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Best Commuter Bike Under $500

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When you cycle to work, you don’t necessarily want to be on an expensive bike. It’s often better that you aren’t, as it reduces the risk of theft at work.

For bike-commuting, you just need a serviceable bike with practical features. With these points in mind, this article helps you find the best commuter bike under $500.

We’ll be reviewing numerous bikes, like the Schwinn Wayfarer Adult City Commuter Bike. This well-equipped bike is comfy to ride and has vintage good looks.

You’ll also find lots of tips to help you track down your own inexpensive commuter bike.

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Top 11 Best Commuter Bikes Under $500

Below is a selection of commuter bikes costing under $500, all reviewed and neatly categorized for your convenience.

1. Schwinn Wayfarer Adult City Commuter Bike (best overall)

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

A classic commuting bike with a vintage style and a relaxed geometry is the Schwinn Wayfarer Adult City Commuter Bike. We love this bike for its practicality, good looks, and riding comfort. It’s suitable for anyone from 5’4” to 6’2” or up to 250 lbs.

You can buy the Wayfarer either with the conventional diamond frame or the step-through frame. Aside from its geometry, the swept-back riser handlebar contributes to a relaxed ride. This bike goes easy on your arms, wrists, and back.

A steel frame and 35mm tires also help with comfort, though the frame material does make this a heavy bike. V-brakes provide ample stopping power.

One of the best things about the Wayfarer is its practical yet stylish set of features. This includes fenders, a chainguard, and a rear cargo rack.

This bike has 7 gears with a Shimano Tourney rear derailleur and a Shimano twist shifter. It falls into the “city” bike category rather than the “hybrid” grouping that Schwinn gives it. A narrower gear range is one sign of this, but it’s ideal for most urban riding.

What We Like

  • Looks – appealing vintage style.
  • Comfort – promotes upright posture and relaxed wrists & arms.
  • Features – all the basic features you need for a daily commute.
  • Sturdy – strong steel build quality

What We Don’t Like

  • Heavy – a weighty bike.

2. sixthreezero EVRYjourney Women’s 1-speed Cruiser Bicycle (best for women)

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  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Groupset(s): Shimano (1 speed)
  • Weight: 36.5 lbs.

A top bike maker is sixthreezero, and you can pick up the EVRYjourney Women’s 1-speed Cruiser Bicycle for under $500. Multi-speed models cost more, but this makes a great, laid-back commuter bike.

Naturally, if your commute involves slogging up hills, this might not be the bike for you, but it’s ideal for a flattish ride into work. Aside from the price, a great thing about a one-speed bike is its low maintenance.

The famously relaxed geometry of a cruiser bike and the swept-back handlebar mean this bike is kind on your back, arms, and wrists. Further comfort comes from the 2” wide tires and steel fork, which help absorb bumps from the road.

For brakes, the bike has a coaster brake at the rear and a V-brake at the front. You’d normally use the coaster brake to moderate speed, while the front rim brake provides strong stopping power.

The EVRYjourney is well equipped for commutes, too, with its fenders, cargo rack, and chainguard. There are front and rear reflectors to help with low-light visibility. A minor downside is the weight of the bike.

What We Like

  • Comfort – a bike built primarily for low-speed relaxation.
  • Equipment – useful features for commuting.
  • Low-maintenance – absence of derailleur = less trouble.

What We Don’t Like

  • Bulky – aluminum helps, but the bike is a bit heavy.

Read more: Best commuter bikes for women

3. Mongoose Malus Fat Tire Mountain Bike (best for heavy riders)

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  • Frame Material: Steel
  • Groupset(s): Shimano Tourney derailleur (7-speed)
  • Weight: 45 lbs. (approx.)

Suitable for riders up to and over 300 pounds, the Mongoose Malus Fat Tire Mountain Bike has a sturdy steel construction and 4” wide tires. The width of the tire, the robust 36H alloy wheel rims, and the frame strength all add to the load-bearing capability.

A downside to this bike and any fat bike is that it will slow you down quite drastically on paved roads. On the plus side, you can ride it over challenging surfaces like mud or snow and tackle most trails that aren’t too technical or hilly.

This is a majorly heavy bike at 45 pounds, but you have to pay major prices if you want a lightweight fat bike. The steel frame that adds much to the weight also makes this bike durable and easily repairable.

