Which Bike to Buy for Commuting to Work

Welcome! You’ve decided to start commuting to work by bike but undecided on what type of bike is best suited for your commute. We’ve put this post together to help inform on what types of bikes work best depending on the type of commute.


Why is Choosing the Right Bike for Commuting Important?

Choosing the right bike for commuting is especially important as you will end up spending a lot of time on the thing. Nothing is worse than a bike is either uncomfortable or not suited for your commute.

Some of the issues you may experience with choosing the wrong bike:

  • Impractical to take on public transport due to bulk
  • Not suited for hilly terrain
  • Uncomfortable on bumpy dirt tracks
  • Slow on city streets

For this reason, we recommend considering the following when making a decision on a bike:

  • Will you be riding on country roads/tracks or city streets?
  • Will you be taking the bike on public transport and need to fold it up?
  • Do you want comfort or speed?
  • Are you after lightness or toughness?

There’s the perfect bike out there for everyone but you need to first ask yourself what type of riding it is that you will be doing. There’s no point buying a bike that’s suited for road riding if you will be doing the majority of your riding along bumpy fire trail tracks.


Road Bikes

Example of a road bike

Road bikes are generally what most people think of when they think of a bike. Known for their drop handlebars which help put you in a more horizontal riding position to help with speed and aerodynamics, the road bike will suit some commuters better than others. 

Road bikes are made in a variety of different materials from carbon (super lightweight) to aluminium and all the way to steel (more durable but slightly heavier). We recommend steering away from carbon bikes as they are not durable enough to cope with the conditions of commuting where a small crash could affect the integrity of the carbon on the bike. 

Instead, look for a road bike that’s either aluminium or steel as this will better withstand the conditions of commuting but also come with additional extras such as the ability to attach mudguards or panniers.

Luckily in recent times we have seen road bikes evolve to include options previously only seen in mountain bikes such as disc brakes, suspension and fatter tyres. We will look to cover these types of bikes in the next section.

What type of commuters does a road bike favour?

  • Someone who is looking for speed over comfort
  • Someone who is happy to feel every bump on the road due to no suspension and skinny tyres
  • Someone that wants something that will be quick to ride up hilly terrain
  • Someone who has a long commute

What type of commuter does a road bike not favour?

  • Someone who needs to venture off road from time to time
  • Someone not confident riding in the rain with skinny tyres
  • Someone with a short commute
Bestseller No. 1
Vilano R2 Commuter Aluminum Road Bike 21 Speed 700c
  • 6061 Double Butted Aluminum Frame - Lightweight
  • A050 Thumb Shifters
  • 700c Doubled Walled CNC Machined Wheelset with Quick Release Skewers
  • 21 Speed Drivetrain to Handle Any Situation
  • Free Pedals Included, Bike is Factory Direct, Assembly & Tuning are required
SaleBestseller No. 2
Schwinn Phocus 1600 Drop Bar Road Bicycle for Men, Featuring 56cm/Large Aluminum Step-Over Frame and Carbon Fiber Fork with Shimano 16-Speed Drivetrain and 700c Wheels, Black
  • Schwinn aluminum road frame with Carbon fiber road fork
  • Shimano Claris 16 speed derailleur with Micro shift integrated shift/brake lever combo
  • High profile alloy double wall rims with paired spokes are lightweight and strong with front Quick release
  • Promax alloy dual pivot caliper road brakes for great breaking power
  • Alloy crank for wide gear range

Gravel, Cyclocross and Adventure Bikes

Example of a gravel adventure bike

In recent times, road bikes have evolved to be more than just fast bikes you ride on roads. We’ve seen a new breed of road bikes released that are capable of riding on just dirt tracks (cyclocross bikes) all the way to bikes that are capable of riding both on and off the road (gravel and adventure bikes).

