I am looking to buy a new brand new bike but I'm not experienced at all with bike specs and quality and things to look out for etc. I have previously only had second hand really basic bicycles in my life that have done the job but I've always gone from issue to issue with then and I decided to stop putting money into a bad bike and spend a little extra on a brand new bike. My needs are not that extensive. I need a bike to go about 15km a day, 6 days a week to and from college. I'll be travelling on road surface but I don't really want a racing bike per say. My budget is 300€ but I have no problem (and I kinda wanna) spend right up the budget to get a bike that I know will last. What I really don't want to is to have problems of any kind (with the exception of flat tyres obviously because this is not the manufacturers fault) really in the first year or 2 of buying the bike.

What I have been looking at so far: http://www.halfords.ie/cycling/bikes/mountain-bikes/carrera-vengeance-mountain-bike-2011-2012-large-20#tab4

This bike seems to fit my needs but is it good? the reviews would lead me to believe that its no professional show stopper but its not gonna break in the next 2 years or so. It is also being sold from a respectable company (Halfords, not Carrera).

Bottom line question: should I buy this? Is it good?

  • A suspension is not needed when the bike is mostly used on the road (and cheap mountain-bike-like looking bikes often come with a disclaimer, that they are not to be used outside of roads anyway …). Your chances of getting both "reliable" and "cheap" are better if you restrict yourself to simple parts where they suffice. City bikes don't look as good though ;)
    – linac
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 8:55
  • true.. I like the look of the bike really and the suspension looks nice althiough it is more than likely not coil springs inside there. Surely the front suspension doesn't matter though because it might not work, but its not the type of thing to break? is 300€ too cheap for a bike of my needs? I really would've thought it wasn't
    – Andy
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 10:17
  • 1
    A couple of things. First, if you're travelling exclusively on tarmac, there are bikes more suitable than mountain bikes. Sure, you could take that bike and "roadify" it by putting slick tyres on it, but they'll eat into your budget. I would recommend looking at a hybrid bike or a commuter. Second, about new bikes. If you were spending €1000, I'd agree with you. But €300 is not a great deal, I'm afraid, when buying a new bike. If you're not careful you might end up with something with low-quality parts, that might give you just as much trouble as your previous bikes.
    – PeteH
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 13:46

2 Answers 2


Mountain bikes are fine for road commuting too. The advantages are fatter tires which make the bike more stable and the upright riding posture, which many find to be more comfortable compared to road bikes. This disadvantage is mountain bikes aren't as efficient. You'll need to expend more energy to get to the destination compared to a road bike, due to wind resistance (from the upright riding posture) and tire friction (from the wider tires). You may get there on a slightly slower ride too, so it will take a tad longer. Still, I think a mountain bike is a good choice based on what you say.

What I'd look for is a good quality aluminum (or cro-moly steel if they still make them) fully rigid frame, and , most important, Shimano's economy components all around. Skip everything that is unnecessary, like disc brakes, hydraulic brakes, 10 and 11 speed cassettes, etc. Stay with traditional cantilever or V-brakes (really just another type of cantilever). The more basic, the better. You could easily get by with 10 total speeds, in a 2 x 5 configuration, though I doubt you'll find that available, but the few speeds, the more robust the drivetrain will be. For the frame, the more standard, the better. Avoid unusual drop out dimensions, etc. And, most important of all, the more the component set is one that sells in large volumes, the better. It will be much easier to obtain parts in the future.

After that the most important thing to look for is fit. Take a test ride on at least 3 or four bikes of various sizes before deciding. If you think you might want to use the bike for actual mountain biking -- like riding on steep dirt trails -- error on the "too small" side rather than the "too big". Otherwise, just choose the size that seems to fit best from the test rides.


As cheap mountain bikes go that one seems to be ok.

But you don't seem to want to use it for mountain biking. You'd be much better off with a flat bar road bike (not a racing bike), or a roadster. The traditional upright "dutch bike" style bikes are that way for a host of really good reasons.

  • the upright position is more comfortable.
  • mudguards keep the worst of the muck from the road off you, and stop the front wheel picking up water off the road and spraying you in the face with it. Ditto the "back track" from the rear wheel.
  • a rack or basket makes it much easier to carry stuff. Even if you just attach a plastic bin to the rear rack and drop your handbag or backpack into it, that beats the sweaty back problem.
  • the rack also gives you somewhere to hang panniers if/when you decide you want those.
  • even a cheap dutch bike will often come with dynamo lights, saving you that expense.

The modern flat bar road bikes are a compromise between the roadster and speed. Typically they drop lights, mudguards and a rack in order to spend more money on lighter components. But if you're commuting you're going to want those things anyway, so you'll end up spending your 300€ budget on the bike plus another 50€ or more getting comfortable.

Budget for Extras

I suggest that if you are going to commute on it, at the very least you should buy cheap blinkie lights so that if you do end up out later or earlier than usual you're slightly safer (and legal). You're better off at the cheap end buying lights that take AA batteries if you can, because the replacement batteries are cheaper and a light that cheap with a lithium rechargeable battery is likely to be very cheap indeed (ie, it will fail quickly).

If you can you should really buy mudguards. Otherwise it's going to be really ugly riding in the rain.

Also, buy a decent lock. Educational institutions are full of poor but smart people, making them hotbeds of bike theft. Especially because the same people go to the same places at the same time every week, so it's easy to see a weakness this week and bring the right tools next week. Using a decent D lock to attach your bike securely to a rack or pole makes that type of theft much less likely.

Those three things could easily add 100€ to the cost of the bike if you don't already have them.

It might be worth looking at a reasonable second hand bike, partly for cost reasons and partly to make it less likely to be stolen.

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