City and Urban Bikes - What is the best bike to travel within urban areas?
Hybrid, electric, road or mountain bike - let us present you all the possibilities (with a couple of assists :-))
The key to choosing the right bike for city / urban riding is to ensure that it is comfortable and practical for the type of ride you prefer and that modern cities can / want to provide.
It is unlikely that you will ride a bike to work every day unless it is your only mode of transport and travel, so with that in mind, we have compiled a review of bikes that could meet most needs regardless of the reason or motivation for a particular type of bike You use to go to work or do the work itself.
What is the best type of bike for a trip/ride to work?
Which type of bike you choose to go to work will depend on a number of factors, such as the distance you have to cover, the terrain you have to use or want to use on the way to work, the place where you live and your personal taste. Understandably, most of us want to look good ..... :-)
To make it easier for you to make a purchase decision and everything your choice entails, we will describe and explain 8 typical types of bikes (and consequent riding modes) that can serve you when you decide to go riding to work.
Also, it is important to note that, with a few modifications, most bikes can be turned / converted into great companions - by adding various types of fenders for riding in bad weather, various carriers and baskets for transporting cargo and other supplies and lights for effective visibility throughout year and in all weather conditions.
However, maybe your old "grandpa bike" can, with some meaningful "upgrades", become the ultimate city bike.
1. Mountain bikes: The most sought after model, but by no means the best.
Advantages: Upright riding position, durability of the material
Disadvantages: Weight of the bike, slower and less safe on the asphalt, non-versatility, maintenance costs
The upright riding position and robust appearance have long made mountain bikes a desirable choice for city routes. While mountain bike tires are ideal for routes that include heavier and more loose unpaved terrain, they create problems in city commuting. The relatively poor grip on asphalt surfaces and the huge rolling resistance are increasingly leading people to choose other categories of bicycles for city trips and commuting.
If you already own a mountain bike that you use mostly for city riding, our advice is to be sure to equip it with slick tires and with slightly less volume (thinner tires).
Thus, with relatively easy adaptation, you will greatly improve the riding characteristics of your bike and contribute to an easier and safer ride through the city, without losing the opportunity for a possible short trip to the loose terrain and singletracks.
Also, very importantly, if you use a bike mostly or just for city riding, be sure to consider choosing a mountain bike with a solid fork (no suspension) for at least two reasons: 1. You pay for technology that you absolutely don’t need considering the type of ride you do, 2. Suspension usually requires relatively frequent services that only increase the cost of owning a mountain bike for this purpose and 3. Cheaper versions of mountain bikes come with suspensions of lower quality and very questionable properties which does not meet the requirements of simplicity, comfort and durability of bicycles for urban rides .
So, if you really want a mountain bike for this purpose, choose between models with solid forks and with accessories or options that will further adapt it to what you need.
2. Folding bikes: the best choice if your route includes public transport
Advantages: Easy storage, multimodality
Disadvantages: Slow, uncomfortable and require some getting used to
They are most commonly designed around 16- and 20-inch wheels, and folding bikes, as the name suggests, fold into often impressively small packages that can be stored anywhere and on any part of your route.
Folding bikes are also ideal for those who do not intend to ride all the way to work and plan to complete part of their journey by public transport - or, if you want to sound modern, go multimodal.
Folding bike will not behave like a regular bike due to the small wheels and the inevitable compromise with the frame geometry that also requires the ability to fold. They also tend to react rather slowly and sloppy on the road (and are slow due to the size of the wheels and the length of the pedal lever), but how likely are you to buy that bike for a one-hour chase through city streets in the midst of the biggest crowds?
Although some models of folding bikes are built around larger wheels, they are not easily "stored" as compactly as their "relatives" with smaller wheels, so some trains and buses will not accept them nor will they prove to be efficient folding bikes. making these bikes really useful only when the manipulative space at home, on the road or at work is in line with the requirements of these bikes.
So if flexibility, easy storage and the ability to travel by public city transport are essential options, these bikes are the right choice for you.
3. Singlespeed or Fixie: best if you hate maintenance and some more ....
Advantages: Incredibly simple, minimal maintenance, often very good value for money, "pimping" capabilities, extremely agile and fast
Disadvantages: Not ideal for mountain routes, impossibility of additional gearing options
Ugh ....... We're at home here. Adored in all parts of the world for its ultimate practicality, upgradeability, exceptional simplicity and responsiveness. Of course, the possibilities of "pimping" are unlimited, and to be honest, what you look like is important! The most obvious advantage is certainly the simplicity or even complete absence of the need for maintenance.
Another advantage (at least for us Fixie "purists") is the maximum connection of the rider with the bike and a direct connection between you and your drivetrain. Namely, while driving a Fixie, you have to constantly pedal what makes it the most enjoyable riding on the world. Certainly, if you are not a keen Fixie rider and have no experience, we recommend exercising before embarking on exploring this world of urban cycling.
