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- High-quality commuter bikes are comfortable to ride, react quickly to obstacles in your path, and handle a broad array of weather and road conditions.
- The Brooklyn Bicycle Co. Franklin 3 is our top pick because it has an attractive upright design good for visibility and comfort, features high-quality parts, and is available in several styles.
Working from home, I miss having the opportunity to commute to a job. Depending on the weather, I would either roller skate or bike the 13-mile commute each day. Sure, it might take a little longer than driving, but I started the day on a positive, energetic note and was in the best shape of my life.
More cities are now encouraging their residents to commute by bike, creating bike-only lanes in urban areas. Therefore, now is the best time to use a bike to get to and from work, school, or just about anywhere.
The most important consideration when buying a commuter bike is comfort. If riding a bicycle isn't enjoyable, then you're never going to keep at it. Fortunately, when you purchase a bike online, the retailer will often work with your local bike shop to assemble the bike and provide the necessary final tweaks to ensure the fit is right for your body.
When purchasing online, you may have the option of assembling the bike on your own. In my experience, it's worth the extra money to have a professional do it. The experts have the right tools, plenty of experience, and will likely finish the job in a fraction of the time it would take you.
We chose to focus on affordable entry-level bicycles so all of the options in this guide are non-electric and cost under $700. If you are looking to spend more, we recommend considering an electric bicycle, or e-bike. With e-bikes, you can get as much or as little help as you want on your commute. This is especially helpful when you have killer hills on your route and you just want to get home after an exhausting day. Don't be confused: An e-bike provides powered assistance, but you still need to peddle.
While researching the best commuter bikes, we examined dozens of reviews and ratings of countless brands from experts and buyers. Our guide features bikes that have a track record of durability, comfort, and minimal maintenance demands.
Here are the best commuter bikes you can buy:
- Best commuter bike overall: Brooklyn Bicycle Co. Franklin 3
- Best high-end commuter bike: Co-op Cycles CTY 2.1 Bike
- Best bike for longer commutes: Mongoose Men's Elroy Adventure Bike 700C Wheel Bicycle
- Best commuter bike under $200: Schwinn Wayfarer Hybrid Bike
- Best full-featured commuter bike: State Bicycle Deluxe 3 Speed City Bike
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.
The best commuter bike overall
Why you'll love it: If you are looking for a comfortable, attractive commuter bike that comes fully assembled, theBrooklyn Bicycle Co. Franklin 3is a smart solution that will last you for years to come.
Brooklyn Bicycle Co. focuses on building bikes that are designed for durability, comfort, and style. This focus is apparent in the Franklin 3. The step-through frame makes mounting your bike effortless regardless of what you're wearing, and it's made of lightweight steel so you can easily carry the approximately 33-pound bike up and down stairs. The rear hub and shifter are made by Shimano, one of the top names in the industry. And, the bike comes with puncture-resistant tires. Both the saddle and grips are made of vegan leather for maximum comfort.
The Franklin 3 is a three-speed bike, but there are also single-speed and seven-speed options. The bike comes in small/medium or large. And, it's available in five colors: ivory, matte coral, gloss black, sea glass, and cardinal red. If you'd prefer a top tube that is closer to parallel with the ground rather than the step-through frame, check out the Bedford 3.
New York Magazine recommends the Franklin 3 because it hides the gears within the hub so you still get the single-speed look. The reviewer also noted that it's easy to maintain and operate since the chain doesn't move when switching gears.
Industry Outsider recommends the Franklin 3 and the Bedford 3. The reviewer notes that the two bikes share a lot of similarities, including the frame material and drivetrain. He liked that the Franklin 3 came with fenders, a durable chain made by KMC, a chainguard, and a sealed bottom bracket. The fender keeps water and mud from flying up onto you, and the other features will help with long-term durability.
A Business Insider colleague tested and recommends the Bedford 3. He appreciated how painless it was buying the bike online and picking it up fully assembled.
About 97% of the customer reviews on the Brooklyn Bicycle Co. site give the Franklin 5 stars. Monique submitted one of the most helpful reviews. She was thrilled with the Franklin because the step-through crossbar made mounting the bike easy with her bad leg. She also found the bike so comfortable and enjoyable that she felt like a kid again riding it. Other buyers were impressed with how quick and hassle-free the ordering and pick-up processes were. And, there are several comments about the bike's attractive appearance.
Pros: Assembly is included in the price, beautiful design, durable construction, comfortable to ride
Cons: Only three speeds
The best high-end commuter bike
Why you'll love it: The Co-op Cycles CTY 2.1 offers a smooth ride, excellent maneuverability, and is light enough to store in your walk-up apartment.
After a hiatus from the bicycle space, REI launched Co-op Cycles in 2017 with the goal of providing fun and freedom on two wheels. As the name suggests, the CTY 2.1 is specifically designed to be used in the city. Several of the parts come from top names in the industry. The crankset, shifters, derailleurs, rear cogs, hydraulic disc brakes, and brake levers are Shimano. The hubs are Joytech. And, the chain is KMC Z8.
The suspension fork features a locking mechanism so you aren't bouncing around while riding on smooth surfaces. And, there's 360-degree reflectivity to keep you visible both day and night, though you'll still want lights.
This is the main bike I use for fitness and when tooling around town. From the moment I picked it up to test, I was blown away by REI's customer service. I had to drive about an hour away to get to the closest store, and they were insistent on making sure it fit me correctly. The CTY 2.1 is incredibly responsive. On one ride, the brakes reacted quickly, saving me from crashing into a car that pulled out of a drive without looking. And, I have no problem handling the windy trails in my city. The biggest negative for me is that the pedal reflectors fell off after 400 miles.
Bicycle Guider recommends the CTY 2.1 as the "best bike for commuting in urban areas." The reviewer found the seat to be quite comfortable and noted that he could accelerate quickly from a standstill - a must when you have several traffic lights along your commute. One negative he mentions is that he had a hard time finding fenders and kickstands that matched the bike.
There are 11 reviews of the CTY 2.1 on REI.com, and all of them are 4 or 5 stars. The most helpful reviewer tested a variety of bikes from competitors before choosing the CTY because of its shifting, startup speed, comfort, and overall ride. He also noted that the staff at REI were incredibly helpful in his bike search. Others also mentioned how comfortable it rides. Common positives include that the brakes provide strong stopping power and it's a great entry-level bike for adults. One buyer even recommended it for people who want to "rip some fat dank wheelies."
As our high-end pick, it is the most expensive option on our list.
Pros: Comfortable seat, easy for novices to operate, locking front suspension fork, excellent customer service