The 10 Best Bikes for College Commuting in 2018 & Beyond

College is more than just education; it’s also about friendship and memorable experiences in and outside the classroom. One of these experiences is having your own bicycle to go around the campus with – it’s exercise, inexpensive (no need for gas!), and provides you the opportunity to appreciate nature. There’s a reason why a lot of colleges and universities encourage bike riding among its students!

Indeed, a bike can make a student’s life smoother; no gas expenses, you can park anywhere, and go whenever you like. Bikes come in a lot of designs and colors, so if it’s important to you, it can also reflect your style.

Unfortunately, most college students are cash-strapped and can’t afford top-of-the-line bikes with astronomically high prices. If you’re a college student in need of a trusty, dependable bike that’s still within your budget, we have reviewed the 10 best bikes for college students today. Look at each one carefully and choose one that best fits your circumstances.

Best Bikes for College Students - 2018's Top Picks and Reviews

Bike Name

Speed

Frame Material

Price

Vilano Diverse 3.0 Performance Hybrid Road Bike

24

Aluminum

Pure Cycles Urban Coaster Bicycle

1

Steel

Tommaso Monza Road Bike

20

Aluminum

Schwinn Men's Wayfarer Hybrid Bike

7

Steel

Critical Cycles Harper Coaster Fixie Style Bike

1

Steel

Raleigh Bikes Merit 1 Endurance Road Bike

8

Aluminum

Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bicycle

21

Aluminum

Pure Fix Original Fixed Gear Bike

1

Steel

GMC Denali Flat Bar Road Bike

21

Aluminum

Nashbar Alloy Sora Cyclocross Bike

9

Aluminum

1. Vilano Diverse 3.0 Performance Hybrid Road Bike

Vilano Diverse 3.0 Performance Hybrid Road Bike 24 Speed Shimano Disc Brakes

Vilano Bikes has been offering quality but inexpensive bikes for 10 years now. This particular model is a performance hybrid bike that's good for commuting or taking on various terrains including rough trails.

If you need a well-balanced bike for daily commute, group rides, or a weekend getaway, their Vilano Diverse 3.0 is your go-to choice. It looks simple but it boasts of toughest Shimano components that can take you wherever you want to go.

The handlebar is straight, making for comfortable riding. It has mechanical disc brakes as well that won’t fail you. Its frame and fork are made of lightweight 6061 aluminum while its front and rear derailleurs are Shimano Tourney TX.

The best part about Vilano is that it comes partially assembled and their online hub offers maintenance tips, more product information, and tutorials for those who would like to put the bike together on their own. It is still best, however, to have a professional assemble the bike.

Features:

The Vilano Diverse 3.0 Hybrid bike has the following features:

  • Hybrid bike
  • Aluminum frame (size: 49/53/57)
  • Shimano disc brakes
  • 700c Kendra wheels
  • Upright handlebar
  • Free pedals included

Pros:

Some of the advantages of this bike has included the following:

  • It has sturdy disc brakes for great stopping power.
  • Its conventional upright handlebar puts less strain on the back.
  • Changing gears is smooth.
  • It has a durable aluminum frame.
  • It’s a versatile ride, you can take it anywhere.
  • It is affordable even for college students.

Cons:

It’s not all glory for this bike; some of its setbacks include the following:

  • It arrives partially assembled (most bikes come that way, though).
  • It does not come with a kickstand so you have to purchase it separately.

Vilano Diverse 3.0 has an excellent rating on Amazon with great user reviews. This is our number one pick for students due to its affordable price tag, elegant design, and its upright handlebar will not let you down.

It could be your perfect commuter for riding to and from the school and college campus, around the neighborhood, and for going on group rides as well.

2. Pure Cycles 1-Speed Urban Coaster Bicycle

Pure Cycles 1-Speed Urban Coaster Bicycle

The Pure Cycles Urban Coaster is a simple single-speed bike that suits most college students. This bike can handle more than the day-to-day school riding; you can go for recreational rides with it, too.

With most bikes, the brake controls are placed on the handlebars. On this one, however, you just pedal backward and it will stop. The custom-engineered geometry together with the swept-back bar gives this bike a great deal of comfort.

