Roads are congested with morning traffic, long work hours are taking away your time to get outdoors, and finding a good parking spot in the city takes forever. That’s why many are now commuting by bike.
You want to join the healthy growing trend, but you don’t know where to begin when it comes to picking the best commuter bike. From one gear to twenty-one, fat tires to pencil thin rubber, and lightweight speed machines to burley tanks – the options are endless.
With so many factors at play, it can be hard to narrow down your needs. Our list is here to help, providing you with the top 14 choices to make your search a little easier.
Top 14 Commuter Bikes Comparison Table
Which Bike Is Right for You?
Whether you have a BMX bike or a carbon fiber road bike, both will get you from point A to B. However, when looking for a bike you plan to use daily it’s important to choose something that embodies all the factors you deem important.
The largest factor in what makes the best commuter bike is the route you plan to take regularly. Weather, hills, road conditions and mileage should all be considered before settling on your two-wheeled companion.
Frame Type and Material
Bike frame technology is always evolving, and companies use a variety of materials to build them. Most bicycle frames are created using aluminum, steel, or carbon fiber. Aluminum is the budget material, and carbon fiber is the cream of the crop.
- Aluminum – The most cost effective material, lightweight and stiff, but does pick up the most road vibration.
- Steel – The most trusted material. It’s heavier, but dampens road vibrations well and is more malleable than its competitors, making cracks and snapped frames less of an issue.
- Carbon Fiber – The ultimate in performance. Lightweight, road dampening, and stiff all in one material. However, high performance comes with a stiff price tag.
Your comfort is key when it comes to enjoying the ride, and having a frame designed with all the right angles will put you in the perfect position.
- Cruisers – Cruisers are designed for comfort and looks. They are often heavy and slow but provide a cloud-like ride that puts you in an upright, relaxed position.
- Urban/ Hybrid – Urban and hybrid frames also have comfort in mind. They create an upright position to alleviate back and shoulder pain but are also light and agile enough to get you to work quickly.
- Road – Road bike frames are designed to place riders in an aerodynamic position. If you aren’t flexible, the forward lean can be hard on your back, but the aggressive posture will get to work quickly.
Going with Gears
The drivetrain or gearing system on your bicycle is the collection of parts transferring the power from your pedals to the wheels rolling beneath you. Without it, you aren’t going anywhere.
How many gears you end up using depends on the route you take to work. Flat roads require fewer gear selections, while a hilly route demands options. Bikes now come with a variety of gearing options, which leaves buyers with a lot to consider.
- Single Speed and Fixed Gear – Flat city riding doesn’t demand a lot from your drivetrain. Thus, simplicity is becoming a growing trend among commuters. Having one gear reduces maintenance because there are no derailleurs or shifters that can fail miles from home.
Most complete bikes come with flip-flop hubs that allow you to choose between single speed and fixed gearing. If you’re intrigued by a fixed gear bike, remember you can’t coast. It’s a simple system. If the wheels are moving, the pedals move too.
- One-By Gearing – The common gearing for most city bikes is a one-by system. Meaning, there’s one gear on the front pedal crank and a range of gears on the back hub. This option works great for commuting. It’s easier to maintain than a bike with two or three gears in the front, while still offering options for the occasion hill or when you’re in a hurry.
- Hybrid Gearing – Hybrid bikes and road bikes have a large range of gearing, usually 20-27 speeds. It’s great for hilly routes or dirt and gravel roads along the way, but it does leave the door open for more mechanical issues with so many moving parts.
The Long Haul
After deciding which type of bike and gearing works with your planned cofimmute route, it’s time to think about accessory components. Many commute-focused bikes come equipped with fenders and racks. If these extras aren’t included, then remember that most frames have mounting points to add them later.
For those planning to ride year round, fenders are a must. They contain spray from wet roads, keeping your work clothes dry.
Racks are an excellent feature if you have many things to carry along. Many riders with long commutes put their work clothes in a waterproof pannier attached to their rack and bike to work in active wear.
