Posted in Cycle
Commuter cycling

With so many different styles of commuter bike on the market, getting the right type for your needs can stump even the most enlightened buyer.

In reality, the choice is simple – all you need to do is match the requirements of your journey and riding style with a bike that falls within your budget.

 

Why shouldn’t I use a mountain or road bike to commute?

High-end mountain or road bikes are finely tuned machines built to perform at the on the edge mechanical capability. Road bikes are geared for speed and made from super light-weight materials, with aerodynamic advantage keeping frames thin and tight. The riding position is often aggressive, designed for the rider’s application of maximum power.

High spec mountain bikes, on the other hand, are robust and built to handle big impacts, with complex gearing for imposing inclines, along with design elements like drop posts and super-aggressive geometries that provide little advantage in the city.

Many road and mountain bikes also lack the facility for commuting-friendly add-ons, such as mudguards and pannier racks, or baskets for your laptop.

They are precision-engineered machines, and while they’ll certainly get you from A to B, it’ll be a bit like using an exhaust-popping, over-engineered rally car for nipping to the shops; it’ll work, but it’s not really the right tool.

Commuter bikes also tend to be significantly cheaper than their sport spec’d sisters, with more comfortable riding positions and requiring less maintenance. 

 

Types of commuter bike

Here’s a breakdown of the different bikes commonly used for commuting:

 

Hybrid (City) bike

Hybrid bikes are so-called because they have incorporated the speed and lightness of road bikes with the comfortable seating position, handlebars, and often the front suspension systems of mountain bikes. This cycling griffin is ideal for extended or mixed-terrain commutes, with the ability to handle roads, fields or trails, and is equally relaxed on big climbs or open straights.

Hybrid bikes often come with triple chain set drive trains, giving you a wide gearing range that will allow cyclists of all abilities to tackle even steep climbs.

  • Range: Long
  • Terrain: Mixed
  • Gradients: Steep inclines or declines
  • Rider ability: Intermediate to experienced

Gravel bike

Although not strictly a commuter bike, gravel bikes - or cyclocross bikes - have become popular as the steed of choice for many commuters. Initially conceived to be thrown around off-road cyclocross stages, their rugged design and ability to handle a huge variety of surfaces make them adept for any commute. Nimble, fast, and tough, a gravel bike is an excellent choice for those facing challenging terrain on their journey to and from the city.

  • Range: Medium to long
  • Terrain: Mixed
  • Gradients: Steep inclines or declines
  • Rider ability: Experienced

Single-speed

Another bike not really designed for the commute but proving popular anyway, the single-speed bike – AKA ‘fixie’ - is an increasingly common sight in cities. With their simplified drive trains needing little to no maintenance, these bikes suit those looking for a hassle-free ride. Their simplified approach has allowed designers to put together pared-back, stylish bikes that appeal to the fashion-forward. They can be difficult to get used to, however, with a fixed rear hub removing the ability to coast – stop pedalling and the rear wheel stops. Some models offer a dual-sided (known as a flip/flop) rear hub, allowing you to switch the wheel around for a freewheeling cog, if that’s your preference.

Some single-speed bikes are designed to be used inside a velodrome at high speeds. These super-light bikes have delicate construction and super-stiff frames and definitely not commuter-friendly.

  • Range: Short to medium
  • Terrain: Road only
  • Gradients: Very flat
  • Rider ability: Beginner

Shop single speed bikes at Wiggle

 

Three-speed

A throw-back approach to gearing styles of old, three-speed bikes have all their gearing mechanisms hosted inside the rear hub. This cuts back on maintenance and removes the external rear derailleur, so damaging your gears on a kerb is no longer something you need to worry about. The set-up offers you one gear for climbing hills, one for general use, and one for speed or downhill riding. Although it lacks the versatility of a fully-geared bike, it’s gearing can get you out of a tight spot if required.

  • Range: Short
  • Terrain: Road only
  • Gradients: Flat, some mild hills
  • Rider ability: Beginner

E-bike

The e-bike has exploded in popularity in recent years, allowing commuters to surge into the cities without breaking a sweat. These rider-assisting machines provide battery power in addition to your own cycling chops to get you to your destination faster or tackle climbs that had formerly made your morning commute a nightmare.

E-bike motors can be attached to many different style of bike frame, from mountain bikes to comfort bikes. 

  • Range: Medium to long
  • Terrain: Depends on the frame
  • Gradients: Steep inclines or declines
  • Rider ability: Depends on the frame

Folding bike

While lacking the iconic geometry of the classic bike, folding bikes have nevertheless established themselves as a worthy member of the bike family due to their stubborn reliability and portability.

Especially useful for commuters taking public transport for part of their commute, or without a bike parking facility at work, these collapsible cycles offer single speed or full gearing systems and surprisingly decent performance.

  • Range: Short
  • Terrain: Road
  • Gradients: Flat, some mild hills
  • Rider ability: Beginner

Comfort bikes

Comfort bikes feature a unique geometry that allows you to put your feet flat on the ground when stopped, yet fully extend your leg while pedalling for maximum comfort. Perfect for weekend rolling, or short journeys around the local village, comfort bikes are fun and easy to ride.

  • Range: Short
  • Terrain: Road
  • Gradients: Flat
  • Rider ability: Beginner

Shop comfort bikes at Wiggle

 

Which bike should I go for?

Look at some of the latest commuter bikes at Wiggle. Most commuter bikes – except premium e-bikes - are priced under £1,000, with some available for much less. See below to find the right bike for you.

