12 Best Commuter Bikes in 2018
Gas prices are high; global warming is a concern for many, and traffic is gridlocked in major cities. There’s an ever-increasing amount of people, and the roads can only hold so many cars at once. That’s why a large percent of the population is switching to bikes as their daily form of transportation.
Commuting by bike to work is not only a healthy way to start the day, but it also allows riders to avoid stop and go traffic and sometimes even get to work faster if you know the right shortcuts.
What constitutes a bike as commuter-friendly depends on what your commute looks like, but there are key features to look for. So, we have comprised a list of what we feel are the best commuter bikes on the market.
Top 12 Commuter Bikes Ultimate Table
A Frame Built to Last
If you plan to ride your bike almost every day, you need something that’s going to withstand heavy use and lots of abuse. Jumping curbs, potholes, and crowded bike racks all take a toll on your bicycle, which makes choosing a ride that can take a beating all the more important. The frame is what takes a majority of the abuse, and therefore materials matter when looking at the best bike for commuting.
- Steel – Steel is strong. So strong that people are still riding around on steel-framed bikes from the 60’s and 70’s. Though it’s a heavier material, steel is long lasting and tends to bend before breaking. This trait could save you from catastrophic failures that many unfortunate people have experienced with aluminum and carbon fiber bikes.
- Aluminum – Manufacturers have come a long way with the development of aluminum tubing. So far, in fact, that modern day aluminum frames are comparable in weight and stiffness to carbon fiber. However, that light and stiff frame picks up more road vibration than a steel bicycle, so supple tires and a good saddle are upgrades worth considering.
Nothing should be tailored to your route more than the drivetrain. A bicycle’s drivetrain includes the gears and shifting system. The more gears you have, the more hills and terrain you can cover comfortably. The fewer gears you have, the easier it is to maintain your bike and keep it running smoothly.
- Single Speed and Fixed Gear – Many riders are choosing a single speed gear option for their commutes. They’re easy to maintain and take all the thinking out of riding so that you can enjoy your commute. Many bikes come with a flip-flop hub that allows you to switch between single speed for coasting abilities and fixed gear for a harder workout.
Fixed gear bikes work much like a big wheel from your early childhood. If the wheels are moving, the pedals are too. To slow down, you have to apply pressure in the opposite direction or lock your legs up to stop the pedals. There is no coasting, so they can be tricky to get used to, but feeling like you are part of the bicycle is a lively experience.
- One-By Drivetrain – With one gear in the front and a collection of 6-9 gears in the back, one-by systems are a great option for commuting. Having a handful of gears to choose from makes it easy to take on most hills and rough terrain. In addition, only having one gear in the front significantly reduces maintenance and mechanical failures compared to a 21+ speed system.
- 21+ Speed Drivetrain – Having a wide range of gears to choose from makes it easy to ride virtually anywhere. However, all those moving parts create a lot more maintenance to keep your ride shifting smoothly.
More important than how fast you go is how easily you can stop. Commuting through town can present a lot of hairy situations, so having a bike that stops quickly and effectively can be a literal lifesaver.
- Pull Brakes – Pull brakes are mounted directly to the frame on both sides of the wheel and use a cable to pull the two brake arms close together, applying stopping power to the rim. They aren’t the strongest system out there, but when adjusted properly they stop you safely.
- Caliper Brakes – Caliper brakes are similar to pull brakes. They mount to the frame above the wheel and use a cable to pull the two sides of the caliper closer together, apply pressure to the rim. The system works a fraction more effectively than pull brakes because the cable doesn’t have to work as hard to pull the brake pads to the rim, allowing riders to apply more stopping power effectively.
- Disc Brakes – Disc brakes use a rotor attached at the hub of the wheel to create stopping power. A caliper mounted to the frame near the wheels attachment point grabs the rotor to slow. This system not only works amazingly well, but brake wear affects the rotor and not the rim of your wheel, which is cheaper to replace. Heavy braking is applied smoothly, and no stopping power is lost in wet conditions.
