100 full susser if your on the footpath just going to work. mind you even a £1,000 full susser can be bad, I got my friend to walk away from a B****man in Halfords because it wasn't built properly. Admittedly it could have been sorted out at home, but the brake levers flexed and it weighed too much. Buy in haste, relent at leisure.

Taylor Wenslow - May 25, 2013

This article is so true! I have had many BSOs in my lifetime, and found them to be horrid. From childhood on, BSO after BSO. Recently purchased a (very) used late 1970s Huffy 3 speed for $35US. Best bike I've ever owned. It rides nice and smooth, the brakes are razor precise, the gears all work. The frame is solid and the paint still looks good for it's age. It's all original parts minus the saddle which is a replacement from a similar British 3 speed. Newer Huffy bikes I've ridden have proven to be just as horrible as other BSOs. I suppose some brands forgot what quality was. I've even ridden some horrible newer Schwinn bikes! I love my old 3 speed Huffy, clunky as it is. I've never owned a more mechanically sound bike than this. All the parts feel very sturdy, like they'll never break! Sure is creeks a little, but it's almost 30 years old! And the bit the creaks isn't anything of much importance, just an apparently added on analog speedometer/odometer. So far I've only put 10 miles on this bike, but it's a pleasure to ride! The gears are clutched! (You have to stop pedaling after changing gears, then pedal again for the gear to catch!) almost like a failsafe in case you didn't mean to shift!

Jason - April 18, 2013

Well I was going to buy a bike from a local supermarket in Poland called I though as long as the frame is alu and brakes are shamui you will be ok. Their is also bit like ebay. selling bikes. aprox price is 900zl is 180 pound. Names like Romet delta 28' frame. Its a mine field and as I am a novice and beginner thought I need to crawl before I walk. Please help. This is a great cite by the way.

Manuel - April 14, 2013

I agree with you, but it also depends on how much you're going to use it and how well you service it. Last year, coming to the UK and needing a form of transport, I got a BSO from an on-line retailer for £50. Apart from a flat tyre in the first few days of using it (in its defence, the track I was riding on was lined with spiky shrubs!) and some fiddling with the brakes I had no major trouble with it (no broken chains, no issues w/ frame, nothing serious!). True, I only did about 700k in 6 months, and it does need a new set of callipers for the back brake (couldn't be bothered to fix it yet...), but for £50 I got what I expected, and I believe that if I service it properly and take care of it it should last me a lot more. In addition, I had a couple of friends who bought the very same bike at the same time as me (from the same retailer!) and they had a lot of trouble with them (missing screws, things falling apart, rustiness...). One can also be lucky, perhaps in my case the blokes in the factory were actually manufacturing the bike properly! However, now I got myself a entry-range Raleigh commuter bike. Even though I only paid around £180 for it, which is still in what you call the BSO range (it was last year's model, so it had quite a bit of a discount, I think originally it was closer to £300) I feel already a very big difference in relation to the one I had before, the build construction is noticeably better! And, since this is a bike which is used to commute and also to get to the shops at the town centre, I really don't want to shell £300+ in something that can be snatched easily (I have a sturdy-looking D-lock, but still!..).

Ed - April 13, 2013

I own a so called "BSO" and have done for 8 years. It cost me £29.99 from Tesco and is top quality. I have only replaced the cables and brake pads in all that time. I average 22 MPH. Great buy - bargain!

chris - April 12, 2013

I could not agree more, I bought a bike a year ago, having not rode a bike since I was a young teenager and all I was worried about was how much it would cost! after a few months of cycling it and trying out my brothers Carrera, I realized what a piece of shit it is. Its falling apart. I'm now saving up for a mid range hybrid, LOVE CYCLING NOW BTW!!

Will (Canada) - April 6, 2013

My wife and I bought our first bikes in 1977, for a little over $100 ea new. They were 10 speed bikes. They lasted until the mid 1980's and were a great ride. Our neighbours were moving and gave us two mountain bikes. After overhauling them, we got about 7 years out of them. Wanting more gears, we bought two used bikes originally costing $300 ea. at a reputable sports shop for just under $100. I later bought my daughter a used bike there for $129. It had a $1000 frame. She rode it for 6 years to University and now rides it nearly every working day to her teaching job. I bought my son a $700 Norco for $109. It has been a joy to ride for him. He broke the forks goofing around wo we are on the hunt again. Unfortunately our used bike supplier has retired. We are not that wealthy, so I do a lot of research and buy used. We have also learned how to service and maintain our bikes. You wrote an excellent article.

Count Spokeula - April 2, 2013

I bought two 1950's British 3 speeds, one for me, one for Mrs Spokeula - and we've never looked back. They are the best cheap bike's available. Tomorrow I am taking the Hal-crap-fords bike carrier to the tip after less that a year of use - broken screw threads. Rubbish!

Ralph Down - April 2, 2013

In the USA, we can buy Huffy and Roadmaster bikes for under $100, at Walmart.These are pretty reasonable bikes, and will certainly last longer than 2 years. Maybe there are a lot worse bikes available in your country? Actually, my usual mode of getting a new bike is to pick one up that someone has left at the dumpsters. The price is right! There is definitely something to be said for buying a cheap bike like the aforementioned at Walmart. And they have their place on school campuses or around town where theft is a problem. Thieves probably prefer your type of bike to mine! So, while you may have some good points, there is a good niche for my style of bike.

Alan oakley - March 28, 2013

I have my own shop and agree with your comments 100%. I have customers that actually work at halfords and will not have their bikes repaired there.

Woody - March 10, 2013

I work for a well known bicycle and car parts retail chain that sells bicycles ranging from the excellent quality right down to BSO's. I try really hard to put people off buying these things because they are simply dreadful and if used properly will just end up back in store for countless repairs and warranty. The threads strip, the nuts round, the bearings are awful and the brakes are poor. Everything is made as cheaply as possible. I bloody hate them and I hate my company for selling them alongside very reasonably priced quality bikes. Save your money.

John Clifton - February 23, 2013

Wonderfully written & structured article! Agree with every word of it! Hope the word goes out to all the people looking for bikes - I personally think those cheap bikes should be banned for health & safety reasons! Why isn't there a government body checking standards of these things before providing companies licences to operate/produce? Its a shame, because people's lives are at stake here! I always advised my friends looking for bikes but had smaller budgets to look for good quality used bikes instead of cheap new bikes! I personally grew up riding my grandfather's Hercules when I was in school. The bike is still in our family 60 years on & will give any new expensive bike a run for their money any day!!

