After four years of reserach, and testing we’re convinced that the best bike for college students is the Pure Fix Original Fixie. It’s a super cool looking, reliable, and quick fixie capable of moving you around campus for less than $400.
Commuting with a bike to college is not only a great idea because it’s a cheap way of transportation but also because it’s fun and good for your health. I know that bringing a car to campus sounds very cool but riding a bicycle is the way to go in 2020 because of global warming and the health benefits which come with it.
If you don’t have time to read more, check below our top picks:
- Kent Retro 3-Speed
- Schwinn Volare 1200
- Pure Fix Original – Our Pick!
- Tommaso Monza
- Diamondback Bicycles 2016 Haanjo Trail
- Critical Cycles Harper Coaster –
- Vilano R2 Commuter Aluminum Road Bike
- Pure Cycles 1-Speed Urban Coaster Bicycle
- Schwinn Men’s Wayfarer Hybrid Bike
- Thruster 700C Urban Fixie Bike
- 6KU Aluminum Fixed Gear Single-Speed Fixie
Why cycling to college is the way to go in 2020.
Also, many students still can’t afford to buy a decent
So why cycling to college is still the best way to move around this year? Well, the answer is quite simple. It’s super fun to ride a bike, it’s convenient, you are flexible, and not to mention quick.
You will get around your town, and campus in minutes. But the best of all is that this year cycling is still the cheapest way to move from one point to another. How much money would I need to buy a decent bike for riding to college this year? I would say that a few hundred bucks are a nice start. Let’s say $300-350.
Regardless of how far you will be living on the college campus, I can assure you that 10-15 miles are easily doable and you will get fitter and stronger with each day. A bike can be useful for travel between classes too because some university campuses are enormous.
In this article, we’ve decided to show you some of the best bikes for college commute because you should make a good and informed choice.
There are hundreds of bikes out there and picking the best one for your college commute needs is not easy. As always the cheapest bikes sold at Walmart are garbage and most probably won’t last long.
What to consider when choosing the best bike for college.
The most important aspect, in my opinion, is that the bike is affordable, reliable and cool looking because you know this is college. The truth is most of the good looking bikes which are cheap at the same time are useless.
The combination of the three things affordable, reliable and good looking is not easily found on many bikes out there. This is why I took the challenge to find the best bikes in this category very seriously.
Bike Types Suitable for College Students
Today we have more than ever so many bike types but for college, the hybrid bike is a very good option. The hybrid bike allows you to sit comfortably upright like on a mountain bike but at the same time being much faster because of the narrower tires.
These bikes are good for commuting in the city or between towns and you can easily travel to your college even if it’s 10-15 miles away.
They have very narrow tires that make the difference. Their geometry puts the rider in a very aerodynamic position, which helps with the wind resistance. Some people don’t like the position of the road bike and for them, the hybrid bike is a better option.
But if the speed is the most important thing for you the road bike should be your choice of bike transportation.
The main character rode one of these cool fixie bikes and they are used by many bike couriers in the United States.
In general, the fixie is a fixed-gear bicycle which is without any gears and brakes. Riding such a bike is so simple and fun.
These bikes are very reliable because they don’t have almost any components. The fixie bike is very popular in the United States and it’s associated with couriers, students, commuters, and rebels.
If you want to be different buy a fixie bike.
So in a conclusion about the bike types for college, you have to choose between a hybrid bike (a compromise between speed and usability), a road bike ( fast, good looking but used only on paved roads ) and a fixie (a one-speed bike which is cool and perfect for students ).
Buying Used or New
General advice which circulates in the cycling community is that you should buy used until you get in shape, and after that, you buy a new bicycle. In my opinion, there are a lot of pitfalls when buying a second-hand bicycle. Let’s start with the most obvious one.
You need to know a little bit of mechanical stuff if you buy used bicycles. In most cases, you will have to make a few small mechanical fixes before jumping on your new second-hand bike.
