If you can replace a punctured tyre in less than 40 minutes with minimal cursing, welcome to the average bicyclist club.
We mediocre riders of city and hybrid bikes can be observed every single day blocking busy intersections, zig-zagging through confused pedestrians with flower-filled panniers, or parading our non-matching socks while waiting under red traffic lights.
We deliberately choose not to wedge our bodies into obscenely packed train carriages, or inch our cars along planet-killing motorways. Yet, we know little to nothing about pro-cycling – we just enjoy the perfect speed between walking and driving.
As biking is becoming more popular than ever for a combination of pandemic bike frenzy and petrol price hikes, it’s never been a better time to get back on the saddle.
But what exactly is a city bike?
City bikes are for short-distance commutes and inner-city riding. They put together the all-purpose hybrid bike with modern, stylish design features that make moving around the city much easier. Most of them have flat-styled handlebars and almost all models come complete with mudguards, chain guards, lights, and integrated pannier racks for your baguettes and paper bags full of vegetables. In other and much simpler words, city bikes opt for a functional design over speed.
Feeling overwhelmed by the choice and variety of city bikes on the market? Can’t remember how to ride? Moved by the desire to obstruct traffic like a fashionista?
This best city bike round-up is for you.
Brompton C Line
The C Line is the classic Brompton - it’s all steel with the distinctive 3-part fold and has been handmade in London since 1975. The C Line is the ultimate all-rounder, with options catering to city riding or adventures further afield.
With hand-brazed steel frame and forks, the C Line is available in Urban, Utility and Explore versions to meet different needs: the Urban is a minimalist, straightforward, and lighter option for zipping around the city. With two gears, the bike is lighter to both ride and carry.
The Utility is a three-speed steel bike with a hub gear. The gears sealed inside are protected from city grit and water, ergo less maintenance.
The Explore is the Indiana Jones of Bromptons – ready for anything. Equipped with six gears, load this bike with luggage and a rack for all-weather commutes or longer touring trips.
Pricey, but will last a lifetime.
Buy now £1195.00, Halfords
Specialized Sirrus 1.0
The Sirrus 1.0 is a bottom-of-the-range model, but it’s a great value for money. Although not lightweight, it works without a fuss, and it reacts quickly and efficiently without being overly affected by under-tread imperfections.
The Sirrus 1.0 comes equipped with mounts for mudguards and panniers, and a cheap but sturdy Shimano Altus shifting.
You can easily ride this bike on tarmac or gravel and you won’t notice the difference because of its ability to always stay connected with the road. The downside is that it feels too heavy to ride when you’re in a rush due to the sluggish tyres.
Buy now £525.00, Evans Cycles
Cannondale Adventure 2
This errand-running friendly bike will make you smile. This part-cruiser, part-fitness bike comes with fenders and a low step-thru frame. It’s a thoroughly modern take on a classic design that results in the easiest bicycle to kick-start your ride. Anyone can step on, set off, and park easily with the built-in kickstand. All that’s left to do is enjoy the ride.
Stylish and comfy, the price tag reflects this, but you’re paying extra for the great flexibility that this bike offers and Cannondale’s signature attention to detail. The all-purpose Adventure comes with a 7-speed microSHIFT MS25, making it ideal for zipping through traffic, picking up bread from the bakery, or simply riding with a friend on a sunny afternoon.
Buy now £700.00, Evans Cycles
Pendleton Somerby Hybrid Bike
The Pendleton Somerby is a traditional Dutch-style bike and it’s perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. Set up in 2012 by Victoria Pendleton after her success at the London Olympics, the range is sold exclusively in Halfords.
It’s aesthetically pretty - complemented with a tan saddle and tan handlebar grips- and it has this great ability to give the rider a natural charm, while making you feel like you’re cycling on the streets of Paris or Amsterdam.
You won’t need to roll up your trousers to ride this as the chain guard will save your clothes any damage from grease, while the step-through frame is skirt friendly.
Buy now £310.00, Halfords
The Velobello Soho is an affordable off-the-shelf single speed bike for urban fashionistas. It ticks most boxes as an entry-level city bike: it looks awesome, it gives you a solid ride experience, and, most of all, feels extra comfy.
When riding around the city, the Velobello insulates you from bumps and lumps thanks to the round steel frame tubing and matching steel fork. Handcrafted in Europe in high-quality components, it is virtually maintenance-free.
One of the biggest advantages of this single-speed bike is its simplicity which combines riding pleasure with minimum fuss.
Buy now £360.00, eBay
Pinnacle Lithium 3
The Pinnacle Lithium 3 is Evans Cycles’ best-selling do-it-all hybrid. Part-city, part-touring bike, it can cover multiple terrains.
Not only is the new Lithium unisex, but it’s lighter and even more versatile than most of its competitors – and comes at a much cheaper price. The aluminium fork with triple-pack mounts lets you mount anything from mudguards and front racks to extra water bottles or even additional luggage for overnight adventures and beyond.
Buy now £399.00, Evans Cycles
The Thoroughbred bike is named after a world-famous, hot-blooded racing horse. It totally reflects the character of this bike.
Designed in London, the Thoroughbred guarantees a smooth and stylish trip. The frame is fitted with eyelets for mounting items such as bottles, racks, baskets and guards.
Stitched vegan leather saddle and handgrips give a luxury feel and with three colourways to choose from, this classic city bike with a fiery edge is perfect for bypassing traffic.
Buy now £450.00, Steed Bikes
Canyon Commuter 7
If you’re looking to to settle for a city bike that just simply takes you from point A to B, this Canyon is not for you.
The Commuter 7 looks like a pro-level bike, but it’s made for urban riding. It comes with a rear rack, full-length aluminium mudguards, a clean and commuter-friendly Gates Carbon belt drive, front and rear dynamo lighting – and even a bell. Ding-ding!
The brake hose and the dynamo wires are hidden inside the full-carbon fork, allowing more space around the handlebar for your phone and extra lights. Much like pro-level bikes, this Canyon is a one-piece bar and stem meaning less corrosion around bolts. In other words, this is a great all-rounder bike that comes, of course, with a price tag.
Buy now £1195.00, Cycle Exchange
Buying a Brompton is an investment, no doubt about that, but it’s worthwhile. The C Line is everything a rider needs: it folds down to a portable, practical size in under 20 seconds, it can be taken on public transport when the rain is too heavy for fair-weather cyclists like us, and it gives you great acceleration and manoeuvrability in traffic. On top of that, a Brompton is the toughest bike you’ll ever ride on and it can take anything a city throws at them.