Best Commuter Bike – Ultimate Buying Guide You Should Read!

Are you trying to find the best commuter bike that you can afford?

Well, here you’ll get your question answered. We’ve got you covered with the names of the most popular ones in the market complete with commuter bike reviews to back them up. Because let’s face it, choosing the right bike for commuting is not easy, so we put all the info we could get in this ultimate buying guide. You can navigate the guide using the links below:

Comparison Chart of Best Commuter Bikes

 

Intro

Bike CommutingMore and more people are trading in the high costs and carbon footprint of their commuter vehicles in exchange for commuter bicycles. To make the transition, you’ll want to equip yourself with the best commuter bike and gear you can afford, just as you would a car, truck, or other four-wheeled vehicle. Fortunately, we have polled from the many commuter bike reviews available online to help you decide on the best option for you. Take a look at the comparison chart below (or click HERE) for some bikes available for purchase directly online.

Why Commute with a Bike?

The advantages of commuting by bicycle far outweigh the drawbacks. For starters, cycling is a totally free activity–once you have your bike that is. Unlike vehicles that require gasoline, oil changes, and other costly routine maintenance, bicycles require very little long-term investment and tend to be quite easy to maintain. Beyond the money you’ll save by switching from car to bike, cycling is great exercise that serves to boost your overall health, physique, and well-being.

cycling

Cycling gets you out of the toxic exhaust fumes of traffic, into the outdoors and closer to nature. That’s not to say that residents of urban areas miss out on the joys of commuting by bike, as doing so can be a great way to get to know your town or city. Moreover, many modern workplaces will give incentives to employees that choose to cut down their carbon footprint by biking to work.

What to Ask Before Buying a Commuter Bike?

When deciding to commute by bike, your first obvious question is what bike to choose. Just as there are many makes and models of cars and trucks, there are many different brands of bikes to choose from, each of which specializes in a particular type or class of bike. Furthermore, there are dozens of commuter bike reviews online that can make the task of finding the best commuter bike for you a bit challenging.

Where do you plan on riding? – Specifically, what type of terrain will you be traveling on during your commute? Will you be riding on a mostly flat route, or will your commute involve traversing up and down hills and slopes? Will you be riding alone a paved road or path, or will you have to cross over trickier terrain? You’ll want to familiarize yourself with a few routes that will keep you off heavily trafficked roads, intersections, and pedestrian byways.

How long is your commute? – Your commute time may vary each day depending on factors like weather and traffic. You should still try to get a sense of the average time for your commute, as it will factor into what type of bike you should choose. If your commute is a short 10 minutes, you may be suited with a heavier bike with commuter-friendly accessories. Those with longer commute times will likely prefer a lighter and faster bike designed for the road.

What is your physical condition? – This also plays a role in your bike selection process, as not all bicycles are as easy to manage as others. If you’re already a cyclist, you probably know your limits and know what type of bike works best for you. Beginners to bicycle commuting, especially those with any lower back or knee problems, will need to pay more careful attention to what type of bicycle works best for their individual level of fitness and comfort.

Are you prepared to do maintenance on your bike? – We’ve already established that bikes require significantly less maintenance than motor vehicles. Still, every bike will require some level of ongoing maintenance to ensure that it’s always commute-ready. Do you enjoy fixing things and tinkering already, or would you rather leave such tasks in the hands of pros? Certain types of bikes will require more maintenance than others depending on the amount of moving parts and quality of materials.

How will you transport your belongings? – If you’re looking to become a commuter cyclist, you must realize that you’ll no longer have the backseat and trunk of your car to act as your closet/office on wheels. Anything you need to start a work or school day must be carried with you. You have the option of carrying a backpack or messenger bag on your back or opting for bags that attach directly to the frame of your bike. Some bikes are pre-equipped with baskets or rails to make securing your belongings easier.

