One of the best, or perhaps most envy inducing, parts of running Bicycle2Work is reading reviews and looking at photos of the latest and greatest commuter bikes on the market. I’ve heard it said that bicycles are only a tool in the sense that they are used to meet a specific need. While I can agree with that sentiment I would also argue that they’re pieces of art too. I’ve never stared at photos of hammers like I do photos of bicycles. Each bike is unique in its design in terms of what it’s crafted from and geometry. Bikes are beautiful.
That’s why I put together this list of the best commuter bikes of 2019. These are the commuter bikes that I personally dream of pedaling around. They’re not the cheapest nor are they budget friendly. If you’re new to bike commuting, don’t be dissuaded. You don’t need one of these to get started as you can purchase a decent bike for under $500 for commuting. I don’t only believe it, but I rode such a bike for a couple years. This list is full of the commuter bikes I dream of. They’re the best of the best. Without further ado, here is a list of commuter bikes that struck my fancy.
Many bike designers talk about how their bike is the BEST commuter bike around, but Priority Bicycles puts their
money design where their mouth is. Did I say that right? When I look at and read about the Priority 600 it’s like the bike designers sat around a table brainstorming how to truly make the best commuter bike ever. Instead of making a bike and claiming that it’s great for commuting to work they asked questions like “What functions does a true commuter bike need?” and “What’s stopping people from bike commuting?” They took their conclusions to these questions and crafted this majestic beast.
Let me lay out exactly why I can comfortably say this is one of the best commuter bikes on the market.
The Rust and Grease Free Carbon Drive Belt
If you’re like me – you read the above and thought “What the hell does that mean?” The carbon drive belt is made of carbon, polyurethane, and nylon and replaces your typical bike chain. Why is this amazing? The carbon drive belt has a much longer service life. A very nice bike chain can be used for up to 8,000km. This carbon drive belt can last up to 30,000km.
What else makes a carbon drive belt great for bike commuting? No grease on it! Have you ever had to wash bike grease off your pant leg from an old, greasy chain? Not fun at all, but you won’t need to worry about that with this drive belt.
The final positive characteristic of the carbon drive belt is that it’s as quiet as a mouse. You know that silent whirr your bike gives off after a bike tune-up? It’s like that, but all the time.
A 600% Gear Range
The Priority 600 is named after its gear range which is 600%. It features the 12-speed Pinion Gearbox which gives a gear range that is equivalent to a traditional 30 speed bike. Will you be bombing down hills? No problem. Is there a steep climb you’ll need to conquer every morning on your way to work? No problem. The gearbox is sealed to protect it from the elements, and is controlled by a single twist shift.
Disc Brakes, Fenders, Tires, and Lighting
Disc brakes are installed for quick stops. Disc brakes are for abrupt stops in rain, shine, and snow. The Priority 600 also has fenders, because there is no way you should be riding in wet weather unless you got fenders protecting you! The WTB Horizon 650b Road Plus tires won’t have any problems on urban streets, gravel paths, or dirt roads. Lastly, this commuter bike is rigged with rear and front lights to keep you visible to pedestrians, other cyclists, and most importantly big vehicles!
All this to say, the Priority 600 has features that accommodate the needs of bike commuters. It is low maintenance and will ride well in a variety of terrains. It’s a real beauty.
Trek Super Commuter+ 8S
Bike commuters have mixed feelings about eBikes, but when I laid eyes on this one my heart spoke for me. It is a prized jewel that I must have. Does this look like a motorized Frankenstein bike? Hell no. It looks like a red hot space rocket crafted from the future. Some eBikes look bulky and cheap. The Trek Super Commuter+ 8s breaks from that mold.
I get that eBikes aren’t for everyone. A typical bicycle is a simple machine that utilizes the riders energy to propel it. There is pride in every pedal as you power your way forward. But sometimes we all could use a bit of a boost to get from point A to point B. That’s where an eBike would be useful. This bad boy goes 28 mph which means that you’re going to be zipping past car traffic and able to leave for work later than the norm. Is there a hill you’re not looking forward to climbing, because it makes you sweaty before work? Don’t worry! The Super Commuter+ 8s has a powerful 350-watt Bosch Performance Speed motor that will get you up it.
It comes with a battery that is easy to remove and charge in any household unit. Trek has placed an easy to read display to keep you updated on your speed, distance, and battery range. To top it off they rigged it with an 11-speed Shimano SLX drivetrain with hydraulic disc brakes for precise stopping. And of course, they spared no niceties, because it comes with fenders, a rear rack, and front/rear lights.
I’ll always love my regular bicycles, but if I can dream I like to imagine myself riding this thing too. Anything with a motor screams FUN to me. Who wouldn’t want more power to zip around?
