Depending on your needs, biking is a terrific transportation option. It’s faster than walking, it can help you avoid being dependent on public transit, and it’s far more economical than a car. Riding a bike is great exercise and fun recreation. Commuting to work on a bicycle saves you from interminable traffic jams (and your coworkers will think you’re a badass!).

Commuter bikes used to consist of a mishmash of components, none of which really did their job well. But now that consumer demand has expanded, commuter bikes have vastly improved in their quality and the number of available features at a variety of price points.

Here are some features you will want to consider if you want to have a competent commuter bike. Most of all, you are going to want a comfortable bike for riding day-in, day-out, without needing to wear highly specialized attire. A comfortable bike will have a plush, padded saddle or seat. Also it should allow an upright riding position, which is more natural and relaxed, and will put less strain on your back. It should pedal easily, so that you don’t need to arrive at work sweaty and disheveled. Go ahead and spend a little extra for features that will really enhance your ride. Even the most premium bike is still pretty far from the cost of a car and its fuel. If you intend to be a regular rider, it will be worth the investment. The individual components of the bike should be of good quality. You want to invest in a bike that will be durable and last for years to come. After all, you are investing in your own safety and health.

How to shop

know how and where you plan to use your new bike. Will you prioritize quality or affordability? If you plan to ride on mostly flat surfaces, you can most likely get by with a single gear. If you plan to have more of a variety of riding experiences, you may want to opt for a model that has multiple gears available. Many commuter bikes are available in both men’s and women’s models. But generally there is not much difference in the functionality. Bike makers often design a womens commuter bike with a shorter top tube. In addition many bikes built for women also provide more stand-over clearance. Bottom line, don’t pay so much attention to the “gender” of the bike. Just choose the bike that fits your preferences best and will be a good size for you.

Prudent accessories to have include a helmet, headlamp, bell/whistle, front and rear lights, and a water bottle. If you plan to ride in wet weather, a rain slicker is essential. Any kind of knapsack or carry-all will be very useful for toting your essentials, either by carrying it on your back or strapping it to the bike. Pack a spare tube, portable pump, and any light tools required to make a quick fix on the go. Wear bright and visible clothing (such as a safety vest) and suitable close-toed shoes with gripping rubber soles. Some of these items may be required by law in your area, so check with your local police department if you aren’t sure of the rules of the road.

Your bike will be shipped to you and will probably come partially assembled. For assembling your bike, some sellers offer free assembly. Some offer assembly for an additional cost. Some offer no assembly. In any event, be prepared to do some assembly yourself, or you can locate a local bike shop in your area who can do the work for you.

The guide below highlights some of the best commuter bikes that we’ve identified.

Vilano Aluminum Commuter Bike

Vilano Aluminum Road Bike Large (58cm) Commuter Bike Shimano 21 Speed 700c, Black

Vilano’s Aluminum Commuter Bike is a versatile and practical machine. Ride it to work or school, or take it on bike paths, because it can handle all kind of challenging terrain.

The bike is constructed with a 6061 double-butted aluminum frame, designed for durability and longevity. At 26 lb assembled, the bike’s low weight will make for easy low-effort pedaling, as well as being convenient for transport. 21 speeds are available with the high performance Shimano rear derailleur and A050 thumb shifters. The multi-tasking shifter contributes to exceptional handling and maneuverability. A smooth ride is guaranteed by the 700c double walled alloy wheels. These wheels are engineered to help reduce vibrations from rough roads and absorb impact from ruts and cracks. Upgrade your bike for all-purpose commuting by adding your own rear rack and water bottle holder. Alloy caliper brakes provide outstanding braking control even on the downhill.

This practical bicycle doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but you better believe it is reliable and affordable. Overall, this is an excellent choice if you want a basic, affordable, versatile bike with quality construction. Consumers are satisfied with the Vilano Aluminum Commuter Bike.

Diamondback Bicycles 2015 Trace Complete

Diamondback Bicycles 2016 Trace Complete Dual Sport Bike, 20"/Large, Bright Silver

The Diamondback 2016 Trace Complete Dual Sport Bike packs in the features for both performance and comfort. Its versatile construction allows this bike to go just about anywhere, whether running errands around town or hitting the trail.

