The 5 best commuter bikes, for running errands around town or getting to work

  • Commuter bikes offer a cost-effective and fitness- and environmentally-friendly way to run errands or get around town.
  • The best are comfortable to ride, handle a variety of casual terrain, and hold up in an array of weather and road conditions.
  • Our top pick, Brooklyn Bicycle Co.’s Franklin 3, has a comfortable, upright design and features high-quality components.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Editor’s note: Due to fluctuating stock, some of the recommendations on this list are either temporarily out of stock or currently back-ordered. We will update this piece with new information when we can.

Working from home, I miss having the opportunity to commute to work. Depending on the weather, I used to roller skate or bike the roughly 13-mile trek each day. Sure, it took a bit longer than driving but I started the day on a positive, energetic note and was in the best shape of my life.

More cities are now encouraging their residents to commute by bike, creating bike-only lanes in urban areas. Therefore, now is the best time to use a bike to get around town, run errands, or just enjoy some time outside.

But it seems as though just about every bike brand offers not just one, but multiple versions of something dubbed a “commuter.” To help, I’ve tested a number of the top commuter bikes from companies like Brooklyn Bicycle Co., Priority Bicycles, and Schwinn to find the best currently available.

At the bottom of this guide, I’ve also included some tips on how to best shop for a commuter bike, as well as the testing methodology I used in narrowing down which bikes ultimately made the cut.

Here are the best commuter bikes:

Best overall

The Franklin

If you want a comfortable, attractive commuter bike that comes fully assembled, the Brooklyn Bicycle Co. Franklin 3 is a smart solution that’s built to last.

Pros: Assembly is included in the price, beautiful design, durable construction, comfortable to ride

Cons: Only three speeds

Brooklyn Bicycle Co. focuses on building bikes that are designed for durability, comfort, and style. This focus is apparent in the Franklin 3. The step-through frame makes mounting your bike effortless regardless of what you’re wearing, and it’s made of lightweight steel so you can easily carry the approximately 33-pound bike up and downstairs.

The rear hub and shifter are made by Shimano, one of the top names in the industry. And, the bike comes with puncture-resistant tires. Both the saddle and grips are made of vegan leather for maximum comfort.

The Franklin 3 is a three-speed bike, but there are also single-speed and seven-speed options. The bike comes in small/medium or large. And, it’s available in five colors: ivory, matte coral, gloss black, sea glass, and cardinal red. If you’d prefer a top tube that is closer to parallel with the ground rather than the step-through frame, check out the Bedford 3.

Editor’s note: Brooklyn Bicycle Co. says that it plans to restock the Franklin via its website in late Spring. 

Best for beginners

cyclecooprei

The Co-op Cycles CTY 2.1 offers a smooth ride, excellent maneuverability, and is light enough to store in your walk-up apartment.

Pros: Comfortable seat, easy for novices to operate, locking front suspension fork, excellent customer service

Cons: Expensive

After a hiatus from the bicycle space, REI launched Co-op Cycles in 2017 with the goal of providing fun and freedom on two wheels. As the name suggests, the CTY 2.1 is specifically designed to be used in the city.

Several of the parts come from top names in the industry, too. The crankset, shifters, derailleurs, rear cogs, hydraulic disc brakes, and brake levers are Shimano. The hubs are Joytech. And, the chain is KMC Z8.

The suspension fork features a locking mechanism so you aren’t bouncing around while riding on smooth surfaces. And, there’s 360-degree reflectivity to keep you visible both day and night, though you’ll still want lights.

This is the main bike I use for fitness and when tooling around town. From the moment I picked it up to test, I was blown away by REI’s customer service. I had to drive about an hour away to get to the closest store, and they were insistent on making sure it fit me correctly.

The CTY 2.1 is also incredibly responsive. On one ride, the brakes reacted quickly, saving me from crashing into a car that pulled out of a drive without looking. And, I have no problem handling the windy trails in my city. The biggest negative for me is that the pedal reflectors fell off after 400 miles.

Best electric

PriorityCurrent

The Priority Current is a low maintenance e-bike that delivers a smooth, easy ride, and its 50-mile electric range 

Pros: Can handle a variety of terrain, has a 50-mile range when fully charged, rides smoothly and doesn’t feel like it’s jolting you when first pedaling, requires very little maintenance

Cons: E-bikes are expensive, the fenders can rub on the tires if nudged out of place

If you’re often commuting long distances or live somewhere near a number of hills, I highly recommend considering an e-bike. The pedal-assistance native to e-bikes makes biking, be it to work, the store, or just around town, a much more pleasant experience (plus, who doesn’t like showing up to where they intend to go not covered in sweat?). 

