Any bicycle will undoubtedly get you to work, but some are more suited to the job than others. We take a look at the pros and cons of different commuter bikes to help you choose your next bike.
When choosing your bike for riding to work there are a few questions to ask yourself to help narrow down your choices. Firstly, will you ride the whole way? How far is your commute? When you arrive at work what kind of storage is there and is it secure? What are the roads like, i.e. will you be riding on cycle paths or tracks? Finally, how fit are you and are you happy to arrive at work a little bit sweaty?
Here are the five most popular bikes regularly seen on commuter routes, all available with the Cycle to Work Scheme, so make sure you find out if you are eligible, before getting your wallet out!
Their genius design means these bikes fold down to the size of a small suitcase allowing you to take them on buses and trains. This is perfect if you have a long commute or to save driving to the train station. The downside is the smaller wheels needed to make folding possible can also make the bike slower to ride. Although gear size helps to compensate for wheel circumference, it can make your ride feel a bit bumpier especially through pot holes or on poor surfaces. However if you aren’t in a rush, or you are super-fit and able to turn the pedals fast, these bikes make a great choice for city riding.
Pro – You can fold it up to take on public transport
Con – Smaller wheels make it slower option
As the name suggests a hybrid bike is a mix of a mountain and road bike. They are great for riding in urban areas as the flat bars and upright riding position provides good visibility and handling in traffic, while the large wheels and skinny tyres roll fast over tarmac. A hybrid allows you to take advantage of a number of different types of terrain so you don’t have to stick to the road, which allows you to plan a route using quiet cycle paths, gravel tracks or riverside tow-paths.
Pro – Versatility
Con – Not as fast as road bike or as rugged as a mountain bike
Drop handle bar road bikes are designed to be fast and efficient. If you are riding a long way or using your commute as part of your fitness training they are the perfect choice. However, the lower riding position can feel less comfortable in traffic. If you lack bike handling skills or confidence, a flat barred bike may be a better option as it allows you to sit more upright, giving you a clearer view of the road ahead.
Pro – Fast and light
Con – Can feel a bit twitchy, particularly during slow speed manoeuvres.
Electric bikes make cycling possible for virtually everyone, regardless of fitness or age. They allow you to zip along without breaking a sweat, perfect if you want to ride in your office clothing, or you’re unable to shower when you get to work. The only downside is they require regular charging. However, you can still ride them with a flat battery if you’re feeling up for the challenge, as they are very heavy! Naturally there are less fitness benefits than riding an ordinary bicycle, although still a lot more than driving a car, or sitting on a train.
Pro – Get to work faster without sweating!
Con – Slightly less fitness benefit and needs to be charged
A beater, sometimes affectionately called a townie, pub bike or commuter, is simply a rough looking bike, which will look undesirable in comparison to its shinier counterparts. Typically, a beater will be an old training or racing bike that has been replaced with a newer model, a second-hand bike or an understated new bike. A really good beater is still a highly functional bike, just in disguise. Owners use paint and stickers to cover up brand names and make the bike appear more personal to themselves.
Pro – Undistinguished bike is less desirable to thieves
Con – May be less reliable or harder to ride if old
So there you have it, our pros and cons for 5 of the most common commuter bikes if you’re looking to upgrade your ride to work!
This coffee brake was provided by Cycle-SOS, The Cyclists' National Helpline.