When it comes to picking a commuter bike, there are a surprising number of options. Do you want a bike that will get you to and from the office and happy hour looking fly? Or do you prefer a bike that’s also rideable on trails in your local open space, parks, or national forest lands?
Do you need it to store easily, or be easy to repair? With all of these considerations in mind — and with an eye toward a range of prices — we rounded up a few fantastic commuter options. These include setups under $1,000 that are perfect for those dipping their toes (or maybe clipping their toes) in new waters.
Whether you’re just embarking on a commuter lifestyle or looking for a new everyday ride, it’s possible to get a great commuter bicycle for just a few hundred bucks. Or you can invest a higher amount for a more novel, techier, plusher setup.
In our buyers guide, we discuss the most important information to ponder before heading to your nearest local bike shop or online retailer.
Once you have an idea of what you are looking for, scroll through our selection of recommended bikes or jump to the category that piques your interest:
- Best Commuter Bikes for Less Than $1,000
- Best Pricey Commuter Bikes
Best Commuter Bikes for Less Than $1,000
Basic Commuter: Co-op Cycles CTY 2.1 Step-Through Bike
Co-op Cycles, REI’s in-house bike brand, has come a long way in a few short years. After retiring the Novara brand, REI rebooted its cycling program and now offers sturdy bikes at reasonable prices. Not to mention, a bike purchase includes free tune-ups and dividends if you’re a Co-op member.
The CTY 2.1 ($799) offers a perfect, basic, no-frills commuter bike with 700×40 Kenda tires and Shimano M315 hydraulic disc brakes for good stopping power. It comes with the Shimano Acera 24-speed derailleur system that’s easy to use and repair if needed.
Meanwhile, the aluminum frame keeps the weight relatively low, even if you opt to add fenders or a rack to carry work gear.
- Frame: Aluminum
- Number of gears: 24 (3×8 drivetrain)
- Suspension: Front suspension with 63mm fork travel
- Wheel size: 700c
- Tire width: 40 mm
- Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes
- Weight: 30 lbs., 15 oz. (median size)
- Step-through style frame for easy mount and dismount
- Bump-absorbing front shocks
- Wider tires and shocks allow for trail or gravel riding
- 24 gears make inclines easier
- Suspension forks can add more weight than rigid forks
- Not a top hybrid option for rougher mountain bike trails
- More gears than may be necessary for flatter terrain
Coolest Commuter: Brooklyn Bicycle Co. Bedford 8 Speed
If you prefer a bike that will look like art in a small apartment, the Brooklyn Bicycle Co. Bedford 8 Speed ($600) is it. This bike has eight speeds to help urban riders save sweat while pedaling rollercoaster routes.
This bike has a traditional diamond-shaped and durable steel frame plus serious style points. The steel isn’t your parents’ 1970s steel; it’s a much lighter steel alloy, but with the same strong quality. It’s a great option for San Franciscans or Manhattanites with commutes to work in hilly or flat areas and small spaces for bike storage.
Sleek army-green paint, along with a comfortable vegan leather saddle and grips, helps this bike pair with anything. But its burly, puncture-resistant 32mm tires can handle city streets and cobblestones.
This bike is great for budget shoppers thanks both to its $600 price tag and the fact that Brooklyn Bicycle Co. offers monthly financing.
- Frame: Steel
- Number of gears: Shimano 1×8 drivetrain
- Suspension: None
- Wheel size: 700c
- Tire width: 32 mm
- Brakes: Side-pull caliper
- Weight: 26-31 lbs. (sizes S-L)
- Comfortable upright riding position
- Tires are wide enough for bumps, but not too wide to slow you down
- A wide gear range that can still handle hills but isn’t overkill
- Price point
- Don’t choose this one for a road cycling workout
- Not ideal for off-road mountain biking
- Caliper brakes may not be ideal for rainy areas
Off-Road Commuter: Trek 820 WSD and Trek 820
That’s right — you can still score big-name bikes at low prices if you know what to look for. Trek’s 820 ($500) is the perfect intro off-road bike that will pedal comfortably to the office but will remain poised for action if you want to get a little “sendy” on the ride home.
