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As a result of asking this question - Fracture in folding frame - safe to ride? - I've decided to look into getting a new bike.

As stated in my previous question I cycle quite a lot, but I know next to nothing about bike engineering. So I need a reasonably good bike, but I don't have the knowledge to make a good choice about what the best model might be.

I use the bike wholly on relatively short journeys on city streets, so some sort of hybrid commuter/road bike would seem to be ideal. A moment's research demonstrates that every reputable bike company makes one of these, often in a wide array of varieties.

My budget is only about £400 (that's ~$600). Having looked at the options in that range from just two manufacturers, I'm thoroughly confused.

Aside from the obvious (a strong, light frame etc.), I'm looking for a bike that:

  • Doesn't have an insane array of gears, and can control gears from the handlebars.
  • Can easily mount mudguards and panniers.
  • Has easily-changed brake blocks that I can do myself.
  • Eagle-eyed users will spot that my existing bike from that question is a folding bike: this is no longer an issue. I don't need a folder any more.

But to be honest, I don't even know how I can tell from the manufacturers details whether any given model will do what I want.

So: what should I be looking for when choosing a good bike model? I am not asking for a model recommendation (given that it's opinion-based) - just information on what I need to be looking for/asking about to guide my own choice.

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    well, it sounds like you've already formed quite a detailed spec, which sounds perfectly reasonable. I'd take a trip to a local bike shop and see what they can do for you. Tell them you want it with mudguards and a pannier rack and they will probably sort these at little extra cost, just to seal the deal. It's just as important to have a good feel about the shop as it is the bike, see if what they recommend tallies with what you've learned, and if not, why not. – PeteH Oct 1 '15 at 15:03
  • There are a few more questions I think you need to answer for yourself. Do you need a light bike to carry up or down stairs? Do you want to ride fast in cycle specific clothes and change at work or ride steadily in your work clothes? Do you want to keep your clothes clean while you ride? How much stuff to you need to carry? How hilly or windy is your normal ride, and how far? Do you want to use the bike for day or multi day touring or just getting around? Is the bike a car replacement or in addition to a car? Are you in the UK btw. I am. I have various opinions, depending on your answers. – Nigel Davies Oct 1 '15 at 16:54
  • To avoid suspense, I suggest you look at something like this: ebay.co.uk/itm/…, because it has hub gears, built in lights, mud guards and carrier and disk brakes all for cleanliness, all weather use and reliability. It doesn't have much of a chain guard, so expect dirty trousers. – Nigel Davies Oct 1 '15 at 17:13
  • ...but for someone who doesn't feel they have sufficient knowledge to make a good choice, ebay (or indeed anywhere on thre internet) is a risky strategy. The fit of the bike is critical and that really necessitates a toughy-feely experience. As regards some of the questions raised in other comments, I suspect a lot of these will be resolved by your budget - £400 is not a massive amount, so you may need to prioritise features. – PeteH Oct 1 '15 at 18:03
  • Did you check out the frame warranty situation on your old bike ? – Criggie Oct 1 '15 at 22:14
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For the frame, I suggest a bias towards strength over weight, epsecially if you're adding luggage which puts the weight up. The other issue for frames is fit, which on a flat-bar bike can be quite forgiving so long as the frame is broadly the right size. Selecting and setting up the bike is something any bike specialist should be able to do, though some are more competent and willing than others (a less-than-ideal experience with Halfords and a road bike a few years back).

All modern bikes have gears controlled from the bars, though the actual shifters vary.

Any bike in your price range is likely to have V-brakes. Changing and adjusting them is something you can learn to do in less than an hour assuming you've never done anything like it before but can use hand tools. By the third time it will be a 5-10 minute job. NB you might find cable disc brakes at that price, but entry level V-brakes seem better than entry-level discs.

As you appear to be interested in it just working rather than maximum speed or ability to handle rough terrain, I strongly suggest anti-puncture tyres. I ride a similar (marginally more expensive a few years ago) bike so a few ideas: I wore out a set of Schwalbe Road Cruiser 35s (over ~5000 miles) and liked them, and am now on the tougher, more expensive marathon plus, which I find less grippy, but I've also gone for narrower tyres. Continental comfort contact are similar to the road cruisers. Mounting anti puncture tyres can be hard work -- get the bike shop to do it when you buy the bike.

Depending on where you are you may have access to one or more single-brand bike shops (I could easily get to Giant and Specialized). They are worth a look even if only for comparison on price/range/service with someone independent.

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There a a lot of bikes that will take fenders and a rack. Including but not limited to: touring, lite touring, expedition, some cyclocross, city, and hybrid.

I would look used for a used bike that will take fenders and a rack. May include criteria will take 32 mm tires with fenders. Spend like $400 used and have money left over for fenders, rack, and tune up.

Even new you can get decent bike with with fenders and a rack for $600.

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