Cycle to Work Scheme – what is the best bike to buy?

The Cycle to work scheme provides a tax free incentive to dump the car and cycle to work instead, but which is the best bike to buy?

Cycling to work

Just a recap what the cycle to work scheme is. It is a government backed scheme to encourage people to cycle rather than drive to work.  The scheme also brings real benefits to employers.

Employers can arrange a hire purchase of a bike for an employee who then pays a monthly tax deduction over 12 or 18 months to pay for it.  As the monthly payment is deducted before tax and National Insurance, you can buy a bike tax free under this scheme.

Before discussing which is the best bike to buy under the Cycle to Work scheme, we will discuss what types of bike is currently available.

Mountain bikes

Mountain bikes are designed to be ridden off road in very rugged terrain such as down steep mountain sides.  As rocks and muddy paths are encountered, mountain bikes are often equipped with disc brakes and front and rear suspension to absorb shocks.

Cycling through muddy conditions needs good grip so mountain bikes are supplied with wide tyres with chunky treads.

Being so rugged, mountain bikes are generally heavy, particularly if they have have suspension units.  Their wide chunky tyres have a high rolling resistance on roads so a mountain bike is generally slower and requires more effort to propel along normal roads.

Road racing or competition bikes

Reducing weight, yet maintaining strength and rigidity is important in road racing, or competition bikes. Their speed and responsiveness make for an exhilarating ride.

Minimising weight requires high technology materials making road racing bikes expensive.  Having a minimal approach also applies to comfort and this type of bike can be uncomfortable on long rides or bad road surfaces.

Hybrid bikes

A relatively new type of bike, hybrids combine some of the off road abilities of mountain bikes with some of the speed and efficiencies of road racing bikes.

Hybrid bikes generally have wider tyres than racing bikes, but narrower tyres than a mountain bike.  They also use lightweight aluminium frames and are therefore almost as fast as a competition bike.

As minimising weight is not so important, hybrid bikes come with more comfortable seats making long cycles more of a pleasure than with a racing bike.

Fine on tracks, as long as they are not too muddy, and fast on roads, hybrid bikes are a sensible choice for the employee cycling relatively long distances to work.

Urban or city bikes

Similar to hybrid bikes, city bikes are actually designed for urban commuting, where weight and speed are not so critical as the specialist bikes mentioned above.

Touring bikes often fall into this class as they are designed for comfortable and convenient journeys over long distances.

City bikes have some important advantages for the urban commuter – they come equipped with mud guards and often have a rear luggage rack.

Although this makes them sound like the heavy “sit up and beg” bikes of old, mud guards protect the rider in the rain or on wet roads, which is important when you are wearing clothes to work.

Commuters can also strap their briefcase or pack of work clothes to the rear luggage rack.  Maybe it doesn’t look cool, but remember you are saving all that money in car costs and getting fitter and healthier too.

So which type of bike is best?

The choice is clear if you are not a keen cyclist that also wants to use the bike for his hobby, and you are not travelling too far to work.

So if you want to join a Cycle to Work scheme this is our recommendation:

The urban style bike is designed for you. It is probably not going to be too expensive as that segment of the market is very competitive and minimal weight materials are not being used to boost the cost of these bikes.

Mudguards and other convenience items such as a luggage rack will ensure that your journey to work is as pleasant and easy as possible.

if you area keen cyclist then you will already know what bike to go for, depending on whether you mainly do off road or competition cycling.

See the selection of urban and city bikes below to get an idea of the excellent deals that are available.  Make sure that you also have good bike insurance too, though.

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