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How to choose your bike for riding to work
  • A vast range of bike types work well for the office run. The distance, terrain, road surfaces and what else you want to use your bike for all factor in to your choice.

  • In flatter towns, the good old roadster and its modern hybrid descendants are great urban transport.

  • Want to go a bit faster? Drop-bar options like cyclo-cross bikes, gravel bikes and touring bikes have a good turn of speed combined with wide tyres to ward off pothole damage.

  • Look for rack and mudguard mounts on the frame for all-weather riding, and the capability for on-bike luggage.

You've decided to ride to work – a great choice because it's cheap, it’s green and it'll help keep you fit and active. It can also be quicker than many other modes of transport because you can avoid traffic jams and other delays, and it's a lot more fun than sitting traffic or avoiding eye contact on the Tube. So what’s the best bike for commuting?

You can ride to work on pretty much any bike you like; go on a BMX if you want. But spend some time choosing the most suitable tool for the job and you’ll probably get there quicker and more comfortably.

We’ll run through a few different types of bikes and explain why each one might be the best choice for you, then explain a few things you need to consider before making your final choice.

Read more: road.cc Commuting Bike of the Year 2016-17

Flat bar road bikes

A lot of people prefer the vision and control that they get from a bike with a flat handlebar over one with a dropped bar. With a flat bar road bike you get the fast wheels/tyres of a standard road bike and gearing that allows you to commute quickly.

Entry level: Specialized Sirrus bikes — from £379

specialized-sirrus-sport-disc-2016-hybrid-bike.jpg

specialized-sirrus-sport-disc-2016-hybrid-bike.jpg

If you’re after something inexpensive but decent, Specialized’s Sirrus bikes come with a road bike geometry, and the the cheapest option from the 2016 range is £425. However, you can pick up 2015 bikes from £320 at the moment — bargain!

Find a Specialized dealer

Mid-range: Hoy Shizuoka bikes — from £550

Hoy Shizuoka - full bike

Hoy Shizuoka - full bike

We reviewed the Hoy Shizuoka city bike (£620.00) a while back and we were really impressed. It comes with 10 gears, hydraulic disc brakes and room for bigger tyres, mudguards and a rack, all of which are strong draws if you’re looking for a bike on which you can commute.

Plus, at 10.5kg (23.3lb), the Hoy Shizuoka is much lighter than the sort of mountain bike that many people use for commuting, and it’ll easily handle long road rides at the weekend.

If you want more gears, there are other options in the Shizuoka range.

Read our review of the Hoy Shizouka city bike here

Higher end: Cannondale Quick Carbon — from £1,399

Cannondale’s Quick Carbon is fast like a road bike and comfy like a mountain bike, and offers disc brake confidence. It comes in two versions for £1,299 and £1,499.

Read our review of Cannondale's Quick Carbon 2
Find a Cannondale dealer
Read more: Buyer's guide to hybrids and flat bar road bikes

Road bikes

A road bike is a fast option if you have a long commute, especially if a lot of your ride is on open, out of town roads where you can make its speed and efficiency really count.

Also, a road bike is ideal for riding sportives, training rides, or just getting out and seeing the country.

Entry level: B’Twin Triban 500 SE — £299

BTwin Triban 500 road bike - riding 1

BTwin Triban 500 road bike - riding 1

Priced at £299.99, the B’Twin Triban 500 SE is an entry-level road bike but we found it amazingly sprightly. It’s built around an aluminium frame and carbon fork, and gets a 3 x 8-speed Microshift drivetrain (you can get a Shimano Sora-equipped version of this bike for £449.99). Threaded eyelets on the rear dropouts and the fork plus rack eyelets on the seatstays are welcome additions for commuting.

The Triban 500 SE weighs in at a surprisingly light 22.4lb/10.08kg – way below average for a bike at this price.

