Road Bikes for Commuting: Which Bike is Best for You?

Congratulations, you’ve decided to commute to work by bike. Regardless of your reasons, you won’t regret your decision as it’s eco-friendly, cost-effective, and great for your health. No more sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic in rush hour, worrying about filling up for gas, or recharging your metro card.

Now, you’re likely debating what kind of commuting bike will best suit your needs and your particular commute. In this article, we’ll explore popular kinds of commuting bikes that will get you from your home to your workplace safely and soundly. 

Once you’ve selected a bike that best compliments your route, your commute will be more comfortable and efficient. While a road bike does make a great commuter bike, there are still certain things you need to consider before deciding if one is right for you 

Key Takeaways

  • Road bikes are great for commuting because they are fast, efficient, and suited for long-distance rides. You can choose between flat bar or drop bar road bikes.
  • Gravel bikes are another option if you face rough road surfaces on your commute. They have durable tires that can handle loose gravel, potholes, or hard-packed dirt.
  • Hybrid bikes combine features of road and mountain bikes, making them versatile and comfortable.
  • Electric bikes are pedal-assisted bikes that have a motor that helps you pedal. They are ideal for long, hilly, or arduous commutes, as they reduce the effort and sweat required.
  • Mountain bikes are less common for commuting, as they are heavier and less efficient on paved roads.

Why Are Road Bikes Great for Commuting?

Road bikes are your standard geared bicycle and are great commuter bikes due to their safety and efficiency. Whether your path to work is urban or full of wide open streets, road bikes will allow you to leverage their adjustable speed and zip right on to work. 

Road Bikes are Fast and Efficient

Road bikes are also known to be aerodynamic because they sport an “over the handlebar” rider position, rather than a more upright riding position you see with recreational cycling.  They have lightweight frames and thinner tires, which lends way to great efficiency, and they’re known to be one of the faster styles of bike, which is appealing if you have a longer commute.

The easy gear shifting on a road bike is great too – if you need to switch from maximum speed to hills quickly. 

Road Bikes are Suited to Long Distance Rides

Due to all of these features, road bikes are stellar when it comes to long-distance rides and everyday riding. The different hand positions allow the rider to adapt easily and prevent numbness in the fingers and wrists, meaning you’ll be comfortable even if you have a lengthy commute.

Flat Bar Road Bikes vs Standard Road Bikes

Flat handlebar road bikes are a type of road bike with flat handlebars vs. your average road bike with a dropped bar. The flat handlebars offer more visibility and control to the rider vs other types of road bike.

The wheels and tires of a flat bar road bike offer the same speed as a normal road bike, but the high handlebar position ensures more comfortable gear switching, which can get you to work quicker as well.

You may want to choose a flat bar road bike if you’re a newer biker who prefers lots of control and visibility. Many bikers who have a busy commute choose flat barred bikes so they can get a good view of traffic, pedestrians and other bikers. 

On the other hand, if your commute has more open roads with high visibility, a drop-barred bike may be the better option. Both kinds of road bikes are solid choices for commuting.

Gravel Bike vs Road Bike for Commuting

Gravel bikes might be more appealing than a road bike for commuting, depending on how rough the road surface is on your way to work. However, a road bike could still be suitable if you know how to optimize it for your surroundings. 

Gravel Bikes Have Extremely Durable Tires

Gravel bikes are great options because they have extremely durable tires. Forget the stress over the new construction and road works plaguing your commute; the loose gravel, potholes, or hard-packed dirt will be easy terrain with a gravel bike. 

Even if you face less than optimal conditions on your commute, gravel bikes are the way to go if you’re not expecting a smooth trip every time. Different kinds of gravel bikes are suited for different terrains, so it’s a good idea to scope out what kinds of obstacles your particular route has before you purchase one. 

But Most Road Bikes Can Handle Difficult Terrain Too

This being said, most road bikes can handle some treacherous terrain without any problems. So it’s not really a case of a gravel bike being better or worse than a road bike – you can effectively customize each to suit your commute. 

As long as your road bike has sound structural components such as the tires, handlebars, rims, spokes, frame and fork, you will likely be able to opt for it over a gravel bike if you wish. 

Choosing a more durable kind of tire will allow you to use your road bike on other types of terrain as well. No matter which bike you choose, if you are commuting on rough terrain, be sure to check up on and replace your tires when needed. 

Road Bike vs Hybrid for Commuting

Hybrid bikes are popular as they combine features of a mountain bike and a road bike. This confers great adaptability to the rider as the bikes are known to be not only fast, but tough and long-lasting. 

Sometimes the line between what bike is considered a flat bar road bike and which is considered a hybrid is fuzzy, as many bikes can contain features of both.

Hybrid Bikes Are Versatile

Hybrid bikes are known to be very versatile as they can be used on both rocky and smooth surfaces. They’re also comfortable and offer the visibility and control of a road bike because of the more upright riding position. 

One added characteristic of a hybrid bike is their ability to carry extra cargo and weight. Usually, hybrids come equipped with mounts for luggage. If you are planning to commute with a briefcase in tow, a hybrid bike could be a viable option.

