The 6 best commuter bikes for any budget

A commuter is a simple concept: It’s a practical, comfy bike that gets you to and from work, the supermarket, your neighborhood, and wherever else you want to go. They should be capable of handling a variety of terrain and weather situations while still being enjoyable to ride.

Commuter bikes, although being a sort of one-size-fits-all type of bike, come in a variety of forms. Perhaps you’d prefer an electric vehicle with integrated pedal assistance for easier commuting, or perhaps you’re on a budget. Whatever your style, there’s a commuter bike that will suit you well.

Biking is my preferred mode of transportation as a resident of Brooklyn, New York, and the fitness editor for Insider Reviews. As a result, I’ve ridden more commuter bikes than I can remember – and I know how to pick the ones that are worth acquiring.

I’ve compiled a list of my five favorites below to assist you in determining which are the greatest. At the end of this book, I’ve provided answers to a few frequently asked questions, as well as information on how I test commuter bikes.

Overall, the best commuter bike

The 6 best commuter bikes for any budget

The Brooklyn Bicycle Co. Franklin 3 is a clever choice that’s built to last if you want a comfortable, beautiful commuter bike that arrives fully assembled.

Pros: Assembly is included in the price, the design is gorgeous, the construction is durable, and the ride is comfortable.

Cons: There are just three speeds.

Brooklyn Bicycle Co. focuses on creating bikes that are built to last and are comfortable to ride. The Franklin 3 exemplifies this concentration. The step-through frame makes mounting your bike easy no matter what you’re wearing, and it’s composed of lightweight steel so you can simply take the 33-pound bike upstairs and downstairs.

Shimano, a well-known name in the industry, makes the rear hub and shifter. The bike is also equipped with puncture-resistant tires. For ultimate comfort, the saddle and grips are made of vegan leather.

The Franklin 3 is a three-speed bike, but single-speed and seven-speed models are also available. The bike is available in two sizes: small/medium and giant. There are five hues to choose from: ivory, matte coral, gloss black, sea glass, and cardinal red. Check out the Bedford 3 if you like a top tube that is more parallel to the ground than the step-through frame.

For novices, the best commuter bike is

The 6 best commuter bikes for any budget

The CTY 2.1 from Co-op Cycles has a smooth ride, superb maneuverability, and is light enough to keep in your walk-up flat.

Pros: Comfy seat, simple to operate for beginners, locking front suspension fork, good customer service

Cons: Expensive

REI re-entered the bicycle market in 2017 with Co-op Cycles, with the purpose of giving enjoyment and freedom on two wheels. The CTY 2.1 is built primarily for city use, as its name implies.

Several of the parts are also from well-known manufacturers. Shimano manufactures the crankset, shifters, derailleurs, rear cogs, hydraulic disc brakes, and brake levers. Joytech makes the hubs. The chain’s name is KMC Z8.

On flat ground, the suspension fork has a locking mechanism to keep you from bouncing about. There’s also 360-degree reflectivity to keep you visible at all times of day and night, though lights are still recommended.

This is my primary bike for workout and commuting around town. REI’s customer care blew me away from the moment I picked it up to try it. To get to the nearest store, I had to drive approximately an hour, and they were adamant about making sure it fit me properly.

In addition, the CTY 2.1 is quite responsive. The brakes responded swiftly on one journey, sparing me from colliding with a car that backed out of a drive without looking. I also have no trouble navigating my city’s winding trails. The pedal reflectors fell off after 400 miles, which was the biggest drawback for me.

Best electric bicycle for commuting

The 6 best commuter bikes for any budget

The Priority Current is a low-maintenance e-bike with a 50-mile electric range and a smooth, effortless ride.

Pros: Can handle a wide range of terrain, has a 50-mile range when completely charged, travels smoothly and doesn’t startle you when you initially pedal, and requires very little maintenance.

Cons: E-bikes are pricey, and if the fenders are moved out of place, they can rub on the tires.

I strongly advise you to consider an e-bike if you frequently commute long distances or live near a bunch of hills. E-bikes’ built-in pedal assist makes riding to work, the store, or just around town a lot more enjoyable (besides, who doesn’t like not being sweaty when they arrive at their destination?).

Priority’s Current is my favorite e-commuter, and it’s also Insider Reviews’ top pick for all e-bikes in general. On a fully charged battery, the Current provides 50 miles of range, handles a variety of terrain with ease, and is simply a delight to ride. It’s even more appealing because it doesn’t require much in the way of routine upkeep.

The bike itself is a Bosch-heavy system, with a Bosch motor, battery, and head unit — and the bike’s dependence on one brand for these components is a big reason for its ease of maintenance. It has five distinct pedal-assist modes, so I can always easily choose how much power I want it to deliver, and it has a top aided speed of 28 mph, which always seemed like plenty.

The Current’s pricing is maybe its worst flaw — albeit e-bikes are rarely in the “cheap” category. However, it can be more than just a simple commuter and might be something you can rely on for a long time.

The most adaptable commuter bike

The 6 best commuter bikes for any budget

The Core series of commuters from State Bicycle Co. is a customizing dream, since the website allows you to customize the pedals, handlebars, saddle, and other components to build a bike that is completely unique to you.

Pros: Online customization options abound; it has a sturdy steel frame and is available in a variety of colors; and it costs less than $400 even with add-ons.

Cons: Not all add-ons are always accessible, and the tires aren’t designed for much off-road riding.