The best part about this bike is the steel material used for the frame. It is stronger than aluminum and helps to minimize vibrations while on the road. The bottom bracket is sealed to enable smooth pedaling.

Pure Cycles Urban Coaster bike comes in three sizes: small (5'2" to 5'6"), medium (5'6" to 6'), and large (6' to 6'3").

Features:

This Urban Coaster bike has the following features:

  • 1 speed
  • Hands-free brake
  • Comes in three sizes
  • Lightweight steel frame
  • Custom engineered geometry
  • Sealed bottom bracket

Pros:

This bike stands out because of the following:

  • It is simple; it has no levers, no cable, no excessive and confusing add-ons.
  • It is durable but lightweight.
  • It has a well-balanced geometry for better control.
  • It is available in several sizes.
  • It features swept-back bars for improved comfort.
  • It is customizable and upgradeable.

Cons:

The bike has a couple of cons as well:

  • It is too simple for sophisticated riders.
  • Having a one-speed gear means you need to put in a lot of power on an uphill ride.

The makers of Pure Cycles Urban Coaster bike had the lifestyle of a student in mind when they designed this bike. With a little bit of care, it will last you throughout your college days.

3. Tommaso Monza Endurance Aluminum Road Bike

Tommaso Monza Endurance Aluminum Road Bike

The Tommaso Monza Road Bike, according to some reviewers, “rides like a dream.” If you are looking for nothing but the best bike within your budget range, take a look at this model. This 20-speed ride provides exceptional performance thanks to the Shimano Tiagra Groupset that allows one to shift to various speeds as the terrain commands.

Shimano Tiagra shifters are respected for providing a seamless gear shift and a level of responsiveness only very few bikes can match. The frame is made from aluminum, making it lightweight yet durable. The frame is built to handle different racks and fenders, too.

The fork is made from HTC carbon for two reasons: durability and vibration dampening. Both the fork and frame come with a lifetime warranty. You can achieve so many miles with Tommaso Monza Road Bike as it’s optimized for extra comfort. The handlebar and the frame’s geometry are compact with good spacing allowing for easy control. Indeed, this bike is suitable for both short-distance commutes and long rides.

Like other bikes, Tommaso manufacturers insist that you have it assembled by an expert bike mechanic. Poor assembly can wreck some parts and compromise your warranty, not to mention put your safety at risk.

Features:

Tommaso Monza Road Bike has the following features:

  • Aluminum frame
  • 20 speeds
  • Aero wheels
  • Carbon fork
  • Shimano Tiagra Groupset

Pros:

This bike has a lot to offer. Here are some of its pros:

  • The carbon fork dampens vibrations, making your ride smoother.
  • It is durable and lightweight.
  • It has Full Shimano groupsets (original components).
  • It is customizable.
  • The fork and frame come with a lifetime warranty.

Cons:

Tommaso Road Bike has the following setback:

  • It is a little pricey compared to close competitors because of all the cool features that have been added to it.

The Tommaso Monza is the kind of bicycle most people dream to take for a spin. It’s made of a tough yet durable material without sacrificing comfort. At the moment, this ride has a very good rating on Amazon and the reviewers’ feedback is mostly positive.

4. Schwinn Men's Wayfarer Hybrid Bike

Schwinn Men's Wayfarer Hybrid Bike

If you are looking for a cheap bike for college, the Schwinn Wayfarer Hybrid Bike could be a good choice. It is simple in design with very few bells and whistles. However, with 7 speeds, this ride is a little easier to pedal compared to single-gear varieties.

The fenders are a great addition to this bike. On a rainy day, they prevent mud from splashing on your books as well as your clothes. The tiny rack at the back will come in handy when you have a lot of things to carry around.

There is one small problem with this bike, though; it’s a little frustrating to shift the lower gears. They work well but it takes more effort than most bikes. However, if you replace the rear derailleur, you won’t have gear problems at all.

