Bikes suitable for commuting take a whole load of different forms and these are the very best that we’ve reviewed on road.cc and our sister sites over the past year.
Walk into a bike shop and say you’re looking for a commuter bike and you’ll likely be directed towards a flat-barred hybrid, perhaps with mudguards and a rack already fitted. That’s cool, but it’s not the only option. Here at road.cc, we take a wider view based on what our readers really use.
Commutes vary massively and so does the best tool for the job. You might be looking for a bike for a short trip across the city, or you might want to ride a few miles to a nearby town – perhaps with a couple of big hills along the way. You might want something that can handle a muddy towpath, that you can take easily on the train or tube, or that provides some electrical assistance. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach so we include different genres of bikes in this category.
Another reason for including different bike types is that not everyone can afford or store multiple bikes. Many of us want to commute on a bike that we can then ride for fun at the weekend, in which case versatility is important. That’s why some of the bikes included here also feature in other road.cc award categories.
We’ve included bikes that are sturdy enough to stand up to everyday use and abuse, with mudguard and rack mounts for extra practicality, and any other features – such as clearance for wide tyres – that might be valuable for riding to and from work in all weathers.
Other key considerations include easy handling, comfort, durability, reliability, versatility and value. We’ve not put a price cap on this category but most of our picks are under £1,500 with four of them less than £1,000.
As ever, only bikes reviewed on road.cc, off.road.cc and ebiketips over the past year are eligible for consideration in any of our Bike of the Year categories. If a brand didn’t send us a particular bike, we can’t review, rate, or recommend it.
The prices quoted in the headings were correct at the time of our original reviews; they’re the prices we based our findings on. They may have altered and/or specs could have changed in some cases since then.
Right, now all the admin is sorted, let’s find out which bikes most impressed our reviewers.
The Trace is Raleigh's lightest e-bike yet (16.5kg), using the well-regarded Ebikemotion X35 rear hub system that’s popular on hybrids and e-road bikes. This is a bike that feels quick and reactive when commuting on the road, and it could even be used for lightweight bikepacking when the working week is done.
There are more powerful hub motors out there but the Ebikemotion is one of the smoothest. It’s also amazingly efficient for a design of this kind.
You get three power levels that are graded nicely. The lack of torque up the steepest gradients is apparent but the top power level gives you a decent amount of assistance up most climbs.
The Ebikemotion system helps you along when required while providing relatively little motor resistance when it’s switched off or your speed exceeds 16mph. As for the range, we managed well over 30 miles over hilly terrain before needing to recharge it.
The Ebikemotion’s small, light, geared rear hub motor is almost hidden behind the 9-speed cassette, with motion sensing integrated into the motor and cassette combo.
The top tube button adds to the stealthy look. It’s subtle enough that people might not even notice that this is an e-bike at first glance.
The Tektro R280 flat-mount hydraulic disc brakes are good quality and the same goes for the Shimano Alivio 9-speed derailleur system.
The Trace is well-equipped for year-round commuting, coming with aluminium alloy Curana mudguards, a low-profile pannier rack, and powerful front and rear LED lights hardwired to the main battery. It can easily carry everything you need for the daily journey to and from work without requiring you to wear a backpack.
As well as being practical, the Trace is fun and fast and it performs well on surfaces like canal towpaths and forest roads so there’s plenty of scope for enjoying yourself away from the commute too.
A road bike in the commuter bike category? Absolutely. Commutes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and the Boardman SLR 8.8 is equipped with eyelets for full mudguards and a rear rack, making it a highly practical option for many, particularly those with a long way to ride to and from work.
This bike is a bargain, and in use, it gives the impression of being a much more expensive bike than it actually is. It rides really well, offering comfort and balanced handling that’ll suit beginners – or anyone else who wants to make the most of its all-weather capabilities, come to that.
Triple-butted aluminium alloy tubing and slender seatstays mean that the Boardman feels great. It filters out vibrations from the road surface while retaining the stiffness through the centre of the frame that it needs for efficiency.
The geometry is a little less aggressive than that of a race bike. The longer head tube and shorter top tube typical of an endurance road bike put you into a slightly more upright riding position that provides a good vision of what’s going on in the traffic around you.
Climbing and acceleration away from traffic lights are tempered a little by the SLR 8.8’s 10.4kg weight but it never feels lethargic, especially when you take the £850 price into account.
Boardman has specced this bike with components primarily from Shimano’s 10-speed Tiagra groupset with an FSA Vero Compact chainset and cable-operate disc brakes from Tektro. You might prefer Tiagra across the board but the mix works well together and helps to keep the price down.
Speaking of the price, the Boardman SLR 8.8 is cracking value for money. It gives a high-quality ride and balanced handling, matched to a blend of components that complement while keeping the price low. If you want a bike that’s capable of long-distance commuting in the week and sporty rides at the weekend, this one demands your attention.
