Daily commuting can be tedious if you don’t have the right mode of transport. Cycling has quickly become one of the most convenient ways to move around, especially in big cities. It's just easier. But it’s not every bike that is made for commuting. In this article, we will take a look at the best commuter bike under 500. Shopping with a number in mind can be challenging, but it’s not impossible.
Our list includes bikes that are made by different manufacturers. They will have similarities, which are usually the characteristics that bring down the price, and yet at the same time, each model is different from the next. We will take a look at what separates the bikes, and what brings the models together. Let’s dive in, shall we?
In a hurry?
If you are looking for a quick list just so that you can know what to buy in less time, we got you covered. You want to get a bike that is lightweight and easy to carry around. Folding bikes do well in this regard. You also want to look for a bike with city proof tires, something that can hold its own on flat roads and not skid across the street. That should also be determined by the roads you intend to ride on.
Also, look for a bike that has an excellent braking system and even a sound suspension system for safety and comfort, respectively. Ask about security features as well so that you can have some sense of security when you park it in the city.
Our Top pick
There are many bikes on the market that you could choose from, for your daily commute, under 500. However, they may not all be up to speed for you. The same goes for us. We have done our research and found our favourite pick to be the Schwinn Phocus 1400 and 1600 Drop Bar Road Bicycle for Men and Women, which is a durable bike made by a reputable manufacturer.
Best Commuter Bike Under 500 For Riders on The Go
OUR TOP PICK
The first thing that you see when you look at this bike is the elongated design that looks like it was built to be on the road. It seems like it is built for speed, and it is with 24 Shimano gears. It has 700x23c tires made for racing. Because you also need to stay safe even though you may have all the speed that you need, but you need to be able to stop when necessary.
The bike has powerful calliper brakes which give you the necessary stopping power. It will come in handy, mainly when you are in urban areas where there is traffic and safety has to be prioritised. Vilano is a well-known brand, and as such, it is trusted by many for its craftsmanship and design. This bike is no different. Besides speed, this is a comfortable bike.
- It is a comfortable bike
- It has 24 Shimano gears
- The tires are specially made to withstand high speeds.
- It is made of high-quality components.
- It’s a good bike for beginners, easy to ride and easy to adapt to
- The bike is great for starting, and as such, it may have a few low-quality components just right for beginners but not for advanced riders. However, you can always replace the parts that you may feel are sub-par.
- It doesn’t have disc brakes.
This bike, made by one of the most renowned bike manufacturers, comes in models for both men and women. The women’s model has a step-through design, whilst the men’s system has a step over design. That is a hybrid bike, which allows you to switch terrain with great ease. It is a versatile bike that can be used in various situations. This bike is best used on city roads.
The swept-back handlebars on this bike are easy to use and encourage good posture as you ride. It also has a 21-speed SRAM grip shifter as well as a rear derailleur. This comes in especially handy when you need to ride up more rugged roads and hilly places. The wheels and you are protected from mud and dirt by the fenders. The frame is made of aluminium which is lightweight.
- It’s a good bike for commuting
- It is affordable
- It has many speeds to choose from
- It is comfortable
- It comes in both men’s and women’s versions.
- They are not built for off-road riding.
- The handlebars are not adjustable.
One of the things that lower the price tag on a bike is the material that it is made of. Materials such as aluminium are used to drive costs down. This bike is made of aluminium which also makes it lightweight. You will not have too much trouble carrying it when you need to. The frame is also compact, which adds to the ease of movement. The frame is durable and of high quality.
The manufacturer has so much faith in the frame and fork that they have a lifetime warranty. For any added features such as racks and carriers, the bike’s frame has numerous drilled holes to attach them to. It uses a three by7 Shimano groupset to help you ride on just about any terrain, whether it is in the city or not. This bike has 700x40 tires for a cushier ride.
- It is reliable,
- It has several gears to choose from
- It is a durable bike.
- It is comfortable
- It has good suspension for a comfortable ride.
- You will need to get a professional to assemble this bike.
- Step over-design can be challenging to use for women.
This bike has an Aluminum Frame and will come with either a 14 or 16-Speed drivetrain. The fork is made of carbon fibre. Also, it has 700c Wheels for added comfort as you ride. It comes in multiple colours. It has a step-over frame that makes it the best used by male riders. Schwinn is a brand name trusted for many years when it comes to bike making.
The mechanism powering this bike gives the rider a powerful riding experience. The carbon fibre fork helps absorb shock as you ride, making the ride more comfortable than other makes. The 14 or 16 speed Shimano derailleur ensures the added power. Whilst it may not be the lightest bicycle on the market. Its other features make it an excellent bike for commuting.
- It’s a comfortable bike
- It is durable
- The handlebars are comfortable to ride even on long rides.
- The dual calliper brakes are effective.
- It is better used for city commutes and no off-road trips.
- It is not as lightweight as other options.
