15 Best City Bikes that Will Make You Want to Ride Home Today

updated Jul 17, 2020
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(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

The choices for a city bike just keep getting better, as there are so many new companies to choose from. This year I’ve totally rebuilt the list off of reader suggestions and a lot of new research (see my Best of 2015 post with 30 comments and Best of 2014 post with 34 comments). Here you’ll find 14 super cute and brightly colored roadsters to get you going. There’s even one company that rebuilds old bikes from the ground up, making the bike you remember as a child brand new. Enjoy and fill in an missing choices below!

5 Pro Tips To Help You Shop for a City Bicycle

by Joelle

(Image credit: Omar Gonzalez)

A city bike – a bicycle built for navigating potholes, traffic, and schlepping your groceries – can be a wonderful primary mode of transportation for getting around daily. So maybe you’ve decided to join the ranks of city bicyclists pedaling about, but you aren’t sure where to begin? Well take a gander at these tips for shopping for your first city bike…

(Image credit: Omar Gonzalez)

Although I’ve got 5+ years of urban bike riding experience under my belt, I turned to proprietor of Houndstooth Road, Jae Schmidt and Dan Nguyen-Tan of PUBLIC Bikes, for additional expert information about picking out a city bicycle. Houndstooth Road is one of the top spots in my new neck of the woods for fine city bikes (and one of the handful of brick and mortar dealers in the USA for some European bikes), and Jae has created a place where riders novice and experienced feel comfortable perusing. PUBLIC Bikes out of San Francisco is known for their colorful and affordable city bikes in a variety of styles, and they’ve been spotlighted here at Apartment Therapy more than a few times for their design conscious offerings.

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Starring at the top end of our list and almost breaking the $3k barrier, Shinola has created a beautifully appointed urban cruiser with rack, fenders, an 11 speed internal hub, internal cable routing and front and rear disc brakes. What’s not to like? Put this on your wish list!

I had to add this one. The Bixby is a nice big step in price down from the Runwell and has all the good looks and functionality you need to still get around in high style. Three speed internal hub on this one and plenty of leather in handlebars and saddle. These are bikes to lock up carefully.

Recommended by reader ECTaylor, this is but one of the very special “rebuilt” bikes sold at Recycle Art Aspen. Recycle takes vintage frames, strips them down, sandblasts them and then repaints and rebuilds the entire bike, so it’s basically a brand new custom made bike. Check them all out!

Personally, at the high end, I love the shape and feel of this German offering (yes, you can buy directly from Germany). With sweet fat Schwalbe tires (you can choose thinner if you like), the Paula is the higher of their two classic women’s versions: “With her 7 or 8-speed internal gear hubs PAULA overcomes each distance in no time. Along the way she provides a relaxed and upright position and thus a very comfortable ride in every situation.”

My own favorite, BIKE ID makes beautiful city bikes – NYC style through the eyes of a Swede, if you can imagine that. I ride the Diamond, which has a straight top bar, but the makeup of both bikes is the same. Super shiny Cro-Mo steel, automatic two speed rear internal hub, coaster and front brake, leather seat and handles. Shipped direct from Stockholm.


A reader favorite and a common sight on the streets of NYC, Linus puts out many great bikes, but this one is the most stripped down with “a simple, clean profile inspired by French and Italian cinema from the 50’s and 60’s.” All steel frame with leather grips, alloy bell and a coaster brake.

Public bikes are always super popular and super cute. This year I’ve chosen their C1 over the Mixte, because it’s more affordable, lighter, and a one-speed with a sloping, step-through frame. This is a great bike for flat and moderately hilly terrain.

Another Detroit offering, Detroit Bikes are carefully designed and handmade in the Motor City with a three-speed Nexus internal hub, rear rack and full fenders. These folks are not chatty marketers, and their site won’t regale you with lots of options. Just the honest goods here. This recommendation comes from Indoor_Kitty.

Priority, based in NYC, is another great take on the city bike. Made to be NO maintenance and not just LOW maintenance, all Priority bikes have a unique grease free belt drive, an internal three-speed rear hub and puncture proof tires. In addition, the frame is aluminum, which gets it down to the low weight of 25 lbs.

Brilliant! Another new entrant, this one recommended by NWilmore, Brilliant Bikes sell direct from the manufacturer (lower prices) and have a really nice design approach. The Mayfair above has a Nexus three-speed internal hub with coaster brake so you only have one cable. Fenders, kickstand and faux leather seat and handlebars included!

I’m including the Bianchi Cortina Dama because it much more of a production model, has an aluminum frame and it’s got, count em’, 24 speeds to tackle any hill you ever see. It’s also got a nice reader recommendation from Aidenpouge: “I just bought a Bianchi cortina dama and I’m in love. The gears are perfect for tackling hills but it’s not just function over form it’s also a damn pretty bike.”

From Republic in Florida, their bikes are totally customizable (switch the colors!), wheels, everything and come in 7 days: “Our Plato Dutch bicycle is designed as a mix of retro styling and modern twists – because a dose of whimsy arouses just the right attitude for this bike. Plato bikes are built around our 26 inch, super cushy, super relaxed, balloon tire wheelset. We offer our Plato bicycle as a 1-speed or with a 3-speed or 7-speed Shimano Nexus internal hub.”

From Biria of Germany, this baby is sold through Amazon and has many fans as a basic ride: Frame: Steel, Fork: Steel Unicrown, 7 speed Shimano Rims: Aluminum black with CNC wall Sizes: 48 cm (19″) Colors: Celeste Green


Recommended by reader Birch, Critical Bikes are new to me. Built in Los Angeles, these folks love their bikes and this one is their easiest model. On SUPER SALE now, it’s a one gear, kick brake design with a sealed bottom bracket and only one cable. As they say, “this bike requires very little maintenance.”

From internet strong Wayfair, here’s a really well priced Dutch bike for the Europhiles out there – “This classic bike has a simple one speed gearing with a coaster rear brake that allows you to spend less time working on your bike and more time enjoying the ride. The large front and rear fenders along with dress and fully enclosed chainguard keep you clean while headlight and racks make commuting a breeze.”