9 Best Bikes for College Students (Cheap Commuter Bikes) – 2020

It costs over $700 a month, on average, to own a car. While that might be no big deal for people using their cars to get to a well-paying job, it can be a real problem for college students! If you don’t have a spare $700 a month to put towards the cost of a car, you are probably thinking about other ways to get to and from school. 

One of the cheapest and easiest ways to commute to college classes is by bicycle. Bikes offer you much more flexibility than other motorized vehicles like scooters, and they’re a lot more affordable. We decided to put together a list of the best bicycles for college students so that you can ditch the car and start riding.

Top 3 Comparison Table
IMAGEPRODUCTDETAILS
Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bike
  • Features: Aluminum frame, 21 speed, rear derailleur, Shimano shifters, rear cargo rack, alloy linear-pull brakes
  • Benefits: Optimal comfort and fit adjustment, powerful gear system for climbs, quality components for durability and performance
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6KU Aluminum Fixed Gear
  • Features: Aluminum alloy frame, fixed gear, removable front and rear brakes
  • Benefits: Lightweight and portable, customizable for each user experience, safe and simple for new riders
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Schwinn Loop Adult Folding Bike
  • Features: Aluminum alloy stand-over frame, 7 speeds, included cargo rack and fenders, linear-pull brakes, 20” alloy rims
  • Benefits: Easy to transport and store on campus, powerful enough for inclines and speed, useful accessories for increased function
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To make our determinations, we looked at the top-selling bikes from several different cycling categories, reviewed new releases from well-established brands, and spoke to local experts in college towns. After 5 days of research and many hours of reviews, we are happy to proclaim the Schwinn Discover as our Top Pick for college students.

The Schwinn Discover is a versatile hybrid bike that will give you the best of a road bike with the added stability of a mountain bike. It is fast, well-geared, budget-friendly. Schwinn is known to make quality materials, meaning that you can be confident your investment will give you years of comfortable and effective biking experiences.

Rider HeightInseamFrame Size
4’10” – 5’1”25”- 27”18”
5’2” – 5’5”27.5” – 29”20”
5’6”-5’9”29.5” – 31”21”
5’10” – 6’1”31.5” – 33”22”
6’2”+33.5” +23”+

9 Best Bikes for College Students

We tried to compile a list of bikes for college students with all kinds of different needs and situations. The list below offers options across a wide range of prices, features, and functions. 

1. Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bike – Top Pick

We know that certain students will need specific features in their bicycles. Some may need one that folds or doubles as a mountain bike. But for the vast majority of students, the Schwinn Discover Hybrid will check every box. If you’re looking for a classic bike with the best features of road bikes and mountain bikes combined, look no further.

The Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bike comes in at a very reasonable price for college students on a budget. And with that price, you get a high-quality bike with 21 speeds, a padded seat, and a rear cargo rack already installed. Schwinn offers a lifetime limited warranty for the frame and some of the parts as well.

Features: Aluminum frame, 21 speed, rear derailleur, Shimano shifters, rear cargo rack, alloy linear-pull brakes

Pros

  • Classic design
  • Budget-friendly
  • Lots of gears for tough climbs
  • Great suspension (similar to a mountain bike)

Cons

  • Some assembly is definitely required. A few of the bikes on our list come mostly assembled, but this one will demand a bit more attention.
  • The good news is you have the option of upgrading to a pre-assembled model or you can have your local shop assemble it for you and help you adjust the fit.

2. 6KU Aluminum Fixed Gear – Best Fixed Gear

Fixed gear bikes have been a college staple for many years now. While they were initially popular as a trendy bike style, they have endured for a few reasons. 

Fixed gear bikes are by far the easiest to maintain because they have very few parts. They also tend to be incredibly lightweight and affordable (also due to the lack of parts). These bikes make for great college commuters because they are affordable to most students, light enough to carry through buildings if needed, and maintenance-free for kids on a budget.

Our favorite “fixie” bike is the 6KU Aluminum Fixed Gear. It is a beautiful-looking bike made of aluminum alloy that rates close to carbon in terms of durability. 

Most fixed gear bikes have front and rear brakes, but you can remove those on this bike if you prefer to brake through pedal resistance. We found this bike to be a smooth and comfortable ride and a great choice for a student who is serious about fixies.

Features: Aluminum alloy frame, fixed gear, removable front and rear brakes

Pros

  • Sleek design
  • Budget-friendly
  • Ergonomic seat/handlebar positioning
  • Removable brakes

Cons

  • Many riders reported dissatisfaction with the double-sided hub. While we didn’t experience any issues with it directly, there are reviews claiming that it wears out quickly and is of relatively low quality. However, if you find this to be true on yours, you can easily upgrade and replace it with a better part.

