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Many people when they look for a commuter bike seek something reliable and inexpensive. They want the practicality of cheap, serviceable parts and a bike that doesn’t attract too much attention from thieves.
One bike that fulfils these criteria is the Vilano R2 Commuter Road Bike. It’s a bike that promises a lot for not too much money.
What we like
- Value – accessible entry-level price.
- Brand – several Shimano components.
- Strength – strong frame and sturdy double-wall wheel rims.
What we don’t like
- Weight – cheap road bikes are invariably heavy.
Things To Consider Before Buying A Vilano R2 Commuter Bike
Before looking closely at the Vilano R2, you ideally need an idea of what you’re looking for in a commuter bike.
The Vilano R2 is a road bike. While road bikes differ significantly in their geometry, they invariably place you in a more forward position than other bikes. A hybrid bike, city bike (aka urban bike), folding bike or cruiser will all put you in a more relaxed position.
A road bike is ideal for anyone that is averagely flexible and likes riding quickly or far. It’s a fast bike that places you in a more aerodynamic riding position than other bikes. The tires will be relatively narrow and slick, which adds to the speed.
Features Of The Vilano R2 Commuter
Not all road bikes are equal, so what does the Vilano R2 Commuter offer?
At this price point, a bike frame is probably going to be aluminum or steel. Aluminum has the benefit of being lighter, so it’s popular on budget-friendly bikes.
The Vilano frame is constructed from 6061 double-butted aluminum. This material is favored in bike building for its high strength-to-weight ratio.
Included on the down tube are mounts for a water-bottle cage.
Drivetrain & Gears
Gears are always worth looking at in a potential bike, particularly if you live or work in a hilly area. What does the Vilano R2 offer in this regard?
The Vilano has a 3X drivetrain with a 7-speed 14-28t freewheel at the rear. That makes 21 gears in all (3 x 7), which gives the average commuter more than enough options.
One difference between the Vilano R2 and more expensive road bikes is the former’s use of a freewheel rather than a cassette at the rear. This is the reason for its lower 7-speed gear range versus more expensive bikes.
The Vilano compensates for the above with a triple chainring at the front instead of one or two.
Several of the Vilano R2’s drivetrain components are Shimano, so that’s a good sign in terms of reliability. There’s a Shimano Tourney rear derailleur, Shimano Tourney A050 handlebar-mounted gear shifters, and a Shimano front derailleur.
Stopping power in the Vilano R2 Commuter Bike comes from caliper rim brakes. This isn’t quite as modern as disc brakes, but it helps keep the cost down and works sufficiently well.
Because this bike has its gear shifters on the bar, the brake levers are single-purpose and not used for gear shifting. For the most part, unless making steep descents, this is no great disadvantage.
Read more: The best road bike brake pads reviewed
Wheels & Tires
The Vilano comes with a pair of CNC-machined alloy wheels which are double-walled for extra strength. The 700c (622mm diameter) wheels come with 25mm tires.
Double-walled wheels are less prone to punctures from protruding spokes inside the wheel rim, though this is something you should check to prevent “mystery” punctures. You can file spokes down to eradicate this problem.
Read more: Commuter wheels explained
In truth, you’ll probably want to replace the tires fairly quickly for more robust puncture resistance and/or speed. They’re a common weak spot on bikes at various price points and make a radical difference to ride quality.
A plus point about the wheels is their quick-release levers.
Handlebar & Saddle
In keeping with most road bikes, the Vilano R2 comes with drop handlebars, giving you at least three hand positions when riding (tops, hoods, drops).
It’s worth noting that A050 shifters make it easier to switch to a flat handlebar should you fancy that, whereas regular STI shifters (brake/gear levers) can’t readily make that transition.
An “urban commuter saddle” is provided with the bike, which you may or may not find comfortable. Saddles are often replaced on new bikes, not because they’re inherently uncomfortable, but because there’s a high chance they won’t suit the rider.
