The key to choosing the best commuter bike is ensuring it’s comfortable and practical for the type of riding you intend to do.
If your commute is short and you’re not in a rush, your best bike for commuting could be a flat-bar bike, such as a hybrid or mountain bike.
Or, if you want to cover lots of ground quickly, a drop-bar road or gravel bike may be a better choice for you.
In this in-depth guide, we’ll talk you through the options and recommend bikes in each category that have earned the approval of our expert reviewers.
You’re unlikely to commit to regularly commuting to work by bike in all weather conditions if it’s a chore in the first place, so we’ve put together this handy guide to help you choose the best commuter bike for you.
The best commuter bike in 2023
What type of bike you choose to ride to work will depend on factors such as journey distance, terrain, where you live and your taste in bikes.
To help make your decision easier, we’ve explained how common types of bike fare on the daily commute.
It’s also worth mentioning that most bikes can be made into great commuters, with the addition of full-length mudguards for foul weather, luggage-carrying capability and a set of the best bike lights for year-round visibility. With these affordable modifications, your languishing older bike may be a prime candidate for resurrection as a commuter.
If you have a particular type of bike in mind for your daily commuter, you can use the jump links below to skip to the relevant section of this article:
- Hybrid and flat-bar road bikes
- Electric commuter bikes
- Folding commuter bikes
- Road commuter bikes
- Gravel bikes
- Mountain bikes
Hybrid and flat-bar road bikes: the best all-round commuter bike
A hybrid bike is best thought of as a hardy road bike that takes some influence from mountain bikes. It borrows its off-road cousin’s flat handlebars and a more upright, traffic- and comfort-friendly position.
Like a road bike, modern hybrids are usually built around 700c wheels. However, the tyres are often wider than a road bike’s – but usually not as wide as a mountain bike – enabling you to traverse rough roads and gravel paths comfortably, especially with the best gravel bike tyres.
Most hybrids have a rigid fork, but some are also sold with cheaper suspension forks. While the idea of suspension may seem appealing, be wary, because most models have heavy low-end forks that add little to the comfort of the bike.
Cheaper hybrids usually have rim brakes, while the best hybrid bikes are equipped with disc brakes.
Disc brakes offer more powerful, predictable and reliable braking – even in the rain – than rim brakes. They are definitely something you should look out for.
Hybrid bikes are also hugely versatile, with many bikes ready to go with bosses and mounts for every accessory imaginable. This makes them ideal for conversion to other duties, such as touring.
It’s also worth looking out for hybrids with accessories. Adding on mudguards, a rack and lights is expensive, so these packages often present good value for money.
Whether you’re a beginner looking for a general-use bike or are a dedicated commuter who prefers an upright position in traffic, a flat-bar hybrid is a great choice for you.
- Pros: Fairly quick; hugely versatile; confidence-inspiring upright position
- Cons: Not the lightest or most comfortable bike for longer distances
3 of the best hybrid commuter bikes, as rated by our expert testers
This is a small selection of the best hybrid bikes for commuting. Head to our full list of the best hybrid bikes for more.
Canyon Commuter 7
- £1,749 / $1,699 / AU$2,649 as tested
Besides being a joy to pedal, the Canyon Commuter 7 comes with commuting accessories, such as dynamo lighting, a rack and mudguards. The Gates belt drive shifts well and cuts down on drivechain maintenance.
Ribble Hybrid AL
- £1,199 / $1,350 / €1,280 / AU$1,950 as tested
The Ribble Hybrid AL is a robust, comfortable bike that can take the rigours of commuting. Fitted with wide tyres on 650b rims, it will soak up a lot of road imperfections and, using the Ribble bike builder, you can choose from a wide range of specs and extras including mudguards and a rear rack.
Cannondale Treadwell EQ
- £849 as tested
The Cannondale Treadwell EQ has a front rack (which can carry up to 10kg), panniers and rack mounts for extra luggage. Its mudguards are fairly protective, its brakes are good and its gearing is suitable for town riding.
Electric commuter bikes: best if you need a hand up the hills
As technology has matured and their adoption has become widespread, there’s no denying that electric bikes have become an increasingly dominant force in the cycling market and electric bikes for commuting are a great option.
While the proponents and haters of ebikes will debate whether or not they have a place in the cycling world, we at BikeRadar are big fans of them.
Not only do they open up cycling to a broader audience, but the best electric bikes also enable more experienced cyclists to cover far greater distances.
And this ability to cover ground easily comes into its own with an electric commuter bike.
Electric bikes can improve your fitness. Plus, they enable those who live out of town to ride long distances to work, even with a heavy load.
You still have to pedal on an ebike and will invariably tire yourself out riding one, you’ll just do it over a far greater distance than on a regular bike.
