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New Bike from Halfords???

Hello all,

this forum is great, full of tips and inspiration.

Anyway I need a bike if I am to fulfil my triathlon aspirations, my work are doing a cycling initative where you can part buy half your bike through your wages before tax and then they sell you the remaining half for a nominal fee. Sounds too good to be true?

The unfortunate thing is that the bike has to come from Halfords so there is no option for shopping around. If any of you have a recomendation of what is decent at Halfords that would be great, although I will be judging the eventual purchase largely based on fit/relative comfort.

Looking to spend betwen £200-£300. Alternatively if this is a false economy and I should be spending this money elsewhere, let me know.

Additonally, if that wasn't enough, I am originally a country boy so my cycling experience is largely back roads and mountain biking. Now in the centre of town (Edinburgh) how does one get over an entirely rational fear of heavy traffic?

All advice much appreciated.


  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    Hello TriNewbie,

    I assume you are talking about the 'Cycle2Work' scheme, and that your company has contracted it out through Halfords?

    (My employers do the same thing).

    If so, then you are in luck: You don't have to buy the bike from Halfords' own range, they just have to source it for you.

    The maximum I was allowed to spend on the sheme was £1000, so I was drawn to the excellent Focus Cayo, from Wiggle.co.uk or the option of the Pro-Carbon from Planet-X. I've just recently noticed that Planet-X are also doing their 'Stealth' Carbon tri bike for £1000 as well. Halfords can supply a bike from both these companies: You just need to get the order form and paperwork sorted out, then send it all to Halfords.

    The catch, for me, was that when the scheme opened up 6 months ago I needed a new MTB. When I got the opportunity to do the scheme again I was told 'Only one agreement at any one time', so I have to wait until next year before I can upgrade my road bike.

    There's a contact number for the Halfords Cycle2Work scheme in the details. I can't remember the name of the guy I spoke to, but he was familiar with both the Focus and the Planet-X bikes, and said they had supplied many of them. He was a downhill racer, but there's a road-racer on the team as well. Of course, all the usual big names are also available, but at the £1000 price point I don't want to be spending too much of it on the name - the bikes I mentioned are (IIRC) full carbon frames, mainly Shimano 105, and reasonable wheels.

    I'd be very interested to know how it works out for you.... I'm allowed to buy another bike in about June next year.

    **EDIT: Just noticed you said £200-300 in your post... Is this total bike value, or total you want to spend? Remember that on Cycle2Work the bike is effectively free of both income tax and VAT. If you're lucky(!) enough to be a higher rate tax payer then this pretty much means half price. Nice.
  • TesseractTesseract Posts: 280

    Dispair not! My company does the same scheme as well, and at first I was slightly gutted, however after doing a bit of digging it pretty much boils down to this: Halford's own brand are actually made by Kona, and you get the bikes at a fraction of the price!!

    So if you get past any bike-snobbery you can actually get a good bike for a good price, plus the bike-hut guys do actually know their stuff and I found them friendly and helpful (this may depend on the store of course).

    I went for Halford's top racer, which was about 500, but got further vouchers from Halfords and so got a load of extra kit along with it. From a quick look at their site they have that model reduced to £440 just now, slightly more than your price range, but a great bike. The closest model I could see in the Kona range comes in about £1000 (although I'm no expert).

    I've trained and raced on it with no problems at all, although I did replace the tyres, and new pedals and a carbon seat post (all through the vouchers so didn't cost me anything).

    Finally as to your fear of city riding, the best thing is experience, and cycle very defensively (i.e. expect no-one to see you and be very cautious). I'm also city based, so do most of my cycling on a Sunday as the roads are quieter and you get less cars and busses slowing you down!
  • WARNING DONT BUY A BIKE FROM HALFORDS!!!!!!!! i bought one once many years ago it wasnt a cheap one at the time a raleigh ... after two years the frame broke (at bottom bracket) 15 yr garantee on frame so i thought ile take it back to halfords ... to replace frame ... they didnt do that quality frame any more and raleigh didnt want to know as ide not bought it from a reconized dealer so i just ended up with a heap of sh*t of a frame ..... which my mates called the GATE as it weighs a ton.... DONT EVER BUY FROM HALFORDS ... be warned!!!!!!
  • For what it's worth, my experience with Halfords is very different to everyone else's (as, I'm sure we would find different levels of service with each different branch of Halfrauds, I mean Halfords): I bought a bike there (Halfords in Mile End, in London) last year which I have found (after a year or so of regular use) to be very, very good value for money. Good quality, aluminum frame holding it all together is the key, with some good value components. I bought it in the end-of-season sale and got a bike for £350 that would have otherwise cost me around £500-550, if I were to compare it to a similarly specced Specialized or Trek. With a year of wear-and-tear behind me, I can say that most of the components have stood up well, although I did upgrade the derailleurs (and shifters had to change with it, as it was a change-up from SRAM to Shimano), I decided to upgrade the front fork, and put considerably nicer tires on it than the ones that came with the bike. Otherwise, it's holding together very well and I'm happy with the bike.

    What I did find incredibly disappointing (and this will, undoubtedly, vary from branch to branch) was the skill and quality of the in-store service people. They knew next to nothing about any of the bikes they sold, gave me the wrong information about the different models (e.g. Shimano Tiagra is NOT better than Shimano 105, when he said that a big huge warning bell went off in my head and I had to stop myself from laughing in the guy's face), and then set up the bike completely wrong (not bothering to tighten the brakes properly, instead just using the tightening screws to take up a little of the slack in the cables) without once taking any sort of measurement of me or asking me to sit on the bike and see how it feels before adjusting things like seatpost, handlebars, etc. Luckily, I didn't care (so long as the brakes actually worked) as I knew I was just going to ride a couple miles home and then re-do everything myself.

    My theory about places like Halfords is that they are huge chain stores who usually try to differentiate themselves on the basis of price, which means they cut corners all over the place in order to keep their prices down. One of the quickest (and stupidest) ways to keep your margins and prices down is to avoid spending anything on staff training and salaries, so I have found that Halfords is staffed by underpaid, un-trained, un-motivated, un-helpful people who don't really know very much about the merchandise. This is not a problem if you know enough about the merchandise to make an informed selection yourself and not rely on (indeed, outright ignore) any advice from the pesky salespeople.

    But, that's just my experience and my opinion, for what it's worth.
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