A drawback with this bike is the unbranded gear shifter, which doesn’t meld as smoothly with the Shimano derailleur as a Shimano shifter might. This has potential for upgrade.

The included mechanical disc brakes provide excellent stopping power in all weather and on all terrain.

What We Like

  • Capacity – a fun bike for riders large and small.
  • Versatile – ride over almost any surface.
  • Stopping – mechanical disc brakes for dependable halting.

What We Don’t Like

  • Weight – not the ideal bike for lifting onto trains if that’s a requirement.
  • Shifter – not Shimano.

4. Hiland Conqueror 29” Aluminum Hardtail Mountain Bike (best for tall riders)

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  • Frame Material: Steel
  • Groupset(s): L-Twoo (16-speed)
  • Weight: 36 lbs. (approx.)

If you’re a tall rider struggling to find an affordable commuter bike, consider the Hiland Conqueror 29” Hardtail XC MTB. This 29er cross-country mountain bike has front-fork suspension and lockout, which makes it a mean commuting machine.

This bike comes in a choice of frame sizes, with the large size accommodating riders up to 6’8” tall. You can ride it on trails and pavement with equal ease. Suspension lockout makes the bike more efficient on smooth surfaces.

An unexpected feature at this price point is the hydraulic disc brakes, which provide exceptional stopping power. You also get internal cable routing, which helps achieve a clean look. Double-walled 32H alloy wheel rims add to the bike’s strength.

Part of the reason for the low price is the L-Twoo drivetrain. This is lesser-known than the cheap Shimano parts often used. The L-Twoo brand is well-known in the Chinese domestic market.

What We Like

  • 29er – smooth-rolling bike on all terrain.
  • Lockout – improves efficiency on pavement.
  • Brakes – hydraulic disc brakes for excellent stopping power.
  • Routing – internal cable routing for extra neatness.

What We Don’t Like

  • Drivetrain – cheap drivetrain parts, though not necessarily poor for the price.

5. Schwinn Loop 20” Folding Bike (best folding)

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

For its durability and easy-to-mount low frame, we like the Schwinn Loop 20” Folding Bike. While it’s not the lightest foldable bike by some way, this is still a bike you could take onto most public transport during commutes.

The seven gears with a Shimano Tourney rear derailleur are standard fare for an inexpensive folding bike. Nonetheless, they do give you that extra versatility in riding over varied terrain.

One aspect of the Loop we like is the shielded chainring and rear derailleur, which makes mechanical drivetrain problems less likely. You also get fenders and an integrated rear rack, which boosts the bike’s commuting credentials.

A common complaint about this bike regards its nylon storage bag. This is barely big enough to contain the bike, so many people give up trying.

What We Like

  • Durable – long-lasting steel frame, beautifully finished.
  • Transportable – light and compact enough to carry onto trains.
  • Protection – shielded front chainring & rear derailleur.
  • Rack – solid rear rack for your commuting gear.

What We Don’t Like

  • Storage bag – hard to get the bike into it.

6. ANCHEER 14” Folding 500W Electric Bike (best e-bike)

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  • Frame Material: Steel
  • Groupset(s): None (single-speed drivetrain)
  • Weight: 39.7 lbs.

With a shape inspired by dolphins, the ANCHEER Folding 500W Electric Bike is a distinctive, affordable e-bike powered by a brushless geared motor. That specification makes this little bike useful for climbing hills, should the need arise.

The relatively modest range of 18-20 miles in this e-bike is still enough to cover the majority of commutes. Like many e-bikes, you get to choose from pedal-assist mode, pure electric mode (full throttle), and manual pedaling mode.

Other features include cruise control and a supporting app that enables password motor locking, self-testing, and mileage/time records. There are also built-in lights and dual mechanical disc brakes.

Because of its small size, this bike is not recommended for anyone over 5’10” tall. It has a 265 lbs. weight capacity. Depending on the load and terrain, it can travel at speeds of up to 20 mph.

A downside from a commuting point of view is the near 40 lbs. weight, but this is not unusual for an e-bike.

What We Like

  • Multi-featured – lockable motor, cruise control, bell, kickstand, lights & more.
  • Brakes – mechanical disc brakes for assured stopping.
  • Durable – sturdily built with a steel frame.
  • Climbing – geared motor good for hills.