Sometimes the seller is trying to unload a piece of junk, and the price is compelling. But some of the components could be extremely worn-out, and you will invest a lot of money to fix it. This is especially true if you are a college student who wants to travel cheaply from/to college.
That’s why my general advice here is to buy a new bicycle. New bicycles come with a warranty and will be fixed for free if they come with some issues when you get it.
Frame Types and Materials
Bike frames are typically made of steel, aluminum or carbon. Carbon is probably the best material for a bike frame in terms of speed and versatility.
Unfortunately, bikes with frames of carbon are very expensive, and not suitable for college students.
Aluminum bike frames are good enough for most cases – they are lightweight enough, sturdy, and cheap.
Aluminum is the most used material on the frames of mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, fixies, and road bikes as well. Steel is also a good option because it is extremely durable and cheap enough.
If you buy a bike with a steel frame, you could easily put a lot of heavy bags on your panniers.
The bike fit can be a crucial part of your cycling experience. If the bicycle is not well adjusted for your height, you can even injure yourself.
I suggest once you buy your bike online, go to a bike shop and ask for a professional fit. In most cases, they would be super friendly and will help you.
Another aspect you should definitely consider when buying a bike for college commute is the handlebars. The type of handlebars can dramatically change your riding position and comfort. Common handlebars types are drop bar and flat bar.
Drop bar is used on most road bikes, while the flat bar is used on hybrid and mountain bikes.
Most beginners still prefer the flat bar type because it allows a more relaxed position, plus you have your center of gravity more towards the saddle instead of handlebars.
The saddle must be comfortable, so your bike rides to college be pleasant. Unfortunately, many new bicycles come with low-quality saddles.
The road bikes normally come with a very small saddle, which in reality is very comfortable. I would suggest again to try different saddles in a bike shop before buying something.
The good news here is that again you can easily upgrade the saddle with a new higher quality one. Your butt will thank you later.
Gearing can be very important, especially if you live in a hilly area. If the biggest part of your commute to college will be on flat roads, then you can choose a fixie or a bike with fewer gears.
You will need lower gears if you need to climb a lot of hills because you will struggle a lot without it.
Of course, you can always change your cassette if you want to buy a bicycle which hasn’t suitable gearing for your commute situation. Swapping one cassette with another is an easy mechanic task, but you might need some tools.
Having fenders might be a good idea for your commute to college because if the weather is bad, you can end up in bad condition. Not all bikes come pre-equipped with fenders, but you can always upgrade your bike and install a pair.
Personally, I don’t like the look of a bicycle with fenders, but you should evaluate your situation and weather conditions in the area you live in.
Luggage Holder ( Rear Bike Rack )
Rear Bike racks are super convenient for college students because sometimes especially first-year students carry a lot of things ( laptop, student books, textbooks, etc.).
You can always use a rucksack or a backpack, but if the weather is very hot, you might get too sweaty with a heavy backpack.
In those cases, the old classic bike rack will save your back. You can put a nice pannier on the bike rack, which is super handy. If you don’t mind that you will look a little bit like a bike tourer, panniers are a perfect choice for college students. You can fit a lot of textbooks, a laptop or a tablet, etc.
Best Hybrid Bikes for College Students
Kent Retro 3-Speed bike is a 700C hybrid bike that is retro-styled. It’s an ideal machine for commuting to college and it even comes equipped with a luggage carrier for your backpack, suitcase or any other luggage.
Kent Retro 3-Speed also comes with full fenders which are handy if the weather is not very good in your state. The bike offers some versatility in your riding speed and conditions.
The riding position is very upright which makes the bike very comfortable even if you have a long-distance ride to your campus. It has an aluminum frame that is light and strong enough.
One of the downsides of the bike is that some of the components are not very high-quality but that’s understandable having in mind the low price. As we know for any college student the price is one of the most important aspects to consider.
But the good thing is that the 3-speed gears are internal which means that they don’t need any maintenance at all. The bike comes with pretty small frame sizes and if you are very tall it won’t suit you.
