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Best Urban Commuter Bikes – City Bicycles For Getting To Work

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When you’re picking a bike for a commute, there’s much to be said for a no-frills machine that is strong, reliable, and comfortable.

This is where the urban commuter bike comes in. What’s one of those?

A classic urban commuter is a simple bike with few gears, practical features like fenders and rack eyelets, and an upright riding position akin to that of a cruiser.

For this article, we’ll relax the strict definition a little and look at some of the best urban commuter bikes on the market.

Top Picks:

Top 11 Best Urban Commuter Bikes Reviewed

Applying a different criterion to each, we’ve chosen 11 top urban commuter bikes for your consideration. Which will you choose?

1. Marin Muirwoods RC Bike 2022 (best overall)

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  • Bike Type: Transit/urban
  • Frame Material: Cr-Mo steel
  • Groupset: Shimano
  • Weight: 30 lb. (approx.)

Marketed as a kind of “roadified” mountain bike with slick 47mm WTB Horizon tires, the Marin Muirwoods RC Bike 2022 will comfortably handle anything city riding can throw at it. You’ll barely notice rough road surfaces and can casually bump up curbs on it.

Ride quality in this bike is excellent, thanks to a Cr-Mo steel frame and fork, dropped seat stays, and those super-wide comfy 650B wire-bead tires. The frame is double-butted, which helps to keep the weight down.

Shimano BR-M201 hydraulic disc brakes provide excellent braking with a high level of modulation to avoid wheel lock-ups. An 8-speed Shimano Nexus internal hub drivetrain gives owners of the Muirwoods RC a way to tackle any hills on their commute.

This great commuter bike is versatile enough to do a bit of gravel or CX riding and could even be used for some touring. Switch to knobby tires and it’s a mountain bike. It comes with fenders and includes braze-ons for water bottle holders and racks.

What We Like

  • Comfort – compliant ride thanks to steel frame, dropped seat stays, and wide tires
  • Stop – excellent braking in all weathers with Shimano hydraulic disc brakes
  • Versatile – suitable for gravel and CX riding as well as urban environments
  • Extras – includes fenders and reflective graphics

What We Don’t Like

  • Heft – on the heavy side

2. Marin Fairfax 1 Urban Bike (best value)

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  • Bike Type: Hybrid urban/fitness
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Groupset: Shimano Tourney
  • Weight: 28.5 lb. (large)

A bike that offers a lot of fun for a relatively affordable price is the Marin Fairfax 1 Urban Bike. This is a bike that you’ll love riding to work on. The aluminum frame makes it light and fast in acceleration, and a chrome-moly steel fork reduces road vibration.

The Shimano Tourney gears on this bike are durable, and with a 28T/34T lowest gear (0.8:1 gear ratio), you shouldn’t have much trouble getting up hills. There are triple chainrings on the front and an 11-34T cassette at the rear (7 speed).

Other nice features in the Fairfax 1 include a comfortable aluminum Marin handlebar with 30mm of rise, Shimano shifters for positive and easy gear changes, and Tektro mechanical disc brakes for reliable stopping power in all weathers.

Eyelets and braze-ons on this bike allow you to easily add fenders, a bike rack, and water-bottle cages.

What We Like

  • Value – it’s hard to find a better-specified commuter bike at this price point
  • Brakes – reliable stopping power from mechanical disc brakes
  • Comfort – steel forks help to absorb road vibration
  • Durable – Shimano gears and other high-quality parts ensure durability

What We Don’t Like

  • Range – 11-34T cassette range may cause some pronounced gear changes

3. Cannondale Quick 6 Hybrid Bike (best hybrid)

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  • Bike Type: Hybrid urban/fitness
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Groupset: Shimano Tourney
  • Weight: 27.25 lb. (median)

Thanks in part to the precise manufacturing of its SmartForm C3 alloy frame, the Cannondale Quick 6 Hybrid is a fast, responsive bike. An upright riding position coupled with Cannondale’s SAVE micro-suspension technology makes for a comfy ride, too.

Also contributing to comfort are the included Kenda Kourier 700 x 35c tires, which help absorb some of the bumps in the road. The 700c diameter of the wheels (road bike size) also reduces a little resistance over bumps.

This bike has a clean, minimalistic look, aided by internal routing. This routing is easier to maintain than on many other bikes, owing to Cannondale’s StraightShot design. 

If you want to add fenders or a rack to the bike, built-n mounts allow it. You can also fit bottle carriers to the seat tube and down tube.

