Updated: June 13, 2019
Transportation seems to be constantly evolving right now. With the onset of ride-sharing services and autonomous vehicles, it feels like technology is changing the way we commute. However, there’s also a big shift back toward a classic means of travel - cycling.
In recent years, the number of people who said they commute by bike increased by 64 percent. And cities are taking notice. Big cities are rethinking the way roads are architected by designating more road space for bike lanes. As traffic problems in big cities worsen, biking gets more and more appealing. Commuting by bike isn’t just for big cities either - those in small towns may not feel the same traffic pains as big city dwellers, but they reap almost all the other benefits of cycling.
Benefits of Commuting by Bike
It’s Healthy - Traditional biking is a great form of exercise, and by adding it to your commuting routine you’re guaranteeing yourself some regular physical activity. Just a five-mile commute can add 30 minutes of exercise to your day, and anywhere from 150 to 400 calories burned.
Skip Traffic - Dealing with traffic is one of the worst parts of commuting to work or anywhere else. It’s frustrating, wastes time and fuel, and causes wear and tear on your vehicle. Biking offers a much more pleasurable commute, without the traffic.
The Environment - Cycling is a completely green mode of transportation, and doesn’t give off the emissions a car does. Studies have shown that higher adoption of cycling in cities could cut worldwide carbon emissions by 11 percent.
Save Money - The average American spends between $1,400 and $2,000 per year on fuel. By choosing to commute by bike, you skip all the costs of fuel, as well as reduce the maintenance costs you’ll need to put into your car.
Happiness - None of us enjoy sitting in traffic in our car every day. Cycling is an activity that’s nostalgic and enjoyable at any age. Plus, studies have shown that being outside in nature has a host of benefits, including reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Things to Consider Before Purchasing
How you’ll use the bike - Are you strictly a city commuter looking for transportation back and forth to work? Maybe you want to run some errands by bike, in which case you’ll want to think about storage options. If you plan to use your bike for serious exercise, high-end features may matter to you.
Traditional bike or e-bike - With a traditional bike, you get the obvious exercise benefits that cycling is known for. However, e-bikes have risen in popularity in recent years and are great options if you’re looking strictly for commuting efficiency. E-bikes come in all kinds, some of which simply offer pedal-assist, requiring you to pedal for it to provide power.
Your budget - Overall, bikes stay true to the adage of you get what you pay for. Generally speaking, higher cost bikes will have more performance and comfortability features and components. That said, it’s important to think about which ones matter to you most and which ones you can do without. This guide will also help you get more bang for your buck on features that matter.
Which features matter - This ultimately comes down to personal preference, but there are a few things to consider. If you’re looking for strictly a city bike, you may want fewer gears than you would if you were also using the bike on trails or other unpaved surfaces. If light weight is a priority for you, you’ll want to take a look frame materials. For those who want maximum power output and efficiency, the gears and other components may be most important.
Best Commuting Bikes of 2019
Fortified Theft-Resistant City Commuter
Well-built, theft-resistant and worry-free
Best Overall Value
Fortified’s Commuter bike is our top value choice for commuter bikes because it’s well-built, hassle-free and offers nice touches that separate it from other road bikes out there. It’s simple and sturdy, with eight different speeds, which is perfect for a city rider who doesn’t want the maintenance of frequent tune-ups. The eight gears are just enough to give you the freedom to shift on uphill climbs and downhills with ease and efficiency.
One of the unique features of this bike is its theft-resistant features. Fortified includes custom security bolts on this bike, which don’t make it impossible to steal - just more difficult than most of the other bikes out there. Any thief would need tools to unscrew your wheels, seat or handlebars, which is enough of a deterrent for most.
Owners of the Fortified City Bike love how sturdy the bike feels, the peace of mind of puncture-resistant tires and the top-notch customer service provided. Plus, you’ll get free professional installation through a bike shop in your area.
Raleigh Cadent 2
Part commuter, part exercise bike with flexibility, features and simplicity
BEST COMMUTER UNDER $500
The Raleigh Cadent 2 calls itself a fitness bike, and it definitely can serve that purpose, but it’s also a great bike for city commuting and flexibility. It’s a lightweight bike with quality components like disc brakes and Shimano shifters and gears.
We like that this bike comes with tires that are wider than standard road tires. It’s part of the bike’s appeal as a fitness/commuter hybrid, but it makes it much easier to hop a curb or navigate potholes. The Cadent 2 also offers rack and fender mounts so you can customize it your way and carry groceries or things for work.
The Cadent 2 will surprise you with how nicely it rides and shifts for the price point. It doubles as a solid exercise bike without breaking the bank and with the lime green color, you’ll never struggle to pick it out in the bike rack. If you’re just getting started biking or are on a budget, you can’t go wrong with the Cadent 2.
Tommaso Imola Endurance
High-end components with a mid-level price tag
BEST MID-LEVEL COMMUTER BIKE
The Tommaso Imola Endurance is a great entry bike for those on a budget or just looking to get started commuting by bike. This bike packs a punch for its price point, with 100 percent Shimano gears, including the new Claris Groupset, which includes newly designed shifters, derailleurs, crank and brakes. The Shimano Claris R2000 this bike utilizes covers the little details that are usually hard to find at this price point. The shifting is smooth and the crankset is covered and protected.