This is a 21-speed bicycle, making it excellent at dealing with flat surfaces such as urban roads. You will probably encounter these as you commute. Even though it’s a single-speed bike, it still does well in the speed department. Being lightweight helps with this as well. And it can easily be carried if you need to. The step over frame can tend to be uncomfortable if you are not one to lift your leg too high up to ride the bike.
Also, this is a highly customisable bike that has 40mm deep dish wheels which help make it a comfortable ride. It has a stylish design that you will probably be happy with. It has a flexible flip flop rear hub. The frame is made of high tensile steel. The bike also has front alloy dual-pivot brakes that help reduce your stopping distance. It also comes in different sizes, so choose wisely.
- It is comfortable
- When you buy it, it comes with different accessories.
- The frame is durable and can be repaired if it needs to be.
- You can customise the bike quickly.
- It comes in different sizes.
- The pedals sometimes get locked up
- The step over frame can be uncomfortable.
This bike has a classic look. This is partly due to the shape of the cycle, and also the colour of the handlebars. Just don’t be fooled by the looks to think it’s a simple bike. It has 14 speeds to choose from, thereby enhancing its performance. However, step over-design can be difficult for some to ride. Finding it under 500 can be a bit tricky, you may need to shop around extensively.
The handlebars have a drop shape, built for superb aerodynamics. They are made of alloy. Also, drop bars are made to be versatile. You will need to know what frame size works best for you so that you are comfortable as you ride. Because this bike is built for speed, it makes it a breath of fresh air to commute with.
- When you ride this bike, you sit low, giving you less wind resistance and also more speed and better aerodynamics.
- It has a vintage look
- It is great for commuting
- It has 14 speeds to choose from
- The step-over frame can be uncomfortable. You must get the frame size you are most compatible with.
- It may be hard to find a new bike for under 500
Best Commuter Bike Buying Guide
Why should I use a bicycle to commute?
As the world evolves and gets bigger, cities expand, and more people are finding themselves having to travel farther and farther to get to work, school, and go about daily life. You may think a car is the easiest solution, but it may not be possible to drive everywhere. Cycling on the other hand has a unique advantage. You may find yourself being able to reach some of the most remote places because of your cycling.
Also, cycling is more environmentally friendly. There aren’t any fuel emissions that go up into the air and the environment when you cycle. You will also not need to use any petrol/gas. That saves not only the environment but also saves your pocket.
Cycling also has a lot of health benefits that you can not compare with driving. It’s a great way to get a full-body workout whilst you are also getting to where you need to be. It is considered a low impact and as such, is favoured by many who don’t want to have too much pressure put on their bodies. Cycling has fewer occurrences of stress and strain on the rider's joints.
The other reason it has become quite the favourite is that it is easy and fun. You will be working out, but you will also be enjoying the scenery and the wind in your hair. Cycling also increases strength, stamina, and general fitness. You can choose how intense your cycling is, and this will also determine the type of bike that you get.
Cycling regularly helps improve cardiovascular health, posture, bone health, joint mobility, and it also helps to improve your mood and helps ease feelings of anxiety and depression. It also helps reduce the levels of body fat all whilst you get to where you need to be. Whilst these are the only health benefits, they are some of the most prominent.
What extra features should I look for in a commuter's bike?
Now that you’ve decided to get a commuter bike, it is essential that you also know what features to look for that will make your cycling more comfortable. Bear in mind that you will be cycling quite often and so you want to make sure that the bike is comfortable. The seat and handlebars need to encourage you to want to ride longer.
Also, check on how easy it will be to attach a carry basket on the bike. You may also want to be able to strap on a water bottle for when you get parched along the way, and as such you will need to make sure that the bike can safely accommodate your bottle. If you will be riding it into the city, then security is something you should also think of and see how well you can lock the bike in when you reach your destination.
You may also want to check on how easy or expensive it is, to replace parts on the bike if need be. Whilst you may not always think about this when you first buy a bike, it's vital for the long run. Some bikes are great until they are not. You will need to make sure that you can repair it and that the parts are available.
Whilst bikes come in different sizes. It helps to check on how well the cycle can adjust to your comfort level. That includes changing handlebars, the seat, pedals, and so forth. You want to ensure that you will be as comfortable as possible.
Types of handlebars on commuter bikes
Handlebars serve more of a purpose than just being what you hold on to when you are riding your bike. They can make or break your commute, and they play a vital role in determining how comfortable you will be on your bike.
There are different types, sizes, and shapes, and knowing the difference can make your life easier. It will also help you understand what to switch to, in case you don’t like the one that comes with your bike.
The type of handlebars that you get is influenced by a couple of factors such as what you will be using the bike for. Some are better suited for racing bikes whilst others are better suited for cruising bikes, city bikes, and so forth. The different types have their own set of advantages, disadvantages, and reasons why you should put them in your “maybe” pile.
