Best bike: ride the best bicycles, from road bikes to mountain machines

From fixies to road racers to mountain, electric and beyond, the best bikes for under £2,000

Best bicycle best bike

Looking for the best bike is like trying to find the ultimate pair of shoes… But even more fun. There are plenty of reasons why more and more people are turning towards the bicycle as a reliable mode of transport. The spiralling cost of public transport, increasing congestion and a general need to save our stricken planet are just a few.

But let's not forget that pedal power also results in improved fitness and very little can rival that "wheeeeee, look at me!" feeling derived from coasting down a massive hill. We've collated a comprehensive list of bicycles that cover all bases, from relaxed urban cruisers to trail-shredding mountain bikes, lithe road warriors to maintenance-free commuters, electric machines and beyond.

Prices range from a mere £399, up to a limit of £2,000 (which we have ignored on only one occasion). That means there is a bike to suit all budgets, tastes and demands. 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. Last year's version of most bikes will be all but identical to this year's yet can cost hundreds less.

The best bicycles by type, in slightly arbitrary order

Best hybrid bike, best bike overall

Best bicycle: Vitus Mach 3 VRX

(Image credit: Vitus)

1. Vitus Mach 3 VRX

Best hybrid bike for all-round riding

Style: Hybrid
Frame: 6061-T6 Alloy
Gears: Shimano Metrea SL-RS700
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight aluminium frame +Hydraulic disc brakes
Reasons to avoid
-Gear range could be wider for steep hills

• Buy from Wiggle for £850

The Vitus Mach 3 VRX combines slick city looks with a smart spec and practical touches to make this the ideal hybrid bike for commuting to work, riding to the pub or heading out for a few miles in the lanes on a Sunday morning.

The Mach 3 features an aluminium frame and fork, finished in this rather lovely copper paintjob. The frame itself has all the latest touches, including a tapered headtube (to improve the bike’s handling), internal cable routing (to keep everything looking clean) and dropped seatstays (to boost comfort over rough roads). Mudguard and pannier mounts bring plenty of versatility to the party.

The flat handlebar provides a comfortable position for riding, with the brakes and gears both easily accessible. Speaking of which, the Mach 3’s single-chainring Shimano Metrea groupset keeps gear changes simple, although some riders would appreciate a lower bottom gear for steep hills. When it’s time to come to a halt, the hydraulic disc brakes provide reliable all-weather stopping power.

For well under a grand, you're getting a lot of bicycle for your money here.

Best road bike

best bicycle: Ridley Noah Ultegra Mix

(Image credit: Ridley)

2. Ridley Noah Ultegra

Best carbon fibre road bike under £2,000

Frame: Carbon
Groupset: Shimano Ultegra 11 speed
Wheels: Forza RC31
Finishing Kit: Forza, FSA, Vittoria
Reasons to buy
+Beautifully styled+Mix use bike+Fast enough for racing
Reasons to avoid
-Heavier than other carbon bikes-It's called Noah

Ridley has had some grand Tour success in recent years, and while this probably isn't going to carry you to glory in the mountains of France, it is an exceptionally well made road bike for the money. A tough carbon frame means it's as suited to weekend racing as it is to daily commuting.

Naturally some compromises have to be made to get it under the £2,000 mark and this is noticeably heavier than some of its competitors in our road bikes buying guide. But while Chris Froome would no doubt notice the additional heft are you going to? Really? Come on. With Shimano Ultegra gears, changing is super smooth, without any compromise to reliability.  

