Looking for a great round-town bike? Here’s our pick of six tough, fun urban road warriors perfect for commuting.
Urban bikes come in all shapes and sizes. From slick-tyre hybrids to flat-bar road bikes, or Dutch style sit-up-and-beg bikes. An urban bike can have a step-through frame or a standard, unisex, shape and still be ‘female specific’ by clever tweaking of the geometry, fit and handling. Female-specific urban bikes are fitted with women’s saddles and components to make life on the bike more comfortable and easier.
Many manufacturers still offer a step-through frame design, in days gone by these bikes were designed for decorum and accommodating skirts, but they are back in fashion for their looks (and because you can ride them in a skirt).
When buying an urban bikes, look for additional useful features like mudguards, pannier racks or the right fixings for you to fit these in the future. Some have chain guards or even wheel guards to keep your trousers, skirt or dress clean.
Urban bikes are designed to get you around town efficiently and comfortably. The riding position is nice and upright giving you a good view of the road and a relaxed position.
The more you spend the lighter the bike tends to be, meaning that hills and accelerating are easier, although if you live in a flat town you can afford to be less worried about the bike’s weight.
1. Pendleton Somerby – £299
Victoria Pendleton has brought the relaxed ‘sit-up and beg’ design bike stylishly to the masses with her Pendleton Somerby cruiser-style bike at only £299, available on the High Street via Halfords.
It’s a great round town bike with a lovely mix of traditional and modern twists, such as the sweeping steel handlebars and large sprung leather style saddle mixed with the ever-reliable V-brakes. The powder blue frame and cream tyres certainly turn heads around town and you can ride on by, knowing you snagged a great deal too, as the panniers and mudguards are included.
2. Dutchie Chic Eight-Speed – £398
For a classic step-through women’s bike, look no further than the Dutchie Chic Eight-Speed, fitted with an eight-speed Sturmey Archer internal hub gear for low maintenance and quiet, smooth gear shifting.
The Chic Eight-Speed costs £398 and comes with a raft or extras including pump, bell, dynamo powered lights, pannier rack, full length mudguards, a stand, puncture resistant tyres, integrated security lock plus chain enclosure and wheel guards to keep your clothes clean and in one piece.
Braking comes from a V-brake on the front and a retro but reassuring hub brake system on the rear. The hub brake is built into the rear hub keeping it clean from the weather and virtually maintenance free but it’s still operated from a lever on the bar like a normal brake.
The only downside to Dutch style bikes is that they aren’t designed to be the lightest bike on the street, instead they are all about comfort, ease of use and reliability.
3. Ridgeback Element Open Frame – £499
Ridgeback’s Element Open Frame bike costs £499 and has an adjustable multi-position stem, so you can alter the height of the bars and easily find the right riding position for you.
The frame is an ‘open’ design, meaning the top tube is lower, making getting on an off the bike less of a stretch, as well as providing plenty of stand over room.
The gears are from the Shimano Acera range and the road bike-sized wheels have the smooth rolling and puncture resistant, fat Continental Contact 32mm tyres to confidently tackle the rigours of city streets.
4. Specialized Globe Daily Step Through - £600
The Globe Daily Step Through is a stunner to look at, with virtually every component from the chain guard to the rack and mudguards is shiny silver! The women-specific saddle and grips are retro coloured in brown and stand out against the shiny backdrop of the bike.
For reliable gear changing and low maintenance the Shimano Nexus internal 7-speed hub gears are coupled with the Shimano Nexus Twist shifter. This system allows you to change gear by twisting the grip rather than using a lever, and the internal gears are very reliable as they don’t get exposed to the weather or suffer any impacts.
The wheels are 700c, standard road bike size and the nicely wide 28mm tyres are Specialized Infinity with the puncture resistant Flak Jacket protection. You really do get quite a lot for the £600 price tag.
5. Trek Neko SL – £675
The Trek Neko SL is a women-specific townie with a difference: its fat road-bike-size tyres make it capable of bombing cheerfully along towpaths and easy trails as well as shrugging off the worst potholes.
It even has a suspension fork to spare your wrists the impact of holes and rocks, and its huge gear range makes it capable of tackling the steepest hills, so it’s a great weekend bike too.
There’s a Bontrager women’s saddle, of course, and Trek has been in the vanguard of women-specific frame design since 2001, so the ride and handling are poised, comfortable and sorted.
6. Whyte Victoria - £699
Whyte’s Victoria women’s bike has mountain bike geometry with road inspired components such as the trusty Shimano Sora gearing. It’s definitely been designed for the Great British commute!
The compact frame is tweaked to ride fast on tarmac and the Tektro Hydraulic brakes give responsive and reliable braking, although be warned, these do take a bit more maintenance than your usual V-brakes.
At only £699, the Whyte Victoria is worthy of a higher price tag and shares many features with significantly spendier flat-barred road oriented bikes.
Home page image for this story by danielfoster437 via Flickr.