It depends largely on what is important to you, in particular speed versus comfort, as well as the type of terrain you’ll be riding on and the distance of your commute.
At the end of the this post, we’ll summarises the pros and cons of each type of bike. You can also take our Commuter Bike Quiz, which will help you find your perfect bicycle for commuting by answering less than six questions.
What’s the Best Type of Bike for Commuting?
First though, we’ll run through the main types of bike for commuting, which are:
Road bikes are a great choice for commuting because of how quickly they cover ground.
They are generally lighter with thinner tyres and lightweight dropped handlebars which curve downwards to help you reach top speed by using as little energy as possible.
Road Bike Commuting Disadvantages:
The less flexible folk may feel less comfortable while riding road bikes, as you tend to find yourself bent over the waist on them.
Most of them are also difficult to store luggage on, so if you’re cycling to work with heavy baggage every day, this is certainly something to consider. The lighter wheels can also sometimes lead to damage caused more easily from potholes or kerbs, for instance.
Best Road Bikes for Commuting:
Best for cycling on: Rougher stretches, gravelly surfaces.
Mountain Bike Pros + Cons for Commuting
Mountain Bike Commuting Advantages:
If your trip to work involves travelling on more uneven terrain, then sturdier mountain bikes could be right for you.
Their brakes are especially strong, and their tougher tyres are built for a strong grip on almost any surface. Their usually lower gears than road bikes also make them better-suited for navigating steeper stretches.
Don’t be fooled by the name, either, as they’re not just built for mountain ranges. Mountain bikes can be just as suitable a choice for commutes through their more comfortable riding position, though you may need to change to slicker tyres for tarmac roads.
Mountain Bike Commuting Disadvantages:
Mountain bikes are often a heavier and more expensive style of bike, so for longer commutes may not be the best option. As mentioned, they can also be slower on tarmac surfaces, and are more commonly stolen by thieves than other types of bike.
Best Mountain Bikes for Commuting:
Hybrid Commuter Bikes
Best for cycling on: Pavement or tarmac surfaces, moderately rougher stretches.
Hybrid Bike Pros + Cons for Commuting
Hybrid Bike Commuting Advantages:
The clue’s in the name; the hybrids are essentially half-road bike, half-mountain bike. It merges the lighter build and faster wheels of the former with the comfier riding position of the latter, making them one of the best urban bikes available.
Many models are commuter-friendly, too, including racks, fenders or lighting systems, and its stronger disk brakes make them more reliable in wetter conditions. They also have plenty of mounts, allowing you to store luggage more conveniently.
Hybrid Bike Commuting Disadvantages:
On these sorts of flat-bar bikes, you will find you are not quite as aerodynamic as the traditional road bike, and so not as fast. Hybrid bikes are often heavier than road bikes, too.
Best Hybrid Bikes for Commuting:
Gravel Bikes (AKA Adventure Bikes)
Best for cycling on: Pavement or tarmac surfaces, rougher, gravelly stretches.
Gravel Bike Pros + Cons for Commuting
GravelBike Commuting Advantages:
Hybrid bikes may be ideal for cycling in the city, but gravel bikes (also known as ‘adventure road bikes’ or ‘cyclocross bikes’) offer more versatility.
Their stronger frames allow for carrying much heavier luggage than on other types of bike, and their many attachment points mean you can carry things like water bottles, lights or pumps with you much easier.
They generally have the same 700c wheels as road and hybrid bikes, too, so are still relatively speedy, while the relaxed riding position makes for a comfortable cycle.
Gravel Bike Commuting Disadvantages:
Even though they are still fairly quick, the gravel bikes’ fatter tyres mean there are certainly faster alternatives available to you on your commute. They are also generally a more expensive type of bike, too.
Best Gravel Bikes for Commuting:
Fixed-Gear ‘Fixie’ Bikes
Best for cycling on: City streets
Fixie Pros + Cons for Commuting
Fixed-Gear Bike Commuting Advantages:
The simplest of bikes, the fixie has no freewheel, so you have to keep pedalling at all times to keep moving.
They’re rapidly quick and and the simplicity of their design means they require less maintenance than other designs. Precious little can go wrong with them, making them one of the most popular designs for commuters. They also usually come cheaper than most other bikes, too.
Fixed-Gear Bike Commuting Disadvantages:
It can take some time to master how a fixie works, and for commuters living in hilly areas, they can provide more of a challenge.
Best Fixies for Commuting:
Best for cycling on: Flat surfaces.
City Bike Pros + Cons for Commuting
City Bike Commuting Advantages:
With just one gear to contend with, the best city bikes are among the most practical around for the commuter who doesn’t have too far to travel to work.
These Dutch-style bikes have flat pedals and chainguards, so you don’t need to change into specific cycling gear to ride them. Their upright riding position gives you a clear view of the traffic ahead, and the self-powered lighting and a lock often come built-in already.
City Bike Commuting Disadvantages:
While they’re great for quick cycles, city bikes are generally among the slower and heavier range. For those needing to tackle hills on their way to work, they may not be the ideal choice for your commute.
Their in-built sensors also keep track of the level of pressure you’re putting on the pedals, which then apply battery power accordingly.
For those who don’t want to turn up at work looking overly sweaty, or just feel you’re not quite fit enough to ride more physically demanding bikes, these may be the sort for you.
E-Bike Commuting Disadvantages:
Inevitably, electric bikes need recharging regularly, so are not always going to be available to you as and when you need them. They are also heavier than ‘normal bikes’ and, of course, the new technology element about them means they are often pricier.
What is the Best Bike for Commuting? [SUMMARY TABLE]