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Best Commuter Bike For Beginners

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You’re planning to bike commute for the first time, but you don’t know what bike to buy.

There are several types of bikes you can use for commuting, all with unique features, strengths, and weaknesses. Which should you choose?

This article tries to find the best commuter bike for beginners. We review various bikes, including the Co-op Cycles CTY 1.1 Bike in top place. This offers exceptional value with its all-Shimano drivetrain. It’s easy to ride, too.

We tell you what to look for in your first commuter bike, so you can find your perfect solution.

Top Picks:

Top 11 Best Commuter Bikes For Beginners

We’ll now look at a variety of beginner’s commuter bikes that meet various needs.

1. Co-op Cycles CTY 1.1 Bike (best overall)

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  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Groupset(s): Mixed Shimano (24 gears)
  • Weight: 27.8 lbs.

We love the Co-op Cycles CTY 1.1 Bike for the high-quality components you get for the price. It’s built around a lightweight aluminum frame that keeps the bike in the healthy sub-30 lbs. bracket.

This bike is easy to ride for beginners with its sloping top tube, relaxed geometry, and platform pedals. The diagonal top tube is useful for beginner riders, as it’s less likely to cause injury with abrupt stops.

An impressive feature of the bike is the use of Shimano parts throughout the drivetrain. You also get Tektro mechanical disc brakes for powerful stopping.

A downside is the absence of any useful extras like fenders or a rack.

Read more: The best commuter bikes

What We Like

  • Parts – Shimano parts throughout the drivetrain.
  • Brakes – reliable all-weather performance from disc brakes.
  • Lightweight – a respectably lightweight bike.

What We Don’t Like

  • Sparse – you’ll want to add fenders.

2. Trek FX 1 Disc Stagger (best step-through bike)

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  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Groupset(s): Mixed Shimano
  • Weight: 27.74 lbs.

The Trek FX 1 Stagger Hybrid Bike could be described as a women’s bike, but the bike industry is gradually doing away with clichéd classification.

With its step-through frame, this bike is a little less daunting to ride for beginners than being perched above a high horizontal top tube.

The FX 1 Stagger provides a nice range of Shimano gears with an easy lowest gear for getting up hills. Tektro mechanical disc brakes bring the bike to a timely, assured halt.

This is another bike that comes without a rack or fenders, but the built-in mounts make it easy to add what you need. Internal cable routing contributes to a stylish, clean look.

What We Like

  • Step-through – great for quick & easy mounts and dismounts.
  • Gears – nice range with the lowest gear below 1:1 for easy climbing.
  • Disc – Tektro mechanical disc brakes for powerful stopping.

What We Don’t Like

  • No extras – fenders would be useful for commuting.

3. Marin Four Corners Touring Bike (best road bike)

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  • Frame Material: Chromoly steel
  • Groupset(s): Shimano Sora (27 gears)
  • Weight: 28 lbs. (Approx.)

In our road bike category, we wanted a comfort level that might appeal to beginners, and that’s what the Marin Four Corners Touring Bike offers. Unlike many speedy road bikes, this is a bike designed to carry panniers.

Because of its chromoly steel construction, this Marin bike is strong and compliant. The bike absorbs a lot of bumps from the road or trail.

For the mid-range price, you get an excellent Shimano Sora drivetrain and shifters. Gears go from pretty hard and fast to super easy for climbing.

If there are downsides: this is heavier than a purebred road bike and not as fast on smooth surfaces.

What We Like

  • Touring – touring bike specification is ideal for commuting.
  • Chromoly steel – extreme comfort and strength.
  • Sora – smooth Shimano Sora drivetrain components.

What We Don’t Like

  • Mounts only – you’ll need to add a rack or fenders if needed.

4. 6KU Urban Track Fixed Gear Bicycle (best for low maintenance)

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  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Groupset(s): Single gear.
  • Weight: 21 lbs.

If possible, it’s nice if a beginner can avoid technical problems or too much maintenance in the first year or two. That’s one benefit of a single-speed bike like the 6KU Urban Track Fixed Gear Bicycle.

Single-speed bikes are also cheaper and lighter owing to the absence of any gear system. Like many such bikes, this one can be ridden as a “fixie” or a normal one-speed bike. The latter mode is advisable for beginners.

