Best Bicycles: Top Picks in 2020

Last updated: April 22, 2020
BEST OVERALL
Light, Rugged and Versatile
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BEST BUDGET
Great Value, Durable and Reliable
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BEST FOR MEN
Adaptable, Light and Modern Design
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BEST FOR WOMEN
Ergonomic, Great Handling and Durable
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BEST FOR KIDS
Stylish, Safe and Beginner-Friendly
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Your guide

If you take the time to do a bit of research, buying a new bicycle can be a great investment. Cycling is a great way to combine entertainment and utility – functioning as both a healthy hobby, fun pastime, and a means of transportation.

The world of cycling is vast and multifaceted. No matter what your needs are, chances are that there is a bike out there that can meet your requirements perfectly. In the last couple of years, bike retailers have undergone a significant online expansion.

Purchasing a bike online has become quite easy – but picking the right bike can be a chore. With so many manufacturers to choose from, even a savvy cyclist can fall victim to information overload. To help you make an informed choice, we’ve prepared a list of five great bikes – and we guarantee that they will impress you.

Best Bikes: Top 5 Picks

Cycling is a fantastic habit. Healthy, ecologically responsible and efficient, it is one of the best modes of transportation. A bike isn’t a small purchase. If you choose a high-quality bicycle, it can last for years with the right maintenance. Whether you need a bike for commuting, exercise, or simply want to enjoy yourself, the choice of product matters.

biker drinking water

The technical details, as well as the fact that there are a lot of manufacturers on the market, can easily become confusing and hard to navigate.

We’ve prepared a detailed overview of five well-made bikes – we factored in a variety of factors, including price, components, durability, and materials when considering our top picks. If you’re in the market for a replacement or upgrade, take a closer look – we’re sure that at least one of them will pique your interest.

1. Best Overall - Giant Revolt Advanced 3

Specifications:

  • Gearing → 20 speeds
  • Wheel size → 28 inches
  • Weight capacity → 300 lbs
  • Weight → 22 lbs

Key Features:

  • Composite Frame
  • Hydraulic Disc Brakes
  • Shock-absorbing seatpost and handlebar
  • Internal cable routing

Giant Revolt Advanced 3 Review

Choosing a single bike to stand above all others is no easy task. It would be simple to find a state of the art bike, promoted by world-class athletes and sporting a steep price tag. But for the regular cyclist, things are a bit more complicated – there is a huge number of well-made bikes at any given price point.

It’s also tough to figure out what exactly constitutes “the best” bike. Cycling is a wide, wide world, and needs differ from person to person. But we’ve chosen an all-rounder – Giant’s 2020 foray into the world of gravel bikes.

Impeccable Design

Gravel bikes are a fairly recent trend and development. They feature elements of both road bikes and mountain bikes – but unlike hybrids, they tend to focus more on rough terrain.

Giant’s Revolt Advanced 3 has a higher proportion of mountain bike DNA than your regular gravel bike. It features a light Advanced Composite frameset, combining mountain bike geometry and the sleek, shaved-down tubing of a road bike.

It also features internal cable routing, making the entire package a bit more durable and uncluttered, as well as a smart mount system for racks and accessories.

The frame weighs only 22 lbs which meshes well with the gravel-riding geometry. The downward-sloping top tube makes for a stiffer frame, and also helps with comfort.

Speaking of comfort, the Revolt Advanced 3 also features Giant’s proprietary D-Fuse technology – the composite seatpost and handlebar are designed in a way that dampens road shock, reducing the vibrations that can occur on rough terrains.

The bike utilizes a backswept Giant Contact XR D-fuse handlebar with a flared drop. Apart from it being shock-absorbing, the handlebar is quite ergonomic and large enough to rest your weight on when you need that little bit of extra speed.

The Revolt Advanced 3 is also available in a fantastic variety of sizes – which can accommodate riders from 5’1” tall at the lower end to a staggering 6’7” tall at the higher end.

Powerful, Versatile Performance

As a gravel bike, the Revolt Advanced 3 was made to handle almost anything you can throw at it. It features an interesting blend of components that allow it to perform admirably in all conditions.

The 2×10 Shimano Tiagra drivetrain might offer an unusual number of speeds, but we wouldn’t necessarily call that a flaw. It allows you to glide over pavements just as well as it allows you to cut through inclines and rough trails, and offers the rider quick, smooth shifting.