DONALD KIRKBRIDE - January 22, 2013

Ive repaired bikes since i was 14 and am 54 now i learned how to build bike wheels in 13 weeks built a mtb wheel using a wheel that was out of true stripped it cleaned and serviced the hub with new bearings and spindle and rebuilt the whole wheel roadtest the wheel for six months in my muddy fox silver jaguar mtb then rechecked the wheel and only two spokes needed adjusted as for bikes from halfords or supermarkets halfords mechanics are a joke they dont know the name of components one didnt know what a rear mech was and another halfords i was in three of them were trying to assemble a bike! their assembly standard is abysmill the brakes dont work properly(levers come back to the bars) and the gears arent checked and set up properly the amount of people ive had bring me a halfords bike to get the brakes sorted is now 35 thats 35 dangerous and in my opinion unrideable bikes halfords sold to members of the public putting their lives in danger i worked in a bike shop 10 years ago and if i assembled a bike and the brakes and gears didnt work properly my employer would have read me the riot act none of the bikes assembled left the shop with poor brakes or the gears not working properly i also used to roadtest the bikes personally to ensure the gears and brakes worked 101% not 98 or 99 even but 101% only then would i let someone else ride that bike on the basis that if i feel safe on the bike then its ok to ride as for supermarket bikes if you have to buy one insist in one in its box not an assembled one and get a competent mechanic to assemble it ok it may only last six months but at least you will have ridden a safely assembled bike not one assembled by someone who knows nothing about bikes personally i wouldnt let a halfords bike mechanic within 3 ft of any of my bikes and if i bought a bike in halfords (which is doubtful) i would insist it was left in its box so that i could assemble it myself if they refused this request i would just tell them to forget it and walk out. in my opinion all halfords mechanics should be made to do a compulsory cytech course to learn bike mechanics properly instead they employ under 25's who ride mtb but just about grasp the basics of bike mechanics yet when i tried for a job with halfords 12 years ago i was told because of my age i didnt fit into their corporate image ie under 25 and know damn all about how to fix bikes.

Andrew - January 14, 2013

Just messing about and found this article. I cannot agree more. I am teaching myself, with the help of a big blue book, to fix bikes. A hobby you might say. I am by profession a heavy vehicle mechanic so I am fairly handy with tools and can figure out, mostly, how things are meant to work. My one piece of advice, spend the extra money and invest in a proper bike. Those cheapies from the department stores are rubbish. They are incredibly frustrating to service and tune. The parts and components are cheap and nasty. No sooner than you tune it, it goes out of whack on the test ride! I bought a Merida Matts bike about 20 years old. The fork has a crack on the clamping section which has been welded. It was cheap. In its day, it was a very good bike and it still is despite its age. I could tune it in about 20 minutes and be certain it will run as it is meant to. The BSOs will take over an hour of fiddling around and by the end of it, I am still not satisfied. So to finish off, buying a cheap BSO is false economy. It's dubious whether it'll last more than a year and your mechanic will not thank you. Buy a quality bike, and it'll still be with you in 20 years time.

will - December 31, 2012

Sometimes I wonder... well maybe the bso's are good cos they get people into cycling who otherwise wouldn't but then I suspect they are actually detrimental to the cause cos the ride is so unpleasant it probably ends up rusting in the shed and the person just assumes 'oh well cycling is just not for me'. For me the pleasure of cycling comes from using a machine that is smooth and responsive, I'm on a low wage but I've got a road bike and an mtb both from ebay that are very good quality and were both around half their original price- it took a bit of looking around but there's some good deals out there- especially bikes that are collection only.

Alan - December 24, 2012

I bought a mtb for 150 euros from a store called decathlon , I've had 5 years and sometimes take it off road , never had a problem with it, it's still going strong. So sometimes you can be lucky

Tony Thompson - December 23, 2012

It`s just common sense really, but what i find hard is getting a decent quality bike for my kids. There only seems to be junk out there for young children or the few that are decent seem to cost as much as an adult bike would with much better specs.

Luca - December 18, 2012

Very good article and so true.

Stephen Kittoe - December 6, 2012

Wayne seems to think that most of the commentators above are, effectively, snobs. They're not: they're criticising the peddlers (Gedditt?) of the monstrous bits of rubbish that are BSOs. I sell and buy back good bikes. I have noticed an almost inverse relationship, that is, the older the bike the smoother it rides. Amongst my stock I have a 1949 Rudge, a similar year Humber and a 1952 Rudge Whitworth. They may not sparkle and glitter like all those sheds' and online offerings but they all run "sweet as a nut" as a London used car dealer might aver.

Anonymous - November 18, 2012

Thanks for hosting this valuable material. I'd like to share my experiences given that my wife and I both recently bought bikes. My wife was the first to show interest, fighting hard against my best attempts at dissuasion. My view was that most bikes are not used and end up cluttering up the shed or garage. In my wife's case, this is exactly what happened, but only after I had spent £300 on a reasonable bike. Now, when we went to pick up my wife's bike, the queue was long, so inevitably I got bored. I saw (and actually bought) a Trax T700 hybrid for £60, thinking 'well, there's more chance of us using the bikes if we get one each'. The last time that I had ridden a bike was some 20 years ago so I was very impressed with the 700c wheels and V brakes. I spent the smallest amount of money that I thought that I could get away with, because, after all, bikes end up the garage and are seldom used. Mistake. Determined to get some value for the investment, I used the bike regularly, clocking up over 100 miles in just a few weeks... before the inevitable trouble. The gear / drive system was awful from day one: 'Clunky' just doesn't cover it. The bike had to be strongly encouraged to step up or down, despite mechanically sympathetic behaviour, such as never moving more than one cog. The chain slipped and regularly came off, meaning that rides invariably resulted in my hands getting covered in GT85. The saddle needed to be replaced before the second outing - It was badly designed and uncomfortable as a result. The wheels were untrue by the end of the first week. I suspect that the bottom bracket has issues because the whole frame seems to creak and knock when ridden. The tyres were unbranded and performed badly in the wet. The brakes performed very well in the dry but abysmally in wet conditions. The pedals were unfit for purpose: Any vigorous riding, particularly in non-ideal conditions, would result in my feet slipping, and on one occasion, I actually came off the bike. The bike was also unreasonably heavy... which to be fair may be a positive consideration for those wishing to lose weight. The gear levers were made of plastic, as suggested here, and while I had no immediate problems, would not expect them to hold up long term. So, the bike was a BSO, and the £60 investment resulted in my.... buying a better bike. It turned out that the BSO was *just* good enough to convince me that - despite it's shortfalls - I actually liked cycling. So, I returned to the shop and bought a Voodoo Marasa, this time costing £350. The difference is astonishing. The bike fits me. The brakes are razor sharp. The gear system is efficient. The frame - weighing less than I do - is responsive and well balanced. My feet never slip from the pedals. The saddle is comfortable. Let's face it, £350 is very little to spend on a bike, given that a gym or sports club membership can easily cost £700... per year!

