Top 10 Urban Commuter Everyday Bicycles for Work, Hot Dates, Family.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Oct 23, 2013
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bike now commuter

There are 10 characteristics of a bicycle that works for everyday bicycling.

Why are bikes great? No insurance costs. Low maintenance costs. No fuel costs. Lose 30 pounds a year/stay fit without hardly trying. Other reasons they’re great: here.

ben jerry's bicycle car fuel gasWhat’s the bottomline that all seven help fulfill? Simple: a commuter bicycle for around town needs to be grab jump and go. As little between you and hopping on it and going, in whatever weather, as possible. Go.

So: combo lock. Get a heavy serious one. But keys slow things down, get lost, have to be clipped somewhere. Get a combo loopy one that will stretch around anything. Loop it around and beneath your seat post and stretch it open onto whatever, close and go. Instant commutervalet parking.

Ugly Stickers. Ugly your bike. Don’t make it so beautiful that everyone wants to steal it. Ugly your bike.

Chain guard to keep your dress and pants safe. Not just a chain protector rim thing. A full chain guard.

Fenders. Rain, mud, snow: you’ll need fenders.

Bell. Might seem silly, but it’s vital for navigating through bike paths, bike lanes, streets, everything. Make sure it has a good ring, not just a pingy plastic weak ding.

Internal hub. I like 7-8 gears (o r more, but not necessary). Three gears is fine, but 7-8 is best. Internal is best ’cause you can switch all the time, you’re always right where you want to be, and unlike external it won’t clunkety clunk get you stuck between gears when you’re crossing traffic or what-have-you. Internal also stays pretty clean and safe in all kinds of weather. And if, like me, you want to bike all year, you’ll find yourself in rain, sleet, snow, ice, sun, the gammut. I won.

Rear rack. Zip tie (metal plumber tightener thingys are best, they don’t break) a heavy duty plastic milk crate or light metal bin to the rear rack. Front racks can be okay but I don’t like how they affect my steering.

Bungie cord or something to secure your backpack/groceries etc in your rear rack. Bungie should not be too long, or you willll forget to secure it once and it’ll get caught in your spokes and you’ll crash and die or at least have to spend four greasy minutes getting the frayed bungie out of your now-bent hub.

world naked bike ride bicycleUpright handlebars. Not road bike down low bars. Upright, straight or slightly-but-not-too-far-back-a-squirrel-across-your-path-and-you’ll-die handlebars so you’re upright and can comfortably look around at girls or boys or traffic without dying.

Lights. I like the rechargeable pop off pop on lights you can stick into your laptop to recharge. Leave nice lights on and they’ll get stolen.

Top 10 Commuter Bikes, updated. Last list here.

linus roadster commuter bicycle

Linus. The Roadster is $869. 8 gears. Bell included. Classic, pretty, functional, simple: they’re great.

"Waylon lewis" redford "hanuman festival" yoga boulder bicycle dog

Masi stopped making their awesome Soulville, but you can look for them on your craigslist. It’s what I ride.

Swobo (Fillmore Townie) also makes a pretty 8 gear one that you can find on craigslist if you’re lucky.

Bianchi Milano: I love it. Get it.

civia commuter bicycle

Civia Cycles Twin City Step-Through/Over – $850: Civia makes a good one. Seven gears. Steel, so it’s a comfortable ride. That’ll be my next bike, I guess. I’ve already replaced half my Masi over the past six years (I ride every day in all weather and am pretty hard on it).

More models you love? Let me know in comments. If I agree, if they fit our above criteria for jump n’go, I’ll add ’em in.

What you don’t want: there’s some other beautiful models I know of (cough: Spot), but they’re too pricey. You do not want a too-pricey everyday commuter, because you do not want your everyday commuter to be stolen. It needs to be cheap enough that you can use a solid combo lock and you’re good.

Made in the USA and/or Fair Labor:  (some of these are spendy)






About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & 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. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


6 Responses to “Top 10 Urban Commuter Everyday Bicycles for Work, Hot Dates, Family.”

  1. Emily says:

    Great post, but please don’t forget the HELMET. It may not be as fun to ride without your hair blowing in the wind, but it’s critical, especially among car traffic.

  2. RoRo says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed this article. I agree, the helmet is essential!!! My husband was just clipped by a hit-and-run car and if he wouldn't have been wearing his helmet he would have been a goner. Plus, we just spent less than $100 each on super cool Fixies. No real need to spend the big bucks if you can't or don't want to and still have a bike that rocks.

  3. Ernestine says:

    I have a Bobbin Birdie 3-speed cruiser and it's mint green! I ride everyday and it has served me well so far. Comes with an awesome bell and rear rack too!

  4. ttmallard says:

    My race wheels make it 1000-times safer in traffic, drivers see them and react, they let you in, even people on phones, just sayin' I have a flashy bike but the wheels are what drivers see.

  5. Everett says:

    I'm going to quibble with your lock recommendation. Unless it's a u-lock or a Kryptonite New York chain lock, it's going to get snipped and nipped. Any cable lock is susceptible to the simple mechanical advantage provided by a bolt cutter. I know keys are a pain, but the hardened steel will take a little longer to steel and make your bike that much less appealing….

  6. Ashley says:

    What's the best thing to know about buying bikes second hand?? Living in NYC but only plan to be here another 6 months, so I don't want an investment bike until I get to the Golden State (swoon!)