A pair of 28 inch Giant Crosscut AT 1 tires provides plenty of acceleration. The tires are fast-rolling, tubeless-ready, and feature a non-aggressive tread pattern that offers decent traction but works best on pavement and dirt. The AT 1 is a solid, versatile tire – but if it isn’t to your liking, the Revolt Advanced 3 has clearance for larger tires, up to 45c.

A pair of dual-piston calipers controls a set of Giant Conduct hydraulic disc brakes. The brakes are responsive, and can easily grind the bike to a halt. The overall handling of the bike is fantastic – and the proprietary shock-dampening D-Fuse technology goes a long way in making that happen.

When all is said and done, the Revolt Advanced 3 is a very fast, light bike with an enviable amount of versatility. Responsive, robust, and almost completely immune to bumps and vibrations, Giant’s most affordable 2020 gravel bike model is ready for any challenge.

Pros
  • Wide variety of gears
  • Powerful brakes
  • Ultralight frame
  • Shock-absorbing features
Cons
  • Non-aggressive tread pattern on the tires
  • The seat could be a bit more comfortable

2. Best Budget - Retrospec Mantra-7

Specifications:

  • Gearing → 7 speed
  • Wheel size → 28 inches
  • Weight capacity → 250 lbs
  • Weight → 27 lbs

Key Features:

  • High-quality steel frame
  • 7-speed Shimano drivetrain
  • Large, fast-rolling tires
  • Promax Radius lever alloy v-brakes

Retrospec Mantra-7 Urban Commuter Bike Review

Picking a bike for our best budget category was no less difficult than it was for the best overall category. With a huge variety of well-made, affordable bikes on the market, singling out a specific bike (and being justified in doing so) took a lot of time.

Finally, we decided on the Retrospec Mantra-7. A durable urban commuter with a hand-built frame, as well as a more-than-decent drivetrain, it’s a very affordable way to reliably get from point A to point B, day in and day out, without sacrificing versatility, performance, or quality.

The Mantra-7 might be cheap when compared with the other bikes on this list, but it is far from the cheapest bike on the market. It’s an important distinction to make – when looking for a bike to fit this category, we wanted to find a durable, high-value purchase that will pay off.

With that in mind, we’re confident that the Mantra-7 is the best investment for cyclists on a budget.

Well-made, Durable, Robust

The Mantra-7 is an upgrade to Retrospec’s well-reviewed fixed-gear urban commuter. Made to be slightly more robust and much more versatile, the Mantra-7 is a solid, dependable bike.

The bike features a hand-built, tig-welded, and double-butted high-tensile strength steel frame. Robust as it is, the frame isn’t heavy at all – weighing in at just 27 lbs. The frame was obviously one of the priorities in the design, and great care was taken in the design and construction, resulting in an ergonomic, durable frame that can last for years to come.

The different size options can accommodate riders with a height ranging from 4’9” to a tad over 6 feet tall.

The lightweight alloy handlebar features a set of comfortable rubber grips. The seat is a tad on the stiffer side, but nothing too extreme, while the VP freestyle pedals are quite ergonomic.

The high-quality KMC chain is very durable and requires very little upkeep – apart from the occasional cleaning and lubrication. Likewise, the double-walled super deep v-rims are quite robust, and feature a machined braking surface, along with stainless steel spokes.

The frame and fork of the bike also feature horizontal dropouts, bar spin clearance, and have no toe overlap.

Meticulously crafted, and focusing on what matters the most, the Mantra-7 is a solid, dependable piece of equipment that prioritizes the basics.

Smooth Riding, Great Handling

The detailed approach that Retrospec took regarding the frame doesn’t mean that the rest of the bike’s components were neglected.

The smooth 7-gear Shimano Altus drivetrain is a durable, reliable piece of equipment that can handle all urban conditions, and then some. The RevoShift grip shifter is very user-friendly and precise.

Although it won’t perform well on exceptionally rough terrain, the Mantra-7 can easily handle hills, inclines, dirt, and even the occasional trail. The versatility of the drivetrain is a nice bonus, but the Mantra-7 was primarily designed as an urban commuter.

The large, 28-inch / 700x32c Kenda Kwest tires are fast-rolling, and feature a smooth, rounded tread with water dispersion grooves, allowing them to handle wet conditions more easily. The tires aren’t extraordinary by any measure, but offer decent traction in most conditions.

