Best bikes under £1500
Trying to pick the best bike under £1,500 is like trying to find a bicycle spoke in a haystack, but it's worth the effort.
Nothing beats buzzing around town on two wheels during the summer months. Evening pub pints with pals are made even more appealing without the worry of sweaty public transport or the ferocious cost of cabs, while the daily commute can provide some much-needed post-winter fat removal when tackled on two wheels.
This year's crop of urban-friendly commuters, painfully cool fixies and traffic-beating speed machines is probably the best ever, fusing neat design and reliable running gear with wallet-friendly price tags.
We've collated the best of this year's offerings, covering ultra-reliable crossovers, trendy single speed bikes and affordable racers for traffic smashing pace. If you need a little help choosing the right wheels for you, check out our exceedingly thorough carbon fibre road bike feature linked to below. It tackles geometry, groupsets and finding the perfect fit.
Interested in a single-speed but confused by talk of 'flop hubs'? Most of the single-speeds here can be converted between free-wheeling when you don't pedal, and a 'proper' fixie mode, whereby if you don't pedal, the bike immediately stops, hurling you over the handlebars into the path of an oncoming truck. So practice somewhere safe when you switch modes, would be our advice.
All of the following bikes are excellent choices. We've listed them in price order, starting at £1,500 and going down to £299, which is about the minimum we'd advise spending on a new bike.
Specialized CruX Sport E5
Cyclocross is a sport that sees lunatics ride and lug bikes across tarmac, gravel, mud and more, in the name of "fun." See how much fun it looks?
However, as a result of this masochistic tomfoolery, cyclocross bikes have evolved to be light, durable and suitably rugged, making them perfect for the daily commute.
The Specialized CruX has been designed for those dipping a muddy extremity into the sport and as such features a lightweight but sturdy aluminium alloy frame with carbon forks, as well as Shimano's bulletproof 105 groupset. \
Throw in hydraulic disc brakes and Specialized's bespoke Tracer Sport knobbly tyres and you have a bike that's just as happy slicing through sodden rush hour traffic as it is tearing up the trails. Did we mention it looks the bee's bananas, too?
T3 verdict 4
A rugged workhorse that feels as totally at ease on the road as it does on the trails.
Price £1,500 | Buy Specialized CruX Sport E5
Ribble Gran Fondo Special Edition Athena
Ignore the naysayers; it IS possible to get a full carbon road bike that's just itching to go like the clappers for under £1,500, and that's because online bike builders Ribble love a bargain.
The Gran Fondo ('long distance' in Italian) is set up to offer a racy ride without compromising on the comfort, meaning a more relaxed seating position and a forgiving carbon frame.
Campagnolo's Athena 11-speed groupset provides the mechanical bits, while the package is finished off with the Italian firm's Scirocco 35 wheels. Spend a bit more and you get the superb Zondas - an advisable upgrade if you intend on doing a bit of racing at the weekend.
It's well worth studying the size charts and doing a bit of measuring before placing an order to ensure you get a good fit. Get it right and this is one rapid ride, for those looking to cruise the smooth tarmac in true style.
Just buy a good lock if you intend to take it to the pub.
T3 verdict 4
A sharp racer or an extravagant commuter that's bound to draw jealous glances at both the office bike racks and sportive start line.
Price From £1,149.95 | Buy Ribble Gran Fondo
Canyon Urban 7.0 SL
From the specially tapered steerer to the clever belt drive system; every mechanical part of the Urban 7.0 SL has been designed for hassle-free maintenance and a precise daily ride.
It also looks like little else on the road, brilliantly blending retro cafe racer-esque touches with truly futuristic design flourishes, as well as packing off-road elements, such as the Shimano Deore XT groupset, to reduce the risk of mechanical malfunctions.
If there's a cooler town bike out there, we'll eat our ultra-trendy, cotton cycling caps.
T3 verdict 5
Perhps the perfect bike for those wanting a reliable hack without having to opt for a cast iron relic from yesteryear.
Price £1,149 | Buy Canyon Urban 7.0 SL
Vitus Bikes Energie Cyclo X
Chain Reaction Cycles' own brand is rapidly becoming a big name in the bike game, offering great value set-ups that use some of the best components around.
The brilliantly orange Energie cyclocross bike is a solid package that will happily act as a winter training bike or a broad-shouldered commuter machine for all seasons.
Its rugged 6061-T6 alloy frame can handle an autumnal bashing, while the full carbon fork does its bit to keep overall weight down. But the real star of the show is the SRAM Rival 1 shifters and X-SYNC 40t chainring, which can handle some serious power through the pedals, without melting under the stress.
Knobbly WTB Cross Wolf tyres and TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes team up to offer peace of mind in the wet, meaning this is one puppy you won't have to pack away when the summer season is over.
T3 verdict 4
A robust offering that doesn't break the bank, and can happily be ridden all year round, in all conditions.
Price £830 | Buy Vitus Bikes Energie Cyclo X
Charge Grater 3
There's nothing particularly striking about the utilitarian, matt brown Grater 3 but then that's the point. Its sole purpose is to get you to your destination with minimum fuss and mess.
Think of the Grater 3 as the Sherman Tank of the bike world: its hardy Shimano Alfine 8-speed hub gear system sees filthy cogs banished to a sealed unit in order to minimise 'oil-on-trousers' situations, while the functional integrated mudguard further protects threads from the elements.
There's also a powerful hydraulic disc braking system, meaning stopping power isn't reduced to a slippery fish when it begins to bucket down.
It rides exactly as you would expect, with a comfortable upright position that offers a great view to survey the traffic ahead, while Charge's award-winning Spoon saddle is easy on the posterior.
