Best Affordable Bikes Under $200 (Year 2018)
Buying a bike on a budget isn’t easy. How do you know if you’re getting a good deal, or getting ripped off?
Second-hand bikes are a viable option, of course, but some riders don’t have the know-how or desire to maintain an older model—and that’s totally fine. There are plenty of quality bikes to be found at or below $200, with some of the same features and quality you’d find in bikes worth ten times as much—without the issues you might get from a used one.
Our buyer’s guide will answer questions about bike-buying on a budget, and feature some of our favorite models to get you riding as soon as possible…without pouring your entire paycheck down the drain.
Is there a minimum I should spend to make sure I’m getting a good bike?
This is a tough question to answer, because sometimes the stars align, and you really can get an excellent bike for next to nothing. Maybe it’s gone on sale from the manufacturer and distributor at the same time, or perhaps it’s being marked down to make way for a new model. There are also “open box” discounts on certain products, which means a customer ordered the bike, opened it but didn’t use it, and returned it—and you get 10% off or more, just for buying it next.
That said, be wary of any deals that seem too good to be true; they probably are. You won’t find a great bike for under $50, even if it’s used. You could find one for $100 or so, but this is rare.
Generally speaking, you’re looking at $150-$200 minimum—the price point this buyer’s guide will be focusing on—for a quality bike. This doesn’t mean it’s automatically good or bad, though: you still need to look at the materials and customer reviews to determine the bike’s quality. This range, however, is a good place to start looking.
Can I afford a big name brand, or will I have to go with some unknown, fly-by-night company?
First, we should talk about brands. There are “big brands” that everyone, even non-cyclists, recognize: GMC, Razor, Schwinn, etc. More often than not, these names are recognized because they’ve been in the industry a long time, and/or they manufacture products other than bikes (Razor, for example, also sells the popular Razor scooter).
Then there are “big brands” that only cycling enthusiasts will recognize, because they’re known for their quality and performance, or offer something other brands don’t. These include Trek, Giant, Tommaso, Vilano, and more. Some of these really are better than others, and some are largely popular due to hype and trends within the industry.
So: can you afford one? The answer is…maybe. It depends on what brand you want, and how large that company is—as well as its target audience. Brands that are popular with cyclists tend to cost much more, partially because they’re smaller companies, and partially because they know they can charge more. Some of those prices are justified, with premium materials and designs—while others are just playing to the market, knowing dedicated riders will pay more than hobbyists and the average Joe.
If you want a brand name from the former category, you’ll have better luck. These companies mass-produce their products, so they’re usually much cheaper, and many have comparable or identical quality to the pricier names.
Something to consider: there are cheap “cyclist known” brands, as well as expensive “general population” brands, just as either have varying quality standards. It all depends on the company and what kind of bike you want, so don’t get discouraged by a low budget. It’s possible.
Another way to score brand-name bikes for cheap is to purchase outdated models. Even if it’s only a year old or so, some companies will drastically slash an old bike’s price to make room for the new ones. You’ll get a brand-new, modern bike, but at a much lower price than when it was released.
What kind of bike should I get?
This depends on several factors, including your physical comfort, height, weight, and preferences. You should also consider the terrain you’ll be using it on—paved, off-road, combination—and what kind of activities you’ll be doing.
- Road bikes are built for speed on paved surfaces. These bikes are meant for racing and fitness, more than anything else. Sometimes people use them as commuter bikes, although they aren’t ideal for tight turns.
- Commuter bikes are used for daily trips, especially going around cities, or in and out of urban areas from the suburbs. Most people who use commuter bikes do so because they don’t have or don’t want a vehicle, or a car isn’t ideal for where they live.
- Hybrids are models that encompass the traits of touring bikes (comfort), road bikes (speed), and durability, control, or riding position (mountain). These are useful “all purpose” models, and are growing in popularity for commuter and recreational use.
- Mountain bikes are meant for off-roading; some are built for very rocky or steep terrain, while others are best for park trails and camping.
- Touring bikes are designed with comfort in mind for long rides, known as tours. They also feature mounting racks and other accessories, so travelers can carry their gear with them.
- Beach Cruisers, so named for their ubiquity at coastal vacation spots, feature balloon tires and heavy steel frames. They don’t move fast, but are designed for comfortable, leisurely riding. They usually have a distinct “vintage” style, due to their popularity in the 1950s.
Needless to say, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to finding a bike for your needs! If you plan on using your bike for more than one activity, consider a hybrid. It’s the best of several worlds, and can be found in a range of prices to suit any budget.
How do I know if I’m getting a good deal, or a piece of junk?
Look for signs of quality: sturdy materials, good reviews, and a responsive customer service team.
Avoid models with spotty or non-existent descriptions.
Is there a difference between a $200 bike and one that costs $300/$500/$1,000+?
Overall, there isn’t much difference in most bikes that cost $200 and ones that cost up to $500. Once you get past that $500 price point, however, things do start shifting. You’ll notice more features, stronger materials, and longer lifespans on the parts and bike as a whole, compared to cheaper models.
Does that mean you can’t find a good bike for $200 or less? Of course not. It’s better to get a good “in the meantime” bike now, than to go without when you really need one. You can always save money towards an upgrade, if you decide you want a pricy model.
Top 4 Best Affordable Bikes Under $200 Reviews
1. Northwoods Pomona Comfort Bike, Women’s Review
This cruiser-reminiscent model offers premium comfort at a very affordable price, and includes features you might be surprised to find in this price range—including dual suspension, custom cruiser tires, and seven speeds with a handlebar shifter. It also comes in two attractive color options and a men’s version, as well.
The Pomona is the perfect way to bring the beach to the city. This model looks and feels like a cruiser, but performs like a city bike—the perfect compromise for riders who need comfort during casual rides and errands, but sufficient speed and precision for important tasks and the daily commute.
2. Rockvale Men’s Cruiser from Kent Review
With angled handlebars, thick cruiser tires, and a padded seat, the Rockvale is perfect for leisure riding. It comes in a red and black design that will suit many tastes, and sets this cruiser apart from the rest—no chances of anyone mistaking it for a typical beach rental.
The Rockvale is an attractive option, in more ways than one. Buyers get a smooth-riding cruiser that looks good, functions well, and costs incredibly little for what you’re getting. What’s more, Kent is a big name in the industry, so this is one of those “brand name at off-brand price” models.
3. SixThreeZero Around the Block Cruiser, Women’s Review
This is another cruiser, but would also make a great commuter or city bike, if the area is level and high speeds aren’t a requirement. In other words, if your errands or daily ride to work don’t have to happen at breakneck pace, this might work for you.
Fans of modernized cruisers will like the mix of yesteryear and today in this bike’s design. It’s best for casual riding on level terrain, and will suit riders of short to average heights well.
4. Stowabike City V2 Foldable Bike Review
The City V2 from Stowabike is a must for commuters short on space, or those who incorporate buses or taxis into their daily trips. It boasts six speeds, a rear carrier rack, and front and rear fenders—to keep that city debris from kicking up onto your work clothes.
While it’s not the easiest bike to haul around thanks to a hefty weight, the folding feature of the City V2 can help with those tight corridors and crowded buses so many commuters have to deal with. Best of all, it’s incredibly affordable for any bike, let alone one with such a unique feature.
Finding the right bike is hard enough; finding the right one in your budget is even harder! Fortunately, the advent of internet bike sellers—cutting out the middle man of bike shops and big box stores—has made it easier than ever to find high-quality bikes at low prices. We hope our buyer’s guide has been helpful in your search for a budget-friendly bike.