The man’s frame size is 18″ which is OK for riders 5’7″ to 5’11”. The women’s version of the bike is size 15” which is OK for women 5’4″ to 5’9″. One of the things that I like about this bike is the retro style. The bike looks amazing with the brown leather seat and handlebars.
The hybrid retro-styled bikes are very modern these days and I see a very high demand for them in the market.
- Good looking retro-styled bike;
- Very strong internal gears;
- Cheap enough for any college student;
- Luggage carrier and full fenders;
- Some components are low-quality;
- Only one size – not suitable for the tall riders;
As we concluded many times Schwinn makes very solid and high-quality bikes and the Volare 1200 is not an exception. But the most important thing about this bike is the price.
It’s so cheap and good at the same time that it became instantly one of the best bikes for college students. Practically it’s a road bike but with hybrid bike type handlebars which are more comfortable and in many cases easier to ride.
The bike is very rapid on the paved roads, lightweight for the hills and agile for the city. In my opinion, the Schwinn Volare 1200 is also a very good looking bike for any college student.
It’s equipped with Shimano 21 gears and the components are quite good having in mind the low price of the bike. Many ”Walmart” cheap bikes use much worse and low-quality components for this price range.
The handlebars are very ergonomically styled and soft. The fitness style aluminum frame is strong and lightweight and the front fork is rigid which is very important for any cheap bike.
Any college student would like to ride a bike without thinking too much about the maintenance and Schwinn Volare 1200 is just perfect for this task. The brakes are linear and they are outstanding. They practically can lock the wheels at any speed with moderate pressure.
One thing that we don’t like about this bike is that it’s a little bit hard to put together. I would suggest going to the nearest bike shop for the assembly which would cost no more than $30-40, but it’s worth it.
Of course, the low price has some flaws too. For example, the seat is a little bit hard and uncomfortable but you can replace it very easily with a high-quality seat for 20-30 bucks.
- Very cheap bike;
- High-quality components in general;
- Schwinn is a trusted manufacturer;
- Good looking;
- A little bit hard to put together;
- Cheap and not very comfortable seat;
The Schwinn Men’s Wayfarer is an exceptionally looking bike! Its retro look and feel leave very little to be desired!
With precision alloy brakes, a nice upright seat, and its quality steel construction, I can easily say that this bike is one of my favorites within the Schwinn brand ( I’m known for the retro taste, sorry 🙂 ).
It rides very nicely and has very little difficulty in turning sharp corners. However, there are some problems when it comes to shifting the gears. Its lower gears have a difficult time. They still work properly, but it can be a real pain.
Others have replaced the rear derailleur and have had better success with its functioning. For its price range, this doesn’t seem to be a big deal.
On the flip side, its fenders are very useful in protecting you from rocks being kicked back up at you and even mud. This may not be important to some, but to those who are riding to class, this can be an extremely important feature. No one wants to go to class a muddy mess!
The measurements for this lovely bicycle are 29.5″. This is perfect for those in the range of 6′ to 6’2″.
Anyone below these measurements might have a hard time being able to properly ride this bike.
- Precision alloy brakes;
- Quality steel frame;
- Great retro design;
- May need the rear derailleur replaced to function better;
- One size (meant for taller adult riders);
Best Fixie Bikes for College Students
Pure Fix Cycles made this single speed or fixie bike to annoy the competition. This bike is made with style and affordability in mind.
The urban geometry frame here is just perfect. It’s equipped with a steel frame which is super durable and rigid. As we know steel is much heavier than carbon and aluminum but it’s also a lot cheaper.
Despite the steel frame, the bike is still light because the bike is nothing more than a frame, wheels, handlebars, and pedals. According to the manufacturer, the bike should weight 22-24 lb.
The bike is equipped with 700x28c Kenda tires which are just perfect for its job. One of my favorite things about this bike is the variety of color options to choose from.
On Amazon, the bike is available in 24 color variants which are super cool and I guess it would take you at least 10 minutes to decide which is best for you.