Felix Fiera - November 3, 2012

Very Well Said, sadly they are everywhere!

Greg Archer - October 29, 2012

I am a bicycle mechanic and everything in this article is absolutely bang on. I could write a book about the horror stories I have seen in my workshop in the shape of cheap, horrible bikes with unknown names like 'Terminator' or 'Volcano' - all skip fodder.

Chris Riding - October 9, 2012

I bought a "Trax" maountain bike from Halfords for £79 last year for a 400k tour. Being completely ignorant of bike build quality and the concept of a BSO I felt incredibly annoyed at the "bike technician" who completed my transaction when he commented "yeah, this bike won't make the trip, its rubbish" when I told him about my planned tour. Having returned from said tour I concluded that he was right. The tour was awesome, the bike, wasn't. Snapped chain, painful gear changes and what felt like a foot long razor on my posterior. I have since purchased a Dawes Vantage for £600, and the difference in ride quality is indescribable. I returned today from a 45k jaunt around Canterbury and Whitstable today and I am literally wetting myself at the thought of planned 500k tour in France next year. Great article.

Libercontrarian - October 8, 2012

I'm a Yank, and was nodding my head in agreement with what you've written. An item of note: Mongoose has taken up with Wal-Mart to produce a half-decent full-suspension mountain bike called the XR-Pro - it's a 29er. It is getting some rave reviews, although the folks who like it buy it at $379 US for the frame; they upgrade the suspension components and wheels shortly after buying. It's a whole lot cheaper than buying a $1,300 FS bike, which is what I just did (and my credit card is still smokin' hot, too). If you want to check out the debate on the topic, go to a website called "bigboxbikes dot com" and there's a lengthy thread.

chris railton - September 10, 2012

hi re dunlop mtbs i work part in cycle shop people bring this rubbish in all the time but dont blieve they crap c railton lincoln uk

Phillip Austin - August 26, 2012

A couple of years ago I bought cheap brand name bike from a cycle shop for occasional commuting. It's not done very many miles and things have kept coming loose. This morning, almost at walking pace, I braked sharply and bumped down a 1 inch kerb. The front wheel collapsed. At speed it would have been catastrophic. Don't buy cheap stuff! You may not live to regret it.

Brian - July 26, 2012

I'm not sure if I agree with this article. I've just knackered a cheap bike. However, I estimate I got at least 2,000 miles out of it. Not bad for £64. Part of the problem for me is that bike shop owners tend to be real snobs, and out you off buying a mid-range bike. I think you underestimate the price of fixing a bike, expecially when labour is taken into consideration. Plus, not everyone can afford to spend £400 on a new bike.Your environmental arguments however, are less easily dismissed, though there is nothing to stop you taking an old bike to a recycling centre, and buying a new bike every year, still creates afar smaller carbon footprint than driving. Keep cycling.

Phil - July 13, 2012

Totally agree. I had many Raleighs growing up. Totally fixable bikes. The BSO I bought for my teenage son (they lose things) from Costco is a real piece of junk. I think I only paid CAN$175. The tubes installed were oversized and when I looked for the source of the two slow leaks, I found the excess tube folded over on itself inside the tire! Also everything was quite out of wack and needed lots of tuning. Just recently after 3~4 years the rear axle snapped!!! Never seen that before. Personally, I ride used bikes. One is a Giant Yukon that a neighbour was throwing out. I have been riding that for 10+ years. What a work horse. Lately, I bought a Specialized Rockhopper for $CAN150 at a garage sale. Nice ride. If you can't afford new, buy used but keep looking to find a "real" bike

Hugh - July 4, 2012

I am a regular cyclist having spent too much money and maintenance on fantastic machines that I love to ride and tinker with. Every now and then I get to try a BSO, borrowed from a friend etc. I thought that the trickle down effect would be able to make a bike stop and go reasonably well at any price, time and again I am reminded that a BSO is not pleasant to ride. I recently bought an unused BSO for $20Aus off eBay, tried my best to assemble it correctly and grease and adjust all the parts. It was still terrible so I onsold it - I think the new owner thought he got a bargain to try out cycling but now I suspect it'll be gathering dust anyway.

David Harriman - June 22, 2012

I bought a tatty Dawes Streetwise off E-bay for 50p in 2006 (I made the first and only bid!) and have used it as my hack-bike almost daily since then, and it still rides perfectly! So you can still sometimes get quality at a bargain price, if you're lucky, but I would never expect to get such use from a cheap and nasty catalogue bike.

aj - May 31, 2012

liked your article. know u dont sell bikes, however some examples of good and reasonable bikes and companies would be welcome, for hybrids, mtbs and road bikes. seems like even well known brands have cheaper versions. also some comments on usual well known suspects would be welcome- raleigh, claud butler, falcon, carerra etc.

Darren Hayes - April 30, 2012

Well said indeed. People do not have to spend silly money to get a bike and as long as you spend at least "sensible" money it will last for years and years. My commuter today is a '96 Saracen Kili Comp. I'm the bikes 3rd owner and it is still on all original parts apart from pads, chain and sprockets/rings.