The Tern Quick Haul P9 e-bike makes a good case for itself if you’re looking to replace urban car journeys with trips by bike. Tern bikes are justifiably famous for their versatility and this is a very well-considered entry model. It’s an excellent option for the money and will be useful to a wide variety of riders. It’s a great step up from a standard city bike if you’ve got pockets that are deep enough.
The Quick Haul is an alloy-framed, small-wheeled cargo bike that’s predominantly designed to be loaded at the rear. This is Tern’s attempt to bring cargo biking to the masses, the bike having the ability to carry a total load of 150kg.
The Atlas Q rear rack that’s bolted onto the frame can take 50kg of that weight and there’s plenty of capacity for a child in a seat, or a bigger kid using one of the other rear-rack-mounted options. You also get a double mount point on the head tube that allows you to fit Tern’s Hauler or Transporteur rack up front for up to 20kg carrying capacity.
The rear rack is designed to work with Tern’s excellent Cargo Hold 37 panniers, and it uses a four-point top mounting system that accepts plenty of the brand’s existing accessories. You can fit the Clubhouse Mini bars for passengers, for instance, and inside that a Yepp bike seat for toddlers or a seat pad for an older child who can hang on by themselves.
Up to 65 Nm of torque comes from Bosch’s Performance Line Cruise motor – it handles even steep hills with consummate ease – while Shimano provides the 9-speed Alivio groupset and decent hydraulic disc brakes.
You might not buy a Tern Quick Haul P9 to replace your car but once you’ve got one you’ll realise that it can handle a huge range of journeys that you’d otherwise drive. Plus, it’s much more fun than a car. It can carry a lot of stuff and you can even stand it on its end to save space when being stored.
Why it’s here A really capable compact cargo bike at a good price for the spec
Buy now for £3,100 from Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative
Read the review
The Tenways CGO600 is a slick city e-bike that comes at a very competitive price. With its small but wonderfully performing motor, this simple-to-operate single-speed is ideal for commuting moderate distances.
The Tenways is built around a lightweight alloy frame with a rear hub motor that has a diameter as small as an eight-speed hub gear, while the 250Wh battery lives in the down tube.
Each of the Mivice M070 motor’s preset levels provides just the right amount of power, all perfectly married to the double-sided torque sensor (one that makes the motor respond to pressure from both cranks). The harder you push, the more power you get. It really is a very sophisticated feeling ride.
Level one gives a small but perfectly proportionate surge of power, while levels two and three give nicely graduated increases, the latter providing a real boost that is useful up steeper hills if your legs are starting to get tired.
We got more than 30 miles of stop-start riding over moderately rolling terrain using level one. Twenty miles is more realistic on a hillier route with a 15kg load and using levels two and three more regularly.
The Tenways might not get you up ultra-steep climbs but it’s quick on more moderate hills. As is the case with most single-speeds, it rewards human input a bit more than many other designs,
This is a bike that’s nice to ride without the power on too and the Gates belt drive doesn't feel very different from a regular chain drive. The hydraulic disc brakes perform well and the hardwired LED front light provides good visibility at night.
The Sirrus X 3.0 is a beefed-up version of Specialized's fitness bike with the addition of a 'do-it-all' attitude. It’ll bomb around town to get you to work and is just as nimble on the byways.
The Sirrus is a range of hybrids while the Sirrus X models bring versatility thanks to 42mm gravel tyres, an extra-wide handlebar for better handling off-road, and a decent spread of gears from a 1x set-up. Whether you’re riding to work or in the woods, the Sirrus X 3.0 is a blast.
On the road, the Sirrus X cruises along nicely. The lower gears give you decent acceleration for nipping away from traffic lights or junctions, and the reasonably quick handling allows you to change direction with ease.
The 680mm handlebar width does limit the gaps you can cut through when filtering, but if you're used to modern mountain bikes with their 760mm-780mm bars you may find it relatively narrow. You also get a reasonably tall riding position which helps you see over traffic when in town.
The Sirrus X uses Specialized's butted A1 Premium Aluminium tubing (the tubes have differing wall thicknesses along their length) with mudguard and rack mounts on the frame and fork adding to the commuter-friendliness. If you want those accessories taken care of for you, the EQ models of the Sirrus X come fitted with mudguards, a rear rack, and a dynamo front light.
The Sirrus X 3.0 is built up predominantly with a Shimano Deore 10-speed groupset and a decent range of gears – from a 40t chainring and an 11-42t cassette – while Tektro provides hydraulic disc brakes.
As well as its ability to handle urban streets, this bike copes well with rough terrain. It’s a capable gravel bike, which is a huge bonus if you’re looking for something to get you around town in the week before cutting loose at the weekend.
