Best bicycle: get the best bike for under £2000 from road bikes to mountain machines

From fixies to road racers to mountain, electric and beyond, find the steed you need from £400 to £2000

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Autumn is coming but it's still a great time to be out riding the best bikes. Very little can rival the sensation of freedom offered by a bicycle. From the 'wheeeee, look at me!' feeling you experienced when you first rode without stabilisers, to the ease and cost-effectiveness of getting around by bike as an adult.

As a mode of urban transport, there are no irksome parking fees, no tapping in and tapping out, and maintenance is very cheap compared to a car. Plus, if you decide to have a few too many bevvies of an evening, you simply leave the bike where it is and hop on public transport (and maybe pray it's still there in the morning).

Bikes: what you need to know

You can access a whole world of chain-driven steeds, from a trick-happy trail dominator to an electrically assisted e-bike and everything in between.

This year's top offerings include ultra-reliable hybrids, dreamy commuter machines, hip-yet-practical single-speed bikes and affordable racers for traffic-smashing pace. 

If you need a little help choosing the right wheels for you, check out the tips in our guides to the best road bike and the best mountain bike – some of the rides listed are a lot pricier than the ones here, mind.

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. No, we're just kidding. 

We've gone for the most affordable bike possible without significantly scrimping on quality here, which gets you off to a good start. Beyond that the key is to look for sale pricing, and above all, consider settling for last year's model if you can find it. The 2018 versions of most bikes will be all but identical to those from 2017 (and even further back) yet invariably cost a few hundred quid more.

The best bicycles of every kind

Canyon Roadlite CF 8.0

3. Canyon Roadlite CF 8.0

The most fun you can have on a bike for under £2000

Frame: Carbon
Groupset: Shimano Ultegra 11 speed
Wheels: DT Swiss E 1800 Spline DB
Finishing Kit: Canyon, Tektro, Shimano
Reasons to buy
+Great riding position for city traffic+Feels comfortable and sturdy+...But also nimble and quick

• Buy Canyon Roadlite CF 8.0 direct from Canyon

This bike can be found in our list of best road bikes in its top-of-the-range configuration, but dip a little further down the line and you can find it for below £2000.  

This is what Canyon and other insist on calling a 'fitness bike', but it's basically a road bike with flat pedals and flat bars, and it goes like the clappers, whilst giving you a riding position that's much better suited to city riding. 

For riding in town, there's really nothing better. The carbon fibre frame is unusually forgiving. Shipping is included in the price, and takes under a week.

Pinnacle Lithium LTD

2. Pinnacle Lithium LTD

Best 'do anything' bike

Style: Hybrid
Frame: Aluminium **Weight** 13.9 kg
Gears: Shimano Alivio SL-M4000 27-speed
Reasons to buy
+Built-in headlamp+Reflective 3M paintjob+Handy carrying rack+Sweet frame design
Reasons to avoid
-It's heavy-Not the sharpest gear shifters

Pinnacle is celebrating its tenth anniversary in style, by unleashing a range of popular models that feature bespoke touches that are designed to make life easier for the cyclist.

We really fell for the Lithium LTD due to its stupidly comfortable frame geometry, cosseting saddle and swept back bars that make it really easy to ride despite its 13kg bulk.

But this additional mass can be forgiven when you take into account the added niceties Pinnacle has seen fit to throw in, from the beefy Shimano BR-M506 disc brakes to the handy front rack with build-in, dynamo-powered headlamp.

Yes, a front rack is handy and actually looks rather neat on this chunky, off-road inspired machine. It's as if Danny McAskill has designed the perfect bread delivery vehicle.

To top things off, Pinnacle has decked out this commuter machine with a 3M reflective paintjob, which appears a cool frosted white in the daytime but blazes back at traffic as soon as the headlights strike the aluminium.

Alex Volar rims and puncture-resistant Continental Cruise Contact tyres ensure it's a smooth rider on the road but can also handle the odd foray into the rough stuff.

We found it could handle plenty of weight without feeling unwieldy, including loading up the front rack and sticking a child's bike seat on the back, while the massive spread of gears ensured most hills were ironed out with ease.

Those shifters could be slightly temperamental but nothing a spot of adjustment couldn’t sort, while the Shimano disc brakes proved impeccably judged.

As a 'go everywhere' machine, it's very difficult to beat this beauty, especially given the price.

 Boardman HYB 8.9

3. Boardman HYB 8.9

Best affordable city hybrid

Style: Hybrid
Frame: Aluminium/carbon fork **Weight** 10.4 kg
Gears: SRAM Apex 11 speed
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Superb specification+Disc brakes
Reasons to avoid
-Limited gear spread

The cream of the Boardman hybrid crop is a great looking bike, its stealthy grey paintjob and subtle orange highlights standing it head and shoulders above the often drab offerings of previous years.