What makes these bikes more capable of riding off road than road bikes you ask? Good question. Some of the things that make these bikes more comfortable off the road include:

  • Disc brakes for improved stopping power especially in the wet
  • Basic suspension to help absorb bumps
  • Fatter tyres to provide a more comfortable ride

Gravel, cyclocross and adventure bikes are well suited for any commuter that:

  • Do the majority of their riding on and off the road
  • Ride in the rain a lot to benefit from the increased stopping power of disc brakes
  • People with longer commutes

 Where these types of bikes are not suited for commuters who:

  • Ride a relatively short commute
  • Spend most of their time on the road
  • Are on a budget
Bestseller No. 1
Colnago WORLD CUP SL DISC 105 5800 Cyclocross Bicycle, Black/red, 54cm
  • Double butted 6000 series aluminum frame that is disc brake specific
  • Higher bottom bracket height designed for cyclocross racing
  • Reinforcement tube between the seat tube and top tube which facilitates the carrying of the frame on the shoulder
Bestseller No. 2
Raleigh Bikes Willard 1 Gravel Adventure Road Bike, 56cm/Large
  • Lightweight aluminum frame and fork designed for riding comfortably on unpaved roads
  • Shimano Claris 8 speed shifters provide 16 gears to choose from
  • Tektro lyra mechanical disc brakes offer great stopping power in inclement weather
  • Clement X'Plor USH 700x35c tires handle well on gravel and pavement
  • Pedals included; limited lifetime warranty on the frame for as long as the original retail purchaser owns the bicycle

Hybrid, Urban and Commuter Bicycles

Example of a hybrid bike

Major bike manufacturers use the terms hybrid, urban and commuter interchangeably to mean a bike that is a mix between a road bike and mountain bike.

What exactly is a hybrid bike? They are designed with a more comfortable riding position using flat handlebars (think the type you see on mountain bikes) instead of the more aggressive riding position you would see on a road bike with its drop handlebars. Additionally, hybrid bikes also come disc brakes similar to what you would see on a mountain bike. These are great for anyone that rides in the rain a lot.

We’ve started to see commuter bikes emerge using more lightweight materials but we’d recommend sticking away from carbon and using a durable material like aluminium which will endure the harsh conditions that commuting will throw at it. 

What type of commuting is a hybrid bike suited to?

  • Someone who wants something that can ride on a range of surfaces (on and off road)
  • Someone who just wants to be able to quickly get on the bike and ride without much hassle 
  • Someone with a mid to long commute
  • Someone who has a good balance of hills and flats on their commute

What type of commuting would a hybrid bike not be suited for?

  • Someone that wants to go as fast as possible
  • Someone who wants a bit of suspension in their ride for bumps
Bestseller No. 1
Hiland Hybrid Bike Commuter Bicycle Bike with Disc Brake for Men and Women Adult Teenager Youth Boys Girls Urban City Comfortable Bicycle 700C Wheels 24 speeds Bikes Black 58cm
  • Matte black aluminum 58cm frame, plus with mechanical DISC-brake design.It's easy to accessorize with racks, a kickstand, fenders, lights, and more!!
  • Road bike speed and hybrid bike versatility,SHIMANO 24(gears) speeds change system provide a stable speed change experience.
  • Aluminum rims,Shimano 12-32T cassette and Kenda 700*40C High-performance tyres,good riding experience.
  • 85% pre-assembled,easy to assemble,free installation tools and pedals include.Frame LIFE TIME warranty.
  • Weight: Approximately 28lbs (12.8kg) with pedals. Size S for 5'3'' & 5'8", M for 5'7'' & 6'1",L for 6' & 6'5", CHECK THE SIZE BEFORE YOU ORDER.
Bestseller No. 2
Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bikes for Men and Women, Featuring Aluminum City Frame, 21-Speed Drivetrain, Black and White
  • Men's comfort bike with aluminum city frame; Anatomic grips with dual density
  • Schwinn suspension fork; Schwinn alloy crank; City rise bar with back sweep handlebar
  • 21 speed Sram grip shifter; Shimano rear derailleur; Alloy twist shifter compatible 4 finger brake levers
  • Promax alloy linear pull brakes; rear gear carrier; Adjsutable stem rise alloy ahead
  • Swept back upright handlebar and padded saddle

Touring Bicycle

Example of a touring bike

As the name suggests, touring bikes are made for touring with long days in the saddle with panniers and bags attached. Touring bikes are designed with a similar look to road bikes with drop down handlebars but generally favour more durable materials like steel which can better withstand the different conditions of touring. 

We think touring bikes make a great option for anyone who has a mid to long range commute and is looking for something that is both reliable and comfortable.