Joe Sheridan - April 26, 2012

In 1999, living in a remote part of Wales, we ordered an MTB-style bike for my wife from a well-known UK high street catalogue store. It was handy to have it delivered, as it would have been a long ride from the nearest bike shop otherwise. It cost about £80, if I remember correctly. It came in a box, and the instructions said all it needed were the pedals fitting, the handlebars loosening and turning through ninety degrees, and a quick check of nuts and bolts. Had I known then what I know now, I would have stripped it down completely and rebuilt it. The factory had fitted a new chain without shortening it, and it used to slip. Even so, it was reasonable to ride, although the Shimano SIS indexed rear derailleur could never be adjusted properly. A couple of years ago, I did carry out a complete overhaul on it. The ball bearings in the wheel hubs had collapsed into a shiny powder. I fitted new, quality ball bearings (the cones and races were fine), a brand new chain which I adjusted for size, and a stem-mounted friction lever instead of the SIS indexed twistgrip. It's now a lovely bike to ride, and the paint is still like new. I should say that this particular machine was built in England, but just let down by cheap bearings and hasty setting-up. I wouldn't like to risk a sub-£100 bike from that same store nowadays.

embee - April 20, 2012

I think this article is quite true. i am more and more becoming a mountain bike enthusiast. I enjoy riding and wish i could do it more often. I work for a retailer that offer affordable mountain bikes to the public. it is my job to build these bikes and perform a 28 point safety check on them. I am sometimes left confused to how difficult it can be setting up these bikes due to there components being of the budget variety. i do not own one of these bikes. I am the proud owner of a scott hard-tail and just from the maintenance side of things it is so much easier to maintain and set up than a budget bike. Setting up gears and brakes on my scott tends to be something to look forward too after tinkering with non-responsive deralieurs and tension adjusters all day. These budget bikes have heavy frames, cheap materials and components but if your on a budget your on a budget. I always have and always will make sure these bikes are safe and legal before they leave the shop, with the customers satisfaction at the forefront of my mind, but these are really only good for leisurely rides and commutes (even though they have full suspension) they are much better suited to flat asphalt. if your are wanting to get 'off road' please spend a bit more money, get a reliable, durable, well known manufacturer.

TJ - April 2, 2012

Great article on the BSO. But srsly, you can still buy a good bike at about $100-$200, like a secondhand. I got a Decathlon Rockrider 5.2 for just under $300, works grest after a few months' riding.

Brad - March 28, 2012

i love this article, i used to have like 30 cheap bikes (about 5 now, i ended up giving alot away and cutting the rest up) but i now have 2 quality bikes and its awesome!!!

Shaun - March 24, 2012

I recently used to ride to work daily. It was a just under under 5 mile round trip, cycle path all the way. The route is flat (except for one moderate bridge) and well paved. In the 4 years I cycled the journey to work I got through 3 BSOs. They literally fell to pieces and they all had faults from new. I'm now investing in a quality used hybrid! Maybe it's a touch of rose tinted glasses, but when I was growing up in the 70s & 80s, we all rode British built bikes that seemed indestructible.

Charles Eck - March 24, 2012

Started riding to work a few weeks ago, using my old '73 Hercules I got as a kid. Around '79 I updated the brakes and wheels (700C aluminum rims and a 5 speed hub, center pull brakes.) and rode it another ten years. Pulled it out, adjusted the brakes and gears, new tires and tubes, and she's back on the job! Got a decent aluminum MTB frame and building it up as a commuting bike, leaving the old 'Herc' as backup. Looked at the 'bikes' at Wal-Mart: I'd rather walk!

Alice Cooper - March 18, 2012

I'm going to buy a BSO just because I have no clue whether I'll ride it or not. (Haven't been on a bike since I was eight.) I agree, £300 for a mode of transport/a sport tool isn't a lot, but it's a lot for a lawn ornament if I don't use it. Am very grateful to this article for giving me a clue what to look to spend my money on if I discover a new hobby.

Ben Davies - March 8, 2012

Very interesting and amusing read - I have been riding mountain bikes for 17 years and these BSO's are a complete pile of crap in my opinion, I'm not saying that you should go out and spend £5000 on a top of the range machine but just double that £129.99 (BSO price) and shop about a bit online with £260, maybe bump it up to £300 and you will pick up a £400 bike in last years that is a bargain, no one wants a rusty, heavy, over built full susser when the average person buys a bike just for commuting/getting fit - get a little hybrid/hardtail, it will make all the difference and you will want to ride it again and again rather than resenting that 'rusting waste of money' sat at the back of your shed. :-)

alan wilkinson - February 29, 2012

Not always true. I do buy my kid's bikes at Toys r us. (Kids are 7, 13 and 15) Provided I really inspect the construction and materials used and accept that I will have to totally strip the bike down and rebuild it, greasing all components as I go before it can be used, then it is all OK. However, I would never buy a toys r us bike for me to get to work every day!

Mohit - February 18, 2012

This is one of the best articles written on bikes for a newbie. I live in India and planning for a new bike. Will surely keep this in mind while purchasing. Thank you

Ahmad Kamal - February 17, 2012

Well written and very true. I see a lot of these BSOs, from where I come from, and most of them are sad and forlorn looking things, abandoned or just waiting for the landfill. I bought a 16 year old bicycle, a named brand, but it was in running condition and I paid a fraction of its original cost. Even at that vintage, it is way better than any of the BSOs, and it is reliable. I only decided to change the crankset aftre clocking close to 500km on it. After making that change, the bike's performance actually went up a notch. I actually have people expressing interest on the bicycle. I do my own servicing, only resorting to the LBS if I do not have the proper tools to carry out the repairs or servicing. The cost comparison, and the illustration of a hub brings home the point that spending a little bit more on a bicycle will save you a lot of heartaches, and the complication of what makes a bicycle.

Dave - February 14, 2012

I bought an appolo slant 17 from Halfords. I am already looking at buying a good bike from my local bike shop. My BSO works ok but it is hard going on inclines, the brakes are loose even though they had 6 wk service 9 days ago. The problem is I don't know enough to know what is a good bike for trails and road travel. I love being out on a bike though and am getting rid of my car.

Mick Wilson - January 27, 2012

My wife needs to read this article - she thinks a hundred quid BSO is enough to lay out on a weekend bike so the £ 600 budget ive set myself for a decent hardtail has got her reaching for the rolling pin. BSO's - another sad indicator of how much our society sunk towards everything being 'disposable' great article , thanks.

Chris - Derby - January 16, 2012

This is a very good, well-written article. I can't agree more. Only one thing - if you're buying a decent bike, buy a decent lock to secure it with (Top category D lock, and/or motorbike chain).

Daniel - December 12, 2011

I totally agree. I have hade my Trek 4300 for 8 years and it is still doing great. I bought the bike for $310 I have kept it well maintained and have spent about $80-$100 total on keeping up with maintenance. I will never by a cheap bike.

