Best commuter bikes 2022: Decathlon to Brompton

If you’re in the market for one of the best commuter bikes, we salute you. Not only have you declared a hard no to stressful rush-hour public transport, but you’ll also be doing your part to reduce environmentally-unfriendly car fumes while also improving your fitness by bookending your workday with movement. And that’s not to mention the mental clarity boon you’ll feel from getting outside and cycling to and from work.

Although any bike can technically be deemed a ‘commuter bike’ – be it road bike, hybrid bike, gravel bike, electric or other – some types of bike fit the role much better than others. A mountain bike, for example, has been fine-tuned for rough roads and rocky terrain, factoring in different riding positions better suited to off-road cycles than tarmac ones.

All of which makes this sometimes overly specialist area of shopping rather difficult to navigate. So, before you swear public transport off completely, here we take you through everything to look for in a commuter bike, before going into our pick of the best whips out there.

What to consider when buying a commuter bike

The type of commuter bike you choose will depend on a few factors including the type of ground you’re riding on (most likely to be a tarmac road) the gradient of your commute (hopefully pretty flat) your post-ride storage facility and the distance you’re travelling. This being the case, there are various aspects of the bike to take into consideration.

The saddle: A comfortable ride is key, and any cyclist who wants to arrive at the office without a numb derriere when heading out on one of the best commuter bikes should consider their seat of utmost importance. The good thing is that it’s easy to buy and attach a comfortable saddle separately, so if you do have your heart set on a high-quality commuter with an uncomfortable seat, don’t let it completely put you off. Check that the saddle is at a neutral angle, so you’re not sliding forwards or back as you ride, and keep it level or even slightly higher than the handlebars.

The handles: Where racers and long-distance touring bikes tend to favour drop handlebars, commuter bikes tend to come with flat handlebars that are lighter and less awkward on busy roads. If you want to add a basket or rear rack to carry daily essentials with you sans back sweat, flat bars are also the way to go. Wider bars can prove awkward for bike commuting in cities, particularly if you need to get through small spaces, but for hill climbing beginners, can prove very useful.

The frame: Typically made from either steel, carbon or aluminium, the frame of your bike needs to be comfortable and allow for ease of movement. Steel and aluminium frames tend to be a little more resilient, whilst carbon bike frames are lightweight but expensive. Make sure there’s space between your crotch and the top tube, which will either be sloping, or directly horizontal. You should also be able to reach the handlebars with a slight bend in the elbow (your saddle might need to be re-adjusted for this to work).

If storage is limited at home or at work, a folding bike frame could be a low-maintenance space-saving option. Folding alloy frames naturally do cost a little more, but they can be far more practical if you plan to store indoors. You might find you get more use out of your commuter bike at weekends too, with the option to pop it in the boot of your car and drive off somewhere new for a ride.

The gears: If you’re used to riding a bike with a multitude of gears, you might find it odd that some of the best commuter bikes are equipped with just one single, fixed gear (also known as ‘fixies’. The type of commute you have will dictate the number of gear selections you choose from. Flatter rides don’t require many gears, so a fixed gear should usually suffice, whilst a hillier ride might call for a greater range.

The tyres: The right tyres for you will often depend on the terrain and weather conditions of your commute. For wetter, rougher rides and regular potholes, a wider tyre can prove more convenient, while smoother, dry rides can get away with slimmer, smoother tyres. If you’re switching between terrains, wide tyres can be useful as they offer greater stability (and likely fewer punctures!).

Your engine: On top of all the above, your fitness levels might come into play when choosing from the best commuter bikes. Not everyone fancies a backbreaking journey to and from work, so opting for a hybrid bike that boasts push and electric, or a fully electric commuter bike could be a good option for five-day-a-week commutes. However, expect to fork out a lot more for the easier cycle.

What commuter bike accessories are worth consideration?

Selecting the right added extras for your commuter bike can immeasurably improve your ride. Here are some essentials to consider:

Helmet: Safety first, always, and wearing a helmet will ensure that if you are embroiled in an accident, your head will suffer as little impact as possible. Opting for a lighter weight helmet for regular commutes is probably wise as you’ll need to transport it in, around the office, and with you to any extracurriculars. That, and no cyclist wants to feel the weight of the world on their head as they ride.

Bell: Make yourself heard among traffic and pedestrians with a trusty bike bell. It’s worth testing your bell before you buy – there’ are actually a greater array of bike bells for sale than one might think, and shopping for the right look and sound is no easy feat. Consider things like pitch and volume. If your commute takes you through thick traffic, you’ll be needing a louder bell to ensure you’re heard.

Seat cover: If you don’t want to mess with your bike’s original seat, a saddle cover can amplify its comfort on lengthy journeys. Plus, a waterproof cover can be useful to protect your saddle from the elements and ensure you’re not starting your ride with a soggy bottom. Invest a touch more and a memory foam cover can offer support whilst moulding to the contours of your butt, whilst a gel cover is slightly softer. Just be sure the cover you choose is well suited to the shape of your saddle.

Basket: A basket won’t be to everyone’s taste, but when using your bike for commuting, a basket could be the most practical accessory that you invest in. Most commuter bikes boast handlebars that allow you to easily attach a basket, but you’ll need to ensure your bicycle has the correct fixtures at the back if you plan on attaching a rear luggage rack for roomier pannier bag.

Bike lock: An essential accessory for your commute, especially if you’re riding to a workplace lacking in bike storage facilities; choosing a reliable bike lock is pivotal should you want to have a bike to cycle home on at the end of the day. Cheap out with a flimsy cable lock and you’ll likely end up with something that can easily be cut with a simple set of bolt cutters. Opting for a tougher D-lock, though more expensive, is a much safer option.

What are the best commuter bikes to buy?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *