First bike for an European road tour but flexible enough for other uses

Mrdini

Regular
So - I'm looking to buy my first-ish bike ideally with the help of C2W vouchers (I don't believe there are any restrictions on them by the way) for a four days UK-Amsterdam tour...

Day 1 - Gatwick - Dover - 80 miles
Day 2 - Dunkirk - Bruges - 50 miles
Day 3 - Bruges - Delft - 95 miles (oh dear)
Day 4 - Delft - Amsterdam - 40 miles

Because I'm not sure how comfortable I feel about cycling on the road in the UK, and live very close to the South Downs (Brighton here), cyclocross bikes have caught my eyes as they have drop handlebars and should be fast enough for the road compared to a more common hybrid. Also maybe commuting to work from train station.

Because this is my first bike, I'm quite hesitant about buying online even though there seems to be fairly good bikes out there as I want to try them, especially for fit before buying (which probably rules out the Wiggle Vitus Energie range). Budget would probably be around £1K (C2W!) max...? Maybe more in a pinch? I gather its the end of the season as cyclocross bikes goes (According to Southdowns Bikes who don't have any cyclocross stock) so thought I'd come in here and see what more experienced cyclists could recommend. I was advised "go for hydraulic discs", but not sure they're in my price range.

The Evans Cannondale CAADX Tiagra seems well regarded... Recommendations for any others that I could find in shops locally?

Thanks in advance!
 

vickster

Legendary Member
Are you commuting on it presumably if buying on C2W? The terms usually expect a level of use for commuting for you to benefit from the tax saving. What will those surfaces be like?

What retailers can you use? Which scheme is it?

As you're not sure what you need, buying from a shop where you can get advice and try the bikes out would be sensible

Evans Arkose gravel bikes are well regarded and as an own brand, you'll probably get better kit than from a bike brand like Cannondale unless as older reduced model

Freeborn in Horsham have a good rep and a good range, e.g. https://www.freeborn.co.uk/specialized-diverge-elite-dsw-adventure-road-bike-2017-satin-black-rocket-red (Some retailers add a surcharge for C2W on reduced bikes so as to protect their margins a bit as they get charged to cash in C2W vouchers)
 
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OP
M

Mrdini

Regular
Are you commuting on it presumably if buying on C2W? The terms usually expect a level of use for commuting for you to benefit from the tax saving. What will those surfaces be like?
I don't know yet about the commuting part (it's a thought for now) - cycling up on the Downs is probably more likely but to answer your question regardless - route is mostly cycle paths/tarmac.
 

vickster

Legendary Member
I don't know yet about the commuting part (it's a thought for now) - cycling up on the Downs is probably more likely but to answer your question regardless - route is mostly cycle paths/tarmac.
You need to check the terms of C2W then if you aren't buying to commute. There's always credit otherwise

Budget for insurance as if the bike gets stolen you're still responsible for payments
 

NorthernDave

Never used Über Member
Technically you are meant to use the bike primarily for commuting. However there is no requirement to keep a log of journies and I don't know of anyone who has been asked to prove this.

Check the limit. You're right that under most schemes the limit is £1k, but some retailers will allow you to top this up if you want a more expensive bike. Halfords don't.
Also factor in a good lock (or two if you'll be leaving it at the station) and any accessories you might need.

CX could be a good option and there's lots to choose from at around a grand.
 

vickster

Legendary Member
Technically you are meant to use the bike primarily for commuting. However there is no requirement to keep a log of journies and I don't know of anyone who has been asked to prove this.

Check the limit. You're right that under most schemes the limit is £1k, but some retailers will allow you to top this up if you want a more expensive bike. Halfords don't.
Also factor in a good lock (or two if you'll be leaving it at the station) and any accessories you might need.

CX could be a good option and there's lots to choose from at around a grand.
That's as may be but it's not meant to be used as a way to get a bike for leisure on the cheap...You might actually get a better deal buying for 'cash' or even finance
 
OP
M

Mrdini

Regular
Hmm. Well, I didn't want to get bogged down in what I thought would be unnecessary details but since its already come up, I think I'll address this.