Two wheels, a frame, and gears will get you moving, but there are some key accessories that can make your life much easier.
If you plan to ride year round fenders are important. There’s nothing worse than showing up to work soaking wet. Fenders prevent tire spray and dirt from getting to you, making the rain much more enjoyable.
If you have a long commute or a lot to carry along the way, a rack should be a top priority. With a rack, you can attach waterproof bags that keep your gear dry and hold any clothing, electronics, or food you need for the day.
Lastly, it is important to think about bike paths and poorly lit roads. While it’s nice to stray away from the main roads, car free areas can present certain dangers. Consider adding a bell and lights to make your presence known for unsuspecting cars and foot traffic.
Top 5 Best Commuter Bike Reviews
The EVRYjourney isn’t about speed. It’s focused on comfort, and for some people that is exactly what they want in a commuter.
Sixthreezero graced this steed with a rack and fenders to get you to work cleanly and comfortably. All these features add weight, making this one of the heaviest bikes on the list, but if you embrace its tank-like ride quality you may find that you can take it just about anywhere, just like the Haanjo.
A 7 Speed Shimano system makes the rough routes possible. However, with a generic pull brake system, you’ll find you can’t slow down as quickly.
The Cadent is nimble and lightweight. If you have a long commute or multiple hills to tackle this bike shouldn’t be overlooked.
A Shimano 21 Speed drivetrain gives riders more than enough gearing to go anywhere, and quickly.
The lightweight aluminum frame, narrower tires, and gear selection make this one of the fastest bikes on our list. Even with some aftermarket fenders and racks attached you can get home quickly before dinner gets cold.
We wouldn’t change much about this bike for the fit commuter looking to drop a few minutes off their commute time. If there is one thing we could nitpick about it would be the pull brakes. They work fine, but many who would be drawn to this bike likely plan to ride it year round and in the rain.
The upgraded versions of the Cadent include disc brakes, but at a heftier price. The Cadent 1 is a great value and covers the basic needs of commuters exceptionally well.
Not into the sporty look, but don’t want a heavy cruiser either? Look no further than the Pure City Classic.
This classy build has commuting in style down to a science. Custom fenders, a rack, and chainguard keep your work clothes clean, and the gumwall tires with matching handlebar grips and saddle will go well with your suit and tie.
Where the Pure City Classic really shines for commuters is with the option of a 3-speed or 8-speed Shimano internal hub drivetrain. By creating a system of gears inside the hub of the rear wheel riders have zero cleaning and maintenance to worry about through the winter.
However, if the internal hub does start to falter over time, a trip to the bike shop is almost certain, as they are difficult to work on.
There are single speed bikes, and then there’s the Merax. If the hand built frame with curved seat tubing doesn’t catch your eye, maybe the fact that it has a front disc brake will.
The Merax comes with a flip-flop hub to allow riders to choose between fixed or single speed gearing. With either set-up, a disc brake in the front is a huge advantage.
By having a disc brake in the front, you are keeping a majority of your stopping power with only one brake. As long as you don’t grab the brake too harshly and fly over the handlebars, a front brake provides a majority of the stopping on a bike anyways.
If you have it set up with fixed gearing, you will also have your legs to stop the back tire.
A unique and classy steel frame coupled with powerful braking makes the Merax the best single speed option on the list, hands down.
If you know you want a commuter bike, but you aren’t sure exactly what your route will look like or how often you plan to commute, the AMOK V2 may be the perfect bike for you.
Out of the box it comes as a single speed that is ready to hit any terrain. It comes with quality Kenda tires and heavy-duty rims that include sealed-bearing hubs, making cleaning and maintenance much easier if you plan to ride in any weather.
Not only is this Retrospec ride a great value build out of the box, but it comes with frame mounts for just about everything. This bike is truly designed to be whatever you want it to be.
Not sure if you plan to ride in the rain? The AMOK has fender mounts just in case. Can’t decide on how much stuff to bring with you to work? The AMOK has rack mounts if you need to add one. Is your route hillier than you first thought? The AMOK has a derailleur hanger mount so you can add more gearing.