Make traffic and crowded public transport a thing of the past, and swing a leg over these commuter bikes for trips to and from work, and short trips out of the house. Commuter bikes go by many names, but, regardless of what you call them, their primary job is the same: to get you and all your stuff from point A to point B, without the need for lycra. The added benefit is that a commuter bike will also let you sneak in a ride as you complete tasks you have to do anyway.
While the best road bikes are designed to go fast and far, the best commuter bikes focus more on the utilitarian requirements of cycling for transport, such as luggage capacity, electric assistance, or foldability.
While most of us are stuck at home right now, in many places you are still allowed to leave the house for essential trips and to get some exercise. Instead of jumping on the trainer for yet another ride through the Zwift world of Watopia, why not swing a leg over a commuter bike and ride to the store instead of driving, or just for a spin around the neighbourhood in your street clothes? Just make sure that you follow social-distancing regulations as recommended by your local municipality, and don’t ride in groups.
Read on for a round-up of some of the best commuter bikes, or jump to the bottom for a rundown of what you should look for in one.
Best commuter bikes
Creme CafeRacer Solo
A commuter bike for the style conscious
Gears: 7 | Claimed weight: 14.8kg | Sizes available: S/M, M/L
Men’s and women’s build
Internally geared hub
A bike to get around town doesn’t have to be a utilitarian arrangement that puts function above all else. The Creme Cafe Racer Solo puts function and form on an even keel. It has the aesthetic of the classic carrier-style bike, but is built around modern components. The frame and fork are made with hi-tensile steel, and the bike’s albatross-style aluminium handlebars create a comfortable, upright riding position.
This Cafe Racer is equipped with internal rear-hub gearing and a Shimano RevoShift 7-speed shifter, which offers plenty of range for a hilly ride, with no maintenance required. Available in both men’s and women’s versions, both come with integrated front and rear lights, and full-coverage fenders.
Available in both men’s and women’s options.
Rondo Booz Urban Racer
The best commuter bike for the rough route home
Gears: 7 | Claimed weight: TBC | Sizes available: S-XL
Road plus 650b wheels and tyres
Hydraulic disc brakes
Rondo calls the Booz a “pure-blooded steel urban racer”, and we’d say this is a pretty accurate assessment. With a chromoly frame, the bike is nimble and will not only stand up to the abuse from commuting but also to when you decide to get a bit rowdy on your ride home. It’s outfitted with a Gates belt drive and a Shimano Nexus 7-speed hub, so the only required maintenance will be keeping air in the tyres.
The flat-bar bike employs hydraulic disc brakes, which will provide consistent braking, no matter the weather, and the bike rolls on 650b ‘road plus’ 47c WTB Horizon tyres. The Rondo has front and rear thru-axles and features the brand’s TwinTip fork, which allows you to tweak the geometry to achieve the desired handling characteristics.
Vitus Mach 3 VRS
A commuter bike for the fast and furious
Gears: 2×9 | Claimed weight: TBC | Sizes available: XS-XXL
6061 alloy frame
Shimano Sora groupset
Coming out of Wiggle/Chain Reaction Cycles’ in-house brand Vitus, the Mach 3 VRS is a flat-barred road bike, said to be for the “urban adventurer”. Marketing speak aside, the Mach 3 VRS has dropped chainstays and rolls on 38mm Vee G-Sport skinwall tyres, so it will be a comfortable ride, even over rough roads. The 6061 ATC aluminium frame is heavily hydroformed for sharp handling and efficient pedalling, even when loaded up with panniers.
The frame sees internal cable-routing and heaps of mounting points for mudguards, racks and water bottles, and the fork even has a tapered steerer tube for increased front-end stiffness. Vitus has specced a Shimano Sora R3000 9-speed drivetrain and hydraulic stoppers for confident braking, regardless of the weather.
The best commuter bike for those who use more than one type of transport
Gears: 1×3 | Claimed weight: 16kg | Sizes available: One-size fits all
Super compact when folded
Lightweight for an eBike
Brompton bikes have long been considered the gold standard in folding bikes for their reliability, handling, and how compact they are when folded. This electric version takes everything we know and love about these quirky little bikes, and adds a 250-watt front-hub-based pedal-assist motor, complete with a removable 300Wh battery pack.
With a claimed range between 30-70km, the Brompton Electric is said to tip the scales at 16kg – which isn’t bad for a folding eBike. Beyond the drive system, everything about the bike is the same as a standard Brompton, including the three-gear Sturmey Archer hub and the customisable handlebar shapes.
Specialized Sirrus X 3.0
A commuter with Body Geometry touch-points
Gears: 1×9 | Claimed weight: 11.4Kg | Sizes available: XXS-XL
High-end aluminium frame
Dropped seat stays
Made with Specialized’s high-end A1 aluminium, the Sirrus X is a lightweight, capable, hybrid bike that borrows plenty of technology from its more performance-driven family members. Based around upright geometry, the dropped chainstays, 27.2mm seatpost and 42mm tyres do well to absorb impacts, while the Body Geometry touch-points are specially designed to maximise comfort.
The Sirrus X is equipped with a MicroShift Advent 1×9 drivetrain, and the rear derailleur has a clutch to hold the chain taut, even over the bumpiest of road surfaces. With an 11-42T cassette at the back, the 40T narrow-wide chainring will not only help you ascend any grade, but also prevent the chain from falling off.
