We all want to do our bit for the environment and our health. That is why commuting to work by bike is a great idea.
Not only will it help the environment and your health, but it can also help your bank balance. To make sure commuting does help your bank balance, we have created a guide to the best commuter bikes for 2019.
The Best Commuter Bike Under $500
Schwinn Volare 1200
- Shimano EZ Fire shifters
- 21 speed
The Schwinn Volare 1200 is a flat bar road bike. It will be great for those wanting a bike that is fast for commuting on but don’t want drop bars.
Many people don’t feel safe on drop bars, but they still want road bike speed, and the Schwinn helps to deliver that for them.
With 700c wheels and a 21 speed Shimano groupset, featuring their EZ Fire shifters, the Schwinn will get you rolling up to speed in next to no time.
Thankfully to help you slow down, you’ll find a set of V-brakes to help you bring the speed down and keep you safe.
The Volare 1200 also features a lifetime warranty on the frame so you’ll have peace of mind that should the worst ever happen to your bike that you’ll be fully covered.
The frame also comes equipped with fender and pannier rack mounts. You’ll be able to easily load the bike with your work stuff and keep yourself dry when the roads are wet.
- Retro looks
- Pannier rack
If you want to cruise to work in style, then the Retrospec Beaumont could be the perfect female commuter bike for you. The bike comes with a lovely retro look and has fenders, and a chainguard painted to match the color of the frame.
The Beaumont is not a bike for those who want to ride to and from work quickly. The Beaumont comes with a 7-speed gearing system, and the gearing is designed to help you cruise and not make you feel like you need to break into a sprint for every set of traffic lights.
As the Beaumont is designed to help you get to work, it also comes equipped with a pannier rack. You won’t need to budget extra for one. You’ll just need to fit your pannier bags, and away you go.
To help you slow down after you’ve gotten away, you’ll find a set of V-brakes that are a lovely polished silver color that reflects whichever color of frame you buy the bike in. We quite like the cool mint colorway.
The tires on the bike are of the 700 x 35 mm variety. Tires of this width will help to bring you comfort and will help to remove the worst of the road vibrations as you ride along.
The Beaumont is a bike that wants you to ride in comfort.
State Bicycle Co. 4130 Core Line
- Single speed
- 4130 frame and fork
- Flip-flop rear wheel
Hipsters may no longer ride fixed gear or single speed bikes, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to have to stop riding them. The State Bicycle Co. 4130 Core Line is one of those bikes that we definitely don’t want to miss out on riding.
At the heart of their 4130 Corel Line is a 4130 steel frame and fork. 4130 is a great material for building bike frames from, it is light(ish), strong, and gives a really nice ride feel.
It will help to remove road buzz, and it will be strong enough to deal with a few spills.
To allow you to choose between riding fixed or allowing yourself to coast, the State comes with a flip-flop rear hub. You simply take the wheel off and flip it over to use the fixed cog or the freewheel.
You do want to experience riding fixed at some point, so be brave and try the bike with a fixed cog. Your pedal stroke will enjoy the fact that you’ve taken the time to make it a little better.
Raleigh Bicycles Cadent 2
- 6061 aluminum frame
- Shimano EZ Fire shifters
- 24 speed
The Raleigh Cadent 2 is described as a fitness bike, similar to the Schwinn Volare 1200, and this means that the bike is a great fast commuter. It is a bike that will get to work quickly. It can also double up as a light touring bike at the weekend should you fancy a small adventure.
The Cadent 2 is a lightweight hybrid thanks to its 6061 aluminum frame, which features rack and fender mounts. The frame is stiff, and this will help you to keep the speed up, as will the 24 speed Shimano groupset, the bike though is stiff comfortable. The comfort can be attributed to the Vee Tire Co.
Silent 700x35mm tires. These tires are fast-rolling, but the extra width offers extra cushioning.
The 24 gears are also easy to select from, thanks to the Cadent 2 featuring Shimano’s EZ Fire shifters. A quick press and you’ll be in gear you need to be in for that upcoming hill.
Raleigh has also specced a set of Tektro M280 mechanical disc brakes to make coming back down that hill a much safer option.
