Our definitive guide to commuter bikes covers everything you need to know before committing to a new set of wheels, including the best bikes for every type of rider and terrain.
The 9 Best Commuter Bikes for Every Kind of Rider
- Best Overall Bike for City Commutes: Priority Continuum Onyx
- Best Upgrade Commuter Bike: Cannondale Treadwell Neo EQ
- Best Commuter Bike Under $500: State Bicycle 4130 The Matte Black
- Best Folding Commuter Bike: Dahon Mariner D8 Brushed
- Best Electric Commuter Bike: Rad Power Bikes RadRover 5
- Most Versatile Commuter Bike: Evil Bikes The Chamois Hagar
- Best Bike for Trail Commutes: Why Cycles Wayward V. 2
- Best Commuter Bike for Hilly Commutes: Hudski Doggler 12 Speed City Hybrid
- Best Classically Styled Commuter Bike: Shinola The Bixby
What Kind of Commuter Bike Do You Need?
Before you go saddling up any old set of wheels, consider a few key factors. If you'll be pedaling ill-maintained or dirt roads, you'll appreciate a relaxed geometry gravel or mountain bike that can run wider tires. If the roads are steep or long, or you deliver kids or pick up groceries, a pedal-assist e-bike may best suit your needs. If you imagine yourself a speed demon bike messenger racing taxis as you sprint between traffic lights, a single-speed or skinny tire drop-bar bike will help you pin it. And if you live in an apartment or work in an office without much storage space, or your road-tripping combines pedaling plus a train or bus, a folding bike can ease your pain. At the end of the day, though, the best bike is the one you can’t wait to ride.
Best Overall Bike for City Commutes
Priority Continuum Onyx
Good luck finding an urban ride as simultaneously user-friendly, safe, stylish and affordable as this one. That first quality owes to features like the Enviolo CVT shifter, which enables smooth, continuous shifting to match every incline and descent, plus the Gates Carbon Belt Drive, which runs smooth for hundreds of miles without a drop of oil (on the bike or your pants). Meanwhile, the safety emerges from dime-quick hydraulic disc brakes and dynamo-powered front and rear lights that come to life when you pedal, so you never have to charge them. The good looks stem from the matte black paint job and internal cable routing for a sleek, uncomplicated profile. Adding all those traits up, the fact that it’s one of the less expensive bikes on this list just seals the deal.
Best Upgrade Commuter Bike
Cannondale Treadwell Neo EQ
The only commuter bike that tells you speed, distance and calories burned as well as when your bike needs a tune-up, the BMX-inspired pedal-assist Neo has every bell and whistle a commuter could want. The front rack holds a briefcase, backpack or groceries, full-coverage fenders add functional bling, and top tube bumpers protect the frame from dents and dings when you lean it and lock it. With the battery concealed in the downtube and the motor hidden in the rear hub, this bike doesn’t scream pedal assist. But turn on the power, choose the level of assist, check your battery charge with Neo’s intuitive controller, and you’re ready to go.
Best Commuter Bike Under $500
State Bicycle 4130 The Matte Black
Dart down side streets and zip through alleys and intersections on the double-butted Chromoly steel single-speed State. This streamlined beauty, now in its sixth iteration, is a customizable classic that’s lost two pounds thanks to State’s new Lo-Pro wheels. The flip-flop hub lets you go from single speed to fixie on a whim. Personalize the bike with bullhorn, drop or riser bars — plus fancy pedals, straps or a Selle Italia seat at additional cost. Six sizes fit riders from 4'10" to 6'6". And at 20 pounds, it’s light enough to throw over your shoulder and carry up a flight or two of stairs.
Best Folding Commuter Bike
Dahon Mariner D8 Brushed
This limited-edition eight-speed origamis open or closed quickly and smoothly when you drop the seat post, compress the telescoping handlebar and release the main latch on the bike’s body. Locked open, the Mariner is an ideal city commuter. It rolls on lightweight 20-inch rims and puncture-resistant Schwalbe Citizen tires, powered by a reliable Shimano drivetrain. It’s 28 pounds, which includes rack, fenders and a strap to secure your load. Folded up, with magnets holding the nose and tail together, it’s just 33 inches long by 12 inches wide by 26 inches tall.