Features:

The Schwinn Wayfarer Hybrid Bike has the following features:

  • 7 speeds
  • Alloy brakes
  • Steel retro frame with fenders and rack
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Upright seat

Pros:

Some of the advantages this bike has included:

  • It is one of the cheapest options for students on a budget.
  • It has a great quality steel frame.
  • It has a beautiful vintage retro design.
  • Its precision alloy brakes perform well.
  • It can be customized.

Cons:

This Schwinn bike is not perfect; some of its cons include:

  • It is suitable for those whose are 6’ to 6’2”; shorter people may find this bike to be uncomfortable.
  • Exclamation Triangle
    It lacks advanced components, hence not the best pick for experienced riders.

Due to a lackluster rating, the Schwinn Wayfarer Hybrid Bike comes off as a low-quality ride but that’s not the case. It’s got a simple construction, vintage look, and above all, a budget-friendly price. Most critical reviews on Amazon dealt with delivery issues, not the quality of the bike itself.

5. Critical Cycles Harper Coaster Fixie Style Single-Speed Commuter Bike with Foot Brake

Critical Cycles Harper Coaster Fixie Style Single-Speed Commuter Bike with Foot Brake

Critical Cycles is a straightforward bike with simple sophistication; the kind that you get on and ride and not have to worry about anything. It has no cables, no gears to shift, and no hand brakes to grapple with. Its sleek style and classic design make it one of the more attractive bikes on the market today.

It’s not just about looks, though. This bike’s construction includes a premium quality steel frame that is built to withstand years of use and absorbs the impact from bumps, resulting in a smooth ride. It is lightweight, too. Generally, the fewer parts a bike has, the lesser the chances of it getting damaged, reducing its maintenance costs significantly.

Critical Cycles’ coaster brakes are reliable even in wet conditions. The brake is configured into the pedals and all it takes to get it working is to simply pedal backward and the bike will stop. This type of brake (with no external elements) is efficient and there is no need for readjustments as is the case with contemporary versions.

Features:

Critical Cycles has the following features:

  • Single-speed crank
  • Foot brake
  • VP freestyle pedals
  • 30mm deep-v rims
  • KMC chain
  • check
    Kenda commuter tires

Pros:

The advantages that come with this bike include:

  • It has a sleek style.
  • It is available in several colors.
  • Its hand-built steel frame is high quality.
  • It is durable and lightweight.
  • It absorbs bump shocks.
  • check
    It is affordably priced.
  • check
    It has a minimalistic design for a smooth operation.

Cons:

Despite having a classic design and a pocket-friendly price, this bike fails on the following:

  • The front eyelets are 6mm yet the standard is 5mm. If you purchase fenders for it, the conventional 5mm bolts won’t fit.
  • Exclamation Triangle
    The saddle is not comfortable.

There is a lot to admire about the Critical Cycles Harper Bike; classic style, minimalistic design, lightweight construction, and affordable price. Such are the features of good bikes for college students. With a little customizing, you can turn this ride into a cruiser of your liking.

6. Raleigh Bikes Merit 1 Endurance Road Bike

Raleigh Bikes Merit 1 Endurance Road Bike

The Raleigh Merit 1 Bike is a good one for those who need a college bike and join group rides. Given the brand’s iconic name in the industry, this ride comes off as a classic offer for those who want to identify with the best.

This bike costs a little more than several other options in this review for several reasons. This bike, for example, integrates both steel, aluminum, and carbon fibers in its structure, making it durable but still light enough for fluid control. This ride also comes with wider tires for added stability. The dual pivot caliper brakes are effective and demands very little maintenance.

The Raleigh Merit 1 is not a one size fits all bike (well, people do vary in sizes, right?). It comes in medium, large, X-large, XX-large, and XXX-large. This makes it possible for you to get the right bike for your measurements.

Features:

The Merit 1 has the following features:

  • 8 speeds
  • Responsive aluminum fork
  • Dual pivot caliper brakes
  • Extra wide tires
  • Aluminum cranks
  • check
    Shimano Claris derailleurs
  • check
    Kenda Kwick Roller Sport tires

Pros:

Merit 1 is outstanding due to the following reasons:

  • It comes in several sizes.
  • It is durable but still lightweight.
  • It has a responsive fork.
  • It has low maintenance brakes.
  • It has great quality components (like Shimano).
  • check
    It is versatile and can be used on and off campus.

