The 12 Absolute Best Commuter Bikes & E-Bikes for Getting Around in 2023, from Industry Experts and Bike Enthusiasts
From stylish e-bikes, to foldables and hybrids: Bike pros hooked us up! Say goodbye to your car and hello to the bike lane.
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We’ll start by stating the obvious: Choosing the best bike is not like choosing the best toaster. Opinions run strong and it’s extremely personal, as any bike aficionado will insist. But all will likely agree that biking has many obvious upsides: Commuting by bike takes up less physical space than a car and creates less noise and air pollution—and, a UCLA transportation article noted that “choosing a bike over a car just once a day reduces the average person’s carbon emissions from transportation by 67%.” Shopping for the best commuter bike can be as fun as rolling up to the office bike rack itself…but it starts with knowing what’s available.
We’ve gathered a variety of commuter bikes, both electric and non-electric, depending on your needs and priorities. To curate this list of the best commuter bikes, we visited bike showrooms, got suggestions from professionals who work at some fan favorite bike stores, and spoke to bike enthusiasts and industry experts.
Here’s what a “commuter bike” is
A couple notes on electric bikes: Just like a car, the prices can really start to add up when you begin to customize your ride. Also, depending where you live, you’ll want to make sure that there’s a dealer or a place to get it serviced and handle repairs, because some bike shops won’t work on electric bikes.
Also take into account where you live, and whether there’s a garage or an elevator: You don’t want to leave an electric bike outside, and they can be extremely heavy.
That being said, electric bikes are starting to replace cars for some commuters, and new brands are popping up every year. “Around the city I just stopped using our car-parking and traffic, it was such a pain,” says Paul Rothman, who works in technology and reveals that he ultimately decided to get rid of his car. “I use [my bike] to get groceries, commute and take the kids to school.”
As for a hybrid versus commuter bike? Don’t get caught up in the jargon when it comes to non-electric bikes. “Hybrid is a pretty nebulous term and there’s a lot of overlap about what would classify a bike as a sport hybrid versus a commuter, but really no hard or fast rules,” explains Adam Sokol, a sales manager at the bike shop Ride Brooklyn. “A commuter often is a hybrid.”
Here’s how long a good bike should last you
As for the life span of any of these bikes, it all depends on how well you care for it. “If the cost of your repair is close to the cost of your bike, it might be time to get a new bike,” says Daniel Kelsey, a shop supervisor for a Specialized store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He says that five to 10 years is a good number, but if you’ve left your bike outside, it will be shorter. Kelsey advises to stay up on your yearly tune-ups, keep the chain rings clean and properly lubricated, and make sure your brake pads are changed out regularly.
Happy commuting (and watch out for car doors)!
Best commuter bikes
The Most Stylish eBike
If you’ve walked by a VanMoof store or seen someone riding one, it’s clear: These bikes are absolutely gorgeous. Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator are reportedly fans of the brand, if that says anything about its cool factor.
The VanMoof S5 has got a range of 37 miles, can go 20 miles per hour, and the charging time is 6.5 hours. “The sleek and modern design, combined with simple phone integration, makes for a safe and stylish ride,” says Ross McGraw, a former pro triathlete and cycling industry executive who has worked with former Tour de France winners. “They’ll even find your bike if it’s stolen.”
Best Electric Bike For When You’re Running Late (or Have an Uphill Commute)
“If you’re running late, any of the Vado SL EQ’s are great options!” says Kelsey, from Specialized. “They already come preinstalled with a rear rack and fender and can reach up to 28 miles per hour, which is super helpful when you’re running late. They’re also pretty light so they work pretty well for walk-ups.”
Bonus: If your commute is far, the Vado SL EQ has got a long-ranging battery that can take you 80 miles on a single charge. As for uphill? You’re good to go. “Any of our full-powered Vados are perfect for an uphill commute,” Kelsey says. “They have a larger battery and a hi-torque, 4x your motor which is perfect for steep hills.”
Another great option from the brand, the Specialized Globe Haul ST has been getting a ton of buzz right now for its versatility.
Best Electric Bike for Traveling with Kids
Rad Power Bikes have become synonymous with cool parents on the move. “The wagon is often referred to as the minivan of ebikes,” says Molly Scudder, an account executive for Rad Power Bikes. And while a minivan might not be the look you’re going for, that comparison is meant in the most complimentary of ways: This is one good-looking minivan. It’s an extremely customizable bike and can handle up to 350 pounds.
Need a basket? There’s many options! Need a rain or sun cover? They’ve got you covered. Want a caboose or handlebars for more stability? Add it on! The accessories will make your bike significantly more expensive (I got a quote for $3,400 when I added everything I’d want for my two kids)—but if customizability is what you want, they’ll deliver.