Best city bikes for under £1,000

Vitus Mach 3 (Metrea - 2018) Urban Bike

Vitus Mach 3 (Metrea - 2018) Urban Bike

Featuring a Shimano Metrea groupset and quality Shimano MT500 hydraulic brakes, this is one of the best urban bikes on the market. 

Kona Dew Plus (2018) Road Bike

Kona Dew Plus (2018) Road Bike Blue 52cm Stock Bike

Alloy disc brake forks, Shimano 3x9 drivetrain, and a tuned and tested build make the Kona Dew Plus an impressive commute contender.

Fuji Absolute 1.7 City Bike

Fuji Absolute 1.7 City Bike

The Fuji Absolute 1.7 City Bike is a fast, stylish, responsive and efficient city bike that features a sports bike geometry. It is perfect for a daily commute, or weekend rides in the countryside.


Best city bikes for under £500

GT Transeo Elite Hybrid Sports Bike

GT Transeo Elite Hybrid Sports Bike Silver L Stock Bi

Featuring SR Suntour NVX-DS HLO 75mm travel, pre-load adjust, hydraulic lockout, disc specific front forks with fender mounts, with a Shimano drive train and rapid fire shifters, this is an incredibly well spec'd out machine that can handle anything your commute throws at it. 

Best city bikes for under £300

GT Transeo 5.0 Womens (2017) Hybrid Bike

GT Transeo 5.0 Womens (2017) Hybrid Bike

With its lightweight Hyrdoformed alloy frame, 65mm suspension fork, and Shimano Tourney 3X7 drive train, the Transeo has all the bases covered for the city dweller. 

Schwinn Voyageur 2016

Schwinn Voyageur 2016

Schwinn Voyageur 2016

It's step-thru aluminium frame is city-tuned for manoeuvrability among urban twists and turns. The Shimano 21-speed Tourney drivetrain, meanwhile, is the perfect combination of performance and durability, ensuring reliable shifting whatever the conditions.


Best single and three-speed bikes for under £1,000

Charge Plug Grinduro (Single Speed) Adventure Road Bike

Charge Plug Grinduro (Single Speed) Adventure Road Bike

Bike makers Charge have pulled together a limited edition version of their famous Plug model - The Grinduro. It features the classic Plug single-speed frame, hydraulic disc brakes and super wide WTB Nano tyres.

Best single and three-speed bikes for under £500

Chappelli El Toro Single Speed Bike (2017)

Chappelli El Toro Single Speed Bike (2017)

With deep-section wheels, an aluminium frameset, and bull horn bars, the El Toro Single Speed Bike offers a punchy ride through the city.

Chappelli Vintage Three Speed Limited Edition Bike (2017)

Chappelli Vintage Three Speed Limited Edition Bike (2017)

Chappelli's Vintage Three Speed Limited Edition Bike comes with a typical sleek and svelte style, which includes gumwall tyres, vintage cranks, and a curved fork. 

Chappelli Vintage Single Speed Limited Edition Bike (2017)

Chappelli Vintage Single Speed Limited Edition Bike (2017)

Chappelli's stunning single speed Limited Edition bike is beautifully crafted with a CrMo classic style frame and fork matched with a flip/flop rear hub and 28mm gumwall tyres.

Best single and three-speed bikes for under £300

Vitus Vee 29 City Bike

Vitus Bikes Vee 29 City Bike (2018)

The Vee 29 is a smooth-rolling big-wheel commuter with reliable components and Vitus alloy finishing kit, including Promax V-brakesChappelli Modern Single Speed Bike (2017)

Chappelli Modern Single Speed Bike (2017)

Chappelli Modern Single Speed Bike (2017)

Lightweight, strong and stylish, Chappelli's Modern single-speed features straight forks that allow the frame a shorter wheel base to create a responsive ride. The  bike also comes with a flip/flop hub, deep dish rims, and plush 28mm tyres.

Bobbin Rocket (2017) Single Speed Bike

Bobbin Rocket (2017) Single Speed Bike

Pared down, simple, and a lot of fun, the Rocket has signature metallic ombre fade paint on the forks, and comes with a slim steel frame and strong double-wall wheels.


Best folding bike

Dahon MU UNO Belt Drive (2017) Folding Bike

Dahon MU UNO Belt Drive (2017) Folding Bike

This single-speed, belt drive folding bike from Dahon is an all-rounder that is reliable for everyday errands or a quick work commute. 


Best e-bikes

Wilier Magneto (2018) Man E-Bike

Wilier Magneto (2018) Man E-Bike

The Magneto Bike combines the performance of a Wilier road bike with Shimano's reliable Steps electric drivetrain. This comfortable city E-Bike is perfect for your daily commute in all conditions and for exploring country lanes.

Raleigh Pioneer (Crossbar - TransX) Electric Bike

Raleigh Pioneer (Crossbar - TransX) Electric Bike

The Aluminium frame has been designed to be lightweight and feature a comfortable upright riding position with relaxed frame geometry. Equipped with a front hub motor, this fully equipped bicycle features a kickstand, colour matched mudguards and rear pannier rack to make this the perfect commute vehicle.

Best  comfort bikes

Bobbin Hummingbird (2017) Hybrid Bike

Bobbin Hummingbird (2017) Hybrid Bike

Buzzing round town and country lanes, Hummingbird is a smooth blend of crisp commute-friendly components and dreamy Gallic style.

About the author

Damien Whinnery
Published on: 23 Mar 2018

Fascinated by fitness, serious about sport, and joyous about the gym