Bicycle Parking

How will you store or lock your bike? – You will need to have somewhere at work or school to keep your bike secured upon arrival. Is there room in your office to park a full-sized bike for the day? Is there a safe area designated for locking your bike up outside? Do you feel comfortable leaving your bike unattended throughout your workday, or is theft an issue? Folding bikes help alleviate this dilemma.

Comparison Chart of Best Commuter Bikes

In the section below we will present a chart of some of the best commuter bikes available online. The information is derived from directly from the manufacturer of each bike, though you can find more information from the commuter bike reviews on Amazon. The chart is divided into different categories of bike (road, mountain, hybrid, etc.), all of which are acceptable varieties for everyday commuting.

best commuter bike

Model Name
Type
Weight
Frame
Gears
Brakes
Price
Rating
Vilano Aluminum Road Bike 21 Speed ShimanoRoad21-24 lbsDouble Butted Aluminum
50-58 cm
21 SpeedAlloy Caliper Dual lever$$4.0/5
Giordano Libero 1.6 White/Red Men's Road Bike-700cRoad23 lbs6061 Aluminum
22-25 inch
16 SpeedAlloy Side Pull Front/Rear$$$4.2/5
Takara Kabuto Single Speed Road BikeFixed Gear29.5 lbsTig Welded Steel
54-57 cm
Single SpeedAlloy Side Pull$$4.1/5
Pure Fix Cycles Fixed Gear Single Speed Urban Fixie Road BikeFixed Gear22-24 lbsHigh Tensile Steel
47-61 cm
Single SpeedRadius Alloy Front Brake$$4.2/5
Critical Cycles Fixed Gear Single Speed Fixie Urban Road BikeFixed Gear20-25 lbsTig Welded Steel
47-61 cm
Single SpeedAlloy Front$$4.1/5
Giordano Rapido Single Speed Road Bike (54cm)Fixed Gear26.5 lbsTig Welded Steel
54-56 cm
Single SpeedAlloy Side Pull$$4.1/5
Critical Cycles Fixed Gear Single Speed Fixie Urban Road BikeFixed Gear25 lbsSteel
49-60 cm
Single SpeedAlloy Rear$$4.1/5
Takara Sugiyama Flat Bar Fixie Bike (700c Wheels)Fixed Gear25-30 lbsSteel
54-58 cm
Single SpeedAlloy Side Pull Front/Rear$$4.1/5
Retrospec Beta Series Single Speed with Flip Flop HubFixed Gear24 lbsTig Welded Steel
41-60 cm
Single SpeedAlloy Radius Level Front/Rear$$4.1/5
Vilano Edge Fixed Gear Single Speed Bike, Medium, Matte RedFixed Gear25 lbsSteel
50-58 cm
Single SpeedAlloy Caliper Front/Rear$$4.0/5
Diamondback Overdrive V 29'er Mountain BikeMountain25 lbs6061-T6 Aluminum
16-22 in
7 SpeedAlloy Linear Pull$$$4.1/5
Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Men's Dual-Suspension Mountain BikeMountain36 lbsAluminum/Steel
26 inch
24 SpeedAlloy Linear Pull$$4.1/5
Diamondback Overdrive Sport 29'er Mountain BikeMountain25 lbs6061-T6 Aluminum
16-22 in
7 SpeedAlloy Linear Pull$$$3.9/5
Diamondback Men's Edgewood Sport Hybrid BikeHybrid25 lbs6061-T6 Aluminum
15-21 inch
7 SpeedAlloy Linear Pull$$$3.9/5
Schwinn Discover Women's Hybrid BikeHybrid40.5 lbsAluminum
41 inch
21 SpeedAlloy Linear Pull$$4.3/5
Schwinn Discover Men's Hybrid BikeHybrid40.5 lbsAluminum
43 inch
21 SpeedAlloy Linear Pull$$4.1/5
Dahon Speed Uno Folding Bike, ShadowFolding24.2 lbs4130 Chromoly
25 inch
Single SpeedAlloy Rear Coaster$$$4.5/5
Schwinn Loop 7-Speed Folding BikeFolding30.8 lbsAlloy super low stand-over folding frame
7 SpeedAlloy Front and Rear Linear Pull$$4.0/5
Hasa Folding Foldable Bike Sram 6 Speed BlackFolding27.5 lbsAluminum Alloy 6061
6 SpeedFront: PROMAX TX-107C;
Rear: PROMAX TX-107C
$$4.5/5
fBIKE Direct 6 Speed Folding BikeFolding31 lbsSteel
22 inch
6 SpeedAlloy Linear Pull$$4.7/5
Prodeco V3 Phantom X2 8 Speed Folding Electric BicycleElectric58 lbsAluminum
28 in
8 SpeedAvid BB7 Disc$$$$4.5/5
Currie Technologies eZip Men's Trailz Electric BicycleElectric68 lbsSteel
7 SpeedAlloy Linear Pull$$$3.8/5
Currie Technologies eZip Women's Low Step-Thru Trailz Electric Bicycle, BlueElectric66 lbsSteel
7 SpeedAlloy Linear Pull$$$4.3/5
Prodeco Technologies Phantom X2 Electric Folding Bicycle (36V, 500W)Electric58 lbsFolding Aluminum Alloy
7 SpeedFront & Rear "Tool Free" Adjusting Disc$$$$4.0/5

