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Best Women’s Commuter Bikes And City Bikes

Bicycle commuting is the embodiment of everything I love about cycling.  It is environmentally responsible, provides good exercise, boosts your mood, is affordable, and reduces congestion. 

Unfortunately, there are far fewer female cyclists than there are men.  There are many reasons for this–risk tolerance, child-care, etc.  Another reason is that women are often marginalized in the sport.  It can be uncomfortable walking into a bike shop with a bunch of men salespeople, and a bunch of bikes marketed to men. 

For that reason, I’ve created a list of my favorite city bikes for women, as well as a list of things to consider when choosing a bicycle for commuting.  So that you can be empowered.

These are bikes that I’ve tested and reviewed or have been highly recommended by ladies in our community. A few of them are bikes that I use in my daily life for taking my son to school, picking up groceries, and running errands.

Whether you are looking for a simple steed to ride to work, a family bike to haul the kids to daycare, or an electric bike to make it up big hills and travel long distances, you’ll find a good option for yourself here.

womens commuter and city bikes

Photo Credit: Civia Bikes

Our Top Picks

What We LovePrice
TRADITIONAL CITY BIKES
Priority TuriBelt drive, low maintenance$949
Tern NodeFolding bike, great for apartment dwellers / subway$1,299
Co-Op Cycles CTYMechanical disc brakes, can use REI dividend$599
ELECTRIC CITY BIKES
VVolt Alpha IIStealthy e-bike, lightweight$1,699
State Bicycle Co E-Bike CommuterSuper affordable, durable steel frame$1,499
Blix AvenyPretty and feminine design$1,999
Radpower RadCityLots of power, excellent customer service$1,699

Priority Turi

Price: $949

Pros:

  • Low maintenance design
  • Disc brakes
  • Great for humid or rainy climates

Cons:

  • Heavy-ish
  • Quill style headset

The Priority Turi is a fantastic bike for anybody who doesn’t want to have to deal with bike maintenance. Instead of a chain, the bike has a belt drive which means you never have to worry about lubing it. And in lieu of a derailleur, the Turi has an internally geared hub. Both these components do well in places a traditional drivetrain does not: in the rain and locations with humidity and salt.

Speaking of rain, the bike has hydraulic disc brakes which work far better in the rain than old-school v-brakes, and fenders to help keep you dry.

It comes with a “mid-step” frame. The top tube is downward sloping making it easy to get on and off the bike, but the slope isn’t quite as extreme as a step-thru frame.

The only drawback of the bike is it’s weight. While it’s far from the heaviest bike around, the internally geared hub, disc brakes, and fenders do add some heft. At over 30 pounds, its quite a bit heavier than it’s little sister, the Priority Classic, for instance.

Tern Node Folding Bike

Price: $1,299

Pros:

  • Folding design
  • Internally geared hub
  • Integrated lights

Cons:

  • V-brakes
  • Looks a little dorky

If you plan on using multi-modal transportation (think bike & bus or bike & train), a folding bike is the way to go.  The Tern Node folds up so that it can be brought into your cubicle or in your luggage for your next business trip. It also works well for apartment dwellers who may not have outdoor bike parking and limited storage space inside.

The bike comes with fenders and a rear rack which makes it ideal for commuters. The internally geared hub is low maintenance, and the integrated lights mean you’ll never be caught in the dark.

The biggest drawback of the Node is that it has v-brakes rather than disc brakes (which means less stopping power). Also, because it doesn’t look like a traditional bike, some folks might find it a little dorky.

Co-Op Cycles CTY 1.1

co op cty bike

Price: $649

Pros:

  • Folding design
  • Internally geared hub
  • Integrated lights

Cons:

  • V-brakes
  • Looks a little dorky

Have an REI dividend burning a hole in your pocket ? The REI brand Co-Op Cycles CTY might be the bike for you.

It is simple, affordable, but not heavy and “cheap” like many entry-level bikes. The CTY features mechanical disc brakes which do a decent job of stopping in hilly and wet conditions (although don’t work quite as well as the hydraulic disc brakes found on the Priority Turi, for example).

It comes in sizes XS to XL, so whatever your height you should be able to find one to fit you. The smaller frames come in a step-thru version as well.

Compared to the more expensive bikes on this list, the ride quality isn’t quite as smooth nor is the durability as high. Still, if you’re on a budget and just want to dip your toes into commuting, this is a good option.

Blix Aveny Skyline

Price: $1,999

Pros:

  • Stylish and pretty
  • Can add baskets both front and rear
  • Lighter than most electric bikes

Cons:

  • Noisy
  • Requires fine tuning out of the box

The Blix Aveny is the perfect bike for riding to work or to the library.  The rack on the back can carry your laptop bag or add some panniers to carry groceries.  If you have a child, you can also add a Yepp Seat to the rear rack.

Unlike most dorky looking e-bikes (yup, I said it), the Blix is sleek and stylish. I’ve never felt more feminine riding around the ‘hood.