Sami - December 2, 2011

Thanks from, Adelaide, Australia. I bought a BSO recently.. For only AU$170... Thinking 'how smart I am'.. Bikes at local bike shop start from AU$300+.... and I saved heaps!! I was so bloody wrong. Utterly disappointed with bike I bought... it is a collection of heavy junk metal on wheels. Does not brake at all (trust me). Real wheel bent shortly after purchase, some balls (bearing) in crank case break off in day 2… thus getting ‘ kat kat kat’ noise….. Within weeks its all rusty and gear would not change properly... I’d be lucky to get AU$40 for it now.....  Never buying a bike from a generic super mall again, N E V E R…… And buying BSO does not only mean monetary loss but also loss of a ride and health for the time period.

tom - November 2, 2011

that's a nice, well written article. i'd add to it though: you can get a decent second hand bike for £100, so why get bso? also... aluminium. damned aluminium. if you want a bike to last make sure it's steel. oh.. and derailleurs. bring back internal gear hubs for cyclists who want reliability.

Caroline - August 4, 2011

This article is so true. My last bike was awful, so I saved and bought a lovely road bike for £400. Two years on and all I've replaced is one inner tube. It still looks as good as the day I bought it even though I ride it daily in all weathers. Don't buy cheap it's not worth it, you should get pleasure from your bike not worry about what will break next. If you can't afford new then do your homework to find a good one second hand. Happy cycling!

andy - July 17, 2011

I have recently completed my 2000th mile, a little over a year after having bought a £70 British Eagle from Asda. Nothing has broke, I've not had any nasty mishaps and with a little routine maintenance everything has remained absolutely serviceable. I continue to ride this 'BSO' daily and have no complaint. To me and many others like me these bikes are truly bargains. It may not be as smooth or comfortable as 'proper' bikes, but as I've not ridden them to compare I wouldnt know. I have lost with this bike though. Three stone in weight. Best £70 pounds I ever spent.

Ramesh velayudam - July 4, 2011

i could remember the gone good old days when i had bought £40 tesco cheap throw awaya BSO way back in 2007, i can garantuee you it all happened what is narrated above ended up spending more than the actual bought price in fixing one or the other parts every week

David Tam - July 3, 2011

My BSO purchased from Costco (Infinity Huron, $180 CAD + tax) just had its front derailleur snapped with the odometer at 2,500 km (1,600 miles), resulting the front shifter becoming stuck in the granny gear unable to shift (3 speed front). As a result the rear gear should only be shifted to gear 5 at most to avoid cross chaining (7 speed rear) limiting top speed to 20.5 km/h (12.7 mph).

wv cycling - June 25, 2011

This is a list of all the BSO companies in North America. If you ever find a decrepit product of theirs... do not hesitate to contact them and let them know it is ass.

David - June 22, 2011

'Buy cheap, buy twice' Rode a BSO for the first time on holiday and I bought into it with a positive attitude as it was the only bike on offer. It turned out to be the sum of all my biking fears. The saving grace was the beautiful scenery we rode through. My advice is to spend £20 on MB magazines and look through the buying guides. They go from entry level to expert users. These guys do this for a living 24/7 and it will give you an insight into what your buying into.

Tim Hudson - June 20, 2011

The latest BSO to darken our doors is a Dunlop full suspension, the axle breaks in the rear wheel within weeks, we had one chap asking for a replacement, we told him to take it back to shop he got it from, they gave him another wheel, that axle snapped! He got another wheel, this one had a defective hub! We were had a donation of around 50 of these from a major retailer, a few weeks after we received them, they phoned to ask if they'd been useful, our answer was yes thanks, the reflectors were re-used and you currently get a good price for 'pig-iron'.

Abo - June 15, 2011

I knew nothing about cycling and just wanted somethign so I could go for rides out with my son. So I bought an Apollo Slant from Halfords. The bottom bracket was wonky and it sheared several teeth from the rear cassette. It was returned to the shop and they just replaced it with another bike. Within 10 miles I had bent one of the sprockets just through normal riding so I again returned it and complained. They replaced it with an Apollo Phaze. The thing rode ok so I thought but never kept it's adjustments very long, in fact I was having to adjust it daily. The rear cones came loose after 100 miles so I complained to the head office. They swapped it for a Carrera Vulcan and it is worlds apart. If I'd known at the start I'd have bought second hand. I don't see the problem with this; after all, people buy used cars every day and are happy with this. Why shouldn't it be the same with bikes?

Wayne - June 1, 2011

People like you and some of you commenters get on my nerves so bad! I'm ashamed to think some people are so high up on the pole they think they can't ride a cheaper bike! Myself, I don't buy box bikes from department stores. But I know a few that rides them and they are doing just fine, some a year old and being rode every day. What the hell happen to 'At least they are riding bicycles' ? And having fun might I add! People, don't kick someone for riding a cheaper bike than you because they're biking and having fun. And who knows, maybe a 80 dollar department store bike is the best they can do. Jeezzzz people, share cycling and stop being so above other people just because they buy a better bike.

Ian Edwards - May 18, 2011

From looking around sites like Amazon at their bikes and the amount of positive reviews BSO's get, I suspect that the vast majority of the public don't know any better. Found one BSO full suspension for £300 (RRP £400 apparently?) and also found the same bike for sale at Asda. It makes no sense to me when you can get an entry level hardtail from most of the big brands for the same money?? But then again, if you don't know any different, you're stuck with BSO's. I commend your article and agree. Just a shame people don't read this before adding to their basket, whether it be on Amazon or at the supermarket. Sometimes it takes a ride on a nice bike for someone born and bred on BSO's to understand why proper bikes are more expensive. A friend of mine has a Carrera Banshee, for which he paid £400. I'm really surprised how good it is for such a low price. His girlfriend has a £150 BSO from Toys R Us and recently borrowed his bike and described it as a dream to ride compared to her bike and is now looking for a better bike herself. Nevermind Asda and its rollback on prices, I think Sainsburys 'Taste the difference' is the most fitting slogan.