For young kids, you can add a Thule Yepp Maxi Child Seat for a nine-month-old up to a six-year-old. For older passengers who don’t need to be fully strapped in, there’s a comfy padded rear deck option.
Best Commuter Bike on a Budget
This bike is a solid option for your commute and came highly recommended from bike stores and experts—perhaps because of the aluminum frame, upright positioning, puncture-resistant tires, a wide range of gears and made for versatility. The Co-op Cycles highlights that it is “ideal for urban and suburban outings.”
Best Foldable Electric Bike
Gocycle was created by a former designer of McLaren Cars, so it’s got style and function, to say the least. The Gocycle folds in 10 seconds and can then be rolled along its wheels. You can even charge your phone using the bike’s battery.
The Gocycle rides 20 miles per hour for up to 40 miles, with charging time around three hours. “I love my Gocycle,” says Marika Brownlee, a podcast director of marketing, who rides hers to work. “It’s great and very sleek. The folding is super simple. I ride it to appointments all the time.”
Best Electric Bike On A Budget
It’s hard to argue with over 800 customer five-star reviews and a price point that’s about half of most other electric bikes. It has 28 mile-per-hour pedal assist, a 20 mile-per-hour throttle and an alloy frame. It goes anywhere from 30 to 50 miles on a charge, depending on weight and incline. It also comes with a one-year warranty. One commenter wrote that they “Loved it so much that we bought a second one!”
Alternative Option: Aventon Level.2 Commuter Ebike
If you’re a biker, why not connect with others who enjoy the same ride? This e-bike has a backlit LCD display to monitor your bike’s battery life and stats like distance and speed. You can synch to their app to connect with others in the Aventon community. “Awesome bike with fenders and lights. Easy setup and instructions. First charge went 3 rides total 57 miles,” wrote one commenter named David Lees, one of the over 2,000 customers to give it a five-star review.
Best Overall Hybrid Commuter Bike
“A hybrid is a jack of all trades. It incorporates elements of on-road and off-road bikes to provide a more comfortable upright ride for commuter or general transportation,” says Kelsey from Specialized. “If you want to carry groceries or add a rear rack, a hybrid is the way to go. A lot of people commute on a hybrid.”
There are a lot of mid-range options from Specialized, but this one is a solid option that, in full disclosure, the author of this article has been riding for over a year. It has an upright position and I’ve added a child’s seat on the rear, which I’ve used for daily school and work commutes. “The Crossroads emphasizes comfortability over speed, if that’s what you’re looking for. The line is fantastic for commutes in general,” says Kelsey. For a rocky commute or if you want to emphasize speed, look at the Sirrus line, which has a range of options and prices.
Best Electric Bike for Traveling with Cargo
For a front-loader frame option that feels very Dutch in a wonderful way, check out the Yuba. Whether you’re loading actual cargo, your dog or your children, you can fit up to 440 pounds of whatever you want, with your eyes on your precious cargo right in front of you, something many parents might find comfort in. There are two 20-inch wheels, which give the bike a low center of gravity. It can also get 60 miles on a single charge.
The Yuba rides 20 miles per hour, which is the standard in e-bikes. “It is my favorite way to travel, especially pedaling through the neighborhood with my 21-month-old daughter securely seated on the bamboo box seat,” wrote one commenter on the brand’s site. “Of course, there is ample cargo space, which carries groceries, kids and more.”
Best Compact Electric Bike
Think all of the electric bikes are just a big hunk of metal? Go for something compact and lightweight that will still get you to where you need to go faster than a lightweight non-electric bike (no one wants to show up for work drenched in sweat). This one rides 20 miles per hour for up to 47 miles on a charge and weighs less than 40 pounds—closer to the weight of an electric foldable.
Best Foldable Non-Electric Bike
Ironically, the lighter and the smaller, the more expensive. Less is more…of your dough!
Brompton is the cream of the crop when it comes to foldables. This one is made of titanium with carbon parts throughout. It’s extremely light—just 16.4 pounds. “They make a really high-end product,” says McGraw. “It expands your options when you’re commuting by bike because you don’t have to leave it outside. It’s so small, I give it to the coat check. It rides super smooth and handles really well and you even have a couple gears to choose from, which is nice.”
Best Electric Bike Splurge
Every electric bike seems like a splurge when you’re talking about spending thousands of dollars, but if you’re replacing your car, you might choose to go big for a smooth ride. Cake bikes are futuristic-looking and came highly recommended for it’s comfort, customizability and cool factor (the ergonomics were designed with the consultation of McKinsey Design’s studio). There are even more expensive models from this brand, but this one is made for commuting. It can hit 20 miles per hour and charges in three hours. You can configure your bike for whatever your commute may look like: Whether you’re taking a child to school or need to carry heavy equipment. “There are many options depending on how extreme you want to get,” says McGraw, the cycling industry executive. Bonus: it comes with GPS-activated alarm and tracking.