Out of the box, the bike did require some adjustments, so if you’re not mechanically inclined, you might need a local bike shop to help. Also, this is one of the noisier e-bikes I’ve ridden.

It is a great introductory electric bicycle for anybody who doesn’t want to spend a fortune, and who wants to look good out on the town.

Read Review: Blix Aveny Skyline

VVolt Alpha II

Price: $1,699

Pros:

  • Gates belt drive
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Sleek and lightweight

Cons:

  • Easy to get spun out on flat roads
  • Doesn’t come with “extras”

The VVolt Alpha is an amazing commuter bike. It has an electric assist, but it’s sleek and smooth and it’s hard to tell that it’s an e-bike.

The bike is also easy to maintain thanks to the singlespeed drivetain and belt drive (rather than a chain). It has a step thru frame which makes riding with a skirt a bit easier.

Finally, compared to most other e-bikes this one is significantly lighter. If you run out of battery, you’ll still manage to make it home.

While I appreciate the singlespeed drivetrain for it’s simplicity, I did find that I was often under geared on flat roads. (The climbing gear was great though). Also, it lacks some of the extras that you’ll find on other e-commuters like fenders, rack, or a bell.

Read Review: VVolt Alpha Step Thru

RadPower RadCity

Price: $1,699

Pros:

  • Lots of power, throttle
  • Great customer service
  • Excellent climber

Cons:

  • Suspension fork in unnecessary
  • Battery is super obvious

When my sister moved to town, she knew she wanted an e-bike so should could join our family riding around town. She was also living with us initially and the big hill up our house is a major challenge.

She asked for my help picking out an e-bike and we chose the Radpower Radcity Step-Thru. The bike offers affordability, excellent customer service, and powerful performance with a 750-watt motor. Its 7-speed gearing makes hills manageable, a crucial feature for my hilly commute. Despite its heavier weight and the addition of a somewhat unnecessary suspension fork, the pedal-assist and throttle make rides smooth and enjoyable.

The bike includes integrated lights, a rear rack, and various cargo options, allowing for easy customization. The upright geometry and step-through frame make it comfortable for riding in skirts and easy mounting.

Assembly was straightforward, and RadPower offers mobile service for assembly and repairs in certain areas. The bike’s battery life is impressive, easily handling her daily 5-10 mile commutes without significant drain.

Read Review: RadPower RadCity

State Bicycle Co 6061 E-Bike Commuter

Price: $1,499

Pros:

  • Super sleek, stealthy e-bike
  • Durable steel frame
  • Good climber

Cons:

  • High top tube
  • Mechanical rather than hydraulic disc brakes

The State Bicycle Co 6061 E-Bike Commuter has a similar vibe to the VVolt Alpha II (listed above). It is unique though in that it has a steel frame which is durable and beautiful.

Like the VVolt, the 6061 has a belt drive and single speed drivetrain. It also looks sleek, and it’s hard to tell that it’s an e-bike without closer inspection.

Thanks to the reasonably light weight and lower gearing, the bike is a great climber. This makes it a good choice for cities with lots of hills.

One drawback for many women is that it does not have a step-thru frame option, and the high top tube makes wearing a skirt difficult. It also has mechanical rather than hydraulic disc brakes. I’d prefer hydraulic brakes for the additional stopping power particularly in wet weather.

How to Choose a Commuter Bike

There are a couple things to consider before pulling out the credit card.  Here are some tips on how to choose the best commuter bike for you.

Tires

In general, the best tires for a commuter bike have plenty of tread, are decently wide, but still roll quickly.  Think a cross between a road bike and mountain bike tire. 

This ensures that they will perform well in a variety of conditions, wet weather, etc.  It also gives you the flexibility to roll on gravel paths (like rail trails), which are often some of the best commuting routes.

alpha tires

Extras–Lights, Fenders, Bells, Racks, etc.

Commuter bikes are most useful when they are accessorized.  A rear rack allows you to carry gear (like your laptop and a change of clothes for instance).  Fenders help keep you dry on rainy days. 

Many commuter bikes come with these things,  some do not.  It is worth paying attention to what the bike comes with stock and how much it will cost to upgrade with any items you might need. 

If you don’t mind a little DIY work, it can be most cost effective to add all the “extras” after the fact.  If you want a bike that can do it all on Day 1, look for a bike that comes with the full package.

rear light

Brakes

The bikes on this list come with three different and distinct types of brakes –rim brakes, mechanical disc brakes, and hydraulic disc brakes. 

Types of Brakes

V-brakes are the cheapest and the simplest to maintain, but do not stop as well, particularly in wet conditions.  Mechanical disc brakes are the mid-price option.  They perform better than rim brakes but not as well as hydraulic disc brakes. 

Hydraulic disc brakes have the most stopping power, and provide the best modulation.  They also have the highest price tag and require the most maintenance.

