What type of bike is best for commuting?

As the world embraces alternative modes of transportation and sustainable living, commuting by bike has surged in popularity. Whether you’re navigating city streets, suburban neighbourhoods, or even off-road paths, selecting the right bike can make your daily commute not just efficient, but enjoyable.

We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting the ideal ride to navigate our daily journeys. From the versatility of gravel bikes to the speed of road bikes, the ruggedness of mountain bikes, and the innovation of e-bikes, each option presents a unique set of advantages for the modern commuter.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the advantages of each type of bike available at Merlin Cycles…

Gravel Bike: Versatile Adventure on Every Terrain

Gravel bikes have taken the cycling world by storm, offering a blend of features that make them well-suited for various environments. Here’s why a gravel bike might be the perfect companion for your daily commute:

(Pictured – Orro Terra Ti)

All-Terrain Capability: Gravel bikes are designed to handle a range of surfaces, from smooth roads to rough gravel paths. This versatility means you can tackle both urban streets and unpaved shortcuts effortlessly. Many of our staff (myself included) opt for a gravel bike commute due to the versatility of routes available. Want to speed through a trail on the way or take the long way home on the canal? No problem! And you can do it at a decent average speed…

Comfortable Geometry: Gravel bikes typically feature a more relaxed geometry than road bikes, resulting in a more upright and comfortable riding position. This is ideal for longer commutes and rougher surfaces.

(Pictured – Merlin All-Road)

Wider Tires: Gravel bikes often accommodate wider tires, enhancing stability and traction on uneven terrain. Meaning you can navigate potholes, curbs, and gravel patches with ease.

Rack and Fender Compatibility: Many gravel bikes come equipped with mounts for racks and fenders, allowing you to carry your belongings and stay dry during rainy commutes. This can be a major advantage if you don’t like carrying your kit in a backpack, simply throw your lunch in a frame bag and keep a change of clothes at work!

Road Bike: Speed and Efficiency on Smooth Roads

For those whose commutes primarily involve well-paved roads and a need for speed, a road bike might be your best bet. Here’s why a road bike could be the perfect match for your daily journey…

(Pictured – Orro Gold STC)

Efficiency: Road bikes are built for speed and efficiency. Their lightweight frames, thin tires, and aerodynamic design allow you to cover longer distances in less time. Many of our team often choose to ride in and then head straight to the chain gang post work.

Smooth Ride: If your commute involves smooth roads and consistent surfaces, a road bike’s narrow tires and rigid frame provide a smooth and responsive ride.

(Pictured – Wilier 0 SLR)

Agile Handling: Road bikes offer nimble handling, making them perfect for navigating through traffic and tight spaces in urban environments.

Fitness Benefits: The riding position on a road bike encourages a more forward-leaning posture, engaging your core muscles and promoting an effective workout during your commute. They are the obvious choice for anyone wanting to add extra miles to their training. If you can ride to and from work and are a triathlete or runner, road cycling can only add to your fitness (provided you take time to recover and plan your training accordingly).

If you are thinking of going for a high end option, be sure to have a winter commuter at hand for those less than ideal weather conditions so you don’t damage your pride and joy bike from the wear and tear of British winter roads…

Hybrid Bike: The All-Purpose Commuting Solution

When versatility is paramount, hybrid bikes offer a well-rounded option that bridges the gap between various cycling styles. Here’s why a hybrid bike could be your best choice for commuting…

All-Terrain Capabilities: Hybrid bikes blend features of road and mountain bikes, offering a comfortable ride on both smooth roads and light trails. Rob’s Wizard (pictured above) is great option if you prefer to cruise along the road and take shortcuts on cycle paths or trails whenever you fancy them. “It’s comfy and ideal for a fun commute, it can get up to speed if you fancy a faster few miles too…”

Comfort and Convenience: Hybrid bikes typically feature a comfortable upright riding position and often come with added features such as fenders, racks, and lights, enhancing your daily commute.

Balanced Performance: With a mix of road and mountain bike characteristics, hybrids offer a balanced performance that suits a range of urban and suburban conditions.

Entry-Level Friendliness: Hybrid bikes are often recommended for beginners due to their user-friendly design and versatile nature, making them a great choice for new commuters. Options such as the Metroneer Hybrid E-Bike allow for assisted riding at a very affordable price.

Mountain Bike: Off-Road Adventures and Urban Excursions

If your commute takes you through a mix of urban streets and off-road trails, a mountain bike could be the versatile solution you’re looking for. Here’s why a mountain bike might be the ideal choice…

(Pictured – Merlin Malt 725)

Off-Road Capabilities: Mountain bikes are built to tackle challenging terrains, making them perfect for commutes that involve dirt paths, grass, and gravel trails. Many staff enjoy an urban ride on the way in then taking a scenic route home (often through Healy Nab and Rivington).

Durable Build: Mountain bikes are designed to withstand rough conditions and impacts, ensuring they can handle the bumps and obstacles of city streets as well.

Stable Handling: The wider tires and upright geometry of a mountain bike provide stability, especially on uneven surfaces and unpredictable road conditions in the winter.

Adventure Appeal: If you are not concerned with speed when you need to be on the road and have the option of trails that are not too out of your way then a Mountain Bike is definitely one of the most fun bikes to arrive to and from work on.

Folding Bike: Revolutionize Your Commute with Folding

In recent years, folding bikes have emerged as a game-changer in urban transportation. Here’s why an folding bike might be the innovative solution for your daily commutes…

Ease of storage: If you are needing to store your bike in the office or on the train, these are the best option and most convenient. They can also be an ideal solution for someone who has less storage space at home and are the ideal caravan get-away bike!

(Pictured – Oyama Folding Bike)

Go Electric: Electric Folding bikes can travel at higher speeds with less effort, making your journey quicker and less strenuous.

Arrive at your destination without breaking a sweat, thanks to the assistance provided by the electric motor of bikes like the MiRider. This could be a perfect solution if you are riding in more formal attire.

Choose the bike that fits your terrain and distance!

Ultimately, the best bike for your commute depends on the terrain, distance, and personal preferences. Consider your route, comfort preferences, and the excitement you seek from your ride and choose the bike that aligns with your commuting needs. If you have the space, having two options is even better, you can’t go wrong with a gravel bike for the winter and trail route and a speedy lightweight road bike for the summer months where you want to push the pace. With the right bike at your disposal, every journey to work can become something you look forward to in your working day…

Let us know what your favourite bike is for commuting and why!


  • Alex Cowie

    Outdoor Leadership and Coaching BA (Hons) Keen cyclist, runner, and outdoor enthusiast. I have been cycling since I was very young and always had a love for the outdoors. I have completed many long distance events including ultra marathons such as the Chester 100, Berkeley Marathons UK and Gravel Century rides.

One comment to “What type of bike is best for commuting?”
  1. I commute to and from work everyday on a Shimano Mountain Bike, I live in New Orleans, La. and the roads here are very rough (pot holes, uneven, etc. and I also like to ride down by the bayou which is why I chose to go with the Mountain Bike. I love riding my bike, but that’s my mode of transportation due to having no vehicle lol, but no complaints I love it. Hope all my fellow cyclist out there have fun riding, be safe, and just enjoy it.

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