Alex - May 15, 2011

I just bought my first road bike, from Tesco direct no less... It's not a bad bike - almost all Campagnolo parts - but the sheer number of BSOs on that website were astonishing. Having ridden hack bikes and BSOs for years I can definitely feel the difference now: praise be to the clubcard :P

Oliver Thomas - May 13, 2011

I work in a bike shop and we only sell quality bicycles for cyclists. We only stock well known brands of bikes and all of our staff are cycling enthusiasts. We're genuinely here to help and don't put pressure on people to buy and discourage buying beyond their means. We try to build a rapport with a customer and like to educate and encourage people into making informed choices based upon their needs and in some cuscumstances we have reccomended that people look elsewhere, for example on eBay and classifieds etc for good quality and servicable bikes. Very often we have people comming in who just want a bike for next to nothing. We do our best to accomodate but our cheapest bike retails at just over £200 which usually causes some people to walk out in disgust. One particular gentleman was pushing me to match the price on a £59.99 bike he had seen in the supermarket. No amount of effort would convince him that our cheapest bike was not like-for-like. No pleasing some people, but there is definitely a market for cheap bikes there.

Christian Thornton - May 10, 2011

I bought a cheap £100 catalogue bike a few years back and it arrived in a flat pack. Both wheels were buckled out of the box so I sent it back and got another one which was exactly the same!! On returning for the 2nd time, I was pretty much fobbed off and managed to walk away with my money back fortunately. I then saw an article on watchdog about cheap bikes:, found this article and then decided that i'd be better off saving some money up and buying a proper bike from my local bike retailer. I've always had cheap bikes and assumed cycling wasn't for me but now I can't get enough of it when the sun is shining. Just starting cycling to work too and saving a fortune in fuel money :). You definitely get what you pay for with bikes, of course some are silly money but my arguement is that if you compare anything else, people are willing to spend the cash. A £10 mobile phone from a supermarket is awful to use and made of cheap plastic and nothing like an Iphone, but spend a bit more and you can get something nearly as good. The same logic applies to bikes.

Greg from Loughborough - May 4, 2011

Cracking article and totally true. I though I was alone with my loathing of BSOs'. Wanna see a BSO? go to your local scrap metal skip at your local tip - you'll see lots!

Nathan Alexander - April 18, 2011

One thing nobody has mentioned yet; the online bike stores who are selling 2009/2010 bikes at huge savings. I have recently bought myself a rather tasty Cannondale at about 2/3rd the RRP from 2010 and about £500 cheaper than a similar spec 2011 bike from my local bike shop. It came delivered ready to roll and set up by a qualified mechanic. There are bargains to be had on a decent bike if you're willing to shop around on the internet. I do feel like i've betrayed my LBS a bit, but £500 is a big saving and they will still get the business servicing it.

alicej - April 9, 2011

This is great, but one thing you forgot to mention. SECOND HAND good quality bikes are much less expensive and just as good. Not everyone actually earns the average wage - it would take me a lot longer than 5.4 days to earn £400! But I bought a secondhand frame and built it up with secondhand parts for less than that, and my first bike I got for £90 on Ebay - it was worth more new but I didn't need a new one because it was a decent bike and so hadn't fallen apart when used previously. It's hard for beginners to know which bikes are BSOs and which are real bikes, how about keeping a list of inexpensive but "real" bikes to help people choose? I found Probike to have decent quality components etc and I don't think they're expensive even new. Ridgeback I think are recomended as cheaper but decent bikes. Got any more budget options that aren't rubbish?

Tim Blackwell - April 6, 2011

Some (hopefully) constructive criticism of your otherwise excellent article: - Risk of theft - already mentioned in other comments. - A 100 pound bike that lasts two years fits your price per year rate perfectly well. - All bikes are disposable, it's just a case of time, and where you draw the line on a reasonable working life (for practical or environmental reasons). - You mention that a 400 pound bike will last 10 years. Will it really? With no further expenditure of either money or time? I guess it might if you never ride it, but then so will a 100 pound bike. Certainly many people I know will happily lavish time and money on keeping a bike in good order - it's a labour of love and cyclists are often understandably passionate about their mode of transport, but I think to be honest about this you need to factor in 10 years of brake blocks, inner tubes, tyres, cables, etc plus the odd larger job - a new wheel or bottom bracket - plus either the time and tools, or the labour costs to sort all that out. - There's that slightly superior and condescending tone that one often seems to get from bike officianados (BSO indeed...), which makes cycling a little less accessible to those not in the club. Halfords staff may lack knowledge at times but they'll never be patronise you like a small independent bike shop. Or perhaps that's unfair because it's good of you to share your experience and good advice with the world for free in the first place. - I think it's worth adding that suspension, as well being very poor quality on a cheap bike, will also make road cycling harder work by sapping the force out of every stroke of the pedal. Despite my criticisms I agree with the article, mainly because I'm saddened by seeing anyone try something new and be put off forever by a poor choice of initial purchase. Like a disheartened guitarist with a cheap guitar gathering dust because it won't stay in tune for two minutes.

Conor - March 21, 2011

I have wanted to mtb for quite a while, and I know someone who will sell me a good quality Kona Coiler for 500euros, unfortunately my dad thinks that cheaper is better and keeps bringing me around Halfords, looking at all the sh!tty bikes for under 200euros, how would be a good way to explain to my dad that i need a good quality bike not a sh!t one, and get him to part-buy me this bike. Also on a side note, my brother is like-minded with my dad, so bought a bso, from halfords for 100euro, apparently "full suspension", i borrowed it a few times and it is a piece of sh!t, the brakes are horrible, to change gears i had to get off the bike and physically move the chain after twisting the gear shifter, the chain came off a few times as well, and despite being "full suspension" i couldn't notice it at all.

