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Commuter bikes are a wonderful way of both commuting and exercising and it goes without saying that architects have a certain affinity for bikes.
Not only you can easily shed those extra few pounds once you get into the habit – it’s cheap, comfortable, easy on you and the environment.
If you’ve always wanted to explore the mountain trails, there are few other efficient ways than biking where you can enjoy the scenic view at your own pace!
However, with a huge number of commuter bikes on sale, you can easily become overwhelmed on taking the call on which commuter bike to go in for.
Fortunately, we have just the solution to your quandary – we present eight of the best commuter bikes under $500 on sale today, which are all very different. Yet, they’re all reliable and dependable for years to come.
Without waiting further, let’s dig right into the reviews of possibly the best commuter bikes for architects everywhere!
Best Commuter Bikes Under $500
- Best Commuter Bikes Under $500
- Tommaso Siena – Shimano
- Schwinn Phocus 1600 Men’s Road Bike
- Retrospec Bicycles Kinney 14-Speed Vintage Hybrid Diamond Drop-Bar Frame Bicycle
- Vilano FORZA 3.0 Aluminum Carbon Shimano Sora Road Bike
- Pure Fix Original Fixed Gear Single Speed Fixie Bike
- XDS Men/Women’s 200 Cross Hybrid Bike
- Schwinn Discover Men/Women Hybrid Bike Review
- Schwinn Siro Men/Women Hybrid Bike Review
The first bike which makes it to the top eight is a wonderful mix of hard terrain biking as well as regular commuter biking capabilities, coming with a 3×7 Shimano Tourney groupset of gears and Avid disc brakes for the ultimate stopping power. The durable and reliable high quality aluminum construction makes it one of the best all round bikes on the list.
- DURABLE & RELIABLE: Aluminum Compact Frame...
- POWERFUL PEFORMANCE & SPEED: 3x7 Shimano Tourney...
This bike promises to be a lot of things, and delivers on a number of fronts. Coming to the gears, the Shimano 3×7 groupset can handle nearly any terrain you may throw at it. The frame and fork of the bike come with a lifetime warranty – you can appreciate the quality of components they use. It also ships with 700x40c tires which are much fatter than 2018 models.
Each and every component on the bike focusses on just one thing: rider comfort. From the super comfortable seat to the handles which are sized just right – whether it’s on the road to the office, or out on mountain trails. Shimano gearing and an uber comfortable seat, with adjustable suspension – this bike shows a lot of promise for years of trouble-free use.
For those seeking an incredibly lightweight and effective biking experience, you should definitely consider the Schwinn Phocus 1600. There is a Women’s variant with slight changes reviewed a bit later as well. High profile alloy wheels, dual pivot caliper road boakes and an alloy crank for the widest gear range are highlights – however, the carbon fibre frame steals the show.
- Schwinn aluminum road frame with Carbon fiber road...
- Shimano Claris 16 speed derailleur with Micro...
A carbon fibre road fork, with a 16 speed derailleur by none other than the veritable Shimano, and an integrated shift/brake lever combo – what else could one need? This bike is meant for those looking at hours of trouble-free commuting, hence it skips the disc brakes and instead gives you a more accessible bike on the whole.
Schwinn has been on the market for well over a hundred years now – their products have managed to stand the test of time. High quality components, with a prime focus on rider commute comfort and a reasonable price for the bike all complete a fairly value-for-money package. The bike weighs 31 pounds – not the lightest, but certainly lighter than competitors.
Though it’s a bit on the higher end, nudging a bit more than $500, this bike comes with a number of features which make it surprisingly good value for money. The tires are unique and designed to repel any water that falls on it – a very useful feature for off-road trips and the rains. The unique “Celeste” color scheme for the handlebars gives it a vintage look and feel.
- Classic diamond style frame hand made from...
- Alloy drop bars Plus Shimano Altus 14 speed...
While the first impression might suggest an antique bike, the Retrospec Kinney is a wonderful, contemporary bike built for off-road chronicles and daily commutes alike. The crankset is forged out of high quality aluminum and the double wall alloy rims with a sealed mechanism take care of daily commute duties brilliantly. The frame is built from high-tensile strength steel.