Riding Position

Generally, the best commuter bikes have a moderate riding position–not too upright, not too aggressive.  This makes for the best mix of power transfer to the pedals, comfort, and maneuverability. 

If you are biking long distances, and enjoy riding fast, you might consider a more leaned-over, aggressive riding position.  Alternatively, if you are planning only biking short distances, a fully upright, beach cruiser might be your thing.  For everybody else, pick something in the middle.

Gears / Drivetrains

Commuter bikes come with several types of drivetrains and gear configurations.  Some commuter bikes, are singlespeeds, meaning they have only one gear.  This is nice for keeping maintenance to a minimum, but isn’t recommended for folks who live in cities with hills. 

More commonly, you will see bikes with an external drivetrain.  The bike might have anywhere from a few gears to 21+. Much better for hills, but be prepared to do some maintenance.

gates belt drive

Other less common builds are bikes with internally-geared hubs and belt drives.  An internally geared hub is ideal for many commuters. 

Instead of an internal drivetrain (with front and rear derailleurs), the gearing is inside the hub of the gear wheel.  This is particularly nice for folks who ride in a lot of inclement weather–it won’t get bucked up with slush or grime. 

Similarly, a belt drive is nice for these types of riding conditions.  A belt drive is a carbon-fiber belt that takes the place of a chain.  It doesn’t require lubrication or other maintenance and remains quite even in mud and rain.

Frame Style

One thing to decide before shopping for a commuter, is what style of frame you would like: a traditional frame or a step-thru frame.  Step-thru frames are often good choices for women because they accommodate shorter riders and make it easier to ride with a skirt.

standing over the frame on the blix aveny

Weight

Unless you are buying a bike with an electronic assist, make sure you take the weight of the bike into consideration.  The heavier a bike is, the less enjoyable it will be to ride, particularly for folks commuting long distances.

Electric Assist

Electric bikes, especially for urban riding, are becoming more and more common. And for good reason.

An electric assist can help you ride further, faster, and with less energy. Personally, even though I love to ride a bike, I’m often way more motivated to do a quick trip to the grocery store (or wherever) on my e-bike than I am on my regular bike.

An electric bike does add cost and maintenance, so it’s not for everybody, but if you are considering giving up your car of cutting way back on the amount that you drive, an e-bike may be for you.

class 1 motor

Do You Actually Need A New Bike?

Before buying one of these bikes, ask yourself if you actually need a new bike. The best commuter bike is quite possibly the bike you already have.  The beauty of commuter bikes is that they don’t have to be fancy. 

In fact, not fancy is often best.  An old bike can be abused without remorse–ridden in snow and salt, and left outside. 

A not-so-fancy bike can also be locked outside without fear of theft, or if it does get stolen, the consequence isn’t quite so high.  For tips on upgrading the bike laying around in your garage to make it a real “commuter,” read our article on how to turn any bike into a commuter.

More Reading / Listening

About The Author

kristen bonkoski

Kristen Bonkoski is the founder and owner of Femme Cyclist.

An avid cyclist for a few decades now, she took to cycling during her late teen years — a time when she needed something to help boost her self-esteem and confidence.

Mission accomplished, the sport has become an important part of her life.  Kristen’s favorite disciplines are mountain biking and bike commuting, although you can also find her cranking out a century on her road bike and touring with her husband and son.  If it has to do with two wheels, she enjoys doing it.

Kristen is a certified USA Cycling coach, and she runs Rascal Rides, a website about biking with kids.

IG: @femme_cyclist

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4 thoughts on “Best Women’s Commuter Bikes And City Bikes”

  1. The issue for me is what some consider affordable I consider pricey. For me a nice affordable bike should be between 200-400 at the most. I’m a poorer individual and on disability. Are there good bikes those of us without loads of cash can get or should I start paying attention to the dumpsters in hope someone throws one out? 😛

    Reply
    • Hi Angela, your price point and mine are about the same! I ride a Schwinn Wayfarer which is $370-$400 and sold at Amazon and Walmart available in both “men’s” and unisex/step-through frames. I’ve ridden mine for 8 years. Mostly reliable – I’ve taken it to my local bike shop for 2 services in that time. It has mud guards and a rear rack so it’s a good commuter. You’ll need to buy lights.
      Other similar bikes to look at are 1) the Retrospec Beaumont 7 speed currently approx $300 and also available in mens and step-through frames, and 2) the Kent Retro 3 speed (internal hub gears) at $350. Actually Kent have a lot of good commuter choices on their site in the “Comfort” bikes section – a lot in that $200 – $200 sweet spot depending on what you want for gears etc.
      Hope that helps, Ru

      Reply
  2. Another advantage of step-through frames is when you’re carrying things on the back you can get on the bike without kicking your kid/groceries/stuff.

    Do you know that in Europe all your commuter bikes come with fenders, racks, lights, and swept bars standard?

    Reply

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