For the most part, handlebars are judged according to a couple of features such as comfort, how versatile they are, the control they give you, and also aerodynamics. Let’s take a look at the different types of handlebars you could consider. Flat handlebars are some of the most common. They are also easy to use. If you need to attach any fixtures like lights, you won’t struggle with this set.
Flat bars are narrow, and easy to store in your garage, a closet, or even carry along with you in a car or other vehicle. The shape makes it strong with less material being used, which also translates to shaving off some weight. That will also make it easier to carry. Less material used may even drive down the cost.
Flat handlebars also have an impact on your back health. They help you distribute the load and remove pressure from your lower back. However, one of the downsides is that they aren’t the best for rugged trails. If you are one for bike tricks and free riding, you will not be able to do them with the flat handlebars. Also, it is difficult to fold into a tuck-in position and ride faster when your bike has flat handlebars.
Cruiser handlebars are what you will usually find on cruiser bikes. They encourage a more relaxed posture as you cycle. That gives them an upper hand in the comfort department. If you’re looking for handlebars to use for casual rides, these are an adequate consideration. When it comes to looks, these handlebars are probably the type of bike you’d like to take an artistic photo with.
They work well with add on features like lights, or carriers. If little red riding hood were to ride a bike, this is what she would go for. The downside, however, is that you will be resting on the seat more and so you may want to make sure that the padding on the seat is more than you would find on other bikes with different handlebars. Also, this is not the handlebar set that you want to have on a bike for riding on rugged roads.
Riser bars are another common type of handlebar that is found on bikes nowadays. Whilst they give you more control, they lack aerodynamic power. In most ways, they are similar to flat bars. They, however, rise at the clamp. The complete bar is what contributes to giving you more control. The wider the riser bars, the more comfortable you will find it to control the bike.
The shape of riser bars, also makes it more comfortable to hold on to them longer. They are also great for freeriding and trail riding because you have more of the handlebar to work with. However, riser bars have their fair share of downfalls. We’ve already mentioned the poor aerodynamics. However, they also are on the higher end, and also they are heavier to carry around.
Also, they are not a good bet for climbing or riding up mountainous paths. We have mentioned that the wide handlebars are a good thing. But they have their dark side. They are harder to store in tight spaces, and also, they may be hard to ride through tight spaces.
Butterfly handlebars are more comfortable and versatile but don’t do so well in the aerodynamics department. They are versatile because you can switch the hand positions till you find the one that you are comfortable with the most. You can use these handlebars on long rides and still be comfortable for the duration of the ride.
These handlebars also help you get better positioning for shifters than what you would have to have used other types of handlebars. The downside is that more material is used to achieve the butterfly curves, hence making it a tad heavier than different handlebars.
The other type of handlebars that you can get on bikes nowadays is aero bars. These handlebars have excellent aerodynamics, but very little control. They are mostly found on triathlon bikes. The design is such that you rest your forearms on the bars, causing you to lean in, with a forward tuck. This position decreases the air drag.
The forward tuck-in position gives you more aerodynamics. It is also a great way to rest your hands. Again, if you like to use these at certain times only, you can buy them as an accessory to attach when you need to. That means that you will need to have the technical know-how.
On the downside, these handlebars can be dangerous. You will probably find it difficult to navigate turns. One of the best ways to use these handlebars is on a stationary bike.
Bull horn handlebars, look as the name suggests, like bull horns. They are better suited for racing or moving at high speeds. They curve up, and then they curve forward. They have the benefits of flat bars, but then they take it an extra mile further, allowing you to bend forward as you cycle. They have excellent aerodynamics and great for speed.
These handlebars allow you to tuck in and ride faster easily. Also, they have an intimidating look. They have better leverage and versatility than control. These handlebars make scaling rough terrain a bit easier and more comfortable. However, if you will be doing a lot of tight turns, you may find it a bit difficult.
Now let’s take a look at drop bars. In many ways, they are similar to bullhorns. These handlebars look good and have good aerodynamics. Racers tend to prefer these. They are also favoured for their versatility but not so much for their control. However, not all drop bars are the same. The reach separates them that they have.
Drop handlebars are very versatile, and they also give you good leverage for pedalling. On the downside, drop bars don’t do well for tight turns, and again, they are not a good option for trail biking.
Commuting has many faces across the world. The way that people move from one place to the other, especially within cities, is mostly prescribed by the landscape, parking facilities, the distances, the traffic, and other factors. A lot of people have turned to cycling for different reasons including getting them to their places of work. It is a healthier, cost-effective way to get from one point to the other. It is also environmentally friendly.
Whilst there are many bikes you could consider for commuting, we still think the Schwinn Phocus 1400 and 1600 Drop Bar Road Bicycle for Men and Women, is a good buy. It has handlebars that are comfortable and easy to use, and it is also a durable bike. We hope our list of top picks help you find your best fit for the best commuter bikes under 500. Happy shopping!