The competition for the best commuter bike under $500 has never been hotter. The best commuter bikes are reliable, easy to maintain, and comfortable. And you have the choice of several different styles.
If you are looking for an affordable commuter bike that will get you to work and back in one piece, you have come to the right place.
But the first decision you should make is whether you want a single speed or geared commuter bike.
This list of the top 10 best commuter bikes under $500 is split into two categories.
No. 1 – 6 – Single Speeds/Fixies
Single-speed bicycles are the perfect low maintenance solution for getting around town. With no complicated groupset or gearing system, you have fewer parts to worry about and maintain.
Most single speed bikes have a flip flop rear wheel so that you can choose between hair raising fixed gear riding or the more popular single speed freewheel. When opting for the freewheel, you do not have to be pedaling all the time, but you still benefit from the simplicity (and increased effort) of only having one gear.
No. 7 – 10 – Geared bikes
If you have a hilly commute or just want to make your commute easier, fear not. You can still get a good quality commuter bike for under $500, which also comes with gears.
Gears can help you accelerate quickly after stopping for red lights or make any slight inclines a lot easier to conquer. With gears, you will need to maintain them properly and ensure that your bike is maintained to survive the all-year commuting. However, most bikes on this definitive list have rear hub gearing (the mechanism is all within the rear wheel). Resulting in a sleeker look and easier maintenance as the mechanism is not exposed to the elements.
Best Single Speeds/Fixed gear Commuter Bikes under $500
1. State Core Line (available in 5 variations)
To kick off the list, we have a high-quality single speed steel framed bike from State. These single speed bikes are built for the city commuter, looking for an economical introduction to cycling. This bike is straightforward and stylish. You can choose from some beautiful colors. Whether you go for the cream deep rims of the Rigby or the contrasting white frame and black rims of the Ghoul, you are sure to turn heads with this stylish urban single speed.
With the State Core Line, you have a choice of bars to deck out the perfect single speed ride for you. You have the option of Bullhorn, Riser, or Drop bars.
The only drawback at this price is the quality of the components. With regular use, expect to have to replace the chainring within the year. As it gets corroded, you risk the chain slipping, which is not a pleasant feeling, especially on a busy road.
- Customize the style to suit you. Not only the paint job but also the handlebars.
- Sturdy steel frame
- Perfect gearing for city commuting (44 x 16t).
- Basic components that wear quicker than more expensive fixies on this list.
Verdict: An excellent starter bike for commuting. However, it is heavier and less durable than the other bikes on the list for only a few $s more.
2. Golden Cycles Fixies (available in many variations)
Golden Cycles have created a collection that combines speed, style, and affordability. With a similar steel frame design to the state core line, golden cycles rely on their color schemes to set them apart from the competition. Golden Cycles OIL SLICK is a truly unique and beautifully simple color scheme for a commuting bicycle.
If you go for this bike, you should upgrade the tires as soon as possible. They are not high quality, and while they give you a good grip, they puncture too quickly when faced with the regular road debris you will come across on your commute.
- Beautiful paint jobs
- Wide range of frame sizes so that you can get the perfect fit for you
- Poor quality tires
- Very firm seat
- The wheels might look pretty, but with constant use and regular potholes, you will regularly need to ensure the wheels are true
Verdict: A basic steel fixie that will get you from a to b. To make the most of this ride, you should upgrade the wheels, tires, and seat, which may cost you more than just buying a more well-rounded commuting bike.
3. Detroit Bikes Sparrow (available in 2 colors)
Detroit makes some high-quality commuting bikes. Their entry-level single speed is aptly named sparrow, as it is light and agile. The Aluminum frame makes this one of the most lightweight single speed bikes on the list. Whether you choose White or Black, this single-speed will get you to and from work quicker than the cheaper steel frame single speeds above.
As part of the package, you also get a floor pump to help keep you on the road, a lovely touch for a commuting bike. Even if you do not get a puncture, keeping your tires inflated will make your commute so much easier.
A surprisingly high-quality bike at this price, it is well finished, and you will not need to replace any parts soon after purchasing it.