Also if you are tired of riding a fixed gear bike you can easily upgrade to single-speed thanks to the Flip-flop rear wheel hub. It also has a front brake if you decide to mostly run it on a single-speed bike.
Pure Fix gives a limited warranty for this bike but in order to have the full warranty, you will have to assemble the bike on a professional bike shop which would cost you around $50 depending on your location.
If you decided that you don’t need the warranty the assembly is very easy and it won’t take you more than 40 minutes to an hour because the bike comes 90% done for you.
In general, the bike is very solid and it has some of the best Amazon reviews and ratings for a fixie bike which is always an important factor.
- A wide variety of color options and frame sizes;
- Good looking style bike;
- Flip-flop rear wheel hub for changing between single-speed and fixed;
- Front brakes;
- Limited warranty ( available only if you assemble the bike in a bike shop);
Critical Cycle’s Harper Coaster is an extremely good looking fixie which I love! The design of the bike is just timeless and even in the standard black color, it looks amazing.
But what is really important here is that the Harper Coaster is a premium quality hand-build bicycle which can be used perfectly for going to your college. And you will look very cool in doing so.
This bike comes with standard Wanda commuter tires which are good enough for the job, KMC chain which is perfect for this bike and a nice pair of VP freestyle pedals.
The frame is really good and its made of high-tensile strength steel composition which very durable and also comes with a lifetime warranty.
This bike comes with no brakes as most of the “fixies” which are nice if you learn how to stop with your feet. But as we know the fixies as very simple to use thus making them perfect for college students and other commuters.
I recommend this bike to everyone who likes simplicity and wants to use the bike as the main transportation method. Not to mention the great design which will be appreciated on your college campus.
And of course, we have to mention something which is very important for every college student – the price.
The Harper Coaster is a really cheap bike with a price tag below $200 bucks. It is one of the cheapest bikes on our list which makes it perfect for a college freshman.
Don’t forget to lock your bike at the campus of your college!
- Great timeless design
- Super easy to ride
- Very cheap to buy
- A solid and rigid bike
- Not a very comfortable seat
The Pure Cycle 1-Speed Urban Coaster bike is a minimalistic style mode of transportation. It’s perfect for getting you to class or to anywhere else in town. This bicycle is meant to be a simple yet effective means of getting from place to place. It seems to have everything you need and nothing that you don’t.
However, the braking system works by means of the pedals being moved backward rather than by a handbrake.
This means that if you are in a pinch, braking can prove to be difficult. It also means that if you aren’t used to this way of breaking, it could take some time getting used to.
Its stylish minimalistic design is very compelling, however, and it’s one of the things that really draws me to this bicycle. It’s also available in three sizes, making it a great option for almost any bicyclist. The small measures 50 cm, and is intended for riders that are 5’2″ to 5’6″.
Meanwhile, the medium model measures 54 centimeters and is intended for riders who are 5’6″ to 6′ tall. The large model is 58 cm and can accommodate those who are anywhere from 6′ to 6’3″ tall.
Along with its size flexibility, it also is fully customizable. The frameset has the option of adding a rack or crate attachment. Along with this, you can even add fenders to help protect you from getting splashed with mud if you happen to be riding in the rain.
- Several mounting points;
- Option to add fenders;
- Option to add crates or racks;
- Decent price;
- No handbrake;
- One speed;
When I first saw this bike, I was really enticed by the colors of the tires. I know how lame that can sound, but I’m a sucker for that type of thing.
Do not let that fool you though, this bike is definitely not one of the best out there. This bike, in comparison to others, does not have as smooth of a feel to it and can be quite uncomfortable to ride.
With that being said, if being comfortable really matters to you, then this bike probably isn’t the best option.
However, it is very cheap in price for what it is, and it will definitely get you wherever you need to go. It’s probably a great option for those commuting on campus since it’s quite a simple and cheap bike.
My main concern is that the parts on it could be made a little bit better. You will also have to put it together yourself, but this isn’t unheard of. If you are a little on the short side, you will also be out of luck on this one.