T3 verdict 3
It's difficult to get excited about the Grater 3 but it is designed to last rather than wow. A word of warning: despite the no-frills nature of the bike, those hub gears and disc brakes could prove fiddly to maintain.
Price £800 | Buy Charge Grater 3
Genesis Day One Decade
The chaps at Genesis have been designing and building bikes that happily straddle numerous disciplines for years and the Day One Decade celebrates the anniversary of one of the company's most notable models.
It features an interesting single-speed, off-road gearing set-up. That concept might make you wince, but the 38x17T ratio is said to offer optimum drive for anyone mixing up the daily commute with a few dusty trails.
We're finding it difficult to picture a dapper chap in a suit blazing along dirt tracks on his way to work but the Day One Decade is fun distilled down into its purest form and can handle some rough stuff should you fancy it.
A lack of fiddly gears, the addition of awesome hydraulic brakes for massive stopping power and an ultra-tough chromoly frame make this a brilliant bike for throwing around on a daily basis.
T3 verdict 4
Rock hard, easy to maintain and good-looking: the Day One Decade is a leftfield choice that'll happily lap up the daily commute and more.
Price £700 | Buy Genesis Day One Decade
Bobbin Cambridge Gents Racer
Ignore the faintly ridiculous, children's book moniker and instead marvel at the little details that make the Cambridge Racer so darn appealing.
The old-school Sturmey Archer gear levers mounted to the downtube, the sprung vinyl saddle and the high-shine, hi-ten steel frame make it look suitably retro but every item has been carefully selected to ensure it can handle modern life.
A full set of mudguards with matching faux tan leather flaps ensure threads are kept free of dirt splats, while the heavy duty alloy wheels have been built to withstand potholes and scarred inner-city road surfaces.
It is unlikely to triumph at the weekend sportive but the Cambridge Racer will muster a few admiring mumbles on the daily hack around town.
T3 verdict 3
This may favour style over substance, but it'll definitely compliment a nice pair of brogues and a crisp Oxford shirt.
Price £624 | Buy Bobbin Cambridge Gents Racer
Specialized Langster Street
Originally conceived as a low-cost frame for speedy track cycling, the Langster rapidly became a favourite with cycle-savvy urbanites, who love the lightweight, aluminium frame's penchant for speed and power.
Specialized quickly realised this and now offers the full Street package, complete with Axis Classic Track rims, a carbon front fork and awesome alloy 'cow horn' handlebars for maximum bonus hipster-kudos points.
It rides beautifully and although it may be more expensive than the raft of fixie-wannabes available for cheap on the web, the trade off is that this one comes with Specialized's reputation for reliability and race-winning pedigree.
You know it's hardcore when it comes with brakes but Specialized recommends you ride it as a full-fat fixie. Quite simply, it's a jaw dropping machine.
T3 verdict 5
The perfect ride for anyone serious about shaving time off the daily commute, without donning an excess of Lycra.
Price £600 | Buy Specialized Langster Street
Quella One Fixie
This small outfit from Cambridge attracted the attention of the bike world with its range of colourful and achingly cool town bikes that can happily mix it with the bespoke stuff but don't cost the earth.
Quella's One Fixie is arguably one of the easiest bikes to live with on this entire list. It requires almost zero maintenance and offers the pure thrill of riding in its most naked form.
Fear not, it can be specified with brakes but those wanting the true fixie experience will want to flip the flop hub around and wrangle this thing using just leg-power (and some serious cojones).
It looks great too, with the firm offering up plenty of eye-catching colour schemes, alloy deep-dish rims and cool PZ Race Pursuit handlebars for a stretched-out, sprint-pace riding position.
The rims might be a bit much for the daily commute, as they tend to get rather uncomfortable on anything but the smoothest of tarmac, but it hurts to look this cool, right?
T3 verdict 4
A sweet, hand-built ride that can mix it with more high-end, bespoke steeds, despite being sold at Halfords.
Price £550 | Buy Quella One Fixie
Eastway Esaki T1
There's no doubt about it: single-speed track bikes are cool and the ace Eastway Esaki has stayed true to its velodrome roots here, serving up a bike with simple, clean lines and solid, high performance components.
The custom Halo Aerotrack wheels are shod in Continental Ultrasport tyres and use super smooth hubs for optimum post-pub cruising speeds, while the SRAM Omnium crank and chainset are chunky enough to handle some serious power through the pedals when the Dutch courage kicks in.
It's highly unlikely that the Esaki will ever see an oval track in its lifetime but that's not the point, it's all about aesthetics and prowess, and this thing both looks the business and delivers the goods.
T3 verdict 4
A pseudo track bike that can happily be used everyday. It's not the lightest frame around but it feels well bolted together and the gearing is perfect for inner-city sprints.
Price £489 | Buy Eastway Esaki T1
You've seen the cool cats sprinting around town on their fixed-gear machines and you really fancy getting in with the crowd. But you're lazy and cycling is expensive and you don't want to get oily on the daily commute. Enter the Nero.
Bolted together for lightweights like you, the Nero is itself fairly lightweight at just 11.5kg. It's also almost maintenance free thanks to its single-speed gearing, comes prepared with mounts for mudguards to protect clothing and, perhaps the clincher, is available for less than £300.
The flop hub can be set up for leisurely freewheel cruising, or the more ardent enthusiast can flip it for a true fixie experience when the time comes.
With stylish, deep-v alloy rims and eight attractive colour schemes to choose from, there's no doubt that this looks the part, too.
T3 verdict 3
A great and affordable way of cruising the streets that's a doddle to maintain yet manages to look slick.
Price £299 | Buy Quella Nero