Commuting by bike is a great way to stay fit, save money and help the environment. It can also be a lot quicker, and more fun, than commuting by car. You can commute on almost any type of bike. Most bike brands now make bikes specifically for commuting and lots of bikes which can be easily adapted into commuters.
The best commuting bikes will be fairly quick on the road but also able to handle paths and potholes for when you need to take a shortcut. Most commuters in the UK will want the ability to add mudguards and maybe a pannier rack and you will want something that is as low maintenance and reliable as possible. Although you can easily spend thousands on a commuting bike all of our choices here are under £1000 as that’s the limit on most cycle to work schemes.
Raleigh Pioneer 2 - £450
The Raleigh Pioneer is a classic practical town bike. It comes ready equipped with mudguards, a pannier rack, kickstand and puncture resistant tyres. This is a bike built for practicality and comfort. It may not be the lightest or fastest bike around but it will get you to work and back without any fuss. The Pioneer is available in the men’s frame shown above and in a ladies dropbar frame which makes it easier to get on and off the bike.
Whyte Shoreditch - £699
Whyte’s bikes are designed in the UK for UK riders. They are best known for their mountain bikes but have been making a range of well thought out road and hybrid bikes for years. As well as being an eye catching colour the Shoreditch has lots of features which make it perfect for commuting. The Shoreditch comes with a single chainring on the front and then a larger range of gears on the back. This means there are less moving parts and less maintenance so the gears are ultra reliable. It also comes equipped with hydraulic disc brakes for added stopping power. The Shoreditch has a lightweight aluminium frame and carbon fibre fork making this a very fast and manoeuvrable bike. The Shoreditch is a perfect bike for getting around town as quickly as possible.
Specialized are the biggest bike brand in the world and the Crosstrail’s are some of their best selling bikes. Although not specifically designed for commuting the Crosstrail works brilliantly as a commuting bike for UK use. The Crosstrail is designed to be fast on the road but also to handle gravel paths and tracks. It comes with a suspension fork to soak up bumps and knobbly tyres for extra grip. This makes the Crosstrail a great choice if your commute involves any rough cycle paths or potholed roads. The ladies equivalent of the Crosstrail is the Specialized Alibi.
Trek FX 3 - £550
The Trek FX range are designed as ‘fitness’ bikes but they have all of the mudguard and rackmounts you would want for a commuter and work really well as commuting bikes. The FX is effectively a flat bar road bike. It comes with a lightweight frame and fast skinny tyres, making it a really quick commuting bike. As the Trek FX 3 comes with a flat handlebar you will still have an upright riding position giving you good visibility in traffic. If you are only going to be commuting on the road, and prioritise speed, then this is a good option. The Trek FX bikes are available in men’s and women’s versions.
The Cannondale Synapse is part of a new breed of ‘gravel’ and ‘all road’ bikes. Modelled on road racing bikes they also have the ability to handle bits of rougher road and cycle path. The Synapse is still a road bike at heart and is one of the fastest bikes we have looked at here. You could easily use this bike for weekend group rides or entering Sportives and other cycle events, but it’s disc brakes, mounts for mudguards and ability to handle the odd pothole make it a great commuter as well. The Synapse Tiagra Disc is available in both men’s and women’s versions,
Specialized Diverge Sport E5 - £1000
Where the Cannondale Synapse is still essentially a road bike the Specialized Diverge is a more out and out gravel bike. It comes with much wider tyres and lower gearing making the bike easier to ride on rough terrain or when carrying heavy loads. If your commute is very potholed, or involves mixed surfaces then the Diverge will be a good option. This is still a relatively fast bike but won’t be as fast as the Synapse. The Diverge also makes a great touring bike and weekend explorer.