If you find yourself watching the Tour de France as it whizzes across England this weekend and thinking 'I could do that', then, well, you can't. Seriously, you can't. The Tour is over 3000 kilometres, a lot of it very steeply uphill, ridden at an average of around 40km/h. But straddle one of these affordable road machines, all of which have been ridden by Team Stuff, and you'll get a feeling for what it's all about, even if the reality is that your longest ride is a five-mile pootle to a country pub.
Boardman Road Sport (£450)
For several years the default answer to the question “what’s the best affordable road bike?” has been “probably a Boardman”, and the Road Sport explains why: an assortment of proper Shimano 2300 and Sora componentry on a surprisingly good 7005 aluminium frame makes this a proper road bike for very little money.
Genesis Equilibrium (from £850)
Many riders are of the opinion that while aluminium and carbon have their merits, nothing rides like a steel frame, and the Equilibrium is made from Reynolds 520 or 725 - widely regarded as some of the best iron around. Add a carbon fork, a decent set of wheels and well-chosen componentry and you have one of the best all-round bikes on the market. And if you’re a fan of retro looks, this British bikemaker’s steeds will have you drooling all over your Lycra.
Verenti Insight 0.3 105 (£900)
Offering a very different ride to the Genesis is this full-carbon bargain. Verenti (the own brand of online retailer Wiggle) has managed to add a Shimano 105 gearset and brakeset to the already impressive frame and fork, and while you can see where money has been saved on the wheels and bars, it’s a very nice ride – like most carbon frames it climbs well, but unlike many carbon frames, it’s assured, grippy and unrattled by steep descents.