- Made in the USA
- High-quality finish
- Super lightweight for a single speed at this price
- The pedals feel a bit cheap.
Verdict: You may not have the same funky color options as cheaper fixies on the list, but this is a light and nimble single speed, with quality finishing touches. This bike makes you feel like you can rely on it to get you to work on time, every time!
4. Throne Phantom (available in 5 colors)
The bikes in the Throne Phantom Fixie range are stiff, robust and well-constructed. With a 6061 Aluminium frame and carbon-alloy forks, this is the lightest fixie on the list. You have the choice of 5 colors, including Black, White, Raw Silver, Gold and Red. This is the only single speed bike on the list not to have a flip flop rear hub, so you have to ride fixed gear!
Arguably one of the most complete commuting bikes on this list (if you do not mind pedaling throughout your commute). The Phantom comes with high quality finishing touches, such as the seat-post, saddle and handlebars. The high-quality build, along with the minimalist look of this bike, makes it an excellent choice for anyone not wanting to worry about upgrading or replacing parts after just a few rides.
- Clean look
- Good value for money considering the quality of the frame, forks and parts
- Expensive for a single-speed bike
- Poorly designed grips. In wet weather, you will need to ride with gloves on to ensure that you can keep hold of the bars
Verdict: A fixie with a clean look and built for speed (it could hold its own on a track – if you remove the brakes). Riding fixed gear is incredibly fun but also challenging. If you are up to the challenge, this is an excellent fixed gear bike to spice up your commute. However, at this price point, you could get a decent quality geared bike.
5. Fyxation Pixel Single Speed (available in 7 colors)
Another high-quality steel framed single speed, the Fyxation Pixel sets itself apart by the stunning paint jobs and coordinated grips, saddle, and wheels.
This bike is fun, affordable and looks great. You have 7 color options: Olive green, Black and Tan, Sandstone, Emerald Green, Blaze Orange, Glacier Blue, Matte Black. The more upright geometry of the frame is perfect for city commuting when you have to stop and start frequently.
- Responsive handling
- Durable frame and components
- Looks very stylish with the choice of tan grips and saddle
- The upright riding position will not suit all riders
Verdict: A well throughout and durable single speed for city commuting. The range of color schemes makes it look stylish. With reliable componentry, this bike is excellent value for money (if you do not mind the heavier frame).
6. State 4130 Core Line (available in 5 variations)
If you want a more subtle and stylish single speed, then State has got you covered. States 4130 Core line has been redesigned with internal cabling, seat stay rack mounts and subtle branding. Making this a beautiful single speed bike. State has gotten creative with the colors in this range. You have 5 color options: Matte Black, Army Green, Perplexing Purple, Van Damme, Sokol. Ok, so the last 2 may not be colors, but Jean-Claude Van Damme they look good!
The State 4130 core line gets its name from the 4130-grade double-butted 4130-grade Chromoly steel used for the frame and forks. Making it a lot lighter and more nimble than States standard core line. As with the standard State core line, you get to choose your handlebar design upon ordering, so you can complement the beautiful paint job with the bars you prefer.
- Lighter than the standard State core line
- Beautifully simple and with such a wide range of color combinations, sure to be a head turner on the roads
- High-quality components and parts. Including the seat and wheels
- Relatively expensive for a steel-framed single speed
Verdict: Top of the range single speed bike. Beautiful to look at, comfortable to ride and reliable – everything you want from a single speed/fixie. This commuter bike is worth every penny!
Best Geared Commuter Bikes under $500
Time to break away from single speed and fixies. They are only one option when looking for the best commuter bike under $500. You can get a good quality geared bike within your budget. Geared bicycles are a lot more accommodating, as you can lower the gear when you come up to an incline or increase the gear when you need to build up some speed.
7. Lochside 5 Speed (available in 3 colors)
Canada’s take on the classic Dutch-style city bike. The Lochside 5 speed feels light and reliable, with an incredibly comfortable upright riding position. The frame is a step-through design, making it very easy to get on and off without having to cock your leg up and over a top bar.
