Waylon Lewis’ favorite Commuter Bicycles.

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 “elephant’s handy guide to buying an everyday bicycle for commuting: save money, save time, lose stress, get in shape, enjoy life.” 

Commuter Bike Smackdown: Masi vs. Kronan vs. Biomega vs. Paul Frank vs. Bianchi Milano vs. Jorg & Olif vs. Electra Amsterdam vs. A.N.T vs. Simple City oh my.

First among contenders for that elusive “ideal commuter bike”—Jorg & Olif. Pricey, but looks to be well worth it. Heavy, but gorgeous. Handlebars reach a bit far back—making the riding position almost too upright—but overall Jorg & Olif has gotta rate 9/10. My new fave, however, is the just-released Gary Fisher Simple City. I gotta save up for that one, right now I’m on the Electra Amsterdam, which is sweet but heavy and needs a trip to the shop every other week (literally, just ask ’em). So why’d I buy such a clunker? I love the style, I love the company…and, oh yeah, my Bianchi Milano (in black) got stole.

Qualities of the ELEPHANT FAVE COMMUTER BIKE winner will combine 1) upright riding position and practicality in riding and hauling groceries, schoolbooks etc. 2) style 3) at least 8 gears 4) details: gotta be compatible with rack, fenders (as well as bell and lights, which are always easy for any bike). Internal hub is nice: less maintenance, and seamless shifting.

Any qualities we should look for that we’re missing, just comment and we’ll add ’em in. Any bike suggestions, just comment with link if possible. New to this list: the slick cool Paul Frank City Bike. Only three gears, but sweet-lookin’—in fact, our stylee videographer, Alex King, rides one he bought at Boulder’s Full Cycle.

Update: just met the lovely Masi Urban commuter bike, it’s the coolest yet–light enough like the Bianchi Milano to jump off a curb and not feel like half the bike’s gonna fall apart—stylish enough to give the Simple City a run for its money, affordable, cool Brooks-like seat, metal fenders (super-stylish), rack-compatible, cork (yes, cork) handlebars…barely a chain guard, which ain’t ideal, but it’s enough to keep your pans or skirt from turning black—an internal crappy hub (hopefully they’ll go Nexus next time ’round) and quick, but grippy tires fit for summertime and the biking is easy or winter and black ice is lurking ’round every bike path corner. I’m in—going to save up and buy prontomissimo, if I go another month on my lovely but heavy and fragile Electra Amsterdam I’m gonna hafta buy a little violin and play it constantly.

Two newbies to the list: Biomega (gorgeous, if you love the Apple Air [which is kinda eco, btw] you’ll love this, high-priced, fancy, hard to replace parts since it’s so unique) and Kronan (gorgeous, 5-speed max, colorfully classically European, stylee, like Jorg & Olif, super-heavy).

Update: now I’m loving the Civia, Spot, Linus and Shinola.

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anonymous Sep 15, 2013 9:53pm

so pretty! 🙂

anonymous Jul 30, 2012 12:53am

[…] more care of myself, beyond managing my stress day to day, which (via meditation, bouldering, bicycling, community, yoga, my dog) I’m pretty good at. What am I so stressed about? Nothing much, […]

anonymous Jul 27, 2012 10:05am

[…] I drove my car around Boulder, I was both amazed and terrified by the seemingly courageous commuters who wove in and out of traffic only inches from cars. Every time I passed a bike in the bike lane, […]

anonymous Aug 10, 2011 6:36am

Thanks for the post, I’ll keep checking back for more stuff, bookmarked!

anonymous Aug 4, 2011 11:31am

Commuter bikes have to be the most comfortable bikes I have ever used.

anonymous Jun 1, 2011 4:45pm

Waylon – my Bianchi Milano was stolen, too. In front of the teahouse in Boulder – 9pm Tuesday night in September 2009 – while I was sitting 10 feet away on the patio with a friend. Couldn't see it happen, but heard the pop of the bolt cutters and the ripping of the lock out of the fence. And it was gone into the back of a van into the night before I could get there. One of the saddest moments of my life so far. That was a great bike!

anonymous Nov 10, 2010 3:17am

I needed to say that it is nice to know that someone talked it over.

anonymous Nov 8, 2010 5:44am

I had a masi during my days in japan and I must say it was incredible. Unfortunately not the easiest to travel with and needed to be sold before I left:(

anonymous Apr 24, 2010 10:52pm

Bianchi Milano Parco vs. Electra Ticino 7D?! (Womens)
Pros and cons of both?

anonymous Mar 27, 2010 7:19pm

Take a look at some of the Trek urban commuter bikes – the Ecos, Portlands, Allants, Valencias, PDXs, Districts, Sohos. This line can address any urban commuter's need – but if you want more speed, the 7.X fitness bikes can probably do that.

anonymous Mar 27, 2010 7:17pm

I enjoy getting around on Novara's Big Buzz (REI); it is geared a bit high, but I finally got used to it; but, hell, I just enjoy riding!

