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Best Bike For Winter Commuting

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It takes a lot of resolve to bike commute through the winter, but having the right bike helps. What is the right bike?

The best bike for winter commuting is one that will stand up to whatever bleak weather you face. It’ll protect you from the elements and keep you safe.

In this article, we’ll tell you what to look for in a winter commuter and show you a few bikes that are up to the wintry task.

Top Picks:

Top 7 Best Bike For Winter Commutes To Work

If you’re in the market for a winter commuting bike, we have a few suggestions for you.

1. Electra Loft 7D Bike (best overall)

CHECK PRICE AT REI

• Frame Material: 6061-T6 aluminum
• Groupset: Shimano (7-speed)
• Brake Type: Rim Brake
• Weight: 31 lb. (14.06 kg) Median

A strong and lightweight commuting bicycle is the Electra Loft 7D Bike. Sturdily made from 6061 aluminum, it includes several useful winter features. Not least of these is the 35mm tires that provide reliable traction.

The Loft 7D has a retro style that many will find appealing. A swept-back moustache handlebar promotes an upright riding posture, giving you a good view of the road. That’s helpful in poor weather.

This bike also has fenders to shield you from road spray in the wet. More uncommon is the chainguard. That’s handy for keeping your commuting pants free of oil and gunge.

What We Like

  • Tires – wider tires than average for better winter traction.
  • Vision – you’ll get a good view of the road.
  • Comfort – frame geometry and handlebar are kind on your back & wrists.
  • Winter Spec – chain guards and fenders shield you from winter grime.

What We Don’t Like

  • Gears – gears are fine for a fairly flat commute, but steep hills may be a problem.

2. Trek Farley 5 Fat Bike (best for snow and ice)

CHECK PRICE AT TREK

• Frame Material: Alpha Platinum Aluminum
• Groupset: Shimano (10-speed)
• Brake Type: SRAM Level Hydraulic Disc
• Weight: 32 lb. (14.51 kg)

If you need anything when riding a bike on snow and ice, it’s traction, and that’s what the Trek Farley 5 Fat Bike gives you in spades. This is the last bike you’d use for a fast commute in normal conditions, and the first you’d pick with snow on the ground.

Despite its oversized wheels (clad with 4.5” tires), the Farley 5 is surprisingly light. It’s made from Trek’s proprietary Alpha Platinum aluminum. The Shimano Deore drivetrain with 11-46t cassette and 28t front ring is exceptional for getting up hills.

A desirable winter feature in this Trek is its tubeless-ready wheels and tires. Tubeless tires are always tempting in winter, not least when there’s a covering of frost or snow.

What We Like

  • Tires – 4.5” Bontrager Gnarwhal tires offer tons of traction.
  • Gears – generous gear range is great for hills.
  • Tubeless – tubeless-ready wheels and tires to combat winter punctures.

What We Don’t Like

  • Price – you pay for the brand and associated quality.

3. Marin Bobcat Trail 4 Mountain Bike (best MTB)

CHECK PRICE AT JENSON USA

  • Frame Material: 6061 aluminum
  • Groupset: Mixed (9-speed)
  • Brake Type: Tektro M275 Hydraulic Disc
  • Weight: 32.33 lb. (14.66 kg) Medium

A 29er hardtail MTB is a useful machine for commuting, and the Marin Bobcat Trail 4 Mountain Bike is no exception. Its rear 11-46t cassette coupled with a 32t chainring provides you with a mega-easy gear that will see you over any hill.

To help with snowy or icy conditions, 2.25” WTB Trail Boss tires give you lots of traction.

Tektro M275 hydraulic disc brakes deliver stopping power in any weather, too. And the front suspension fork provides 120mm of travel, which should take the sting out of unexpected bumps on snow-covered surfaces.

What We Like

  • Gears – wide-ranging gears help with climbing.
  • Brakes – hydraulic disc brakes counteract wet weather.
  • Tires – included WTB tires offer good traction and grip.
  • Travel – front suspension fork good for uneven surfaces.

What We Don’t Like

  • Handlebar – you might want a bar with more rise for winter commutes.

Read more: MTBs as commuting bikes

4. Schwinn Discover 2 Hybrid Bike (best hybrid)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

• Frame Material: Aluminum Alloy
• Groupset: Shimano (7-speed)
• Brake Type: Rim
• Weight: Approx. 40 lb. (18.1 kg)

A hybrid bike with nice extras for your winter commute is the popular Schwinn Discover 2 Hybrid Bike. This is a unisex model available in different finishes and sizes. Usefully, it comes fitted with fenders, a cargo rack and a rear reflector.

An uncommon feature of the Discover 2 is its suspension seat post, which reduces vibrations from the road or trail. The off-road capability of this bike helps in winter weather, when any surface can become unpredictable.

What We Like

  • View – upright posture good for comfort and traffic awareness.
  • Rack – cargo rack useful for keeping luggage off your back;
  • Solid – solidly built bike that feels stable and safe.
  • Comfort – suspension fork and seatpost help to smooth the ride.

What We Don’t Like

  • Weight – the heaviest among our commuter selection.

5. Orbea Vector Drop Ltd Road Bike 2021 (best road bike)

CHECK PRICE AT JENSON USA

• Frame Material: 6000-Series Aluminum
• Groupset: Shimano Tiagra (10-speed)
• Brake Type: Hydraulic Disc
• Weight: Approx. 28.25 lb. (12.81 kg)

A quality road bike that’s ideal for challenging wintry commutes is the Orbea Vector Drop Ltd Road Bike 2021. With its relaxed geometry and clearance for wide tires, it’s also suitable for gravel.