Gear changes should be smooth in this bike, which has a 12-28T cassette and triple 48/38/28T chainrings. The 1:1 lowest gear ratio will see you over most hills.

What We Like

  • Frame – a SmartForm C3 aluminum alloy frame keeps the bike light and agile
  • Comfort – SAVE technology and big, wide tires make commuting comfortable
  • Maintain – internal routing is easy to access with StraightShot design
  • Gears – good range of gears with a cassette range that should be fairly smooth

What We Don’t Like

  • Gears – lowest 28/28T gear not as easy as some bikes in this class

4. 6KU Aluminum Fixed Gear Urban Track Bike (best fixie)

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  • Bike Type: Fixed gear / single speed
  • Frame Material: 6061 Aluminum
  • Groupset: Novatec Flip-Flop Hub
  • Weight: 21 lb.

A fixie is a bike that builds your strength as a cyclist, as you only have one gear and cannot freewheel. This is true of the 6KU Aluminum Fixed Gear Urban Track Bike, which you can also use as a single-speed bike by flipping the direction of the rear wheel.

This type of bike has significant advantages for the commuter. It’s easier to maintain because there are no gears or gear cables. It’s lighter than comparable geared bikes for the same reason. A double-butted aluminum frame adds to that lightness in this case.

The 6KU Urban Track Bike comes with 30mm deep, double-walled alloy wheels and 700 x 25c Kenda tires with Presta valves (subject to change). Its 31.8mm riser handlebar gives you assured, responsive control.

Anyone who appreciates a simple machine to ride on will love commuting on this bike, whether configured as a fixie or a single speed. Either way, it has 46/16T gearing (2.9:1 gear ratio).

What We Like

  • Repair – no gears or gear cables makes this bike easier to maintain
  • Lightweight – fewer components make the bike lighter than other urban bikes
  • Cheaper – you don’t pay for multiple chainrings and derailleurs
  • Fitter – improves fitness in fixie mode by not allowing you to coast

What We Don’t Like

  • Upgrade – consider upgrading tires and pedals after buying (applies to many bikes)

5. ANCHEER 250W Electric Mountain Bike (best e-bike)

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  • Bike Type: Electric MTB Trail / Commute
  • Frame Material: Aluminum alloy
  • Weight: 49 lb.

Also available with a 500W motor (the “Dynamic Red Line” model), the ANCHEER 250W Electric Mountain Bike is great for anyone who wants to have fun riding to work or wishes to arrive without excessive sweating.

The bike has three modes: manual, pedal-assist, and throttle. You don’t need to pedal at all in throttle mode, though this drains the battery. A removable 36V, 8AH lithium-ion battery (250W bike) has 15 miles of range and takes 4-6 hours to charge.

You always have the option of a workout on this e-bike if you want it. One strategy is to use pedal assist and/or throttle on the way to work and do your more strenuous ride on the way home.

This Ancheer e-bike has triple chainrings at the front and a 7-speed cassette at the rear for 21 a total of 21 gears. All-weather stopping power comes from the front and rear disc brakes. Also included are a front headlamp and horn.

What We Like

  • Price – fair price for an e-bike with a year’s warranty
  • Gears – lots of gears to help you up hills in manual or assist modes
  • Motivate – encourages riders to bike who may not otherwise be able to
  • Extras – front headlamp and horn are handy accessories to have

What We Don’t Like

  • Range – range is on the short side, so this is not for long commutes (version with bigger motor & battery can go for longer)

6. Batch Comfort ST Urban Bike (best step-through)

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  • Bike Type: Urban commute/recreational
  • Frame Material: 6061 Aluminum
  • Groupset: Shimano
  • Weight: 31 lb.

A bike that is easy to mount and dismount is a step-through, and it’s the Batch Comfort ST Urban Bike that wins our category for that. It has a frame made from hydroformed 6061 aluminum for strength and lightness.

To help turn this bike into a daily commuter, rack and fender mounts are incorporated. You can also have a water bottle carrier on the down tube if you wish, which still leaves enough room to get on and off the bike.

A highlighting feature of this bike is its shock-absorbing alloy seat post, which will soak up many bumps on the road. Adding to this ride comfort is a pair of wide 700 x 40c tires.

The Batch Comfort ST Urban Bike offers a total of 7 gears with a 42T chainring at the front and a 7-speed Shimano Tourney 13-34T cassette at the rear. This will help you get over hills without offering quite as easy a gear as some other bikes.

