The Best Commuter Bikes for the Active Urbanite

The Best Commuter Bikes for the Active Urbanite

Upgrading your daily commute starts with the base level of gear you travel with. Your bike sees varied terrain, and this holds all the more true in urban zones. City streets, hidden parks, rippling asphalt, and small hills might feature in your commute. 

Your workout doesn’t have to be confined to the gym. You can cycle in the morning or evening going from work or on a lax weekend. The complex environment of urban settings doesn’t single out one particular type of bike as the singularly optimal choice.

Olivers is next going to highlight the best commuter bikes to enhance your daily life. Speed, security, and durability are all included in various degrees among these essential items.

Gravel Bike

Gravel bikes are designed for the off-road traveler. Their wide tires and effective stopping power make them adept at navigating rough roads. A slightly slower overall speed makes avoiding potholes an absolute breeze. If you’re looking for an all-purpose bike to meet your commute and your hike, choose a gravel bike. 

Gravel bikes are closely related to the mountain bike and the road bike alike but remain distinct in several ways. Gravel bikes are lighter than mountain bikes and feature drop bars rather than flat handlebars. Suspension fork options are generally limited, making them less effective at harsh off-roading. 

Be on the lookout for suitable bike lights. Gravel bike lights are often built to illuminate dark, treacherous areas. You want this protection, but you don’t want to stun anyone you pass late at night. Many city streets feature partial illumination, making 400-600 lumens more than enough for urban exploration.

Speed is also a complex factor. Gravel bikes tend to be a middle ground between road bikes and mountain bikes. They are faster than mountain bikes but more effective in complicated terrain than road bikes. This gives you more routing options, whether biking for pleasure or for your commute. 700c wheels are one of the mainstays of gravel bikes, though you may choose different ones depending on your circumstances.

Bike commuting can take you through busy streets and cool, dewy morning parks, thanks to the versatility of gravel bikes.

There is one con of gravel bikes — the price. While gravel bikes are not prohibitively expensive, they tend to be pricier than road bikes. This makes entry-level options slightly costlier, but if your locale merits it, the cost will be worth it. 

Folding Bike

By the numbers, living in a city puts your space at a premium. By dollar value, urban dwellers spend significantly more on rent and housing than those in rural settings. These numbers have only ballooned in recent years as housing prices have skyrocketed. 

One of the key problems, though a minor one, facing any bike owner is deciding where to store it. This is especially true if you travel and want to keep it secured at all times. Thankfully the ease of maintaining a folding bike makes it a good option for any city-dweller. The small size of folding bikes provides a wide variety of benefits. 

The bikes themselves are extremely portable, allowing them to be neatly stored in your trunk, closet, or workplace. This reduces theft risk, especially when your bike may otherwise be outside all day. 

Folding bikes also feature smaller wheels, which provide some benefits that may be surprising. Because the spokes are smaller, they are less prone to being damaged than longer, more easily bent spokes.

The repeated folding motion also requires a greater degree of durability instilled in the piece of equipment. The end result is a bike that’s low maintenance, something the best folding bikes all share. 

Hybrid Bike

The next urban bike on our list is a true fusion whose name suggests its function. The hybrid bike exists between the world of the rugged mountain bike and the specced-for-speed road bike. Unlike gravel bikes, which lean towards the former, hybrid bikes are a true middle-ground option. 

Cyclists can immediately distinguish between hybrid and gravel bikes by the flat handlebars of the former. Flat bars allow for a more upright, controlled riding position than other types of handlebars. Bike commuting can be personalized based on the hybrid bike.

There is no single standard for what makes a hybrid bike, and different models blend different design choices together. This makes the hybrid bike distinct and endlessly versatile but never totally perfect for your trek. Mountain bikes are better off-road, and road bikes are faster. 

For urban areas, with a little bit of off-roading and an emphasis on safe riding, hybrid bikes excel. Consider taking one with you the next time you find yourself traveling between cities.

Dutch Bike

Biking was introduced to the Netherlands far later than the rest of Europe. Once it was introduced, this way of exercise and transport became a way of life. In 2019, there were 22.4 million bikes for a population of under 18 million.

This is just under half the number of bikes in the U.S, with a population 18 times higher. It should be no surprise that the country has influenced cycling, even resulting in a unique style of bike.

Dutch bikes' retro, step-through style makes them ideal for the urban commuter. The riding position also creates an ergonomic, comfortable ride. In a Dutch bike, the rider is low to the ground in an upright position. This takes the pressure off the back and neck compared to other riding postures. 

Most Dutch bikes also automatically feature front and rear fenders in response to the intense yearly weather conditions. The chaincase is also often covered to protect it from these same conditions. Between the usual alloy frame, steel frame, and aluminum frame, they often highlight rust-resistant bike frame components. They also feature a rear rack, making them ideal for carrying small items with you. 

These types of city bikes are made for the practical traveler:

Singlespeed Bike

Singlespeed bikes take the piece of equipment to its utmost simplicity. Without a derailleur, shifters, or other systems to monitor a range of gears, it maintains a single speed.

Technically, almost any type of bike can also be a single-speed bike. Closely associated with the singlespeed bike is the fixie (or fixed-gear bicycle), which features a drivetrain without the traditional clutch. 

Singlespeed bikes are built for people who need to get where they want to be — fast. These, like the road bike, offer unparalleled speed compared to other types of bikes and to public transport. Unfortunately, it may make your commute slightly more hazardous. 

Electric Bike

The e-bike takes the power of your standard bike and improves it slightly. It features many of the same traditional features, from the front suspension to the rear seatpost. The only nontraditional element of the e-bike is the motor, which operates when you push the pedals. 

E-bikes are great for going through difficult slopes or for reducing the amount you sweat on a morning commute. They are also great for those who are less physically able or who are in recovery from injuries.

The gentle boost of the motor can also be used to give you an extra boost during off-days from exercise. Few e-bikes exist that can be powered by the motor alone, as these would be classified as motorized vehicles. 

There is a good deal of customization to consider when buying an e-bike. For example, choosing between a chain drive and a belt drive has its own benefits.

An electric bike can prove wonderful for commuters who have challenging routes and may want a little assistance. There’s nothing wrong with making your routes a little more doable, especially since motor assistance can often be turned off. 

Picking the Right Bike For You

Choosing the right bike for you requires a variety of decisions. It may be that you don’t have a preference for hydraulic disc brakes as opposed to rim brakes. You may not feel a particular brand loyalty to bike and component manufacturers. Even if the retailer or bike shop doesn’t always matter to you, quality should.

Ask yourself what you want most of all. Do you want speed, durability, portability, comfort, or the ability to go anywhere you may desire? Do you want some of these in combination? 

Gravel bikes and hybrid bikes provide outstanding off-road and on-road capabilities. Folding bikes provide ease of storage and safety wherever you go. Dutch bikes and e-bikes, through different means, serve to make your daily adventures a little simpler. Singlespeed bikes provide unfettered speed for those who need it.

Olivers believes in high-quality in everything we do, from apparel to fitness guides. A well-lived life is the result of countless interlocking parts and not just one individual metric. Part of powering yourself to be the best is knowing what gear you need. Upgrading your cycling habits requires rethinking the bike you carry with you in the city. 


Gravel Bike vs Mountain Bike: Understanding the Differences | Cyclingnews

Urban and Rural Household Spending In 2015 I U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Netherlands: Bicycle Fleet 2005-2019 | Statista

Previous Article Next Article