Fortunately, all our models are also equipped with the Singlespeed option, which allows "freewheeling" or "coasting". So if you really want to enjoy this simplicity, you can do so without having to go right away with the Fixie side.
Of course, keep in mind that Fixie riders usually remove the brakes because they brake with the rear wheel or as they would say - "skidding". But since the laws in the EU are very clear, our recommendation is not to do that. Thus, the laws stipulate that each bicycle must have two braking systems. With Fixie bikes, the rear wheel (in case of "skidding") is one system while the other would be the front brake. So we recommend that you try to stick to the law .....
What makes Singlespeed / Fixie a little less attractive is their relative limitation when driving on hilly terrain. So, if you have bigger and steeper hills on your regular route and don’t like pushing a bike, these bikes are probably not an ideal option for you.
If you like a carefree ride with very little maintenance and countless "pimping" options, Singlespeed / Fixie bikes are the ideal choice for you.
4. City bikes: best for everyday hassle-free riding
Advantages: Relaxed riding position, extremely practical, perfect for those who pay less attention to bicycle maintenance
Disadvantages: Weight (with cheaper models), not exactly for hills, better models are usually expensive, need maintenance assistance
City bikes, often referred to as “Dutch” or “sit-up-and-beg” bikes, come in all shapes and sizes, but are usually characterized by a more upright riding position and a mountain of practical accessories and equipment.
City bikes are generally more robust and heavier in construction. Anyway, here the focus is on practicality, strength, durability and components resistant to various types of use and "abuse" that are designed to last almost indefinitely.
A more relaxed and upright position, admittedly, contributes to a certain relaxation and less agility of the city bike, but that certainly does not change their basic function. Some of the city bikes also have a limited number of gear options, so be sure to be careful when buying them. By no means, don't confuse this with a mere number of gears but consider effectively different gears without overlapping the same gear options. To make th right decision, if you have mountain "obstacles" on the route, consult the store staff.
What definitely sets them apart is their ultimate practicality (although, at present, each bike can be further adjusted to the desired practicality) which in some cases really nominates this type of bike for an ingenious choice if you want to replace your car with a healthier option.
If you live in urban areas and appreciate exceptional convenience, and you don’t have to rush to work, this is the right choice for you.
5. Gravel / adventure bikes: the most versatile .......
Advantages: Incredibly adaptable for fast and comfortable riding, versatile, aesthetically appealing, innovative
Disadvantages: Not as fast on asphalt as a road bike or Singlespeed / Fixie, but more suitable for riding on the whole set of opportunities and conditions you can find on the usual routes to work (with some side-trips to the woods :-))
The Gravel, adventure, cyclocross, #groad or “whatever you want to call it” bike is best described as a road bike with modifications that have turned it into a kind of two-wheeled Frankenstein. Nice Frankenstein.
The most important feature is more space for larger and more voluminous tires, which directly improves the riding characteristics on more damaged and scattered terrain without losing riding ability on asphalt.
The wheelbase is also longer (better stability), with the steering wheel angle slightly smaller to make your steering on poorer terrain more reliable and stable.
Most of these bikes are equipped with disc brakes although there are still options on the market with standard V-brake braking systems. It is very important to note that most of these bikes are designed with the desire to be as versatile and comfortable as possible on different terrains, so they include (in most cases) many innovations and additional options for installing or assembling accessories, parts and other tools with with the goal of giving you a certain personalization to turn that bike into exactly what you need. So, installing various fenders, carriers, baskets, bags or technical equipment will never be a problem and in most cases will further enrich your bike.
Therefore, when you drive it according to your wishes, nothing will be an obstacle to this bike.
Although there are "more aggressive" versions of gravel / cyclocross bikes on the market, this does not mean that you cannot personalize them to some extent in accordance with the intended purpose and your own wishes.
6. Hybrid (city) bikes - riser, but also drop bar (lately) steering: the most versatile? Depends, maybe......
Advantages: Pretty fast, very versatile, allows for a more upright position, upgradeable
Disadvantages: Not the easiest or most comfortable bike for longer distances
The hybrid is - the prevailing opinion - a durable road bike that has something "borrowed" from mountain bikes such as riser bar, sometimes suspension, comfort, frame geometry and, essentially for city driving, a more upright position when riding.
Like a road bike, most modern hybrids are usually made around 700c wheels. Variants with 27.5 or 29 inch wheels are a rarity. But what makes them significantly different from road bikes are the tires. They are often (although the boundary is somewhat blurred today) wider than road bikes - but certainly not as wide as those on mountain bikes - it is this feature that gives them more significant advantages over what most people consider the most versatile bikes - mountain bikes. Thinner (not thin) tires provide the most important driving characteristics in urban traffic: comfort, acceleration time (reactivity) and safety (anti-slip - both rain and loose terrain).