Read our review of the B'Twin Triban 500 SE
Find a B'Twin dealer

Mid-range: Jamis Renegade Exile — £600

jamis-renegade-exile-2017-adventure-road-bike-blue-EV275251-5000-1.jpg

jamis-renegade-exile-2017-adventure-road-bike-blue-EV275251-5000-1.jpg

 

With fat tyres that point and laugh at potholes and mounts for a rack and mudguards, the Renegade Exile is ideal as a year round commuter and it’ll handle much more besides.

​Find a Jamis dealer

Higher end: Lapierre Sensium 300 — £1,500

Lapierre-Sensium-300-FDJ-2017-Road-Bike_99305_1_Supersize.jpg

Lapierre-Sensium-300-FDJ-2017-Road-Bike_99305_1_Supersize.jpg

The  carbon fibre Lapierre Sensium 300 is a comfortable, lively endurance bike with plenty of upgrade potential. We've tested and liked the Sensium 100; this is its successor and looks just as good.

Read our review of the Lapierre Sensium 100
Find a Lapierre dealer
Read more: Buyer's Guide to road bikes under £1000
Read more: Buying your first road bike — everything you need to know

Luxury: Whyte Wessex — £2,100

Whyte Wessex.jpg

Whyte Wessex.jpg

The road.cc Commuting Bike of the Year 2016-17, the Whyte Wessex is a brilliant all-rounder that can be used for just about any sort of riding, and has the resilience to point and laugh at potholed city streets as it speeds through them.

Fast and sporty, with all the practicality and dependability of hydraulic disc brakes, wide tyres and space for full-length mudguards, the  Wessex is a bike that is up to the task of taking on the roughest roads and toughest weather.

Racing aside, it's all the bike you really need for year-round riding in the UK, fast enough for sportives and pacy training runs, comfortable and reliable for grinding out winter miles, and at home on longer commutes. Only a British company could design a bike that is absolutely, perfectly, 100 per cent suited to the demands of year-round UK road cycling.

Read our review of the Whyte Wessex
Find a Whyte dealer

Hybrid

A hybrid combines features of a mountain bike and features of a road bike to give you, theoretically, the best of both worlds: a bike that is pretty quick and also tough and durable. In truth, it’s often difficult to tell where the flat bar road bike category ends and hybrids begin.

Entry level: B'Twin Hoprider 520 — £369

B'TWIN HOPRIDER 520

B'TWIN HOPRIDER 520

The B'Twin Hoprider 520 comes with everything you need to pootle round town, to the office or the shops or just round the park for exercise. It's not the lightest hybrid ever, but it's very well specced for the money.

Off the peg, the Hoprider 520 comes with hub-powered lighting front and rear, mudguards, rack and kickstand. That's a great set of accessories for a hybrid (too often they're just a bare bike) and really makes this bike an excellent choice for commuting and other practical riding.

Read our review of the B'Twin Hoprider 520

Find a Decathlon store

Mid-range: Boardman Hybrid Team — £630

Boardman Hybrid Team.jpeg

Boardman Hybrid Team.jpeg

Boardman bikes are ubiquitous on the city streets and just lately main man Chris Boardman has been all over the media advocating for cycling rights and plugging his book on bike design, The Biography of the Modern Bike.

Boardman somehow finds time to design nice hybrids too, like this aluminium-framed, round-town speedster. At this level you start finding hydraulic disc brakes, usually a bit more reliable and less fiddly than cable brakes. The Hybrid Team also has a carbon fibre fork, which helps take the sting out of potholes, and wide-range SRAM gearing.

Find a Halfords branch

Higher end: Trek DS 4 — £950

trek-ds-4-2017-hybrid-bike-black-EV284331-8500-1.jpg

trek-ds-4-2017-hybrid-bike-black-EV284331-8500-1.jpg

The DS 4 is the closest current bike in Trek's line-up to the  Trek 8.6 DS that we reviewed a while back. It had some compromises, but we found that bike was competent and comfortable both on the road and off it. The DS 4 is a rather more conventional hybrid than the 8.6 DS was, as it lacks the rear shock absorber of the old bike, but the wide-ratio gearing will make hills a snip.

