The 2020 school year is fast approaching. Whether students are getting ready to go back to classes, or you’re going to start your first college semester in the new year, a bicycle is a great option for transportation. It’s easy to commute to and from classes. You can go to local events, and if you need to commute longer distances from home to school, you don’t have to wait on the bus or overpay an Uber driver for a lift.
It’s important, however, to choose the right bike for college students. Here we’ll cover some features to look for in a bike for college students, and we’ll compare a few of the best bikes for college available today.
The Best Bikes for College Students
Ready to choose a new bike? If you don’t want to skimp on the quality, features, and design, but don’t want to overpay either, we have a few great options for you to consider. Let’s see what the top picks are for college students to consider when selecting their bikes for the school year.
This commuter bike has a double-butted frame, which is aluminum. It also features thumb-shifters, so you can easily change the gears. And, you don’t have to lift your hands to do so. It’s affordably priced hoovering at around $250 to $350 on Amazon as well.
Some key features you’ll appreciate include the bike’s double-walled CNC wheelset. It also features a quickrelease mechanism, so the skewers release on a dime when you need to brake/increase speeds.
It features 21- speed drivetrain gear shifts. You can tackle any hill, and rugged terrain, or quick riding throughout your college campus when you’re in a hurry to go from one class to another.
The bike’s handlebars are flat and feature a cured-down finish at the edges. The ergonomic grip gives you full control. And, the thumb shifting for your brakes and adjusting gears, means you’ll never have to lift your hands off the handlebar while riding.
- A reasonable price for the bike; if you’re on a budget, this commuter bike can serve multiple purposes
- The 21-gear shifting options gives you more power and drive to go uphill, or speed up when you’re on flat roads or going downhill
- The bike has the thumb-shifting gear design. You have full control of the bike at all times and never have to lift your hands from the handlebars
- It also has Shimano shifters, so you can rely on the quality of your braking system and gear shifts when you’re riding at fast speeds
- The frame is lightweight so you can easily transport your bike
- The aluminum frame isn’t as sturdy as carbon materials
- The bike doesn’t include a carry bag/pouch/crate
- It’s a “commuter” bike; so, don’t expect it to handle 500 miles of riding a week. It’s good to go to and from classes, but can’t tackle heavy-duty riding as other bikes can.
At under $320 dollars on Amazon, this Schwinn bike is a good deal for college students who are on a budget, and also want a brand-name they can rely upon. It’s one of the most well-known names in biking, so you can trust this is one of the best bikes for college students who do not have much money to spend on their new bike.
This bike has an aluminum rigid fitness frame. It also has a rigid fork, as well as sport-style seating. There is some padding on the cushion of your seat, and a flat handlebar design affords a comfortable grip feature for most bikers. It features a Shimano rear derailleur, and 21 different shifting options for you to ride on flat terrain or uphill with ease. EZ fire shifters allow you to quickly transition, release, hit the brakes, or adjust your gear speeds, for optimal confidence on your journey.
- It has alloy-linear pull brakes; you have both front and rear brakes, to give you more control and stop in a pinch if you have to
- Alloy rims are lightweight and items won’t get jammed in the rims or bike wheels as easily as they might with other rigid material frames
- The bike has an aluminum frame that’s light and easy to maintain
- This 1200-series bike includes a lifetime warranty, so you can rely on the power and quality delivered by the manufacturer
- Thick wheels can help you trudge up a steep hill and give you a better grounding in wet, muddy, or otherwise difficult riding conditions when you’re commuting to and from school or classes
- The freewheel isn’t well designed; you’ll feel/hear clicking and knocking while you’re pedaling, this can be tough on longer distance rides
- The handle grips aren’t firmly affixed onto your bike; this design flaw reduces the quality/precision and requires more force by bikers when they’re shifting gears
- A couple of online reviewers also indicate that the seat isn’t comfortable; it is a sport-style seat, which is narrower, so it does take some getting used to if you have never ridden on these seats on another bike.
For under $200, this is a great bike, with excellent reviews on Amazon. It comes in seven different color options, and it includes a flip-flop hub. This feature allows users to ride their bike fixed or they can use a flywheel for pedaling. It is tig-welded, and the high tensile strength ensures your bike isn’t going to crumble when you’re riding in tough conditions. It has 700X28C tires and VP freestyle pedals, for smooth, seamless pedaling.
