Obviously, you can ride to work on any bike – not having the ‘right bike’ should never be a barrier to cycling. However, when you're doing it day in day out it makes good sense to buy the commuter bike best suited to your particular route.
If you’re riding across town it’s usually pretty flat and not too far, so a lightweight single speed or fixed-gear bike will get you to the office quickly and efficiently with little fuss. The minimal, stripped-back build not only has a clean, contemporary look but it’s easy to maintain too. If your journey involves a sneaky shortcut across the park, a bit of kerb hopping or towpath bashing (with maybe a gradient thrown in for good measure), you might want wider tyres, a broader spread of gears and a more robust frame.
Choosing the best commuter bike is definitely a case of horses for courses – your thoroughbred race bike won’t stay in pristine, race-ready condition for long if subjected to the daily grind. If life can be hard for a steel or aluminium commuter bike, for a super lightweight carbon road bike it’s likely to prove brutish and short.
A road bike designed for racing or sportives is unlikely to have mudguards or rack mounts. If you carry a rucksack and don’t mind your backside and feet getting wet, that may not bother you. An experienced commuter, however, will tell you that even if you don’t like the look of them, come winter, mudguards are your friends.
And finally, the more aggressive position of a road bike might be perfect for getting aero and putting the power down but for commuting in traffic it’s better to keep your head up. Many commuter bikes have taller head tubes for this very reason, or you could go for a flat bar for a really commanding position.
Again, it depends on your commute. If your journey to work goes down gnarly singletrack then yes, a mountain bike will indeed make a good commuter bike. But for more general commuting, suspension adds weight, needs maintenance, is likely to be unreliable especially if it’s entry level, and will not be as fast as a rigid frame and fork on tarmac or towpath. A mountain bike’s knobbly tyres will also slow your progress and, like a road race bike, it is unusual to have mudguard and rack mounts.
Generally, commuter bikes are cheaper than the specialist road, mountain or gravel bikes because they don’t tend to use as many premium materials or technology in the specification. Or, in the case of single speed/fixed commuter bikes, more than one gear.
If you’re going down the single speed or fixed-gear route, our Now You See Me is made from classic steel tubing, offering a responsive but comfortable ride that’s designed to last. We build each one to the customer’s own specification. The same goes for our aluminium single speed/fixed commuter bike, Once More Unto The Breach, which is constructed around a lightweight butted aluminium frame and carbon fork. Or choose the Flat Iron, our flat-bar steel commuter that comes with disc brakes, gears, larger tyres and offers unparalleled reliability, strength and a classic upright riding position.