What bike for … London commuting ?

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  • What bike for … London commuting ?
  • Premier Icon kimbers

    I run a 1×10 (w 44t chain ring) steel hardtail, carbon bar n post for comfort?
    schwable marathon plus for punture proofness
    hope minis for extra security (and squealing) in the wet

    i just leave a meaty motorbike lock at work, safety qrs etc

    can swap out the chain ring and wheels and its an xc beast too!

    Premier Icon nemesis

    Boris bike? I have friends who’ve changed to them rather than their own bikes and seem to be making a go of it.

    Premier Icon njee20

    In summer I ride my Madone, in winter I ride my Allez, with mudguards. It’s fine.

    Premier Icon nach

    Depends which bits you’re commuting, and what your riding style is.

    I got a single speed for it last year, the body position isn’t upright but isn’t overly aggressive. Narrow bullhorns make it great for filtering. It’s light and quick, but the highest thing I had to climb was London Bridge. Even if you’re near Forest Hill or something, you don’t need a huge range of gears.

    Premier Icon D0NK

    No experience of london but for city commutes I’d look at something along the lines of drop barred SS with schwalbe durano tyres and full guards.
    Discs will be better but push the price and weight up.
    genesis day one
    Giant bowery
    (dunno about guard tabs on last two)

    Premier Icon Stoner

    pompino framesets and pompetamine frames on special at On-One at the moment.

    I keep a rat-bike (1970s raliegh falcon, SS, mudguards) at Paddington usually (although I brought it home last week for a 1,500 mile/2yr service as it get’s terribly neglected) but I only do about 10-15 miles on it when Im in town.

    If I wasnt leaving it locked at a train station for days on end, un-supervised, Id filthy-up my old pompino and use that with some armoured tyres.


    Hmmm … Boris bike looks an interesting solution, plus no problem of storage in London-size flat …


    Revolution Courier Race:

    I have the 2011 version and it’s ace. Cheap(ish) and simple enough as it’s only 8-speed. I think they do a single speed version too, and one with disc brakes. Dunno what the hills are like where you are, but I use it in Sheffield with no problems so I imagine you’ll be fine with only 8 gears.

    Set of Schwalbe Marathon Plus should sort your tyre concerns, although the stock tyres lasted me over 2 years before I changed them, and I only got three punctures in all that time.


    Rode this for 6 years, doing about 4.5k miles/year, and leaving it all over town

    Covered it in black PVC tape, didn’t wash it once. Chuck it in a bike rack and it virtually disappeared. It got through about a tyre and 2 sets of brake pads per year. Sprocket/chain/ring got changed only when I got fitter and wanted a bigger gear.


    i use a short travel hardtail to get around central london. the suspension and bouncy wheels come in handy when you enevitably have to pop up a kerb to avoid a bus! or if you just wanna take short cuts through squares and parks or down flights of steps, there are also lots of these tiered areas nowadays that are fun to drop off.. obvs its a bit slow and draggy over any sort of distance tho.


    I have done a 50 min commute through london for many years. Started off on an MTB with slicks on, then moved to a trendy singlespeed, then a road bike, and I’m now on a Genesis Croix De Fer with flat bars and relatively wide tyres. It’s by far the best tool for the job and I don’t see myself changing bike style again.

    Boris bikes weigh too much to be viable for such a long commute.

    Premier Icon cookeaa

    Viking Citifix, available with Flat or drop bars, can be run fixed or Free Wheel…

    a very Simple, cheap bike – Weighs a ton, wheels bolt on, doesn’t look sexy so shouldn’t interest the tea leaves as much, easily found for about ~£170* from fleabay…

    I love mine for commuting (not in that there London)…

    *(probably a shade over £200 by the time you’ve changed bars and tyres and other bits)


    Apart from one with heavy armour ?

    I will be commuting about 45mins, so I guess I need something light enough not to be too much of an ordeal (like my old Dutch bike was), but with heavy enough tyres to cope with potholes, broken beer bottles etc. Simple enough so I dont have to spend too long fixing broken bits. Also cheap enough so that I’m not in despair when it gets stolen.



    I would not worry too much about big tyres for puncture protection and potholes – its really not that much of an issue. I run standard 23mm road tyres 8 miles a day and get a puncture perhaps once every few months.

    Opening a big can of worms here I’m sure, but I have stuck with flat bars cut down to a shortish (but not clownishly short) length. Cycling in central London shares more in common with mtb than road biking. You need to be agile with good acelleration and ready to hit the brakes hard at a split seconds notice. Flat bars seem better for these purposes for me as it is easier to always cycle with fingers covering brakes and keep your head up to spot danger!