Cons:

Some of the drawbacks of this bike include:

  • It is a bit pricier than others in this list.
  • Exclamation Triangle
    The saddle gets uncomfortable during long rides.

Raleigh has Merit 1, Merit 2 and Merit 3 bikes. The last two are slightly bigger and more expensive than Merit 1. In terms of features, there is very little difference between Merit 1 and 2 and hence no need to spend more on the latter. Merit 1 is highly rated on many platforms and generally acknowledged as one of the best bicycle for college students nowadays.

7. Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bicycle

Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bicycle 700c/28 inch wheel size

Even with a limited budget, most people tend to go for what they think is the best product, one with a lot of bells and whistles and a high price tag. When it comes to bikes, though, Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bicycle has everything you need sans the high cost.

This ride’s classic design and a mix of black and white colors make it match well with virtually any clothing in your closet. The tires are wider for extra stability and the fenders prevent mud from splashing on you. The Schwinn suspension fork is effective in absorbing shocks from manholes and bumps on the road, making for a more comfortable ride.

This bike’s 21-speed capability can help you ride up the hill easily. The crank and brakes are alloy-reinforced while the frame bears aluminum material to improve on durability. Aluminum helps to keep this bike’s weight on the low end.

Features:

The Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bicycle has the following main features:

  • 21 speeds
  • 700c/28-inch wheel size
  • Aluminum frame
  • Alloy crank
  • Schwinn suspension fork
  • check
    Shimano rear derailleur
  • check
    Promax alloy brakes
  • check
    Swept-back upright handlebars

Pros:

This bike has the following advantages:

  • It comes with fenders to keep dirt off the rider.
  • It has a padded saddle for comfort.
  • The aluminum frame makes the bike durable and lightweight.
  • It is easy to pedal uphill with this bike.
  • It’s an affordable bike for college students.
  • check
    It has a colorful design.

Cons:

The few cons spotted on this bike include:

  • It has faulty/noisy gears.
  • Exclamation Triangle
    There is no quick release on the front wheel.

There is a lot you can do with a Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bicycle, from tour rides to college commuting. This budget bike, however, was designed for those who do not want to use a lot of energy while pedaling. Judging by user reviews on Amazon and other sites, its quality is above average.

8. Pure Fix Original Fixed Gear Single Speed Fixie Bike

Pure Fix Original Fixed Gear Single Speed Fixie Bike

Pure Fix Original is a simple, fun, and stylish ride made for those who have been away from biking for a couple of years. Its simplicity, elegance, durability, and affordability make it the perfect ride for college-going students. It can handle almost any terrain and thus the best choice for someone who commutes frequently.

Its stylish urban geometry frame is made from top-quality high-tensile steel to ensure longevity. The flip-flop hub gives you a chance to ride in either fixed or freewheel manner. Whichever mode you choose, this ride’s brakes are reliable and will get your bike to stop when you want it to stop.

There are also a lot of colors, styles, components, and accessories that you can add to Pure Fix Original to make it a sophisticated road beast. The company offers a lifetime warranty on the frame and 1-year warranty on other components.

Features:

Pure Fix Original bike has the following specifications:

  • Single speed
  • Deep-dish 50mm wheels
  • High-tensile steel frame
  • KMC chain
  • Slim pedal-9/16 inch
  • check
    Pure Cycles rubber
  • check
    Pure Cycles alloy handlebar
  • check
    Flip-flop hub

Pros:

Pure Fix Original has the following advantages:

  • Its urban geometry frame is durable.
  • It is made of high-quality materials.
  • It looks simple but elegant.
  • It is compatible with various accessories and components.
  • It is moderately priced.

Cons:

Albeit being elegant, durable, and affordable, this bike fell short in the following ways:

  • It is slightly heavy.
  • Exclamation Triangle
    More power is needed for an uphill riding.

With almost a thousand reviews on Amazon, it’s easy to see that Pure Fix Original has met the expectations of many riders. It looks stylish and can be customized with several compatible components and accessories. The bike doesn’t cost a lot as well.