The aluminum frame on the Imola is nice and light - this bike weighs in at about only 25 pounds. This makes it convenient to maneuver, or carry in and out of an apartment if you don’t have secure parking. The frame also offers a lot of customization options, with mounts all over so you can fit your bike with whatever you need, from fenders to storage racks and other accessories.
A couple of other advantages to the Imola are its easy assembly (although you’ll need a tune up shortly after breaking it in) and it’s designed in Italy but made in the U.S.
Sava Herd6.0 Carbon Road Bike
A full carbon fiber performance bike with all the details covered
best high-end commuter
Sava may be a lesser-known brand, but they delivered a great performance bike with the Herd6.0. It’s a carbon fiber bike through and through, with its frame, seat post and even wheel set made of the lightweight performance material. Many carbon bikes will opt for aluminum in the wheels to cut corners, but not the Herd6.0.
This bike is extremely stiff, in the good way that allows you to manipulate it to do exactly what you want it to. With high-end Shimano 7000 series components, it’s also a technically impressive bike. The derailleur is built for maximum efficiency and power output, while the double v brakes give you complete stopping control.
Along with the top-to-bottom carbon materials, this bike covers the little details that a serious biker (or serious gearhead) will appreciate. The design is optimized for optimal airflow and minimal resistance, including fully internal cables. The added bonus of easy assembly and being fully tuned out of the box makes this bike an amazing bike you’ll love from day one and never grow out of.
Best E-Bike Commuters
SwagCycle EB-5 Pro
An affordable, easy to transport e-bike that’s fun for all ages
Best Value E-Bike
The SwagCycle EB-5 Pro is a very affordable option that will completely change the way you commute short distances. This bike includes a 250-watt motor and tops out at about 15 mph and takes you about 15 miles per charge - pretty impressive stats for an e-bike at this price range.
It’s portable and compact when folded, coming in at about two feet at its longest side. It’s only 37 pounds, which makes it completely doable to carry it on a train, bus or even up the apartment stairs. The bike also offers an option to pedal instead of utilizing the battery power and includes an adjustable seat. This makes it a great option for a family or friends to share.
You won’t find a reliable e-bike with impressive features at a better price point than the EB-5 Pro.
Story Electric Bike
A feature-packed e-bike with a classic look
Best Hybrid E-Bike
Let’s face it: most e-bikes aren’t the most visually pleasing things on the road. They stand out and look a bit out of place, but not Story’s Electric Bike. It hangs on to the iconic cruiser style design with is e-bike, taking special care to hide the battery so this bike looks like a classic more than a gadget.
This bike isn’t all visual design - it’s packed with features. The 350-watt motor will travel up to 45 miles and reaches a top speed of about 20 miles per hour. It has an LCD screen between the handlebars and a USB port to charge your phone, which comes in handy when you need to use maps or take a call. There’s also storage mounts and fenders already on it - making it ready for your daily commute.
Story included six levels of pedal assist on this bike, making it a fairly seamless and customizable experience. Many other e-bikes offer only one or two pedal-assist options, which leads to a clunky and awkward experience. The Shimano 7-speed gears help finish off the seamless hybrid experience.
|Raleigh Cadent 2||Aluminum||26.8 lbs.||21-speed||N/A||$499|
|Tommaso Imola||Aluminum||25 lbs.||24-speed||N/A||$599|
|Sava Herd6.0||Carbon Fiber||18.3 lbs.||22- speed||N/A||$1,499|
|SwagCycle EB-5 Pro||Aluminum||37 lbs.||1-speed||250W||$419|
|Story Electric Bike||Aluminum||33 lbs.||7-speed||350W||$1,850|
Getting Started Commuting
Assembly and tune-up - If you order your bike online, the first thing you’ll want to do is think about assembly. All of the bikes we reviewed here are known for having an easy assembly, but you may also choose to take it to a local shop for assembly. If you’re fairly comfortable assembling, we recommend doing it at home, riding the bike for a week or two, then bring it in for a tune-up. By then, you’ll need your brakes tightened, chain checked and you’ll have a good feel for the bike.
Scope out your commute - If you’re biking to and from work, you’ll want to do some research before hopping on the saddle Monday morning. You should use your maps app to research your route and do a trial run if possible. It may take some trial and error to find the right blend of bike-friendly streets and an efficient, timely route.
Think about your gear - While biking is a fairly simple activity, there’s some gear that’s critical and some that will just make things easier for you. A helmet is an obvious must, but you may also want to think about lights, storage panniers, a repair kit and clothes for rain. You can read more about gear for biking to work on our guide page.
Consider safety - Aside from safety equipment, you’ll also want to consider the rules of the road and how you can be safer while commuting by bike. Make sure you always bike in the same direction as traffic and seek out bike lanes whenever possible. You should also familiarize yourself with the hand signals for turning so nearby drivers can see where you’re headed.