A downside to this type of bike is that you have little control over your pedaling cadence. Pedaling faster always means pedaling harder in this case.

What We Like

  • Simplicity – clean looking and functional.
  • Low-maintenance – no derailleur system to maintain.
  • Lightweight – almost as light as a lightweight road bike.

What We Don’t Like

  • Gearless – no easy gear for climbing.

5. Cannondale Trail 8 Mountain Bike (best mountain bike)

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  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Groupset(s): Mixed Shimano/Tektro (14 gears)
  • Weight: 32 lbs.

A hardtail mountain bike is the best kind of MTB for commuting. With the Cannondale Trail 8 Mountain Bike, beginners benefit from the manufacturer’s refined frame technology and design for a smooth ride.

This mountain bike is aimed at casual trail riders, so it’s ideal for new bike commuters. As a hardtail, it’s more efficient than a full-suspension MTB on paved surfaces.

It’s always better if new riders aren’t subjected to a harsh ride. With the Trail 8 bike, owners benefit from Cannondale’s SAVE micro-suspension technology. This helps iron out bumps and vibrations in the riding surface.

One downside is the slightly heavy weight, which makes this bike less practical for hauling onto commuting trains or up and down steps.

What We Like

  • Tech – Cannondale technology for comfort and responsiveness.
  • Gears – wide gear range erring towards easy pedaling.
  • Hardtail – versatile MTB for pavement or trails.

What We Don’t Like

  • Weight – a tad heavy for intermodal commutes.

6. Marin Fairfax 3 700C Hybrid Bike (best hybrid bike)

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  • Frame Material: 6061 Aluminum
  • Groupset(s): MicroSHIFT/Shimano Sora (18 gears)
  • Weight: 25 lbs. (Approx.)

For the new cyclist who doesn’t want to commit to one type of bike riding, the Marin Fairfax 3 Hybrid makes sense. You can ride this bike on paved surfaces or gravel trails with equal ease.

This is a lightweight bike with an aluminum frame and a carbon fork. The fork makes the bike lighter and more compliant, creating a smoother ride for the owner.

The Fairfax 3 has a well-balanced gear range, with a decently hard gear for fast riding on flat roads and an easy lowest gear for climbs.

There are few downsides to this bike, except its price. A cheaper commuting bike is less vulnerable to theft.

What We Like

  • Lightweight – easy to lift on commutes if necessary.
  • Comfort – carbon fork reduces weight and vibration.
  • Parts – high-quality components.

What We Don’t Like

  • Value – might appeal to bike thieves.

7. Schwinn Wayfarer Classic City Bike (best city bike)

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  • Frame Material: Steel
  • Groupset(s): Shimano Tourney (7-speed)
  • Weight: 40 lbs. (approx.)

A bike you can buy with either a step-over or step-through frame is the Schwinn Wayfarer Classic City Bike. This bike has appealing old-fashioned looks, but the features behind those looks make this a comfortable bike to ride.

The handlebar of the Wayfarer has some rise in it as well as a swept-back design. This creates an upright riding posture and places the wrists in a natural, untwisted position.

Another great thing about the Schwinn Wayfarer is its inclusion of fenders, a rear rack, and a chainguard. For beginners, this avoids having to install extra hardware.

An obvious downside to this bike is its weight, which slows acceleration but doesn’t much affect your speed once you’re moving. It’s not ideal for steep hills.

What We Like

  • Appeal – good-looking retro style.
  • Posture – upright riding posture, comfortable wrists.
  • Equipment – well-equipped for commutes.
  • Durable – long-lasting steel construction.

What We Don’t Like

  • Weight – decidedly heavy.

8. VIVI 350W Electric Bike (best e-bike)

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  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Groupset(s): Shimano (21-speed)
  • Weight: 55 lbs.

An e-bike like the VIVI 350W Electric Bike benefits beginner cyclists by sharing the work. The VIVI offers a good range of up 50 miles in pedal-assist mode and 25-30 miles in full electric mode.

This 350W e-bike has a 20-mph maximum speed and climbs hills efficiently. An LED display lets you switch between modes and displays the remaining battery power.

The VIVI e-bike supports riders up to 330 lbs. in weight. Large riders might benefit from the 500W model, however. A major downside to this bike is its weight, which makes it too heavy for most car bike racks.

