What Makes A Good Commuter Bike?

Owenhouse Team Members Bike Commuting

Have you ever considered commuting by bike to work, school, or just around town? Using cycling as a means of transportation has a wide range of positive effects on personal, environmental, and economic health. Bozeman is also an exceptional destination for bike commuting. Bozeman’s Mountains to Main Street trail system connects different parts of the valley while avoiding vehicle traffic and is a great scenic option for commuters. If riding on roads is unavoidable, no worries. Most Bozeman streets are bicycle friendly, and you can avoid busy roads by riding on neighboring streets with less traffic.

You might be thinking, “This sounds great, but where do I start?” Preparing for your commute can sometimes feel overwhelming, but in reality, you just need a few important items to ensure a successful start. Here are Owenhouse Cycling’s suggestions for a good commuter bike.

It All Starts With The Bike

In all honesty, If the brakes work and the bike pedals, it is a viable commuter bike! You could commute on a new bike, old bike, road bike, or trail bike. With that said, each bike will provide a unique experience depending on the road surface, distance, and conditions of a route. We have listed a few examples of commuter bikes below, along with their advantages and disadvantages.

couple on a road bike ride

Road Bikes

If your route to work mainly consists of bike-friendly roads, a road bike could be a great commuting option for you.

Advantages: The pedaling efficiency and easy climbing of a road bike will provide a swift journey to and from your destination.

Disadvantages: Road bikes are great on paved roads and in nice weather, but if you need to ride off-road or encounter sloppy winter muck, the skinny tires of the road bike might not be enough.

man riding commuter bike off road in bozeman montana

Off-Road Commuters

Looking to take your commute off-road? A gravel bike, hardtail, or rigid-frame mountain bike would also be great options that will perform well on a variety of surfaces.

Advantages: These do-it-all bikes offer a nice balance of pedaling efficiency and multi-trail capabilities. Does your commute take you on service roads or double-track? A gravel bike might be the tool for the job. Is there a shortcut along your commute that utilizes singletrack through the woods? A hardtail mountain bike will get you through it with a smile on your face!

Disadvantages: While these versatile bikes roll over mixed terrain with ease, their large tires and upright positioning restrict their pedaling efficiency.

e-bike with donuts in the front basket


Depending on the length of your commute, you may also consider an E-bike or an E-cargo bike.

Advantages: E-bikes are great if you have a long or hilly commute. Cargo E-bikes are great for picking up groceries, running errands, or picking up kids from school. The best part about E-bikes? There’s a version of E-bike available for every type of ride. Today, there are E-bikes that ride great on paved roads, gravel roads, and even rocky trails.

Disadvantages: E-bikes often need considerable space to store. This will be important to consider if you lack bike storage at your riding destination.

Pro Tip: Bike Safety

Remember, commuter bikes often get locked outside, so keep that in consideration while choosing the right bike. We recommend selecting a commuter bike with a muted or simple paint job and avoiding flashy components or accessories.

Got a nice seat on your bike? Seats are an easy component to walk away with. This not only hurts the wallet but makes for an impossible ride home (ouch). Prevent potential theft by using theft-deterring techniques like covering your seat with a bag or by adding tape to make it seem like it is worn.

How Do I Carry Things?

Depending on what you are using your commuter bike for, you may consider adding a bag system to your bike. There are several options depending on the type of bike you are riding.

bike bags at owenhouse cycling

Panniers (pan · yrz)

Panniers offer lots of storage for groceries and other important cargo. Most pannier options will require a rear rack. There are many rack options for all types of bikes. We have a variety of pannier options from Ortlieb and Giant Bicycles.

frame bags on gravel bike

Frame Bags

If you don’t want to commit to adding a rack system to your bike, you could consider a frame bag. Frame bags fit best on hardtails and rigid-frame bikes. We carry Blackburn and Revelate Designs; come in to see if they will work on your bike.

Handlebar Bags

If you don’t have much to carry, you can pick up a handlebar bag for snacks and other small items. Handlebar bags are great for holding a phone, keys, or wallet as well. Once you reach your destination, you can remove the handlebar bag and take your belongings with you.

commuter riding with backpack


Finally, if you want to keep it simple, you can always ride with a backpack. Keep in mind that the backpack sits directly on your back while riding. This can sometimes cause unwanted back sweating on warm days. Having the weight directly on your back can also make for an uncomfortable ride during long commutes.

Other Important Accessories For Commuting

There are a variety of accessories that can make your commute safer and more comfortable. Here are a few of our top recommended accessories for ensuring a successful commute.

wall of helmets at owenhouse cycling

Accessories For Safety

Riders should always ride with a helmet, no matter the length of the commute. Front and rear lights are also key to alerting drivers of your presence on the road. You should use both lights during the day and night for extra caution. Additionally, bells are great for alerting pedestrians and other cyclists of your presence.

bike locks at owenhouse cycling

Keep Your Bike Secure

Once you arrive at your destination, you need to lock up your bike. We have a broad selection of cable and U-locks in the store.

bike fenders at owenhouse cycling

Fenders For Rainy Days

Finally, if you are going to be commuting in a variety of weather conditions, fenders may be a great addition to your commuter bike.

The Most Important Part, The Rider!

Committing to commuting by bike can be intimidating, but with the proper setup, you will be prepared for any conditions mother nature has to offer. Commuting by bike is great for your health, the environment, and your pocketbook. So don’t wait. Come into Owenhouse Cycling today, and we will get you set up with the ideal bike for your commute.

Click here to view bike rental costs in Bozeman or here to view new bikes for sale.

Interested in learning more about bike gear & accessories?

Check out the Owenhouse Cycling Blog for great articles on all things cycling in Bozeman! Last month, we discussed the 4 best trail snacks for mountain biking. What is your favorite trail snack? Do you think we covered it in our top 4? Head over to the blog to find out!

Post navigation