We have only picked 4 bikes for the under $500 category, and the reason is, these 4 bikes cover the majority of the market for commuting bikes. You may have noticed that we didn’t include any hybrids with suspension forks.
The reason for this is that under $500, you’ll get heavy forks that offer no adjustability and not much travel.
You’ll be losing out on gears that shift better and sealed bearings on your bike to get a bike that will cost you more in servicing and will be a lot heavier, with no real performance gains to be made.
In fact, it will more than likely be slower, and you’ll have a constant pedal bob, which will ruin a good fun ride to work.
If you want a simple bike, with no real maintenance to do then buy the State Bicycle Co. 4130 Core Line. The bike is unisex and may just need a saddle change for those of a female persuasion.
It is a bike that won’t feel neglected sitting in your garage for months at a time and then being brought out when the sun is shining.
If you want a bike to get to work quickly and efficiently, then the Raleigh Cadent 2 is a great option. Raleigh also does a female version, the Alysa 2.
They are both pretty similar and will help you build your fitness as well as get to work on time and get you home before those in cars.
The Best Commuter Bike Under $1000
- Comes with rear rack and fenders
- Avid BB5 disc brakes
- 7 speed
The Tomasso Classic is a great commuter bike. It literally comes out of the box with everything you could need. It comes with front and rear fenders, and a rear pannier rack.
These are pretty much essential if you’re going to use the bike for daily commuting all year round.
The next item that shows that it set for commuting is that it comes with 7 gears. That might not seem like many, but over the years of servicing bikes that have been commuted on, I can tell you that most commuters tend to use 3 or 4 gears all the time.
So if you buy a 30-speed bike you’re just buying a lot of gears you won’t use. Being a simple 7 speed, you should find that you save money on servicing and maintenance.
The saving money on gears means that you get Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes. You get disc brakes then that people will buy aftermarket.
Your brakes are upgraded straight out of the box. If you live somewhere really cold this will be great as you don’t have hydraulic fluid to freeze during the winter. They are also very easy to service at home.
Raleigh Bicycles Redux 1
- 6061 aluminum frame
- Vee Tire Co. Silent 27. 5x47c tires
- 8 speed
The Raleigh Bicycles Redux 1 takes a similar idea to the Tomasso. It comes with a simple 1 x 8 drivetrain. Raleigh is similar to Tomasso in believing that this will be a simpler choice for home mechanics, and will bring you longer drivetrain life than if they made a 27-speed bike.
It might not seem it, but a 1 x 8 will save you a small fortune over a year if you’re an everyday commuter.
To help keep the weight down on the Redux 1, Raleigh has gone for a custom formed 6061 aluminum frame. You’ll find this frame sends all of your pedal stroke to the back wheel to keep you spinning along the road.
To stop you finding the frameset too stiff and uncomfortable, Raleigh has fitted Vee Tire Co. Silent 27. 5x47c tires. These tires are wide, which you may think makes them slow as well as comfortable.
The sizing of them gives them the same ride height as a narrow 700c tire, you’ll then find they roll just as fast, but the extra air brings you a lot more comfort.
It is possible to have comfort and speed, and the Raleigh Redux 1 is the perfect example of that. The wider tires also mean if you fancy hitting some easier trails at the weekend, the Redux 1 can see you down them.
Dahon Mu D9
- Folding bike design
- 20” wheel design
- 9 speed
If you live in the city, you might not have a lot of space in your apartment for a bike, and you might also not have space in your work to store a bike.
That is where folding bikes come in. The Dahon Mu D9 can fold up into a pretty small footprint, and you should be able to hide it easily away in a cupboard.
We picked the Mu D9 as it is a pretty good weight. It is easy to carry upstairs or on and off public transport. Depending on the length of your commute, being able to fold quickly and get your bike on public transport could be a deal-breaker.
Coming with 20” wheels the Mu D9 should be easy to find tubes and spare tires for, sometimes the smaller sized wheels on some folding bikes can be a bit of a nightmare in this regards.
It will also mean your wheels will roll faster and you can easily get them up to speed thanks to the 9-speed groupset that is on the bike.
Salsa Journeyman Flat Bar Claris
- Aluminum frame
- Shimano Claris groupset
- 16 speed
If you fancy a commute that keeps you off roads, and if you also want a bike to double up as an adventure bike at the weekend, then the Salsa Journeyman Flat Bar Claris might just be the choice for you.