Which Type of Bike is Best for Commuting?

Simply put, commuting by bike doesn’t require a certain type of bicycle. Everyone has his/her own idea of what makes for the best commuter bike, but ultimately it’s up to what suits your need and is most comfortable to ride.

1. Road Bike

Pros:

  • Lightweight, able to cover more distance
  • Narrow tires – reduced rolling resistance
  • Capable of higher speeds than heavier bikes

Cons:

  • Stiffer ride, not as comfortable
  • Susceptible to flat tires
  • Unsuited for off-road terrain

Best for:

  • Experienced bikers
  • Urban areas
  • Long-distance commutes

2. Fixed Gear Bike

Pros:
fixed gear bike

  • Control/Traction
  • Lightweight
  • Low maintenance
  • Braking power in pedal
  • Maximum exercise

Cons:

  • Unable to coast
  • Difficult on hills
  • Limited to flat terrain
  • Braking power in pedal
  • Maximum exercise

Best for:

  • Urban commuting
  • Bike messengers
  • Experienced cyclists

3.  Mountain Bike

Pros:

mountain bike

  • Wide, rugged tires – resistant to flats
  • Flat handlebars and upright riding position – more comfortable and visible in traffic
  • Adaptable to on-road and off-road commutes
  • Suspension system for bumpy rides

Cons:

  • Heavier
  • Slower – difficult on longer commutes

Best for:

  • Less-experienced riders
  • Commutes with variable terrain
  • Inclement weather
  • Budget buyers

4. Hybrid Bike

Pros:

hybrid bike

  • Lightweight – often made from lightweight steel or titanium
  • Higher speeds and sophisticated gear systems
  • Off-road capable – mix of road and mountain bike features

Cons:

  • Limited customization/accessories
  • Expensive

Best for:

  • High speed commuting
  • Experienced riders

5. Folding Bike

Pros:

folding bike

  • Compact – fit nearly anywhere
  • Portable – can take onto public transportation or personal vehicle
  • Inexpensive
  • Convenient

Cons:

  • Limited to flat terrain
  • Uncommon

Best for:

  • Commuters with minimal storage space at work
  • Commuting via multiple modes of transportation

6. Electric Bike

Pros:

Electric Bike

  • Extended distance – combination of pedaling and motor
  • Minimal effort – motor assisted
  • Easy to charge – no need for gas
  • Ease of operation – simpler than a scooter or motorcycle

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Heavier – more difficult to pedal when charge depletes
  • More susceptible to theft

Best for:

  • Less-fit individuals
  • Rural commutes
  • Minimal sweat and clothes changing

Important Components of Commuter Bikes

bike components

Regardless of the type of bike you choose, there are certain parts of each bike that are considered to be the most important components. When deciding on a bike, make sure you pay attention to these specifications and compare them among various models.