What We Don’t Like

  • Range – the range is on the short side (or under-reported).
  • No rack – you’ll need to carry any work things.

Read more: The best commuter e-bikes

7. Vilano R2 Aluminum Commuter Road Bike (best for hills)

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  • Frame Material: 6061 Aluminum
  • Groupset(s): Shimano rear derailleur & shifters (21 speed)
  • Weight: 27 lbs.

Few bikes are better than a road bike if you need to climb big hills. Relatively lightweight, you can attempt most gradients on the Vilano R2 Aluminum Commuter Road Bike. A choice of 21 gears also helps when the road points upwards.

Admittedly, the Vilano R2 is not as light as more expensive road bikes. But it’s lighter than most commuter bikes you’ll buy at under $500. A road bike also puts you in a more efficient position for sustained climbing than most other bike types.

For reliable performance, this bike includes Shimano gear shifters and a Shimano Tourney rear derailleur. The triple chainrings at the front provide a choice of gears, but they also add a few ounces of weight.

Similarly, the 14-28t freewheel at the rear is cheaper and heavier than a cassette, though it does the same job. You might want to switch this freewheel if you want a faster top speed or mega-easy gear for climbing.

Other features include caliper rim brakes, water bottle cage mounts, and strong double-wall 36H alloy wheels.

What We Like

  • Reliable – Shimano parts (some) help with reliability.
  • Lightweight – reasonably light for climbing and carrying onto trains.
  • Wheels – sturdy wheels with double-wall rims and 36 spokes.
  • Distance – this bike is better than most on this list for longer commutes.

What We Don’t Like

  • Gears – freewheel has a fairly narrow range.

8. 6KU Track Fixed Gear Bicycle (best fixie)

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  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Groupset(s): single speed
  • Weight: 21 lbs.

A single-speed bike with a flip-flop hub is perfect in many respects for commuting, and so it is with the 6KU Track Fixed Gear Bicycle. This bike is lightweight, easy to maintain, and great value for money.

Many people ride a flat route to work, so a bike without multiple gears is a viable solution as a commuter bike. Like many such bikes, this one has a flip-flop hub that lets you ride it as a fixie or a single-speed bike.

A fixie is a bike you cannot coast on; you’re pedaling until you stop. But if you flip the rear wheel around you’ll have a regular single-speed bike. (A fixie is always a single-speed bike, but the reverse is not true.)

Double-wall alloy wheels help keep the wheels on the 6KU Track Bike true. A downside to this bike is the cheap pedals and tires it comes with. This isn’t unexpected on low-cost bikes, but early upgrade options do exist.

What We Like

  • Low-maintenance – no gears to worry about.
  • Lightweight – minimalistic bike means less weight.
  • Wheels – string double-wall wheels.

What We Don’t Like

  • Pedals – you’d do well to change the pedals and tires.

9. Batch The Fitness Hybrid 700C Bike (best for comfort)

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  • Frame Material: 6061 Aluminum
  • Groupset(s): Shimano Tourney (21 speed)
  • Weight: 33.3 lbs.

A low-cost bike that exudes quality and delivers a comfortable ride is the Batch The Fitness Hybrid 700C Bike. This bike is on the heavy side despite its aluminum frame, partly because of the steel forks that help soak up road vibration.

This bike is an ideal commuter bike with the ability to ride on tarmac or go off-road onto light trails. Its 21 gears help you to ride over undulating terrain with ease.

A slight downside is the lack of features like fenders or a rack, though these emissions help you to buy a higher quality base bike. The required mounts for these features are included, should you need to add them.

Strong V-brakes bring this bike to a safe halt and are a cheaper, lighter option than the absent disc brakes.

What We Like

  • Comfort – a comfortable, stable bike that’s ideal for urban riding.
  • Frame – stylish aluminum frame with compliant steel forks.
  • Shimano – multiple Shimano parts for reliable performance.

What We Don’t Like

  • Sparse – you’ll need to add stuff for typical commuting.

10. Redfire Hybrid Commuter Bike (best value)

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  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Groupset(s): Shimano Tourney (21 speed)
  • Weight: 35 lbs.

