Posted in Cycle and tagged commuting, commuter
Guide to buying a commuter cycle to work bike

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 commute and your riding style with a commuting bicycle that falls within your budget.

Why should I use a commuting bike instead of a mountain or road bike?

So why not a high-performance mountain bike or road bike over another style of bike for commuting? 

High-end mountain or road bikes are finely tuned machines built to perform 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 dropper 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

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

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



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

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 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


About the author

Damien Whinnery's picture
Damien Whinnery
Published on: 23 Mar 2018

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