The steel frame has a suspension fork with 75 mm of travel, fit for reasonable rough areas and modest trails, plus wide 26-inch tires. The Shimano Tourney 21-speed drivetrain provides power. For women, Trek’s version has a step-through design to ease hopping on and off.
Mounts for fenders and a rack are ready for accessories to haul gear on the commute. Bontrager, Trek’s house brand, rounds out components like bars and the saddle, and Tektro provides pull brakes. (Unfortunately, it’s hard to find good disc brakes at this low of a price point.)
At $500, it’s comparable with big-box store mountain bike options, with the Trek brand (and R&D department) backing it. Even if you can find a cheaper mountain bike at Walmart, this one is well worth the few extra bucks.
- Frame: Steel
- Number of gears: 21 (3×7 drivetrain)
- Suspension: Front suspension with 75mm fork travel
- Wheel size: 26″
- Tire width: 2″
- Brakes: Linear pull brakes
- Weight: 33.4 lbs. (size M and when using tire tubes)
- Solid for tackling lighter mountain biking trails and urban commutes
- Has braze-ons for the ability to add racks
- Excellent price for durable off-road design
- Larger gear range for hill climbing
- Caliper brakes are not as responsive as hydraulic brakes
- 26″ wheels
Check 820 WSD Price at Summit BicyclesCheck 820 Price at Summit Bicycles
Classic Fixie: State Bicycle Co. Wulf
Can’t stop, won’t stop: the fixed-gear aficionado motto. Nothing beats the simplicity of a fixed-gear bike, nor does anything else provide the same commuter-chic style. A perfect example? The $400 stealthy matte black fixie from State Bicycle Co.
The Wulf is the brand’s base model, but it’s designed to blend in and look unobtrusive when you need to lock it outside of a dive bar. Yet it still looks classy enough to hang on your wall or walk into your office.
It comes with a flip-flop hub, meaning if you prefer to run it single-speed (and coast) and use standard brakes (included with the bike), that’s an option.
Plus, while many brands don’t offer extra-small fixed-gear models, State Bicycle Co. actually carries frame sizes from 46-58 cm. That’s great news for the shorties out there. The bike also comes with a 5-year warranty for any manufacturer’s defects on the frame and fork.
- Frame: Steel
- Number of gears: Single-speed or fixed
- Suspension: None
- Wheel size: 700c
- Tire width: 25 mm
- Brakes: Dual-pivot caliper brakes
- Weight: 24.5 lbs. (size 54cm frame)
- Extra-small frame option for shorter folks
- Website allows you to customize frame options: handlebars, saddle, pedals, etc., and add accessories like handlebar bags, pedal straps, lights, and more
- Streamlined appearance
- Minimal maintenance
- A single speed isn’t the best option for hilly areas
Best Pricey Commuter Bikes
Best Folding Bike: Tern Node D7i Folding Bike
Perhaps you are a multimodal commuter, traveling pathways by train, bus, or car. A folding bike can make your life a lot easier. There are plenty out there that could make this list for under $200 — but you get what you pay for, and folding bikes are pretty complicated.
Shell out more cash for a well-established brand like Tern, and you’ll spend $1,299 for the entry-level Node D7i. But you’ll get a bike that doesn’t break down halfway through the workweek.
The aluminum frame comes equipped with Shimano components and offers seven speeds. Its main difference from pricier folding bike models is simply that it’s a bit heavier, weighing in at just under 32 pounds. But that’s not too tough to lug onto the bus or train.
- Frame: Aluminum
- Number of gears: 7 (1×7 drivetrain)
- Suspension: None
- Wheel size: 24″
- Tire width: 2″
- Brakes: Linear-pull
- Weight: 31 lbs., 3.2 oz. (based on median size)
- Folds up for easy storage at home and on the go
- Internal gear hub means less maintenance
- Great for commutes that include bus and train rides
- Some commuters might desire more gear options
- Not as compact as some folding bikes
Best Cyclist Splurge: Surly Disc Trucker
If you talk about bombproof bikes, the Surly name will almost certainly come up in conversation. These bikes are built to last no matter what you put them through.