The X 3.0 fills the middle ground between a hybrid and a hardtail, and it’s decent value if you want a bike you can do a lot of things on – whether that's commuting, riding for fitness or getting out with the kids. Its ability to take wide tyres means it works well off-road too.
If you’re willing to splash £1,000+ on a commuter, the Canyon Commuter 5 is a fast and fun urban bike that provides all the performance that you’re looking for. It provides all its thrills while also coming with a hub gear.
The Canyon Commuter might be a bit too stiff for some people’s taste but this is a superb bike for rewarding your effort. It is an absolute joy to get up to speed, with perfectly reactive acceleration and efficient high-speed cruising.
Steering, balance and overall bike control are awesome too. No matter what speed you reach, you always feel like you have the right bike underneath you to handle things. Cornering is exciting but always well under control.
The Commuter 5’s frame is Canyon’s UO22 Commuter aluminium offering, nicely put together with a mixture of tube profiles. The front end looks super strong and goes some way to explaining the on-point control.
The second ingredient in that excellent handling is Canyon's straight-legged FK0083 carbon fibre fork which provides no shortage of front-end confidence.
You get mudguard mounts but none for a traditional rear rack, although you could fit a seat post-mounted rack, for instance, if you don’t fancy wearing a backpack for the ride to and from work.
The Canyon Commuter 5 features an 8-speed Shimano Nexus hub that adds weight but works well while the Gates Carbon Belt drive offers faultless transmission of power. The smallest gear is good enough for fairly testing climbs although the selection slightly favours higher-speed riding.
Shimano’s M200 hydraulic disc brakes are among the best value-for-money options you'll find, with good power and superb feel.
Reviewer Matt Lamy found the Commuter 5 to be the most fun hub-geared bike he’d ever ridden. If you want all the sensibleness of reduced maintenance and long-term reliability while also enjoying yourself, this is an excellent option. Add in an all-round great spec – including excellent brakes – and this is a commuting wonder weapon.
The Carrera Intercity Disc 9-Speed might not boast the engineering genius of more famous folding rivals, but with very enthusiastic road manners and an excellent specification, this is a folder with significant appeal beyond the traditional commuter set. Oh, and it’s just £450.
The first thing you notice when you jump aboard the Intercity Disc 9 is that it’s a very pleasurable bike to pedal and especially to get up to speed. If you’re new to folding bikes, you’ll be surprised by its brisk turn of pace and ability to transfer power into forward motion.
With exciting handling and excellent power transfer, there's the distinct possibility that comfort could take a hit, but not so, and even with 20in wheels, very little knocks the Intercity Disc 9 off its stride. It breezes over rough country roads, potholes included.
This is a fantastically fun bike. Rather than it being just a basic A-to-B transport tool, you may well find yourself looking to detour to enjoy a longer ride. It's also nice that you can get your head down for super-stable high-speed cruising, but then sit up a bit for more reactive intra-city ducking and diving.
The Intercity Disc 9’s frame comes with a main locking hinge in the middle so that it can fold in half, and another hinge where the stem meets the head tube, so the front end can fold down. Halfords says it takes 30 seconds to fold or unfold but you’ll do it quicker.
The frame and the fork are aluminium and the 12.5kg weight is fine at this price. There's also a bottle cage mount on the top of the main tube, and mounts for mudguards and a rear rack.
Allied with the 9-speed 11-34 cassette, the 53-tooth chainring means you’ve got the option to venture way beyond benign city slopes and take on some proper hills. Although the all-out power might be a little lacking, the Tektro M275 hydraulic brakeset offers decent feel.
The Intercity Disc 9’s only real negative is the saddle height. It’s said to be suitable for riders up to 6ft 3in but we’d suggest you try before you buy if you’re close to 6ft.
That said, if you’re looking for a folding bike, you want a surprisingly rewarding ride with good quality components, and you don't want to spend Brompton money, the Intercity Disc 9 is way more fun than you'd ever expect.
The Forms Monsal is a gravel bike but it earns a high place in this top 10 thanks to commuter-friendly features like mounts for mudguards and a rear rack, and an excellent all-round performance. Gravel bikes and cyclocross bikes can be fabulous for commuting – if you fit the right tyres – because they’re built to be tough and resilient. The Monsal certainly scores there and offers great value for money too.
At 10.87kg the Monsal sounds on the weighty side, but feels lively and responsive when you get out of the saddle. The front end is low enough for tackling a headwind or descent but not so extreme that you can't sit comfortably with your hands on the hoods, and that can be handy when looking for vision and control when negotiating traffic.
The aluminium frame feels a lot like high-quality steel. It has a smoothness to it, taking the edge off any buzz and rattling that would otherwise come through. Stiffness hasn’t been sacrificed to provide that comfort. The Monsal feels tight around the bottom bracket area, helped by the oversized down tube and beefy chainstays.
