Bicycle commuting is the embodiment of everything we 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.
Photo Credit: Civia Bikes
For that reason, we’ve created a list of our favorite commuter bikes for women, as well as a list of things to consider when choosing a bicycle for commuting. So you can be empowered.
Of course, 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.
All that said, if you are still in the market for a new commuter bike, here are our favorites. Whether you are looking for a simple steed to ride to work, a family bike to haul the kids to daycare, or an e-assist commuter to make it up big hills and travel long distances, you’ll find a good option for yourself here.
Note, that these aren’t all “women’s bikes.” We’ve picked bikes that work well for women, regardless of marketing gimics.
Table Of Contents Best Traditional Women's Commuter/City Bikes Best Cargo And Electric Women's Commuter/City Bikes How To Choose
The Best Traditional Women’s Commuter Bicycles
Our favorite commuter bikes are simple, easy to maintain, and not too expensive.
|What We Love
|Roll C:1 City Bike
|Sleek, durable frame and components
|Priority Classic Plus
|Belt drive, low maintenance
|Folding bike, great for apartment dwellers / subway
|Co-Op Cycles CTY
|Mechanical disc brakes, can use REI dividend
Roll C:1 City Bike
My top pick is the Roll C:1 City Bike. It’s everything you want in a commuter bike: affordable, lightweight, and quality but durable components.
The frame comes in either a standard OR a step-thru frame depending on which you prefer. We appreciate the step-thru frame for those days when you might want to wear a skirt.
The bike has a simple 1×10 drivetrain, Tektro mechanical disc brakes, and ergonomic handlebars and grips. You can also buy the bike in a “women’s version” which includes women-specific components like a women’s saddle.
Priority Classic Plus
The Priority Classic Plus 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. It also does well in places a traditional chain does not: in the rain and locations with humidity and salt.
Like the Roll above, it comes in either a standard frame or a step thru frame depending on which you prefer. The step-thru also fits smaller women–those with an inseam as short as 26 inches.
Keep in mind that it is a singlespeed, which again means it is great in terms of being low maintenance, but less great if your city has a lot of hills to climb.
Tern Node Folding Bike
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.
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.
Co-Op Cycles CTY 1.1
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 great job of stopping in hilly and wet conditions.
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.
The Best Cargo and Electric Commuter Bikes For Women
As their name would suggest, cargo bikes are intended for carrying cargo (or kids!). Whether you need to haul home groceries or pick up kids from swim lessons, a cargo bike can make life much easier.
Similarly, a bike with an electric motor can make life easier as well. You can ride further, faster, and with less effort. If you’re replacing a car with a bike, consider an e-bike.
|Electra Townie Go!
The Yuba Kombi is a simple, yet capable, long-tail cargo bike. The rear rack can handle passengers or packages, either of which will be protected from the rear wheel thanks to the integrated wheel skirts.
If you choose to ride with kids, it already has mounts for Yepp Maxi seats. There are also integrated lights that make it great for low-light commuting.
Electra Townie Go!*
If you want to look stylish while riding around town, the Electra Townie Go! is your bike. The aluminum frame is painted in pretty pastel hues, and has a rear rack for carrying gear.
The Bosch 250W motor can last between 20-100 miles before needing to be recharged and helps riders pedal up to 20mph.
Read Our Review: Electra Townie Go!
Blix Aveny Skyline
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.
The thing we love most about the Blix Aveny is the pricetag. It is a great introductory electric bicycle for anybody who doesn’t want to spend a fortune.
Read Our Review: Blix Aveny Skyline
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). For women, there is a step over version that makes riding with a skirt a bit easier.
Finally, compared to most other e-bikes this one is significantly lighter.
Read Our Review: VVolt Alpha Step Thru
The RadPower Radwagon is the bike I’ve personally been using to do nearly all my around-town commuting lately. It’s a long-tail e-cargo bike that is shockingly affordable.
The affordability doesn’t come with any major shortcuts, however. The bike is ideal for hauling a child or groceries (or both)!
Read Review: Radpower Radwagon
Comparison Chart: Women’s Commuter Bikes
Here’s how all these bikes stack up.
|Type of Bike
|Roll C:1 City Bike
|Priority Classic Plus
|Varies on size
|Co-Op Cycles CTY
|Electra Townie Commute Go!
|Electric Cargo Bike
Other Women’s City Bike Options
While these bikes didn’t make our “best of” list, here are a few more that are worth a look.
- Liv Alight. $650. This women’s-specific bike includes fenders and a rack.
- Trek District 4 Equipped Stagger*. $1,749. All the bells and whistles including a rack, belt drive, and internally geared hub.
- State Bicycle City Bike*. $399. Very affordable and super hip city bike.
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.
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.
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.
The bikes on this list come with three different and distinct types of brakes –rim brakes, mechanical disc brakes, and hydraulic disc 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
To learn more about e-bikes, read our guide:
More Reading / Listening
- Article: The Ultimate Guide to Bike Commuting (for Women)
- Article: 7 Women’s Bike Helmets That Are Cute and Stylish
- Podcast Episode: Biking For Transportation With Lisa Corriveau (aka Spokesmama)
About The Author
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.