The 6061-T6 aluminum alloy dual-sport frame is engineered for well-rounded functionality. It strikes a happy medium, maintaining handling and performance without sacrificing comfort and road visibility. The 21-speed Shimano drivetrain is easy to use, and contributes to exceptional versatility and maneuverability. You’ll get a comfortable and smooth ride with shock-absorbing features such as a suspension-corrected SR Suntour steel fork. Tekto Aries disc brakes engage a rotor instead of the wheel’s rim for improved stopping power, without sacrificing your wheel life. Dual sport tires roll well on pavement, but provide ample traction on rough terrain. They are super-wide to deliver extra stability. The dual-sport saddle and the dual-density comfort grips are best-in-class features for extra comfort on your ride.

Consumers agree that the Diamondback 2016 Trace Complete Dual Sport Bike is an exceptionally well-made product that manages to perform quite well in a variety of situations. Overall this bike provides an unparalleled riding experience and outstanding versatility.  This is the best commuter bike under 1000 dollars that you’ll find.

Giordano Libero 2.0 Road Bike

Giordano Libero 2.0 Road Bike, 700c, White, Small

The Giordano Libero 2.0 Road Bike is a high-end model that is well worth the price. It’s packed with features to satisfy the most discerning road bike enthusiasts.  This unisex bike delivers great value and exceptional performance even on longer commutes.

The Giordano Libero 2.0 has a lightweight hand crafted 6061 aluminum frame. The quality construction is engineered for an unparalleled riding experience. At only 22-23 lb, you won’t believe the light and stress-free weight of this bike. Both tires are quick release for easy storage and transport. This bike is constructed with top-shelf components for durability and longevity. 18 speeds are available with the industry-standard Shimano Sora STI shifters, cranks and derailleurs. Light aluminum 700c wheels, paired with Vitesse Alloy high-profile rims and Kenda Black Road Clincher tires, grip the road and help to absorb shock, reducing road friction and bumps. Stop on a dime, even in wet conditions, with alloy side pull front and rear brakes.

Overall this is a well-crafted, high-performance bike with tons of visual style. Whether for city rides or heading out on the trail, you’ll be well pleased with the superior handling and reliability of this premium machine. The Giordano Libero 2.0 Road Bike is a worthy investment.

GMC Denali Pro Road Bike, 700c

GMC Denali Pro Road Bike, 700c

The GMC Denali 700C 21-Speed Road Bike, from Kent Bicycles, is available in both men’s and women’s styles. This versatile bike is the best bike for commuting in this price range. It proves that you don’t have to sacrifice performance for low price. It is a good practical machine that won’t bust your budget.

The high quality lightweight aluminum road bike frame enables a stiff, responsive riding experience. The step-thru frame allows easy mounts and dismounts. This is a larger bike so it will be more comfortable for taller individuals. Dual pivot alloy caliper brakes have exceptional stopping power even on wet surfaces. The GMC Denali is equipped with best-in-class Shimano derailleur and MicroShift drivetrain to achieve 21-speed flexibility in navigating a changing terrain. The brake and shifter controls are conveniently positioned on the handlebars for undistracted riding. High-profile alloy Vitesse racing rims provide unsurpassed responsiveness and handling. Lightweight 700x28c wheels are engineered with shock absorbing features. The low profile handlebars enable the rider to lean forward on the bike, pedaling at greater speeds without wind resistance.

Consumers felt that the GMC Denali Pro Road Bike was easy to put together and performed exactly as advertised. This mid-range bicycle meets all the basic requirements a casual rider has for affordability, comfort, and simplicity.

Critical Cycles Fixed Gear Single Speed Fixie Urban Road Bike

Critical Cycles Fixed Gear Single Speed Fixie Urban Road Bike (Gray/Orange, X-Large)

This single-speed fixed-gear from Critical Cycles represents the next generation of commuter bike. Available in multiple sizes and colors, you’re sure to find the right size frame that will fit you. Key measurements to look at are standover height and top tube length.

