Best bike 2018: the best of each bike type all for under £2000

From fixies to road bikes to trail bikes and, indeed, other types of bike, find the steed you need

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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.

There are no irksome parking fees, no road tax, no tapping in and tapping out and very little maintenance. Plus, if you decide to have a few too many summer evening martinis, 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 for £1000-£1500/$900-$1400, 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 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. No, we're just kidding. 

The best bikes 

1. 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.

2. Felt F5

Best affordable road bike

Style: Road
Frame: Carbon
Weight: 8.02kg
Gears: Shimano 105 11 speed
Reasons to buy
+Full carbon frame and fork+Shimano 105 Groupset
Reasons to avoid
-The wheels aren’t great

A few years ago, this would not have been possible: a full carbon fibre road bike for under £1,500. Surely the world has gone mad, hasn't it?

Felt's excellent F5 features an ultra-lightweight and razor-precise UHC Performance carbon fibre frame and fork, while shifting is taken care of via Shimano's revised 105 system that offers plenty of bang for the buck. Similarly, the Prologo Nago Evo T2.0 saddle is a nice, racy touch for the price.

Admittedly, the Felt Road tubeless ready RSL3 wheels could probably do with upgrading if you're seriously thinking about competing.

Also, keep an eye out for deals on the usual online cycling megastores, as it's easy to find up to 30 per cent savings on this model's list price.

3. Specialized Pitch Comp 650B

Best 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.

4. 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.

5. 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 across The Pond 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.

6. Raleigh Mustang Elite

Best for all-year-round riding

Style: Gravel
Frame: Aluminium
Weight: 11kg
Gears: Shimano Apex 1 11-speed
Reasons to buy
+Reliable brakes and gearing+Grippy tyres
Reasons to avoid
-Limited colour options-Quite hefty

The gravel bike has rapidly become the go-to machine for road cycling enthusiasts who require something a little sturdier over the wet winter months.

A blend of reliable, off-road gearing, brakes and tyres, as well as a racy frame and bars ensure that riders can still build up a decent head of steam, both on road and off, yet benefit from the assurance of powerful disc brakes and a solid aluminium frame.

Raleigh's offering boasts Tektro Spyre mechanical disc brakes, Shimano Apex gears and a finishing kit that includes items from FSA and XLC, while a slightly more relaxed riding position, compared to a full-on roadie, makes it a comfortable commuter.