How do I Choose the Best Commuter Bicycle?

Dan Cavallari

If you are thinking about saving on gas and improving your health by commuting by bicycle, you should start by selecting the right commuter bicycle for your needs. Several different brands and varieties exist from which to choose, so investing in a commuter bicycle may seem daunting at first. But depending on what your particular needs are, choosing a good bike can be simple and fun.

Road bikes are efficient for commuting.
Road bikes are efficient for commuting.

The first step in deciding which commuter bicycle is right for you is deciding what kind of riding you will be doing. How long is your daily commute? Will you be carrying cargo? How much? Do you value comfort over speed, or vice versa? These questions and more can become overwhelming quickly. Luckily, most models of commuter bicycle available today are built with these very questions in mind.

If you want a comfortable ride, choose a bicycle with upright seating to keep stress off the hands, wrists and back.
If you want a comfortable ride, choose a bicycle with upright seating to keep stress off the hands, wrists and back.

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If comfort is your priority, look for a commuter bicycle with a more upright riding position that will keep pressure off your wrists and arms. This will keep your back straighter, causing less stress on that part of your body. Many bicycles in this category come with adjustable stems to raise or lower the height of the handlebar, and several more models come with ergonomic seats to keep pressure off of sensitive parts of your body.

For the commuter looking for a faster ride to work, a road bike may be a better choice. A road bike is not technically a commuter bike, but is instead built to be lightweight and fast. Hence, a road bike will be geared much harder than a commuter bike, which will have lower, easier gears for tackling those uphill sections of the commute. But if fitness and speed is your goal, a more aggressive riding position and lighter bike may be the answer. Look into a road bike, but be careful: road bikes can get pretty pricey.

Most models of commuter bicycle today come standard with rack mounts, and some even come with racks pre-installed. When choosing your commuter bicycle, make sure the frame has tabs to accommodate a storage rack so you can strap your briefcase or purse to it. Don't go flimsy: make sure your rack is solid and has a weight capacity appropriate for what you will be carrying.

The storage rack on a commuter bicycle has another unintended benefit: because it is positioned over the rear wheel, it acts as a fender that keeps dirt and rain from splattering the back side of your pants and shirt. However, if you choose not to install a rack on your bike, be sure to invest in a fender. They are typically inexpensive and easy to install.

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Discussion Comments


@Markerrag -- I know a good number of people who have gotten some great bicycles and saved some money by purchasing them online. Now, it is much easier to head down to your local bike shop if you want to buy a bicycle, but you can get by fine on the Internet if you know what you are doing.

That means, of course, you have to know something about the components on your bike, what frame size you need, and etc. That can all be a bit time consuming, but it can be done.

And there is nothing wrong with getting the bike fitted just right at the local bike shop. You will get charged for getting the bike fitted, but that is fine. It couldn't hurt to take your bike in for service at that local bike shop and to buy tires, tools and such from it, too.


A good way to look at a commuter bicycle is as a replacement for a car. When looked at that way, it is pretty cheap.

If you get a car for commuting, you have the price of the car to consider but there are operating costs, too. Gas, oil changes, tires and those other things that are necessary to keep a car going for mile after mile can get expensive after a time. Compared to all of that, even the best commuter bicycle on the planet doesn't cost all that much.

So, you can actually save money with a good bicycle and get in good shape, too. Heck of a deal, folks.


Picking out a great commuter bicycle should not be that hard so long as you keep a few things in mind. First of all, you need to get ready to pay some real money if you want a good commuter bicycle. You are not just paying money for the heck of it. You are buying very good components that will last for some time as you commute.

And make sure those components are hanging on a light, durable frame. You don't want some heavy, steel bicycle because that will do nothing but make your commute tougher.

Finally, go to a great local bike shop so you can get properly fitted to a commuter bicycle. You will probably pay more than you would buy purchasing a bike online or in one of those "big box" stores, but you want to get a quality item if you are commuting, right?

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