Best commuter bikes 2022: Get to work in style with a practical city bicycle

Joseph Delves
24 May 2022

Cycling to work will save you money and keep you fit, so why not saddle up with a brilliant commuter bike?

If you’re sick of spending your daily commute crammed into overcrowded buses and trains, then commuting to work by bicycle is a great alternative. There’s no better way to start the day than with some gentle exercise, and you can save both petrol and public transport costs and do your bit for the environment in the process. Buy the best commuter bike you can afford and you won’t look back.

With millions of people making the switch to pedal-powered commuting, the bike industry is starting to pay increasing attention. You can now take your pick from a huge selection of bikes specifically designed for commuting purposes, and these aim to be both easy to ride for beginners and efficient for riders who want to tackle longer commutes.

At their best, commuter bikes are fast, low-maintenance models. In addition to fittings for mudguards and racks, they often include integrated lights and features to improve security when you’re locking up your bike. There is some crossover with hybrid bikes, which we’ve covered specifically on our best hybrid bikes page, but the models in the lineup below all provide commuting-specific features which will make your journey safer and easier.

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The best commuter bikes: At a glance

How to choose the best commuter bike for you

How do I get a bike that fits me?

A commuter bike is a bike you’ll be riding day in, day out, so it’s essential that it fits you comfortably. For most riders, the perfect bike and frame size will be the one that provides a reasonably upright riding position – you don’t want to feel at all cramped or too stretched out. This will make it more comfortable to ride, especially when you’re wearing casual clothes, and will also provide a good line of sight through traffic.

If you’re not sure which size will suit you best, then sling a leg over some bikes in a shop. Once you find a few that you like the feel of, then make a note of the frame size and then look up the manufacturer’s geometry specifications for the bike – this will allow you to more easily compare bikes between different brands.

The most important specifications to look for are reach – the distance between the centre of the bottom bracket and the head tube – and stack – the distance between the centre of the bottom bracket and the top tube. Both are measured in millimetres. If these figures are similar, then barring any big differences in stem length and bar width, a bike should give a similar fit. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of thinking that a large frame from one manufacturer will fit you as well as a large from another brand.

Which features should I look out for?

Frame material: Most bikes will use aluminium for the frame as this offers a good balance of low weight and high strength, plus it isn’t too expensive.

Tyres: These really define a bike. Narrow and slick tyres roll quickly but will limit you to paved surfaces. Broader tyres are happier on bumpier terrain, while their additional width can increase ride comfort and help support extra cargo. Tyres with chunkier tread will allow you to safely venture off-road and along grimier canal paths, although you’ll be slower on the tarmac.

Brakes: Disc brakes are now almost universal on better-quality bikes. Not only are they more powerful and consistent, but they require less maintenance. Disc brakes fall into two categories: those operated by cables and those that are hydraulic. Hydraulic models are generally more effective and need less upkeep, but both types are vastly better than old-school rim brakes.

Gearing: Some bikes will use a single rear derailleur to provide a range of gears, whereas others combine front and rear derailleurs to double or triple the number of gears available. Obviously, more gears can be better – especially so if you live somewhere hilly – but the extra components require maintenance and make shifting more complicated. Another option is a hub-based system. These offer a limited range of sequential gears and require very little attention to keep running.

Extras: There are lots of potentially useful things to look out for: racks for carrying panniers, mudguards to fend off the rain, and kickstands to aid with parking are all valuable things to have. The same goes for lighting: some come with USB rechargeable lights whereas others are dynamo-powered so won't need recharging. Remember, you'll pay a premium for anything you want that isn’t included with the bike as standard. It’s also worth considering if you want to add racks or a child seat. If so, a more robustly built frame and wider tyres may be a good combination to cope with the extra weight.

How much do I need to spend?

First, it’s well worth enquiring at your workplace to see if they have a Cycle to Work scheme. There are various types of these, all with differences in how they operate, but all will allow you to pay for your bike in monthly instalments deducted from your pay packet. As it’s paid direct from your salary, you’ll claw back a substantial amount of tax and National Insurance, too.

Even if that isn’t an option, you don’t need to spend big to get a good bike. Aim to spend at least £400, and you should get a commuter bike that’s robust and fun to ride. Spend less, though, and you’re more likely to run into mechanical issues. Not only is this annoying, but as cheap parts wear out quicker, it can represent a false economy in the long run.

There are also many accessories the average commuter might want to consider. These include a helmet, tools, locks, lights, panniers, child seats and pumps. It’s best to look at your new bike and its accessories as a whole, so leave some budget for these items. The flip side to this is that it doesn’t always pay to overspend, either. High-end componentry can be costly to replace. Workaday bikes also often spend a lot of time outside and risk being stolen. Of course, insurance is one solution. However, we think there’s not much benefit in paying considerably more than £1,000 for your new commuter bike.

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The best commuter bikes in 2022

1. Elops City 900: The best-value commuter bike

Price: £450 | Buy now from Decathlon

This speedy city runaround from Decathlon’s Elops brand comes with almost every extra you could want. Based around an aluminium frame and fast-rolling 32mm tyres, it’s fast and light. The riding position is moderately racy, too, with a low front end and narrow bar that are perfect for nipping in and out of traffic.