Tires and Tread
The size and tread of a tire can make all the difference in your bike’s ride quality. Skinny smooth treaded tires are fast, but don’t absorb the road very well. Wide tires and treaded tires provide better grip and dampen rough roads littered with potholes.
Top 14 Best Commuter Bikes Reviewed
1. Diamondback 2016 Haanjo Metro Complete
One crucial factor in choosing the best bike for commuting is its longevity. Daily use takes its toll on any bike, but the Haanjo Metro was build to last. Diamondback has created a do-anything bike, part road, part mountain bike, all quality at a budget price.
Shimano 9-speed gearing is simple and reliable, but versatile enough for any challenge, and Tektro disc brakes will support you with tremendous stopping power.
The wide 42mm Schwalbe tires allow you to tackle any terrain easily, and with the bikes relaxed geometry you’ll feel comfortable and in control.
Though the complete build doesn’t include fenders or racks, the bike does have mounts if you wish to add them later. We feel the money saved on maintenance from the Haanjo’s high-quality parts could easily cover the added expenses.
2. sixthreezero EVRYjourney Women’s Step-Through
When your bicycle looks good and rides comfortably, it’s hard to get off. The EVRYjourney proves this with classic style and simplicity, paired with a design based on comfort.
This bike won’t get you to work the fastest; it’s fairly heavy and places riders in an extremely relaxed position. However, that relaxed position is what makes the EVRYjourney so enjoyable to ride.
If your commute is short and you aren’t rushing to work every morning, this bike will have you strolling into a productive work day. Racks, fenders, and a matching chain guard provide plenty of protection from the elements. So, you can also forget about stressing over dirty work clothes.
The heavy frame may discourage you from hills, but with a Shimano 7-speed drivetrain the EVRYjourney can tackle just about any gradient. Featuring a men’s and women’s version, everyone is sure to be satisfied with this bike. We recommend it to those that are getting on the bike to avoid the daily rat race.
3. Nakto 26″ Cargo-Electric Bicycle 6 speed e-Bike
Bikes are changing with the times, so it’s no surprise there’s an explosion of electric powered bicycles in the commuter market. The assisted power allows for easier riding and faster arrival time to those that don’t consider themselves the fastest on the bike path, or have fears of sweaty work clothes.
The Cargo Electric is designed around comfort just like the EVRYjourney. A relaxed riding position and all the bells and whistles provides an extremely enjoyable ride.
All of the slow talk with the EVRYjourney is eliminated with the Nakto’s 250W motor, which allows you to reach speeds of up to 25mph.
However, the horn, lights, rack, basket, fenders, electric motor, and front suspension fork do add up, creating an overall weight around 75lbs.
As long as you don’t have a flight of stairs to walk up the Nakto Cargo Electric is one of the most affordable e-bikes on the market and comes with everything you could possibly ask for in a commuter bike.
4. Dahon Mariner D7 Folding Bike
Sometimes a commute entirely by bike is too far to feasibly travel every day. In these instances, the train and bus save the day. However, lugging a hefty bike across so many forms of travel can be a nightmare. The folding bike genre has become extremely popular for commuting because of this.
In and out of trains and up and down stairs is no problem with the Dahon Mariner D7. Its quick, easy folding system allows you to travel anywhere with ease.
An in-house built 7-speed derailleur and folding pedals were designed with compact folding in mind so that riders can cram the Mariner just about anywhere. The rust-resistant coating on the frame and chain eliminates the fear of parking it outside on a rainy day.
The Mariner D7 is extremely adjustable, making it easy for anyone to hop on and find a comfortable position. There have been concerns about the longevity of the adjustment latches, so buyers should keep an eye on them over the course of ownership. Overall, the Mariner D7 is an excellent folding bike option.
5. Pure Fix Premium Fixed Gear
While some commuters want as many features as possible, others are looking for simplicity. The Pure Fix Premium offers the no hassle ride many are looking for.