    Premier Icon the-muffin-man




    Having ridden a variety of bikes over the many years in London, for me the ideal commuter is a simple singel speed bike; 26″ wheels for strength, single speed much esier to deal with than filthy grimy gears, no suspension, mudguards and a rack if you need. Schwalbe Marahon Plus or Specialized Nimbus Armadillo tyres or similar, for puncture resistance. I run a 38/16t gear, which is enough for any ‘climbs’, but has good acceleration/low end for traffic. Flat/mtb riser handle bars for control. V-brakes for decent braking. Road bikes are poor in traffic, and the extra speed is negated because you’re stopping and starting all the time. And if you need to lock it up outside,the crapper looking the better. And buy the best lock you can afford, even if it costs more than the bike!


    Oh yeah and if you are going to be here for a while I would try and get a reasonably nice light, fast, bike and just leave some good locks at work. Having just spent the last week on my clunker due to main bike breakdown I can say it is a load less fun and feels much more dangerous not being able to nip out of sticky situations and get a fast start on busses etc at the lights.

    I havn’t tried a 26er here but reckon it would be great fun so would would be tempted – just be careful of wide bars.. fun as they are, there is a lot of squeezing between traffic!


    As above, fixed/singlespeed 42×16 road bike with brakes, mudguards and 28c Marathon Plus tyres. Add rack if desired. London is flat.

    My favorite is a Kona Paddy Wagon because the geometry is spot on. Only the frame is original on mine, but as stock they are very good value and come up used on Ebay quite often.

    Others include a Specialized Langster (light but harder to fit mudguards), Charge Plug (heavy with flat bars) and a Genesis Day One.


    I’d counsel that there’s no ‘ideal’ London commuter. What’s best can vary enormously depending on your route – distance and from where to where…

    e.g. London is largely flat so if you work central but live Zone 3 or closer then singlespeed road bike (c 70 inch gear) will probably see you right. But if you live the wrong side of the Crystal Palace ridge then gears may be better…

    Equally if you’re carrying a lot of stuff then panniers become necessary and therefore gears a better choice.

    But gears can be a right pain with all the stop/start of many London commutes – traffic lights/junctions/traffic jams etc – constant changing down and then up again. I find a singlespeed ride much less hassle in this respect.

    My favourite commuters have been:
    A singlespeed Roadrat with flat bars and disc brakes – very nippy, upright position and stopped very well. But the rear axle couldn’t take the force of the discs and the rear wheel slipped all the time, and the horizontal dropouts made full mudguards a hassle.

    My current Condor Tempo is my favourite – singlespeed steel frame with dropped bars and decent quality dual pivot brakes. 25mm tyres and a carbon fork + full mudguards. A London bike for London riding. Not cheap but you get to build it up exactly how you want so you don’t ever need to upgrade anything.

    2 main things I would think about:
    1. if you;re leaving it locked up public on a regular basis then either get something you’re not too worried about getting nicked, or that can be heavily disguised
    2. Get your Bikeability training free from your local authority – anticipation + proper control of your bike win above disc brakes any day in my book 🙂

    Despite the stories you hear, I find London riding more enjoyable than out of town – it’s a great way to see a beautiful city, often the quickest way to get around, drivers are very used to cyclists these days and there’s a real feel of London being a proper cycling city – just from the sheer numbers around 🙂

    Premier Icon jambalaya

    45 mins on a Boris bike, that’s a long old struggle (see @packers comment). Standard rental period is 30 mins so a 45 min commute is an extra £1.

    IME people who commute every day tend to do so on their own bike.

    I’m just about to try out the Boris bike commute, will get my own account and key (£3) and pay £2 per day and if it’s ok then sign up for the £90 per year so the 30 min rentals are free. I may build up a commuter but the incentive will be having a bike to do a few miles on midweek, I have secure parking at flat and at work and work close enough to Hyde park to do some miles.


    Just get a 2 speed Brompton. I commute normally about 5 miles each way, with 2 days a week when I go to 15 miles each way. Having the Brompton means if its grim I can get on the train or the tube, I always take it into the office, and in London at least receptionists are cool about them as enough people turn up, fold and head into buildings with them now. I don’t think you’d find that in the provinces.


    Dahon foldie?
    Brompton foldie?
    AN Other foldie?

    Premier Icon Leku

    I don’t think you’d find that in the provinces.

    West Country Brompton storage solution.


    What’s your storage like? If you have the space then get a singlespeed roadie. I used a Specialized Langster for years and it was brilliant. Black, largely un-noticeable and zero maintenance but anything of that ilk will work similarly well. If you’re having to put the bike by the door of your flat as you come in or something then it will quickly become a pita as my langster did when we moved, particularly if you have the other half walking past it in white dresses etc. In that case a folder is your answer. My Tern is pretty good bar the odd creak and groan but if doing it again I would splash more cash and get a Brompton. Whatever you do get full mudguards.


