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A Guide to
Commuter & Leisure Bikes

 
 
Riding a bike doesn't have to mean you’re trying to become the next Bradley Wiggins. If you want to get a pint of milk without having to put on a pair of bibshorts and a jersey, then a commuter or leisure bike could be ideal for you.

Commuting bikes and leisure bikes are designed to be efficient and comfortable for daily use going the shops or riding to work – with the lycra left at home. They should also be able to stand up to commuting through winter. Whether you need a bike to ride to the train station, or one that'll take a bit of shopping and won't need much taking care of no matter what the weather, looking at commuting or leisure bikes will give you plenty of options.
 

Folding Bikes

 
 
The biggest advantage of a folding bike is obviously its size. Folding bikes are ideal for commuting with and can be taken on trains, into cafés and carried up flights of stairs with minimal fuss.

At work, a folding bike can fit by a desk, instead of being locked up outside and left unattended. Folding bikes are also great if you’re short on space at home. The best folding bikes should be low maintenance and easy to fold and carry. Many will also have racks, mudguards and chain covers to make them even more practical.

If packing your bike down to the minimal size is your main priority, then British company Brompton have some of most famous options. The unique twin-folding design packs into a super small size that’s easy to carry. Brompton has a large range of bikes available, from the simplicity of the single speed Brompton M1E to the six-speed Brompton P6R which comes complete with load carrying racks and even a battery-free dyno hub-powered front light.
 
 

Leisure Bikes

 
If you enjoy cycling with your family while taking in the surroundings, the latest performance road bikes probably aren't for you. A leisure bike puts comfort above performance - ideal for rides with the family and nipping to the shop.

If you’re looking for a leisure bike, you’ll want big volume tyres to cushion against bumps, a plush comfortable saddle and a nice upright riding position. For women, bikes with a step-through frame (like the Pinnacle Californium ) make it easy to get on and even ride in a skirt.

It’s not uncommon to find leisure bikes fitted with full mudguards and a full chain case to protect clothes and keep you clean. You shouldn’t even be short on choice if you’re after a basket at the front!

The best leisure bikes are perfect for Sunday cruises; ideal for riding to the pub. You can expect leisure bikes to be low maintenance, and many have hub gears, which shouldn’t require your attention. A leisure bike might not be as fast as a carbon race bike, but it’ll carry you round in style and comfort.
 
 

Singlespeed Bikes

 
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance bike to speed around town on with the minimum of fuss, then a single speed bike could be best option for you. Single speed bikes are commonly available in freewheel or fixie variants.
 
What is a fixie?

Single speed bikes are closely related to track bikes and have traditionally been fixed-geared. A fixed-gear bike is also called a fixie because it doesn’t have a freewheel hub so when riding one, you can’t stop pedaling and coast along! To reduce speed you have to resist the pedals turning. Those who’ve mastered the art of riding fixed can lock and control a rear wheel skid to scrub speed and regulate their pedaling for any situation.
   
Fixed or Free?

Most popular single speed bikes will also give you the option of running the bike ‘fixed’ or ‘free’. It’s done by using a flip-flop rear hub - one side of the hub will have a fixed-gear sprocket, and the opposite side has a freewheel. Swapping between fixed and free is as simple as turning the rear wheel round. Flip flop hubs are the ideal way to learn to ride fixed safely while still being able to use the bike.

Single speeds come in loads of different styles, from track bikes like the Hoy Fiorenzuola .001 to single speed commuter bikes like the Norco Cityglide with flat bars and simple styling.

The beauty of the single speed is its pure simplicity - no gears to worry about! The chain and sprockets last for ages and the chain doesn't get worn from constant shifting across different sprockets. Single speed riding is cycling at its purest, just turn the pedals and get out and ride. Simple.
 
 

Hybrid and City Bikes

 
Hybrid bikes come in a myriad of styles and options, all with practicality and comfort at the heart of their designs.
 
What is a hybrid bike?

The original hybrids took their the shape and styling from mountain bikes and mixed them with the advantages of a road bike. They used bigger wheels and slimmer tyres to make them faster on tarmac and have evolved into a mix of different styles.

Hybrid road bikes often have race bike styling but will have flat bars to make them comfortable and give them a riding position that’s useful in city traffic.

A great example of the flat-bar road bike style is the Fuji Absolute 1.1 with a lightweight aluminium frame, road bike gearing and road wheels with slick, fast tyres. The best hybrid road bike will be one you can ride to work during the week and will want use for a sportive at the weekend.
   
Hybrid bikes off road

Hybrids can also be designed with more obvious mountain bikes traits. Hybrids like that will still have skinnier tyres than a mountain bike and gears more suited to tarmac, but will come equipped to deal with forest tracks, towpaths, bridleways and byways. Hybrids that are designed to be more capable off-road may also be available with a suspension fork.

A hardtail hybrid bike will be able to take the sting out of knocks, bumps and ruts when venturing off the beaten track. It’s likely they’ll have big volume semi-slick tyres that are tough enough for dirt, but fast enough for the road. Hardtail hybrid bikes like the Specialized Crosstrail are a great choice if you’re looking for a bike than can be used on any surface.
   
Comfortable hybrid bikes

Hybrids don't always have to be sporty. There are plenty of hybrid bikes that still retain a comfortable upright riding position and are ideal for everything from short rides to epic bike trekking expeditions.

Many hybrids will be available in both men’s and women's (step-through) models with gearing that'll see you up the steepest incline.

You’ll also find that many hybrid road bikes will have disc brakes for excellent braking whatever the weather. If you are really looking for practicality then the best hybrid bikes will be those that have full mudguards and carrying racks.
 
 

 
 
 
This story was last updated on 25/08/2014

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