Cycling can be an expensive pastime. Over the years the amount of additional extras that are needed to keep your bike weatherproof, and yourself cycling comfortably, can get expensive. However, shopping smart can help you save a lot of money. Here are our tips for looking after the pennies:
Each year, bike manufactures will bring out new models to refresh their existing ranges. These will start to appear online and in stores over winter and up until the spring. The Specialized Tarmac 2013 will be replaced with the Specialized Tarmac 2014, the Trek Madone 2013 becomes the Trek Madone 2014, and so on. Over the year, the manufacturers will have made some tweaks, modified some components, and given the bike a new paint job.
Trek Madone 2.3 – The only difference is the paintwork
It’s absolutely worth waiting until new models arrive, and old models are reduced, if you want a good deal. The older models will be in older colours, the resale value might be very slightly reduced, and the components might be a tad different. If there is a range of brand that you particularly fancy, compare last year’s and this year’s models. Read the specifications, and check what the differences are – assess the changes and decide if they matter much to you. If not, keep an eager eye out for the old model, in your size, and jump when you see a discount.
Remember, read reviews with a pinch of salt… Reviews on websites like RoadCC, or in magazines such as Cycling Plus or Cycling Active, are really helpful when researching which bike to go for. However, remember that a review of a 2013 bike, at full price, will be assessing the bike at that price. If the bike is now reduced, bear in mind that the reviewer might have given it more stars, or been less demanding, at the new price.
Cycle to Work
Don’t forget the Cycle to Work scheme. Ask if your employer is signed up to a scheme, and if not, ask why not – and if they would consider it. The Cycle to Work scheme, usually offered through Cycle Scheme vouchers, or Evans Cycles Ride2Work vouchers, allows you to save on tax, and pay for your bike through salary sacrifice over what is often a period of 12 months. You can use your bike for leisure, as well as commuting, and you can have up to £1k to spend.
You can now buy accessories through the Evans Cycles Ride2Work scheme, only excluding items such as downhill helmets and deep section wheels that are clearly not designed for the commute – so even if you need some extra kit, and not a bike, it’s worth checking out.
Clothing – shop with a list
Faced with a bike shop full of lovely new kit, or tons of red tickets with killer reductions, it can be incredibly easy to go crazy and pick up your favourite items. However, it’s no good having 5 short sleeved jerseys, and no winter jacket, or 4 pairs of winter bib tights, and not a pair of shorts in sight.
Before you hit the bike shops, or sit down at your computer to shop, go through your current kit, and work out what you actually need.
The kit you will need depends upon the short of riding you do, but for a guide, the average road cyclist travelling over 10 miles each way to and from work would probably want:
Winter: Cycling shoes, overshoes, winter bibs or tights, warm base layer (think merino wool), long sleeved jersey, waterproof jacket, gloves, helmet, under helmet hat.
Summer: Cycling shoes, shorts or bibs, jersey, thin base layer, mitts, sun glasses, arm and leg warmers for spring and autumn.
If that sounds like your sort of riding, shop with those items in mind – have you got sufficient stock of each?
Regardless what sorts of riding you do, make a list of the kit you need year round, check your kit drawers and work out where the gaps are. And of course, don’t forget a good deal on summer kit will be a bonus once the sun is out, so don’t just buy what you need now.
Don’t be blinded by a good deal … A 70 per cent reduction on a jersey you might wear once is not a saving. Try not to get too excited by big bargains, and make sure you are buying items you actually need and want. A good test is to assess how likely you would be to buy the item at full price – if not – consider putting it back on the shelf.
Always compare prices
Bike shops are constantly competing against each other, they compare prices on a daily basis and where they can, they will undercut the competition. It can be tempting just to take a new pump, helmet or jacket to the till because you want it now, or to hit “buy” online without a second thought, but it is worth shopping around.
It’s also worth remembering that a lot of bike shops offer to price match, but you will to prove you’ve found it cheaper online, so be ready to print out your evidence, or bring the item up on your phone in store.
Check if you’re eligible for a discount
Are you a member of British Cycling? Do you belong to a cycling club that is local to your bike shop? If the answer to either of the above is yes, you could be eligible to a discount that is usually around 10% , so ask, or check your membership details.
If shopping in a local bike shop, it’s also worth asking if you can get some additional extras thrown in when making a bike purchase. For example, a free helmet and gloves with a bike. Chain retailers can’t generally do this, but your local bike shop will be keen to maintain a customer. Don’t be pushy, or expect freebies, but it is always worth asking; especially if you know you might be able to get a better deal if you shopped online.
Those are our tips, and we hope they help. Of course, if you just fall in love with that new season bicycle or want another jersey to go with your wardrobe full of them, we won’t judge you..