The best commuter bikes for 2011 present a wide variety of styles and components to best suit personal needs. Bike manufacturers have answered the call to the increased population of bike commuters by designing full lines of commuter specific bikes. Though many of these commuter bikes aren’t cheap, if you’re giving up the car in favor of the most efficient form of transportation, you will of course save money. It is recommended that if you only have it in your budget to buy a cheap department store bike, then you’re better off finding a high quality used bike. But most of all, you want a well-fitted commuter bicycle with the best components that will make you want to ride every day. By reading reviews at BikeForums.net, Bicycling magazine, and EcoVelo, we’ve come up with an updated list that highlights some of the best of this ever expanding commuter bike market. Read on for our picks of the best commuter bikes for 2011.
Breezer Uptown 8 Commuter Bike
Created by Joe Breeze, one of the founding fathers of mountain bikes, Breezer Bikes have designed a line of commuter bikes that are ready to hit the bike lane. The Uptown 8 features an aluminum frame, 8 speed Shimano Nexus internal hub, suspension seat post, and heavy-duty urban tires. No need to worry about purchasing more accessories, the Uptown 8 already comes equipped with a full chainguard, rear rack, fenders, kickstand, bell, and hub-generated front and rear LED lights. It even comes with its’ own integrated lock, though it’s recommended you have a good quality u-lock. Named by Bicycling Magazine as the Commuter Bike of the Year, the geometry of this bike puts the rider at a comfortable upright position, yet not too upright to be able to handle some hills. The Breezer Uptown 8 also comes in a step-through model.
Who it’s for: Those who don’t want to mess with buying commuter bike components. Those who like a comfortable and sturdy, yet efficient ride and will make use of all the utility features. Those with a relatively short commute.
Who it’s not for: Those who do enjoy building their own bike. At just under 32 pounds, the weight is reasonable with all the attached accessories, yet could still be a consideration for those who take their bikes on public transit or up and down stairs or if you have a particularly hilly commute.
Electra Ticino 8D Commuter Bike
Known for their beach cruisers and Dutch-influenced style bikes, Electra has now designed a line of bikes based on the classic French constructeur touring bikes. Marrying retro styling with the latest components, the Ticino 8D features an aluminum frame with a steel lugged fork, 8 speed Shimano 2300 drivetrain with rapidfire shifters, a moustache handlebar, faux-leather saddle, and alloy fenders. You will need to add a rack if you carry things on your bike. The upright seated position allows for a cushy ride, while the 700c wheel size give it oomph. The Electra Ticino 8D got tentative praise from the Bike Snob, which is no easy feat, calling it “stable, yet reasonably quick” and light enough to carry up steps. The bike weighs about 25 pounds.
Who it’s for: Those who are clamoring for the retro look. Cyclists who prefer a more upright seated position and need a commuter bike that can still be lifted easily.
Who it’s not for: Those who prefer a modern looking bike. The slack geometry is not for cyclists who like a riding position similar to a road bike.
Trek Belleville 2011 Commuter Bike
Part of Trek’s urban eco-design line, the Belleville has been designed with an eye on the environmental impact of the bike through the birth, life, and after-life. The Belleville has attracted a lot of attention with it’s vintage look, steel frame and solid geometry. This bike is commuter ready with chainguard, dual racks, hub-powered front and rear lights, and fenders. It has 3 speeds with an internally-geared Shimano Nexus hub. Car Free in Philly has a good list of pros and cons on the Trek Belleville. It also comes in a true mixte style frame for the ladies.
Who it’s for: Those with commutes on the short side. Those who prefer a steel frame. Commuters who don’t need to lift the bike too much- it’s 40 pounds and who tend to haul a lot of stuff. Those who are looking for a commuter bike already equipped with all the bells and whistles.
Who it’s not for: If you live on the top floor. Those who have hills on their commute. Minimalists.
The MSRP for the Trek Belleville is $689.99. Check your local bike shop.
Novara Big Buzz Bike
The Novara Big Buzz from REI is a hybrid style commuter bike merging mountain bike geometry with road bike tubing. It runs on a 9 speed Shimano Sram drivetrain with Sram twist shifters. The lightweight aluminum frame, 700c wheel size with puncture resistant Vittoria Randonneur tires, and disc brakes offer stability and maneuverability with the feel of a road bike. Though there aren’t many reviews on this bike, reviewers at REI have given it an average 4.4 star rating with it’s best uses for great handling as a commuter bike and the biggest complaint being too heavy.
Who it’s for: The budget-conscious- the Novara Big Buzz is currently on sale at REI for$450- though keep in mind the expense if you need to add a rack and/or lights. Those are looking for a commuter bike that rides more like a road bike and has simple components. Commuters who don’t need all the extras or want to add their own.
Who it’s not for: Those who like a more cushy ride. May not be comfortable for very long commutes.
You can get the Novara Big Buzz commuter bike on REI for a reduced price of $449.93.
Jamis Commuter 3 Bike
Jamis makes a high quality and well-liked line of commuter bikes at an affordable price range of $390 to $800. The Jamis Commuter 3 bike features an aluminum frame, a Shimano Nexus 7 speed hub with revo-shift twist shifters, 700c wheel size, fenders, and full chain guard. Step up to the Commuter 4, pictured at the top of this post, to get the 8 speed with a rear rack and hub-powered headlight. Bicycling magazine gave the Jamis Commuter 1 a best for beginners thumbs up and the Commuter 3 is featured on Sheldon Brown’s website.
Who it’s for: Those who want a basic, dependable commuter bike without breaking the bank. At a not bad weight of 28 pounds, would be good for apartment dwellers.
Who it’s not for: Those who want the forgiveness of a steel frame.
The Jamis Commuter 3 bike sells for around $675.00. Check it out here.
Surly Cross Check Bike
Cyclocross bikes are a popular choice for hardcore commuters as they are designed to be fast, yet can take the abuse of rough off-road conditions. The Surly Cross Check is a do everything, versatile bike for everyday use. It can go from the commute to a weekend race. The steel frame absorbs the road chatter and provides stability for longer commutes. The Surly Cross Check features a Shimano Tiagra 9 speed drivetrain with bar end shifters, 700c wheel size, and cantilever brakes. Surly boasts the Fatties Fit Fine (FFF) clearance for fat tires and fender space. Springfield Cyclist has a good hands-on review.
Who it’s for: Those who want the versatility of a cyclocross bike for commuting. Bike lovers who want to customize their bike themselves according to their personal needs. Those who need the stability of a steel frame bike for longer commutes. Those who encounter hills on their commutes or use public transit.
Who it’s not for: Those who don’t want to “mess” with their bike or who don’t have a lot of money to spend on their ride.