Best electric bikes: Volt Pulse

3. Volt Pulse

Best electric bike under £2,000

Weight: 22.7kg
Range: 60 or 80 miles depending on model
Charging time: 3-4 hours
Gears: 8-Speed
Power: 250W
Reasons to buy
+Great fun to ride+Proper gears and suspension+'Turbo' button
Reasons to avoid
-Quite heavy

• Buy direct from Volt for £1,599

A few years old now, but this Volt flagship is still a great choice as a first e-bike. For well under £,2000 you get disk brakes and even front suspension, which is very handy on most urban streets as well as if you choose to 'go rural'. The 250W motor is powerful enough to move its admittedly hefty 22.7kg frame around without any pain, although if the battery ever runs out, you will not enjoy getting by with pedal power alone. At least there's 8-speed Shimano Alivio gears on hand.

As well as the usual pedal assistance that you get on all e-bikes there's a handy thumb throttle 'turbo button' (my name for it, not Volt's) to push you up to the capped 15.5mph top speed with even less effort than usual. You can, of course, very easily remove that speed limit… But that would be illegal, so don't do that.

Best fitness bike

Best bicycle: Canyon Pathlite SL 7.0

(Image credit: Canyon)

4. Canyon Pathlite SL 7.0

Best 'fitness' bike – a zippy hybrid designed to help you stay in shape

Style: Fitness bike
Frame: Canyon Pathlite AL SL
Gears: Shimano SLX M7000
Reasons to buy
+Ideal for light off-road use as well as in town+Excellent spec for the money 
Reasons to avoid
-Not a pure road riding bike, clearly

Direct sales giant Canyon has a reputation for offering brilliant bikes that deliver plenty of bang for your buck and the Pathlite SL 7.0 is no different. The Pathlite is Canyon’s fitness bike, designed to whip you into shape and put a smile on your face in the process.

Unlike a drop-handlebar road bike, the Pathlite has a flat handlebar, so you don’t need the flexibility of a Yoga teacher to pedal in comfort. Nor do you need the lung capacity of a Tour de France rider, with the Pathlite SL 7.0 coming with a broad range of gears to haul you up the steepest of climbs.

The frame itself is made from aluminium and is paired with a Suntour NRX-E fork with 75mm of travel. Combine that with the grippy, 40mm-wide Maxxis Rambler tyres and the Pathlite is ideally-suited to exploring your local bridleways and forest tracks. Tidy features include the internal cable routing and handlebar grips, while the Pathlite SL 7.0 is dripping in quality components, including a Shimano XT drivetrain and Shimano SLX hydraulic disc brakes.

Best city bike

Best bicycle: Genesis Brixton

(Image credit: Genesis)

5. Genesis Brixton

Best cruiser for sophisticated city riders

Style: City bike/cruiser
Frame: Genesis Mjlnir Seamless Double-Butted Cromoly
Gears: Shimano Altus
Reasons to buy
+Style and practically in abundance +Fully setup out of the box for city riding
Reasons to avoid
-A bit heavy

The Genesis Brixton is one of those rare beasts - a bike that offers style and practicality in abundance. This is a machine for sophisticated city riders, with the frame’s classic looks complemented by a subtly swept riser handlebar that wouldn’t look out of place on the bike lanes of Amsterdam.

That handlebar is also designed to put the rider in a relaxed, comfortable position for city cruising. Other practical features include the front rack - no need to lug your belongings around in a backpack - and full-length mudguards, to protect your backside in bad weather.

The steel frame and fork adds plenty of heft – this isn’t one for all-out speedsters – and the Genesis isn’t as hot on value as some of the direct-sales machines we’ve featured here. We’d like to see hydraulic disc brakes, rather than cable-actuated ones, at this price. Even so, this stylish, practical city bike is a compelling machine.

Best gravel bike

Best gravel bike: Canyon Grail AL 7.0 SL

6. Canyon Grail AL 7.0 SL

Best gravel bike under £2,000

Frame: Canyon Grail AL
Groupset: SRAM Rival 1
Wheels: DT Swiss C 1850 Spline db
Finishing Kit: Canyon
Reasons to buy
+Extremely versatile
 +Tough aluminium frame +Superb value for money

Reasons to avoid
-Unsightly welds

Go for an aluminium frame rather than carbon and Canyon will sell you this fantastic gravel bike from as little as £1,199. For that you get a bike that's durable and a lot of fun to ride. Gravel bikes are often bought for commuting and mudguard mounts make it a useful there, too. The quality of frame and components is impossible to argue with at this price.