andy - March 7, 2011

your article is spot on, well done, i am an independent cycle dealer. i always say if these El-Cheapo's for £50-£100 were any good i would sell shed loads. The big supermarket multiples and sports store multiples selling these type of junk donot have their customers at heart, or their safety as a priority. Profit, Profit, Profit, i have been offered hardtail BSO's for as little as £ 12 +VAT & Full Suspension for £ 15 +VAT these prices included believe it or not DELIVERY. I politley turned them down. I have a rule if it won't go together well in the workshop, it won't work well on the road. This whole El-Cheapo BSO situation needs kicking into touch by Parlaiment. Safety first not profit, some of these BSO's are ridden by kids as well as adults. Price is not always the issue, it is quality, you cannot get quality without paying some money out. The stores always blame the consumer, they call it demand. The consumer looks at the store to provide quality and safety. The REAL demand is good quality + safety, to give the consumer a reliable product with no compromise. But at £ 50-£100 you won't get either. Independent retailers who sell quality bikes are not ripping consumers off, they are putting their reputation and investment on the line to sell good products which with maintenance will last for years to come. Bikes are a science of their own, not rocket science, but it needs specialists in their field to make them work efficiently & safely. It is the individuals choice, but it annoys me when someone buys a BSO & expects me to put it right sorry "just tweak it a bit" (customers words) for a a couple of quid, as they've only paid very little for it. Sorry i don't lower my pride to work for nowt and be expected to give them a Tour De France dream machine back for a couple of quid. Think about it, some bike shops run a "Savings Club" you can purchase a cycle for summer by saving with the shop through the winter or use the Savings Club for Xmas, Easter or Birthdays, you will be supporting your cycle local shop, who in return supports you and will help you enjoy your purchase. The "Savings Club" is an old classic way of paying for a cycle, it has been used for over 60 years. Ask at your local cycle dealer if they run a Savings Club, if so why not join it and save towards a better cycling experience.

andy - March 7, 2011

I agree with you get what you pay for, but the trouble with living in an inner-city in a 3rd floor flat with no garage, shed, indoor space or even garden is that I have to lock my bike to a lampost on the street. Here it is rusting in the sea air, made worse in winter by the salt on the roads, is a tempatation to vandals and thieves (like most bike-owners in Brighton, I have had bikes stolen). So, unfortunately, for me there is little reason to invest in a bike as I know I cannot give it the security and care it deserves. This article may be about economics, but it cannot apply to the hundreds in my position. This is why we buy crap bikes. we know they won't last, but actually we count ourselves lucky if they don't get kicked in or nicked.

Terry Nobbe - March 1, 2011

U.S. citizen, cyclist most of my life. Bike mechanic for five years now. I tell any cyclist that will listen that a used quality bike that's priced the same as a dept. store bike is a 500% better value, particularly if it's fitted properly and ridden often (at least weekly). I'm 64 and I weigh 12% more than I did in 1964!

Adam Ryah - December 21, 2010

Nice article! I have been riding for about 2 decades now, and have ridden everything from £100 Halfords bike's , to my current £4000~ Kona. While I was in the trade, I used to find myself telling this same old story to alarming numbers of customers, including many that had brought in their BSO's for servicing or repair. Whilst the bike I ride now is beyond the needs or means for most people, I have a need for it, in that I ride DH and freeride, and need a bike that won't fall apart doing it. But even at this end of the market, one needs to be sensible, as you can buy suspension forks for over £2000, and frames for £3000 etc. Madness.... The problem is, that a lot of people I have met buy a bike to use once a month, if that. They don't see the point in spending more than they have to on something they don't use. Oh well, I'll have to remain happy by watching the reactions of the uninitiated, when they climb aboard my 20Kg ''Sofa-bike'' Lol.

Gezza - December 1, 2010

Your article was spot on ref cheap bikes.Bought a cheap mountain bike for under a £100 from an online sports company,and it was exactly as you stated in your descriptions.Turned out to be a pile of rubbish and the company i bought it from isn`t interested in refunding me.

Dave - November 17, 2010

I ride a 10-year-old Halfords Apollo BSO, the cheapest bike they were selling at the time - under £100. It is absolutely fine. I've had it since new and I've only had to replace the tyres. So cheap bikes do have their place. Especially if you're concerned about theft.

Ben - November 5, 2010

Brilliant article. I currently have a Raleigh Redrock which must be at least 10 yrs old. Have done some refurb / servicing my self and still going fine. Am now looking to upgrade to a hard tail with either v-brakes or discs (the raleigh has cantilevers!). Was considering BSO's but am now trying to source a 2nd hand Carrera Vulcan or similar as they look like the best for my budget (£200 max). (Unless anyone has any other suggestions?)

Kevin Latham - September 27, 2010

I was bought up on BSO's. My first 'mountain bike' recieved as a christmas present around 1992 was a rigid, hi-tensile steel framed Townsend with 12-speed Shimano SIS, Cantilever brakes and steel rims (which didn't brake in the wet!!!). My parents weren't particularly wealthy and bought what they thought was a good buy. The bike was far too big for me so I could grow into it apparently. Needless to say, the bike was awful to ride and got worse as the wheels got buckled and various parts of the running gear siezed up. I didn't know better at the time (age 11) but a couple of years later I bought a proper bike from a friends older brother for £250 used and the difference in ride quality was startling.

Tristan Welsh - September 27, 2010

The problem is that most people see £100-£150 as the going rate for a bike and anything over that is seen as excessive or needlessly expensive. Anything under £100 is a bargain to average joe on the street. Most folk consider a bike as poor mans transport and can't see why anyone would pay as much as a cheap used car for a bike. I'd say that most people think good quality bikes are all about designer labels and are largely style over substance in the same way that designer clothes are often made in the same factories as the cheap stuff but are labeled with designer logos. There seems to be a general assumption that if something looks similar then it is the same.

George - September 26, 2010

I work for Halfords and yes admittedly they do sell some cheap stuff which does often come back but you cannot fault the Carrera or boardman bikes for the kind of components that you get for the money, once set up correctly they can more than compete with an equivilant raleigh or claud butler. Yes there are other bike manufacturers but for the money and the specification you can't fault it, but it is that halfords get the reputation for cheap bikes they have becuase of the people who know nothing about bikes at all apart from how to ride one, and you can get for at the moment for £203.99 a Carrera Vulcan V-spec which I personally own and I abuse on trails at Thetford forest in Norfolk and not a single thing has gone wrong with it in the year I have owned it, but for £199.99 an apollo pahze which again is a hardtail but that £4 difference they are a world apart.

Pete Jones - September 26, 2010

BSOs exist because of what the average people are prepared to pay for a bike. As someone who regards cycling one of my main past times and an integral part of my life, I'm usually looking for the best bike I can comfortably afford when buying a new one. Family and non-cycling friends can never understand why anyone would pay thousands for a bike when you can get a bike for £99 from Asda etc usually dropping in comments like "How much? for a bike? does it have an engine for that price? you could buy a reasonable used car for that much money......" and so on.... Maybe the public at large are bone idle, fat, ignorant and narrow minded and see a bicycle as 'just a means of getting from A to B'...Fortunately one such friend is into photography and has recently spent £600 on a Nikon SLR camera. I quizzed him because I can get a nice 12 megapixel Tevion compact camera from Aldi for about £50. I think he got the point.

