Thanks to the British Government?s Cycle to Work scheme, the sub £1,000 bike has become a hotly contested price point. And the good news for us is that every mass manufacturer is sure to have a bike that fits the bill.

We have selected three of the most interesting models to see just how good a road bike can be in the £1,000 price band.

Cannondale?s name has long been associated with aluminium frames and the CAAD 9 is the ultimate expression of this. It?s the pinnacle of everything Cannondale has learned, and the fact that you can buy one for £999 frankly amazed us.

Wiggle has waded in with its first own-brand machine, the Kiron Scandium. Fully specced up with highly regarded Easton components, we were very impressed with the value.

While Belgium manufacturer Ridley predominately sells direct, some dealers stock them but you may have to search to find one. Built to be tough, Ridley bikes are made for Belgian conditions and should prove extremely durable with a classy, reliable ride.

Below, we have also included some information about taking advantage of the Cycle to Work scheme.

Select one of the bikes below to jump to the relevant review

Cannondale CAAD 9 105 Compact>>

Kiron Scandium>>

Ridley Compact>>


CONCLUSION

Since the introduction of the Cycle to Work scheme, the market place at this price point has really heated up. It?s no surprise then that the three bikes we tested will give you an excellent return on your investment, none less so than with Wiggle?s Kiron.

Of the three that we tested each bike has its plusses, all suiting a particular rider and their style, so it come down to what you really want to use the bike for.

On paper it?s hard to quibble with the Kiron, its price and spec just blows everything else away. You could barely buy the parts for the price of this bike. On the road its still a great ride but for the real enthusiast maybe its just a bit too whippy for the maximum performance that some would desire.

Mirroring this though, is comfort ? the Kiron packs this in and for long days in the saddle the bike is truly up there. It came close to a nine out of 10 because of its value but its performance just needs a little beefing up for us.

Ridley is the king of stiffness and the Belgian company is tops here again in this test.

There is no doubting the direct and positive handling of the Compact, thanks to its ultra-manipulated aluminium frame. But often when you excel in one area of a frame, somewhere else will suffer and the Ridley is no different.

It?s noticeably not the most comfortable in this test unless you like stiff bikes. Dan does, so it was thumbs-up from him but for some it will be too much. The high level of road feel does, however, allow you to know what is going on and inspires you to push on.

With the pedigree that the Cannondale has it?s hard not to be impressed by the amount of bike you are getting for such a low price. This bike has stood the test of time, it?s not been adulterated with carbon and has been left just as it was when at the top of Cannondale?s range.

Because of this, the frame still has excellent characteristics of stiffness and of being just on the right side of compliance without losing touch with the ground underneath. We loved this bike a few years back and we still do ? why change a winning formula?


CYCLE TO WORK SCHEME

What?s it all about?

The government introduced the Cycle to Work scheme in 1999 to reduce environmental pollution and encourage journeys to work by bike.

How does it work?

Your company buys the bike and accessories and effectively loans the equipment to you. By spreading payments over a set period agreed between employee and employer ? called ?salary sacrifice? (a reduction in salary in return for a non-cash benefit) ? the tax and secondary National Insurance contributions you would have paid over the period are saved, plus the VAT.

Sounds good. How much can I spend?

Theoretically, there is no upper limit on the value of equipment an employee can obtain, although a Colnago with carbon wheels may be pushing it a bit! The bike is supposed to be ?fit for purpose? ? for commuting, although that doesn?t stop you from racing or training on it as well. The consumer credit licence covers equipment to the value of £1,000, which is the limit most employers would consider.

But I don?t actually own the bike, do I?

No, your company owns it. At the end of the loan period, the company can sell you the equipment at the market value. The deductions made by salary sacrifice are not supposed to be considered part-payment ? that would make it a hire purchase agreement and liable for tax.

Huh?

That is the legal interpretation. The reality is your company will either continue to loan the equipment indefinitely without technically transferring ownership or it will sort out a very good price ? although it will be liable for VAT. Clarify with your employer before signing on the dotted line.

So how do I go about getting a bike through this scheme?

Talk to your employer.

EXTERNAL LINKS

Cycle to Work scheme details on Department for Transport website