The Mantra-7 features a pair of Promax Radius Lever alloy v-brakes. The machined braking surface of the rims works well in tandem with the brakes, allowing you to easily bring the bike to a complete stop quite quickly. Overall, the Mantra-7 handles quite nicely and offers an enjoyable, smooth riding experience.

Well-thought-out and carefully constructed, the Retrospec Mantra-7 is a fast, versatile, heavy-duty urban commuter that pushes the envelope and blurs the lines of what it truly means to be an urban commuter. If you’re looking for more commuter bike options, check out our guide on that.

Pros
  • Great value
  • Durable, low maintenance
  • Versatile drivetrain
  • High-quality frame
Cons
  • Relatively average tires
  • Average seat

3. Best for Men - Trek X-Caliber 7

Specifications:

  • Gearing → 18 speeds
  • Wheel size → 27.5 / 29 inches
  • Weight capacity → 300 lbs
  • Weight → 30.42 lbs

Key Features:

  • Alpha Gold aluminum frame
  • Bontrager XR2 Comp Tires
  • RockShox Air Fork
  • Shimano Acera M3000 drivetrain

Trek X-Caliber 7 Review

Although road bikes might be enticing because of their breakneck speeds, for most people, a good old mountain bike is usually a far better choice. Offering a great combination of versatility and performance, mountain bikes cover a lot of ground, allowing you to partake in all sorts of biking, from urban commuting to trail riding.

We’ve chosen the Trek X-Caliber 7 as our pick in the best for men category. It combines high-quality components, solid design, and innovative technologies into a single package that is a force to be reckoned with.

If you’re looking for a dependable all-rounder with fantastic performance, take a closer look at the X-Caliber 7.

Cutting-Edge Design, High-Quality Materials

The X-Caliber 7 is a quick-handling, well-proportioned and light hardtail mountain bike that focuses on the essentials. It’s available in size options that can accommodate rider heights ranging from 5’ to 6’5”.

The frame is made from a durable Alpha Gold aluminum frame that’s as light as a feather, weighing in at just 30.42 lbs. The head tube of the frame is tapered and provides smooth, easily controllable handling on the front end.

The frame features internal cable routing which gives it a clean, uncluttered appearance while offering additional cable protection. The frame also features both a rack mount and a kickstand mount, and can easily be upgraded with a dropper post.

The X-Caliber 7 also features a Rock Shox 30 Silver suspension fork with 100mm of travel which can easily handle bumpy rides and demanding trails. If, however, you happen to be cycling on a flat, even surface, the fork also has a lockout feature that increases pedaling efficiency.

The bike is equipped with a microfiber Bontrager Arvada seat. While it’s nothing to write home about, it’s decently comfortable. On the other hand, the finned pattern nylon grips are fantastic, both in regard to comfort and grip.

Trek’s bike also features a durable, high-quality KMC X9 chain, as well as lightweight nylon pedals with boron steel axles.

Great, Versatile Performance

Now let’s move on to the meat of the matter. We’ve already established that the X-Caliber 7 features several design elements that are often found on more expensive bikes – such as internal cable routing and a tapered head tube. But do its components, and through them, its performance stack up?

Shimano’s Acera M3000 9×2 drivetrain is smooth and reliable, offering plenty of versatility. Coupled with the bike’s impressive suspension, it can handle all terrain types and challenges that a regular cyclist can run into. The X-Caliber 7 simply glides over inclines and cuts through bumps effortlessly.

The bike utilizes Bontrager XR2 Comp wire bead tires. With the exception of the small size option of the X-Caliber 7, which uses 27.5×2.20” tires, all bikes ship with 29×2.20” tires.

The XR2 Comp is a fast-rolling tire, with a staggered tread pattern that provides powerful grip and consistent traction in a variety of conditions. It provides predictable cornering and contributes a lot to the X-Caliber 7’s impressive handling and control.

The tires handle equally well in both dry and wet conditions and do a fantastic job on loose and rocky trails, while the Boost 141 hubs offer increased wheel strength, clearance and nimble handling.

On the other hand, the Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakeset gives you plenty of consistent, reliable stopping power with minimal effort. The brakes perform admirably in all conditions.

Pros
  • Lightweight frame
  • Great suspension
  • Fantastic brakes
  • Adaptable
Cons
  • Unremarkable pedals
  • Tires prioritize versatility over speed

4. Best For Women - Diamondback Arden

Specifications:

  • Gearing → 18 speeds
  • Wheel size → 26 inches
  • Weight capacity → 300 lbs
  • Weight → 27 lbs

Key Features:

  • 7-speed Shimano hub
  • Rear rack
  • Foam grips
  • Cushioned dual-spring saddle

Diamondback Arden 2 Review

Diamondback’s Arden 2 is a fantastic women’s bike that offers top of the line performance without the prohibitive price tag that usually accompanies it.