Read our review of the Trek 8.6 DS
Find a Trek dealer
Read more: Beginner's guide to hybrid bikes

Fixed/singlespeed

Fixed gear bikes (ones without a freewheel so you can’t coast, your feet have to turn whenever the bike is moving) aren't quite as fashionable as a few years ago. They're simple, thanks to the lack of derailleurs, gear shifters or cables to maintain or replace, but having to pedal constantly turns out to be fairly inconvenient.

Just having one gear whatever the profile of your ride isn’t ideal if you live in a really hilly area, but in flatter town fixies have given way to singlespeeds, which at least let you coast. Many singlespeeds have a flip-flop rear wheel that you can turn around to run it fixed if you want to experiment with compulsory pedalling.

Entry level: Charge Plug 0 — £357.94

Charge Plug 0.jpg

Charge Plug 0.jpg

The Charge Plug 0 is a simple, tough steel singlespeed with a flip-flop rear wheel and large 38mm tyres for comfort. It's part of a well-thought-out range of commuter bikes with fat tyres and, higher up the price band, aluminium frames.

Read our review of the Charge Plug 4

Mid-range: Kona Paddy Wagon — £599

Kona-Paddy-Wagon-Drop-2016-Hybrid-Bike-82188-SuperSize.jpg

Kona-Paddy-Wagon-Drop-2016-Hybrid-Bike-82188-SuperSize.jpg

We reviewed Kona’s Paddy Wagon fixed/singlespeed a few years ago (priced £550 at the time, now priced at £599). It’s made from Reynolds 520 butted chromoly steel, comes with 28mm tyres that’ll help smooth over rough roads, and there’s plenty of mudguard clearance (you can go to 32mm tyres if you do without mudguards). There are braze-ons for the mudguards but not for a rack.

We reckon it’s worth putting on the shortlist if you're shopping for a fast commuter bike.

Read our review of the Kona Paddy Wagon
Find a Kona dealer

Touring bikes

A touring bike is built to be strong and to carry loads, both of which are useful qualities for commuting.

Entry level: Roux Etape 250 — £500

Roux Etape 250 - full bike - close.jpeg

Roux Etape 250 - full bike - close.jpeg

When we reviewed the Roux Etape 250 touring bike, we said that it bore most of the hallmarks of a classic big journey tourer but that it would be just as suitable for everyday use as a load bearing workhorse commuter. It’s one of the few disc-brake equipped heavy duty tourers on the market at this price.

Read our review of the Roux Etape 250 touring bike
Find a Roux dealer

Higher-end: Surly Disc Trucker — £1,300

The Surly Disc Trucker is a well thought-out tourer with bags of character. It's a super-practical bike and a lot of fun to ride.

Read our review of the Surly Disk Trucker
Find a Surly dealer

Higher end: Surly Straggler — £1,500

Surly Straggler - riding 4

Surly Straggler - riding 4

We were mightily impressed by the Surly Straggler. It’s a sturdy and adaptable steel all-rounder with disc brakes. You can use it on the roads, on towpaths and trails — pretty much wherever you like — and it comes with braze-ons for mudguards and racks.

Read our review of the Surly Straggler
Find a Surly dealer
Read more: Buyer's guide to touring bikes

Cyclocross & gravel bikes

Cyclocross and gravel bikes are designed for riding off road but the fact that they’re built to be both fast and durable means they can be excellent for everyday commuting, sometimes with some tweaks for the road.

Entry level: Genesis Day One 10 — £480 (limited sizes)

genesis-day-one-10-2017-singlespeed-bike-black-EV289571-8500-1.jpg

genesis-day-one-10-2017-singlespeed-bike-black-EV289571-8500-1.jpg

The Genesis Day One 10 is a singlespeed cyclo-cross bike that’s an ideal everyday commuter if you live in a flat area. Given that purpose, the addition of full-length mudguards to the 2017 version is very welcome.