3. Schwinn Loop – Best Folding Bike

One type of bike we’ve been seeing more and more of lately is the folding bike. A folding bike does exactly what it says: it folds up! This is amazing for students who may need to employ multiple modes of transportation to get to school (such as riding the train or bus), or for students who do not have access to safe bike storage during class.

The Schwinn Loop Folding Bike is considered a “space-saving bike” and will fit great in your dorm room or small off-campus apartment. Being able to bring your bike into buildings with you means you don’t always have to carry around heavy locks as well. It has 7-speeds to get you moving at a brisk pace and even comes with its own carrying back to make things easier.

Features: Aluminum alloy stand-over frame, 7 speeds, included cargo rack and fenders, linear-pull brakes, 20” alloy rims

Pros

  • Easy to fold and unfold
  • Can store in small spaces
  • Comes with its own carrying bag
  • Included accessories are a cost-saver
  • Reliable

Cons

  • There isn’t a locking mechanism once folded. It would be helpful to have that added on so that it is more stable when folded, but we assume that’s why the bag is included.
  • If you don’t want to use the bag, it’s still simple to add your own strap or magnet to make things more secure.

4. sixthreezero EVRYjourney Step-Through Hybrid Alloy Beach Cruiser Bicycle – Best Cruiser

Cruisers are another staple on college campuses. A cruiser bike is made for comfort over performance and promises to get you to your destination with a smile on your face. 

The EVRYjourney Step-Through Hybrid Beach Cruiser from sixthreezero has long been a favorite of ours for many types of riding. It is incredibly well-made and has been growing a very loyal fanbase over the years. The step-through frame makes it easy to get on and off the saddle, giving riders of different heights more flexibility. 

It provides a generous 7 speeds, which should be enough to get you up and down some moderate hills if needed. We also appreciate the comfortable seat and good suspension system for comfort over any rough terrain.

Features: Multiple gears and speed options, front and rear handbrakes, comfortable and large tires

Pros

  • Step-through frame is very clothing-friendly
  • Multiple gear options to customize as needed
  • Really comfortable ride for moderate cruising
  • Easy to add and support a basket for gear hauling

Cons

  • This is a bike better suited to shorter riders. While it claims to accommodate riders up to 6’4”, we found the positioning to get a little uncomfortable at that height.
  • We think it is best suited for the 5’ to 6’1” demographic.

5. Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bike – Best Mountain Bike

You don’t need to attend college in the mountains to make good use of a mountain bike. Mountain bikes are sometimes overlooked as commuters because of their overall bulk. But we think they are a really great option for students who may want to use their bike on varied terrain.

A commuter or road bike may be the most natural fit for most college students, but if you also like riding on trails, we think it’s more than ok to double-up. The Schwinn High Timber is a mountain bike that will serve you well in the great outdoors and also get you quickly and comfortably to your classes.

It is well-priced for the quality of build and has 21 speeds for maximum incline support. Despite the steel frame, it is relatively lightweight for a mountain bike but still gives great shock absorption through its Suntour suspension system.

Features: Steel frame, 29” wheels, SR Suntour M2000 front suspension fork, 21-speed Shimano shifter

Pros

  • Included kickstand
  • Can be upgraded and customized as you get used to it
  • Really comfortable ride
  • 21 gears provide a lot of support

Cons

  • We think it’s kind of strange for a mountain bike to not come with a water bottle holder!
  • While this is an easy after-market addition, it might catch some riders off guard.

6. ANCHEER 500W/250W Electric Bike – Best Motorized Bike

Let’s face it- sometimes you just don’t have the energy for a bike ride. If there’s one particular hill standing in the way of you and a car-free commute to campus, give an E-Bike a try. 

The ANCHEER 500W/250W Electric Bike can give you the best of both worlds with both traditional pedaling and a motorized assist. Go up to 25mph when you don’t have it in you to keep pedaling.

Aside from the allure of the motor, this is a really well-made bike with some great components. The carbon and aluminum frame keep things as lightweight as they can be for an E-Bike, and the 21-speed transmission quickly gets you where you need to be. Go up to 60 kilometers on a 6-hour charge of the battery, or turn pedal assist off entirely!

Features: Speeds up to 25 mph, removable 36V 12AH ion lithium battery, 250W brushless gear motors, 3-speed smart meter button, 4-6 hour charge time

Pros

  • Can be used as a regular bike or with motor assistance
  • Front and rear disc brakes give added safety
  • Includes a front LED headlight and horn
  • Lightweight frame

Cons

  • There are other E-Bikes that can go a lot faster.
  • We can’t say this is the top-of-the-line for motorized bikes, but it’s an affordable and straightforward option for college students on a budget.