Things are also taut up front thanks to the tapered head tube and the stiffness of a carbon fibre fork that copes well with the loads from steering and heavy braking. Reviewer Stu Kerton reckons this is one of the best aluminium frames he’s ridden in ages.
The Monsal comes with 45mm WTB Riddler gravel tyres but we’d suggest swapping them for something more tarmac-specific for efficiency on the road.
A Sram Apex 1x groupset provides crisp and clean shifting across the cassette, while the hydraulic disc brakes work superbly whatever the conditions – which is vital for year-round all-weather commuters.
Of course, the other big bonus of commuting on a gravel bike is that you can use it for exploring tracks and byways when work is done, and the Monsal puts in an excellent performance, balancing ride quality, comfort and stiffness.
The MiRiDER One GB3 is a funky-looking fold-in-half magnesium e-bike with an integrated but removable battery, mid-frame elastomer suspension, adjustable height handlebars and seatpost, and three gears. This is a really impressive all-round performer for shorter commutes and leisure rides.
The three-speed Efneo GTRO gear unit is housed within the chain wheel body and manages to get a planetary gear setup into a space only around 15mm deep and with a diameter the same as a medium-sized chainring. It’s spectacular engineering.
You operate things via a twist grip with three gear points to click between. Simplicity itself. A cracking little rear hub motor provides the power.
The biggest bonus of not using a derailleur is that MiRiDE can fit a belt drive, meaning there’s no oil to get on clothes and no regular maintenance.
We got over 35 miles from the small 252Wh battery over moderately hilly terrain when ridden mainly in the lower power levels and without using the throttle to give a power boost up steeper sections. This meant a decent amount of moderate exercise, but the small Bafang motor certainly took the sting out of the climbs. It proved a very nice bike to ride downhill and on the flat with the power turned off.
It's possible to get such impressive mileage because even at the lowest assistance level the power keeps on coming right up to the assist cut-out limit of around 16mph. You can ride it with just a small amount of assistance if conditions are relatively benign, rather than having to dial up the power levels to get more speed.
The subtleties of the MiRiDER control system mean it's not only an efficient e-bike if ridden in the lower power levels but a very bike-like one too, where the electric assist blends nicely with your leg power.
The Gemma hydraulic disc brakes are smooth and powerful while the all-new full-colour LCD is crisp and clear and pretty legible even in sunlight. It doesn't overwhelm you with information but provides helpful metrics like average and max speeds.
The GB3 is cheaper than a lot of the competition. Add on the two-year guarantee and a UK factory and dealer network and this bike is a real star.
Our winning bike is the Carrera Subway All Weather Edition from Halfords, a mountain bike-styled urban warrior that comes out of the box with some very useful winter-riding accessories and an excellent spec for the money. If there's a better bike out there for less than £500, we haven't heard about it.
This is a fun, easy ride thanks to gears, brakes and tyres that are all very good for the money. Even the saddle's decent.
Three features make this an ‘all-weather’ bike: it comes with mudguards; it has heated grips to keep your hands warm in winter; and you get a pair of LED lights to get you seen on dark evenings. Granted, the mudguards and lights are basic, but this bike does cost just £450.
The GloGrips heated grips are marvellous. We measured them at 40°C, which is plenty to help fight the chill.
The Subway AWE’s ride is quite firm thanks to a beefy aluminium frame and rigid steel fork, and the handling is on the quick side. The ride feel is easily softened by running the tyres at a lower pressure than usual (and they're plenty big enough that you're not going to get pinch flats).
Carrera offers a 46/30 chainset combined with an 11-36 cassette for a 502% gear range. There are plenty of low gears, so you can comfortably get up just about anything a UK city is likely to throw at you. More bikes should be geared like this. The Shimano Altus shifting is better than you've any right to expect on a £450 bike too.
The Clarks Clout disc brakes provide plenty of easily controlled stopping power, which is why they’re widely considered the best inexpensive brakes by the mountain bike community. They have a reach adjuster so they work well with small hands, and are among the best things about this bike.
The most unusual aspect of the Subway line of bikes is the 650B wheels – a little smaller than the more common 700C. On a hybrid, 650B wheels provide the ability to fit a wide range of tyres. Swap them for 700C wheels with lighter tyres and the Subway would make a great flat-bar tourer and countryside explorer.
The Vee Tire Co Speedster puncture-resistant tyres are grippy and comfortable across a range of surfaces. While the light tread would be defeated by serious mud, they're good for easy, dry trails, so if the Subway’s mountain bike styling tempts you to a little light off-roading, fill your boots.
Overall, the Carrera Subway AWE is an excellent flat-bar bike for round-town and recreational riding, handily straddling the gap between a classic hybrid and a rigid mountain bike. It boasts well-thought-out features like a wide, low gear range and very good brakes, and the winter-friendly features are the icing on the cake.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, 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 winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.