What We Like

  • Quality – high-quality aluminum frame and steel fork, plus Shimano components
  • Value – reasonable price for a durable bike 
  • Comfort – wide tires and a shock-absorbing seat post to cut out road vibration
  • Mounts – easy to fit extras like a rack, fenders, and a water-bottle holder

What We Don’t Like

  • Hills – lowest gear not ultra-easy because of mid-sized chainring at the front

7. Co-op Cycles CTY 1.1 Bike (best for hills)

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  • Bike Type: Hybrid / urban commute
  • Frame Material: 6061 Aluminum
  • Groupset: Shimano
  • Weight: 27.8 lb. (median)

Comfortable to use with its broad 40mm tires, Selle Royal saddle, and an upright riding position is the Co-op Cycles CTY 1.1 Bike. The popularity of this machine is a testament to its great value.

This bike has triple 48/38/28T chainrings at the front and an 8-speed 11-32T cassette at the rear (all Shimano parts). With a lowest gear ratio of 0.875:1, the CTY 1.1 Bike will help you to spin easily up hills as well as allowing fast speeds on flat roads.

The frame and fork of this bike are made entirely of 6061 aluminum for lightness and strength. Tektro disc brakes give you ample stopping power with good modulation. Control over the bike is responsive and agile through the riser handlebar.

There are mounts on the bike for easy addition of fenders, racks, and a bottle cage on the down tube. You can turn this into a real commuter bike without losing the fun factor of riding it. 

Flat pedals with traction pins enable you to wear your own choice of footwear on your commute. That said, stiff-soled shoes like Five Ten models from Adidas are ideal for this purpose.

What We Like

  • Price – some nice features at a reasonable price point
  • Halt – Tektro mechanical disc brakes afford plenty of stopping power 
  • Shimano – drivetrain full of reliable Shimano components
  • Versatile – wide gear range will give you confidence over any terrain 

What We Don’t Like

  • Tires – you may want to fit narrower tires for higher speed on the road

8. Tern Node D7i Folding Bike (best folding bike)

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  • Bike Type: Folding urban commute
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Groupset: Shimano
  • Weight: 31.2 lb.

A folding urban commuter loaded with features is the Tern Node D7i Folding Bike. Bear the high quality and integrated extras in mind when evaluating the price. With its ability to fold up in 10 seconds, this bike is perfect for intermodal commuting.

Lightweight aluminum is used in the sturdy frame construction, while the fork is hewn from tensile steel. The crankset includes hand-polished, cold-forged 6061 aluminum crank arms. 

Your position on this machine is kept comfortable and upright by the ergonomic handlebar, which includes Tern’s Andros stem for easy adjustment on the fly. A choice of 8 gears will help you negotiate mixed terrain.

This is a bike where many of the accessories you’d often have to buy separately are already on board. For instance, hub-powered lighting is incorporated, which never needs batteries. An ingenious FreeDrive chain cover shields your attire from chain oil.

On the sturdy rear “Freight Rack”, you can carry up to 55 lb. of commuting gear.

The built-in fenders of the Tern Node D7i Folding Bike cover a pair of Schwalbe Big Apple tires. These tires include Schwalbe’s formidable RaceGuard puncture protection.

What We Like

  • Intermodal – the ideal machine for carrying onto trains or buses
  • Design – every detail has been considered
  • Extras – everything you need for commuting is integrated
  • Tires – unusually high-quality tires as standard 

What We Don’t Like

  • Price – expensive, but you get what you pay for in this instance

9. Marin Bolinas Ridge 1 2022 Bike (best mountain bike)

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  • Bike Type: Recreational MTB, XC, Urban
  • Frame Material: 6061 Aluminum
  • Groupset: Shimano Tourney
  • Weight: 34 lb. (approx.)

Assuming you’ll be riding mostly on the road, a hardtail is best if you want to go the MTB commuting route. The 2022 Marin Bolinas Ridge 1 is a case in point. Offering great value for money, this mountain bike is meant for casual CX riding, light trails, and roads.

If you’re going to be riding this bike mainly on the road, you might want to swap the included 27.5 x 2.25” knobby tires for slicks. Along with the fat tires, 100mm of travel at the front of the bike helps to soak up minor bumps on roads or trails.

The frame of the Bolinas Ridge 1 is made from 6061 aluminum, which is often used on high-quality bikes for its strength to weight ratio.

Because of its MTB pedigree, this bike is exceptional for climbing hills. Okay, so it’s not a lightweight road bike, but it does include triple 42/34/24T chainrings and a SunRace 11-34T cassette at the back. That should get you up any gradient on your commute.

