Traveling by bike is one of the best, quickest, and most rewarding ways of getting to work or school. If you’re considering commuting for the first time, here are some tips that will make your journey a little easier.
Get a bike that suits your journey. It seems obvious, but buying a racing road bike to commute over gravel or cobblestones is not a great idea, nor is buying a fat-tired mountain bike if you need to ride an hour each way morning and night. For longer rides on smooth roads you’ll need a lighter bike with narrow or semi-narrow tires. If you ride on flat roads a single-speed bike will probably suit you fine, but if you’re tackling steep hills you’ll need some gears. So plan your typical ride, then get a bike that suits the route.
If you work in a casual environment where jeans and a t-shirt are the norm, you can probably just ride in your work clothes. But if your workplace is more traditional, you may need to consider panniers, saddle bags, or at the very least a backpack to take a change of clothes with you. The same goes for wet-weather gear – depending on where you live, you may need to plan to carry that with you too.
On that note, a set of mudguards / fenders might be a good investment for your commuter. They may not look the coolest, but they’re cheap and they’ll save you from having that telltale wet, muddy stripe up your backside when you arrive at the office.
So, if you’ve figured out roughly the type of bike that might be suitable, check out our list of favorites.
The Wythe, named for the street in Brooklyn, features a robust 4130 CroMoly frame and fork, bolt-on hubs, and puncture resistant tires standard. The rear hub is a flip-flop design, meaning you can simply reverse it to swap between riding the bike as a single-speed freewheel or a fixed-gear. This rather elegant workhorse has a limited color selection — matte black is your only choice — but will keep on keeping on regardless of the abuse it suffers out on the roads. At BikeRoar, it’s our number one choice as a commuter bike.
This agile, funky commuter is designed to take the everyday hits that city life throws at a bike. Hooligan 1's tough, plainwrap drab aluminum frame is small and light enough to carry up the stairs and into the office, and the 20” wheels are small enough to offer awesome acceleration should it be required. The trademark Cannondale “lefty” single fork and the extra-long headstem and seatpost make this bike stand out from the crowd.
Made for traversing the roads you thought a road bike doesn’t really belong on, the Diverge A1's big tire clearance, premium aluminum frame, carbon fork, and Shimano drivetrain will clock up miles with confident stability and handling. It offers that rare combination of speed and durability, and is fast enough to double as a recreational weekend bike.
This British-built classic offers a beautiful upright riding position, a choice of 5 or 8 internal hub gears, and traditional style mudguards to keep you clean on your ride. The Roadster's brakes are also internal hub-style, keeping them dry and maintenance-free. A classic front headlamp, complete with battery-free dynamo, lights your way on dark mornings while a more modern hi-visibility rear LED light keeps you safe from behind. To finish off the vintage feel of the bike, it comes with a big, loud, quaint old-fashioned bell on the handlebars. There are faster bikes around, but if you’re not in race / hurry mode, the Roadster is a wonderful commuter bike.
If you’re looking for a trusty general-purpose bike that doesn't cost the Earth, then the Fairfax SC2 is worth a second look. Designed and built in Marin County, Northern California, this hardy commuter offers a strong steel frame and a single chainring/ 8-speed internal hub gear combination. It may not be glamourous, but this purpose-built commuter offers great value and reliability.
Folding bikes are becoming more popular as commuters opt for the public transport/ ride to work double whammy. These clever machines can be ridden to the train station or bus stop, folded up, carried on board, then unfolded to ride the rest of the way after disembarking. They range enormously in price and quality – here’s a couple that caught our eye
The world’s largest manufacturer of folding bikes, Dahon has an enormous range to choose from. While it may be toward the bottom end of the product line, the Vitesse i7 represents great value for money coupled with a solid design and excellent components. The bike folds in the centre, with a large pin-anchored hinge in the middle of the frame bringing the front wheel round to the rear, and the handlebars then folding down. Bonus features include seven-speed Shimano Nexus internal hub gearing, full chain guard, and mudguards.
The Montague Urban is a tough, full-size folding bike. It has full-size 700c wheels and can fold without any breaks in the frame's tubing, which it does by swivelling around the seat tube; it doesn't require the handlebars to fold down, either.
Bonus features include 3 x 7-speed Shimano Tiagra gearing and a RackStand rack system — it's a luggage carrier, rear mudguard, kickstand, and workstand all in one.
Unlike most e-bikes on the market, GTech didn’t start off as a bike manufacturer who then added an electric motor. They did it the other way, making their name building electric motors for vacuum cleaners and air conditioners before branching out into the bike world. The GTech Sport is a simple, modern-looking bike and they offer a 14 day trial with free delivery, free assembly, and free returns. The Gtech Sport e-bike comes with a regular-looking diamond-shaped frame and standard 29-inch road wheels, or in a City model with a dropped top tube and 26" wheels for easy step-through access. The own-brand battery is cleverly disguised as a water bottle and adjusts the power to give you a boost when you need it, rather than delivering a constant uncontrollable power stream. The belt-drive and 3-speed internal gears are a nice low-maintenance touch, and it has the overall look of a “real” bike rather than an e-bike.