Frame

Most bicycles have a frame constructed from steel or an aluminum alloy. If weight is an important factor for you, consider a higher-grade carbon steel, chromoly steel, or titanium frame. Most commuter bikes are sized between 18 and 25 inches, with some slightly smaller/larger options available for shorter/taller riders. The best way to decide on the right fit is to stand over and ride several different options to see what’s most comfortable for your body type.

Tires

Like a car, a commuter bicycle should have properly inflated tires that are suited for the type of terrain you tend to ride on. The tires on road bikes and fixed gears are smoother and narrower and allow you to go faster and further. These types of tires are not suited for bumpy or off-road terrain or slippery pavement on rainy days. Mountain bikes and some electric and commuter-specific bikes come with thicker, beefier tires with thicker treads. Thicker tires provide a more balanced ride and allow you to take on a variety of terrain, but the increased rolling resistance plays a factor on longer commutes. The best tires for commuting fall somewhere in between a mountain bike tire and road bike tire, making many hybrid bikes ideal.

Gear system

Gear system of commuter bike

Aside from fixed gear bicycles that operate on a single speed, most commuter bikes contain a gear system designed to give you an easier and more controlled ride. If your commute takes place on a primarily flat roadway with little or no hills then a gear system may not be necessary. Commuters facing multiple hills, inclines, and variable terrain are more likely to need the assistance of a more complex gear system. Commuter bikes are available with gear systems ranging from 7-speed to 24-speed, with some as high as 30. Ultimately, the more gears you have the easier it will be to climb hills and carry more gear. Most systems are relatively straightforward and operate with the push of a knob or twist of a shifter (integrated into the handlebar).

Brake(s)

The braking systems on most modern bicycles are quite effective and safe. The majority of commuter bikes employ the use of linear pull brakes, which may be located in the front wheel, rear wheel, or both wheels. Some modern brakes use disk-style brakes that use calipers located in the center of the wheel in a similar fashion to cars. Bike manufacturers know which brakes are best suited for the type of riding for each category of bike and equip them appropriately. Linear pull brakes provide the enough stopping power and are versatile for all types of commuting. Disc brakes are often found on electric bikes and bikes designed with low-maintenance and less-demanding riding in mind.

Handlebar

Bullhorn handlebarWhen it comes to commuting, the handlebars play a factor in overall comfort and your visibility in traffic, which is an important safety consideration. The flatter and more upright the handlebars, the more visible you will be in traffic. Riding upright is also better for your posture, but not necessarily more comfortable, particularly on long commutes. Drop-style, curved handlebars give you the most grip options and are positioned in a way that increases your aerodynamics and potential speed. Unfortunately, this posture requires you to lean forward for the duration of your ride, which may not be suited for some riders.

Essential Accessories

Though the bike itself is the most important part of your commute, you’ll likely find yourself needing certain accessories, tool, and gear to make your ride more manageable.

bike rackRacks

A rack is a device that is attached to the frame, seat, or rear wheel of your bicycle and rests above the rear wheel. Its purpose is to provide a place to attach a basket or panniers in order to carry your gear.

pannierPanniers

Panniers are packs that straddle the wheel of your bike, often attached to a preexisting or included rack. They are commonly found on the rear of the bike for the best weight distribution and control. They serve to take the weight off your back and shoulders but often impede your ability to pedal and increase your drag.

bike computerBike Computers

Many bike commuters like to have a computer system on board their bike to make finding and following routes and keeping track of data much easier. Usually, they’re permanently mount to your bike, so make sure you park the bike in a safe place.

bike gps unitBike GPS Unit

Bike GPS unit has the advantage of converting GPS data into detailed ride information. Basic bike computers only measure your speed, distance, and time, while more advanced GPS units can measure your cadence, wattage, heart rate, and calories burned–this in addition to a map of your route.

bike basketBasket

Baskets come stock on some commuter bikes or can be installed aftermarket to the handlebars or rear rack of your bike. Baskets have the convenience of always being open to storage, often with quite a bit of space. This saves you from having to carry weight on your back or slowing down your ride with rear-mounted panniers.

helmetHelmet

Head protection is integral to bicycle safety, particularly when commuting in traffic with motor vehicles. Even experienced riders can have bike accidents and a helmet could save you from potentially life-threatening injuries.

bike lockLock

If you don’t have a safe place to store your bicycle within your workplace, you will want to invest in a quality lock. U-shaped locks are strong and more difficult to pick or cut than chain-style locks.

light and reflectorLights and Reflectors

Reflectors come standard on most bikes and are often required to ride legally. In addition to those located on the tires and front and rear of your bike, consider wearing reflective clothing and a strip of reflective tape on your helmet. For increased visibility, consider installing front and rear (blinking) lights and wearing a light on your helmet. If riding at night or in overcast or inclement conditions, lights are essential to remaining visible to traffic and pedestrians.

Fender

bike fender

If you commute in an area that experiences a lot of wet weather, a rear fender is an effective way to prevent water and mud from covering your back.

pumpTire Repair Kit/Pump

If you commute long enough, you’re bound to encounter a flat tire. Familiarize yourself with the tube-changing process and always keep a spare tube and set tire levers on hand. Though pumps can be somewhat bulky, you should always consider carrying one if you have the space. Many compact versions can be secured to your frame or seat post if no room is available in your bags or baskets. Also consider the option C02 pump option, which only requires the use of a couple miniature CO2 cartridges and an attachment nozzle.

Multi-tool

multi-tool

If you carry a tire repair kit you must also carry a bicycle multi-tool. The most important component of these tools are the Allen wrenches, though some models also include screwdriver heads, a chain pin and a tool for spreading brake pads apart. Regardless of how basic or hi-tech you opt for, there’s always room in your bike storage or pocket for this critical tool.

Apparel

bike clothingYou may chose to carry a lightweight rain jacket in case you run into rain (or other precipitation) along your commute. In general, you should wear clothes that are comfortable and that stand up to sweat and the forces of nature. Ideally you will carry your work clothes in your pack or have them waiting at your place of employment. Many commuters choose to wear cycling gloves to help absorb vibration and decrease hand and wrist fatigue. Depending on the style of pedal your bike employs, you may or may not need to use special cycling shoes.

Hopefully you now have a better sense of what to look for in a commuter bike. There are a lot of factors to consider, but once you find the right bike you’ll become part of the growing community of cyclists enjoying the many benefits commuting by bike.


Oh, one more thing, before you browse other pages on Commuter Bike Center, you should watch this video about how to set up your bike for commuting

Comments

  1. Appreciating the commitment you put into your website and detailed information you provide on commuter bikes. It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed material. Fantastic read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  2. WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for best commuter bike

  3. George Terrell says:

    Thanks! You gave a lot of practical pointers and things to consider. You didn’t mention a helmet, but the other accessories are worth having.

  4. Good article besides the brake section, a disk brake is by far the best brake as far as stopping power is concerned. Rim brakes will never come close, only reason many bikes uses rim brakes is cost or weight, disk brakes do weigh more but there is a reason you never see anything but a disk on a mountain bike.

    • FreddyMercury says:

      Disc brakes are good for mountain use only, not necessary for roadies and hybrids and commuters… And they are a pain to get the calipers adjusted, whereas vbrakes and cantis are dirt easy to setup.

  5. David R says:

    Great, informative site. Not sure about the image of some dude hanging off the fender of a taxi in downtown traffic. Also less focus on racing to work, and more riding to work, like the Europeans do.

  6. Great website! I am a beginner and just getting into road bikes. I am wanting to commute to work (less 3 miles) and wanted to know if the Giordano Libero 1.6 will be a good beginners bike? Any suggestions will be appreciated!

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