The Critical Cycles Urban Road Bike is engineered for strength and durability, due to its diamond frame in high tensile strength steel. The frame is hand built and tig-welded for a long-life machine. Enjoy a safer riding experience with dual front and rear Promax brakes, which provide phenomenal braking control even in wet conditions. 30mm Deep-V rims have machined braking surfaces for improved stopping power. The bike is equipped with industry-standard thick Wanda tires (700x23c) for stability and responsiveness. As a single speed/fixed gear bicycle, this bike has fewer moving parts, requires less maintenance, and is quite easy to operate. Riser handlebars enable a natural upright riding position, to enhance your comfort and reduce strain on your back.

One of the unique advantages of this bike is the flexibility of the fixed gear single speed model.  A flip-flop hub allows you to choose how you ride. Simply reverse and re-mount the rear tire to change the riding operation. The freewheel option, available in single speed, allows you to operate the bike by cruising without pedaling. Fixed-gear relies on a fixed cog on the wheel. In fixed-gear mode, the rear wheel does not spin freely. The motion of the rear wheel is entirely dependent on how fast you pedal.

What sets Critical Cycles apart is their attention to small details. Included with this bike purchase are all the tools you need to assemble and maintain your own bicycle. Your purchase includes three metric Allen wrenches and a flat wrench. Critical Cycles utilizes top shelf name brand components to deliver a high-performance product.

Schwinn Men’s Volare 1300 Bike, 700c, White

Schwinn Men's Prelude Bicycle (BBWhite)

The Schwinn Men’s Volare 1300 Bike is an outstanding multi-purpose commuter bicycle. It’s a dependable road bike that also satisfies your urge for off-road adventure. This bike performs quite well on rough or hilly terrain.

The Schwinn Men’s Volare is composed of an aluminum drop-bar road frame complemented by a rigid fork. You’ll enjoy unparalleled support and maneuverability on any kind of riding surface. The bike comes equipped with a 14-speed rear derailleur, SR Suntour alloy crank, and Shimano A050 shifters. Gear changes will be quick and smooth, making your riding experience enjoyable and responsive. Change your pedaling intensity to avoid muscle fatigue. High performance alloy caliper pull brakes on both front and rear will stop quickly and precisely, even at high speeds. Lightweight alloy rims are engineered for smooth and low-friction rolling, reducing the amount of effort you use to pedal. The Schwinn Quality padded saddle is a best in class feature, adjustable for maximum comfort even on extended rides.

The Schwinn Men’s Volare 1300 Bike is made by one of the most-respected titans of the bicycle industry. Overall this is a well-crafted, high-performance bike with gorgeous classic lines. Whether for city rides or heading out to the country, you’ll be well pleased with its superb handling and reliability.

Northwoods Springdale Women’s 21-Speed Hybrid Bicycle, 700c

Northwoods Springdale Women's 21-Speed Hybrid Bicycle, 700c

The Northwoods Springdale Women’s 21-speed Hybrid Bicycle is an excellent, economical choice. It performs well whether you’re on your daily commute or out for a weekend jaunt on the trails. This mid-range bicycle meets all the basic requirements a casual rider has for affordability, comfort, and simplicity.

The 21-speed Shimano Tourney rear derailleur is a top-shelf feature that enables an unparalleled riding experience. The multi-tasking shifter allows you to change your pedaling intensity on any type of terrain, flat or on hills. The huge 700c wheels and lightweight frame add up to a smooth and responsive ride. The frame’s sturdy alloy material is engineered for the best performance and maneuverability. It will withstand daily wear and tear. Enjoy a comfortable, relaxed ride in a natural upright riding position. Linear pull brakes are quite powerful, even on slick surfaces, and ideal for all-around riding. The 700c wheels grip the road with superior traction. They are designed to help reduce vibrations from rough roads and absorb impact from ruts and cracks.

Despite its low cost, the Northwoods Springdale bike’s components and performance compare favorably head-to-head with top-notch hybrid bikes in the market. The Northwoods Springdale is one of the best urban bikes in its class. It proves that you don’t have to sacrifice a quality product for an economical price point.

Takara Kabuto Single Speed Road Bike

Takara Kabuto Single Speed Road Bike, 700c, Black/Yellow, Large/57cm Frame

The Takara Kabuto Single Speed Road Bike is one of the best city bikes on the market, for riding to work or running errands around the neighborhood. The 57 centimeter size accommodates riders up to 6’2.  There is also a 53 centimeter option for smaller riders.