You sit a bit low on this bike, drastically improving your aerodynamic drag and reducing your wind resistance. The sealed aluminum pedals and cartridge bracket at the bottom ensure dirt doesn’t enter the nooks and corners of the bike – very few bikes ensure their own cleanliness. It’s available in four different frame sizes, and three different handlebar types.
This bike is built only with the basic idea of going as fast as possible. A carbon fiber racing fork, 24 Shimano gears, 700x23c racing tires, high quality caliper brakes and integrated brake lever shifters, you can easily hit high speeds with the Vilano Forza! The drop bar might be new to some bikers, but this bike does a great job of being comfortable at high speeds too.
- A Strong Lightweight 6061 Aluminum Frame w/ 12k...
- Shimano STI Shifters
Vilano is not the most well-known name out there, but this product ought to put them on the map. With a number of higher-end features in tow (besides the lack of a disc brake), it makes for a nice value proposition. For those looking for a first commuter bike with a good mix of high end features, this is our pick. Comfortable and quick, it’s the perfect entry level commuter bike.
However, do be wary that there have been costs cut in some departments, such as the plastic pedals. Swapping them out for a nicer set, along with some upgrades to the saddle can absolutely transform the character of this bike to that akin to a professional road bike. It comes disassembled, but a number of videos online explain the assembly process very well.
If the idea of swapping through gear cogs and adjustable suspension does not interest you, we suggest you have a look at the Pure Fix Original. It’s a fixie bike with a flip-flop rear hub, implying you can either ride with a fixed 15T gear or a single 16T gear – you can perfect your pedalling or cruise around the boulevard. A cornucopia of options make it an attractive choice.
- Stylish, lightweight and fast single-speed road...
- Flexible flip-flop rear hub lets you quickly...
The bike is basically a blank canvas the way it ships. You can easily customise it to suit any kind of modification in mind, including lights, air pumps, horns, and changing the reflectors. As far as the riding experience goes, the combination of high quality tires and an aerodynamic shape is hard to beat. The saddle, pedals and suspension are all fairly comfortable.
The best part about this bike is that it follows a very simple recipe. A single gear (or fixed gear), very light weight due to high quality components, and deep dish wheels give it both comfort during the commute and ability to go off road regularly. Pure Cycles offers a number of saddles, handlebars, foot straps and other accessories to truly make your bike your own.
For those looking for a combination of a cruiser bike, a road commuter and some off road capability, the XDS 200 Cross comes in as a perfect mixture of all of the above. Linear pull brakes with a premium feel, Shimano branded crank, and an HL suspension fork with ability to handle any undulations that the road or the country may throw – this bike has it all.
- 52 cm lightweight alloy hybrid bike frame
- Shock absorbent hl suspension fork
The bike is unisex, but has been popular among women for its unique and somewhat feminine styling. It also comes in 17 or 19 inch frames, hence people over 6’4” may have difficulty using the bike. It comes chock full of features such as a 3×7 Shimano crankset and derailleur arrangement, a lightweight alloy frame and rust resistant alloy components.
The brakes are forged from alloys, and the tires the bike uses are high quality Kenda 700x35C tires which are equally competent at handling the daily commute and a few weeks in the countryside as well. The suspension handles undulations and imperfections easily, while the saddle is comfortable enough for long, multiple-hour rides for men and women alike.
The Schwinn Discover Men and Women Hybrid Bikes are a wonderful bike to have for all seasons and all purposes. They’re not purposefully built for, say off roading or commuting, but they are built well enough to handle all of those tasks (moderately) with ease. The sleek fenders up front and custom suspension fork give it a versatility you don’t come across every day.
- Comfort/hybrid bike with aluminum frame. Cushy...
- Schwinn suspension fork. Schwinn alloy crank. City...
This one is more popular among men, mostly due to its sharp styling and a very straight-set upright riding position. The cushioning on the saddle can give you the illusion of riding on roads even in the country on biking trails. The fenders are not simply cosmetic – they’re useful while riding the bike, too. It also comes with a very useful luggage carrier on the rear.