Built with the highest quality materials, the Arden 2 utilizes several design elements that make it a great choice for women. It’s a serious endurance bike that offers both speed and comfort. The high-end components used in its construction are light and durable.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the features and specifications that make the Arden 2 such a standout product.

Materials and Design

The Arden 2’s frame is made from a series of custom formed and butted aluminum tubes – the entire frame weighs in at just 27 lbs. But don’t let that fool you – this a sturdy frame, one that is made to last.

The Arden 2 is available in a wide range of sizes, with the smallest being able to accommodate riders who are 5 feet tall, and the largest being able to accommodate riders with a height of up to 5’11”.

Diamondback’s enhanced performance geometry lends itself to a comfortable upright position when riding, which is easily sustainable even over long distances. The Arden 2 has a shorter-than-average back end for an endurance bike, but the added comfort is well worth a short adjustment period on that account.

The overall comfort is made even better by the inclusion of women-specific touch points – Diamondback’s very own women’s performance saddle, and an HED tour flat top drop handlebar which is narrower than average.

The Arden 2’s handlebar is very solid – if needed, you can lean forward and rest on the handlebar for added speed. The handlebars also feature comfortable gel tape grips.

The bike’s rims feature quick-release hubs, as well as robust steel spokes, while the KMC Z99 chain is famed for its durability.

Overall, the Arden 2 is a comfortable, light bike, made even better by its impressive durability and design choices which cater specifically to women.

Drivetrain, Brakes, and Tires

The components that most directly affect the performance of the bike are where the Arden 2 truly shines. In its price range, it undoubtedly offers the best set of components.

The Arden 2 uses an 18-speed Shimano Sora drivetrain that offers an amazing amount of versatility, as well as smooth, precise, and dependable shifting. Although primarily geared for endurance riding, the Arden 2 can make short work of hills and inclines.

The bike features a pair of quite large, 700x28c Diamondback Century folding bead tires which provide smooth rolling, while also utilizing textured edges to provide slightly better traction when cornering. If the proprietary tires aren’t to your liking, the Arden 2 is compatible with tires with a width of up to 30mm.

With such a large tire size and light frame weight, maintaining high speeds is a breeze. The brakes, however, are no less impressive. The Arden 2 features Tekto Lyra flat-mount mechanical disc brakes with 160mm front rotors and 140mm rear rotors.

The brakes are quite easy to maintain and offer a lot of stopping power, which makes for a very easily controllable bike. They also offer above-average performance in wet conditions. Disc brakes are rarely seen at this price range, so this is a huge plus for the Arden 2.

Diamondback might have just struck gold with this bike. Its light, dependable, easy to maintain and very comfortable to ride. The Arden 2 is a great value purchase, offering an unprecedented level of performance and high-quality components for its price range.

Pros
  • Affordable price point
  • Frame geometry tailored for women
  • Versatile drivetrain
  • Powerful brakes
Cons
  • Tires don’t quite match the quality of other components
  • Slightly heavier than an average aluminum-frame bicycle

5. Best For Kids - Guardian

Specifications:

  • Gearing → 1 / 6 / 7 speeds
  • Wheel size → 16 / 20 / 24 inches
  • Weight capacity → Approx 200 lbs
  • Weight → 20 – 26 lbs

Key Features:

  • Quick-release seat clamp
  • Low center of gravity
  • SureStop technology
  • Light, stable frame

Guardian Kids Bike Ethos Review

Cycling is a fun, healthy, and relaxing pastime. It’s also one of the best forms of low-impact exercise, particularly for children.

A bike can easily be a fantastic gift that a child will treasure for a long time. But there are plenty of factors to consider – such as frame size, geometry, and safety.

Guardian Bikes’ Ethos offers a wide range of size and gearing options, as well as plenty of safety features. A light, stable bike, the Ethos is easy to assemble and offers a fantastic entry-point into the world of cycling.

A Bike for All Ages

With our pick in the best for kids category, we’re going to handle things a little differently. Choosing a single size option doesn’t make much sense – so we will be reviewing the Guardians Bikes’ Ethos in general.

