We ride and rate four bikes that come in at the government's Cycle to Work maximum price point of £1,000
As one of the most historic and well known brands in cycling, the Cinelli name is exciting in itself, and any bike that bears it will be carefully scrutinised to make sure it is actually worthy of it. At the other end of the spectrum Ribble is a local company with a reputation - whether deserved or not - for piling it high and selling it cheap, so it is a bonus if a Ribble is actually a good bike, whereas for Cinelli it is absolutely expected.
The latest Cinelli Experience is definitely infused with the Italian marque's heritage and it also goes a long way towards busting the old myth that aluminium bikes are harsh. This is a lovely, smooth bike with a beautifully responsive ride, the latest Campagnolo Veloce groupset works a treat and the paintjob might be slightly idiosyncratic but it's definitely striking and original - it's a proper Cinelli.
We like the Fuji too, and although some might criticise the more ordinary colour scheme, some markets, such as the mainstream American one, are more conservative and a flash of fluoro 'Euro' orange could lose the company a sale. It's hard to find fault with the Fuji 1.0 as a package. There are some cost-saving shortcuts in the spec, such as the FSA chainset, but it works just as well as the original Shimano equipment, so we don't have a problem with it. The ride was a bit firmer than the others on test, but that?s down to personal taste and local road conditions.
The Condor is more of a do-it-all bike than the other three and comes with mudguard eyes, rack mounts and room for a D-lock. You could say it's more versatile than the other three, but when the warm weather comes, no matter how reliable and practical it has been through the winter, many riders will be hankering after a faster, lighter, sportier machine. But as a first bike it would be a great choice, and the Condor name is extremely cool at the moment.
But the Ribble is our test winner because it?s a super bike for the money. It's really too good for hacking to work on and you definitely wouldn't want to risk locking it up outside, but as we all know, the Cycle to Work scheme is that in name only - many already keen cyclists use it to buy a second bike for sportives or club riding, and it will be hard to find a better bike for that purpose at this price. Bike snobs might have issues with the Ribble name, but those in the know won?t.