Find a Genesis dealer

Pinnacle Arkose Alfine 8 2018 — £1,000

2018 pinnacle arkose alfine 8.jpg

2018 pinnacle arkose alfine 8.jpg

The Arkose Alfine 8 from Pinnacle (Evans Cycles' in-house bike brand) might have cyclo-cross DNA but with provision for mudguards and a rack, it's a good choice for an all-round, general purpose bike that is competent on the smooth and capable in the rough. A hub gear like the Shimano Alfine 8 is a great choice for reliable simplicity if you're going to ride in all weathers. 

Rugged road bikes are becoming increasingly popular, with cyclists fed up of being limited to riding just on the road. More and more riders are wanting a versatile bike capable of exploring the countryside via some of the wonderful bridleways, woodland trails and long-distance off-road tracks that exist right across the UK. And the Arkose is a bike that fulfils these criteria.

Read our review of the Pinnacle Arkose 4
Find an Evans branch
Read more: Buyer's Guide to cyclocross bikes

Folding bikes

A folding bike is often the best option for multi-modal commuting. Say you want to ride to the station, take the train, then get off at the other end and ride to the office: a folder could be the ideal bike for you. Most people want something that’s quick and easy to fold and manoeuvrable when packed down.

Entry level: Tern Link C8 — £515.04

Tern Link C8.jpg

Tern Link C8.jpg

The Tern Link C8 is a straightforward little bike with 20in wheels that folds down in seconds.

Read our review on the (similar but discontinued) Tern Link Uno here
Find a Tern dealer

Mid-range: Birdy World Sport — £1,259

Birdy World - full bike.jpg

Birdy World - full bike.jpg

The Birdy World Sport is a jack-of-all-trades folding bike that does all its jobs well.

Read our review of the Birdy World Sport
Find a Birdy dealer

High end: Brompton M6L Nickel Superlight — £2,115

brompton-m6l-nickel-superlight-2017-folding-bike-silver-EV298227-7500-2.jpg

brompton-m6l-nickel-superlight-2017-folding-bike-silver-EV298227-7500-2.jpg

Bikes from British brand Brompton are among the most sought after folders. The most basic one-speed Brompton costs £765, but you can choose your own components, luggage, and transporting bags. and the price will alter accordingly. We reviewed the Brompton S2L-X a few years ago and concluded that it was a really neat package, especially if the fold is as important to you as the ride.

The Superlight lops 700g off the standard Brompton's weight, and the nickel plating means its looks live up to its price tag. 

Brompton S2L-X - folded

Brompton S2L-X - folded

Read our review of the Brompton S2L-X here
Find a Brompton dealer
Read more: Buyer's guide to folding bikes

Electric bikes

Some cyclists get all sniffy about electric bikes but they make a lot of sense for some people, providing a solid alternative to a car for urban transport.

Mid-level: Giant Liv Ease-E Plus — £1,039.19

Giant_Ease_E.jpg

Giant_Ease_E.jpg

The Giant Liv Ease-E Plus is an assisted pedal power bike with a slim front hub motor.

Read our review of the Giant Twist Lite
Find a Giant dealer

High end: Moustache Lundi 26 Alfine Di2 — £3,199

Moustache Lundi 26 Alfine.jpg

Moustache Lundi 26 Alfine.jpg

French firm Moustache make a big range of electric bikes from the everyday to the esoteric. The Lundi is probably the most recognisable of their designs, using a custom low-step-through frame to their own design. It’s one of the nicest e-bikes we’ve ridden. The styling is unique and interesting, and that’s backed up by a good ride and quality components. You’re paying a premium price, but you’re definitely getting a premium product here.

Read the review of the Moustache Lundi 26 Alfine Di2 on our sister site, eBikeTips
Find a Moustache dealer
Read more: Buyer's Guide to electric bikes

Other things to think about

Cycle to Work scheme

Many employers offer Cycle to Work programmes that allow you to get a bike tax-free, saving you a lot of money.

Your employer needs to sign up to a Cycle to Work provider, like Cyclescheme. You join the scheme, choose a bike, do a little bit of online admin and collect the bike from the shop. You then hire the bike with payments taken from your gross monthly salary. At the end of the hire period, you are usually given the opportunity to buy the bike for its market value.

