For a daily feel-good factor, look no further than bike commuting – it’s great for getting fit, saving money and being green, too. Your commuter bike needs a combination of key traits: efficiency and comfort for making light work of the journey, resilience for all-weather performance, and upgradeability, with components that you can easily maintain, and update to better-performing replacements when you’ve racked up the distance.
While the more tarmac-friendly of the flat-handlebarred hybrid bikes make popular commuter options thanks to their terrain versatility, luggage practicality and upright comfort, dedicated road bikes are an increasingly popular option for the work-run. Their skinny wheels, lightweight frames and a racier geometry (drop handlebars encourage a lower, more efficient position) make for speedy rides and what’s more – they can double up as your weekend club run bike, too.
Road bikes come in a range of materials, with varying advantages for commuting. Carbon fibre is the lightest, while steel is ultra-durable, but heavier too. With aluminium, many find their perfect happy medium thanks to its light weight and durability, and importantly, its cost accessibility.
There’s also a range of price tags, which correlate to the materials used and the specification of the components, and while here we’ve featured some of the more popular models at around £800 to £1,000 – which also qualify for the government’s Cycle Scheme – it’s worth a search across the 99 Bikes site for options outside of that price bracket.
The Specialized Men’s Diverge E5 Sport, £1,000, is an aluminium-framed road bike with a FACT carbon fork and a tough 12×100 thru axle, ready for year-round riding – and just as capable of tackling off-road as it is tarmac. Its mechanical disc brakes provide all-weather stopping confidence and its clearance comfortably fits up to 42mm tyres unlike road bikes built for racing – which usually max out at 28mm.
Its Shimano Sora components are reliable and, for 2018, Specialized has taken its well-received Future Shock suspension technology, serving up 20mm of travel in the head tube, and adapted it for off-road use with a stiffer spring. This makes for a smoother ride which, when twinned with endurance geometry (a bottom bracket that’s over a half-centimetre lower than the previous version, slacked-out head tube angle, short chainstays, and a short wheelbase) adds up to more comfort on your daily ride. There’s also a Women’s specific version.
If you’re looking for a commuter that can double up as your club run, sportive or race bike, Specialized also offer a beautifully-finished aluminium commuter with a FACT carbon fork (tapered, with eyelets and an easy-to-use QR skewer) for just £799. Their Allez Sport Road Bike serves up a stiff frame with a slick finish, and fast-rolling yet wide enough 25mm tyres.
As with the Diverge, components are Shimano Sora, and the wheels are robust enough to see you through the winter months. The Allez’s double chainring and 9-speed cassette provides a good ratio range, but if you want more help on the hills, consider a wider set of gears.
The Ridley X-Bow 10 Disc, £899 provides exactly this with its 22-speed Shimano 105 groupset, a popular choice for high performance on a budget. Its 105 components deliver sharp shifting and a reliability that’s all-weather capable – in fact, designed for cyclocross, this is a bike ready for whatever your commute throws at it. It’s got enough clearance for wider 32c tyres for comfort and grip, mechanical disc brakes for confidence when conditions get really rough, and it’s race-ready if you fancy trying your hand at CX.
While £1,000 and under will provide you with a fantastic commuter bike, we’ve got a range of options to suit higher budgets; delivering even better performance through higher spec groupsets, lightweight carbon frames and speedy wheels to make your commutes even more enjoyable.
With the right bike on your side, once you’re set up with the winter clothing for your daily commute – nothing will spoil your fun.