With the government expressly encouraging cycling as a way to get around whilst avoiding public transport in the coronavirus pandemic, there’s understandably been a surge in new or lapsed cyclists looking to get on to two wheels.
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Understandably, as the UK’s biggest cycling retailer, many people are turning to Halfords. It has 450 repair centres, and is currently offering free safety checks on all bikes to help those who already have a machine hiding away in a shed or garage back rolling.
If a repair isn’t going to do it, or you don’t already have a bike, the retailer has plenty of options. Halfords sells road, hybrid, mountain, electric, folding and kids bikes from a range of brands, some of which are exclusive to the retailer, and it’s a go-to destination for many first time shoppers, along with competitors such as Evans Cycles and Decathlon.
Of course, don’t forget your local bike shop too, as these outlets have been open throughout the Covid crisis and can be a great option. The big chains have reputations for delivering bargain products, but your neighbourhood shop can deliver first-class advice and will be surprisingly competitive on price too.
We’ve got detailed guides to Halfords’ Carrera range, and the Boardman bikes, but in this article we just wanted to sift through the big ranges to give you five cast-iron recommendations from our years of testing. You’ll notice the majority come from Boardman – that’s largely because Cycling Weekly’s tech team has reviewed plenty of bikes from the brand in the past.
With each product that’s currently available to purchase, you’ll find a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t effect the amount you pay.
The road bike: Boardman SLR 8.8
Boardman’s SLR range has been a big points scorer among Cycling Weeky’s tech team since it arrived on the scene, with the 9.2 model receiving 9/10 on test.
At the 8.8 level on offer for £750, rider’s get an aluminium frame which enjoys trickle down technology from the top end machines. For fork is carbon, dropping the weight and adding to comfort.
Boardman has specced this model with Shimano Sora shifting, and Tektro brakes alongside Boardman’s own wheels plus the reliably puncture resistant Vittoria Zaffiro tyres.
Read more: Boardman SLR 9.2 review
Boardman SLR 8.9
Once you move in to the 8.9 rank of this model, you’re rewarded with a carbon frame, bringing the weight down to 9kg. Unfortunately stock is limited, and all there is available now is the women’s model in a size large (recommended for those between 177 and 183cm). The frame is the same as the men’s model, with narrower bars, shorter stems and a women’s specific saddle.
Alongside the carbon frame and fork, you get shifting from Shimano Tiagra, Tektro rim brakes and this model rolls aboard Vittoria’s Rubino tyres which are designed to offer plenty of puncture protection whilst rolling well on the road.
The adventure road bike: Boardman ADV 8.8
Adventure road bikes are designed for tackling mixed terrain – so they’ll roll well on the road but can also cope with light trails and cracked canal paths.
Reviewing the ADV 9.0, our tester concluded: “This bike could be a specialist bike for true adventure riding but has the capability to be a commuter, winter trainer, tourer or a cross bike. If you’ve only got space for one bike at home, this is a contender for that spot.”
The 8.8 model comes in at £750, and comes with an aluminium frame, full carbon forks, Shimano Sora shifting and TRP Spyre disc brakes. Tyres are important on a bike like this, and Boardman has opted for Schwalbe G-One rubber, this is a good option for dual purpose riding.
The electric bike: Carrera Subway electric bike
Electric bikes can carry hefty price tags, but Carrera has managed to get its Subway hybrid down to £1099.
The bike is built around an aluminum frame, with Shimano Atlus shifting and Tektro hydraulic disc brakes. The tyres are wide 1.95″ Kenda rubber, offering comfort over rutted roads and light off-road paths.
Power comes from a 374Wh battery which provides up to 60 miles of assistance and takes between five and six hours to charge.
The hybrid: Boardman HYB 8.6
Hybrid bikes are designed to provide a comfortable compromise between the quick, on road rolling of a road bike and the rugged appeal of a mountain bike. This flat bar machine is based around an aluminium frame, and comes with aluminium forks which help keep the price down.
There’s a total of 18 gears via a Shimano Acera system, whilst disc brakes – Tektro hydraulic in this case – help provide the confidence of fast stopping in all conditions; disc brakes are more effective than their rim alternatives in wet weather.
The tyres come from Schwalbe and are the Citizen model designed to offer puncture protection for those aiming to get from A to B, hassle free.