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

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

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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 less, 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

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. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Specialized Sirrus Expert Carbon

Best all-rounder and fitness bike

Style: 'Fitness'
Frame: Carbon
Weight: 11.5kg
Gears: Shimano 105 11-speed
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight carbon frame+Ace mix of comfort and performance+Very black indeed
Reasons to avoid
-Naturally a bit pricier than others here

The fitness bike scene hasn't really taken off here like it has in the States, perhaps because we see the bicycle as a functional commuter tool, rather than a means to burn off pulled brisket and grilled cheese sandwiches.

No matter, where Specialized has targeted the get-fit brigade from across The Pond, it has unwittingly produced a pretty good commuter machine as a side benefit; one that will tackle the daily ride with speed and precision.

The FACT 9r carbon frame is light and strong, while the proven Shimano 105 groupset is a cut above the usual budget gearing found on cheaper daily rides. Specialized says the carbon frame has also been designed to allow a certain amount of flex to help soak up potholes and bumps for a much smoother pedalling experience. 

An upright riding position is not only more comfortable, it also affords a better view of the ever-changing traffic situation in busy cities, while cool 'Plug + Play' mudguard mounts makes it easy to add or remove those splash back protectors.

1. Gtech eBike Sports

Best electric bike (for city use primarily)

Weight: 16kg
Range: 30 miles
Charging time: 3 hours
Gears: none
Power: 200W
Reasons to buy
+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 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 and 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.