9. GMC Denali Flat Bar Road Bike

GMC Denali Flat Bar Road Bike

The GMC Denali Road Bike is a cheaper option for serious riders as well as college students. The aluminum cast frame means the bike weighs less and thus easy to lift and place on the parking rack or on your truck. There is a water bottle mount included as well.

Being a 21-speed bike, riding uphill will not take a toll on you. The Shimano derailleur makes for fast gear changing while Shimano Revo shifters will help you switch gears easily and quickly with hands secured on the handlebar for proper control.

The bike comes in small, medium, and large sizes. Since the price is a little on the lower side, some secondary components are missing and it’s up to you as the buyer to install them.

Features:

The core features for GMC Denali Road Bike include:

  • 21 speeds
  • Flat handlebars
  • Shimano derailleur and shifts
  • Alloy side pull brakes
  • Lightweight aluminum frame
  • check
    700c x 32mm tires
  • check
    Alloy water bottle mount

Pros:

The GMC Denali Road Bike has the following pros:

  • It comes in several sizes so you can choose one that best fits you.
  • It is affordable.
  • A water bottle mount is included, so you won’t need to buy one.
  • It is versatile, you can use it around campus as well as on longer rides.
  • It is lightweight.
  • check
    Uphill rides are easy with this bike.

Cons:

This bike has the following shortcomings:

  • It lacks other components and accessories like fenders.
  • Exclamation Triangle
    It isn’t as durable as others in this list.

The GMC Denali Road Bike is a basic ride for individuals who need something with more than a single gear bike. It is lightweight and affordable and good for college students. However, the quality is not as enduring as the other options in this review.

10. Nashbar Alloy Sora Cyclocross Bike

Nashbar Alloy Sora Cyclocross Bike

The Nashbar Sora Cyclocross is a premium quality bike with heavy-duty aluminum frame and carbon fiber fork for a smooth, responsive riding session. You can take it around campus as well as go on cycling adventures off the beaten path. Its Tektro MDC-400 disc brakes provide great stopping power no matter the weather.

This bike is a 9-speed beast with Shimano shift levers and derailleurs that ensure smooth gear changes. The FSA Omega crank works together with the 11-32T 9-speed cassette to deliver wide gear shifts so you can cruise through challenging terrains without a sweat.

Everything on Nashbar Sora Cyclocross is externally placed and hence easy to repair and maintain. However, if you don’t like cable and other exterior elements, you could go for other options.

Features:

Some of the key features of this bike include:

  • A6-SL aluminum frame
  • FSA omega crankset
  • FC770 carbon fiber fork
  • Weinmann Zac 19 alloy wheels
  • Tektro MDC-400 disc brakes
  • check
    Kenda 700x35 tires

Pros:

The Nashbar Sora Cyclocross bike has the following advantages:

  • It is extremely versatile; you can even take it on off-road biking trips.
  • It has a stiff, durable, and lightweight frame.
  • It features top-quality Shimano components.
  • It has tough, all-weather brakes for unmatched stopping power.
  • The carbon fiber fork provides for a responsive ride.
  • check
    The several gears make this bike efficient in tacking challenging terrains.

Cons:

Some of the downsides to this bike include:

  • It doesn’t come with a water bottle.
  • Exclamation Triangle
    It is a bit pricey.

This bike offers the right balance in everything: quality and price. It has several gears, quality Shimano components, and aluminum frame, at a reasonable price. If you are a college student with a little bit of budget and want a bike you can use even for off-road adventures, look no further than Nashbar Sora Cyclocross Bike.

What to Look When Choosing a Bike for College

There are different bike models and each has a unique set of components that make it outstanding. If you are looking for a bike, you need to take time to look at what’s available and compare and contrast the various best bikes for college students and pick something that fits both your budget and comfort requirements.

Here are some of the key things to consider when scouting for a good college bike:

Bicycle type

As a student, you may think that all you need is a simple bike to spin laps with on your way to school and back. However, your interests and the activities you get involved in with your friends can determine the type of bike you need. So do a full audit of your school lifestyle and pick the bicycle that will accompany you to all your events.

Just to give you a glimpse of various options out on the market, for example, you can get a mountain bike, trail bike, comfort bikes, and hybrid bikes, among many others.