Touring bikes favour people who:

  • Have a mid to long distance commute
  • Prefer to ride with panniers and mudguards. Generally touring bikes are designed for these to fit natively on the bike without much effort
  • Want a durable bike able to withstand the different conditions of commuting

Touring bikes won’t favour people who:

  • Have a short commute 
  • Want a lightweight bike 
Bestseller No. 1
Mongoose Men's Elroy Adventure Bike 700C Wheel Bicycle, Blue, 54cm frame size
  • Versatile adventure touring bike features capable adventure bike geometry, a sleek alloy frame and steel fork for the ultimate ride
  • 2x7 drivetrain with Shimano Tourney derailleurs, an integrated Micro shift shifters/brake lever combo and mechanical disc brakes keep the ride smooth
  • Integrated frame bag features a stylish embroidered patch and all the room you need for your riding essentials
  • Large front rack (with an integrated bottle opener!) can easily carry two panniers, while the rear rack mount offers even more carrying capability
  • Internal cable routing leaves room for 3 Distinct water bottle cage mounts (and 2 more on the fork) so you'll always stay hydrated when you ride
Bestseller No. 2
Vilano R2 Commuter Aluminum Road Bike 21 Speed 700c
  • 6061 Double Butted Aluminum Frame - Lightweight
  • A050 Thumb Shifters
  • 700c Doubled Walled CNC Machined Wheelset with Quick Release Skewers
  • 21 Speed Drivetrain to Handle Any Situation
  • Free Pedals Included, Bike is Factory Direct, Assembly & Tuning are required

Fixies and Single Speed Bicycles

Example of a single speed bike

For those of you that want a bike with little maintenance, a single speed bike is for you. Designed with a similar look to that of a road bike, single speed bikes do not have any gears and relies on one gear. This results in less maintenance compared to other bikes which have a full gear set.

One downside to single speed bikes is they aren’t great on hilly areas where having a range of gears is handy when the going gets tough. The same also applies on flat areas where sometimes it’s handy to have heavier gears to help build up more speed. For this reason, we recommend fixie or single speed bikes for people that live in urban environments with a relatively short commute.

But what’s the difference between single speed and fixies? A fixie (or fixed gear) is similar to a single speed bike but without the freewheel. This means that when the wheel is turning also are the pedals. This can be quite scary when riding fast as the pedals start turning rather quickly. One of the positives of not having a freewheel is that pedaling backwards acts as a brake similar to what you may have had on a BMX bike when you were a kid. 

What type of commuters should buy a fixie or single speed?

  • Someone with a relatively short urban commute with no hills
  • Someone on a budget
  • Someone looking for a bike with little maintenance

What type of commuters shouldn’t buy a fixie or single speed?

  • Anyone with a hilly commute 
  • Anyone who needs more than one gear
  • Anyone who has a long commute
Bestseller No. 1
Retrospec Harper Single-Speed Fixed Gear Urban Commuter Bike
  • Includes a flip-flop hub so you can ride fixed or with a freewheel
  • Premium hand-built, tig-welded, high-tensile strength steel frame absorbs the bumps in the road and is as durable as can be
  • Comes standard with 30mm deep-v rims, Kenda Kwest 700 x 28C tires, KMC chain, VP freestyle pedals, and two sets of brakes
  • All of the components required for a super smooth ride. All of our bikes have a weight limit of 220 lbs. Height Range - 5.9 - 6 Inch. Standover Height - 34 Inch
  • Includes all the tools you need for building and maintaining your own bicycle
Bestseller No. 2
Golden Cycles Single Speed Fixed Gear Bike with Front & Rear Brakes
  • Frame: high tensile steel fully tig-welded fork: 1-1/8 inch steel fork brakes: front & rear
  • Headset: 1-1/8 inch neco headset handlebar: alloy custom riser bars
  • Chain ring crank: alloy 46T bottom bracket: sealed bearing 68mm
  • Wheels: 45mm deep alloy rims hubs: 32hole sealed bearing flip flop hub
  • Tires: 700C x 25 Kenda pedals: BMX platform

Mountain bikes

Example of a mountain bike

Depending on the type of mountain bike you get, most are generally made for rugged cross country riding and not for riding on urban roads. Most mountain bikes come with disk brakes and front suspension at minimum with some also including back suspension.


We generally recommend mountain bikes for anyone that has a bumpy commute and a need for suspension. From our experience, suspension bikes can be slow as it absorbs a lot of the effort you make when riding which can result in a very spongy and sluggish commute when riding on smooth surfaces. While you can lock and disable the suspension, you might as well just buy a hybrid bike if you see yourself locking it often.  