So the thing is - I'm profoundly deaf and at this point in time, riding on the road by myself (i.e. commuting) is a bit of a scary thought, especially as a novice cyclist who's heard about road cycling and drivers in the UK :sad: This is why I haven't given too much close thought to commuting by bike to work just yet. Maybe once I'm more confident about road cycling after this tour (I'd probably also look into joining a local road club for training - Excelsior was a name mentioned to me). Also, I am not sure of the practicalities around where to keep the bike safely overnight. Where can I keep it at Gatwick (my work station)? (I don't think I'm allowed to take a full bike on Southern at rush hour). Having said that, there are cycle lanes most(?) of the way from station to my work so that's a big plus.

This is a big reason why cyclocross is an attractive thought to me - if road cycling doesn't work for me, I haven't necessarily wasted my money on a road bike I'd end up never using.

The scheme is Cyclescheme - it does not seem there are any retailers I'm restricted from using nor that I'm not allowed to top up. (I'm happy to top up if needs be). The terms also seem fairly laid back in that they "expect" me to use it for work, not "must".

I've not thought about 'cash' or finance actually - but am certainly open to that idea if there are any good deals. But at the end of the day, I would very much prefer to buy from an actual store.
 

snorri

Legendary Member
I would suggest you gain some experience of on road cycling in the UK before considering undertaking an albeit short tour in mainland Europe.
Touring on foreign roads, on a bicycle not designed for touring and having to learn the different rules and regulations over there, will do little to boost your confidence in preparation for cycling on UK roads.
 

steveindenmark

Legendary Member
If this is your first bike, why do you think drop bars will suit you? I have had drop bars on different bikes for years. But rarely use the drops. I use aerobars. Though I am not pointing you in that direction. If I were doing short distances as you are. I would also consider flat bar bikes. By just considering drops you reduce your selection dramatically.
 

Cycleops

Guru
Location
Accra, Ghana
Most relevant points have already been well covered by others but I would add that if this is your first long cycle trip you might do well to do some shorter distances in the UK before trying the Dutch ride. Cycling fitness is different to general fitness so you need to acclimatise yourself and find out what your capabilities are as @snorri says.
Regards types of bikes you might be better off with a road bike for the sort of journeys you're talking about, it will still be able to undertake cross country stuff and trails but will be a bit faster on the road. I have a adventure type bike because of the poor roads here but my road bike can handle them almost as well. Drop bars are good if you're comfortable with them.
Buy from somewhere like Evans as they can give advice on things like sizing, offer a wide choice and price is good, look at their own brand Pinnacle range which I'm sure you'll be steered towards! Be sure the bike has fittings for a rack if you're going to tour or you could do 'bike packing' which means hanging luggage off the frame.
Good luck.
 

MichaelW2

Veteran
The CX style is good for most riding. Get one with rack and mudguard eyelets and disk brake mounts on the horizontal chain stay, they play better with luggage racks.
Get the right size and low enough gears.
If you want to haggle, get added accessories not cash off.
 

alicat

Legendary Member
Location
Staffs
(I don't believe there are any restrictions on them by the way)
I suspect there are. Evans FAQ say that:

"You can ... get a bike and accessories through the scheme if you intend to cycle any part of your journey to/from work. You do not have to keep a mileage log but generally at least 50% of the bike’s usage should be for commuting purposes. You can also use the bike for leisure cycling."

Be very careful if you are not intending to use your bike to commute at least part of the way to work.
 

Bonefish Blues

Banging donk
Location
52 Festive Road
I suspect there are. Evans FAQ say that:

"You can ... get a bike and accessories through the scheme if you intend to cycle any part of your journey to/from work. You do not have to keep a mileage log but generally at least 50% of the bike’s usage should be for commuting purposes. You can also use the bike for leisure cycling."

Be very careful if you are not intending to use your bike to commute at least part of the way to work.
Has anyone had any deleterious consequences of not using it to commute?

Serious Q, I don't know the answer.
 
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