Bike frame

Durability is of the essence especially for anyone who uses a bike daily. The material of the frame determines how long your bicycle will last. Bike frames can be made from aluminum, steel, carbon, and titanium.

Steel is stylish, durable, affordable, and easy to repair but gives in to harsh weather elements. Aluminum is fashionable, durable, lightweight, and doesn’t yield to rust. Carbon frames are legendary and do not display weaknesses inherent in other frames but all that quality comes at a price. Titanium has different finishes and styles and it’s durable as well as rust-resistant.

As you can see, you have a good number of options to select from. Just make sure to take your budget into consideration before choosing one particular bike material.

Frame style and size

College is not a place to read and interact only; it’s also about displaying your style. Bikes come in different frame styles. You should pick something that is both comfortable and good-looking. To find a bike that gives you the perfect balance, consider the size of your torso and the length of your legs.

A true bicycle shop can configure your bike’s details to match the comfort level you desire. However, if yours was acquired from a store, you can take it to an expert to adjust the frame size.

Luggage holder

Normally, a backpack should help you carry everything you want for school. Nevertheless, a good bike should provide you with extra space like panniers/racks to make your life a little easier. Fenders are useful, too, especially in places with a lot of rain/mud.

Handlebar type

The type of handlebars your bike has can determine how easy or hard it will be to ride it. The higher they are above the seat, the more comfortable it gets. There is a catch though: the higher they stretch, the more pedaling power you’ll need.

Some of the common handlebar types on the market include drop bar (for road bikes), Mustache bar (road and hybrid bikes), flat bar (hybrid and mountain bikes), and rise bar (mountain bikes).

Bicycling Tips for College Students

Having a favorite college bike to spin around the neighborhood with as well as on your way to school is a cool experience. But without the best bicycling tips, you are likely to get in harm’s way and even lose your cherished possession. Here are some tips you can rely on for a smooth ride on your bike.

Wear a helmet

Either you, your parent or a sponsor has paid a lot in fees and you have committed to attending all your classes so you can have a better life ahead. So the question is, why would you want to jeopardize your entire life by not wearing a helmet? If you don’t have one now, get one as soon as possible.

Install lights and reflectors

By lights, we are not referring to the front light only. That’s enough to help you see where you are going but what about the drivers behind you? This is where you need indicators and other reflecting add-ons. It’s imperative to pack a reflective cloth, raincoat, and any other gear that keeps you safe from harsh elements.

Buy the best lock

The rule of thumb when buying a bicycle lock is that you should spend almost 20% of your ride’s cost on a security lock. Bikes get stolen all the time, especially if they are left unlocked. A lock ensures your bike will be in the school compound and exactly where you left it. The lock can also come in handy when out and about the streets to buy something.

For maximum security, you could also spend a little more on add-ons such as anti-theft skewers and other beeping gadgets that buzz when someone tries to pull something off your bike.

Carry some spare parts and tools

Your bike can’t tell you when it will break down and thus it’s up to you to keep yourself ready when such an incident occurs. Carry an extra tube, a pump, an Allen wrench set, and a patch kit for when you might need them. It’s also a good idea to have some of these tools both at home and school.

Lastly, never ride a bike that has been delivered straight from a shop before having an expert inspect it. The parts are usually put together loosely and it’s up to you to ensure every part has been firmly tightened.

Conclusion

There are many sweet rides out there but the key features of best bikes for college students are affordability, durability, and a great style. Aluminum seems to be a reliable option for those who need bikes that don’t weigh too much.

A good bike must also be customizable through various compatible accessories and components. The brakes must provide enough friction for stopping in all weather conditions. It must also be lightweight to make it easy for you to lift and carry.

As a parting advice, make sure to have your bike assembled by a skilled mechanic before hitting the road. Poor installation of parts will not only put your life in danger but your warranty might get compromised as well. Happy bike hunting!

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Robert Hallman
 

I’m a writer, blogger at Sportsly.NET. I am passionate about writing sports, sports-related equipment, accessories, tips & guide and more. I am originally from the Big Lake, Texas.