My favorite e-commuter is Priority’s Current, which also happens to be Insider Reviews’ top choice for all e-bikes in general. The Current offers 50 miles of range on a fully charged battery, handles a variety of terrain with ease, and is just an all-around joy to ride. The fact it needs essentially no routine maintenance makes it an even more attractive option. 

The bike itself is a Bosch-heavy setup, featuring a Bosch motor, battery, and head unit — and its reliance on one brand for these components is a huge reason why maintenance is so simple. It has five different pedal-assist modes, so I’m always able to easily customize exactly how much oomph I want it to provide, and it has a top speed of 28 mph of assisted speed which always seemed like more than enough. 

Perhaps the biggest drawback of the Current is its price — though e-bikes hardly ever fall into the range of “budget.” But it’s more than just a simple commuter and can be something you’re able to reliably ride for a long time. — Rick Stella, health & fitness editor for Insider Reviews

Best under $300

Schwinn bike

The Schwinn Wayfarer Hybrid Bike is a great entry-level alternative if you want to give bicycle commuting a try without spending a lot of money.

Pros: Affordable, relatively easy to assemble, attractive, comes with fenders and rear rack, lifetime limited warranty

Cons: Several of the parts come from no-name manufacturers

For under $300, you get a lot with the Schwinn Wayfarer Hybrid Bike. The bike comes partially assembled and finishing the job is easy enough for a novice, so you may not need to spend extra for expert help.

There are both back and front fenders to protect you from the grime the tires might kick up. And, you can carry your work items using the included rear rack. The frame is made of steel and features a cool retro urban style. The spring seat provides a comfortable, upright ride. Schwinn backs the quality of this bike with a lifetime limited warranty.

Best full-featured

State_Bicycle_Co_ _Amazon

The State Bicycle Deluxe 3 Speed City Bike comes with everything you need to commute in all types of weather so you don’t have to worry about purchasing extras a la carte.

Pros: Attractive appearance, comes with all you need to start commuting to work, handles an array of road conditions

Cons: Hard to assemble, complaints about flimsy parts

The State Bicycle Deluxe 3 Speed City Bike comes with a rear rack, a front basket with drink holder, fenders, and a chainguard. These features all help get you and your work gear from point A to point B while protecting you from debris and water your tires may kick up. Like our top pick, the Franklin 3, this is a Dutch-style bike, which means you ride in a more upright position for greater comfort and visibility.

There are three styles of the City Bike: The Keansburg, The Elliston, and The Rylee. The main differences are the colors, though The Rylee’s frame has a step-through geometry, while The Elliston and The Keansburg have top tubes that are more parallel to the ground.

How to shop for a commuter bike

The most important consideration when buying a commuter bike is comfort. If riding a bicycle isn’t enjoyable, then you’re never going to keep at it and it’ll just collect dust. Fortunately, when you purchase a bike online, retailers often work with local shops to assemble the bike and provide the necessary final tweaks to ensure the fit a proper fit.

Online purchases also give you the option of assembling the bike on your own. In my experience, it’s worth the extra money to have a professional do it. The experts have the right tools, plenty of experience, and will likely finish the job in a fraction of the time it’ll take you.

If you’re looking to spend more, we recommend considering an electric bicycle. With e-bikes, you can get as much or as little help as you want on your commute. This is especially helpful if you encounter hills on your route or you just want to get home quickly after an exhausting day. Don’t be confused: An e-bike provides powered assistance but you still need to pedal.

How we test commuter bikes

In our testing of commuter bikes, we chose to focus on affordable entry-level bicycles. This means that each option in this guide is non-electric and costs less than $700. We also wanted to make sure that, within those parameters, each bike was able to perform well across these four categories: Ride experience, maintenance demands, comfort, and value.

Here’s how each category contributed to which bikes ultimately made it into the guide:

Ride experience: A commuter bike isn’t going to wow you with its off-road prowess or on-road speed, but it should still be fun to ride. This means looking at how well it handles city riding as much as cruising through the park or taking a ride through your neighborhood. We also looked at how each bike’s handling affected its ride style, and if it’s something we actually looked forward to riding, no matter if we wanted to go to the store or break a quick sweat.

Maintenance demands: Recurring maintenance costs are inevitable but it’d be nice not to have to get something fixed on your bike every other month. Though commuter bikes may not be pushed to their limits while simply riding to a local coffee shop, we still pushed the tested models to their limits to see if any components were unnecessarily stressed or showing signs of wear and tear. 

Comfort: Perhaps the most important aspect of a commuter bike (and most bikes, in general) is how comfortable it is. If it’s not something that’s pleasant to ride, you’re not likely going to want to ride it very much. Comfort also extends not just to the seat but the handlebar shape and type of material used on the grips. 