The Takara Kabuto Single Speed Bike is equipped with a heavy-duty tig-welded steel frame and forks. The frame is a best-in-class feature designed for quality construction and superior functionality. Wide profile 700c x32 tires deliver speed and stability, and have improved grip and maneuverability even on wet surfaces. The fixed gear means that less maintenance will be required and that the bike functions are simple and useable. A flip flop hub on the rear wheel operates with a single handle, allowing the rear tire to spin freely in freewheel mode. Front and rear alloy side pull brakes offer greater breaking control on the downhill, and are especially helpful in muddy conditions. The bright colors available improve safety by providing enhanced visibility.

Takara designed the Kabuto Road Bike with the commuter in mind; delivering a dependable machine that provides comfort over long distances, and can withstand tricky road conditions. Consumers praise the ease of assembly and the overall performance of the Takara Kabuto Single Speed Road Bike.

PUBLIC Bikes C7i Dutch-Style Commuter Bike

PUBLIC Bikes C7i Dutch-Style Commuter Bike, 16 inch / Small-Medium, Powder Blue

Modern bike technology meets classic European design in the PUBLIC Bikes C7i Dutch-style commuter bike. This 7-speed bike is ideal for casual jaunts and everyday commutes.

The PUBLIC Bikes C7i has a ton of visual style with its color-coordinated accessories and a distinctive curvy profile. The step-thru Dutch style frame design enable easy mounts and dismounts. With a smaller frame, this bike is ideal for more petite riders. Ride in a comfortable upright position thanks to the raised handlebars. A plush comfort saddle with memory foam is a best-in-class feature to enhance your riding experience.

The PUBLIC Bikes C7i delivers strength and durability in a high tensile steel frame. The robust Shimano Nexus 7-speed is a durable, low maintenance shifting system, particularly when combined with the Revoshift twist shifter. Stress-tested on San Francisco’s steep hills, the Shimano drivetrain gives you a range of gears to handle all kinds of terrain. Change pedaling intensity with ease, in order to prevent muscle strain. Gear changes are possible whether pedaling or at a full stop, which is a very useful feature to have, particularly when riding on surface streets. Modern dual pivot alloy brakes, paired with lightweight alloy rims, are engineered for safe and controlled stops. 700x35c puncture-resistant tires have improved grip and maneuverability even on wet surfaces.

Overall, the PUBLIC Bikes C7i is a practical, well-constructed bike that won’t bust your budget. This bike’s classic lines will have you traveling in elegant style.

Schwinn Discover Bike, Available for Men or Women

Schwinn Discover Men's Hybrid Bike (700C Wheels),Black

This is a nice mid-range bicycle made by Schwinn, a beloved and well-respected name in bike manufacturing. It meets all the basic requirements a casual rider has for affordability, comfort, and simplicity. The black aluminum frame looks thick enough to be heavy steel, but is in fact more lightweight, and resists corrosion. This bike’s classic lines will have you traveling in elegant style. The Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bike includes a swept-back upright adjustable handlebar, and a large padded saddle for extra comfort. The bike includes a convenient built-in rear gear carrier. Strap on a knapsack or a package with ease.

In terms of size, this bike weighs in at 40 pounds. It is a larger bike and several heavy-set or larger-framed users have reported a satisfactory experience. But you will want to keep the weight in mind as you make plans for transporting, carrying, and storing the bicycle. A quick release on the front wheel is a handy feature for storing the bike in small spaces.

The Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bike has high-performance handling. To absorb shock, the bike includes a front suspension fork and a suspension seat post. These features help reduce vibrations from rough roads and absorb impact from ruts and cracks, making for a smoother, more comfortable ride. The tires are fairly wide and well-treaded, paired with moderately-rated rims. Linear-pull brakes are quite powerful, even on slick surfaces, and ideal for all-around riding. A 21-speed SRAM grip shifter allows fast, easy gear changes. When the road grade changes, shift to a gear that is more comfortable and efficient for pedaling. Other features include a Shimano TX-31 rear derailleur and Schwinn alloy crank. The bike includes front and rear fenders, to reduce splashing and enhance your riding experience.

Users and critics praise this bike’s comfort and affordability. They find it to be quite versatile and functional. Overall, the Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bike is an excellent choice if you want a practical, affordable, versatile bike with quality construction. This is one of the best hybrid bikes under 500 dollars that you can find.