The best commuter bikes you can buy

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best commuter bikes

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REI Co-op / Business Insider

  • 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:

Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.


The best commuter bike overall

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Brooklyn Bicycle Co.

Why you’ll love it: If you are looking for a comfortable, attractive commuter bike that comes fully assembled, the Brooklyn Bicycle Co. Franklin 3 is 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

Buy the Franklin 3 from Brooklyn Bicycle Co. for $499.99

Buy the Bedford 3 from Brooklyn Bicycle Co. for $499.99


The best high-end commuter bike

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REI Co-op

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

Cons: Expensive

Buy the Co-op Cycles CTY 2.1 Bike from REI for $699


The best bike for longer commutes

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Amazon

Why you’ll love it: If you are looking for a bike that can take you to and from work during the week while also helping you enjoy the great outdoors on the weekend, the Mongoose Men’s Elroy Adventure Bike 700C Wheel Bicycle is a versatile solution.

What sets the Mongoose Men’s Elroy Adventure Bike 700C Wheel Bicycle apart from the other bikes in our guide is its versatility. As an adventure bike, it works well off-road. Yet, it’s also designed for speed and comfort for longer commutes. The front rack fits multiple panniers so you can easily transport your lunch, laptop, and a change of clothes.

The Elroy features Shimano derailleurs, a 14-speed micro shift and brake combo, a durable steel fork, and sleek alloy frame. In some areas, Amazon will arrange to have an expert assemble the bike for an additional $85. Or, you can take it to your local bike shop if you don’t want to do it yourself.

Biking Tribe recommends the Mongoose Elroy as one of the best touring bikes. The reviewer found the bike was high-performing, sturdy, attractive, and sporty. Specifically, he appreciated that the dynamic driving system enabled a fun and exhilarating ride in every situation. Thrill Appeal recommends this model because of how it handles on gravel.

Approximately 82% of the Amazon reviews of the Mongoose Elroy are positive. Buyers mentioned that the bike does an excellent job on long tours. One reviewer pointed out that the bag is large enough for a day ride, but if you’re doing more than that, you might want to switch it out. Others liked that the frame could support several mounting cages. Several buyers noted that it took some work properly adjusting the disk brakes. I ran into similar issues when assembling the Mongoose Juneau and ended up turning to a professional to finish the job.

Pros: Great for riding on roads and off, integrated frame bag, large front rack, 14 speeds

Cons: Assembly is an additional charge

Buy the Mongoose Men’s Elroy Adventure Bike 700C Wheel Bicycle on Amazon for $385.34 (originally $429.99)


The best commuter bike under $200

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Amazon

Why you’ll love it: The Schwinn Wayfarer Hybrid Bike is a great entry-level alternative if you want to give bicycle commuting a try without spending a lot of money.

For under $200, you get a lot with the Schwinn Wayfarer Hybrid Bike. The bike comes partially assembled and finishing the job is easy enough for a novice, so you may not need to spend extra for expert help. There are both back and front fenders to protect you from the grime the tires might kick up. And, you can carry your work items using the included rear rack. The frame is made of steel and features a cool retro urban style. The spring seat provides a comfortable, upright ride. Schwinn backs the quality of this bike with a lifetime limited warranty.

My Best Road Bikes recommends both the men’s and women’s versions of the Schwinn Wayfarer. The reviewer and his wife tested both and were impressed with how fast these lightweight bikes move. They also appreciated how comfortable, attractive, and durable the bikes are. The reviewer did note that the saddle takes some time to lose its stiffness. Bikes Reviewed, Best City Bikes, Womens Bike Reviews, and Learn About Bicycles also recommend the Wayfarer.

The Schwinn Wayfarer Hybrid Bike has more than 100 4- and 5-star reviews on Amazon. The most helpful reviewer, R. Poole, purchased this bike for his four-mile daily commute. He likes that the fenders and chain guard protect his clothes. Another buyer, who owns nine bikes including a couple that cost more than $3,000, was surprised by the Wayfarer’s quality at such a low price point. Several reviewers note that the bike feels lightweight and that they were able to assemble it without an issue.

Pros: Affordable, relatively easy to assemble, attractive, comes with fenders and rear rack, lifetime limited warranty

Cons: Several of the parts come from no-name manufacturers

Buy the Schwinn Men’s Wayfarer Hybrid Bike on Amazon starting at $177.99

Buy the Schwinn Wayfarer 700c Women’s Hybrid Bike on Amazon starting at $177.99


The best full-featured commuter bike

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Amazon

Why you’ll love it: The State Bicycle Deluxe 3 Speed City Bike comes with everything you need to commute in all types of weather so you don’t have to worry about purchasing extras a la carte.

The State Bicycle Deluxe 3 Speed City Bike comes with a rear rack, front basket with drink holder, fenders, and a chainguard. These features all help get you and your work gear from point A to point B while protecting you from debris and water your tires may kick up. Like our top pick the Franklin 3, this is a Dutch-style bike, which means you ride in a more upright position for greater comfort and visibility.

There are three styles of the City Bike: The Keansburg, The Elliston, and The Rylee. The main differences are the colors, though The Rylee’s frame has a step-through geometry, while The Elliston and The Keansburg have top tubes that are more parallel to the ground.

The website Bicycling tested the State Bicycle Keansburg and recommends it. The reviewer was impressed with how comfortable and enjoyable the bike feels to ride while requiring minimal maintenance. He appreciated the retro look, durable parts used in the construction, and liked that it handled choppy roads well with the wide, grippy tires. He did find the coaster brake felt awkward at first. Gear Patrol and Hi Consumption also recommend this bike for commuting.

There aren’t any reviews of the State Bicycle Deluxe 3 Speed City Bike on Amazon yet, but there are 11 reviews of The Elliston on the State Bicycle Co. website, and all but one – a 3-star review – gave it 4 or 5 stars. The most common positive is that it’s a good, durable bike for its price point. Several buyers mentioned that they get compliments on its appearance. However, others point out that you may want to have a local shop assemble the bike since it presents a challenge to anyone without considerable experience.

Pros: Attractive appearance, comes with all you need to start commuting to work, handles an array of road conditions

Cons: Hard to assemble, complaints about flimsy parts

Buy the State Bicycle Deluxe 3 Speed City Bike (Diamond Frame) on Amazon starting at $568

Buy the State Bicycle Deluxe 3 Speed City Bike (Step-Through Frame) on Amazon for $578.98