7. Tommaso Monza – Best Road Bike

Tommaso is a name that kept coming up during our research and reviews. It’s an Italian company that doesn’t have a huge presence in the US but seems to be picking up steam thanks to online retail.

Their Monza bike is our pick for the best road bike because it uses the absolute best parts to give you an incredibly smooth and powerful biking experience.

The Shimano Tiagra integrated shifters help you change gears while keeping your hands safely and comfortably on the handle brakes. You can brake and change gears at the same time without much effort. The Tiagra system is really impressive and can also be found on the Monza’s rear derailleur and front chainrings.

Features: Shimano Tiagra gear system, 50/34T Tiagra compact crankset, 11x32T Tiagra cassette, aluminum compact frame, HCT carbon fork

Pros

  • Seamless shifting
  • Incredibly high-quality parts designed for performance and durability
  • Lightweight and fast

Cons

  • The obvious downside of this bike is the price. It is not considered a beginner bike and should be purchased by students who already have some experience and want to upgrade their biking experience. 
  • This bike may be less for students looking to save money and more for students looking to improve their fitness and save the planet.

8. Retrospec Harper Single-Speed Fixed Gear Urban Commuter Bike – Best on a Budget

Another fixed gear bike on our list is the Retrospec Harper Urban Commuter Bike. This is a really attractive bike that you can find in a lot of different colors and styles, appealing to any and all potential buyers.

 As with all fixie bikes, this one has very few parts and requires very little in the way of maintenance. We found it easy to assemble and comfortable on the road. The main draw for this bike is the price. It’s the most affordable bike on our list (at the time of writing) and should be accessible for students of all means.

One thing we really appreciate about this bike is that it leaves room for a lot of upgrades. You can start with the no-frills base model and add things like dual bottle cages, a rear cargo rack, fenders, and even bigger tires for bumpy terrain.

If you’re just looking for a simple piece of equipment to get you short distances with minimal fuss, this is definitely worth taking a look at. It’s a solid bike that will get you from Point A to Point B, but we wouldn’t recommend wearing it down with a lot of heavy use over a long period of time.

Features: Dual-sided hub, VP freestyle pedals, hand-built steel frame, 30mm deep-v rims, Kenda Kwest 700 x 28C tires, KMC chain

Pros

  • Great design and style
  • Very affordable
  • Customizable and upgradable

Cons

  • As expected, the quality of the parts is less than amazing. Many of the parts are likely to wear out more quickly than others on this list.
  • This is par for the course with bikes in this price range though, and we think it’s a suitable exchange.

9. Mobo Triton Pro Adult Tricycle for Men & Women – Best for Back Pain

For riders with disabilities or back trouble, bicycles can be almost impossible to enjoy. That’s where a recumbent or reclined bike comes into play. These 3-wheel “trike bikes” are low to the ground and sit riders in a relaxed, fully supported seat. 

It is specially designed for riders recovering from injuries or those with balance impairments or other disabilities. Back problems and the like shouldn’t preclude you from being able to take advantage of cycling as a transportation option. 

And this bike is still a great way to meet your fitness goals during your commute to campus!

The Mobo Triton Pro is a versatile and adjustable bike that can actually be made to fit large children and adolescents as well as adults. These sizing combinations also make it convenient to store and transport when needed as well. 

We found this bike to be comfortable for riders of all heights and easy to navigate on the road.

Features: Dual joystick steering, free-wheel hub, hi-ten steel frame, 20” front wheel, 16” rear wheel, caliper brakes, safety flag, chainless

Pros

  • Adjustable sizing
  • Comfortably padded seat
  • Comes with a safety flag
  • Supportive for riders recovering from injury

Cons

  • There are no gears for this bike, so it won’t help you get up hills. 
  • There are more expensive full-recumbent bikes on the market that will offer that feature, but we think this price point is more suitable for most college students.

10. Diamondback Bicycles Trace Sport – Best for Tall Riders

Aside from being a great bike for tall riders, this is just a great bike overall! The Diamondback Trace Sport is a dual-sport hybrid bike that gives you fantastic speed and performance along with rugged suspension and durability. This bike definitely leans more toward the mountain bike side of the equation but is still suitable for urban commutes.

Taller riders will find that this bike runs a bit large already. So when measuring using a traditional sizing chart, keep in mind that you will likely fit even if the sizing indicates otherwise. Diamondback bikes are easily adjustable and known to be accomodating of larger frames.