True story: GearJunkie reporter Molly Hurford’s first cyclocross bike was a borrowed 5-year-old Surly Cross Check that’s still being passed around to young riders in New Jersey 12 years later.
For a cyclist looking for a bike that can handle anything from gravel grinding to long cross-country tours or a simple 2-mile commute, the Surly Disc Trucker ($2,049) is a great option. The steel frame might be heavy, but it will outlive any carbon frame on the market — this is a bike your grandchildren can inherit. And the Trucker is Surly’s touring bike, so it’s ready for racks and fenders for optimal commuting and adventuring.
Plus, it can fit fatter 62mm tires on 26-inch wheels or 41mm tires on 29-inch wheels, making it extra gnarly if you want. But it will still offer a smooth, comfortable ride if you’re wearing a business suit.
- Frame: Steel
- Number of gears: 27 (3×9 drivetrain)
- Suspension: None
- Wheel size: 26″ or 29″
- Tire width: 41-62 mm (high width of 2.4″)
- Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes
- Weight: 27.9 lbs.
- Durable steel frame
- Use 26″ or 700c wheels for more variability for different adventures
- Good bike for commuting and long tours
- Tubeless tire capability makes for great handling, especially on gravel surfaces
- Plenty of braze-ons for all your hauling needs
- On the pricier end of our list
- Drop bar setup not suitable for everyone
Best Spec’d Commuter: PRIORITY 600
We get it — sometimes you just don’t have time to build out the perfect commuter bike. If you’re in a busy area and just don’t have time to equip your bike with all of the bells and whistles you need to feel safe, secure, and dry on your way to work, consider splurging on the PRIORITY 600 ($2,499).
With its jet-black finish, unassuming geometry, and absolutely silent ride, the PRIORITY 600 commuter bicycle won’t turn many heads. But it quietly houses the latest in cycling tech and boasts Porsche DNA.
The 600 is PRIORITY’s all-road model, capable of tackling the commute even if a road is torn up by construction. It has a sealed, weatherproof, internally geared 12-speed Pinion gearbox PRIORITY claims is equivalent to a traditional 30-speed bicycle. It’s a unique system that’s closer to an automotive transmission than a traditional derailleur.
Turning the wheels, the Gates Carbon Drive belt provides a rustproof alternative to a bike chain, so this bike is ready for the worst spring showers. Meanwhile, Tektro’s hydraulic disc brakes mean you’ll be able to stop on a dime, even if there’s unexpected black ice on the road.
And 650b Road Plus tires from WTB feel like normal road tires on pavement, but offer plushness that makes the bike great for mellow trails or gravel rides as well.
Lastly, the 600 comes with full fenders, dynamo hubs for front and rear lights so you’ll never have to charge a light again, and reflective paint details, so you don’t need to add to your budget installing extras.
PRIORITY is an especially good choice if you need your bike yesterday. Easily the simplest buying process on this list, all PRIORITY orders ship the same day. And if you have a local VeloFix branch, you can use code “velofix600” for free VeloFix white glove delivery.
- Frame: Aluminum
- Number of gears: Pinion C1.12 12-speed (gear range equivalent to a 30-speed)
- Suspension: None
- Wheel size: 650b
- Tire width: 47 mm
- Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes
- Weight: 31.2 lbs. (with pedals)
- No chain to manage, rust, or sling grease
- Super-low maintenance
- Dynamo hubs also have a USB feature — charge your phone on the go
- Premium price
- A bit heavy compared to similar bicycles
Why You Should Trust Us
Alyssa Kohn is a full-time bike commuter and endurance cyclist living in Minneapolis, Minn. She’s been carless for 8 years — yes, even in the arctic winter. She’s ridden many a bike and doesn’t think one style is better than another. She loves them all and thinks what matters most is that you enjoy the bike you’re riding.
She also owned a bike tour and rental business, Minneapolis by Bike, for 9 years — she knows a thing or two about maintaining 30+ bikes at a time. She thoroughly enjoys seeing people excited about getting into cycling, and even possibly making it their new transit of choice.