If you’re leaning towards a low-maintenance bike, it’s important the components included are of good value. Pure Fix accomplished this with 28mm Thickslick Kenda tires, durable pedals, a strong chain, and a Cromoly steel frame.
The Cromoly frame is made from stronger steel than lower level frames on the market, making for a more durable and comfortable bike to handle the beating city streets dish out.
A flip-flop rear hub offers the choice between a fixed gear format and the coasting capabilities of a single-speed.
Our lone complaint is that the brake pads are too soft and small, meaning they don’t have good stopping power and wear quickly. Brake pads are a cheap and easy upgrade, so don’t let that sway your opinion if you’re looking for a bombproof fixed gear option.
6. e-JOE Epik SE Sport Edition Electric
You’ve learned about the best electric bike and the best folding bike. Now we combine the best of both worlds. The Epik SE is a foldable bike with an ingenious battery storage design that will get you anywhere quickly.
A 350W motor propels riders forward with pedal assist or thumb throttle capabilities. The long-lasting battery keeps riders going at 20mph for 30 miles on a full charge. Moreover, with a 7-speed Shimano drivetrain, you can conquer any road easily.
The battery is stored inside the folding frame, which keeps it protected from the elements and distributes the weight evenly.
Disc brakes and front suspension offer a smooth ride, making it hard to find any negatives with the Epik SE. One drawback is that the folding pedals are low-grade and break easily. Stronger folding pedals are hard to find for a good price, making it a costly upgrade.
7. Vilano Women’s Classic Urban Commuter
If getting to work in style is a top priority, then look no further than the Vilano Women’s Urban Commuter. The bike isn’t as versatile as others on the list, but its straightforward design both looks great and works effectively.
The stylish steel frame with mustache handlebars and spring cushioned saddle gives a classic Dutch-style appearance and provides a comfortable ride. The single speed gearing and coaster brake system presents almost no maintenance and makes you feel like a kid again.
For such a simple bike, it’s a bit heavy, but most of that weight comes from the sturdy steel frame. Unfortunately, the frame doesn’t have any mounts for racks, which means you need to travel light or use a backpack.
8. K7S Camp 20″ Folding Bike Thunderbolt
Another folding bike popular among commuters is the Camp Thunderbolt. The Thunderbolt provides great quality for its price and is the coolest looking folding bike on the list.
Disc brakes and a Shimano 16-speed drivetrain offers plenty of performance. Though the derailleurs are Shimano and high quality, the extra gears do require more maintenance than the 7-speed Dahon Mariner D7 farther up the list. If you prefer more gear options over low maintenance, then the Thunderbolt is a great choice.
Moreover, Camp is reported to have excellent customer service, so problematic components aren’t something to stress over.
With its sturdy design and easy adjustability, the Camp Thunderbolt will fit just about anyone. Attached to the sleek looking frame are fenders and a rack, making it the proper tool for the job no matter the weather.
9. Fortified Theft-Resistant City Commuter Bike
One of the greatest fears among urban commuters is the threat of bike thieves. If you haven’t walked out of the office to a missing front wheel or seat, consider yourself lucky. Not even locks can stop a determined thief these days.
Fortified is a company invested in keeping commuters bikes safe. The company started out making theft-proof lights using a custom screw system and has now moved into fully built bicycles.
Each bike has a special screw pattern on every removable piece, making it more difficult for thieves to take parts like the seat, wheels, or handlebars. Fortified also has a bike replacement service that gets a new bike to you with one-day shipping in the event someone does get a hold of your bike.
The Invincible comes in 8-speed and single speed options with a rust-resistant aluminum frame. So, buyers can choose which fits their needs better. The 8-Speed also comes equipped with disc brakes making it an excellent choice for hilly or rainy areas.
10. Schwinn Discover Men’s Hybrid Bike
Schwinn is a household name in American cycling, and they take pride in their success. The Discover demonstrates this by offering everything you could ask for in a daily commuter.