Essentially, this is a cheap way of getting a bike for riding to and from work, and you are free to use it at any other time too.

In most cases, the maximum value of a bike and cycling equipment you can get through a Cycle to Work programme is £1,000.

Carrying essentials

When riding to and from work you’ll almost certainly need to carry stuff with you, at least occasionally: maybe a laptop, some clothes and shoes to change into if you’re riding in cycling gear, food...

Some people are happy carrying this in a bag on their back – either a backpack or a messenger bag – especially if the load is light and/or the journey is short.

For heavier loads and longer journeys you might want the bike to take the strain by fitting a rack and using a rack bag or panniers. If so, many bikes have eyelets designed specifically for taking a rack. If your bike doesn’t have them, you’ll probably be able to use other rack fitting fixtures but bear in mind that disc brakes can sometimes make things awkward.

Read more: Buyer's guide to rucksacks for cycling

Mudguards and racks

Some bikes come fitted with mudguards but most don’t. If you’re going to commute by bike in all conditions you might well want to fit mudguards to stop your tyres spraying you with water from the road.

Roux Etape 250 - rack

Roux Etape 250 - rack

Many bikes are built with eyelets for fixing mudguards. Again, there’s usually a solution if your bike doesn’t have them, but if you intend to use mudguards, eyelets make life that little bit easier.

Read more: Buyer's guide to mudguards

Ride position

A lot of people like an upright riding position for cycling in town so they get a good view of the traffic, pedestrians, and so on. For that reason they might opt for a flat-barred bike rather than one with a dropped handlebar.

Hoy Shizuoka - bars

Hoy Shizuoka - bars

On the other hand, if your commute takes in a lot of open road, a drop-barred bike is likely to be quicker and more efficient.

You need to decide on the best option for your commute.

Other features

Some manufacturers offer bikes with other commuter-friendly features. Puncture-resistant tyres are popular. No one ever wants a puncture but it’s particularly bad news if you need to be at the office for an important 9am meeting.

Disc brakes can be useful if you’re going to commute in all weathers because the braking surface is much further away from the road than with rim brakes so you get a more consistent performance in the wet.

Hub gears are often cited as a good choice for commuters because the working parts are sealed away from the rain and spray. That’s true, but derailleur gears will keep working with minimal maintenance as long as you give them a clean and re-lube after riding in wet conditions.

It could be that you’re buying a bike solely for commuting, but it’s more likely that you’ll want to ride it at other times too. That makes things a little more complicated – or interesting, depending on how you look at it!

If you’re going to have just one bike and you want to use it for both commuting and for riding sportives, for instance, you’re probably going to be attracted towards a drop-barred road bike.

If you want a bike you can both commute on and ride on weekends away, you might be attracted by a touring bike.

We all have different commutes and different cycling preferences outside of commuting so there’s not one bike, or even a type of bike, that’s right for everyone.

[This article was last updated on September 12, 2017]

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

15 comments

Avatar
MandaiMetric [131 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

"Find a Jamis dealer" links to whyte.bike site...

Avatar
bstock [21 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

I've never rode a Surly Disc Trucker but always read that rather than a "lot of fun to ride" it's a bit of a pig to ride for anything but loaded touring.

Avatar
theflatboy [15 posts] 6 months ago
7 likes
bstock wrote:

I've never rode a Surly Disc Trucker but always read that rather than a "lot of fun to ride" it's a bit of a pig to ride for anything but loaded touring.

 

So when you have ridden one, you can decide either way 

Avatar
bstock [21 posts] 6 months ago
3 likes
theflatboy wrote:

So when you have ridden one, you can decide either way 

 

I'll stick with my Kona Sutra cheers, but hey fuck me for trying to be helpful and disseminate information eh.

Avatar
Danbury [12 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes
bstock wrote:

I've never rode a Surly Disc Trucker but always read that rather than a "lot of fun to ride" it's a bit of a pig to ride for anything but loaded touring.