The Redfire Hybrid Commuter Bike would be pretty good value for money if all you got was the bike, but it comes with a raft of handy extras. These include a saddle bag and frame bag, LED lights, water bottle, bottle cage, a lock, and a neck buff.

If you’re just getting into bike commuting, these are handy items to have. On the minus side, there’s no cargo rack or fenders, so you might want to add those.

The Redfire hybrid bike is not especially lightweight at 35 lbs., but you can ride it on pavement or offroad. The 3×7 speed (21-gear) Shimano transmission system makes the bike rideable over various terrains.

What We Like

  • Extras – lots of useful items supplied “free”.
  • Frame – strong aluminum frame.
  • Shimano – Shimano components for dependable performance.

What We Don’t Like

  • Weight – a few pounds heavier than average at 35 lbs.
  • No fenders – you ideally need fenders for all-weather commuting.

11. Huffy Hardtail 26” Men’s Stone Mountain MTB (best ultra-budget)

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  • Frame Material: Steel
  • Groupset(s): Shimano rear derailleur (21-speed)
  • Weight: 28 lbs.

If you’re after a commuter bike at minimal cost and are of average height, consider the Huffy Hardtail 26” Stone Mountain MTB. This model has a 17” frame, making it good for riders up to about 5’10”.

This bike offers decent specification for the money. A microSHIFT twist shifter controls your gears, with rear gear changes executed by a Shimano Tourney derailleur. The front suspension fork absorbs bumps on the trail or road.

A downside is the lack of lockout on the suspension fork. That’s a useful thing to have if you intend to ride on pavement.

Other standout features of the durable Huffy Stone Mountain bike include a quick-release seatpost for easy adjustment, a kickstand, and Kraton handlebar grips. Linear pull brakes (aka V-brakes) provide ample stopping power.

What We Like

  • Price – affordable price and less appealing to thieves.
  • Frame – durable steel frame.
  • Gears – Shimano Tourney TZ-31 rear derailleur.

What We Don’t Like

  • Rider height – not for 6’ riders.
  • Lockout – lack of lockout makes pedaling less efficient on smooth roads.

Guide To Buying A Budget Sub-$500 Bike For Commuting

Whenever you buy a cheap bike, something has to give in terms of specifications. Even so, you can still acquire a perfectly serviceable bike that’s ideal for commuting. It helps to be armed with a little knowledge.

Frame Material

A bike under $500 will normally be made from high-tensile steel or aluminum. Steel makes the bike heavier, but it is generally better at soaking up bumps and vibrations from the road. This is why cheaper aluminum bikes often have a steel fork.

Aluminum has the opposite quality: it makes the bike lighter, though not necessarily lightweight overall. Because aluminum is less strong and more brittle than steel, more material is typically used to bolster the strength of the frame.

Steel wins the battle for long-term durability because it has an indefinite lifespan, whereas aluminum doesn’t. You can still expect many years of service from an aluminum frame, however.

More importantly, a steel frame is easier to repair than an aluminum one. On the other hand, aluminum does not rust.

Wheels

On a commuter bike, you’ll often want strong wheels. This is even truer if you’re a big rider or you intend to carry a lot of stuff on the bike.

Most modern bikes have aluminum alloy wheels, which have the huge benefit of being more lightweight and rustproof. They’re often ambiguously described as “alloy” wheels, which technically can also refer to steel (a ruse worth watching out for).

As with frames, steel wheels will be cheaper and heavier, but they’re not often found on new bikes anymore.

You also want double-walled wheel rims rather than single wall, which makes them stronger. Counter-intuitively, this also tends to make them more lightweight, as a single-wall wheel may use more material in an attempt to boost strength.

Spoke Count

The heavier you are as a rider or the more stuff you intend to carry, the more spokes you ideally need in the wheels. Other factors like the spoke lacing pattern and gauge affect wheel strength. The length of the spokes also influences their strength.

Gears

Among budget bikes of all types, a 7-speed freewheel is common at the rear, coupled with a Shimano Tourney rear derailleur. These are functional and reliable parts, though not as lightweight or smooth as higher-tier Shimano derailleurs and a cassette.

A significant difference between a freewheel and a cassette is that the gear range of a freewheel is usually narrower. Thus, you’re likely to have a nominally slower top gear and/or a less easy “climbing” gear.

Less common among budget bikes is a Shimano front derailleur or crankset. You’ll typically find cheaper parts up front to keep the selling price down.