What We Like

  • Price – entry-level MTB with an appealing price and durable parts
  • Gears – extremely low gears are possible for hill climbing
  • Comfort – fat tires and 100mm of fork travel soak up bumps
  • Frame – solid 6061 aluminum frame with a pleasing finish

What We Don’t Like

  • Weight – heavy overall, despite the aluminum frame

10. Hiland Daring Aluminum Road Commuter Bike (best road commuter)

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  • Bike Type: Road
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Groupset: Shimano Tourney
  • Weight: 26 lb. (approx.)

An inexpensive road bike is often advisable for a bike commute, particularly if your bike sheds at work are not entirely secure. The Hiland Daring Aluminum Road Commuter Bike ticks this box without compromising much on performance.

Despite its modest price, this bike has some nice features. Its lightweight aluminum frame includes cable routing, so there’s a clean, modern look about it. 

Of course, at this price point, the bike isn’t loaded with high-end components, but you do get trustworthy Shimano Tourney derailleurs and shifters. Shimano friction shifters are mounted on the handlebar, thus they’re separate from the brake levers.

For gears, this Hiland bike has triple 52/40/30T rings at the front and a 14-28T freewheel at the rear. That should give you a big enough range for anything from fast riding on flat routes to spinning with a high cadence up hills.

As is commonly true, you can upgrade this bike quite easily by switching parts like tires and brake shoes. The bike comes with unbranded 700 x 25c tires, fitted to aluminum double-wall 19mm wide rims.

What We Like

  • Price – appealingly priced as a bike for commuting and chores
  • Gears – a wider range than many road bikes, with a low 28-30T easy gear
  • Reliable – trustworthy Shimano derailleurs and shifters
  • Light – reasonably light aluminum frame

What We Don’t Like

  • Shifting – gear shifting is not overly smooth or quick

11. Schwinn Wayfarer City Commuter Bike (best budget commuter)

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  • Bike Type: City
  • Frame Material: Steel
  • Groupset: Shimano (partial)
  • Weight: 36 lb. (approx.)

Contrary to the way it’s often labelled, the Schwinn Wayfarer City Commuter Bike is one of the purest urban commuters among our reviews. It has a great retro design underlined by a Dutch-style chain guard and swept-back handlebar.

Other handy features mark this Schwinn machine as a pure commuter, like the rear rack and pre-installed chrome fenders. The steel frame, too, has old-school values and is comfortable to ride. Alloy linear-pull brakes bring you to a stop with ample time to spare.

To give you some options on undulating terrain, this bike has 7-speed derailleur gears with twist-shift gear shifters on the handlebars. The bike itself is quite heavy, so you won’t be attempting any alpine passes on it, but it’s suitable for most urban riding.

The Schwinn Wayfarer is available in step-through and step-over versions for people of all sexes and sizes (up to 6’ 2”) and comes with large 700c wheels. Flat pedals with traction pins allow you to wear whatever shoes you want on your commute.

What We Like

  • Style –a pure urban commuter with a pleasant retro style
  • Equipment – well equipped with a rack, fenders, and a chain guard
  • Steel – strong steel frame with compliant ride quality
  • Relaxed – easy upright riding position with swept-back handlebar

What We Don’t Like

  • Assembly – no tools included for assembly

What Type Of Bike Do You Need For Commuting?

A classic commuter bike is built and equipped as a practical machine. It doesn’t need to be overloaded with features.

That being said, not everyone wants to buy a bike solely for commuting. So, let’s look at different bike types now and their suitability for commutes.

Urban / Commuter/ City Bike

This type of bike probably won’t be light and will have a limited selection of gears, if any at all. It will always include mounts for fenders and racks and may come with them pre-installed. The riding position is always very upright.

An urban commuter bike is a functional A-to-B machine without any sporting aspect to it, though you still benefit from aerobic exercise when riding one.

Video: What Is A City Bike?

Hybrid Bike

A hybrid bike is usually a blend of road bike and MTB. It will normally have a bigger gear selection than a city bike and may place the rider in a slightly more forward position. The tires are fat enough to allow some light trail riding as well as road riding.

This bike is fine for commuting use, though a bit sportier in the way it’s equipped than a city bike. It’s generally more expensive as a result.

Cruiser

Cruiser bikes aren’t often used for commuting because they’re designed for casually rolling around on flat terrain. A typical cruiser may be a single-speed or 3-speed bike. Regardless, people can and do use them for short commutes.

