Buy and run a bike for cheap

Image CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 marcmo:Flickr

Browse the high-end bikes in your local shiny specialist and you can get the idea that cycling is a very expensive way to get around and get your exercise fix. Not so; with our money-saving tips you can buy and run a bike on the financial equivalent of the smell of an oily rag.

Use the Cycle To Work Scheme

Milk Bikes RDA - riding 1

By deducting the payments for your bike from your pre-tax salary, the Cycle To Work Scheme can save you at least 25 percent off the cost of a new bike. Recent changes to the rules allow you to buy accessories too, so don't think of it as a bike-only one-off.

You pay for the bike or equipment through salary sacrifice, generally over 12 months, and you save on income tax and National Insurance on the payments.
That means it's good for everyone who pays tax, and if you're fortunate enough to be earning enough to pay a higher rate, you'll save even more.

At the end of the scheme the bike is yours for a market value payment. Many providers extend the hire through a separate agreement for a further couple of years to take advantage of the much lower market value rates for older bikes (3% for bikes under £500 and 7% for more expensive bikes).

>> Read more: All about the Cycle To Work Scheme

Buy second hand

Thanks to sites like eBay and Gumtree and many classified forums including our own it’s never been easier to find a bike second hand, and while some people have slightly inflated ideas of what their used stuff is worth, there are plenty of bargains out there.

Any second-hand bike will need a thorough mechanical inspection. In particular, have a very close look at the frame. Any cracks or paint ripples are signs that the frame has been abused and you should walk away.

You should also ask the seller to show you the original purchase receipt for the bike, so you can be reasonably sure it's not stolen. Check the frame number at BikeRegister too. Ask questions about the history of the bike, what it's been used for and what modifications have been made. A thief won't know this stuff or will make silly mistakes.

Buy in sales and out of season

Bargains galore crop (CC BY-NC 2.0 Allen:Flickr).jpg

If you're planning on buying a new bike later this year, wait till about September and you may well be able to buy this year’s model at a nice discount. That’s when next year’s bikes start hitting the shops so dealers discount them to clear floor and warehouse space.

The caveat is you may struggle to find some popular models and sizes at the end of the season, so shop around.

Similar principles apply to accessories that have a season, like lights and clothing. The peak buying season for lights is in September; if you buy at the end of winter, they’re substantially cheaper.

The same goes for clothes. Buy your summer clothes in sales during the winter and vice versa and you’ll save, often very large amounts. Discounts as large as 50-60 percent are not unusual.

Sample sales are another source of heavily-discounted gear. Keep your eyes open and you could pick up gear from high-end brands like Vulpine and Rapha at prices considerably more wallet-friendly than usual.

Put up with a few more grams

Everyone likes the ‘oooh’ factor of lifting a light bike, but weight saving costs money, and makes little difference on the road unless you’re racing up l’Alpe d’Huez.

For example, say you need a new saddle. The base model seat from Wiggle own brand Prime will cost you £17.99 and weighs a claimed 225g. At the other end of the price and weight spectrum, a Selle San Marco Mantra Superleggera costs £295 and weighs 117g. You’re not going to be able to feel a 108g weight difference, but you’ll certainly feel not being able to pay this week’s rent.

Learn maintenance


Doing your own repair and maintenance work can save you loads in labour charges. You’ll have a better-functioning bike into the bargain as you’re more likely to notice things going wrong is you know how they’re supposed to be.

At the very least, you should learn how to fix a punctured inner tube, saving yourself a fiver very time you get a flat. If that’s too much hassle, buy spare tubes in bulk; you can usually find them for as little as £2 each in packs of ten.

>>Read more: All how-to guides on road.cc


If a tube is damaged beyond repair, don’t bin it. A bit of old tube makes a good chainstay protector, while strips of old tube have uses like lining the hooks of your bike rack so they don't scratch the car's paint work (that's my job).

Fit mudguards

MPart Primoplastic mudguards - rear guard etail.jpg

If you ride in winter fit some mudguards. As well as keeping you cleaner and drier, they reduce the amount of crud that ends up on your drivetrain so it won’t wear as quickly or need cleaning as often. 

>>Read more: Buyer’s guide: The best mudguards to keep you dry when the weather's not

Check out Lidl, Aldi and Decathlon

German-based supermarket chains Lidl and Aldi regularly have seasonal special offers on cycling clothing and accessories. The quality isn’t stellar, but it’s decent enough for the price, which often undercuts anything else around.

If you want a bit more choice, then Decathlon’s cycling brand B’Twin offers low prices and quality that ranges from ‘not bad at all’ to ‘how is this so good for this money?’

The answer to the latter question lies in the huge buying power Decathlon has because of its chain of stores across Europe.

