Commuter bikes get you to the office or your coffee date on time and in style. They’ve got comfortable seats, plenty of space for storage, and all the mounts you need to ride in the rain, hail, or sunshine.
What are commuter bikes?
Commuter bikes are a tough breed to pin down. If you ride to work on your bike, and we’d love it if you did, then it’s a commuter bike. But, bike companies have tailor-made their own versions of the perfect bike for your ride to work/school/coffee. They’re all wrapped up and packaged under the ‘commuter’ label.
The bike itself usually looks something like a mountain bike crossed with a tourer mated with a road bike. A slightly chunkier frame that retains some graceful lines. Plus a more comfortable seat and a more upright riding position matched to a taller straight handlebar for ease of control.
What are the best commuter bikes?
There’s not a single answer to the question “what are the best commuter bikes?”. The best commuter bike for you will depend on how you ride, where you go, and where you live!
Here are some of the features you should consider when choosing a commuter bike:
An upright position
Being a little more upright makes the commuter bike more comfortable and makes it easier to see the traffic around you. If you wear a backpack while you ride, the upright position also keeps the backpack where it belongs, not flopping from side to side.
Brakes that suit you
You can get commuters with either rim brakes or disc brakes. Rim brakes are easier to repair and cost less, but disc brakes are more responsive and offer better flexibility in your set up (you can use them with wider tires).
Mounts for whatever you need
If you want to ride in any kind of weather, you’ll need mudguards/fenders. Long fenders keep the rain and bleurgh! at bay. Adding these to your commuter bike helps keep your clothes free of the long black streak up your jacket that defines a wet weather cyclist.
If you want to bring anything with you, you’ll probably want to mount a pannier rack. Just add a slim rack above the back wheel, strap on your work bag, and beat the traffic jams.
The gears you need
Where you’re riding your commuter is an important factor when determining the best bike for you. If you live in Magic Estates or atop Dilworth, you might want to consider an ebike to help you get up those hills. Anyone who lives downtown and just wants to get from A-B a bit faster might prefer a ‘fixie’ or a fixed gear commuter.
The weight you want
If you’re travelling a long way, you will benefit from keeping the weight of your frame down (or buying an ebike!). Hauling a heavy bike from one end of the Kelowna section of the rail trail to the other isn’t the most fun. Again, if you’re just hoping to get from A-B a bit quicker, you can get away with a heavier frame.
A chain guard
The chain, always keen to get up close and personal with your pant leg, is usually covered with a plastic or metal guard on a commuter bike. But, it’s best to double check if you want to ensure your work clothes remain free of the dreaded chain tattoo. They don’t look sporty, but they have a restrained elegance befitting the eco-friendly office worker.