Look for a matched Shimano gear lever and rear derailleur at the very least. Other branded shifters like microSHIFT are also okay, though it’s optimum to have parts that are made for each other.

Video: Freewheel vs Cassette – What Are They?

Brakes

If you find disc brakes on a bike under $500, you’ll have done well. Disc brakes are stronger than rim brakes and more reliable in the wet. However, rim brakes (e.g., V-brakes) are perfectly adequate the vast majority of the time. And they’re lighter.

Fenders & Cargo Rack

If you intend to ride to work in all weathers, or even changeable weather, you need fenders. Otherwise, the bike and your clothes will have road dirt hurled onto them.

A cargo rack is also handy, not least because carrying stuff in a backpack makes your back sweaty.

It’s useful to remember that, within a certain price range, a bike that appears to have everything is probably skimping on quality somewhere. Ironically, a bike with less can sometimes offer more in terms of basic build quality and workmanship.

What Bike Type?

A fundamental choice you need to make is what bike type you want for your commute. Here are some pointers:

  • Road bike – a relatively lightweight bike that’s designed for distance and speed on smooth roads. The forward riding position requires a certain amount of flexibility and core strength, some of which develops naturally.
  • Hybrid bike – a multi-geared bike that’s designed to bridge the gap between mountain bikes and road bikes. It can be ridden on trails or roads with equal ease, though doesn’t perform quite as well on either as dedicated bikes.
  • Mountain bike (MTB) – a mountain bike will be slower than a hybrid on the road and faster and more versatile on trails. A hardtail is usually a better choice for commuting on roads (or partially on roads) than a full-suspension MTB.
  • City/commuter/urban bike – these bikes usually have fewer gears than a hybrid bike, even if they look similar. The frame geometry is also more relaxed. A vintage city bike has a swept-back handlebar for relaxed riding.
  • Cruiser – a cruiser often has a step-through frame, hence tends to be marketed towards women as dictated by tradition. The geometry is extremely relaxed, with a long wheelbase and a wildly swept-back handlebar.
  • Single-speed – a bike without any gears has tremendous appeal for its low cost and lightweight. It’s also less likely to develop mechanical problems. Of course, it’s better for flat commutes than hilly ones.

Any bike will make you fitter, though if you’re athletically oriented it’s hard to resist pushing yourself on a road bike. Because most commutes are relatively short, you don’t necessarily need a bike designed for speed and distance. Slow riding = less sweat.

Commuter Bikes Under $500: FAQs

Here are some questions commonly asked about buying inexpensive new bikes:

Do I Need To Spend A Lot On A Commuter Bike?

No, in many respects it’s a good idea not to spend much on a commuter bike. Most commuter bikes are left locked up in a bike shed for hours, so the less appealing to a thief they are, the better. A commuter bike only needs to be functional, and is great for beginner commuters.

Are Bikes Under $500 Any Good?

Bikes under $500 use cheaper materials and components that are heavier and not quite as smooth or powerful in performance (e.g., gears and brakes). The bike will still be perfectly rideable, usually, and should give you many years of service.

Should I Get A Secondhand Bike For Under $500?

It’s not a bad idea if you want better features for the same money. Examples include a chromoly steel or carbon frame, or a better groupset like Shimano 105 or Ultegra. What you often forfeit is a guarantee and the undeniable joy of a new bike.

In Summary: Commuter Bikes Under $500

Now to recap on our sub-$500 commuter bike reviews. It’s hard to resist the traditional looks and functionality of our top-placed Schwinn Wayfarer Adult City Commuter Bike. This is a well-equipped bike you’ll enjoy riding without any undue aches and pains.

The EVRYjourney Women’s 1-speed Cruiser Bicycle is our high-quality bike in second place. Though it has a feminine style, it’s the suitable rider height range of this 24” model that marks it as a women’s bike. This is great for casual rides into work!

If you’re a big rider looking for a bike that’ll support your weight, the large air volume in fat-bike tires helps. The Mongoose Malus Fat Tire Mountain Bike with its 4” wide tires and 36-spoke rims is a commuter bike you’ll enjoy riding over any surface.

We hope this article helps you find a commuter bike to suit your budget, whether directly or through our advice section. Good luck in your search!

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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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