anonymous Dec 28, 2009 7:10pm

[…] for the past 7.5 years as I built, destroyed, and rebuild the elephant media community. You got a bike? You’re all set to enjoy […]

elephant journal Aug 3, 2009 7:15pm

Another great list: http://www.stumbleupon.com/s/#1JjeXj/lighterfoots

anonymous Feb 18, 2009 4:35am

I’m so confused!
I’m on the verge of buying an Electra Amsterdam women’s bike – but now that I’ve been doing my research on the net it sounds like the quality may not be too great?!
I’ll be commuting to work approx. 5 miles each way with some hills but also want to go on day trips with my partner… Is this bike too heavy and cumbersome for this?
I know nothing of bikes – any advice is much appreciated.

    anonymous Jul 28, 2009 2:14am

    Hi Naomi,

    I just recently purchased the Electra Amsterdam Sport Custom 3i Ladies bike in copper. It is MUCH lighter than the classic amsterdams because it is made out of aluminum instead of steel.

    It has three gears, but they cover a pretty wide range and do what I need.

    Good luck!

anonymous Feb 17, 2009 10:55am

[…] also a week past having paid my mortgage, so I can’t get my bike out of UBikes, where the girl who hit me dropped the bike (without offering to pay, and I was so in […]

anonymous Feb 5, 2009 12:23pm

No mention of Breezer, we also offer some well-equipped transportation bikes. I understand there will always be oversights in reviews like this, but in the future it will be my mission to both design the best commuters out there AND make sure people know about them.

Luke Elrath
Breezer product manager

anonymous Jan 8, 2009 7:09pm

[…] important things in life. Bicycling.   A cool article from a mag that i’ve never heard of here shows some pretty cool commuter bikes.  Some of the facts that surround bicycle vs car commuting […]

anonymous Nov 23, 2008 5:01pm

[…] among contenders for that elusive ideal commuter bike: a heavy retro Euro beauty: Jorg & Olif. Pricey, but looks to be well worth it. Heavy, but gorgeous–your inner Cary Grant or […]

anonymous Nov 12, 2008 11:55am

Thanks for the love!

The SoulVille series of bikes has evolved from the original 8 spd (that you mention) to include a 3 spd, a single/ fixed and the new 10 spd (pictured above).

The original 8 spd did use the Nexus, but then the Shimano leadtimes ballooned to more than 180 days, so we had to make the change to the SRAM 7 spd to be able to have bikes in stock.

The new 10 spd that you pictured uses the new SRAM flat bar Double Tap shifters and Rival derailleurs… and is a blast to ride. I love my 8 spd and my SS, but I’m gonna hafta find room to add the 10 into my apartment as well.

We’re in very good company with all the other bikes listed above and I’m flattered to enter the room with them. The good news for buyers these days is that the category is so strong with offerings now. The market for these bikes has finally matured in the US enough to see many more cool bikes than ever before. I just returned from Japan where bikes like this are a fact of life and not a novelty. It’s great to see some evolution happening here now… sincerely.

Thanks again,
Tim Jackson… aka Masiguy

anonymous Oct 17, 2008 10:30pm

[…] you’re in the market for a commuter bicycle, be on the lookout for the collapsible, theft-deterrent Biomega Boston. The Biomega Boston features […]

anonymous Oct 13, 2008 8:11am

[…] Europe for some time now), but the price of pedaling to work hasn’t changed. All you need is an appropriate bike and more time (sometimes, depending on traffic and availability of bike paths, biking’s actually […]

anonymous Oct 3, 2008 8:37am

[…] or lack-of-answer, seeing as how I’ve heard it with Couric and others over the last weeks. I biked as fast as I could down the desolate (no cars out on the town) black night and flew up to Red Fish, […]

anonymous Sep 26, 2008 3:45pm

[…] fun when it comes to Boulder, Colorado’s wilding popular (thousands gather all dressed up to cruise around town) weekly Cruiser Ride. Excerpt via photographer Steve Z, who’s offered a photo […]

anonymous Sep 25, 2008 12:46pm

[…] longings and temper tantrums. And so the best “product” I could review here ain’t the Electra Amsterdam, Chico Bag, fair-trade cappucino with non-drugged cow milk, climbing at the Spot, or Mad Men (my […]

anonymous Sep 23, 2008 9:51pm

so what is the best commuter bike that is 16 gears up… my giant big bertha needs a slimmer, fitter friend to accompany her for the winter months, commutes to work, etc.


anonymous Aug 30, 2008 10:17am

[…] it, probably the cheapest option of all. And then the rest of the time it’s just me and my Electra Amsterdam, which is all I need 99% of the time, […]

elephant journal Aug 26, 2008 3:18pm

Oh yeah, and A.N.T. is ultimate, customizable, but pricey.

anonymous Aug 12, 2008 2:11pm

A commuter bike should have internal gears and brakes if you expect to ride in anything but perfect summer weather.

    anonymous May 6, 2009 3:35pm

    Any recommendations? I am looking for a year-round commuter in Burlington, Vermont. I typically go through a set of gear component every two years….

elephant journal Aug 1, 2008 7:00pm

Dave Rogers likes the Simple City. So do I.
Also A.N.T. if you can afford it. Electra Amsterdam has some new models with 8 gears that cost half (grrr) what I put into my Amsterdam to get 8 gears on it a year ago.

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Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.