This bicycle is only meant for those who are 5’8″ or taller. The seats are adjustable, but it is still only meant for someone who is a bit taller. All in all, it’s a great bicycle for the price. I might just be very biased when it comes to this bicycle, but I think that this company could make room for a few improvements.
- Unique style;
- Low cost;
- Another trendy fixie;
- Taller riders only;
- Uncomfortable and may need the seat and other parts replaced;
- Not very sturdy;
Probably you just got into the college, and you noticed that most of the guys there now ride single-speed bikes. Yes, they are as trendy as hell. But if you don’t want to spend too much on a single-speed bike then you have a choice.
6KU’s fixie bike is a great choice practically for every college student out there, because it costs below $250, and it’s gorgeous.
The design of the bike is one of the best I have ever seen on a single-speed bike. It comes close to the Critical Cycles Harper Coaster Fixie, but the 6KU’s navy blue/black color is just nicer.
The frame of this bike is lightweight, and it’s made of aluminum with smooth to the touch welds. I would like to praise 6KU for the outstanding geometry which gives an excellent, and comfortable ride.
Another aspect which is neglected by the manufacturers most of the time is the wheels/tires. In this case, though I don’t have any complaints. The wheels and the tires are pretty good. Have in mind that the black paint on the wheels will be quickly worn off the rim by the brake pads.
One component which I don’t like about this bike is the flip-flop Hub. It’s not the best in class, and some of the buyers also complained that it has uneven resistance even as brand new. The good news is that you can always upgrade the flip-flop hub as soon as you ride a little bit your new bike.
The breaks of the 6KU’s fixie are pretty good, and I don’t have anything to complain. They stop the bike effortlessly, and without any issues.
Also, you might want to brake using only the pedals, in this case, you can remove the front/back brakes easily.
In a conclusion, I have to admit that 6KU Aluminum Fixed Gear Single-Speed Fixie Urban Track Bike is a perfect choice for everyone who wants to commute to the college by a bicycle, or for lurking around campus.
- Gorgeous bicycle ;
- Below $250 ;
- Smooth ride ;
- Excellent brakes ;
- Low-quality flip-flop hub;
- Easily removable front/rear brakes ;
Best Road Bikes for College Students
I admit that the Tommaso Monza is probably not the cheapest bike on this list of best bikes for college students but it’s so good and nice-looking bike that I had to add it here.
If you already have some experience with cycling and now you decide that the bike would be your main transportation to/from your college campus then the Tommaso Monza is a road bike worth it.
As we already mentioned in our review of the best cheap road bikes, Tommaso is an Italian company which makes very high-quality bikes for almost 30 years. The brand is not very famous in the United States but that’s a shame considering the qualities.
One of the best things about the Tommaso Monza is the Shimano Tiagra setup. It’s one of the best setups for shifting you could find on a bike which means it is reliable, very fast, and ensures crisp shifting.
The integrated shifters mean your hands never have to leave the brakes, even when you are shifting. The feel of braking and smoothly changing gears at the same time is unique.
And they used the entire Tiagra setup in this bike which includes the front chainrings, the rear derailleur and all of it.
All these high-quality components make the road bike one of the best bikes for college students who love cycling.
If you like the Tommaso Monza you should also check our new Tommaso Sentiero Tourney Adventure Review.
The lightweight aluminum compact frame comes in three sizes: small, medium and large. It’s important to mention that the front fork is carbon for vibration dampening and weight savings.
If this is the first road bike you consider to buy maybe the price will scare you a little bit. Well, we have also our list of some cheap and good road bikes.
But if you buy this road bike you would make an investment. It’s a bike that would cost a lot even in 5 years of use and if you take care of it the bike could serve you well for 10-15 years without issues.
If you are serious about this sport and you want to go to your college campus with style, the Tommaso Monza is your best option.
