How Much Should You Spend on a Bike? (A Helpful Guide)

Finding your first bike may seem like a daunting task. If you’re new to biking, you are probably overwhelmed by the different options available regarding bikes, accessories, tools etc. You will notice that in each category of bikes, there is a vast range of price tags too, ranging from as little as 100 dollars to several thousand, which may lead you to two false conclusions: a) there can be no real difference between the cheapest bike and an expensive one; b) the more you spend on a bike, the better bike you will get. 

In reality, a cheap department store bike may have to be replaced after a few hundred miles of use, and 10,000 dollars will not get you a 10x better bike than 1000 dollars.

How much should you spend on a bike then?

600-1500 dollars is the optimum range for most bicycles. Bikes under 600 dollars lack quality and aren’t durable. Over 1500 dollars, you only get diminishing returns, marginally better components, and save a little bit of weight, but overall you won’t see many benefits.

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Sub $600 bikes

If you think that it doesn’t make sense to spend so much on a commuter, consider that a solid bike can save its value back within the first year if you decide to use it all year round. I have done the math in this other article on Bike Commuter Hero.

To make bikes more affordable, manufacturers have to cut down on their production costs. This means that everything starting with the frame to the screws and lubricants, will be of lesser quality. The savings have three major effects on the bike. 

  • It will weigh more, 
  • components will work with less precision and 
  • it will be considerably less durable. 


Let’s consider the weight penalty first. It is a non-issue for most new riders unless your rides include steep climbs or longer uphill sections. Even at the 600-dollar price point, you will not get a super light bike. 600-dollar hybrids will typically weigh around 28 lbs (13 kg) before adding fenders, a decent lock, a water bottle, and panniers. Your setup with such a bike is around 40-46 lbs (18-21 kg). Does it slow you down? Yes, it does, but since most cyclists don’t race, it isn’t such a huge deal.


When it comes to mechanical precision, a bike in the 600-1500 dollars range will give you considerably better components than a cheap department store bike. This may or may not be immediately obvious when you purchase the bike, but even with very little use, you will notice the difference in shifting and braking. Even after tuning up your bike, it won’t hold the settings as well as it should. Poor shifting precision results in the annoying clicking sound coming from your chain, or even in being unable to shift into the highest or lowest gears. This becomes frustrating. The loss of braking performance is not only annoying, but it is also dangerous and may cost more than just money.


The third big issue is durability. 90% of bikes never pass the 1000-mile mark. In these cases, a cheap department store bike is perfectly fine. A bike used regularly, such as a commuter, belongs to the rare top 10% that gets used all the time and typically clocks 1500-3000 miles a year. With any significant use, cheap department store bikes’ headsets, bottom brackets, and bearings wear out very quickly. Shifters, derailleurs, and brakes need frequent replacing, which means that whatever you save on the bike, you will spend on parts and repairs. Even after a trip to the bike shop, there may be other issues that can pop up unexpectedly. 

Riding experience

Besides the three main issues listed above, there is another one that can’t be ignored, i.e. riding experience. When shifting is smooth, the pedals and the wheels rotate and roll almost effortlessly, you know that you’re on a quality bike. Such a bike makes you want to ride more. After riding a good bike for a few days or weeks and sitting on a cheap bike, you will immediately feel the difference in ride quality. Conversely, after riding only cheap bikes, a good quality bike feels like it rides itself. 

If you’re getting into cycling, all of these issues can lead you to frustration and loss of interest in something that, with a little extra investment, could be a perfectly viable means of transportation for years to come. If you buy even an entry-level bike for around 600 dollars from any well-known brand, you will get a decent minimum quality suitable for everyday commuting. 

$1500+ bikes 

Diminishing returns

Most well-established brands offer their entry and mid-level bikes in the 600-1500 dollar price range. Paying more than that will buy you their mid-high-end machines. Similar to the differences listed above, what sets them apart are the components used. Their shifters, derailleurs, brakes, wheels, and bearings will be slightly better, more reliable, and lighter. In fact, you can see big differences between a 600 and 1500-dollar bike, and the more you spend within that range, the better bike you will get. 