This bike includes front and rear brakes and padded seating. You won’t experience bar-toe overlap when pedaling, giving bikers full control of their strokes and movement on up or downhill trails. With deep-v, double-wall rims, a KMC chain, and with a flat handlebar design, you have full control of your bike at all times. The commuter bike is ideal for shorter distances, and you can transition from classes, or going home after class with your bike.
- The double-wall rims are thicker and will outlast other tires/rims on bikes at this price point
- It’s lightweight with the aluminum frame, so you can easily move around and transport your bike
- A machined braking surface, as well as front and rear wheel brakes, give you control and ensure your safety on your ride
- Your tires are thicker, meaning they’re puncture resistant; they aren’t as likely to rip, tear, or release air while you’re riding
- The steel-track frame is handbuilt, for optimal durability, integrity, and structural support below your body.
- It is a fixed-gear bike, meaning it’s best for flat road commuting; you will have a tough time going up steep hills on this bike
- t has a weight capacity of 220 pounds, which is less than other bikes with this frame/stature
- Some customers complain that the wheels are too big for the frame, and pedals can get caught if you don’t pay attention while biking.
Looking for an old school or retro bike? It’s in the name! This 700C bike is a good option for budget-friendly college students who are shopping for the best bikes for college. It’s priced at under $300, and you can choose from both 15 and 18-inch sizes, based upon your height, weight, and cycling needs
Several nice features make this a good option for college students. For starters, the retro design has a large, rounded seatback, so you won’t experience discomfort when riding for long durations. It is padded, meaning the seat will absorb the majority of the impact on bumps and rough terrains. It also has a storage rack behind the seat. You can carry your books, a backpack or other items to and from class easily while freeing up your hands and body to maintain control while biking.
- The cool, retro design; we chose this bike for its quality, frame, build, and it’s affordably priced. However, it also looks great and is distinguished from others on this list with the retro style
- You have 15 and 18-inch options available
- The padded seating adds comfort for longer commutes, and the shock absorption is reduced on bumpy roads
- It has a compartment/carrier for books, backpacks, and other items you’ll take with you to and from class
- The bike is rugged, well-built, and sturdy, especially for the price point the manufacturer is charging
- It’s heavier than other bikes; the parts are a little bulky, so it isn’t as sleek as other bikes on the list
- It is a fixed-gear bike, meaning you’ll have some difficulty if you commute up or downhill
- It’s a light-commuter bike; it seems to be a little more for the show than it’s sturdiness and performance.
A final option we’ll offer on our list of the best bikes for college students is this Pure Fix Original. It is one of the pricier bikes on the list, it’s available on Amazon fro $350 to $400. There are 11 colors, and it’s available in 47 cm up to 58 cm (small through XXL) sizes. So, depending on the wheel size you prefer, your height, weight, and your riding style, there are several great options you can choose from with this bike.
This road bike is lightweight, single-speed, and features a sleek design. There’s a flexible flip-flop hub on the rear. This allows you to remain with the fixed gear design, or you can modify your freewheel onto the bike. This allows you to coast and cruise on different roadways with more ease, power, and drive, with your freewheel affixed to the bike. It’s tig-welded, and the bike is made with a high-tensile frame and a hightensile fork design, for the greatest structural integrity you can get for the price. You also have front alloy brakes. And, the full-pivot braking system, allows you to stop quickly, in wet or dry conditions, if you need to do so with little to no warning ahead of you.
- The 40 mm deep dish wheels; this design also incorporates a 700X28c tire design, for exceptional cruising, drive, and power
- You have higher levels of contact with the road, and the pivot braking system allows you to stop in uncertain conditions while you’re biking
- The frame and components are backed by a manufacturer’s warranty, so you know you’re covered in the event you have problems with your new bike after purchasing it
- The flip-flop hub is an excellent feature; you have the option to ride with a free or fixed-wheel control, depending on if you choose to add your freewheel or not
- You can affix different features like a crate/storage compartments, water bottle holder, and other features; you can also choose from multiple sizes ranging from 47 cm up to 58 cm, so there’s the ideal height and finish for all bikers, regardless of your weight or height.
- The bike is 90% assembled; so, there is a little bit of work you’ll have to do to put it together. Some reviewers indicate the instructions aren’t very clear for you to assemble the bike
- A couple of reviewers also suggest the bike’s tires tear easily. If you inflate over 80 psi, this can cause more wear on the tires (even though the suggested filling limit is 65 psi to 110 psi)
- It is the most expensive in the bunch, so budget shoppers might find it a little too costly for their budget. And, although you have options of colors, size, and height, you do pay a premium (increase) for larger bikes, and some of the colors through Amazon.