It’s the extras here that really make the difference, however. You get mudguards, a chain keeper and neatly integrated lighting built into the front and rear of the bike. The lights can be charged via a USB cable and kick out enough light to get you noticed.

The bike’s mechanical parts are also of good quality and should need minimal maintenance. They include a set of wet-weather-competent cable disc brakes and simple 8-speed Shimano Altus gearing. All told, the Elops is a good pick for daily use.

Key features – Wheel size: 700 x 32c; Frame material: Aluminium; Gears: 8-speed; Brakes: Cable disc; Extras: Integrated rechargeable lighting, mudguards

Buy now from Decathlon

2. Vitus Mach 1 Nexus: The lowest-maintenance commuter bike

Price: £520 | Buy now from Wiggle

At the heart of the Vitus lies Shimano’s excellent Nexus three-speed hub. This is the same hub used in public rental bikes worldwide – not least London’s so-called Boris Bikes – and it offers incredible durability and a simple-to-use trio of sequential gears. The result? You spend more time riding your bike and spend less money on regular maintenance.

Stopping the bike are Shimano’s splendid MT400 hydraulic disc brakes. These are very powerful and well suited to use in the rain; they’re also unlikely to require much attention. You will need to buy your own rack and mudguards, but it’s still good to find a complete set of mounting points included.

Holding all these bits together is an aluminium frame designed around 650b wheels – these are slightly more manoeuvrable than the larger 700c wheels on other bikes here. These peppy wheels combine with frame geometry that’s relatively relaxed, and this makes the bike able to take on multiple types of terrain.

Key features – Wheel size: 650 x 40c; Frame material: Aluminium; Gears: 3-speed internal; Brakes: Hydraulic disc; Extras: N/A

Buy now from Wiggle

3. Ribble Hybrid AL 1.0: The best mid-range commuter bike

Price: £799 | Buy now from Ribble

This well-fitted-out hybrid arrives with an excellent parts list and comes with a rack and mudguards fitted as standard. The upright ride position gives a good line of sight through traffic and is comfortable even on longer commutes. Similarly, a low overall weight also helps make this an easy bike to get on with.

More adventurous types will appreciate the multi-terrain ability provided by the Ribble’s chunky tyres. Regardless of where you take it, a plush saddle and ergonomic grips should help casual users feel right at home.

Sticking to a traditional twin chainring Shimano drivetrain, you get a wide range of 18 gears with minimal jumps between each. These will help you find the right cadence regardless of the incline, and the set of reliable Tektro hydraulic disc brakes will bring you to a halt reliably, too.

The Ribble is a fun bike that’s got an adventurous side: it’s great for the daily commute but just as awesome for touring-style expeditions, too.

Key features – Wheel size: 700 x 35c; Frame material: Aluminium; Gears: 18-speed; Brakes: Hydraulic disc; Extras: Mudguards and rack

Buy now from Ribble

4. Ridgeback Supernova Eq: The best money-no-object commuter bike

Price: £1,200 | Buy now from Freewheel

This high-end hybrid from Ridgeback is an unabashed luxury option. The low-maintenance Shimano 8-speed Alfine hub gear system is the perfect all-weather, low-maintenance choice, and the hydraulic disc brakes and robust wheels are just the ticket, too.

Based around an aluminium frame and fork, the bike rolls swiftly and confidently on its 40mm tyres. Made by Schwalbe, the generous tyre width strikes a good balance between comfort and speed, while reflective bands and robust puncture protection make them perfect for urban riding.

The bike’s integrated lighting is a masterstroke: as the lights are powered by a Shimano dynamo hub, you’ll never be caught out by the setting sun. The same goes for the weather, with full-length mudguards fitted as standard. Finished off with a rack and kickstand, the Supernova offers everything you need for an enjoyable commute.

Key features – Wheel size: 700 x 40c; Frame material: Aluminium; Gears: 8-speed internal; Brakes: Hydraulic disc; Extras: Dynamo lights, mudguards, rack, kickstand

Buy now from Freewheel

5. Boardman MTX 8.9: The best commuter bike for enjoying at the weekends

Price: £950 | Buy now from Halfords

This nifty hybrid employs a lightweight suspension fork to smooth your progress regardless of the conditions. Relying on a clever air spring system, it can be made rigid with the flick of a switch for occasions when it's not needed. This means you’ll be able to get to work efficiently and have the option to take on tougher trails at the weekend.

The rest of the parts here are equally sensible. They include Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and a Deore 11-speed drivetrain. Thanks to the wide-ratio cassette, you'll find all the gears you need without having to fiddle with the extra hassle of a front derailleur.

At 35mm across, Schwalbe's Tyrago tyres are happy venturing on mixed surfaces and feature kevlar protection to cut down on punctures.

Finished with glossy metallic paint and smooth welds, this bike isn't just well equipped; it's lovely-looking too. A great all-rounder.

Key features – Wheel size: 700 x 35c; Frame material: Aluminium; Gears: 11-speed; Brakes: hydraulic disc; Extras: Suspension fork and seatpost

Buy now from Halfords

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