Up to 1500 dollars, every extra hundred dollars spent will get you a significantly better bike. It will come with better quality parts and will be lighter too. Beyond the 1500-dollar mark, you can pay a lot more for slightly better components and marginal gains in weight. The difference isn’t primarily in their reliability and durability but in small weight gains and cutting-edge technology, which is nice but not necessary for most cyclists. The difference between a 200 and a 600-dollar bike is much greater than between a 1500 and a 6000-dollar bike.

Income School


Another compelling reason not to buy a very expensive bike is theft. Bikes used regularly, such as commuter bikes are daily workhorses, and as such, they are often used for running errands on the way to work or riding home. When you enter a store or an office, your bike will be left locked up outside. You should always find the best lock you can afford to keep your bike safe, but whenever it is locked up there is a chance of it being stolen. Regardless of the bike’s value, this is always upsetting, but the more expensive the bike, the greater the financial loss as well. 

An easy way to understand the quality of a bike

One of the easiest ways to understand the quality of a bike is by looking at the highest components of the groupset that it comes equipped with. 

I don’t want to suggest that the groupset is the only thing that determines the value and durability of the bike, but it is certainly a good indicator of what sort of bike you’re getting. 

Most bikes use Shimano or SRAM groupsets nowadays. Here’s a quick overview of their groupsets.

Most bikes that fall into the typical commuter range come equipped with Shimano parts, and the more you spend within a brand, the better components you will get.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of how price affects the components.

ModelPrice in USDGroupset
Trek FX 1599Shimano Tourney/Altus (mix)
GIANT Escape 3560Shimano Altus
Trek Marlin 5719Shimano Tourney
GIANT Fastroad SL 3960Shimano Claris
Fuji ABSOLUTE 1.7849Shimano Acera
Trek FX 3 Disc999Shimano Deore
Decathlon Triban Disc 105 RC 5201,399Shimano 105
GIANT Contend 3900Shimano Sora
Trek FX Sport 41,699Shimano Deore
Trek Service1,679Shimano Deore
Surly Cross-Check949Microshift
Giant PROPEL ADVANCED DISC5,200Shimano Ultegra

Certainly, the groupset isn’t the only factor that influences the price. Frame material used, bearings, suspension (if there is any), wheel quality, and every single component included come into play as well as the brand. Just like in other industries, some brands can get away with higher prices despite the fact that they offer similar, or at times even lower quality. 

Hidden gems

If you live in a part of the world with a Decathlon store, it is well worth checking out their bikes too. In terms of the quality of bike components, you will get the most value for your money because they don’t sell through distributors but directly to customers. This is immediately obvious when you take a look at the above list. The Decathlon Triban bike comes equipped with a Shimano 105 groupset, which is the highest in the mid-range on the list despite coming in under 1500 dollars.

Decathlon bikes may not be as trendy to ride as Obrea, Fuji, Cannondale, Giant, or certain other brands, but when it comes to price/quality ratio, they are hard to beat.

Suggestion to first-time bike commuters

If you’re getting into bike commuting and you’re looking for a new bike, I would suggest buying the highest price tag within the 600-1500 dollar range that you can comfortably afford. If you can afford to pay 600 you don’t have to save up 1500 dollars, you should look at bikes for around 600-700 dollars. They will work fine. If you can afford to pay 1500 without any problem, go for a good mid-range bike. 

If money isn’t an issue at all, I would still advise you to buy something for no more than 1500 dollars on your commuter It is pointless to have a really expensive bike which will take a lot of money to keep in good shape for commuting purposes. If you want to have a top-notch bike for evening and weekend rides, you can buy another one that has all the bells and whistles you want. That would be the best use of your money.


When it comes to choosing a commuter bike there are lots of options and a very wide price range that all compete for your money. If you don’t cheap out and resist buying a department store bike for 100-400 dollars, you will get a decent bike that can serve you for years to come.

Happy Riding!

Sam Benkoczy

Hi, I'm Sam. I own and maintain 6 e-bikes, 15 regular bikes (road bikes, folding bikes, hybrid bikes, city bikes among others). I learned about bikes from my local bike mechanic as well as from bike maintenance courses. I love being out there in the saddle, and using my bike as a practical means of transportation. You can also find me on my YouTube channel at Say hi to me at

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