Best Electric Commuter Bike
Rad Power Bikes RadRover 5
Don’t let potholes, traffic or weather force you to drive instead of ride. The RadRover 5 e-fat bike is one of the most stable rides around. The slanted top tube and upright position make it easy to mount and dismount even in professional dress, while front suspension absorbs bumps in the road. Seven speeds, integrated lights and full-coverage fenders are ready to roll in all manner of conditions. The handlebar display tells you battery life in real-time so you won’t run out of juice, and Rad sells a variety of racks and bags for those with extra storage needs.
Most Versatile Commuter Bike
Evil Bikes The Chamois Hagar
Editor's Note [5/18]: Unfortunately, the Evil Bikes Chamois Hagar is out of stock. However, the Why Cycles Wayward V. 2 is similarly capable, outfitted and makes for an outstanding alternative.
The Chamois is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, stealthily sedate until you’re ready to rip off the suit and tie and get rowdy. To build it, Evil’s designers started with fast, stable, low-slung mountain bike geometry, then added a dropped bar — and a dropper post. Thanks to a carbon frame and fork, this bike is solid and speedy when you ride the roads and get to work before your boss. Yet it’s perfectly capable of bisecting a field, chasing down a wooded deer path and jumping a curb or two on the way home. You can tweak it, too: starting with a $2,799 frame, just about every component of the Chamois is customizable.
Best Bike for Trail Commutes
Why Cycles Wayward V. 2
This hardtail 29er can negotiate the roughest roads imaginable en route to work, on a weekend adventure or while you’re scheming your next big trip. Welded from butted titanium with sliding titanium dropouts, the Wayward is customizable, too: it can rock a lockable 120mm suspension fork best suited for baggies and singletrack, or pick up style points (and price) with the rigid titanium Oddity Squid fork. Either way, there’s room for a dropper post and plus-size tires up to 3.0, plus braze-ons galore to carry any style bolt-on bag. Choose your components at checkout, and if you buy online, the bike ships to you in an Evoc travel case.
Best Commuter Bike for Hilly Commutes
Hudski Doggler 12 Speed City Hybrid
Based in the Bay Area, Hudski's founders know a bit about hills — and all three versions of the Doggler (the others target gravel and mountain biking) are optimized to tackle them. An alloy frame and carbon fork keep the bike light and nimble. The 1x12 drivetrain provides a wide range of gears ease punishing climbs. And when it's time to descend, flip that lever on the left handlebar to drop the PNW seatpost and get as low and far back as you like. Wide MTB-style handlebars — which can be cut to your specifications — and numerous mounts accommodate off-road adventures too.
Best Classically Styled Commuter Bike
Shinola The Bixby
Turn heads whether you’re cruising through Central Park or circling the farmer’s market on the timeless, elegant Bixby. The Detroit-built double-butted Chromoly steel frame and fork are nimble and responsive. The copper rail and rivet leather saddle, leather grips and backswept handlebar with a copper bell make it look like a bike your grandad might have ridden. But this three-speeder has modern features, including a smooth-shifting Shimano internal hub, disc brakes, internal cable routing and braze-ons for mounting a rack.
Already Have a Bike? Here's How to Get the Right Fit
Check Your Posture
While there is no substitute for a professional fit, many feelings of discomfort and soreness simply result from improper riding structure. To get a feel for how you should be sitting on your saddle, stand with your feet about as wide apart as they would be when pedaling. Bend your knees slightly and lean forward, keeping your back as straight as possible. You should feel the muscles in your lower back activate, along with those in your core. Sticking to this body position while on the bike will help to take the stress off your vertebrae, which is induced by leaning over and bending your spine. It also helps to keep your chest open, allowing for more efficient oxygen intake.
If possible, try out a number of different saddles. Everyone’s body is shaped differently; what’s most comfortable for Chris Froome probably isn’t what’s most comfortable for you. Comfort is subjective, so the more saddles that you can try, the better. Tanner personally recommends Pro’s Stealth saddle, but it may not work for everyone. Saddles with center cutouts tend to be more comfortable when you’re sitting in the correct position with the correct posture on the bike.
Adjust the Handlebars
As with saddles, it’s best to try out a number of different stem lengths if possible. While sitting with the correct posture, you should be comfortable reaching for the bars without putting too much weight on your hands. If you feel like you’re using too much muscle in your shoulders, or there’s too much weight on your hands, try adjusting your stem up or down using spacers and swapping to a shorter stem.