A Budget Bike for Life?

Following my last post A Bike that defies categorisation I started to wonder whether a budget bike for life was possible. So I have started to look around and build a specification.

As I looked, at least for the moment I had to rule out a Gates Belt Drive. I couldn’t find a budget steel frame with support for a coupler in the seat stay. That will have to come in the future. So a chain and chainguard is needed instead.

This is what I have so far, it comes out at around £1,500 at retail prices including shipping.


  • Frame: Cotic Roadrat with Fork £300
  • Rear Wheel with Alfine 8 speed hub, Mavic Disc rim £200
  • Front Wheel with Alfine Dynamo hub, Mavic Disc rim £100
  • Alfine Chainset £55
  • KMC 8 Speed chain £10
  • On-One Mary Handlebar + stem £25
  • Headset £60
  • 2 x Avid BB7 cable disc brakes £130
  • 2 x Brake Lever £15
  • 2 x Ergon GP1 Grips £25
  • Quality Brake Cables £10
  • Front and rear LED Dynamo Lights £170
  • Rear Rack £35
  • Flat Pedals £25
  • Carbon Fibre Seat post + clamp £60
  • Saddle £30
  • 2 x Full Length SKS Mudguards £35
  • 2 x Inner Tubes £8
  • 2 x Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tyres 700c x 35mm £46
  • SKS Chainboard £15

That sounds to me like a pretty nice reliable workhorse bike that will be good for reliable transport in all weathers. It won’t be as quick as a “road bike” but from my experience it will be possible to commute up to about 10 miles each way in ordinary clothes (especially if you are willing to change your shirt when you arrive at work). It will be able to handle shopping, towing kids in trailers or a childseat. It will be able to handle most Sustrans off road routes and won’t disintegrate on poor quality cycle tracks and roads. The only routine maintenance will be to clean the chain.

H’mm, wondering how that sounds to other people? My guess is that a manufacturer would be able to sell these at the Cycle to Work Scheme magic figure of £1,000

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  1. A nice setup (though not till spring if you’re not a medium). I’m not really convinced about alfine 8 hubs on the rougher Sustrans tracks though – I’ve had a few spoke problems after riding on them, maybe because of the steep spoke angles (not sure the Rohloff would be better, and moving to a 2x build has helped).

    I agree about it as a commuter setup though – mine is about 12 miles each way, on an Spresso i8, which is close to an alloy version of your suggestion (I added the rack, mudguards and dynamo hub, so total about £1250). The commute is fine, though winter commutes up here (Speyside) are not really a normal clothes job on any bike.

    I almost think though that for many people the right bike would be an electric assist. They bring commuting reasonable distances into much more manageable territory for many people, and help get cars off the road and more supporters for proper infrastructure.

    • Ian,
      Are you running a 26″ or 700c with your Alfine?
      I have had no problems with broken spokes on any of our 4 hub geared bikes. By comparison my Giant full suspension has broken lots.
      Yes agree that Speyside is likely to need warmer and more waterproof clothing.
      I agree electric assist has it’s place. My preference would be to go for a good bike and then add a Bionx system (can’t be hub gears though). The trend is similar to mopeds where pedals gradually disappeared – I think this is a mistake and the bikes should be entirely rideable without the assist and the assist should be exactly that.

      • Interesting. 700c, but I’m not light, and the paths were rough. I’ll see how the 2 cross goes.

        We rode Moustache Samedis with Nuvinci hub and torque sensitive assist in the Alps in September (the local Tourist Office had a deal). Main advantage was we did more off the bike as well as getting to places. I agree entirely about assist, rather than replace.

        • The Moustache Samedis looks nice. Good to get the weight low and out of the wheel, plus the motor can use the gears which always seems sensible to me.

  2. Had you thought Paper Bike – the only bike frame that can be hot dip galvanised – because it has no sealed tubes.

    Rear of frame allows belt drive fitting and provides chainguard alternative, but also delivers high vertical comopliance, with transverse stiffness.

    Nice bikes.

    • Dave,

      I have thought about the Paper Bicycle before but hadn’t kept up with developments. Now they have dynamo lights and a rack which weren’t available when I last looked.

      Just about £1,000 for a very complete bike (hub brakes, hub gears, hub dynamo!!! plus a rack and a stand) all with a lovely low step through design.

  3. A British Budget Bike for Life: The Paper Bicycle | 42 Bikes - pingback on January 1, 2014 at 2:49 pm

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