By Nick Kania • May 26, 2015
Maybe you’re like me, and you live in a place with long winters. Currently, you’re rejoicing over the fact that you can finally get outside and enjoy the weather. Alternately, you could be somebody who lives in a place that’s warm year-round – if that’s the case, good job choosing a home! Either way, the ability to go outside presents different opportunities for travel. Riding a bicycle is an ever-popular method of getting around town due to its speed, efficiency, and general ease. Although high-end bicycles can be expensive, the good news is that for $400 or less you can purchase a sturdy bicycle that will perform in whatever way you need. We’ve assembled the best bikes under $400 to help you get out of the house and onto the seat.
So maybe you’re not climbing mountains, but you appreciate a rough trail every once in awhile. For under $400, you can have a great bike that will handle most off-road activity. Although these bikes do not have the full suspension systems of their more expensive counterparts, they are capable and generally composed of high quality parts.
This bicycle can be had for $339.00 through Target, and is an extremely popular entry-level mountain bike. Reviewers praise the fact that its components come from reputable manufacturers: the chain is made by Shimano, the seat and rims are from WTB, the disc brakes are from AVID, and it sits on Ninja tires. The Forge Sawback is good for riding and provides excellent comfort through its front suspension system. Depending on your bicycle weight preference, you may find yourself upgrading the fork, pedals, or tires. However, the bike serves its purpose well out of the box, and you will likely be quite happy with your purchase if you plan to simply buy and ride.
Perhaps you want something a bit different. If so, then look no further – this Mongoose Fat Tire Bike, for $325.85 on eBay, offers a unique riding experience. Fat tire bikes are becoming more popular, and reviewers consistently mention the ‘cool’ factor of this bike. The tires allow the bike to maintain traction on sand and snow, and it’s apparently very comfortable to ride. The downside here is weight; this fat tire bike is very heavy. Buy this bike if you want something that’ll draw curious gazes (as long as your idea of off-roading does not involve steep hills). Although the weight of this bike reduces some of its functionality, its primary purpose is fun, and it accomplishes that very well.
Instead of exploring the literal jungle, your needs may be centered around the urban jungle. If you plan to use a bike for commuting, it should be lightweight, durable, and fast. Sub-$400, there are some great bikes on the market for just this purpose!
A “hybrid bicycle” combines components from different kinds of bike; generally these are mountain bikes, road bikes, and touring bikes. As such, they make great commuter bikes by blending the best of all worlds. For $349.00, the Diamondback Edgewood Hybrid Bicycle can be had from Dick’s Sporting Goods. Almost all reviews come to the same conclusion: this bike is good. It may not be the flashiest or most exciting bicycle on the market, but it is lightweight, strong, fast, and good at stopping (which is important for urban commuters). The downsides? It is complicated to assemble and comes without a kickstand. Still, it is suitable for casual riders of any experience level and is highly recommended as a great buy in the price range.
If your commutes are on the shorter side, you may want to consider this bike over the Diamondback Hybrid Bicycle. It costs $299.99 at Dick’s Sporting Goods, and has received equally excellent reviews. There are a few key differences between the two bikes: the Comfort Bike is slightly heavier, slightly slower, and provides a more upright riding position. It is more focused on comfort than speed, so if time is not of the essence in your commute then this is your bike. Again, the Comfort Bike comes with no kickstand, and there have been several reviews recommending a brake alignment upon purchase. Regardless, this bike is widely loved for cruising around town and actually enjoying the ride.
If you aren’t concerned with commuting or off-roading, you may want to cruise on smooth roads at high speeds and feel the wind in your face. Road bikes are made for lightness, speed, and efficiency. They generally lack suspensions and have a drop handlebar (the kind that curls downwards). Top end road bikes can have titanium or carbon fiber frames, but in the $400 price range steel and aluminum frames work great for entry-level bikes.
Admittedly, this bike is slightly over $400 – it can be purchased for $449.99 at Amazon. If you can foot the extra $49.99, then the Giordano Libero is definitely worth it. Reviewers love its lightweight aluminum frame (which comes in three sizes) and its Shimano racing gear shifters. Moreover, the bike has a comfortable seat and is reportedly easy to assemble. The build quality on this bicycle is great, and it has higher-end looks to complement its functionality. Some more avid riders recommend upgrading the brakes upon purchase, but besides that it’s hard to go wrong with the Giordano Libero.
If you’re not too concerned with style points and exotic names, then the Forge CTS 1000 will suit your needs perfectly well. For $359.00 at Target, it’s significantly cheaper than the Giordano Libero. It has 24 gear speeds and also features an aluminum frame. Shimano makes the derailleurs and shifters, while the rims are made from metal alloy. As a result, the Forge CTS 1000 is lightweight, fast, and serves multiple needs, from commuting and scenic riding to beginner bike racing. Reviewers feel that it fits them well across varying body types/sizes. Although it may be less exciting than the Giordano, the Forge CTS 1000 is equally dependable.
Of course, if you’re willing to spend more than $400, there are some extremely high quality and specialist machines for sale on the bicycle market. Yet, for $400 you can purchase a durable and functional bike that will serve whatever need you have to fulfill. You may ride for utilitarian reasons, or you may be a beginner in competitive cycling. No matter the situation, a $400 budget is an excellent starting point to get you out and riding!
Nick Kania Nick is our summer editorial intern who attends St. John’s University and lives in Brooklyn, New York. You’ll likely find him drinking his third cup of coffee somewhere, thinking about faraway places and how to get there.