The Top 9 Commuter Bikes Under $500 Reviewed
Whether you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and start biking to work, or are looking to invest in a reliable bike that will carry you to and from your destination for years to come, shopping for a commuter bike can be somewhat overwhelming. Plus, once you take into consideration the cost of some street and electric bikes on the market, trying to make the switch to clean, sustainable transportation can feel like a kick in your wallet. Thankfully, there are plenty of commuter bike options available in all permutations that can help you get to your destination on time, without breaking the bank.
Since the idea of a commuter bike is a bit more flexible than some of the other bike categories you find in stores, we’ve gone ahead and summarized what makes a commuter bike a commuter bike, so you can get a good idea of what you’re looking for. Sure, you can use almost any bike to commute to work (though we would recommend choosing something other than a cruiser for your sanity), but a good commuter bike will help lighten your travel load, while still getting you to work on time.
But enough dodging around the question: what are commuter bikes, and how can you choose the right commuter bike for your budget?
What Are Commuter Bikes?
To boil it down to the basics, a commuter bike is a bike used to commute to work. Sounds simple enough, right? But unlike many other bike categories, commuter bikes are organized more based on their intended use, and less on the equipment they are made of. For example, a mountain bike usually includes certain gear settings, powerful suspension, and tires made to take on the roughest of trails. Commuter bikes, on the other hand, are usually geared towards traveling over paved areas and can range from hybrid bikes to electric bikes made to fold up and slide under your desk while you work. In a sense, when you’re looking for a commuter bike, you’re looking for a bike that can get you from point A to point B reliably, without worrying too much about taking on the rougher aspects of biking. While street bikes can be used to commute to work, choosing a street bike is kind of like investing in a sports car to get to work in the morning. Sure, it will look flashy, but you are usually better off with a reliable bike that can get the job done, without spending all that extra money on style.
For some people, choosing a good commuter bike means they invest in an electric bike that will take most of the biking workload away from them, allowing them to arrive at work fresh as a daisy while still reducing their environmental impact. For others, this means investing in a hybrid bike that will allow them to get their morning workout in, while still making it to the office with time to spare. No matter what kind of commuter bike you are looking to invest in, there are a few key things to keep in mind before making your final purchase. That is why we have put together a short buying guide to help you choose the right commuter bike for you.
What to Look for in a Commuter Bike
The first thing you want to do before shopping for a commuter bike is to figure out what you expect to get from your new bike. This may seem a bit odd, but it is always a good idea to analyze your morning commute before investing. If you’re finding yourself traveling over flat pavement with minimal hills and have a relatively short commute, you may be better served to get an electric bike to help make the trip a breeze. If you have a commute that requires you to get on and off public transit, you may want to invest in a folding bike to help keep your morning frustrations to a minimum. Remember: the reason you are investing in a commuter bike is to help make your morning commute that much smoother, not to add another layer of workday frustration.
Once you have a general idea of the kind of commute you have in front of you, the next thing to do is take an honest look at your biking comfort level. You may be tempted to go all-in for a standard bike, but bear in mind it may take some time for you to build your biking prowess to the point where your morning commute is a bike in the park, not an uphill slog. In many cases, investing in a bike that has some level of power assist, but still relies on you for most of the power, can be a great way to ease into that commute without wearing yourself out. Be honest with yourself about your limitations and expectations, and you’ll find yourself looking forward to your morning commute instead of finding yourself with a case of the Mondays all week long.
Finally, be sure to do your research before investing in a new bike. Generally, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get a commuter bike, and finding a quality commuter bike under $500 is much easier than you think. For some people, making the switch to biking to work in the morning can help them save money on gas and other travel expenses in the long run, so while investing in a new bike may seem like a fair chunk of change now, the investment pays for itself after a few trips to the office.