    Mango bike? Singlespeed, cheap as chips, only thing is you don’t want to get too carried away with the colour scheme, if it looks expensive it’ll probably get half inched!

    Premier Icon edhornby

    I have a dolan precursa track bike that I use for commuting into and out of manchester, I would recommend this or even better a pompino running a fixed gear and a cable disk on the front for low maintenance and unbreakable

    Premier Icon davosaurusrex

    Hijack! Selling this Bianchi Cameleonte hybrid, perfect for your needs – hydraulic discs, strong wheels, full length mudguards.


    Premier Icon kilo

    Commuting in south west london now and before that many years into central london. Used a langster on about a 66 inch fixed for years, good commuter then got a bit bored with fixed, it as also the early all alloy one and a bit harsh on straight forks, and moved on to a decathlon triban which has been very good. The triban has full guards on and both bikes had a carradice bag fitted. Both bikes had 23 and 25 mm tyres and weren’t plagued with punctures. Mrs kilo uses an old Scott hard tail with some big heavy slick tyres but she is also incapable of fixing a puncture – she views black cabs as a recovery vehicle if this happens!!


    Go for drop bars for the main roads but with additional cross top levers for city centre sitting uprightness.

    Premier Icon gofasterstripes

    Specialized Centrum Elite. Lovely. Ensure it’s had the forks changed, there was a recall.


    I started off with a Cannondale Bad Boy but soon realised I wasnt making much use of the gears. Nice bike and I did my first century on it. Was good but a bit nice, so I sold it while it was still worth something and got a pretty lightweight Trek hardtail, with some on one rigid forks, 26″ x 1″ slicks set up SS with Mary bars and v brakes. Frame painted bright orange to cover any branding. It was pretty light and very ugly. Again I found sharp brakes and upright position better than haead down road bike. Think I sold it in the end for about £100. It was fine for riding in from Balham to the City as no major hills

    Premier Icon D0NK

    Again I found sharp brakes and upright position better than haead down road bike

    I ran 22″ish flat bar mtb for years, until I got a drop barred commuter, got used to it now and doubt I’ll switch back, narrow(er) bars, different hand positioning and the ability to get my head down when it’s windy all works for me. Mind you I have got some open (fire)road blasts in my commute it’s not all stop start heavy traffic, guess that makes a difference.

    (no argument from me about good brakes)

    I don’t think you’d find that in the provinces.

    eh? do receptionists (outside of that london) really get arsey about you bringing a bike the size of the average rucksack into a building?

    Premier Icon benp1

    I ride a flat barred specialized Allez with MTB cassette

    Live in North London and commuted into London via highgate hill. Now work in the opposite direction so it’s 16 miles on mainly opening roads, no traffic light runs like in London, I miss that in some ways

    Bike was better in traffic than the open roads but it’s too small for me so wouldn’t work with drops

    Looks a bit rough and it’s covered in reflective tape, also has reflective spoke things. Cracking commuter, just a shame it can’t take a rack

    So I’d say the conclusion of the above is ‘it depends on your route, how you ride and what you like’

    Cycling in central London shares more in common with mtb than road biking. You need to be agile with good acelleration and ready to hit the brakes hard at a split seconds notice. Flat bars seem better for these purposes for me as it is easier to always cycle with fingers covering brakes and keep your head up to spot danger!

    This would be my view. I’ve commuted in London on 26″ Mtb geared, hub geared, and singlespeed, Brompton, and a road bike. I’ve used panniers, courier bags and rucksacks.

    Personally –
    Flat bars (mtb stop start comments above. Might be different if you’re coming from further out and have some long straight runs without lights)
    Rucksack (Vaude Splash – suspension system stops your back getting too sweaty. Hated courier bag, Panniers if you’re carrying a lot of weight but need a different style of riding)
    Hub gears (less maintenance, can change when stationary. Hated singlespeed – always the wrong gear. Too slow when in a hurry, too tiring up the hill when you’re tired after a long day)
    Disc brakes (you need to stop in the wet, cleaner).
    Mudguards – even if they’re clip on.

    My next will probably be based on a rigid 29er mtb with hub gear and proper full length mudguards. Love my Brompton and wouldn’t be without it but knackers my knees – couldn’t ride it 45mins each way every day.

    Edinburgh Courier has always tempted as a hack bike but really should come with mudguards (highly anti-social not to use them – horrible for people behind you)..

    Premier Icon HansRey

    [LEFTFIELD] what about a cannondale hooligan?

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