For starters, the bike is available in a wide range of sizes, from 16 inches to 24 inches. Overall, the different sizes can accommodate children from 4 years of age on the low end, to 12 years of age for the largest models.

All of the different size options utilize the same design, the only difference being in the gearing system.

The weight of the frame ranges from 20 to 26 pounds but meshes well with the size of the frame in each case. It’s light and sturdy, and children will have no issues with carrying the bike if need be.

The durable frame features kid-specific geometry and has a low center of gravity that makes it much more beginner-friendly, while still being comfortable.

A quick-release seat clamp allows you to easily adjust the height of the seat, which is all the more important for children – growth spurts won’t automatically mean that you have to buy a new bike.

The Ethos is equipped with double-wall extra-strength rhino rims. The rims are quite rugged, and the fact that they can take a beating will allow your children to get acquainted with cycling in a safe manner, ramping up the intensity without any fear of flat tires.

Stability, Control, and Safety

The frame’s light weight and low center of gravity make the Ethos a very stable bike. The crank arm, pedals, saddle, and handlebar were designed with children in mind, featuring proportions that allow the rider to easily control the bike. A handy kickstand is also included, minimizing the chance of the bike falling over.

Available in 1-speed, 6-speed, and 7-speed options, the Guardian Ethos can meet a variety of challenges. The choice of gearing option mostly boils down to the child’s skill and familiarity with cycling, as well as the terrain they will usually ride on.

The single-speed Ethos is simple and convenient, while the 6-speed and 7-speed options offer serious performance – the combination of larger tire size and multiple gears makes for a fast, versatile bike.

However, the Ethos’ biggest selling point by far is the braking system. The bike utilizes SureStop technology, with a single brake lever controlling both wheels. This design is far superior to the traditional coaster brakes used in children’s bicycles.

The brakes are quite powerful, and SureStop distributes braking evenly to both wheels – minimizing the chances of a head-over-handlebar situation. The result is a far more controllable, and far safer bike – and both of these points are priorities for children.

The Ethos is a well-designed, user-friendly, and safe bike. Even at first sight, it stands out – it doesn’t really look like a kids’ bike. It bears the mark of a serious, high-end bicycle. It would be far more accurate to simply call it what it is – not a kids’ bike, but a bike for kids.

Pros
  • Requires little to no assembly
  • Wide variety of sizes and gearing options
  • Fantastic braking system
  • Kid specific geometry
Cons
  • Shifting could stand to be smoother
  • Average seat

Bicycles: Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Most Important Tools for Bike Maintenance?

The most important tools for bike maintenance are centered around the small bits of maintenance that you can take care of at home.

In no particular order, you should ideally have a bike repair stand, some chain lube and cleaner, a chain brush and some clean rags, a floor pump with a gauge, a set of spare tubes, and a tube patch kit. Along with this, you should also have a set of Allen wrenches, as well as a set of open-end wrenches, ranging from 2mm to 17mm in size.

Are Aluminum and Carbon Frames Less Durable Than Steel Frames?

Yes - although the difference isn’t major. Steel is a heavy-duty material, and with the proper upkeep, a steel frame won’t ever need to be replaced. Aluminum and carbon frames are more performance-oriented - they’re obviously less stronger than steel, but the jury is still out on exactly how less durable they are.

Regardless of this fact, if you take proper care and maintain your bike, no matter if it has an aluminum, steel, or carbon frame, it should last for at least 5 years, which is the low end of the average product lifespan for a high-quality bike.

This doesn’t mean that the frame won’t be serviceable after five years - but around this point, newer components and technologies make purchasing a new bike more worthwhile.

How Long Do Bicycle Tires Last?

This depends on the type of tire in question. If you notice reduced performance or start having flats more often, it might be time to replace your tires. Road bike tires should last for anywhere between 1000 and 2500 miles, while high-quality touring tires can last for an astounding 4000 miles.

There isn’t a one size fits all answer to this question, so paying close attention to your bike’s tires and their performance is your best bet of gauging whether you need a replacement. Bicycle tires should be inflated once a week to ensure optimal tire pressure.

Do Bicycles Require Servicing?

Yes. Unless your bike has a serious malfunction, taking it in once a year for a complete service should be enough. If you’re keen on getting the most out of your bike, performance-wise, and having it last a little longer, take it to your local bike service for a check-up every three or four months.

Best Bicycles: Top Picks in 2020 for Everyone — Bike Hacks