Buyers Guide: How to Choose the Best Commuter Bike
As you dream up your commuter bike, consider these factors: where you’ll ride, how you’ll use the bike, the required maintenance, and your budget.
For those who need to commute strictly on road and paved bike paths, consider how hilly the routes will be. Will you need to climb often, up steep sections, or for long periods? Will you mostly cruise across flats? The more gears in your drivetrain, the more versatile your bike will be for various inclines.
Also, think about the condition of the ground. Is the pavement smooth? Will there be a smattering of potholes, cracks, or sidewalk drops? Some riders might also need or prefer to pedal dirt roads, gravel, and hard-packed or bumpy trails during their commute.
If you’ll be covering a wide mix of turf, you might want to look at bikes with wider tires and front suspension to help absorb the jolts and provide more stability.
You can also opt for a front suspension that locks out, so you won’t waste energy on the glassier pavement. Otherwise, slightly narrower tires and a fully rigid frame feel good at high speeds on smooth paths.
No matter where you intend to ride, make a purchase that supports the conditions and how you pedal the majority of the time. That way, you’ll be comfortable and have fun in the saddle.
Also, consider exactly how you like to ride. Do you want to be more upright? Then you may want a hybrid or mountain bike. Do you want to be more aerodynamic and don’t mind being more bent over? A drop-bar bike (read: the curly ones on most Tour de France riders’ bikes) would suit you.
Some bikes are well-made for the sport of road cycling, downhill mountain biking, or comfortably moseying around small towns. Commuters aren’t that.
We’ve summarized a handful of diverse commuter bikes made for simple, efficient, dependable trips from point A to point B. Some of these designs are also a match for riding easy or moderate trails or for long bikepacking tours, like the Surly Disc Trucker.
If you need to transport cargo on your bike, you’ll need to get one with mount points (braze-ons) so you can add racks.
Define Your Budget
As with any big purchase, you’ll need to determine the boundaries of your budget. The goal should be to buy the best bike you can afford, so it’s hopefully one you’ll love and use for many years. With commuter bikes, you get what you pay for.
Higher-end bikes are sometimes expensive because of better-quality components like lighter and stronger frames, longer-wearing parts, or nicer wheels. They can also be pricier because they’re decked out with extra accessories like the lighting and fenders on the PRIORITY 600. Or, they’re novel and more complicated to create like the Tern Node D7i Folding Bike.
The right bike is the one that provides the maximum comfort and functionality for your daily travel. It should also fit your bandwidth and ability for maintenance (some pricier bikes can be easier to maintain).
A commuter bike can last many years and therefore should be seen as a long-term investment. Buy a bike that fits your budget but also offers room to accommodate the terrain you’ll need to cover on your way to and from work.
Be sure to contemplate any additional accessories you’ll want to purchase such as fenders, racks, lights, or upgraded seats and pedals.
Retail vs. Online Purchase
If you’re purchasing your new bike locally, you’ll often have the option to demo the bike before you buy it. Professionals will be on hand to offer additional recommendations and different components to better suit your skills and ambitions.
However, if you live in a rural, remote area without a bike retailer nearby, you’re in luck — purchasing online is easier than ever. Many brands have polished up their customer service for direct-to-consumer sales, so you can reach out with questions about the fit and components.
If you can’t demo a bike, make sure the manufacturer offers a no-questions-asked return policy. If a bike is the wrong size, you’ll want to be able to swap it out without getting charged.
You also may need to consider your bike mechanic skills. If purchasing a bike from your local bike shop, they will already have assembled your bike for you. If purchasing online, your bike will come in a box and will require some assembly (more or less depending on the type of bike you purchase).
Whether you are buying in-store or online, you will need to know what size bike fits you. The best eyeball measurement for bike fit is that the seat of the bike hits the top of your hips. Also, you want the top tube of the bike (provided it is a diamond frame, or what most people call a “men’s bike”) to give an inch of clearance from your crotch.
If purchasing online, you can follow some general size charts like this one provided by Trek.