Mountain bikes favour people who:

  • Have lots of bumps and holes on their commute to ride over
  • Spend most of their commute off road
  • Want quick stopping power that comes with disc brakes

Mountain bikes aren’t for people who:

  • Have a relatively smooth commute 
  • Spend more of their time riding on road
  • Are on a budget
Bestseller No. 1
Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive 29er Complete READY RIDE Hardtail Mountain Bike, 18"/Medium Black
  • Aluminum alloy 29er hard tail frame is tried and true
  • 14g stainless steel spokes
  • Suspension fork provides added control and comfort on the trail
  • Shimano drivetrain is a staple of reliability
  • Mechanical disc brakes offer great stopping power
Bestseller No. 2
Mongoose Impasse Full Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike, Featuring 18-Inch/Medium Aluminum Frame and 29-Inch Wheels with Disc Brakes, Silver
  • Aluminum suspension frame maximizes comfort & performance
  • Element suspension fork smoothes the bumps and increases control
  • 21 speed Shimano rear derailleur with SRAM twist shifters changes gears easily
  • Alloy wheels with quick release front
  • Alloy front & rear disc brakes

Folding bicycles

Example of a folding bike

We've written about some of our favourite Dahon branded folding bikes in the past and we're big fans! Folding bikes are a great option for anyone who is space conscious and has a relatively small commute. We wouldn't recommend them for people with long or hilly commutes due to the limited gear range which will make any hill a grind!

Who we think folding bikes are great for:

  • Small commutes
  • People who need to take their bike on public transport
  • People who have limited space to store their bike

People who might not suit folding bikes

  • People with longer commutes
  • People with hilly commutes
  • People who like the feeling of riding on a true to size bike
  • People who like the feeling of multiple gears
SaleBestseller No. 1
EuroMini ZiZZO 2019 Campo 28lb Lightweight Aluminum Frame Shimano 7-Speed Folding Bike 20-Inch (Matte Black)
  • Lightweight aluminum frame; folds in seconds and is easy to carry so you never need to leave it outside.
  • Genuine Shimano components with 7 speeds and grip style shifter.
  • Easy single fold stem, folding pedals, magnet catcher to hold fold bike's frame securely together.
  • 2“ multi-terrain tires and v-style brakes.
  • Folded size: H-27. 25" L-33. 2" W-13. 5. Weight: 28. 5 lb. (Lightweight).
SaleBestseller No. 2
Goplus 20'' Folding Bike, 7 Speed Shimano Gears, Lightweight Iron Frame, Foldable Compact Bicycle with Anti-Skid and Wear-Resistant Tire for Adults (Curved Crossbar)
  • 【7-Speed Folding Bike】The shifting handle and rear derailleur allow you to easily change the speed as needed, giving you a new experience during your ride. In addition, the ergonomic anti-slip handle relieves discomfort caused by prolonged riding.
  • 【Rugged Frame & Foldable Design】With high-strength iron frame, this folding bike has strong load-bearing capacity and can be used for a long time. Besides, the foldable design makes it easy for you to carry and store. And the entire folding process takes only 3 steps.
  • 【Adjustable Handle & Seat Height】 Made of high quality aging resistant rubber and aluminum alloy rims, the tires are non-slip and difficult to pierce. So you can use it on a mountain road or on a rugged road. Not only that, the height of the seat and handle can be adjusted to provide you a better comfort experience.
  • 【V-style Brakes】This bicycle is equipped with front and rear V brakes, which make the brakes more efficient and shorten the braking distance when riding out. Cortical seats provide you with the greatest comfort, and you can adjust the height from top to bottom to find the height that best suits your ride.
  • Easy Assembly Process】Our folding bicycle is 98% installed, so you can install and use it very quickly, reducing a lot of tedious installation steps, allowing you to use our bicycle quickly. And our wear-resistant wheels can cope with all kinds of road conditions. The anti-skid foot with BS reflector allows you to ride at night without any problems.

Summary

Like anything in life, you get what you pay for and for this reason we'd recommend not cheaping out too much when buying a bike to commute on. Cheaper bikes generally won't last the harsh conditions that commuting throws at it. 

One way to look at spending more money on a commuter bike is to think about all the money you will save elsewhere whether it be not needing to go to the gym anymore or saving money from public transport. I save $1,500 from not needing to catch public transport anymore so it's a huge saving!

Good luck in your hunt for a new bike! 

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