What makes a bike urban? Well, it really means different things to different people. Some of you will be picturing a Dutch-style bicycle when you think of city living, and for many these are great for getting around town.
But here at TWC, we prefer something a little more robust for our commute and weekday fitness rides. That's where hybrids come in, and there's now a huge range of them that are specifically designed with the pavement in mind.
Thankfully, it's now also much easier to find a women-specific bike in this category too. Smaller parts and skirt-friendly step-through frames are increasingly popular.
Of course, unisex bikes also have two wheels and therefore will fulfil many commuters criteria. But we think women's specific bicycles can also be really beautiful as well as practical.
When buying an urban bike, make sure to look for additional features like mudguards and pannier racks, or the right fixings for you to fit these in the future. You may also want to consider chain guards to keep things clean, and hub gears to minimise the need for maintenance.
And finally remember that riding position is very much a personal choice, however it's likely that in the city you'll want to be more relaxed than on your road bike, with a great view of the road. Flat bars are therefore more common on urban bikes.
Charge Grater 1 Mixte, £429.99 (£349 ATOW)
Visually, it's a lovely middle ground between a Dutch-style bike and a more utilitarian hybrid. And although the Charge Plug is hugely popular with city-dwellers, we love that the Grater comes with mud guards and a step-through frame. Still as simple and easy on the eye as Charge's more popular sibling, but a little more city-ready, we reckon.
At the time of writing, it's in the Evans sale for only £349. Total steal.
Whyte Fairfield Ladies, £499
Technically the Whyte Fairfield Ladies bike is their 'All terrain' rather than 'City' range, but we reckon the Fairfield is a great buy for those of you wanting something well-made and reliable for getting about town.
It comes with Maxxis Roamer tyres with puncture protection, which are as helpful when riding on glass-covered city roads as they are on the tow path.
It also has a full Shimano drivetrain, which is quite difficult to find at this price point for women's specific bikes. In basic parlance: the parts are good quality and are likely to last for a long time. It's got an Shimano Acera rear mechanism too (third from the bottom of the Shimano range – again good at this price point).
You can currently get it for £499 on Cycles UK or at your local stockist. Thumbs up all round.
(Pssst... can you stretch a bit further with your budget? For £550, we'd recommend spending a little more on the Whyte Carnaby. It has disc brakes which are perfect for giving extra security in wet, British weather.)
Trek 7.2 FX Disc, £475
We really like the simple design on the Trek 7.2 FX Disc – very city chic. It's also very well-specced for the price, with a load of Shimano elements. This makes it worth investing in over the cheaper 7.1 FX.
It also has good quality Bontrager components (saddle, seatpost, handlebars, etc). It provides comfort, without many of the limitations presented by Dutch-style cruisers.
It also has disc brakes, which aren't effected by wet weather like more traditional brakes. Trek bill it as the perfect fitness bike, and we'd be inclined to agree. It's a solid choice for city riding, and the slightly less expensive version of the 7.2 without disc brakes is also a great shout – the 2015 version is currently hard to find online though.
Get it from Evans here for £475.
Carrera Subway 1 Women's Hybrid Bike 2015, £449.99 (£299.99 ATOW)
The Carrera Subway 1 Women's Hybrid Bike 2015 is, at this moment, cheap as chips on the Halfords site. It's got 24 speed Shimano gears, a Suntour chainset, disc brakes that are perfect for winter in the city, and tyres designed specifically for riding in the concrete jungle.
It's a good quality build, with enough integrity to be taken off-road if needs be. It also looks pretty cool for a cheap bike, right?
You can currently get this Careera Subway 1 Women's Hybrid from Halfords for £299.99.
Jamis Commuter 3 Femme 2015 Women's Hybrid Bike, £500 (£400 ATOW)
Jamis have a bit of a reputation for putting together good quality, cheap steeds, and we're impressed with the Jamis Commuter 3 Femme 2015 Women's Hybrid Bike. A great choice for the maintenance-fearing commuter, this model comes with Shimano Nexus hub gearing – where the mechanism is not exposed to the elements – instead of more common derailleur gears.
It also comes with a rack and all-important mud guards. It's one of simplest, no-nonsense commuter bikes we've seen in this price-range.
And if you still feel like £400 is a bit much, it's also worth checking out the cheaper Jamis Commuter 2.
Buy the Jamis Commuter 3 Femme 2015 Women's Hybrid Bike from Evans Cycles – currently reduced to £400.
Specialized Source Step-Through, £500
Another bike at the top end of the price-range, but it's there for a reason. The Specialized Source Step-Through is a commuter's dream: a step-through frame; geometry that makes riding a breeze; all the extras you want for city living (mudguards, rack); high-quality Specialized elements; and well-specced mechanisms and parts that will ensure you're able to lay down some impressive speed for years to come.
It's also, we think, really bloomin' pretty. Buy it from Tredz for £500.
Ridgeback Vanteo Open Frame, £499.99
We previously recommended the Ridgeback Element, but the 2015 model has undergone a bit of a price makeover. Therefore, for this price range we're pointing you towards the Vanteo Open Frame commuter hybrid.
It's another impressive model with coveted disc brakes, a light aluminium frame and top-to-toe Shimano parts on the groupset. It's also just straight-up comfortable and practical. It may not come with a rack or mudguards, but at this price we reckon you'll be hard pressed to find a more reliable and long-lasting bicycle on the market.
Pinnacle Lithium Three 2015 Women's Hybrid Bike, £450
We previously recommended the 2014 Lithium, and we're still impressed with Pinnacle's 2015 bike in this price range. We're also really excited by that lurid yellow/green colour. It's dreamy.
The Pinnacle Lithium Three Women's Hybrid Bike features disc brakes (awesome for wet weather) and fat tyres (super on-trend right now). It's got the character of a mountain bike, with an urban feel that we love. It's also glow in the dark. YOU HEARD. A great all-rounder that we'd be proud to ride through the city on.
Currently available from Evan's Cycles for £450.
Liv Alight 3 City, £349.00
Liv is Giant's brand for women's specific bikes, and we certainly like how the Liv Alight 3 City has female-friendly geometry and sizings. It's got that coveted quality of stability, meaning that even the most nervous of cyclists should feel a little more confident with this model in their control.
A step-through frame and plenty of commuter-friendly extras (love a kickstand) make this a great choice for those of you that are looking for a bike with the strength to carry your shopping home rather traverse the countryside with. It's certainly more on the road-loving side of a hybrid. Another good option on the cheaper end of the scale.
Marin Terra Linda SC2, £450
Another very sleek-looking machine, this Marin Terra Linda SC2 with women's specific geometry and rather beautiful stylings is a lovely option for city-dwellers on a budget.
A 9 speed machine with Shimano Altus/Acera derailleurs and a lady-friendly saddle to boot, we can't find much wanting in this Marin. It's light, comfortable and a great value buy.