Vilano R2 Alternatives
There are other choices if you need a new commuter bike at a relatively affordable price.
Our first alternative to the Vilano R2 comes from Colorado-based Tommaso Bikes. The Tommaso Fascino Road Bike is a more expensive machine that still falls within the budget end of the spectrum.
This bike has a compact geometry with a sloping top tube. Its tall front-end places the rider in a relatively relaxed position. One benefit over the Vilano R2 lies with the gears. The Tommaso comes with Shimano Tourney dual-control gear and brake STI levers.
These brake levers let you shift gears and brake without changing your hand position, which is a tad safer if you’re moving at high speed. Although like the Vilano, the bike has 21 gears (3×7), the Tommaso has a 12-28t rear cassette instead of a freewheel.
- Gear Shifters – the Tommaso has combined gear & brake STI levers, whereas the Vilano has separate handlebar-mounted click shifters.
- Gears – the Tommaso has a wider gear range at the rear and Shimano Tourney 30/39/50t chainrings at the front versus the unbranded Vilano rings.
- Compact – the Tommaso has a sloping top tube as part of its compact geometry, which provides more standover clearance.
- Cost – all the above makes the Tommaso Fascino markedly more expensive.
Our second alternative product diverges more from the Vilano R2. The Hiland Clifford Commuter Bike is a hybrid with a very different set of features. The most obvious of these is the more upright geometry with flat handlebars.
The gears on the Hiland Clifford offer a substantially different range to our proposed road bikes. An 8-speed Shimano 12-32t cassette at the rear is paired with triple 24/34/42t front chainrings. This range is biased towards easy pedaling and climbing.
Unlike our other proposed bikes, this bike also has mechanical disc brakes. The major advantage of those over rim brakes is their superior efficiency in wet weather.
- Geometry – this hybrid bike will have you in a more upright position than the Vilano R2.
- Wheels – the Hiland Clifford provides more clearance for wider tires and comes equipped with 40mm (40c) Kenda tires.
- Gears – a substantial gear range, biased towards the lower end, makes this bike easier to pedal over steep hills than our other bikes.
- Disc brakes – a nice feature to have and uncommon at this price point.
- Speed – the Vilano R2 is a faster bike that puts you in a lower position.
3. Schwinn Kedzie Single-Speed Road Bike
One way to make a commuter bike lighter and cheaper is to remove gears. A single-speed bike like the Schwinn Kedzie Single-Speed Road Bike is great if your commute is flat.
Naturally, lack of gear choice is a major difference between this bike and the Vilano R2. Instead, you get a flip-flop hub that lets you choose between a single-speed bike and a “fixie”. You only have to turn the rear wheel around to change the configuration.
- Posture – more upright riding position than the Vilano R2.
- Gears – just one 46t x 18t gear with this Schwinn bike, which should be fine on a flat commute.
- Steel – the steel frame of this bike offsets the weight benefit of a single gear, but steel is said to offer a more compliant ride than aluminum (not always true).
- Cheaper – single-speed bikes are usually cheaper than equivalent geared bikes.
- Slower – you’ll always go faster on a drop-handlebar road bike like the Vilano R2.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are a few commonly asked questions about the Vilano R2 Commuter Bike.
Does the Vilano R2 have eyelets for a rack or fenders?
No, you need to use P-clamps or other solutions to install fenders and a rack.
How much does the bike weigh?
Depending on size, the bike weighs approximately 27-30 pounds.
Is there a maximum load for this bike?
The rider plus any luggage should not weigh more than 250 pounds.
A commuter bike has to be reliable and practical, and in most cases, you wouldn’t want it to be worth a fortune.
That’s where the Vilano R2 comes in. It’s ideal for riding to and from work quickly and efficiently.
Shimano parts add to the Vilano R2’s appeal. It’s a bike you can buy without breaking the bank and gradually upgrade if you enjoy riding it.
You can check the bike out by clicking here.
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