However, this ultra-light 6061 aluminium frame isn't merely an object to ogle as it rests against a radiator in your flat, because the Boardman 8.9 is built to hammer the daily commute and take advantage of a full carbon front fork for sharp steering and a pothole-smoothing ride. 

The SRAM Apex gearing is fast and responsive, while the hydraulic braking system is plenty powerful enough to avoid run-ins with clueless commuters.

As with most Boardman products, the specification is impressive given the price (economies of scale, innit), so this means you get smooth-rolling Mavic XM319 rims shod in brilliant Schwalbe Marathon Racer rubber.

It's difficult to fault the machine, with our only real gripe being the limited 11-speed transmission, which is fine for cruising around town but can be limiting if you're thinking of tackling hillier terrain.

Emu Crossbar

4. Emu Crossbar

Best affordable city e-bike

Style: Electric
Frame: Aluminium **Weight** 23 kg
Gears: Shimano Nexus 7 speed hub
Motor: 250W front hub
Battery: Samsung 10.4A or 14.5A
Range: 25-50 miles
Charge time: 6-8 hours
Reasons to buy
+Great price+Excellent spec and features+Practical storage solutions
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy-Traditional styling might not appeal to all

• A more in-depth guide for would-be ebike buyers

This number from e-bike newcomers Emu might not boast the trick belt drive or lightweight frame of the Gtech Ebike Sports, but it majors on specification in just about every other conceivable area.

A sub-£1k price tag bags a powerful 250W front hub motor, 10.4 Amp battery with a range of 40km (25 miles) on a single charge and a top-up time of six hours from flat.

At 23kg, it is a heavy old lump, but Emu attempts to negate this with a 'walk assist' mode, which incorporates a small amount of motor assistance when moving around but it's still tricky to get on and off a train, for example.

However, Emu sells a little foldable number if that's your bag. The Emu Crossbar is for  town commuters that require a sweet ride that's backed up by solid Shimano Nexus hub gears and Tektro brakes, which are adequate if not the best on the market.

Riding is smooth and easy, with the crank moving sensor doing its best to iron out any gaps in power delivery.

We particularly liked the integrated bell in the left brake lever, the chunky pannier rack and the built-in lights, which neatly plug into the on-board trip computer.

Ridgeback Flight 04

5. Ridgeback Flight 04

Best urban bike

Style: Hybrid
Frame: Aluminium
Weight: 10kg
Gears: Shimano Metrea 11-speed
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight frame+Comfortable geometry
Reasons to avoid
-Looks a bit boring

This is a modern hybrid bike. It's not quite a mountain bike, nor is it a full-fledged road warrior but the latest commuter offering for Ridgeback successfully blends the two worlds to create a comfortable but robust everyday machine.

The flat bars and relaxed geometry means every day riding is comfortable, while the robust Shimano gear shifters and disc brakes offer reliability no matter what the weather decides to do.

It's not the most exciting machine on the list but it is the best at tackling the business of cycling without the worry of gear failure, regular maintenance, or a sore bum on the journey to work.

Ribble R872

6. Ribble R872

Best road bike

Frame : Carbon
Groupset: Shimano Ultegra 6800 11 Speed
Wheels: Fulcrum Racing Sport
Finishing Kit: Deda Zero 2 Handlebar & Stem
Reasons to buy
+Top notch components+Rapid carbon frame
Reasons to avoid
-Not many left...

Online-only, Lancashire-based bike wrangler Ribble has been going from strength to strength of late, unleashing new and improved carbon race bikes that offer a great balance of overall stiffness, (relative) comfort, speed and composed handling.

The R872 is a fantastic machine for the price, with recommended builds at frankly silly prices – and they do Black Friday sales, too.

Ribble doesn't have the experience, or perhaps even the expertise, of a Specialized or Giant but they sure as hell know how to pass savings on to customers.

There aren't many of this model left, but if they're all gone by the time you read this, we can vouchsafe that Ribble's road bikes all offer superb value for money.

Boardman Mountain Bike Pro Full Suspension

7. Boardman Mountain Bike Pro Full Suspension

Best full-suspension mountain bike

Style: Trail
Frame: Aluminium
Weight: 13kg
Gears: SRAM GX 11-speed
Reasons to buy
+Phenomenal spec for the money+Can tackle anything
Reasons to avoid
-You may face badge snobbery

It is quite amazing that Chris Boardman manages to make any sort of profit when he offers a trail-devouring, spec-heavy weapon like this for the giveaway price Halfords flogs it for.