Mountain Bike (MTB)

The best type of MTB for commuting is a hardtail, as a full-suspension bike is inefficient on the road unless you lock out suspension. A full sus MTB is also needlessly heavy and expensive if you’re only commuting on it.

The fat tires on an MTB make for comfortable riding, though they’re a bit slower than other tires on smooth surfaces. You’ll often have very easy gears for climbing hills, too.

Video: Commuting By Mountain Bike

Road Bike

A road bike is designed to travel long distances at high speed (or relatively high speed) compared to other bikes. Like most bikes, road bikes can also be expensive, so you may want to choose a cheap or secondhand one for your commute.

Road bikes usually come with a good range of gears. What with that and their relative lightness, they’re ideal for hilly commutes as well as flat ones. You can also be confident that a road bike’s thin tires will fit into bike racks on trains.

Folding Bikes

Folding bikes can be great commuting machines, though you should bear in mind they’re not especially light. You can normally fold them up within a few seconds and carry them onto trains and buses, making them perfect for intermodal commutes.

eBikes

Ebikes can take many forms. In the US, you can typically ride them in manual mode, pedal-assist mode, and throttle mode. Ebikes in Europe can only be fitted with a start-up assist throttle, as opposed to a full-speed throttle that is rideable without pedaling.

An e-bike houses a motor in the bottom bracket or in one of the wheel hubs. A battery is stored on the bike and will normally allow 15-50 miles of range.

What Features Make A Good Commuter Bicycle?

Features that are genuinely useful on a commuter bike include mounts or eyelets for fenders and bike racks. If you’re lucky, the fenders and rack will already be on the bike when you buy it.

Practical features you won’t often find these days on bikes include hub lights and chain guards. A swept-back handlebar lets you adopt the archetypal upright position that is easy on the back during short city rides. 

A wide handlebar makes handling more assured, less twitchy.

The geometry of a bike frame is important, too. It affects stability and comfort. Urban bikes have long wheelbases for this reason. Dropped seat stays also add comfort.

Video: Single Speed Gravel Commuter Bike

What Bike Accessories Could I Use?

There are many bike accessories you could use on a bike commute. Here are some of the more pressing purchases:

  • Rear cargo rack – with a rack like the COMINGFIT Adjustable Cargo Rack installed, the bike can take the weight of your commuting gear.
  • Panniers – fix a high-quality pannier like the Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic to a cargo rack and put all your work gear in it.
  • Lights – fit front and rear lights to your bike if you anticipate commuting in poor conditions or after dark.
  • Fenders – protect your clothing from water spray with high-quality fenders like those in the SKS Raceblade Long Fender Set.
  • Bell – you’ll often need to alert pedestrians or other cyclists to your presence. A good bike bell like the MYOLDSX O-Shaped Bell might prevent a collision.
  • Lock – don’t forgetto secure your bike at work with a robust lock like the FoldyLock Folding Bike Lock.

Urban Commuter Biking: FAQs

How Heavy Should A Commuter Bike Be?

A commuter bike needn’t be lightweight unless you intend to lift it on and off of public transport. In that instance, you probably wouldn’t want it to be much heavier than 30 lb.

How Much Should I Spend On A Commuter Bike? 

There is no upper limit, but you don’t ideally want to commute on a bike that is eminently attractive to thieves. A simple bike of around $500 or less will often suffice.

Can I Convert My Old Mountain Bike To Be A Commuter?

Yes, you can convert an MTB to a commuter by switching the tires to slicks and adding components like fenders, a rack, and a set of lights. Generally, a hardtail is better for road riding than a full-suspension mountain bike, unless you lock out the suspension. 

Is A City Bike The Same As An Urban Bike?

Yes, urban, commuter, and city bikes are all the same thing and terminology is interchangeable. The term refers to a particular type of practical, non-sporty bike, though any bike can be used as a commuter more broadly speaking.

Wrapping Up

To revisit our best urban commuting bikes, the Marin Muirwoods RC Bike 2022 takes the top spot as a high-quality MTB that’s adapted for the road yet still at home on light trails.

A frugal but still durable spec makes the Fairfax 1 Urban Bike a fine pick as our best-value bike, coming from the same manufacturer.

Third on the podium is the brilliant Cannondale Quick 6 as our best hybrid, sporting innovative SAVE micro-suspension technology.

We hope you found this article helpful. Please feel free to comment or share with friends.

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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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