The 5-speed internally geared hub allows for smooth gear changes and adds to the ride’s overall comfort. It comes with a wide seat with added springs to help dampen the bumps in the road. Along with the built-in mudguards and rear pannier rack, the lochside 5 speed has everything you need to get you to work and back in comfort.
You have the choice of 3 simple colors: White, Seafoam and Black
- Built for comfort
- Reliable internally geared rear hub = low maintenance
- Built-in mudguards and pannier rack make it perfect for riding to the shops or to work, whatever the weather
- The upright riding position and heavy steel frame means that this bike is not built for speed
- The step-through frame is functional, but there is no denying it does not look as cool as the classic triangle frame on most bikes
Verdict: The Lochside 5 speed is an excellent city commuter if you are more concerned about comfort over speed. The upright riding position and step through frame are not for everyone, but if you are looking for an affordable utility bike that you can add a basket to, this is a lovely little bike.
8. Fyxation Pixel 3 – 3 Speed Bike(available in 3 colors)
At a glance, you would be forgiven if you are getting a sense of Deja Vous. Fyxations Pixel 3, is the same as the single-speed pixel above, with the addition of a Shimano Nexus 3 speed internal hub which adds hassle-free shifting and simple gear options.
You may “only” have 3 color options. Emerald Green, Glacier Blue, Matter Black. But, the seamless twist shift gears adds a new dimension to this popular commuter bike.
This bike is fun, affordable and looks great.
- Responsive handling
- Durable frame and components
- Reliable Shimano Nexus 3 speed internal hub
- The upright riding position will not suit all riders
Verdict: The Pixel 3 is a well thought out and durable 3-speed bike for commuting. With reliable componentry, this bike is excellent value for money (if you do not mind the heavier frame). The addition of the internal hub makes this a perfect affordable geared commuter bike.
9. Lochside 8 Speed Road (available in 2 colors)
This bike has the most gears of the bikes that feature on this list. With a single chainring up front and an 8 cog cassette at the rear, you have plenty of choice on the Lochside 8 to get over any incline you face on your commute.
The steel frame is strong and responsive, but a touch on the heavy side. The external gears do mean that you will need to take extra care of them. However, the components on this bike are surprisingly durable for a bike at this price.
The Lochside 8 speed comes in two colors White or Black! Lochside has opted to let the performance and design do the talking rather than a fancy paint job. That said, the tan tire walls add a nice bit of flair to the simple design.
- Comfortable to ride and the narrow handlebars are perfect for being agile during your commute
- The tan tire walls adds some style to the simple design
- The frame is heavy
- Although they look beautiful, the tires are prone to puncture easily and do not have as much traction as you would like in wet weather. So you should look to upgrade the tires or at the very least get a puncture protection layer added to the tires.
Verdict: The Lochside 8 is a surprisingly comfortable and agile city commuter bike. If you want to benefit from having a more comprehensive range of gears and a sturdy frame, then this is a great choice.
10. State Elliston 3 Speed (available in 1 color)
The State Elliston is an upgrade on its core single-speed lines. Unlike Lochside, they have opted to add some additional parts to make this a perfect versatile geared commuter bike.
It is a modern take on a classic style. The handlebars are curved, which gives a very comfortable upright riding position. In addition to the 3-speed Shimano Nexus Internal Hub w/ Grip Shifter, this bike also comes with inbuilt mudguards and a chain protector. Perfect for keeping your bum dry and trousers safe from grease or worse getting caught in the chain mid-ride.
The refined design makes this a unique and beautiful hybrid. The combination of retro design with modern materials and comfortable geometry make this one of the best all round geared commuter bikes under $500.
- Perfect combination of retro and new style
- 35c tires make for a very comfortable ride (i.e. wider than all the other bikes stock tires on this list)
- With all these fancy added extras, this is a heavy bike and along with the upright riding position. This is not a very agile bike
Verdict: The State Elliston 3 Speed is a beautiful and refreshingly unique geared bike. It only comes in one color, but that does not matter because the black frame with the tan grips and saddle are eye catching. This is a very comfortable city commuter, but with the wide handlebars and upright sitting position, this bike was not made for speed.