Read more: Commuter electric bikes

What We Like

  • Range – easily enough range for commutes.
  • Motor – makes cycling easier for new riders (or old).
  • Capacity – suitable for heavy riders.

What We Don’t Like

  • Heavy – too weighty for some purposes.

9. Zize Bikes Yonder Trail Bike (best for heavy riders)

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  • Frame Material: Chromoly steel
  • Groupset(s): Shimano Deore (1×10-speed)
  • Weight: 53 lbs.

A bike designed for the heaviest of riders is the Zize Bikes Yonder Trail Bike, which supports a load of 550 lbs. maximum. This manufacturer is the only one we’re aware of that specializes in bikes for heavy riders.

As you’ll note, the Zize Yonder is not cheap. This is partly because it used expensive chromoly steel for extra strength. It’s a rigid mountain bike without suspension but with a compliant frame. You can ride it off-road on light trails or take it onto the tarmac.

The 36H wheels on this bike are also super-strong. The rims are made with double-wide aluminum. Wide 3” tires add comfort and help to bear weight with their volume.

What We Like

  • Specialist – designed specifically for the heaviest riders.
  • Chromoly – strong, compliant, and repairable material.
  • Gears – 1x single drivetrain reduces potential problems.

What We Don’t Like

  • Price – specialist design and expensive materials.

10. Schwinn Loop 20” Folding Bike (best folding bike)

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  • Frame Material: Steel
  • Groupset(s): Shimano Tourney (7-speed)
  • Weight: 33 lbs. (approx.)

The Schwinn Loop 20” Folding Bike is easy to mount with its low-slung frame. It’s durable, too, thanks to its steel construction and high-quality manufacturing.

Features of the Schwinn Loop include a 7-speed Shimano Tourney rear derailleur, linear-pull brakes, integrated rack, fenders, and a kickstand.

A guard in front of the rear derailleur and a shielded front chainring help to prevent mechanical problems.

A downside to the Schwinn Loop is the nylon storage bag provided, which barely accommodates the folded bike.

What We Like

  • Easy – easy to mount & ride.
  • Durable – long-lasting steel frame.
  • Repairable – steel is easier and cheaper to repair than aluminum.
  • Protection – shielded rear derailleur and front chainring.

What We Don’t Like

  • Storage bag – the bike barely fits into it.

11. Takara Yuugen Single Speed Flat Bar Road Bike (best budget)

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  • Frame Material: High-Tensile Steel
  • Groupset(s): Single speed
  • Weight: 32 lbs. (approx.)

Offering exceptional value for its low price is the Takara Yuugen Single Speed Flat Bar Road Bike. A low-priced bike is a good idea for beginner cyclists and a pretty good idea generally as a knockabout commuting bike.

The Takara Yuugen is a Japanese bike made with durable and inexpensive high-tensile steel, which has the downside of being heavier than other materials.

This is another single-speed bike with a flip-flop hub, which means you just turn the wheel around if you want to ride it as a “fixie”.

Other features include double-wall wheel rims for strength, a chainguard, a kickstand, front and rear reflectors, and single-pivot alloy rim brakes.

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What We Like

  • Price – a low-risk investment.
  • Low-maintenance – no gear system to maintain.
  • Durable – steel has an indefinite lifespan.
  • Wheels – strong double-wall wheels laced with 32 spokes.

What We Don’t Like

  • Weight – heavy for a single-speed bike.

Features That Beginner Cyclists Need In A Commuter Bike

Some features are especially useful to a beginner in a commuter bike. Most bikes won’t have all of the below. It’s more of a wish list for you to bear in mind.

Correct Frame Size

The first thing a beginner cyclist needs in a bike is the correct frame size. You can get measured for a bike at your local bike shop or take measurements yourself.

You’ll need to know your height and inside leg measurement before buying a bike online.

Bikes are sized by their top tube length. Because top tubes on modern bikes vary in angle and shape, you need the “effective top tube length” to compare sizes between different bikes.

Video: Effective Top Tube Length

Wide Tires

Wider tires are desirable for beginner cyclists as they provide more traction. Because they have a greater volume of air than thin tires, there is more scope for running them at quite low pressures. That gives them more traction still.

Relaxed Geometry

Bike geometry refers to the various angles and measurements that affect the posture of the rider, the way the bike handles, and its stability. For beginner cyclists, a relaxed geometry with a long wheelbase and a comparatively short top tube is ideal.