Bear with me! I love to read, and one passage from the famous author Roald Dahl’s memoir comes to mind when I look at this bike. Below is the passage…
“When I was seven, my mother decided I should … go to Llandaff Cathedral School. (… ) I can remember very little about the two years I attended Llandaff Cathedral School (…) only two moments remain clearly in my mind. The first lasted more than five seconds but I will never forget it.
It was my first term and I was walking home alone across the village green after school when suddenly one of the senior twelve-year-old boys came riding full speed down the road on his bicycle about twenty yards away from me.
The road was on a hill and the boy was going down the slope, and as he flashed by he started backpedalling very quickly so that the free-wheeling mechanism of his bike made a loud whirring sound. At the same time, he took his hands off the handlebars and folded them casually across his chest. I stopped dead and stared after him.
How wonderful he was! How swift and brave and graceful in his long trousers with bicycle-clips around them and his scarlet school cap at a jaunty angle on his head!
One day, I told myself, one glorious day I will have a bike like that and I will wear long trousers with bicycle-clips and my school cap will sit jaunty on my head and I will go whizzing down the hill pedalling backwards with no hands on the handlebars!
I promise you that if somebody had caught me by the shoulder at that moment and said to me, ‘What is your greatest wish in life, little boy? What is your absolute ambition? To be a doctor? A fine musician? A painter? A writer? Or the Lord Chancellor?’
I would have answered without hesitation that my only ambition, my hope, my longing was to have a bike like that and to go whizzing down the hill with no hands on the handlebars. It would be fabulous. It made me tremble just to think about it.”
The way that I imagine the bike from Dahl’s recollection is the Public v1 bike that is pictured above. There’s something about the simplicity of this bike that reminds me of the young boy whizzing down the hill with no hands on the handlebars. Perhaps it’s the color or simple singlespeed functionality that does it. I can’t help, but put myself in that memory riding this exact bike. Coasting downhill, pedaling slowly backwards, with my hands cool and collected off the handlebars.
Raleigh Bikes Redux 2 City Bike
I have an affinity towards yellow bikes. My main commuter for many years was a yellow Scwhinn Continental. While riding around town friends and family would easily spot me with that yellow sunshine of a bike. Raleigh’s City bike also stands out with it’s bright neon frame contrasted with the black tires and black components.
The design is inspired by the geometry of a mountain bike with the flat bar and short stem too. It makes sense, because this bike is sturdy with it’s 27.5 inch wheels that’ll roll over most things in their path. This is the type of commuter bike to not only get from point A to B, but also have fun along the way. The Raleigh Redux 2 is down for any urban riding challenges you set it up against. It’s nimble like a mountain bike, but ready to stand against the rigors of city bike commuting.
This aluminum bike weighs 25 pounds, and has the capacity to mount fenders and a rack on it. This could be a very fun commuter bike. Compared to the other commuter bikes on this dream list, the Raleigh Redux 2 is on the more budget friendly side.
Surly’s Big Dummy
Surly makes a cargo bike that is perfect for the commuter who wants to haul stuff. Doesn’t matter if it’s groceries or a mini-fridge the Big Dummy cargo bike is going to be able to handle it. Seriously though, Surly states that “as long as it falls within the 400-pound weight limit” you can strap it to the back and go for a ride. It’s like the SUV of commuter bikes. You can haul stuff or people around town.
Personally this is a bike that I don’t necessarily need, but I would definitely utilize it if I owned it. My first stop would be to the grocery store, and I would truly see how much I could put on this thing.
All-City Macho Man
Looking for a good commuter bike that can handle a variety of terrain? This is the commuter bike for you! The Macho Man is responsive, quick, and perfect for quick trips around town or on trails. With the 1x SRAM and 42 x 11/42 gearing you’ll have lots of range for getting that sweet spot in gearing whether you’re climbing hills or keeping to the flats. Sporting 650B size wheels you don’t need to worry about dirt or gravel.
Besides its Olive Green color what else is there to love about this bike?
All-City goes ALL out on their bikes even getting down to unique details. It comes with a custom head badge, bi-plane lugged fork crown, signature brazed-on seat collar, signature vertical dropouts, custom bottom bracket, bottle boss reinforcements and an E.D. coating. Plus it has the capability of putting a rear rack on it, and mounts for fenders. Every commuter bike needs the option for fenders to keep the water off your back.
They’ve hand built this gem with internal cable routing, a custom dropout, lugged crown forces, and even reinforcements on the bottle bosses. All this to say, they built this dream with loving care to detail.
Brompton Folding Bike
I’ve never ridden a folding bike before, and so I can’t comment on how this would feel. From what I’ve read the Brompton is the go-to in folding bikes if you’re looking for a bike that packs down well. It folds into a tidy, symmetrical shape that is easy to pick up. From the words of others riding a foldable bike isn’t quite as comfortable and streamlined as a regular bike, but compromises must be made if you’re looking for a bike that can fit on your shelf.