Bear in mind that bike sizing is a very specific and individual science. It can vary depending on your torso size, inseam, etc. General guidelines may not always be correct.
Most hybrid and road bicycle frames are measured in centimeters. Mountain bike frames are usually measured in inches or they can be simply measured as small, medium, large, etc.
A design without suspension is called a rigid bike. These static frames are generally less expensive compared to other frames.
They provide stability if you need to haul weight on your bike frame (like groceries or equipment for work) because the lack of suspension eliminates bounce that can make pedaling less efficient.
A hardtail bike has front suspension but no rear suspension. The front shock compresses and extends as you ride to absorb uneven contours. Hardtails are more expensive than bikes without suspension but are cheaper than full-suspension bikes.
Hardtails are a great option for routes with a mix of smooth and bumpy pavements, lots of curbs, or uneven dirt paths. Hardtails can be a good choice for both road commutes and mountain bike trails, as long as the rider doesn’t mind not having a full-suspension configuration.
Frame Materials and Weight
Commuter bike frames are typically made of aluminum or steel. Steel is heavier and lasts longer, but aluminum is also a durable option. The commuter bikes on our list range from 26 to 34 pounds.
Aluminum, however, does not offer as much damping as steel for off-road riding (such as gravel) unless you have shocks to absorb the bumps like the Co-op Cycles CTY 2.1 on our list.
Drivetrain and Gears
These days, most commuter bikes come with a 1x drivetrain with a single chainring in the front and a range of gears in the rear. This kind of configuration means you will have one shifter instead of two, which simplifies things and makes space in your cockpit for a dropper post and other options.
Some bikes, like the Trek 820 and Co-op Cycles CTY 2.1 Step-Through Bike, have a 2x or 3x drivetrain. That means there will be two or three chainrings in the front plus the range on the rear. Ultimately, this provides the rider with more gear options controlled with two shifters mounted to the handlebars.
The commuter bikes with gears in our guide feature anywhere from seven to 30 gears. The best setup depends on how much climbing you’ll need to do versus flat terrain as well as personal preference.
You’ll also come across single-speed bikes, a design with one gear and no shifters. Not all single-speeds are the same.
The power a cyclist can transfer into a single-speed bike is determined by the front chainring and rear cog’s circumference and the number of teeth. The number of teeth on the front divided by the number in the rear gives us a ratio, which is a metric used to understand the overall cadence and ability to accelerate or maintain speed.
For instance, the State Bicycle Co. Wulf has a 44×16 gear ratio that allows for easier acceleration.
A fixed-gear bike, or a fixie, is a specific type of single-speed bike. The drivetrain of a fixie has one gear, and it’s fixed to the rear wheel so the rider has to continuously pedal if the wheels are in motion. There’s no freewheel mechanism. Essentially, this means you can never coast if you like to let your legs rest on the downhills.
But if you want to perform some cool tricks, master a track stand, or practice your skids, a fixie will bring all the fun. The State Bicycle Co. Wulf has the ability to be a single-speed or a fixie, as it has a flip-flop hub.
Commuter bikes are generally fitted with 24-, 26-, 27.5-, or 29-inch wheels, which refers to the diameter. You’ll often see 27.5-inch wheels referred to as 650b, and 29-inch wheels known as 29ers or 700c.
The wheel size can change how a bike feels for the rider. A larger wheel diameter can feel more stable and has more surface contact and traction, which can be good for choppy ground and snow. It’s also heavier. A smaller wheel (and narrower tire) is lighter and better for higher speeds on smooth ground.
Wheel size is a major contributor to the way a bike will ride, but it isn’t everything. The frame and kinematics of any bike work together with wheel size to offer different strengths and characteristics. For this reason, wheel size on its own isn’t a good reason to choose a bike, especially for newer riders.
Tire Width and Tread
The tire widths on our selected commuter bikes range from 25 to 61 mm wide. In comparison, most road bikes are outfitted with tires that have a 23-30mm width.