Dave Henderson - September 23, 2010

In 1990 I paid £400 for a Claud Butler mtb, including various accessories to make it more of a hybrid. 20 years later I'm still riding it and the only thing I've altered is the front forks. To put cheap suspension on the front was a waste of time, so I paid $100 for an overhauled set of Maz Bombers, and the necessary adapter bits. Now I've got an Ahead front end (curses on those who couldn't standardise things in the bike world if their life depended on it). To go with that, an inexpensive set of V-brakes transformed the stopping. It's still on the original chain and tyres, though they might get replaced soon, as the tyres are showing their age, rather than worn out. I think a total of £500 over twenty years is quite cheap - 25 quid a year - laughing, mate, just laughing.

Mike Jacobs - September 22, 2010

A good quality and well maintained used bike is a much better buy than the cheap tat you find in catalogues, TV shopping channels and supermarkets and the initial outlay is about the same. Someone mentioned Halfords bikes; I would agree that there are some awful bikes for sale there (purely a business decision to fulfill the demand I imagine) but they also stock some fantastic bikes too. The Carrera and Boardman ranges really are superb and offer great value for money.

dave lambert - September 14, 2010

A few years ago one of my colleagues bought 2 Sterlinghouse bikes. At around the same time I bought a seat post for my bike which cost more than both his bikes put together. He laughed at me but I'm still enjoying my bike every day. He and his missus gave up after one cycle of theirs cos they were so unpleasant to ride.

Joe - September 13, 2010

Based on bitter experience: never buy a BSO from Halfords. I fell for the 'half price' line a few years ago, buying my wife a run-around. The brakes didn't work, so I took it back to another, closer Halfords. The mechanic told me that that model had been quietly stored at the back of the rack with a doubled price tag for a couple of months, then launched to the front 'at half price'. As for the brakes, they had been assembled completely wrongly. That day (five years ago) was the last time I set foot in Halfords.

Finisterre - September 13, 2010

This was fascinating, and I have to say I am totally convinced. I used to buy crap second-hand bikes as they invariably got stolen, but since inheriting a good one I can really see what the fuss is about - it's so much easier and smoother to ride. I wouldn't buy a BSO now, having read this. Thank you!

PaulG - August 17, 2010

It always amazes me when you see a £35,000 4x4 with 4 BSO's on the back. They would never buy a new 4x4 for £3000, yet somehow fail to make the connection that a bike for 10% of the price of a decent one might perhaps be compromised...

John - May 12, 2010

Not all cheap bikes are rubbish! (Said with tongue in cheek) I work at a charity bike shop and we receive donations from the public of old bikes and make them safe and fit for use. We sell them and give the money to charity. Many of our bikes are actually good quality bikes that were hundreds of pounds when new. The BSOs (Mostly ex-supermarket bikes) are used for spares to repair the odd BSO that is worth the effort. We have a price cap of £40 that is because of our aim to provide affordable transport, not to reflect the worth! I have been fixing bikes since 1963. My colleague for 15 yrs more. We are training the young ones and we provide cheap, safe, worthwhile transport for the less well-heeled in Coventry. So please pass on the concept that cheap is bad only applies to new bikes. Used bikes that have been properly prepared are ay least as good as, or better than, most BSOs. Footnote - most BSOs that meet your description above have ‘brand’ labels - beware! (ie ‘reebok’) But probably have nothing to do with the brand they advertise?

Neil - April 21, 2010

People who buy themselves a bike from toys r us?? If they were trying to start up in any other sport, say golf; would they be happy with Fisher Price clubs? A decent, light, functional, reliable, serviceable bike from a quality manufacturer can be had for as little as £250+ and of course its possible to spend around £5,000 if you get silly, a £400-£1,000 bike will perform pretty much the same on the trail, give or take a bit more weight, less flash and less adjustability, but be just as much fun, cheaper to fix and less to worry about having to tweak. Great for beginners.

Liam O Cuinneagain - April 9, 2010

Couldn't agree more. I bought a relatively good bike from a reputable dealer in 1991 and it cost me very little in repairs in the meantime, despite using it almost every day. I still have it, although I bought a fairly similar new one two years ago, which is a pleasure to ride. "Cheap" machines are a scourge - and dangerous.

Bill - April 4, 2010

Interesting article, I've just purchased one of those BSOs with an aluminium frame and have every intention to do a few upgrades as and when I can afford them as I realise the standard components are'nt going to be upto much. I'm currently unemployed so my budget is very tight. In the past I have owned some very good mtbs including an Orange C6 until it was stolen.

Francis - April 3, 2010

Excellent resource/rant. Thanks for all the useful information and opinion.

Mike R - April 1, 2010

Nice article Paul, thanks. I agree with 'you get what you pay for': I bought a £199 bike 4 years ago and have used it daily, it now needs replacing. My employer's signed up to the govt. 'cycle scheme' and I can now by a £600 bike for £360 (saving tax and NI) and pay for it over 1 year through my monthly salary- a great scheme! FYI -, best wishes, Mike

Gary - March 16, 2010

This so called £50 bike has a sticker on it, saying it conforms to BS 6102-1992. Suggesting it is built to a standard. There is however no build quality what so ever. The free wheel seized up then failed. The pedal crank fell off and will not tighten. The brake arms are so thin, The replacement brake blocks will not fit unless "packed out" with washers. As some were missing. The list goes on. It's now in storage, the tyres might come in hady as will some of the nuts and bolts. Expensive spares!

Gary. - March 12, 2010

Pay £50 for a bike from a supermarket, and you might as well throw your money away. From prsonal experience, it got me to work twice and home once. So it covered less than 10 miles.

Ben Errington - February 16, 2010

Hi Paul. Awesome! I used to have to build BSOs (we called them that too..) and after a while my colleague and I refused to sign any paperwork claiming the bike was safe for sale, having to explain to customers why we had not signed the document. They truly are a complete waste of good metal and should be ground up to make spares for decent bikes!

James Hodson - May 24, 2006

Many congratulations on your "Dont! buy a cheap new bike" article. The big problem is, however, how does one put forward this message to the wider public who buy cycles solely by price? I dunno. James

Colin - May 23, 2006

I liked your article on cheap bikes - it put me off buying one from Sterling House.

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