Most hybrids are assembled with a solid fork, but some are also sold with cheaper versions of forks with suspensions (suspensions are becoming rarer and are slowly becoming a thing of the past). Although the idea of suspension fork may seem tempting (first of all - if you ask us, don't buy without talking to an expert), be careful because most models of suspension forks contribute little or nothing to safety, comfort, or your pocket.
In the last couple of years, the essential difference in this category is in the type of brakes used. There are two categories: classic brakes and disc braking systems. It is impossible to choose the better one because each of these two braking systems has its advantages and disadvantages. When choosing between these two systems, think carefully about the following terms: faster braking, braking modularity, price difference, service period, maintenance cost. Be sure to consult an expert about your final selection.
What makes hybrid bikes a good choice is their unsurpassed versatility and virtually limitless ability to upgrade various equipment (although, most of them already include this in advance, but why not have the option for more and better) and accessories. Such features make them perfect candidates for various conversions if you want to expand your cycling adventures.
In conclusion, if you are a beginner looking for a bike for general use or you are an experienced traveler who favors a more upright riding position with lots of upgrade options, hybrid bikes are probably the perfect choice for you.
7. Road bikes: best if you ride longer routes and want to be very fast
Advantages: Fast, efficient, great fun
Disadvantages: Not the most durable option, relatively expensive and in need for frequent maintenance, little equipment for additional functionality
For those who want to cover longer distances quickly (and can physically do so), a road bike is an ideal choice. Understandably, your route in this case should consist mostly of asphalt. Maybe some finer gravel and well-trodden earth.
Of course, keep in mind that road bikes are still a bit more sensitive than heavier and more robust city bikes and, therefore, more susceptible to breakdowns that are a direct result of the surface you ride on. Of course, don’t panic if it’s your choice. However, they will last for years if you service and clean them regularly. While a road bike is an engineering marvel that sometimes costs a real small fortune, don’t despair. There is a large selection of road models on the market that represent excellent value for money. Whatever you choose for your city driving, make sure of the following: 1. That the selected model has all the slots for mounting the fenders and brackets, 2. That it has a reliable drivetrain and brakes, and 3. That it has as many spokes on the rim as possible. All of this is essential for the multifunctionality and durability you will surely need within your city rush.
Although the carbon bike is the lightest and most responsive thing you will find on the market, for this purpose you should still focus on more durable and robust materials such as steel.
Since road bikes are very often a desirable target for city thieves, be sure to keep in mind and invest a slightly larger amount in a padlock, chain or U-lock to adequately protect against theft.
And, make sure you always tie the bike in a frequent place and to a solid object. Also, very importantly, be careful what kind of tires come with the selected road bike model. Namely, these models are often supplied with slick racing tires with very little puncture protection. Be aware that it would be a good idea to replace them immediately with a more suitable model for city ''obstacles'' that are an integral part of such a way of riding.
8. Electric bicycles: best when you need extra help
Advantages: It is possible to cover longer distances, a very effective alternative to the car, allows the expansion of the market to customers who would not otherwise consider this type of urban movement
Disadvantages: Weight, must be recharged, financially demanding (for now), a matter of adequate service
As technology matures, the adoption of electric bicycles is becoming more widespread. Currently, in Europe, electric bicycles are a new category that definitely cannot be denied a significant market share and increased demand. In the years to come, that category will definitely continue its expansion. After all, this is a prerequisite for making electric bicycles more affordable to a wider circle of potential customers.
Although the FOR and AGAINST debate is an eternal topic of debate within the cycling community, we at Bonk are big proponents of electric bikes (although we don’t sell them). For a couple of very important reasons: 1. They open up a part of the market that hasn’t otherwise thought of the bike as a mode of transportation, 2. They allow all their users to cover much greater distances than they would with standard bikes.
This ability to travel longer distances is most pronounced when you go to work by bike, because the ''HELP'' you get with an electric bike is crucial when deciding to switch to this type of urban movement. We intentionally singled out the word HELP. Namely, there is one big misconception that electric bikes do the "job" for you. This is simply not true because an electric bike does NOT HELP if the rider does not pedal. So you still have to pedal diligently in order to move along but, with one small undeniable fact - you will cover a greater distance than you would have done if you had pedaled equally diligently on a standard bicycle.
An aggravating circumstance in this choice is the weight of the bike and the relative financial "penalty" of the technology used by such bikes. Of course, as time goes on and as more manufacturers get involved in this part of the market, the technology will become more affordable. We cannot, understandably, predict exactly, but our opinion is that bicycles like this will very quickly become a very good alternative to standard city movements. In fact, in a couple of years ......
With all this in mind, anyone who currently lives a little further away from where they work can already compare this mode of riding with classic modes of transport and make decisions based on financial and time cost-effectiveness. The health component has never been in question anyway ... :-)