Honestly, folding bikes to me look like they belong in the circus. They just look goofy, but I would like to give one a pedal. Mostly I put this on the list, because I think it would be funny to fold it up and place it in a drawer just for the sheer gimmick of it.
Electra Townie 7D Step-Through Women’s Bike
Electra has made a bike that will make riding pure comfort. This lightweight bike was designed for casual riding. This isn’t the bike for a 15 mile commute every day, but for short commutes where you can pedal at your own piece. It’s got nice wide tires for smooth cruising. The geometry of this bike allows the rider to be upright while pedaling, and the ability to place both feet on the ground at a stop.
They’ve put an ergonomic saddle with bumpers to help absorb shock, and handlebars that that you won’t need to lean over to get to. On one of my past commutes I had a nice bike path along the ocean that I rode along. This bike would have been perfect for that commute. As a bonus, you’re able to choose between a selection of colors.
Co-op Cycles CTY 1.3 Bike
The Reasons to Love This Bike
If you had to describe this commuter bike it could be summed up in two words: smooth and silent. Similar to the Priority 600 bike this Co-op commuter has a belt drive for easy maintenance and keeps it super quiet. It also offers an eight speed internal-gear hub to switch your gearing up for maximum power and speed. It has a flat handlebar to allow for a comfortable upright riding position. Like other bikes mentioned here, it’s equipped with hydraulic disc brakes for full stopping power regardless of whether you’re in rain, snow, or sunshine.
To top if off the designers worked hard to give this bike a clean look. This is accomplished not only with the internal gear-hub, but also an internal rear brake cabling routing system to hide wires. It is clean! This is a bike I can imagine gliding along on while commuting to work or riding around town doing errands.
One Reason to not like this Bike
The one strike against this commuter bike is that there are no mounting options for a rack on the front fork. In the rear you’ll have to decide whether you want to go with a fender or a rack, but there’s only a single mount. There are workarounds and third party products that can make a front rack possible, but if I’m going to nitpick over my dream bikes than this is one reason to not go for this one. Other than that, this is a great commuter bike. REI stands by their products, and you get a free tune-up if you purchase through them. A nice little touch!
Caletti Cycles Scrambler
There’s the giants of the bike manufacturing world, but they’re not everything. All over the world there are men and women who are handcrafting bicycles as their profession, but also as their passion. They are smaller organizations, but this doesn’t mean you can discredit their products. If anything it means they’re able to really fine-tune their product.
John Caletti is a framebuilder who runs Caletti Cycles out of Santa Cruz, California. Caletti Cycles crafts a variety of different types of bikes (mountain, road, adventure, urban), and I have spent an abnormal amount of time sliding through photos of their bikes all the while oooing and ahhhing.
This particular bike is what they call the Scrambler. In their own words, “the SCRAMBLER is our 100% fun, versatile ripper. It’s ready to rip around town, grind gravel, shred singletrack, commute to work and escape town on a bike tour. We didn’t just slap a flat bar on a Cross bike and call it good – this bike has been thoughtfully designed to work with flat bars and mixed terrain.”
Tern GSD S10 Folding Electric Bike
How do I convince my wife to allow me to purchase this electric folding bike? Later this year we’ll welcome our first child to the home. I know the child won’t be ready to ride around town with me right after it’s born, but once it grows up I would love to become one of those parents who rides around with their kids.
The Tern GSD boasts that it can carry not one, but TWO kids if you purchase the Thule Yepp Maxi child seats to attach to the bike. Not only can it carry a rider and two kids, but but also a week’s worth of groceries! This could be the point that gets my wife to lean towards saying “yes!” I can take the kids out of the house so she can relax in peace while I also get the groceries!
I know it’s a long shot for me ever owning one of these, but I can dream. The Tern GSD electric folding bike is crafted with families in mind. By folding it up it is able to transform to a third of its full size in under 10 seconds. This allows the owner to store it in a home (like mine) that doesn’t have lots of space. The frame has a low step-through which makes it easy to get on and off. In addition, it is an electric bike! This means that while riding uphill with kids and groceries on the back I can get the Bosch motor to help power me up.
One lucky owner talked about the bike in this way, “it’s likely dollar-for-dollar the best investment I’ve made. Rides like magic, carries my kids, my groceries, my dreams.”
Love the Bike You Have, But…
I’m currently pedaling a Fuji Road Bike and an old Trek Mountain Bike to commute to work and around town. I love them both, and am grateful to own a bike that works well and gets me to where I’m going. But sometimes it’s nice to look at the best commuter bikes that are on the market, and dream about making one of them mine. Perhaps one day I’ll be fortunate enough to own one from this list. In the meantime, I’ll just keep looking at photos of my favorite commuter bikes while enjoying the ones that I have.
As for you, I hope you’re able to acquire one of these bikes! If so, count yourself one of the lucky ones. Happy pedaling and keep safe on your commute!