Of course, there’s a weight and price penalty to pay with an ebike, but the technology that powers them is becoming more accessible.
While we don’t want to speculate too much, we foresee modern, ultra-reliable ebikes becoming a truly viable car alternative in years to come.
With that in mind, for those who live a distance from work, it’s definitely worth considering whether ditching the car (and the cost of running one) and investing in an electric bike for commuting is a viable option.
- Pros: Possible to cover great distances, even when loaded; very efficient; a true car alternative
- Cons: Heavy; must be recharged; expensive (for now)
3 of the best electric commuter bikes, as rated by our expert testers
This is a small selection of the best electric bikes for commuting. Head to our full list of the best electric hybrid bikes for more.
Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0
- £3,900 / $4,000 / €4,100 / AU$6,900 as tested
The Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0 is well specced for commuting, with lights, mudguards, a rack and a kickstand. There’s also a suspension fork and seatpost to add comfort. Range is good and the powerful motor adds plenty of assistance, although at 25kg it’s heavy to move around when you’re not riding.
Tern Quick Haul P9
- £3,100 / $3,299 / AU$ 4,995 as tested
If you need to carry a larger load on your commute, an electric cargo bike could be the answer. The motor really helps keep you moving and, in the case of the Tern Quick Haul, you can load up with up to 70kg of cargo. It stands on its rack for more compact storage too.
Canyon Precede:ON CF 9
- £4,999 / €4,999 as tested
Canyon has given the Precede:ON sleek looks with a high-capacity integrated battery and a belt drive to reduce maintenance and cleaning. Continuously variable transmission makes gear shifts a thing of the past. The motor gives plenty of assistance and the bike feels stable but agile, despite its 23kg weight.
Folding commuter bikes: best if your commute involves public transport
Most often built around diminutive 16in or 20in wheels, folding bikes, as the name suggests, fold down into impressively small packages that can be stored neatly at either end of your journey.
The best folding bikes are also ideal for those who don’t intend to ride the entire way to work, completing part of the journey by public transport – or, if you prefer, go ‘multimodal’.
Due to their small wheels and the inevitable compromise that creating a packable bike demands, folding bikes won’t handle like a regular bike.
They also tend to feel pretty sluggish on the road, but how likely is it that you’ll be regularly razzing around the streets at full gas during rush hour on a folding bike anyway?
The next option is a folding electric commuter bike. The extra boost provided by the motor helps to compensate for a pedal-only folding bike’s slowish ride, even though the best folding electric bikes will weigh more than a pedal-only folding bike.
While some folding bikes are built around larger wheels, they don’t fold down nearly as compactly as their small-wheeled brethren, and some trains and buses won’t accept them. This only really makes these bikes useful when space is tight at home or work.
The undoubted market leader here is Brompton, with a clever design that has become something of a modern classic.
However, there are lots of interesting options from other manufacturers too, such as Tern.
If convenience, easy storage and the ability to travel on public transport trump all, a folder is likely the right choice for you.
- Pros: Incredibly convenient to store and travel with
- Cons: Not as sprightly, confidence-inspiring or comfortable as a ‘full-sized’ bike
3 of the best folding commuter bikes, as rated by our expert testers
This is a small selection of the best folding bikes. Head to our full list of the best folding bikes for more.
Brompton P Line
- £2,100 / $2,750 / €2,550 as tested
Despite weighing a willowy 10kg, the speedy Brompton P Line remains practical. It has a front carrier rack and folds up easily.
- £1,395 as tested
The MiRider ONE is a compact electric folder that offers up to 45 miles on a charge. The ride is nippy and the wide tyres help cushion the road well. It’s also quick to fold and its 17.2kg weight isn’t excessive for an electric folding bike. It’s available as a singlespeed or a geared bike.
- £3,999 / $4,999 as tested
The GoCycle G4 handles better than many folding bikes, both on- and off-road thanks to wide tyres, 20in wheels and suspension. Its motor has plenty of power and it’s quick to fold into a wheelable package or further for compact storage.
Road bikes: best commuter bikes if you’re riding a long distance on roads
Built for use on tarmac, the best road bikes are for riding long distances fast and can make some of the best commuter bikes.
However, a road bike subjected to the ravages of potholes, poor weather and rough terrain will inevitably deteriorate quicker than a hardier bike. But given appropriate care and regular maintenance, it will, of course, last for years.
You’re unlikely to want to spend a fortune on a road bike dedicated to commuting, and even bikes as cheap as £600 can make great commuter bikes. Just make sure your choice has mudguard eyelets, a dependable groupset and a strong, high-spoke-count wheelset.