Value: A combination of the categories before it, value looks not just at how much a commuter bike is but if it’s truly worth the sticker price. It’s always better to spend more for quality and durability once than to spend less more often. 

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The best bike locks

  • A reliable bike lock should give you the peace of mind to leave your bike almost anywhere and that it’ll still be waiting for you when you return. 
  • The best locks do this by using thick steel shackles or cables that are hard to cut through, making the act of actually stealing a bike an arduous (or impossible) task.
  • Our top pick, the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini Bicycle U-Lock, features anti-theft protection, is easy to mount to your bike, and has a useful double-bolting system.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Whether you live in the country or in a major metropolitan area, there’s no bike lock system capable of stopping a well-equipped thief. However, there are a number of locks that will either slow down or completely discourage a criminal.

Though some thieves will try to drill the lock, the most common way bikes are stolen is when someone cuts through a lock’s shackle, cable, or chain. Of these options, the shackle of a U-lock is the hardest to cut through. The thicker the steel, the longer it takes to get through. Also, if the lock has a double bolt system, a potential thief would then need to make two cuts to free the bike.

But bike locks aren’t exactly a one-size-fits-all type of device. While some offer bulked-up protection for a wide range of use cases, others are designed for when you just need to quickly lock your bike or as a full-on attachment to your bike frame – and we’ve tested dozens of them. 

Over the course of several different rides, including mountain bike trips, e-bike outings, or just casual rides around the neighborhood, we tested locks from brands like Kryptonite, Hiplok, and Lobster Lock, intent on finding the best. Here are our favorites. 

Here are the best bike locks:

Updated on 12/22/2020 by Rick Stella: Updated the section on how we test bike locks, added more to the copy for the Hiplok DX and the Lobster Lock, checked the availability of each recommended bike lock, and updated the prices where necessary. 

Best bike lock overall

kryptonite mini bike lock

If you live in a high crime area, the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini Bicycle U-Lock does an excellent job of warding off criminals and protecting your bike.

Pros: Takes longer to cut through than any other lock

Cons: Small, heavy

Kryptonite is the top name in the bike lock industry. That’s why we’ve included three of its locks in our guide. One of the factors that set Kryptonite apart is its Anti-Theft Protection Offer. Basically, when you get your lock, you must register it with the company right away. Then, if your bike is stolen while it is covered by the anti-theft protection, the company will pay to replace your bike. For the Fahgettaboudit Mini, the first year of registration is free. After that, it is $24.99 for five years of coverage.

The New York Fahgettaboudit Mini offers the highest level of security of any of Kryptonite’s locks according to the company. The shackle is made of 18-millimeter hardened “MAX-Performance” steel. For extra security, the crossbar has an oversized hardened steel sleeve. The lock comes with three keys, which disengages the lock using a high-security disk-style cylinder. The cylinder is protected by a sliding dust cover. And, the center keyway is designed to make leverage attacks difficult.

Best budget bike lock

best budget bike lock titanker bike lock cable

For less than $15, the Titanker Bike Lock Cable is an affordable alternative that offers a variety of locking options.

Pros: 10,000 possible combinations, four-foot reach, flexible

Cons: Cable is relatively easy to cut

The Titanker Bike Lock Cable is made of flexible steel cables that measure a half-inch in diameter. The 4-foot cable is covered with PVC coating and recoils back into its original shape when not in use. The four-digit combination lock has 10,000 possible passcodes. This lock is the lightest option in this guide at 11.2 ounces, and it mounts to your bike with the provided bracket.

The cable design offers flexibility in what you can lock a bike to, and the combination key is also convenient. While a lock is a good deterrent in general, this option doesn’t offer the level of protection as the other locks on this list. Still, the thick cable should deter most thieves.  

Note: We previously recommended the UShake Bike Lock Cable, which is nearly similar to the Titanker option. Although many reviewers also recommended the UShake, that lock is not available at the time of posting.

Best D-lock bike lock

HiplokDX3

The Hiplok DX is a heavy-duty D-lock designed to keep your bike secure no matter where you lock it up, and its lightweight design makes it easy to throw into a backpack or even to wear on your person.

Pros: Heavy-duty yet lightweight design, 14mm steel shackle prevents theft

Cons: Locking area might be small for bikes with bigger tires

Hiplok is one of the who’s who in the bike lock industry (we’ve written about, and loved, its Z-Lok) thanks to its wide selection of dependable products. With the DX, Hiplok not only offers one of the most heavy-duty D-locks on the market, but it challenges the Kryptonite lock that nabbed our top spot. 