The Orbea comes equipped with a rack and fenders, which add to its commuting appeal. An impressive inclusion is the Brooks Cambium C17 saddle: a compliant seat that should suit many riders.

You get a compact 50/34t crankset on the Vector Drop. Combined with its 34t largest sprocket at the rear, this bike will iron out most hills.

To help with winter riding, the Orbea has high-quality Schwalbe 38c tires, plus front and rear dynamo lights. The lights run off a Shimano dynamo hub.

What We Like

  • Tires – wide 40mm tire clearance for extra comfort and traction.
  • Lights – included dynamo lights at front and rear for dark winter nights.
  • Saddle – high-quality Brooks Cambium C17 saddle included.
  • Tubeless Ready – potential to reduce winter punctures.

What We Don’t Like

  • Expense – not cheap, but exceptionally well equipped.

6. BESPORTBLE Mountain Bike (best budget)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

• Frame Material: Aluminum
• Groupset: Shimano (7-speed)
• Brake Type: Mechanical Disc
• Weight: Approx. 35 lb. (15.87 kg)

An affordable MTB that comes equipped with fenders, reflectors and a kickstand is the BESPORTBLE Mountain Bike. It has a 7-speed Shimano freewheel at the rear and a triple chainring at the front, giving you a useful 21 gears in all.

On this bike you get mechanical disc brakes rather than hydraulic, which helps keep the price down.

The BESPORTBLE MTB arrives with 2.1-inch CST tires. This hardtail MTB has a front suspension fork that will help absorb unseen bumps on snowy roads or trails.

What We Like

  • Parts – Shimano shifters, freewheel & derailleurs.
  • Extras – fenders and reflectors are useful winter add-ons.
  • Suspension – front-fork travel useful for bumpy winter surfaces.

What We Don’t Like

  • Weight – this bike is robust and on the heavy side.

7. 6KU Urban Track Fixed Gear Bicycle

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Frame Material: 6061 Aluminum
  • Brake Type: Rim
  • Weight: Approx. 21 lb. (9.52 kg)

One way to reduce maintenance during winter is to buy a bike where there’s less to maintain. Enter the 6KU Urban Track Fixed Gear Bicycle. You can ride this in freehub mode or as a fixie, depending on which way round the rear wheel is oriented.

This 6KU bike has no derailleurs, cassette, gear shifters or cabling to weight it down. It’s naturally lightweight and minimalistic. It offers one 46/16 gear ratio. A few added accessories would make it the perfect winter commute.

What We Like

  • Low maintenance – much less to go wrong and maintain on this bike.
  • Lightweight – fewer components means lower weight.
  • Adaptable – a flip-flop hub lets you choose between freewheel or fixie mode.

What We Don’t Like

  • Clearance – like many road bikes, limited to 28mm max tire width.

Features That Make A Great Winter Bike

For winter commutes, there are certain features you need on a bike, even if you add them yourself.

Read more: The best commuter bicycles

Winter Tires

In wet weather, you need a tire that is both grippy and puncture resistant. During winter, more debris gets shoved to the side of the road. Rainwater acts as a lubricant so that sharp items readily penetrate tires.

Aside from thicker, more puncture-resistant tires, you can also try tubeless tires for fewer winter repairs. Wheels that are “tubeless ready” have hooked rims that engage with the bead of tubeless tires.

Wider tires with a knobby tread give you greater traction on icy, irregular surfaces. Cyclists with relatively narrow road tires can try letting about 10 PSI of air out of them in poor conditions to improve traction.

If you’re going to ride on snow and ice a lot, studded tires are a good idea.

Read more: Tires made for commuting

Fenders

Fenders (aka mudguards) prevent you from being sprayed with dirty water from your tires. They’re particularly useful when the rain has stopped and you want to commute in regular clothing without it getting spoiled.

A fender feature to look for in a commuting bike is built-in eyelets for installation. However, not all bikes have them and you can usually improvise by using P-clamps.

Read more: Guide to waterproof bike pants for commuting

Brakes

Wet weather reduces the efficiency of traditional rim brakes. That’s especially true with carbon wheels, but it applies universally. Therefore, disc brakes are desirable on a winter commuting bike.

Hydraulic disc brakes provide more efficient stopping power and are less exposed than mechanical disc brakes. The latter are cheaper, though, and easier to adjust.

Video: Hydraulic vs Mechanical Disc Brakes

Upright Position

In murky winter conditions, a bike that promotes an upright riding position is a good idea. It helps you to see and be seen. Apart from the geometry of a bike, the handlebar height and style have a strong bearing on this.

Suspension

MTBs normally come with suspension. Hardtails only have suspension in the front fork, but they make better commuting bikes generally than full-suspension MTBs. Still, you might be grateful for that front-fork travel when tackling icy or snowy terrain.

Wrapping Up

We’ll return briefly to our top 7 winter commuting bikes. The retro-designed Electra Loft 7D Bike leaves few stones unturned in protecting you against miserable weather. It’s practical and stylish.

A real snow-and-ice buster is the Trek Farley 5 Fat Bike. It includes a set of Bontrager Gnarwhal 4.5” tires to help you traverse any terrain, under any conditions. The gear selection makes it a hill-killer, too.

A handsome 29er is the Marin Bobcat Trail 4 Mountain Bike. This is another bike with a generous gear range, and its hydraulic disc brakes are a boon in winter conditions. Switch to slick tires in the summer and you have the perfect year-round machine.

At the very least, you should be able to bike commute with confidence in the winter. These bikes will help with that.

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Bike Push - Mark W
Mark W
I’m a cycling enthusiast, and the founder and chief editor of Bike Push. If I’m not working on this website, then I’m out on the bike clocking up the miles. I want to help others get the most out of cycling.

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