Features: Aluminum frame, Shimano 24-speed gear shifting, 45c Kenda Bitumen tires, SR Suntour NVX fork

Pros

  • Lots of gears for a great performance on the trail or hills
  • Comfortable and responsive suspension
  • Runs large (good for tall riders)

Cons

  • This model does not come with a kickstand included. 
  • You can find many aftermarket kickstands online (such as this one from BV), but it would be a nasty surprise to hit the road without installing one first!

Recommended Accessories (Optional)

With all bikes, there are a few accessories that are recommended to improve your biking experience. These will help you stay safe, secure, and efficient on your way to class.

Cargo Racks

This should really be called “essential” instead of “recommended.” Cargo racks are like luggage holders affixed to the back of your bike behind the seat. Ibera makes a great option that will secure nicely onto most bikes.

For a college student, being able to carry a lot of gear to and from class is probably important. And on a bike, it can be difficult as well! You always have the option of wearing a traditional backpack or messenger bag, but those can be bulky and unwieldy while riding. 

Strapping your books and computer to your cargo rack will reduce pressure on your back and stabilize the balance of your bike as well.

Bike Locks

We recommend having two bike locks at all times: a cable lock and a U-lock. The SIGTUNA lockset is a great example.

U-locks are heavy metal locks that secure your frame to a bike rack. They are unlocked either by code or key. They are incredibly difficult to remove or saw off, making them a great and reliable lock for your bike. You can often buy them with mounting gear to secure them to your bike frame while riding.

However, those locks will leave your quick-release tire or tires unprotected. If you want to avoid someone stealing your unsecured tire or tires from your bike, loop a cable lock through the spokes and the U-lock. This way the tire is attached to the U-lock and the U-lock is attached to the frame and the rack.

Helmets

We can’t get away with not recommending a helmet! While many adults feel that they are too old to wear helmets, we want to do our best to break that habit. Wearing a helmet is the most effective way to prevent serious injury while cycling.

College campuses are busy places, with all kinds of movement happening at all hours of the day. It can be very easy for a pedestrian or car to miss a cyclist among the traffic and cause a dangerous accident.

Find a helmet that fits your head snugly and securely. Most of them will come with padding stickers that you can use to adjust the fit in certain spots where it is loose. Make sure the helmet leaves you with plenty of visibility but doesn’t wobble when you move.

We recommend helmets from Giro, especially the Giro Savant. They are a really well-known and well-respected company in the biking world and make helmets that you can depend on to keep you riding safely.

How to Choose Good Bikes for College (Buyer’s Guide)

Different students will need different bikes for different college experiences. To know which bike is best for you, you need to consider a number of different features like fit and function. Our Buying Guide outlines some of the most important elements for college students searching for the perfect bicycle.

Fit

The most important part of any bike is how it fits you. If you buy a top-of-the-line high-performance superstar of a bike but it is 3 sizes too small, you just wasted your money. You’ll get a lot more use and enjoyment out of a bike that fits you well, regardless of the bells and whistles. 

To find a bike that fits you well, start by taking a few measurements. The primary measurement for bicycle fitting is the inseam- the distance from the bottom of your foot to your groin. You should also know your overall height.

Different styles of bikes can have slightly different fits. But generally speaking, you’ll want to follow these guidelines for fit:

Rider HeightInseamFrame Size
4’10” – 5’1”25”- 27”18”
5’2” – 5’5”27.5” – 29”20”
5’6”-5’9”29.5” – 31”21”
5’10” – 6’1”31.5” – 33”22”
6’2”+33.5” +23”+

Style and Design

Most college students are interested in the style and design of their mode of transportation. You’ll want a bike that looks well-made and fits your specific aesthetic. A lot of the bikes on our list come in multiple colors and styles, so you should have no trouble finding one you like.

You should also consider how much you want your bike to stand out. Bicycle theft is a huge issue on some campuses. Some argue that a flashy, unique bike will draw more attention and be at a greater risk. However, others argue that unique bikes are harder to resell because they are easier to identify.

A good compromise would be buying a non-flashy (but still well-made) bicycle and perhaps adding your own identifying flair, such as stickers and decals. You can customize your handlebar wrap on many road bikes as well.

Bike Type

You’re probably aware that there’s more than one type of bike out there. You can choose from road bikes, mountain bikes, recumbent trikes, tandems, commuters, cruisers, and so on.

For a college student, any of those types of bikes could work well, depending on your needs. Consider what the terrain is like on your campus and if you’ll need bigger tires to tackle bumps in the road. Know if you need multiple gears to climb hills or if you can get by with a single fixed-gear bike.

