Continually growing in popularity; cycling has returned as a preferred mode of transport, particularly in cities with fabulous cycling infrastructure like Adelaide. For those new to bicycle commuting, the dilemma is often what bike to get that will suit their needs, not fall apart after a couple of weeks, not get stolen & not break the bank account.
These are the options:
Fixies (or single speed bikes) have long been popular with the cool kids and hipsters and in recent years have been as much a fashion statement as a mode of transport. If you’re a hipster this is an obvious choice but if you’re not why choose a single speed? This is the simplest bike there is, no gears mean less maintenance and less to go wrong but also limit you to riding on the flat. Live in the city, no hills then this is definitely a good option for you. No gears also mean that single speeds are generally a cheaper option so if your budget is particularly tight then this is going to be another selling point.
Flat bar road bikes (often mistakenly referred to as hybrids) combine road bike geometry with a flat handlebar giving a more upright riding position than a drop bar road bike (racing bike). The flat handlebar also means most flat bar roadies use a mountain bike (MTB) gearing system which often makes them a cheaper option than a racing road bike. Flat bar roadies can give you any number of gears from 3 to 30, many provide disc brakes and frames come in steel, aluminium and carbon. A flat bar roadie is probably the most popular commuter bike around because they’re so versatile. This is the bike for you if your commute is 10km or more, involves undulating terrain and if you need the flexibility of multiple gears (see, that’s why they’re popular).
Hybrids were created to combine the features of MTB and road bikes so you get the road bike wheel size and geometry with MTB gears and suspension. Why use this to commute? A decent hybrid will give you a lock out on the suspension so when you’re riding on smooth tarmac you can turn the suspension off and all your energy is devoted to straight line speed. The reverse is also true, if you’re riding off-road, on a bumpy road, up and down gutters or on rough paths the suspension can be turned on so that you can cut through the mess and ride comfortably and with less muscle fatigue. Hybrids also come to the fore if you want to use one bike for multiple purposes.
Finally we move on to E-bikes which are the most recent addition to the commuter options. E-bikes come in all types – flat bar roadies, MTB, even folding options are becoming available. In Australia the laws that govern e-bikes require that they be pedal assist rather than purely engine driven which means that they require some input from the rider. A good quality e-bike will give you multiple speed/gearing options which gives you the flexibility to pedal a little or a lot. With speeds of up to 30km/h this is the option for people who have a long commute, aren’t very fit, use a bike as their only form of transport, are a bit older or have injury issues. They’re also the most expensive option on the commuter scale so not an option for everyone.
There’s a commuter option to suit pretty much everyone so isn’t it time to get on your bike?