Replacing your car commute with a two-wheeled cruise is one of the best ways to perk up your workday, sneak in some cardio, and see your city unfiltered by windshields, windows, and 2 tons of steel.
In the past, we've talked about how to get started riding to work, but in today's post we'll go back a step further. What is it about a bike that makes it "work" for riding to work? Let's dive into what it take to make the best bike for commuting!
One of the most important factors in how much you'll use and enjoy a bike is your comfort in the saddle and on the road. Finding the sweet spot is all about balance. You don't need a super-aggressive, racy riding position if you're only going 5-10 miles down the road. On the other hand, a full-upright position will be comfortable on short cruises but, if your commute is more than a mile or two, you'll probably start regretting the sacrifices in efficiency and drag.
That's why for our Urban Commuter we opted for hybrid-esque positioning. Less aggressive than a road bike, but compact enough to out-perform cruisers and uprights, especially in the wind and on the open road. We engineered the Urban Commuter to keep your head up, your eyes on the road, and your body visible in the midst of street traffic - without sacrificing too much aerodynamically or power-transfer-wise, so you can still get up to speed and sneak in a workout on your way in to work.
One of the most common questions we get in the showroom (and online) is, "how many speeds do I need to commute?". The answer boils down a lot to your environment, the length of your commute, and your general preferences - but we'll look at a few use cases to help narrow it down.
Live in the mountains and/or plan on commuting 20 miles or more? You'll want all the gears you can get. Specifically, you'll want a wide range of gears - really "small" for going up and "big" for coming back down. Our Road Series, with 16-speeds, eats mountains for breakfast. The 2x chainring gives you the range you need for climbs and descents, but might be overkill on less steep streets.
Got a short, flat, cruise into work? You can probably make it work on a singlespeed! Whether you choose a fixed gear, freewheel, or even a beach cruiser - you'll just want to take a test ride to make sure the gearing feels good starting, stopping, and once you're up to speed. The simplicity of a singlespeed is a big plus, but you want to be extra sure the gear feels good to you since it's the only one you've got.
Somewhere in between those two cases? Enter the Urban Commuter. The 1x chainring (and guard) means you only have to worry about shifting in the rear, and you'll never drop your chain from the cranks by shifting in the middle of a big push. 8-speeds with a fairly wide range means you can start from a stop easily, zip up hills in the lower gears, and still keep up with traffic in the big ones. We built this bike with the modern city in mind, so it's equipped to handle the most common commute hurdles (stop lights, street riding, and traffic speeds). You may not have a lot of leeway on your route to work, but you can pick a bike that gives you the flexibility to make that route a breeze.
Racks, Storage, and Accessories
One of the most important things about a commuter bike is its ability to haul your necessities (and all those non-essentials that you can't live without too). Work clothes, lunch, tools, books, chargers, all the things you use on the daily need a place to live while you get from A to B. Backpacks and bags are the obvious choice, but they sacrifice comfort (and sweat) for that simplicity. In fact, while most commuters begin with a backpack, you'll be hard pressed to find a long-time commuter who doesn't have their bike kitted our with racks, bags, and all the bells and whistles they need to keep their loads off their backs and their effort focused on the pedals.
We not only designed the Urban Commuter to work nicely with an assortment of rack and hauling accessories, but we also designed a rack specifically for the bike around the needs of a typical city commuter. The Urban Rack is the perfect platform for toting all of your day-to-day needs without breaking the lines of the bike or hurting the geometry or ride-comfort.
Give commuting another month and you'll come up with a list of other nice-to-haves on your bike too. Fenders to keep yourself dry when the road is wet. Lights to increase early-morning/late-night visibility. Phone mounts, bike computers, bluetooth speakers; that's why we gave the Urban Commuter mounting points for full fenders along with whichever rack options you choose and wide, gently-swept handlebars to create plenty of real estate for all of your bar-mounted accessories.
You can try your best to be minimal, but when you start commuting regularly, you'll relish all that room to improve your ride experience.
So, in short, what makes the best commuter bike? We do. Engineered by riders, for riders, and ready for whatever your city can throw your way.