Cannondale Quick 4 Disc
Lightweight urban bike that lights up like a Christmas tree
Gears: 1×9 | Claimed weight: 11.6kg | Sizes available: S-2Xl
The Cannondale Quick 4 Disc is a versatile flat-bar road bike that is perfect for running errands, or as a tool to help you get fit. Made from Cannondale’s SmartForm C3 alloy, there are loads of rack and fender mounts, and the rear end sees the brand’s SAVE micro-suspension.
All of the cables on the Quick are hidden out of harm’s way inside the frame, and the Tektro hydraulic brakes provide superior power and modulation to their rim-brake counterparts, with less maintenance. Cannondale has specced the Quick 4 with a MicroShift 1x9speed drivetrain, complete with a clutched rear derailleur. The ultra-wide-range 11-42T rear block is mated with a 38T wide-narrow chainring for ultimate chain security and plenty of gear range.
And to keep you lit up in low-visibility conditions, all the logos on the bike are reflective, and both tyres feature a reflective stripe on the sidewall.
Orbea Gain F40
The best commuter bike for subtle electric assistance
Gears: 1×9 | Claimed weight: 13kg | Sizes available: XS-XL
Ebikemotion drive system
Clutched Shimano derailleur
Battery can’t be removed for charging or be replaced
The Orbea Gain F40 is an eBike that doesn’t scream eBike. Using the ebikemotion drive system, the battery is hidden inside the frame, which looks identical to a standard bike frame except for the power button on the top tube. The button itself uses the iWoc ONE interface, which not only toggles the power but displays the remaining charge and the level of assistance. The rear-hub-based drive unit offers up to 40nm of torque and 250 watts of pedal assist, and better still, there is no drag when the battery is switched off.
The frame is made from Orbea 6000 series aluminium and features rack and fender mounts, while at the front is a carbon fork, which sheds weight and improves front-end stiffness and comfort. The Gain 40 is a flat-barred spec, featuring a 1×9-speed Shimano Altus drivetrain, including the Shadow derailleur with a clutch for improving chain retention. Orbea has also opted for Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes for confident, all-weather braking.
Tern GSD S10
The best commuter bike for heavy-haulers
Gears: 1×10 | Claimed weight: 27.06kg | Sizes available: One Size
400lbs carrying capacity
250w motor with 63nm of torque
While Tern is best known for its folding bikes, the GSD S10 doesn’t fold in half for storage, but the handlebars do fold to make it a bit smaller for storage. It also uses a 250-watt Bosch motor, which essentially turns the bike into a pedal-assisted pick-up truck. With a max load of 400lbs, the low-slung aluminium frame can haul kids, groceries, cases of beer, and whatever else you want without sacrificing stability. The included 400Wh battery is said to have a range between 50-110km, depending on how much stuff you’re carrying, and can be upgraded to a 500Wh power pack for additional range.
The bike rolls on 20in wheels and the frame uses stout tubing and boost hub spacing. Between the 1×10-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain and 63nm of torque on offer from the Bosch drive unit, you should be able to push the GSD up any hill, fully loaded. When you crest said hill and start to gain speed going down the other side, the 4-piston Magura MT5 brakes and 180mm rotors will easily bring you to an abrupt halt.
What to look for in a commuter bike
Moving parts need to be maintained, and bikes have a lot of moving parts that can wear out and/or fail. Unless your destination has some sort of bike-parking facility, it’s more than likely that your bike will spend extended periods locked to a rack at the mercy of other commuters, passers-by, and the elements – so on a commuter bike, the fewer moving parts, the better.
First and foremost, we would recommend avoiding suspension forks on commuter bikes. While they will be listed as a stand-out feature as you scroll through a bike’s description, the forks specced on commuter bikes are usually cheap and don’t offer much in the way of shock absorption. They are heavier and more expensive than a rigid fork, and are in danger of seizing over time anyway without regular maintenance.
Gears, shifters and derailleurs are also moving parts that need to be maintained. If you live somewhere flat-ish, and can get away with a single-speed, you have fewer parts to fail or look after. Internally geared hubs are a great solution, but they do add to the weight and price tag. If you think you will need gears, look for grip shifters instead of trigger shifters; again, they are simpler and have fewer moving parts.
2. To eBike or not to eBike
eBikes have made commuting more accessible to the masses because the bike will offer a bit of extra oomph to help you get you to your destination faster, or up over that big hill at the end of your street. The drive unit and battery add weight and cost to a commuter bike, and can be hard on drivetrain components, too. The additional power also adds another level of utility to your bike, though, meaning that you can carry much heavier loads – or zip around without breaking a sweat.
3. You get what you pay for
Price is always a bit of a contention thing when it comes to commuter bikes, because most people don’t want to drop a big wad on a bike that’s likely to have a tough life. Still, if you buy a super-cheap bike, don’t be surprised when parts break.
At the same time, spending a couple of grand on a commuter bike is probably overkill – unless you’re looking at an eBike because the drive unit and battery add a significant cost.
4. Frame material
Steel, aluminium and carbon will be the main three materials you will come across when looking at commuter bikes. Steel is tough, and usually relatively inexpensive, but it’s also subject to corrosion. Aluminium is lighter, durable and not subject to corrosion, but it’s also more expensive and can have a harsh ride quality. Carbon is the premium frame material of all bikes, but for commuters, we would recommend you steer clear. While it’s light and stiff, it’s comparatively fragile and could be damaged by locks, racks or other commuters.
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