State Bicycle Co.’s Core line of bikes is the embodiment of what a commuter bike should be: durable, easy to ride, and fully adjustable. When ordering a Core, the State Bicycle Co. website allows you to select from a range of options, like the sort of pedals you want, the saddle it comes with, and whether or not you want to add lights or a lock (among others). These possibilities allowed me to create a commuter bike that was completely unique to me.

Riding the Core is just as much fun as putting it together virtually. Though I wouldn’t recommend riding it on anything rougher than a flat dirt road, it can easily navigate uneven streets or sidewalks (besides, who among us is an off-roader?).

The Core has been my go-to for relaxed neighborhood biking. It weighs less than 30 pounds, making it easy to carry into my flat, but despite its modest weight, the steel frame seems sturdy. I’ve nicked it on railings and metal fences a few times and it’s never been damaged, and it doesn’t appear that striking it harder would harm much either.

The pricing of the Core was one aspect I couldn’t ignore right away after learning about it. Most constructions are under $400, and the base model with no add-ons is only $300. That’s a lot of money for a commuter as good as this one is — and it’s something with a great return on investment.

I can’t suggest the Core series from State Bicycle Co. highly enough if you appreciate the notion of building your own commuter bike and want something that’s both durable and exciting to ride.

The best commuter bike in the classic design

The 6 best commuter bikes for any budget

If you want to try bicycle commuting without spending a lot of money, the Schwinn Wayfarer Hybrid Bike is an excellent entry-level option.

Pros: Affordable, simple to assemble, beautiful, includes fenders and a rear rack, and comes with a lifetime limited warranty

Cons: A number of the parts are from unknown manufacturers.

With the Schwinn Wayfarer Hybrid Bike, you get a lot for just $400. The bike is partially constructed, and completing the work is simple enough for a novice to complete, so you may not need to pay for professional assistance.

Both the back and front fenders are there to shield you from the dirt that the tires may kick up. You can also use the supplied rear rack to transport your work equipment. Steel is used for the frame, which has a stylish retro urban look. The spring seat gives a stable and comfortable ride. This bike comes with a lifetime limited guarantee from Schwinn.

The best commuting bike with all the bells and whistles

The 6 best commuter bikes for any budget

You won’t have to worry about getting extras a la carte because the State Bicycle Deluxe 3 Speed City Bike comes with everything you need to commute in all types of weather.

Pros: Attractive design, includes everything you need to get started commuting to work, and can handle a variety of road conditions.

Cons: Difficult to construct, with reports of fragile parts.

A rear rack, a front basket with drink container, fenders, and a chainguard are included with the State Bicycle Deluxe 3 Speed City Bike. All of these elements work together to get you and your work gear from point A to point B while keeping you safe from dirt and water sent up by your tires. This is a Dutch-style bike, like our top selection, the Franklin 3, which means you ride in a more upright position for better comfort and visibility.

The City Bike comes in three different styles: Keansburg, Elliston, and Rylee. The Rylee’s frame has a step-through geometry, whereas The Elliston and The Keansburg’s top tubes are more parallel to the ground.

FAQs

In a commuter bike, what should I look for?

When purchasing a commuter bike, the most crucial factor to consider is comfort. If riding a bicycle isn’t fun for you, you’ll never keep it up and it will collect dust. Fortunately, when you buy a bike online, retailers frequently collaborate with local businesses to assemble the bike and make any necessary final adjustments to ensure a correct fit.

Is it true that bikes purchased online come fully assembled?

Many online bike purchases allow you to assemble the bike yourself or have it assembled for you by a local bike shop. It is, in my opinion, worth the extra money to have an expert to do it. The professionals have the necessary tools and skills to complete the job in a fraction of the time it would take you.

Is it possible to have an electric commuter bike?

Yes, there are many electric bikes that fit into the “commuter” category, and we’ve even listed one above. If you’re interested in learning more about electric bikes, I recommend reading our whole guide to electric bikes.

You can get as much or as little assistance as you like on your commute with e-bikes. This is especially useful if your route includes hills or you simply want to get home quickly after a long day. It’s also worth noting that, while an e-bike provides powered assistance, you must still pedal.

How do I put commuter bikes to the test?

The commuter bikes in this guide were put to the test (or ridden) to see how well they performed in four areas: ride quality, maintenance requirements, comfort, and value.

Here’s how each category played a role in determining which bikes made it into the guide:

Experience with the ride: A commuter bike won’t blow you away with its off-road abilities or on-road speed, but it should still be enjoyable to ride. This means considering how well it performs city riding as well as cruising through the park or riding around your neighborhood. We also considered how each bike’s handling influenced its riding style, as well as whether we enjoyed riding it whether we were going to the shop or working up a sweat.

Demands for upkeep: Although recurring maintenance fees are unavoidable, it would be good to not have to get your bike mended every other month. We pushed the tested models to their limitations to check whether any components were excessively stressed or showing indications of wear and tear, even though commuter bikes aren’t typically pushed to their limits while simply riding to a neighborhood coffee shop.

Comfort: Perhaps the most significant feature of a commuter bike (and most bikes in general) is its level of comfort. You’re not going to want to ride it very much if it’s not enjoyable to ride. Comfort extends not only to the seat, but also to the design of the handlebar and the type of material used on the grips.

Value: A combination of the other criteria, value considers not only how much a commuter bike costs, but also whether it is genuinely worth the sticker price. Spending more for quality and durability once is always preferable to spending less frequently.


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