I?m thinking of getting a winter training bike. Can you suggest where to look for the best bargains? What should I look for, what should I have on the bike (for example, clearance for mudguards)?

My budget is £300. I?m not too fussed about weight but I would like to get a similar set-up to my road bike, so I would ideally include a Shimano groupset and a compact frame.

Mark Halliman, email

Anyone who has worked in a bike shop will have heard this a thousand times: ?I just want something really cheap to ride in the winter.? However, think about what a winter bike will have to endure and then you soon realise this is a false economy.

Riding long training rides in all weathers will quickly destroy cheap bearings, particularly hubs, without constant maintenance. Other areas prone to an early retirement on cheaper models are rims, spokes, pedals and brake calipers. Not only is it very frustrating to end up spending more time replacing parts and getting the bike roadworthy again, in the long run you end up spending more.

And that?s not to mention the safety aspects, which are heightened in winter when underperforming brakes and poor quality tyres could be a real hazard. The fact is that £300, even for a bargain or second-hand bike, is rarely likely to buy something up to the task. My advice is try to push the budget a bit higher.

Interest-free schemes from some of the bigger retailers might allow you to spend more if this is an option. If this is not possible then you would be better off just using your best bike and saving the £300 to replace any worn components on that.

Stuart Bowers

Tech writer. Bike-fit expert and UK Scott rider has raced for GB at mountain bike and cyclo-cross