Best Commuter Bikes Under $500
Now that you know what you’re looking for in a commuter bike, let’s take a look at the best commuter bikes under $500. We’ve gone through and organized these bikes based on pricing, quality, customer reviews, and overall value, while still giving you a good overview of all the choices available for commuter bikes. Without further ado, here are the top commuter bikes for under $500:
1. Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bike for Men and Women, 21 Speed, 28-Inch Wheels
If you’re looking for a great hybrid bike that will make your morning commute a breeze, this is the bike for you. Not only does this bike come with a lightweight, durable frame to stand up to the wear-and-tear of daily riding, it comes with a cargo rack, allowing you to bring whatever you need for the day with you. The included fenders help keep the grime of the city off of you while you make your way into town, and the treaded tires are the perfect combination of thin for speed and durable for daily use. The seat is padded for extended use, and this bike has a 21-speed transmission, making it ideal for anyone looking to take control of their morning commute. With over a thousand positive reviews on Amazon, this is an all-around great commuter bike that’s sure to make going to work a breeze. As a bonus, this bike weighs only 35 lbs. once assembled, making it easy to take with you up stairs or anywhere else your bike may need a helping hand. If you’re looking for one of the best commuter options within your budget, the Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bike for Men and Women is the bike for you.
2. Schwinn Loop Adult Folding Bike, 20-inch Wheels, Rear Carry Rack
Did someone say a folding bike? If you’re looking for a commuter bike that is easy to carry and even easier to slip under your desk at work, this bike is the choice for you. While not made for the long commutes that some hybrid bikes can take on, don’t count this bike out of the race. This bike is surprisingly comfortable, and incredibly durable, making it ideal for your day-to-day commute. This bike features a seven-speed transmission and includes a cargo rack and nylon carry bag, for all your commuting needs. This bike is lightweight and folds down to under 30” across, making it ideal for those commuters that find themselves stepping on and off public transit to get to the office. If you’re looking for a durable, budget-friendly bike that allows you to get the benefits of biking to work without fighting with a heavy frame, the Schwinn Loop Adult Folding Bike is the best option for you.
3. Giordano Libero 1.6 White/Pink Women’s Road Bike-700c
If you take your commuting to work seriously, this is the bike for you. While we said that street bikes don’t usually make for great commuter bikes, this road bike is an exception. Sleek, durable, but comfortable, the Giordano Libero is made for paved streets and dedicated employees who like to get their daily workout in on the way to the office. This bike is lightweight and comes with a 16-speed shifter to help you take on even the most grueling of commutes. The durable aluminum frame is made to take the daily wear-and-tear of commuting into the city without wearing out or breaking down, meaning this bike will last you for years to come. The only downside to this bike is it is not as traditionally comfortable as some other hybrid bike options, as it does have the curved handles one expects from a road bike. Still, for anyone looking to kick their commute to the next gear, or anyone looking to combine their training regimen with their morning trip to work, the Giordano Libero is a great investment to help you get the most out of each and every trip.
4. Royce Union RMA Women’s 21-Speed All-Terrain Mountain Bike
This bike is the ideal commuter bike for anyone who has to face more than their fair share of hills on their way into work. While this bike is labeled as a mountain bike, it falls more squarely into the realm of a hybrid bike. The included shock absorbers help minimize discomfort on uneven surfaces, including cobblestone and dirt roads, and the 21-speed transmission allows you to tailor your biking experience, making your daily commute that much smoother. This bike features unique tires that combine the smooth ride of road tires with the grip of mountain bike tires, allowing you to get the grip you need without compromising on speed. As an added bonus, this bike includes both a comfortable seat made to keep you at your best on even the bumpiest of commutes, as well as adjustable handlebars made for upright riding. With these added comfort features, it is no surprise this is a great commuter bike for anyone who finds themselves traveling both on and off the road to get to the office. While it is worth noting that the suspension may be a bit overkill for the average city commute, for anyone looking for a commuter bike that can make the transition between biking to work and hitting the trails, the Royce Union 27.5″ RMA Women’s 21-Speed All-Terrain Mountain Bike is the right bike for you.
5. SwagCycle Pro Folding Electric Bike, Pedal Free and App Enabled
You may feel a bit of whiplash switching from our last entry to the SwagCycle Pro, and for good reason. This bike is made for daily commutes where you want to get from point A to point B without even thinking about peddling. Despite its petite appearance, this bike can support over 260 lbs. of weight comfortably and can reach up to 18 mph, making it perfect for your morning commute. As an added bonus, this bike can fold down into itself for seamless storage options, and its lightweight design allows you to easily take it with you on busses, subways, or anywhere else you might feel like taking your bike. This bike can drive up to 15.5 miles on a single charge, meaning you can go further for less juice, making this a great eco-friendly option for anyone looking to reduce their environmental impact.