What makes the DX particularly stand out is its rugged and durable design, led by a double deadlock and 14mm hardened steel shackle that would take nothing short of a tank to break through it. This means you should feel comfortable locking up your bike anywhere and can rest assured it’ll be there waiting for you when you’re reading to ride again. 

It’s also one of the most lightweight locks we’ve tested and can just as easily slip into a backpack or affix to our belt loops without seeming like we’re dragging an anvil. The DX offers up a sizable locking area, as well, which can easily slide through your tire and around a pole. 

At $90, it’s not a budget pick, but with bike locks, you pay for premium quality (and the assurance you won’t have to spend hundreds on a new bike). Hiplok offers a lifetime warranty, so that $90 investment should last you a very long time. — Rick Stella

Best U-lock/cable bike lock combo

kryptonite  bike lock 2

The Kryptonite Kryptolok Standard Bicycle U-Lock w/4-foot Flex Cable is one of the most affordable locks, and the 4-foot cable makes locking up easy.

Pros: Easy to use, lightweight, inexpensive

Cons: Only requires one cut to defeat

The design of the Kryptolok Standard Bicycle U-Lock is fairly similar to the Kryptonite locks we covered in previous slides. It has a center keyway, high-security disc-style cylinder, reinforced hardened crossbar, and a hardened MAX-Performance steel shackle. However, there are some key differences. The shackle is 13 millimeters thick, the U-lock is 4 x 9 inches, and there is not a double locking mechanism.

Kryptonite rates the security of the Kryptolok as 6 out of 10 (versus 9 for the New York Standard and 10 for the Fahgettaboudit Mini). The company states that it should be secure enough in rural areas, in the suburbs, and when traveling with your bike on a car rack.

Remember to register your bike lock with the brand immediately after you purchase it to take advantage of its theft protection program.

Best on-bike bike lock

Screen Shot 2020 09 01 at 3.17.34 PM

The Lobster Lock permanently attaches to your bike frame so you’ll never have to worry about forgetting to grab a lock on your way out the door.

Pros: Attaches to your bike permanently so you’ll never forget a lock, easy to lock/unlock, inexpensive $75 price tag

Cons: Can rattle on your bike a little bit while riding

We’ve all been there: You’re getting ready for a ride, you’ve packed a backpack, grab your helmet, and jet out the door. As you get to your destination, you realize it; you forgot your bike lock. Now, you’re left with a decision, do you leave the bike there and quickly run inside to get what you need, or do you ride back home? With the Lobster Lock, those forgetful moments cease to exist.

Thanks to a design that allows you to permanently attach it to your bike’s frame, the Lobster Lock goes wherever your bike goes, all day, every day. By attaching to where you’d put a water bottle cradle, the lock is able to stay out of the way enough to avoid hindering you as you ride, yet is perfect for attaching to a bike rack (including through your wheel, too).

Using the lock is easy, too. By simply unlocking it with a key, two arms swing out from the base and attach to each other to create the lock. When you’re reading to ride again, just unlock the two arms from each other, fold them back into the base, and lock it again with the key. Simple as that. 

Also, don’t think you have to sacrifice the water bottle cradle — it basically acts as an extension of that area as you’re able to affix a cradle to the lock itself. That’s a ton of convenience packed into one bike lock. — Rick Stella

How we test bike locks

Each of the following bike locks went through several rounds of field testing to make sure they not only provided a reliable method for locking up our bike but that they were easy to use, weren’t a pain to lug around, and offered enough value regardless of their price tag. Specifically, we looked at these five categories: Ease of use, durability, security, and value. Here’s how each category factored into what locks made the cut:

  • Ease of use: Using a bike lock shouldn’t be a headache each time you lock and unlock your ride. This means that it should be easy to affix to a bike rack while still being able to secure valuable parts of your bike (i.e. the wheel) without it feeling like solving a Rubik’s cube. 
  • Durability: What good is a bike lock if it starts to fall apart mere months after you purchase it? Bike locks take a beating, whether it be while getting throwing into a backpack or vehicle, someone attempting to disassemble it, or being stored at home in a garage or closet. You want any lock you purchase (especially since you’re spending hard-earned cash) to last you several years, at the very least. 
  • Security: If a bike lock is easy to break into, then what’s the point? A reliable bike lock should be able to stand up to a variety of bike-stealing methods and not only continue to protect your bike but be able to continue to live up to its namesake. 
  • Value: Value isn’t just about how much a bike lock costs — it’s more about how much return you get on your investment. If you pay a premium price, you should expect premium features. This is sort of like the sum of all the categories before it (while still considering its sticker cost). 
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