The weather is starting to get nice here in Colorado, and a lot of people are probably thinking about getting on their bikes to commute to work (or at least to the farmer’s market). Whether you’re just getting into cyclocommuting or you’re a seasoned veteran, you’re going to want the best tool for the job. We picked the best commuter bikes of the past couple years:
These five commuter bikes are some of the best out there, and you should be able to find one that fits your budget, no matter what price you’re looking for. They’re quite a bit different from the bikes we chose last year—check those out at the end of the article, too.
Cannondale Contro 3
When you first see this bike, it stands out as a little weird-looking. The frame’s a little different from most of the bikes you’ve probably seen, and the fork is Cannondale’s signature Lefty, which is still baffling to me after seeing it for years. But behind its strange looks and stealth-black paint job, this is a serious commuting bike that’s ready for anything.
It comes standard with a built-in rear rack, front and rear fenders, and a kickstand—all you need to start commuting is a pair of panniers. The Lefty fork saves on weight, which will help if you have a hilly commute, and the hydraulic disc brakes give you confidence even in wet conditions. The 1×10 drivetrain keeps things simple and maintenance to a minimum.
The $1300 price tag is higher than some newcomers to bike commuting might be willing to spend, but when you consider that you’re getting a bike that’s purpose-built for the rigors of commuting, it starts to seem like a great deal.
Diamondback Trace EXC
E-bikes are rather controversial among the road and mountain crowds, but they’ve made quite a splash in the commuting world, and with good cause. The 48-volt electric assist motor on the Trace EXC helps power you through big climbs or gives you a bit more power over the course of a long ride, getting you to work faster, with less work, and (hopefully) without sweating through all of your work clothes.
Beyond the electric motor, the Trace doesn’t pack a whole lot of extra features; you’ll have to provide your own racks and fenders if you want them. But a suspension fork and disc brakes are perfect for commuting over a variety of road types, and the 9-speed drivetrain gives you enough range without getting into more expensive 10- and 11-speed territory.
At $1,999, the Trace EXC isn’t cheap. But if you’re on the fence about bike commuting because of the distance or hills on your commute, it could be the difference between driving and cycling, and that’s worth an incalculable amount!
Diamondback Insight 2 Disc
Another great entry from Diamondback, the Insight 2 Disc will appeal to riders for the exact opposite reason that you might be interested in the Trace EXC: because it’s an affordable, yet capable, entry-level urban bike. The 8-speed drivetrain and rigid fork bring the cost down compared to many of the other options.
Just because it’s affordable doesn’t mean it’s not a good bike, though. Mechanical disc brakes give you good stopping power, and the rack and fender mounts make it easy to turn this simple bike into a commuting machine.
And for $499, you’re not going to find a dedicated commuter for less.
Charge Grater 2
Charge hasn’t made a huge name for itself in the States yet, but you can expect to see more of them on the streets as time goes on. Their urban bikes are built to be simple, easy to maintain, and versatile on the road. The Grater 2’s rigid fork, 2×9 drivetrain, included fenders, and hydraulic disc brakes make this a great commuter, and there aren’t any extraneous extras to drive the price up.
At $760, it’s not the cheapest bike out there, but it’s a great option for someone looking to upgrade or start commuting with something they won’t want to trade in within the first year. And its minimal styling will appeal to urban riders with an understated aesthetic preference.
GT Grade FB Elite
Most commuting bikes are pretty single-minded: they’re good for carrying your gear to work and back home, and that’s about it. They tend to be pretty relaxed in their geometry, they’re not concerned with being lightweight, and they have lots of options for racks and fenders. Not everyone wants their commuter to follow this pattern, though, and for those, there’s the Grade FB Elite.
More of a flat-handle road bike than a strict commuter, this bike from GT will let you get to work quickly with a light load, and will be equally at home on bike paths and roads, and just as good for family rides as fitness training. Looking for a way to store your gear on the road? Toss on a seat collar with rack eyelets or you can rock a messenger bag or backpack to transport all your goodies.
The $639 price puts this solidly below most road bikes, but you won’t be sacrificing much performance.
Last year’s picks for the best commuters are still great bikes, but they might be a bit harder to find. Here are the four we picked for commuting in 2015:
The Gotham sets itself apart from the rest of the commuting field with a carbon belt drive and a NuVinci rear hub. The belt drive is quieter than a chain, doesn’t require lubrication, and won’t be destroyed by water, slush, and grit.
The NuVinci hub provides quiet shifts, a wide range of resistances, and even the ability to shift while you’re standing still. And disc brakes add serious stopping power, even in the rain.
The inclusion of a rear rack, fenders, lights, a kickstand, and a bell make the Gotham a clear choice for the top of the podium when it comes to eco-friendly commuter bikes.
Get yourself a helmet and some panniers to carry your gear, and you’re set to go! While the $1400 price tag may seem crazy to a new bike commuter, the very low amount of maintenance—and the money you’ll save on gas—will pay off.
Breezer Uptown 8
If you’re new to bike commuting, the Uptown is a great option. While it’s not the lightest, the sleekest, or the best looking, this entry from Breezer comes with everything you need to get started on your commute.
Dial in your commuter with a rear rack, front and rear lights (powered by your wheels), fenders, a kickstand, a bell, and a full chainguard to keep your drivetrain from getting destroyed by salt and grime.
It’s not especially cheap at $640, but this price is likely to be feasible for newcomers to bike commuting. The amount of money saved on gas or bus tickets over time will add up, and the chainguard and aluminum frame keep the maintenance needs of the Uptown 8 low.
Interested in a mountain bike? We pick the best bikes each season for our annual roundup.
Novara lands another bike on this list with their folding commuter, the FlyBy. No matter where you’re commuting to, you’ll have plenty of room to store the FlyBy when it’s folded—its 33.5″ x 25.6″ x 13.4″ size means it’ll easily fit in a trunk or a closet. When it’s unfolded, it gives you a full-fledged commuter bike.
The FlyBy’s seven internal gears provide all the gearing options you need without exposing the cogs to the weather, keeping maintenance to a minimum. The chain is protected by a full-length enclosure, further increasing the longevity of the drivetrain.
Best of all the aluminum frame stays stiff, even around the joint, so you’re not losing power to flex. And at $699 REI, it’s quite affordable.
Trek 7.1 FX
Trek‘s FX series are known for being great fitness bikes, but they can also serve as very capable commuters, especially if you don’t need all the bells and whistles of some of the bikes above. The 7.1 FX is an entry-level road hybrid that will get you where you need to go efficiently.
The aluminum frame, 700c wheels, and durable tires included with the bike will keep you rolling. And its $440 price tag won’t break the bank.
Do you commute by bike? Which bike is your favorite, better yet What do you recommend for commuting around town on a bike? Share your thoughts below! Stop the presses, I know this is a bike piece but check out this emergency radio we just reviewed! Frx Eton Weather Radio