The suspension system provides a smooth ride over any potholes you may cross, and the rack and fenders blend seamlessly into the design of the bike, giving it a classy look despite all the extra components it contains.
The drawback to Schwinn’s big name business is their effort to create every piece of the bike. The 21-speed drivetrain and pull brake system are both made in-house, which leaves something to be desired if you’re looking for high-quality performance. There are also signs of budget parts in other areas on the bike, like the suspension and tires.
Schwinn does offer a good warranty and quick customer service to make up for this problem, but we recommend this bike to those that have experience with bike maintenance or aren’t worried about upgrades down the road.
11. Takara Kabuto Single Speed Road Bike
Another fixed gear option for the minimalists out there is the Takara Kabuto. If you like the multitude of color choices and don’t mind a few minor upgrades this bike is a great option.
The steel frame is strong enough to handle rough roads, and the flip-flop hub gives riders the ability to switch between fixed and freewheel riding. The bike also includes a chain guard to keep your pant legs grease-free.
The Kabuto starts having trouble when we start looking at the tires and brake system. Though the tires are 35mm, offering plenty of width and grip for city streets, they aren’t very durable. We recommend replacing them with a set of puncture-resistant rubber to ward off pesky flats.
The brakes also leave something to be desired, but with better brake pads your safety can be improved.
12. Critical Cycles Harper Single-Speed Fixed Gear
Another great starter bike for fixed gear riding is the Harper SS by Critical Cycles. Like the other fixed options on the list, it comes with a steel frame and flip-flop hub for converting between riding styles.
The deep rims create a strong and durable wheel set that can take a beating, and the Promax brakes provide effective stopping power.
Shipping and assembly is where the Harper SS starts seeing trouble. There are many reports of defective or broken parts in shipping; this isn’t always the fault of Critical Cycles, but it is something to consider when purchasing online. The assembly instructions are also vague and leave customers with no bike building experience scratching their heads.
13. Schwinn Men’s Volare 1200 Bike
Schwinn acknowledged the reliability of Shimano with their Volare 1200. By swapped out their in-house derailleurs for a Shimano 21-speed system Schwinn upped the shifting capabilities and reliability of the entire build.
The aluminum frame is lightweight, making the bike easy to maneuver around town, and the brakes are strong enough to stop you in emergencies.
Unfortunately, the tires are still low-grade and too skinny for what we like in a daily commuter. An upgrade would be a good idea.
The seat is also stiff and uncomfortable. Paired with the aluminum frame and skinny tires you can feel every bump in the road, which isn’t a fun way to start your morning. However, after upgrading the seat and tires this bike can become as comfortable as any other on the list and deserves a look, especially with Schwinn’s lifetime warranty.
14. Critical Cycles Beaumont Lady’s Urban City
The Dutch-style Beaumont-7 offers a lot of class for the budget minded. Its steel frame is designed around a relaxed riding position and is strong enough to absorb the road and make its lack of suspension a non-issue.
The Beaumont also comes with a Shimano 7-speed drivetrain to give enough gearing for hilly areas without complicating the bike with too many moving parts.
Matching fenders, a chain guard, and a stainless-steel rack are all included and look great with the rest of the build. The Beaumont is one of the best looking bikes on the list.
However, the components appear to be low-quality and won’t hold up to heavy daily use. Critical Cycles provides good customer service to counteract this issue, but we recommend this bike to riders that plan on fair-weather commuting or don’t have many miles to cover on a daily basis.
Get out the Door and off to Work
We hope that a few options stand out and you’re on the way to purchasing the best commuter bike for your daily needs. The variety of options out there offers a great bike for every rider, and if you know how you intend to use it, the choices can be narrowed quickly.
Remember that any bike is upgradeable, but these bikes were designed with commuting in mind and provide great value for their intended purpose.
Now join your fellow commuters on the bike path and don’t be late for work!