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Vintage Commuter Bike Ideas

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In cycling circles, “vintage bikes” are usually 30 or 40 years old at least.

If you fancy riding to work on a bike full of character and charm, read on!

We’ll help you pick the ideal machine from all the commuter vintage bikes on the market.

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Vintage Commuter Bikes To Adore

Let’s look at some of the vintage bike styles that might catch your eye.

Sit Up And Beg Bikes (Just Like In The Movies)

The type of bike that Cary Grant rode in 1950s movies like “Rear Window” is a sit-up-and-beg bike. These charming bikes have a swept-back handlebar that enables an upright posture in the cyclist.

Other distinguishing features of this movie-set bike are chain guards, fenders, maybe a front basket, oversized bicycle bells and large lamps.

Road “Racing” Bikes (c. 1950s to 1990s)

Road bikes from at least the 1950s through the early 1990s had down-tube gear shifters rather than the combined brake/gear levers that are common today. They had frames made of steel rather than carbon, too, so they were heavier.

The gear range on older road bikes was narrower, as were the tires. Vintage road bikes also had dual brake levers, which you won’t find on modern bikes.

Video: Eddie Merckx – 1960s & 70s Icon

Dutch Bikes (Timeless Bikes From The Netherlands)

If you travel to The Netherlands, you’ll notice the majority of bikes ridden within cities are similar in appearance. These durable, practical bikes are called grandpa or grandma bikes (“opafiets” or “omafiets”).

Dutch bikes have hallmark features of their own, like a double top tube on men’s bikes, rod-actuated drum brakes or coaster brakes, a rear skirt guard covering the top portion of the wheel, and a sizeable chain guard. Often, they’re single-speed bikes.

Video: Why Dutch Bikes are Better

Vintage Mountain Bikes

MTBs might not conjure images of yesteryear in your mind, but they’ve been around since the start of the 1980s. The earliest prototypes were patched together with bits from other bikes, including motorbikes, BMX bikes and even road bikes.

Early all-terrain bikes lacked suspension, but they had the fatter knobby tires, motorcycle-derived handlebar, and some fairly easy gear ratios for hilly terrain. They came from pioneering makers such as Joe Breeze and Tom Ritchey.

Other Vintage Machines

Among the other vintage bikes you’ll find on the market are BMX bikes and touring bikes. The latter is a kind of road bike and is still often made from steel rather than aluminum or carbon.

The earliest BMX bikes predate MTBs and date back 50 years. They were designed as a bicycle version of motocross bikes.

Read more: The ultimate guide to commuting by bike

3 Vintage-Style Commuter Bikes Available To Buy Today

Below, we have three bikes that are vintage in style or set-up, or both. What fun you’ll have riding these great bikes!

1. Electra Loft 7D Bike (best overall)

CHECK PRICE AT REI

  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Gears: 7
  • Weight: 31 lbs (14 kg)

A bike with a distinct vintage look is the Electra Loft 7D. It has a relaxed geometry and a sweeping mustache handlebar that will have you sitting comfortably upright as you ride. That handlebar will also place your wrists in a natural position.

Practical features that were common on vintage bikes include fenders and a chain guard. Chain guards help prevent your everyday attire from being spoiled by grease or oil from the drivetrain.

More modern features of the bike include its relatively lightweight aluminum frame and 7-speed Shimano derailleur gears. Robust double-wall wheel rims come with comfortably wide tires and a high spoke count for strength.

What we like

  • Style – lots of vintage appeal with its traditional looks.
  • Updated – benefits from modern gears and frame material.
  • Value – solid everyday bike for the money.

What we don’t like

  • Maintenance – derailleur gears need more servicing than hub gears or a single gear.

2. Hollandia Transport Dutch Style Cruiser (best women’s vintage bike)

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CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Frame Material: Steel
  • Gears: 1

While it lacks some of the classic “omafiets” attributes, the Hollandia Dutch-style City Bike from Cycle Force still has a Netherlandish feel. Not least of that is its elaborate chain guard. Other features like fenders, a lamp and a bell add to the practicality.

Like many Dutch bikes, the Hollandia looks minimalistic because of its single gear and coaster brakes. You stop the bike by exerting backward pressure on the pedals. This is a bike primarily suited to flat city riding, which encompasses many commutes.

To help with ride comfort, the Hollandia has swept-back handlebars for an upright posture, wide 40mm tires and a sprung saddle to absorb road vibration.

What we like

  • Dutch – traditional bike with a North European flavor.
  • Hassle-free – a low-maintenance machine.
  • Extras – handy extras like a bell, rear reflector and front lamp.

What we don’t like

  • Brakes – coaster-only braking has some disadvantages (e.g., a dropped chain leaves you brakeless).

3. Mongoose Tyax Comp Mountain Bike (best MTB)

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CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Gears: 11
  • Weight: Approx. 30 lbs (13.6 kg)

The earliest mountain bikes didn’t much resemble the refined MTBs of today, but you can still capture something of their raw feel. For instance, the Mongoose Tyax Comp Mountain Bike is a hardtail with hydraulic lockout in the front suspension fork.

Removing suspension to make this bike a bare-bones MTB goes some way to replicating those earliest mountain bikes. You can use lockout for a more efficient ride on asphalt or smoother trails, too, so it’s a useful tool for road commutes.

Of course, many aspects of this Mongoose MTB are thoroughly modern, like the lightweight aluminum frame, wide-ranging gear ratios (30t x 11-46t) and hydraulic disc brakes. Some aspects of bike evolution are to be embraced!

What we like

  • Efficient – suspension lockout enhances efficiency on smooth surfaces.
  • Features – useful features like a wide gear range and hydraulic disc brakes.
  • Flagship – Mongoose’s top-tier hardtail bikes.

What we don’t like

  • Service – customer service and care in dispatch sometimes lacking.
Mark Whitley
Mark Whitley
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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