A lock’s an investment

Locked bike

Replacing a stolen bike is the biggest and most painful cost most cyclists ever have to face. Get a decent lock, and use it every time you leave your bike anywhere, however briefly you’re planning to leave it.

>>Read more: The best bike locks — stop your bike getting stolen with our selection
>>Read more: Beginner's guide to bike security—how to stop bike thieves and protect your bike

Consider taking out insurance on your bike too. Admittedly, this is a bit of a gamble, but it might save you money in the long run.

Cycle-specific insurance — Your questions answered
Cycle insurance: Is your bike fully covered?

Use the right kit

Use kit appropriate to the riding you do. For example, if you commute, then use mountain bike shoes and pedals not road ones. Road shoes may look more pro but you will wear the cleats out much quicker if you have to walk at all (and let’s face it there’s usually a least a short walk at the end of a commute).

In fact, you’ll find that the cleat on the foot you touch down at lights wears faster than the one that stays clipped in. Merely annoying if you run cheaper cleats like Looks; aggravating as all hell if you’re using, say, Speedplays. Sub-tip, then: learn to track-stand.

>>Read more: The Best Commuting Bikes and Kit

Go Merino

Jura Ecru jersey - riding

If you’re a daily commuting rider, then a Merino jersey is a sound investment. Merino doesn’t get smelly as quickly as synthetics, so you can wear the same jersey every day for a week without your colleagues reeling from the pong when you get to work. One good Merino jersey is cheaper than a week’s-worth of all but the very cheapest synthetics.

Carry zip-ties

You can fix any number of minor on-the-road mechanical problems with zip-ties — and then forget they're there and leave them for the rest of time. Cheap!

Don’t train or ride too much

Otherwise your food bill will go through the roof.

Don’t read cycle magazines or websites

Otherwise you’ll want to upgrade everything every year.

Like the Rapha look but put off by the price tag?

Impress fellow brand fans on your commute by fashioning a white armband out of a crepe bandage.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.


hawkinspeter [3935 posts] 11 months ago
Mungecrundle wrote:
fenix wrote:

Don't believe the marketing hype.

eg. disc brakes are needed on all top road bikes now...

Quote other people's postings on internet forums. It bulks out your own comment, making it look like you have something to add to the discussion without wearing out the keys on your own keyboard.

Also, teach a variety of woodland critters to find/steal spare change from other cyclists and then later sell them acorns for above market prices


darrenleroy [336 posts] 10 months ago
CygnusX1 wrote:

Don’t read cycle magazines or websites

Says a cycling website.  Reminds me of my youth and saturday morning TV ... "Why Don't You? ... just switch off your TV set and go and do something less boring instead"angry


Why Don't You? was on in the week during the summer school holidays, not Saturday mornings. Stop getting kids' telly wrong.

slickisquick [1 post] 9 months ago

I've always found the best savings take time looking through multiple websites, checking back etc etc. Recently I found https://gearpursuit.com/ which combines these websites into a single catalogue, so far it's made my life searching considerably easier.

They also have a daily cycling deals page, dangerously addictive, bargains keep popping up all the time.

Hope this helps someone else.

Liam Cahill [188 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

slickisquick wrote:

I've always found the best savings take time looking through multiple websites, checking back etc etc. Recently I found https://gearpursuit.com/ which combines these websites into a single catalogue, so far it's made my life searching considerably easier.

They also have a daily cycling deals page, dangerously addictive, bargains keep popping up all the time.

Hope this helps someone else.

Or, you could support your favourite independent cycling website by checking out deals.road.cc!

Ours is more dangerously addictive than yours.

Mungecrundle [1543 posts] 5 months ago

If you run a popular internet forum style website, save money by simply resurrecting old stories* and posting them into your current articles section. New readers will see lots of "fresh" content which looks like it is enjoying plenty of commentary from a diverse and knowledgeable readership. Old readers will enjoy reviewing their previous contributions from a time when they were still moderately witty or could remember what their point of vew was from start to finish in the same posting. Anyway... where was I?


*Always check that you have screwed over the writer by stipulating in their contract that they will not be paid for recycled articles.

PRSboy [549 posts] 5 months ago
1 like

It has to be said, I'm glad this article has been resurrected as some of the comments are hilarious!

Xenophon2 [102 posts] 5 months ago
1 like

They didn't post the number 1 money saver (apologies if someone already remarked on it, didn't read through all reactions):

Don't hang out on websites such as this one that infect their patrons with gear angst and push them to whip out that shiny card so that they, too, can be great and be seen riding their shiny midlife crisis (I guess that's the one thing a bike has on a mistress:  you can ride the former in public and not waste even more money on lawyers).