The handlebars are adjustable by the rider according to height. The bike has a standard 18 inch frame, useful for most people. The Promax aluminum brakes get you back to zero speed quicker than most disc brakes, even – Promax brakes are that good. You can easily touch speeds upwards of 15 MPH without much effort in this bike.
Schwinn brings another model to the table, and design-wise, this one bents towards the urban rider – with a padded saddle seat, a maximum safe speed of around 15 MPH, a 700c tire which is easily replaceable yet effective at higher speeds and through rough terrain alike. You can expect 300-400 miles of easy going riding just after assembly – such is Schwinn’s quality.
- Schwinn aluminum Hybrid frame with Schwinn...
- Shimano 21 speed rear derailleur with Shimano EZ...
Though general purpose is a vague term, this bike does it justice. The quintessential urban commuter bike has a few defining characteristics, and this bike manages to tick all the boxes on that front. The bike comes with a number of high quality components, a very comfortable saddle seat, linear pulling brakes which ensure powerful stopping – a wonderful package!
This bike has a very elegant design to boot. The handlebars are designed to be very ergonomic, and the wider tires ensure you can maintain speed well and handle tough corners with relative ease. The fork design helps you get to around 15 MPH – and the Shimano 3×7 gears and derailleur arrangement makes riding at your particular comfort level much easier.
Now that we’re done with the product reviews, we move on to a very important part of today’s coverage of the best commuter bikes – how do you decide which one to buy? Below, we outline the most important factors you should keep in mind before going in for a particular commuter bike. Make sure you go through them carefully – this is a long term purchase, after all.
Intended usage of the bike
If you’re going to use the bike exclusively for the urban commute, you should probably go in for bikes which don’t have too many suspension bits. Instead, look for light frames, light allows and ability to accessorize the bike well. Further, you can go in for larger sizes of tires which are thinner, since lack of grip is unlikely to be an issue.
However, if you intend to offroad, make sure your brakes are high quality, the handlebars are ergonomic, and the bike can handle rough terrain – particularly via specific suspension components and multiple gears. If you’re unsure about gears but want to offroad, bikes such as the Pure Cycles suggested above are a safe bet.
Even under $500, there are many sub categories. There are pure commuters, there are semi-offroaders, and there are cruiser bikes for those who just want to relax while they bike. Hence, make sure you decide a budget beforehand, and get as many high quality components with the stock bike as you can – accessories can run your budget alarmingly high.
The design is a very subjective and personal choice, but there are a number of standard styles. For instance, you can go in for alloys or steel spoke wheels. You can also decide to go in for a straight or a slightly angular frame for sharper styling. Further, styling differs between cycles intended for men and women, in order to accomodate for body shape differences.
Many bikes above come with a number of customization options – so make sure you get the specification which suits your personal aesthetic tastes in the best manner.
You might have noticed that in our reviews, the bikes either have Shimano gearing or no gearing at all. It’s because they’ve been around long enough to practically invent the market for bikes with gears. Other brands do exist, and some are equally good – but getting spares for Shimano parts is exponentially easier than for other brands.
Be careful about the presence of gears, however – sometimes, in the process of switching gears, you might lose focus on the road. Hence, if you’re completely new to bikes with gears, we advise you to take a few lessons or ask for tips from bikers you know before buying a bike with gears.
Above all, however, make sure the bike you get is comfortable over your intended distance of commute every day. An uncomfortable bike or riding posture can wreak havoc on your vertebrae and the neck.
Bringing it all together
This wraps up our review of the eight best commuter bikes for sale under $500 today. These bikes all have their own virtues and concerns, but all of them are guaranteed to deliver years of trouble-free riding. Some come from well known brands like Schwinn, others from new players like Pure Cycles who take a minimalist approach to the trusty bike.
The key takeaway should be to go for something which goes well with you expectations and tastes. If you want to customize it well – you should check whether the bike is customizable or not. If not, make sure it comes with high quality and reliable components out of the showroom.
If you follow the guidelines we’ve described above on the factors you need to consider while buying a commuter bike, you’re very likely to end up with a trouble free, stylish and comfortable bike. Ride safe, and happy shopping!