Road Bike vs Electric Bikes for Commuting

Many bikers who are commuting long distances choose electric bikes, also known as ebikes. Most electric bikes are “pedal assisted electric bikes,” which means the motor kicks in when you pedal. This is an attractive alternative to a road bike, but it’s not necessarily viable for everyone.

It’s Easier to Pedal an Electric Bike 

You still have to pedal, but the added bonus of the motor does part of the job, which allows you to put less effort forward, and in turn, you may sweat less. If appearances matter, and showering isn’t available when you get to work, then opting for an eBike over a road bike could be best.

Electric bikes are also a great option for the less physically fit. Although you still get a substantial workout while using one, the pedal assisted motor gives you that additional push to prevent too much exertion. 

Many bike commuters choose electric bikes because they are certainly much faster than other bikes. In assisted mode, depending on the bike, you can reach speeds of 15 – 30 miles per hour. This makes them very appealing for those who have long commutes, and are a great alternative to pollutant-emitting cars. 

Electric Bikes are More Expensive than Road Bikes

There are some drawbacks to electric bikes – first of all, they are substantially more expensive than your average road bike. The cost of an e-bike ranges between around 3,000 and 4,000 dollars – so it’s certainly an investment. 

Another drawback to e bikes: the battery charging. It can take up to 8 hours to charge a fully burnt out battery, but most batteries take less to reach full charge. You also can charge e bikes in spurts – no need to deplete the battery before charging. Luckily, most ebikes have very far ranges. Depending on the battery, of course, you can bike up to 75 miles before recharging.

Road Bike vs Mountain Bike for Commuting

Mountain bikes, also known as MTB bikes, are typically a less common choice for the commuter. Their features could confer some benefits to commuters if they are commuting on a more rugged terrain, but road bikes often pose a more viable alternative for commuting. 

Mountain Bikes Are Heavier Than Road Bikes

MTB bikes have wide handlebars and thick tires with knobs for traction. They also have wide drivetrains and hydraulic disc brakes for easy and quick braking. These features can make them heavy and less efficient on paved roads.

If you choose a mountain bike for commuting but are finding that it weighs you down, you can switch out the knobby tires for slick ones, which can ease this problem. In summary, both road and mountain bikes can be great commuter vehicles, but a mountain bike may be better for weekend rides in the mountains than your daily commute down your local parkway. 

Fixed Gear vs Road Bike for Commuting

Fixed gear bikes, or fixies, are some of the simplest kinds of bikes around. Per their name, there is only one gear setting, so users are not able to switch gears or add resistance. This makes them a consideration for many commuters.

Fixed Gear Bikes are Light, Simple and Easy to Repair

 Fixed-gear bikes are lighter, cheaper, and less likely to get stolen than a road bike due to their simplicity. Other reasons why riders choose this kind of bike is they are easy to repair and easy to store. 

The simplicity of a fixed gear bike vs a road bike makes them a viable option for commuters who simply need to get from point A to point B without taking any hard terrain.

However, Road Bikes are Faster and More Efficient

In contrast, road bikes are known to be faster due to the various gear settings. They are also heavier and more complex, and newbies may have an adjustment period.

If your commute has lots of hills and you are between these two options, a road bike will allow you to adjust your resistance and cycle more optimally and efficiently. 

The Best Commuter Bikes

Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the particulars of road bikes, you’ll likely have a better idea about whether a road bike is for you. If you’re sold on the idea, then the next step is to figure out which you’d like to buy.

Below are some of the best road bikes to consider for your commute. 

The Canyon Commuter 7

This hybrid bike, from a German company, offers a sleek design with lots of handy equipment. The bike comes with a rack, a Gates Carbon belt drive, dynamo lighting, a bell, and full-length mudguards. Users also say the bike maintenance is minimal.

The lights are powerful and the gear-switching is smooth, which makes this bike one of the safest options out there. 

Carrera Subway 2

If you’re on a budget, this hybrid bike will be your new best friend. The bike is practical – it includes a couple of different bottle cages and mounts if you need to attach a rack or mudguards. Users say the bike is light and comfortable, and the upright position is another plus. 

Canyon Pathlite: ON5

This is an electric bike sporting a wide bar, straight backed position, and aluminum frame. 

Users say the stamina is unparalleled. The drawback? The bike weighs a hefty 23 kg.

The Bottom Line on Road Bikes

Hopefully you now have some more clarity in regards to road bikes and which commuter bike is the best fit for your commute. While you can arrive to work on any bike out there, it’s best to weigh your options so that you can select the option most suitable to your needs.

If you have a long, hilly and arduous commute, the electric bike is likely the way to go if you can financially make it happen. If you have a commute with rocky terrain, try a gravel or mountain bike. If your commute is pretty straightforward, the trusty hybrid, road bike or fixed gear bike are sound options.

The choices can be overwhelming, but once you have procured the best bike for your needs, you can enjoy all of the perks bike commuting offers! 

Was this article helpful? Did we cover all of the main points for each kind of bike? Let us know in the comments below. 

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