Buyer’s Guide: What to Look for in the Best Bikes
We know you have many options to consider when buying a new bike for college. So, what should you look for, and how do you know what the best bikes for college students are? Here are some things you should look for before you invest in a new bike.
The Frame Material
The best bicycle materials are typically carbon. But, carbon is expensive, which means many college students can’t afford it. What’s the alternative? Aluminum is a good frame material option. It’s durable, and for riding to and from class, it’s more than sufficient for most students. It’s sturdy, light, and you can easily maintain the bike with regular cleaning. If you plan on using your bike for more than going to and from class, and you can afford a carbon-frame, by all means, make the purchase. If, however, you’re a broke college student, aluminum will suffice for your necessities when you’re riding to and from class with your bike.
This wouldn’t be a primary aspect/characteristic we’d include for most bikes, however, for college students, it’s an important feature. You’re carrying
- Clothing, shoes, gear
- Gym equipment
- Materials for classes, and so forth
You don’t want to carry all of this on your back, or in a shoulder-carry bag while riding a bike. You want the freedom of range and mobility when you’re riding to class. Therefore, you should look for a bike that has storage cases or compartments. And, if it doesn’t include them, a bike that allows you to mount storage compartments or crates onto your bike. It will make your life much easier if you can free up your hands while riding. And, it’s also going to be easier for you to ride and maneuver on tight corners and busy streets when you do not have to carry a heavy bag around your shoulder and body. Make sure you consider this feature as you’re comparing the best bikes for college students available to you.
Handlebars & Saddle
Let’s talk about the saddle. You want a comfortable seat to sit on. Look for something with padding, and shocks, so you don’t take the brunt of the impact when you go over a pothole or ditches. And, if you’re riding at faster speeds, a smooth saddle is going to make the ride more enjoyable for you on longer trips.
The handlebars should afford you a comfortable grip as well. You want to choose a bike with ergonomic handlebars, that allow you to hold them from the sides or above, and allow you to maintain full control when you’re riding in busy streets and intersections. A flat bar is what most bikers prefer. It’s comfortable and allows you to place your hands in the ideal position when you’re riding your bike.
If possible, try out a few bikes at a local store. Sit on the seat, grip the handlebars, and see how you feel on the bike. You don’t have to make your mind up immediately or buy the first bike you find. So, take your time, do a few test rides, and see if you can sit on a few bikes, and see how you feel on it before you make the investment and choose your new bike for the school year.
You’re maneuvering tight corners, making sharp turns and curves, and you need to get up a steep hill to get from one class to another. Gear shifting is very important when you are deciding on the right bike to purchase as a college student. If you have a hilly commute, make sure you have a bike with multiple gears to help you get up those steep spikes along your road. If you need to climb for long durations, you are going to want a bike with low gears. This will help you stand on the bike, so you can use your leg/quads going up the hill. It will also allow you to kick into a lower gear if you need more action and power from the bike.
Again, compare a few bikes, test them out, and if you can do a test run before choosing your bike, this is the best approach to choosing the right bike for the upcoming school year.
Unfortunately, for most college students a bike is an expensive investment. Therefore, you’ll want to consider the best budget-friendly bikes when you’re ready to buy a new one. You don’t have to compromise on quality, nor should you. And, if you take your time to see what’s out there, and shop online, you can find great deals. Therefore, take your time in the shopping process. You’ll find a better bike in the end, and you might even find a better deal with one retailer/online site if you do your comparison shopping before you invest.
Final Thoughts… What’s the Best Bike for College?
It depends on the buyer! It depends on how your commute looks. If you need a bike to work through rugged terrain and hills, you might choose a different bike than a student commuting on flat roads. If you can spend a little more you might opt for the carbon frame instead of the aluminum one. Taking your time in the decision-making process is the best approach to take when comparing bikes. You’ll eventually end up with the best product, something that’s suited to your riding needs, and an affordable bike for your commutes around campus and to different locations, you have to get through during the school year.
No matter what your budget is, these are a few of our picks for the best bikes for college students. Compare the features, and you’ll find it easier to make the right purchase decision when the time comes to do so.