Other vital aspects of bike geometry include head-tube angle, bottom bracket height, trail, stack, and reach.

A fast road bike does not have a relaxed geometry. It has nimble handling that might eventually be useful when commuting in traffic. But for the beginner cyclist, the extra straight-line stability in a gravel or touring bike is good.

Low Standover Height

Standover height is the amount of clearance between the bike’s top tube and the rider’s crotch. For beginner cyclists, a bike with a sloping top tube that naturally provides a lot of standover height isn’t a bad idea.

Beginners are more likely to abruptly stop on a bike and jump forward off the saddle. If their groin contacts the bike before their feet reach the ground, there’s a problem.

Low Gears

Everyone loves low gears for climbing hills. Low gears mean less resistance and a higher cadence. They let you climb hills without needing brute leg strength.

The gear range of off-road bikes like hybrids, gravel bikes or MTBs usually goes lower than that of a pure road bike.

Low Maintenance & Simplicity

The fewer gears a bike has, the less there is to service or go wrong. Thus, a single-speed bike is a low-maintenance bike. Similarly, a bike with only one chainring at the front is easier to adjust or maintain than one with two or three.

Hydraulic disc brakes are more low maintenance than mechanical disc brakes, also.

Comfortable Saddle

Even experienced cyclists would be extremely lucky to hop onto a new bike and find the saddle agreeable. Saddle comfort depends on many factors. As a beginner riding over short distances in casual clothes, you probably want one with a bit of padding.

Flat Handlebar vs Drop Handlebar

Don’t be discouraged from buying a drop-bar road bike if that’s what your heart wants, but a bike with a wider, flatter handlebar is easier to steer and makes the ride feel more stable. It also places your hands nearer the brakes.

If you feel nervous about riding a bike, look at flat, wide handlebars first. A swept-back handlebar is good for an upright riding posture. The amount of “rise” in a handlebar also affects this.

Read more: Flat vs drop bars

Fenders & Rack

If you intend to bike commute all year round, you’ll need fenders. Many bikes come without them. A rack is less crucial unless you have a lot of work gear to carry.

Beginner Commuter Bicycles: FAQs

Below, we answer questions frequently asked about beginner commuter bikes.

Which Bike Type Is Best For Beginner Cyclists?

A city bike with a relaxed geometry and swept-back handlebar is hard to beat. You can buy them with step-through frames, which makes them better still for unconfident riders.

If I Buy A Bicycle Online, Will It Come Fully Assembled?

Almost certainly not. There is usually some assembly required (15% is typical), and the quality of instructions varies.

Should Beginners Buy Electric Bikes?

In a risk-averse world, no, because they enable people to ride quickly who aren’t used to handling a bike. Choosing a stable e-bike with a relaxed riding position reduces risk.

How Much Do Commuter Bikes Cost?

They might cost anything from $200 or less to well over $1000. Expensive bikes make more sense if you’re able to store them somewhere secure at your workplace.

Is A Hybrid Bike The Same As A Commuter Bike?

Not strictly speaking, though there’s a lot of overlap in the way bikes are described. A hybrid bike usually has a wide gear range to meet its off-road remit. The more urban commuter bike tends to have fewer gears and a less sporty riding position.

In Summary

It’s time to revisit our best commuter bike for beginner reviews.

Topping our list is the Co-op Cycles CTY 1.1 Bike. What we love about this is the all-around value for money. It’s a well-specified bike using multiple Shimano parts. This is also an easy bike for beginners to ride.

Next, we have the Trek FX 1 Stagger Hybrid Bike. In keeping with modern trends, this step-through bike is aimed at any gender and is exceptionally easy for a beginner to ride. Plus, you get a big-name brand for not too much money.

When is a road bike not a road bike? When it’s an adventure, touring and commuting bike. The Marin Four Corners Touring Bike offers this versatility and has a more relaxed geometry for beginners than a racy road bike.

We hope the information in this article helps you to buy your ideal commuting bike and reap the benefits of riding to work. Good luck!

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Glenn H
Glenn H
When I’m not contributing articles to Bike Push, I can often be found cycling on the rural roads around me. If I can help you benefit from bicycling in some small way, I’ll consider it a win.

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