If you do decide to go for a carbon bike, greater care should also be taken when locking it up.
If you opt for a particularly bulky lock, you can always leave it attached to your bike rack at work.
Finally, most road bikes will come with lightweight and fast-rolling tyres. While these feel great on a fast Sunday ride, the best road bike tyres are likely to be far more puncture-prone than a sturdier tyre, and you’ll want to swap them out for the best winter road bike tyres for commuting.
- Pros: Quick; efficient; great fun
- Cons: Not the sturdiest
3 of the best road commuter bikes, as rated by our expert testers
Fairlight Strael 3.0
- £2,900 as tested
The Fairlight Strael’s steel frame should serve you well and is available in regular and tall sizes. It can handle wide tyres as well as mudguards, making it a great four seasons road bike, while the frame is comfortable and smooth-riding.
Triban RC 120
- £429.99 as tested
Decathlon’s Triban RC120 provides phenomenal value for money if you’re looking for a durable commuter road bike. There’s plenty of gear range and decent rim brakes, and you can fit a rack and mudguards for all-weather commuting duties.
Buy now for men
Boardman SLR 8.6
- £550 as tested
Boardman is another brand that provides impressive value, and the SLR 8.6 is comfortable and fitted with an 8-speed Shimano Claris groupset for crisp shifting. It’s another bike you can kit out with mudguards and a rack as well.
Gravel/adventure/cyclocross bikes: best commuter bikes if you want to ride far on bad roads
Primarily, on the best gravel bikes, clearances are improved so that chunkier gravel tyres can be fitted, smoothing out the ride on broken surfaces.
The wheelbase of a gravel bike is often considerably longer than a road bike, with the head angle often slackened to ease handling over rougher terrain, plus disc brakes for good stopping power.
Gravel bikes are designed to be versatile, with most having provisions to mount mudguards, racks and multiple bottle cages.
Combined with a road-like fit, these bikes make excellent commuter bikes for those who have to contend with poor roads or light off-road detours.
Dedicated cyclocross bikes tend to lack these commuter-friendly provisions and usually feature a more aggressive fit than their all-road-minded cousins. But, with some modifications, many still make great commuter bikes.
- Pros: Incredibly adaptable with a fast and comfortable ride
- Cons: Not as quick on tarmac as a road bike, but more suitable for commuting overall
3 of the best gravel commuter bikes, as rated by our expert testers
Marin Nicasio +
- £845 / $899 / AU$1,499 / €899 as tested
The Marin Nicasio + has a bombproof steel frame and fork. It’s specced with an impressive Microshift single ring groupset and wide, comfortable tyres. It may be on the heavy side, but it can handle anything that the trails (or city roads) can throw at it.
Boardman ADV 8.6
- £750 as tested
The Boardman ADV 8.6 provides versatility, with a Shimano Sora groupset and rack and mudguard mounts. The 38mm tyres are tubeless-ready, so you can reduce the risk of punctures on your commute, while the quality touchpoints offer a comfortable ride.
- £650 as tested
Voodoo offers you a quality spec for a budget price, with the same 9-speed Sora groupset as the Boardman. The Nakisi provides low gearing and quality WTB Riddler tyres. It’s another bike that can take a rack and mudguards if needed.
Mountain bikes: best if you commute on truly rough terrain
The upright riding position and sturdy nature of the best mountain bikes have long made them a popular choice with commuters.
While a mountain bike’s knobbly tyres are great if your commute follows an off-road route, they will add a considerable amount of drag when riding in town.
If you plan to use a mountain bike just for commuting, we’d recommend fitting slick tyres to unleash the bike’s full potential.
We’d also recommend steering clear of full-suspension or trail mountain bikes, because you’ll be paying for a load of technology you’ll never really use.
Instead, look for a cross-country bike, even one that’s fully rigid. As with everything else, ensure it has all the mounts you need to make the bike more commuting friendly.
- Pros: Upright riding position; super-durable
- Cons: Heavier than other options; slow on tarmac; not the most versatile
3 of the best mountain bikes for commuting, as rated by our expert testers
- £600 as tested
Another great-value option available at Halfords, the Carrera Fury includes both a dropper post and hydraulic brakes. It’s comfortable both when climbing and descending, and corners well too, with plenty of grip.
Marin Bobcat Trail 3
- £525 as tested
The Marin Bobcat Trail 3 can handle a wide range of off-road conditions and comes with smaller wheels on smaller-sized bikes for consistent handling across the size range. The spec and geometry are geared towards distance rather than aggressive riding.
Voodoo Bizango Carbon
- £1,000 as tested
The Voodoo Bizango has a fine-looking carbon frame and excellent spec for the money. It’s an admirable cross-country performer that will do much more.