Yes, it is more pricey than the other bikes here but take it from me: the spec makes this a steal. The machine is happy to have pretty much every sort of trail thrown at it, while the 140mm RockShox Pike RC fork is properly adept at soaking up some big slams, while the rear RockShox Monarch RT shock is highly adjustable for a detailed, dialled-in ride

The beefy SRAM groupset, including monster four-piston hydraulic disc brakes, is all most will ever need to stop, go and inevitably fly through the air during demanding downhills.

A previous criticism of the Boardman range was the relatively naff graphics and paint schemes but the cool metallic blue and lime green hues, as well as revised logos, means this is one off-road adventurer that shouldn't be sneered at by fellow enthusiasts.

Specialized Pitch Comp 650B

8. Specialized Pitch Comp 650B

Best hardtail trail bike

Style: Trail
Frame: Aluminium
Weight: 11kg
Gears: Shimano Apex 1 11-speed
Reasons to buy
+Excellent frame+Updated SR Suntour suspension
Reasons to avoid
-Small wheels

Very little can compete with the lung-busting workout of a muddy trail ride and for anyone looking to improve fitness and bike handling skills, it's highly recommended that you head for loose surfaces and hills.

The only downside is cost, as full-frame, all-singing all-dancing mountain bikes can be stupidly expensive but Specialized's Pitch Comp allows intrigued off-roaders to dip a toe in the water without breaking the bank.

A solid aluminium frame, which benefits from the American brand's meticulous eye for detail, top spec SR Suntour XCM front suspension and Shimano Acera 9-speed gearing ensure the machine is reliable and performs well under pressure.

The Ground Control Sport tyres, complete with Flak Jacket puncture protection, and Shimano BR-M315, hydraulic disc only add to the bike's appeal.

Gtech eBike Sports

9. Gtech eBike Sports

Best budget urban e-bike – lightweight too

Weight: 16kg
Range: 30 miles
Charging time: 3 hours
Gears: none
Power: 200W
Reasons to buy
+Very light for an e-bike+Computer monitored to adjust speed when pedalling+Good value for money
Reasons to avoid
-Not much difference between low and high power-Slightly uncomfortable saddle and grips

Most decent electric bikes still hover around the £2000+ mark but this one from Gtech is under a grand, has a maximum 30-mile range, and looks pretty much like a bicycle, which is still not quite the norm for e-bikes.

There are no gears and only two power settings, both quite low. So we wouldn't recommend this for taking on mountains or muddy trails, but for flat cities with the occasional hill, it's perfect. There's a carbon band rather than a chain, which means less chance of mucking up your trews, and the way the electric motor offers assistance as you pedal based on how much it's needed (on inclines, when pulling away from the lights, etc) works well too. 

The assisted speed is capped at 15mph, but the Gtech eBike Sport is relatively light for an e-bike, so it doesn't feel like it's fighting against you when you pedal faster. You do start to realise why it's so affordable when you contemplate the uncomfortable saddle and grips, the absence of any gears at all, and the feeble brakes, but none of these flaws is fatal.

Electra Loft 3i

10. Electra Loft 3i

Best bike for the suit-wearing cyclist

Style: Hybrid
Frame: Alloy
Weight: 12kg
Gears: Shimano Nexus 3-Speed
Reasons to buy
+Plenty of storage options+Stupidly easy to ride+Cheap
Reasons to avoid
-Not one for speed freaks

Californian bike builder Electra like to inject a dose of laid-back West Coast attitude into its creations and the men's Loft 3i bike is purely about comfortable cruising.

Simple Shimano gearing gives a relatively small spread of cogs to work with but it's perfectly suited to the sort of climbs one finds in the typical urban environment. I don't like the twist shift while a rear rack offers additional storage solutions for those who can't stand wearing a backpack.

In short, if you're allergic to Lycra and prefer cycling to work in the clothes you plan to wear for the rest of the day, this is the perfect bike for you.

State Bicycle The Ranger 2.0

11. State Bicycle The Ranger 2.0

Best fixie/single speed bike

Style: Fixie
Frame: Chromoly steel
Weight: 10kg
Gears: Single speed flop hub
Reasons to buy
+Stylish retro looks+Great price
Reasons to avoid
-Wheelset could be better

Fresh from the US of A comes the revised version of the State Bicycle Company's excellent Ranger model. 

The chaps at State have made a few minor revisions to its super cool fixie that make a big difference to the overall riding experience and longevity, including new double-butted tubing for a stronger frame, sealed-bearing hubs for a smoother ride and beefed-up die-cast dropouts with internal chain tensioners for added peace of mind if you like riding fixed.

It's also an absolute bargain at this price, with 40mm deep V style wheels and a cool synthetic leather saddle and bar tape finishing off an already handsome machine. If you find the idea of a fixie a bit daunting, you can flip the wheel over and use the single-gear hub instead.