As well as being pretty long, the Salsa’s name also tells you what to expect from the bike.
With a Shimano Claris 16 speed groupset you can expect road bike gearing. There is a 34t on the rear cassette, so there is a get out of jail free low gearing option should you have a day where your legs decide to just die on you.
The bike comes with an aluminum frame that is identical to the frame on bike’s higher up in the Salsa range. You can then see that you have a bike that is worthy of upgrades as parts wear out or get broken.
You’ll also find WTB Nano 27.5 x 2.1” tires on the Journeyman. These tires are slightly more mountain bike in orientation, but they still roll fast on the road.
You can even convert them to run tubeless, and you’ll never need to worry about punctures on your way to work. You can then let some pressure out and have a bike that provides great grip in the more off-road part of your riding.
The Tomasso Classico might just be the perfect commuter bike. It features everything you need and none of what you don’t, and it should last a long time.
It is a comfortable bike, ably assisted by its 35mm wide tires, it can carry your work stuff, and it is fast. That is pretty much everything you could ever need in a commuter bike.
The Dahon Mu D9 is perfect if you don’t have a lot of room, or if you’re maybe trying to solve the last mile problem.
The last mile problem is how people get from their car or public transport to their final destination. The Mu D9 easily solves that problem and will have you finishing that last mile in record time.
Do I Need to Spend a Lot on a Commuter Bike?
No, all the bikes here are going to be a lot cheaper than owning a car, and they will help you get to work quickly and easily.
The bike we feel is the best commuter option is the Tomasso Classico, and it comes in just above the $500 price point.
Given that it features a rack and fenders that may then make it roughly the same price as a $500 bike when you add those accessories to it.
What Accessories Do I Need for a Commuter Bike?
If you want to ride in all weathers, you will want fenders. These will stop you from getting the dirty water from the road sprayed up over you on a damp and raining day.
They will also stop your feet from getting wet. Wet and cold feet can make any ride feel hellish; keeping your toes dry is a great way to make sure commuting stays fun.
A rear pannier rack. Getting a rack and using pannier bags will make it easy for you to carry your laptop, a change of clothes, or any other item to work.
You don’t want to use a rucksack for this as it’ll make you sweaty, can obscure your view when checking for cars, and will be pressing down on your spine. Give, your back a break and use a rack and bags.
Tubus Logo Evo Rear Rack
It fits to your bike simply and quickly, the instructions for fitting make sense. The rack allows you to mount your bags a fraction back. This will help if you have heel clearance issues.
Your only issue is that it may seem expensive, but quality doesn’t always come cheap, and Tubus racks are backed by a 10-year warranty. You won’t find many other racks with that style of guarantee.
Ortlieb Back Roller Classic
The reason for their popularity is that they provide simple and elegant solutions for bike luggage.
The Back Roller Classic is a set of waterproof pannier bags. They have no zips to allow water in. You simply roll the bag over.
By rolling the bag over, there is no water for water to seep inside and damage your work gear. A simple solution that has been used for years as it simply works.
If you want to commute, you may also want to think about a helmet. There are many choices nowadays and it is always better to have a helmet and not need it, than not have a helmet and need it.
The Hub is a small, lightweight helmet, and it doesn’t make you look like a mushroom when you wear one. It is always nice when protection looks stylish, and it makes it a lot easier to make sure that you use it.
It comes with a light mount on the rear of the helmet so you can attach your favored light to the back. Putting a light here and one lower down on your bike means that car drivers approaching you from the rear will find it easier to judge their distance from you.
You’ll find a soft brim at the front of the helmet that helps to stop rain hitting your eyes and also blocks out some of the sun on the days that it decides to shine.
The fit of the helmet is also easily adjusted using Bell’s Float Fit system. It is essentially at dial at the back of the helmet that contracts or expands the helmet’s fitting system.
I’ve spent way more time in the bike trade than anyone should reasonably want to. In that time I’ve wanted to make cycling jargon and marketing easier to cut through to help people get the bike of their dreams.
When I’m not writing about bikes, I can be seen out bikepacking on single speed bikes or teaching kids how to ride.