Not only is the SwagCycle pro fully app compatible, allowing you to check your speed, location, and more from your phone, it also comes with a USB charging port, allowing you to charge your devices while you ride to work. While this bike may not be ideal for anyone with a wall of hills between their home and their office, this is the ideal commuter option for anyone who lives in the city and is looking to streamline their morning commute, without bogging themselves down with a heavy, traditional bike.
6. Jetson Bolt Folding E-Bike Full Throttle Electric Bicycle with LCD Display
This little electric bike packs quite a punch. Not only does the Jetson Bolt fold up for easy carrying (and comes with a carrying handle in the center of the bike), this bike is made to take on longer commutes, with a cap of 15 miles per charge, allowing you to go further with less energy. The 250-watt hub motor gives you a surprising amount of kick, allowing you to take on hills and speed your way into work in the morning, without fighting with sputtering motors or sore legs. This bike was made for city living, and it fits seamlessly into almost any modern setting. But there is more to this tiny bike than its looks. This bike comes with a comfortable seat that can be easily collapsed for storage purposes, ensuring you have the best ride possible on your way into the office. The designers of this bike kept both form and function in mind when producing this incredible commuter option, and the easy-to-collapse design allows you to slip this bike out of sight and out of mind as soon as you get into the office, something you can only dream of doing with traditional hybrid bikes. If you’re looking for an electric bike to make your morning commute a breeze, the Jetson Bold Folding E-Bike is the option for you.
7. Schwinn GTX Comfort Hybrid Bike
As far as bikes go, this one fits into the category of “old reliable.” The Schwinn GTX Comfort Hybrid Bike is made to go from city biking to country roads without a single complaint and combines the comfort of a cruiser with the reliability of a mountain bike for a smooth ride that will have you grinning on your way into work. This bike features a 21-speed transmission and a light, durable frame that can stand up to the wear-and-tear of everyday use without breaking down or wearing out. The combination of sleek frame and powerful gear shifts allow you to get more speed for less power, making this the ideal commuter bike for anyone looking to make their ride into the office smoother than ever. The only real complaint customers have about this bike is that the seat is a bit on the smaller size, making it somewhat uncomfortable for longer commutes. However, bike seats are easy to switch out, and for anyone looking for a great bike that will go the distance without any unnecessary frills or features, the Schwinn GTX Comfort Hybrid Bike is a great, basic commuter bike that is sure to please.
8. Hiland Aluminum Hybrid Fitness Road Bike
This is the definition of a no-frills commuter bike. Simple, lightweight, and easy to use, this bike is made to take you to and from work without any of the added weight that comes from unnecessary shocks or bulky cargo racks. This bike features a lightweight frame to help make your commute a breeze, and the gorgeous matte finish will stand out against any other bike on the road, guaranteed. This bike comes with a 24-speed transmission, allowing you to customize your speed and intensity to match your morning commute, without worrying about pushing yourself to exhaustion. While this bike may not have as many features as the other options on our list, it makes up for what it lacks in add-ons with its simplistic design and streamlined functionality, making it the ideal bike for anyone looking to get to and from work without any of the added complications of electric bikes. If you’re looking for a basic hybrid bike that will get the job done, guaranteed, the Hiland Aluminum Hybrid Fitness Road Bike is the choice for you.
9. 700c Royce Union RMX Men’s 3-Speed Commuter Bike
This bike can be best described as an all-around commuter bike. With a cargo stand on the back, a comfortable seat made to help take the discomfort out of long rides, and a three-speed design that reduces the amount of added weight on your bike, while still allowing you to customize your travel speed and power, this bike is a great commuter option for anyone looking to cover all their bases. This bike features a lightweight frame to help make traveling from one location to another easier than ever, while still sporting the durability needed to keep your bike in tip-top shape day in and day out. The dual-spring seat design keeps you comfortable on smooth roads and bumpy cobblestone alike, making your daily commute a bike in the park. The only downside to this bike is its lack of a kickstand, but that can be easily remedied if you find yourself in need of one in a hurry. If you’re looking for a basic, all-around great commuter bike to help you get the most out of your daily commute, the 700c Royce Union RMX Men’s 3-Speed Commuter Bike is the best option for you.
Choosing a Commuter Bike
Here is a great video that breaks down they key components to consider when looking for a commuter bike: