Finding a commuting bike for less than £500 is remarkably easy. There are loads of them. What’s harder is finding a good one; one that will last the daily wear and tear of riding all year round; that will be comfortable to ride; that is flexible enough to be ridden in all weathers and across a variety of surfaces.
And while we love the idea of n+1 being about having lots of shiny top-end bikes, in the Mothership (shed) the Monday-Friday grind to work needs to be affordable.
So what are the best options out there? We’ve scoured the recommendations from all the best cycling the sites of the internet and come up with this list of the best commuting bikes for under £500.
While plenty of people do commute to work on their mountain bike we’ve not gone into that here. Instead we’ve looked at three main types: the hybrid, the road bike and the single speed.
While the hybrid is ideally set up for commuting to work on a bike, there are commutes where having the additional speed and reduced weight of a road bike is worthwhile and the single speed comes into its own for commuting on a bike when you want to do minimal maintenance (and have pretty flat roads). Also, road and single speed bikes look a lot better. They just do.
So we’ve chosen these commuting bikes under £500 that offer a comfortable ride coupled with the versatility you’ll need, so things like mudguard and rack mounts are important, as are the ability to be ridden off road if needed.
The upright position and more relaxed geometry of a hybrid is well designed for commuting, especially where it’s unlikely you’ll get look stretches of head-down peddling and will have to deal with varied surfaces, whether they’re pot-holed and unloved roads, cycle paths or the odd bit of trail.
We’ve picked two hybrids for commuting to work on that offer comfort, versatility and, above all, great value for money.
This is a solid, reliable hybrid with no sex appeal but a great price.
The Dawes Discovery 101 model is under 300 notes from Evans and for that you get an alloy frame, which Uphill Cycling in their review described as “strong and rigid…. a little more forgiving that an aluminium based frame.”
With a triple chainring and a 6 cassette on the back you get plenty of range for a hilly commute. And while the Discovery 101 is a little heavy at 14kg, it’s strong enough to withstand tracks and paths and all sorts of weather, this a great commuter bike as long as speed is not the most important thing for you.
Another solid commuting bike that should last you years and years, the Carrera Crossfire 2 has the upright position you’d expect. Again, it’s not a fast ride or much to look at – this is a practical option that goes for comfort over style or speed.
The aluminium frame is solid but it has some off-road abilities, with a Suntour NVX fork with front suspension that will make your ride more comfortable, even if you have to hit paths on the way to work (or the road hasn’t been repaired for some years).
The Crossfire 2 also comes with Teckro disc brakes that Cycling Weekly’s review said “offer a decent level of stopping power in both dry and wet conditions”.
For the all-weather cycling commuter the Crossfire 2 also comes with mudguard mounts and pannier rack mounts so you don’t have to pack your work stuff on your back every day.
While it’s listed as £429.99 RRP you can find it right now for £250 on the Halfords website.
If you’ve got a longer commute or you want to combine getting to work with training then a road bike makes sense. However the back and forward of the commute will take years off a road bike so it makes sense for roadies to pick up a second bike. And for everyone else this can be a great way of discovering the joys of road biking, albeit while dodging drivers and potholes.
There is one stand-out winner in the value for money commuting bike stakes so we’ve gone with that one. Please let us know in the comments if there are other road bikes you’d recommend and we can add them in here.
If you don’t want to pick up a road bike for commuting and stick to that £500 limit then the B’Twin range is about the best value out there. The B’Twin Triban 520 Road Bike boasts the excellent Sora groupset, which is a steal at this price.
The frame is made from the always-solid and hardwearing 6061 aluminium and is paired with a carbon fork. With relaxed geometry, for a road bike, this is no race machine but it’s well set for a fast commute, especially as the frame has mudguard and rack eyelets at the front and rear.
In the road.cc review where it picked up four and a half stars out of five said: “The Triban 520 is a fun bike to rid… from the off I’ve been very happy riding the Triban. The alloy frame and carbon-bladed fork are well made and finished, and they give the bike an assured feel.”
And unlike the hybrids above, it’s pretty good looking for such a cheap bike.
The beauty of riding a single speed is not that that it makes you look like a hipster on your way to drink obscure coffee and discuss facial hair, it’s that the lack of gears means you have a lot less working parts, not only saving weight but making maintenance easy peasy, something that commuters don’t want to have to worry about.
Again we’re only recommending one single speed bike for commuting at this price point but we’d love to hear your recommendations if you have them!
The Charge range run from the ‘0’ at just £350 RRP (although you can pick it up cheaper) right up to the titanium Plug 5 at £2,500. The Charge Plug 1 is a great commuting bike, with 32cm Kendra tyres and rack and mudguard mounts.
It’s also got the ubiquitous-at-this-price 6061 aluminium frame that won’t let anyone down. The Tektro CR-710 cantilever brakes will do the job, although are lower spec than the other bikes on this list. The single gear comes in at 42-16, which is a little testing, especially if you have hills on our commute and is the only potential downside of the Charge as your single speed commuting bike of choice.
Part of the charm of the Charge bikes is that they look great (again, as a counter to the hybrids).
The Charge Plug 1 comes in shocking pink, which should help your visibility on foggy mornings (there’s also a matt black version for the slightly less confident among us). Rounding out the looks is the fact that the whole bike is coordinated, with stem, saddle and bar ends all coming in matching pink (or black).
Our pals at road.cc summed up their review by saying, “Simple and fun cyclo-crossy bike that can mix rough commuting with off-road exploring.”
Charge Plugs can be bought from a variety of places, from Evans to Wiggle and other suppliers. The cheapest we’ve seen it is a bargain £349.99 at Wiggle.