Commuting Bicycles

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Working Velo


Today, in a good part of the world, the common “hybrid” has taken the place of the workaday Raleigh three-speed, that carried generations to and from their jobs, and, depending on quality, perform well enough.

Over the last 4 years, or so, a few manufacturers have jumped into the breach offering “city bikes,” styled after traditional European classics. Common in cities like Copenhagen, the cargo bike is starting to show up in North America.

At the higher end of the working velo category there are some new and innovative arrivals such as the Surley Big Dummy and Kona Ute. These truly are modern workhorses, made to carry a load!

As with the Big Dummy (and the converted Miyata pictured above) an XtraCycle kit is just the thing to haul your work tools or carry home the week’s groceries.


Unless you have secured parking, however—a bike cage or locked garage—it may not be wise to invest a great deal in a commuter bike.

In a throw-away world, it is satisfying to find a well-maintained vintage bike to restore—an old Gitane, Raleigh, Nishiki or Apollo will fit the bill.

There are also many quality 1980s steel hardtail mountain bikes that convert reasonably well, if care is taken to raise the stem and replace the common straight handlebars with practical upright alternatives. If converting a mountain bike, replacing knobbies with road tyres is the first step.

Many gems are waiting to be given some TLC. Word is getting ’round, however, that lugged steel frames often better their modern counterparts. Accordingly, they can fetch a good price on used lists.

Women should be particularly interested in French-style “mixte” frames—once common, now a collector’s item or expensive custom option. Many companies built these in the 70s. Grab one if you can! Check out VeloWeb’s Readers’ Rides page for some examples of budget transportation options.

Any reputable local bike shop (LBS), at least one’s that aren’t just interested in selling you the latest plastic super-bike, will be happy to help with your restoration.

Regardless of the bicycle you choose or have available, minimal accessories are: mudguards (unless you live in the desert), lights, and the ability to carry a load, be that on racks, in bags or both. Of course, you should be comfortable on the bike. See the Bike Fit page for more info.

Be here soon

Are you a bicycle commuter? Veloweb wants your story. Send us a brief description of your commute and what you enjoy (and what you don’t) about your commute. Send a photo too, of you and/or your commuting bike. We’ll publish it and your story, on the Readers’ Rides page.