Best mountain bike

Best bicycle

7. Whyte 905

Best hardtail MTB under £2,000

Frame: Multi-butted, hydro-formed 6061 alloy
Fork: 130mm RockShox Revelation RC
Wheelsize: 27.5+in
Reasons to buy
+A ridiculously fast and furious ride +Totally sorted handling+Instils huge levels of rider confidence

Able to go at speed on less murderous trails, but also to take on steep descents, this hardtail is excellent value for money and an almost indecent amount of fun. Frame geometry is long, low, slack and well-dialled, while the wide WTB ST 135 wheels with a combo of front Maxxis High Roller II 2.8 and rear Maxxis Recon 2.8 give a great mix of grip and speed. Thankfully, the SRAM brakes are also excellent.

Best fixie/single speed

State Bicycle Pigeon Core Line

8. State Bicycle Pigeon Core Line

Best fixie/single speed bike

Style: Fixie
Frame: Durable steel
Weight: 11.2kg
Gears: Single speed flop hub
Reasons to buy
+Serious looks+Amazing price
Reasons to avoid
-Components prone to rusting

State Bicycles has been a regular fixture on many a T3 best bicycle list and that's because they offer some seriously sexy steeds for an amazing price. Its latest Core Line drives the cost down further, without scrimping on those head-turning good looks. The Pigeon is among our faves, with its flashy flat grey frame, contrast red hubs and 40mm Deep-V style wheels making it look like a velodrome-ready racer for a fraction of the cost.

All State Bikes come with a Flip-Flop hub, meaning you can ride it as a true fixie, or flip the rear wheel for some sweet coasting action. The Pigeon comes with both front and rear brakes, as well as sweet Vans grips, although we have noticed that some of the components are prone to rusting if you leave it out in the rain. 

But seriously, this is one of the best value fixie packages we've laid eyes on in a long time and certainly one of the most handsome.  

Best cargo bike

Best bicycle: Tern GSD

(Image credit: Tern)

9. Tern GSD S00

An electric cargo bike to replace your car

Style: Electric cargo bike
Frame: Tern GSD 7005-AL
Gears: Enviolo Cargo Groupset
Motor: Bosch Performance Line CX **Battery** Bosch Dual Battery System, 500 Wh or 1000 Wh
Reasons to buy
+Seriously practical bike for everyday use+Powerful Bosch motor and battery system +It could replace your car around town
Reasons to avoid
-It costs as much as a small car

Well, we have smashed through our self-imposed £2,000 limit here – if you want a cargo bike this beefy and this good, it will cost you. It's worth it, since the Tern GSD may well be the most practical bike money can buy. 

The GSD is an electric cargo bike with a powerful Bosch Performance Line CX motor, fed by a Bosch battery with a range of up to 200km (if you also buy a second battery to make full use of the dual system).

That power and range, combined with the heavy-duty aluminium frame, means you can carry a serious amount of gear on this bike. This S00 model comes with two huge pannier bags, while you can also add a flatbed and porteur rack to the front and rear respectively. Want to ride with your kids on the back? No problem. The GSD is capable of taking two child seats - or you can plonk an adult on the rear using the SideKick seat pad.

The long-tail design isn’t much bigger than a regular bike, plus you can collapse the seatpost and fold down the handlebar (both fully adjustable so multiple riders can easily use the bike) to save space when not in use. There’s also a kickstand, while the rear rack has four feet on the end so you can stand the bike on its tail to save more space in storage.

For the top-end GSD S00, you’re being asked to part with a big chunk of change – as much as you'll pay for a second-hand car. But then this is also a bike that could genuinely replace your car.