Bicycle Pricing & Quality Guide

Are New Bikes Always Better?

No! The quality of a bicycle is determined by the quality of its components and how well it has been assembled. To cut costs, most new bicycles are produced cheaply by minimising assembly and component quality. This means that when you purchase a shiny new bike for £100, you are getting something which has been made to work to minimum standards. The user experience with such bicycles includes:

  • Sloppy gear shifting, chain falling off

  • Noisy, ineffective brakes

  • Slow tyres with negligible puncture resistance

  • Premature failure of components such as wheels, brake levers and pedals


The result is a bicycle which needs frequent maintenance at relatively high cost just to function reliably. Many, many bikes come through our workshop and it is not uncommon at all to see cheap, new ones needing more than £80 worth of maintenance and repair within the first year of their life. This just doesn’t make sense to the consumer who originally bought a cheap bicycle with the intention of saving money.

Identifying Quality New Bicycles

If you are set on buying a brand new bicycle, you must expect to spend upwards of £200 in order to get something of such quality that it’s actually worth the money. This is simply a reflection of how much it costs companies to produce bicycles which actually function as required. In addition, if you purchase your bicycle online and have it delivered, it is highly advisable to pay a professional to assemble it. This is generally known as a boxed bike setup. To the normal buyer without specific knowledge of components, price is the most reliable indicator of quality. However, there are some easily identifiable features of cheap bikes which are to be avoided:

  • Brake levers should be made of metal, not plastic

  • Bicycle frames should not be full suspension if designed for normal use

  • Tyres ideally should be branded – Schwalbe or Continental are good

  • Gear systems should be branded – usually Shimano


How To Sensibly Buy Second Hand


For those who want a working bicycle for less money, the solution is to buy second hand. A decent second hand bike will be one which, when originally sold, was of quality manufacture and likely above the £200 mark as described above. Further to this, it needs to still be in good condition, such that it won’t immediately require servicing. Easy ways to spot a bike in poor condition:

  • Check the tyres – are they heavily cracked on the sides?

  • Spin the wheels – are they buckled? Do they spin at all?

  • Use the brake and gear levers – are they mobile?

  • Is it possible to change the height of the saddle and handlebars?

  • Give the bike a shake or bump it off of the ground. Rattling isn’t always a bad thing on a bike but it often indicates that components are loose when they shouldn’t be.


Always test ride a bike before buying if possible. This is a really important way to get a feel for the condition of the bike and how well it fits you. Comfort is key to having a bike which you actually want to ride regularly.

If you are a UEA campus card holder, you can get a free health check on any bicycle you bring to our shop on campus. This allows us to provide you with a thorough report on the condition of a bicycle.

This article was last updated on 11/08/2020