Road bikes are the most lightweight and speedy options. They have narrow tires and are not recommended for rugged terrain.

Mountain bikes have much thicker tires and can handle any obstacle you throw at them. However, they are heavier and harder to carry around if needed.

Cruisers and comfort bikes are also somewhat heavy and come with bigger tires, more shock absorption, and a more comfortable upright seated position. They are not usually built for speed or performance.

If the bike is for more than just getting to school, think about what else you might want to use it for. Would it be for riding mountain trails? Commuting to a job? If you need versatility in a bike, make sure the one you choose can support all your biking needs (or consider buying two).

Number of Gears

As mentioned before, different environments will call for different gears. If you have a campus with many hills, you probably want your bike to help you with the climbs. To do that, it needs to have multiple gears. We recommend at least 3, preferably 7. Some bikes go up to 21 gears, which probably isn’t necessary for most campuses.

If your school is flat though, a fixed gear bike will do. Those bikes have one single gear and operate at the same level at all times. It means that the bike will be more lightweight and simple to maintain, but it will give you a real workout on inclines.

Condition: New or Used?

There are many reasons you might want to buy a used bike. The obvious one is probably cost. However, we generally recommend buying bicycles new for a few important reasons.

First, you have manufacturer guarantees. If you buy a used bike from an ad online, you better make sure you bring a bike mechanic with you to inspect it! Otherwise, you could get home and find things wrong with different components. And at that point, there’s probably nothing you can do about it.

However, if you purchased your bike new, it will come with some sort of warranty that protects you from manufacturer errors and defects. That’s a lot of peace of mind if you don’t have enough money for repairs.

Second, used bikes are often stolen. Unless you are buying from a well-known local dealer, you run the risk of contributing to the bike theft industry. When a bike is stolen, it is usually put up for resale. And aside from the ethics of it all, the person selling it will have no information about its background or condition.

When you buy new, you know where the bike came from and how it will function. If you decide you want to upgrade later, you can probably get a decent resale rate from a local shop as long as you keep it in good shape.

Frame Material

Most of the bikes you see will be made from one of three materials: carbon, steel, or aluminum.

Carbon is a fantastic frame material and creates a really sturdy and lightweight bike. However, it is much more expensive than the others and probably not in the price range of most students.

Steel is also very durable and great if you need to carry a lot of weight. It’s a heavier material though and not a great fit if you need something lightweight and speedy. It is usually pretty affordable as well.

Aluminum frames are probably your best bet. They are the most commonly found and reasonably priced. They offer a good balance of durability and cost while being lightweight enough for most road bikes.



What is the Top Bike for College Students? – Final Thoughts

Riding a bike to your college classes is a fantastic way to save money, stay active, and help reduce carbon emissions. Once you find the right bike for you, commuting to campus will be a fun activity that you actually look forward to each morning (or afternoon if you’re lucky!)

The bikes on our list represent a wide range of different options and styles. We think a folding bike is uniquely suited to the college commuter lifestyle because it’s so easy to transport and store. And the electric bike is a great compromise between an electric scooter and a traditional bicycle if you have lots of hills to work through.

But our pick for overall best still goes to a hybrid commuter bike. The Schwinn Discover is just the most versatile and accessible bike on the market for college students. It’s available at a great price point that shouldn’t require extra loans. It looks classic and sleek but can be customized with your own decals or flair.

And most importantly, it’s a high-performing, comfortable bike that will get you reliably and comfortably to class for years and years.

IMAGEPRODUCTDETAILS
Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bike
  • Features: Aluminum frame, 21 speed, rear derailleur, Shimano shifters, rear cargo rack, alloy linear-pull brakes
  • Benefits: Optimal comfort and fit adjustment, powerful gear system for climbs, quality components for durability and performance
CHECK LATEST PRICE
6KU Aluminum Fixed Gear
  • Features: Aluminum alloy frame, fixed gear, removable front and rear brakes
  • Benefits: Lightweight and portable, customizable for each user experience, safe and simple for new riders
CHECK LATEST PRICE
Schwinn Loop Adult Folding Bike
  • Features: Aluminum alloy stand-over frame, 7 speeds, included cargo rack and fenders, linear-pull brakes, 20” alloy rims
  • Benefits: Easy to transport and store on campus, powerful enough for inclines and speed, useful accessories for increased function
CHECK LATEST PRICE

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Austin Mills

Austin Mills in an outdoor enthusiast. He's been featured on some of the top outdoor & fitness blogs sharing his expertise in order to help others. In his free time, he likes spending time with his dogs enjoying the outdoors.

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