My Disc Trucker is my go to bike for most rides, plus shopping, commuting and towing a trailer. I have a carbon road bike as well, which is a delight to ride, but the Surly is the bike that gets used the most. It's not fast admittedly, but it is supremely comfortable and capable.  If I ever suffer an N-1 disaster, the Surly will be the last to go. 

Avatar
andyp [1508 posts] 6 months ago
4 likes

I've never ridden any of these bikes, thus feel no need to offer an opinion on them.

Avatar
urbane [88 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

Personally I regard the easy fitting of proper mudguards as compulsory, because even with wet gear, work won't like the smell of much dirt on it and may not provide a shower. Mudguards are also useful in dry weather if there is debris on the cycling surface you don't want to get sprayed with e.g. soil, sand, stones, road chippings, or tree debris.

Also if you don't want a sweaty back or are carrying bulky/heavy stuff, a back rack is important, and not those toys which mount on the seat tube.

I'm also disappointed to see so few bicycles fitted with Hollowtech like gearsets, because I think that they are far superior to bottom brackets with a retained shaft, for the same reasons that fork-shafts are now clamped by the steerer on the outside e.g. simpler, stiffer and more reliable construction, so much easier to fit and maintain.

Avatar
Dr_Lex [459 posts] 5 months ago
1 like

I'm slightly curious as to why the Moustache has a single cog on the wheel (for the Di2 Alfine hub gear) but also a derailleur. I assume that it's for chain tensioning, being no horizontal dropouts and  EBB not possible with the Bosch motor.

Avatar
sw600 [20 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

Anyone here tried twowheelgear's pannier suit carrier? https://www.twowheelgear.com/products/commuter-garment-pannier

Not cheap, but not many options in this space.

Avatar
ClubSmed [422 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes
sw600 wrote:

Anyone here tried twowheelgear's pannier suit carrier? https://www.twowheelgear.com/products/commuter-garment-pannier Not cheap, but not many options in this space.

I just either use a normal suit carrier and bungee cords or roll the suit bag up and place in my pannier bag (if I have to carry a pannier bag too so don't have space to lay the suit bag over the pannier rack). As my suits and shirts don't stay on the bike for any more than half an hour they are practically crease free when I arrive at work. Not sure what the time limits would be for still being crease free, I have never had the inclination to try this experiment.

Avatar
dreamlx10 [201 posts] 5 months ago
1 like

Not everyone works in an office, some people have real jobs too.

Avatar
Johnnystorm [96 posts] 5 months ago
2 likes
Dr_Lex wrote:

I'm slightly curious as to why the Moustache has a single cog on the wheel (for the Di2 Alfine hub gear) but also a derailleur. I assume that it's for chain tensioning, being no horizontal dropouts and  EBB not possible with the Bosch motor.

It's probably an Alfine ct-s500 chain tensioner or similar. Does appear to be about 90% of a derailleur!

Avatar
ianguignet [29 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

Day one all day long.

Avatar
Ronald [46 posts] 4 months ago
1 like
Johnnystorm wrote:
Dr_Lex wrote:

I'm slightly curious as to why the Moustache has a single cog on the wheel (for the Di2 Alfine hub gear) but also a derailleur. I assume that it's for chain tensioning, being no horizontal dropouts and  EBB not possible with the Bosch motor.

It's probably an Alfine ct-s500 chain tensioner or similar. Does appear to be about 90% of a derailleur!

 

Yep... it is and yep it is... Except a bit sturdier than a derailleur.

I have one, but that's because I used an ex-derailleur donor frame (Vertical drop-outs). For a new bike like the moustache it's a joke as they should have used horizontal dropouts - negating the need for the contraption. It is not like the Alfine hub comes with quick-release dropouts.

 

 

 

Avatar
kil0ran [558 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

You need to nudge Decathlon to get you one of their new Riverside range in. Effectively a replacement for the Hoprider with a bit more of a flat bar road bike geo. Hub gear and derailleur versions. Similar prices to Hoprider