A width above 30 mm is better for gravel. Even more, 50-58mm tires (which are 1.9-2.3 inches wide) are good for cross-country tours when you’ll likely encounter uneven surface areas.
Tire width for mountain bikes can range from about 2.3-2.5 inches, while fat bike tires are even wider. That said, there are no hard-and-fast rules, and tire choice depends a lot on rider preference.
Tires with deep, rough tread will grip the terrain better than smooth tread, but smooth tread tends to be lighter and faster. Wide tires also tend to be heavier, and they roll with greater resistance. However, extra width can be an asset for riders looking for stability and a more forgiving ride.
Another consideration for tires and wheels is tubeless compatibility. Tubeless tires generally result in fewer flats and quicker puncture fixes. And they also provide more control and better handling, particularly on gravel and dirt surfaces. Both the PRIORITY 600 and the Surly Disc Trucker boast tubeless compatibility.
There are several considerations when thinking about bike maintenance. For those wanting less maintenance, we often suggest an internal gear or hub bike.
These bikes have all the gears in the rear hub (think the rear axle) or a gearbox at the bottom bracket (the part your cranks and pedals attach to). These include the PRIORITY 600 as opposed to a derailleur — the shifting system most bikes are equipped with, which has multiple chainrings on the rear wheel.
The advantage of an internal hub or gearbox is that the gears are all inside the hub and therefore rarely get dirty. Also, you don’t risk bumping them and messing up the shifting tension.
The tension is also much easier to fix yourself. However, depending on the number of gears you have, you may need to have them oiled or greased every 12 to 24 months.
The more gears you have, the more likely you will need that maintenance. Also, more gears and an internal hub mean your rear wheel is heavier.
A derailleur system requires more frequent adjustments of cable tension in order to keep your shifting performing well. Keeping the chainrings clean can also be a task, as is lubing and cleaning the chain.
And you will need to replace the chain and cogs as they wear. With some effort, this is easier to learn and maintain on your own, but greasing/oiling an internal hub is more specialized.
A few basic maintenance practices will prolong the life of your components and boost your bike’s performance (and your fun). Lube your drivetrain regularly with bicycle-specific lubricant. Bike lube cleans the chain by removing grit and grime while also reducing wear and friction.
It’s best to leave lube on the chain overnight. Before you ride the following day, spin the pedals backward while you hold a rag against the chain to remove excess lube and sludge.
Hardtails should have their suspension systems serviced in a bike shop every 30 hours of riding. Other components that should be checked and serviced regularly include cables and brake pads.
Make sure your tires have adequate air in them before every ride. Unlike car tires, bike tires lose air more quickly. Each tire has a recommended psi (pound-force per square inch) printed on its side. Generally, for paved surfaces, you’ll want the tire to feel like a ripe orange — firm but squeezable.
What is the best bike for commuting to work?
There are lots of high-quality commuter bike brands to choose from. Some of the big-name brands that are well known and reputable include Trek and Surly.
Instead of the brand, try to focus on what your needs are as a rider. The best commuter bike will suit the domain where you ride, fit your budget and maintenance needs, and feel fun to pedal where you live and play.
How much does a good commuter bike cost?
The price of commuter bikes can vary a ton. On this list, we’ve considered value, quality, and pros and cons to compile the best options between $500 and $2,499.
Some bikes maintain an affordable price tag and still include high-quality features like disc brakes and front suspension. We consider the bikes on this list to be a good bang for your buck.
How do I choose a commuter bike?
Consider the region where you’ll be riding your bike to and from work or around town. When the landscape is full of hills, you’ll want more gears to help make the climbs easier.
If the terrain is smooth and you intend to carry gear on your bike, a rigid bike is a good choice for agility and stability. Rough topography — like potholes and chunky, deteriorating pavement — is handled well by front suspension and wider tires that help absorb the unevenness.
You’ll also need to determine a budget for your new bike. If you intend to carry items on the bike frame, look for a bike that has mount points for accessories, so you can add racks and fenders.
Some top-tier bikes have special features like the sealed, weatherproof, internally geared 12-speed Pinion gearbox on the PRIORITY 600 — but they come at a premium.