Dream Bike Quiver: The Best Budget Bikes

You don't need a big budget to build a great bike quiver. This Dream Quiver is made up of high-value bikes with frames and components that can compete with high-end bikes at a more affordable price point.

Dream Bike Quiver: The Best Budget Bikes

Written by
Bruce Lin

Published on

Posted in
Bikes

My financial advisor (a.k.a. my spouse) asked me to curb my spending because it’s finally time to start saving for our child’s education (boooooo!). This fall, I’m canceling my TV subscriptions, eating out less, and turning down the thermostat. But there’s one thing I can’t give up — my bike quiver. 

So, is it possible to build a bike quiver capable of doing it all without taking out a second mortgage? I decided to find out. What is “budget?” In this case, I stuck to bikes under $3,000. That’s still expensive. But in a world where MAMILs don’t blink at dropping $10,000+ on a superbike, it’s pretty reasonable. It will get you a decent name-brand frame built with quality components. Here are my top picks for building the ultimate budget Dream Bike Quiver. 

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Best budget road bike: Cervélo Caledonia 105 - $2,599.99

Cervelo Caledonia

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The Cervélo Caledonia is the future of road bikes. Designed for the cobbled classics, it combines a lightweight carbon frame and aero tube profiles with stable geometry, an upright riding position, and more tire clearance (up to 35mm tires). That means you get the comfort of an endurance road bike without sacrificing efficiency. You’ll keep up with the fastest group rides, but have the freedom to veer off onto rough roads. This Caledonia 105 is built to be a workhorse, with a reliable and crisp-shifting Shimano 105 mechanical group and tubeless-ready wheels.

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Best budget gravel bike: BMC URS One - $2,749.99

BMC URS

[product-block handle="2021-bmc-urs-one-l"/]

The BMC URS is designed for the demands of “aggressive” gravel riding. What’s with the funky name? It’s because this bike is built to be UnReStricted. The geometry takes cues from mountain bikes with a slack 70° head angle and a longer reach and wheelbase for stability and confidence on loose descents and technical trails. The rear end uses BMC's Micro Travel Technology (MTT). This integrates an elastomer into the seat stays to soak up chatter for more comfort, while keeping the tire in contact with the ground for more control. It’s capped off with a SRAM Apex 1x group that is simple, affordable, and bombproof. 

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Best budget Hardtail MTB: Specialized Fuse Expert - $2,399.99

Specialized Fuse

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The Specialized Fuse is like having multiple bikes in one, which makes it the MVP of this budget Dream Quiver. The clever sliding dropouts make it compatible with 29”, 27.5”, and 27.5+ wheels. They even allow you to ride singlespeed. (Is that still a thing?) The aluminum hardtail frame is light and stiff so you can mash it in XC races. The Shimano SLX 12-speed drivetrain provides plenty of gears for steep mountains and all-day epics. The slack geometry (66.4° HA) and 130mm fork mean it will feel right at home popping off jumps and slapping berms. The Fuse is so versatile and affordable, it might just be the ultimate trail hardtail

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Best budget full-suspension MTB: Commencal Meta TR 29 - $2,499.99

Commencal Meta TR 29

[product-block handle="2019-commencal-meta-tr-29-xl"/]

Finding a high-quality full-suspension mountain bike is tricky at this price point. But search diligently, and the used marketplace will deliver gems like this Commencal Meta TR. Andorra-based Commencal focuses on building burly aluminum bikes that are capable of taking on huge lines with confidence. The Meta TR is similar to the Enduro World Series-winning Meta AM, but it comes with less travel (140mm in the rear) and more versatile geometry so it’s as comfortable climbing uphill as it is going down. The Meta TR is perfect for everyday trail riding, but it can still send it during the occasional enduro race or bike park trip. 

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Best budget E-bike: Serial 1 Mosh/CTY - $2,749.99

Serial Mosh/CTY

[product-block handle="serial-1-mosh-cty-medium-matte-black-gloss-rowdy-blue-1"/]

Serial 1 is the E-bike offspring of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and the stylish batmobile-looking frame of the Mosh/CTY is inspired by the American brand’s earliest motorcycle designs. The singlespeed belt drive design means you don’t have to worry about maintenance or shifting, and the Brose S Mag motor will assist you up to 20mph. For cruising around the city, running errands, and commuting to work, the Mosh/CTY is the perfect tool. But if you want to have a bit more fun, the 27.5+ wheels and tires mean you can easily hop curbs, or even venture onto dirt and gravel roads to explore the world beyond the concrete jungle. 

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Total cost: $12,999.95

In past Dream Bike Quivers, there have been single bikes that cost more than all five of these bikes combined. This is probably the first Dream Quiver I’ve put together that I can actually afford — how tempting! Of course, since I’ve been instructed to be frugal, I won’t do it. Maybe I’ll just pick one of the five to bring home. But which bike should I choose? Carbon bikes like Caledonia and URS are tempting at this price point, but I think I need to be practical and pick the Specialized Fuse. It’s just so versatile. I can use it for everything from quick lunch rides to multi-day bikepacking adventures. Plus, the raw aluminum frame just looks so darn good. What bike would you pick? Let me know in the comments! 

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