- Very high-quality components including Shimano Tiagra full setup;
- Super quick on paved roads;
- Italian design road bike;
- Smooth and secure braking;
- A little bit expensive for a college student;
Are Diamondback bikes good? I’ve been asked this question so many times in the last couple of years. In my humble opinion, Diamondback bikes are one of the best bikes you can buy online.
They are reliable, relatively cheap and good for any type of cyclist. The new Haanjo Trail by Diamondback was built to handle the daily commute of the average American without sacrificing any comfort. It has an aluminum frame and a steel fork which makes it very reliable and bombproof.
The geometry and wide 40mm tires give it more of mountain bike feel than the road bike. The bike won’t be as fast as a road bike but it would be much more comfortable and easy to navigate through the city.
The Haanjo is equipped with Tektro mechanical disc brakes which improve stopping power and performance in wet conditions. This bike is one of the most rigid on our list.
But it’s a little bit on the heavy side with the weight of around 26 pounds. The setup is a little bit of slow for touring or long-distance rides.
If you are up to 10-15 miles from your college that won’t be a problem at all. Diamondback Haanjo Trail is just a perfect choice for city commuters who value comfort and durability.
All these things make the bike one of the best bikes for college students.
- Very solid and high-quality bike;
- Tekro mechanical disc brakes;
- Good for city commutes and up to 10-15 miles ride to college;
- A little bit heavy ( 26 pounds ):
- Not very fast due to the wide 40mm tires;
Vilano R2 Commuter is a really good 21-speed road bike for the money. The price is normally around or below $200 which instantly makes it a very nice option for college students and commuters.
All components used on this bike are at least decent quality and we can’t complain. Vilano R2 Commuter rides really very well and is quite stable. The shifting is smooth and good enough for your daily needs.
The 6061 double-butted aluminum frame is lightweight and makes a perfect bike for the ride to work! In my opinion, this bike is much better than the so popular GMC Denali which I personally do NOT recommend.
Vilano R2 Commuter has some downsides too which is inevitable for so cheap bike. For example, the tires are really cheap and not good at all. You can always upgrade them because there are a lot of good and not expensive tires on Amazon.
In conclusion, the Vilano R2 Commuter can be a really great and cheap bike for students and commuters as the name implies. If you don’t want to spend too much on your transportation to the college campus this should be your choice.
Vilano is a reliable brand which we at YesCycling like a lot.
- Really cheap bike
- Nice and smooth ride and shifting
- Good sporty look
- Tires are cheap and not good quality
You have probably noticed that in this article you can’t find any BMX bikes. If you are interested in buying a good, and reliable BMX bicycle you can check our dedicated page here – “Best BMX Bikes for Everyone in 2019”.
If you are interested in buying a mountain bike for your commutes to college consider reading our buying guide for the best affordable mountains bikes, but note that this type of bicycle is not suitable for long commutes.
Top Bicycling Tips for College Students
My first bicycling tip for college students is to wear a helmet at all times on the bicycle. I know that you might think that your hairstyle is more important than a stupid helmet, but you are now right.
Bike helmets save lives, and they are even obligatory in some states. You should always aim to buy high-quality bike helmet from a reputable brand.
Having a good, and reliable bike lock could be a very good idea, especially if you are going to park your bike inside the campus.
Many students think that bike thief would never steal a bike from campus, but it seems that this is not the case.
Aim to buy something relatively cheap with included batteries. Spending too much on a bike light is not worth it in most cases. Today most bike lights are good enough for a casual rider.
Having a good and loud bicycle bell on your bike when riding inside the campus is definitely recommended. Even if you have bike paths inside your campus, you will find a lot of misled students crossing your way.
Consider buying one of the best bikes bells which we recommend.
You can also carry some spare parts like an inner tube, or maybe some multi-tool for making easy fixes on the go.
I always bring a nice multi-tool with me and help other people on the road with quick amendments on the road.
I want to help 10 000 000 people around the world learn how to ride a bicycle and find the joy of cycling to work. Thank you for being a part of the Yes Cycling community.