What would you want in a commuter bike…

I received an email from Carl Booth a Design Engineering Student at Northumbria University in Newcastle,England.

He wanted to get our reader’s opinion on something…Please reply by leaving a comment:

What would and would not like to see on a next generation commuter bicycle?


  1. Marrock

    I’d like to see:
    Full mudguards
    Integrated rear rack
    Lights front & rear
    Internally geared rear hub
    Full chain cover
    Sealed bearings
    A Y stand that holds the rear wheel off the ground (would help with the trailer and all that)

  2. Caroline in NH

    Integrated lights – something without a dynamo and without batteries – either magnetic or solar. This is my BIGGEST wish.

  3. happy and blue 2

    Air conditioning for hot days when the breeze just isn’t enough
    Cruise control so I didn’t have to waste my legs pedaling uphill
    Force field to keep cars and pedestrians away
    A dog biscuit dispenser for the nice dogs I meet on the way
    A pointy stick to poke the mean dogs I meet on the way
    A rack that turns into a shopping cart for trips to the grocery store
    Built in urinal for the days when I’m overhydrated
    A stereo and computer for those long commutes when I’m using cruise control
    A tow chain and winch for when I get stuck in snow or mud
    A built in pay phone
    Some change for the built in pay phone
    Fat mountain bike tires for the rough patches that switch to needle thin tires for the perfect patches
    A sandwich dispenser
    A coffee machine
    A…that’s enough for now..

  4. Ghost Rider

    Yes! I love ALL the suggestions above!

    For me, I’d like to see more bikes with dynohubs and more bikes with integrated front and/or rear racks.

    Oh, and a handlebar/heads-up mount for a GE Minigun, like the one Neo used in the door of that helicopter in The Matrix. The position of my head would control where the barrels are pointing.

  5. Yant

    Aside from mini guns all the above are available in one form or an other. (and you can probably get mini guns somewere on internet), My current commuter is near perfect so not many things I’d like.

    Realistically, I would like,
    1. Dyno hubs- with regenrative braking ie generate electricity as you brake.
    2.Affordable CCTV for front and rear mounting on bike, with black box recording, to gather evidence in accident investigation.
    3.QR dyno lights(may be available but not seen them) commuter bikes need to be vandal proof.

    What I don’t want, is too long a list.

    But too give you an idea of my perfect commuter, what i have now is, a 853 frame, and carbon fork, (could do with guard mounts and a bit more clearence), compliant but stiff. Handbuilt fixed wheel set, 18months commuting, and never needed trueing, strong and light. Brooks saddle, very comfortable, and a sadlebag is the most comfortable way to cary my amount of work gear, change of clothes and lunch.

    My next bike will probably be a brompton as will be cycle comuting.


  6. cafn8

    My ideal commuter is a bit minimal compared to many of the previous posts. Here is my wish list in order of importance:
    -Reliable- 8 miles (my commute) is not a long ride, but it is a long walk if something breaks.
    -Speedy/agile- since I’ll be riding around with motorized traffic I’d like gearing which allows speeds in the 30-35 MPH range for short sprints.
    -Practical- all the gear to allow me to carry lunch and a change of clothes on the bike (not on my back) and to keep me from getting too dirty. Also like to be seen by motorists.
    -Light weight- intentionally at the end of the list. Like to be able to easily carry bike. Besides lighter always is nice, but not at the expense of previous points (not for a commuter).

  7. eddy

    everything marrock listed except for the y-kickstand. maybe i would add:
    one of those chunky dutch-style front racks
    kevlar-belted slicks at least 35mm wide

  8. Carl Booth

    Thanks for all the suggestions, keep them coming, the more the better.

  9. James

    If you look at the diversity of opinion before mine, the ideal commuter is personal. The ideal commuter should be a custom build (alas few of us could afford a custom frame) of components around a standard frame. It is too expensive at retail, too time consuming and too daunting for
    most people to build up their own bike. Apart from deals with their distributors, there is no reason that you couldn’t customize your bike on a manufacturer’s website. I know it threatens the LBS, but the bike I want should cost about $1000, but is going to cost me much more if I build it up.

    That said, my ideal commuter is built around a steel frame with traditional road geometry, with track-ends, horizontal drop-outs, or vertical drop-outs with an eccentric bottom bracket. Why? Any of those allow me to run it with an internal-geared hub or as a fixed or single speed without an inelegant chain tensioner. I will also need tire clearance for my 35mm winter studded tires and fenders, and a full set of braze-ons for racks and bottles.

    As for parts:
    drop bars with standard and bar-top brake levers
    full fenders and a porteur chainguard

    Give me good clipless pedals and a Brooks saddle, or leave off both and let me get my own. Don’t make me pay for the stock crap seat and pedals bikes come with.

  10. James

    I do not believe in dynamo lights. They are heavy and create friction, and are just another thing to attract theft; I want to be able to remove my lights. I find that flashers front and rear on the bike, and one on the back of my helmet do wonders. The charm is a helmet light, because you do not get shadows on the road, and you can shine it right at drivers at intersections so they have to notice you.

    Why can’t a manufacturer do an entire frame in reflective paint (but not where it shines in the rider’s eyes)?

  11. Ghost Rider

    I like the idea of detachable lights for dynohubs…modern dynohubs (the Busch & Mueller ones and the Shimano models) create a little bit of friction, but it is negligible compared to the old tire-rubbing “bottle” dynos.

    I really like Marrock’s Y-stand, too — such a device would really help with loading all those groceries and parcels into panniers and racks. Can you imagine loading an Xtracycle-type workhorse without some way to stabilize the entire bike? Loading 80 lb. bags of concrete into a cargo bike with no kickstand or one of those flimsy single-leg stands sounds like a nightmare to me.

    Rustoleum makes some sort of reflective clearcoat in a spray can, but I haven’t read any reliable reports on how well it works — it’s a great idea to make a bike’s frame reflective from stem to stern, though!

  12. Quinn

    I agree with Cafn8- Minimalistic!

    A Stock SS Road bike that can be converted to 1x_

    Lightweight, yet affordable steel, DN6 is Sweet

    a bike that has clearance for 700C studs

    Maybe integrated lights

    A reliable wheelset

  13. aph

    Drop bars, an internal gear hub, and a shifter designed to work with both.

  14. Timbeaux

    -Dyno-hubs that you can turn off to remove friction when you want to.
    -A magnet brazed to the underside of the bottom bracket or crank arms for tripping inductive loop light sensors.
    -Integrated fenders.
    -No chain.
    -A non-rattling U-lock.
    -Handle-bar mounted paint gun for tagging jerk drivers.

  15. Max

    Full size tires on folding bike.

  16. Joel

    I’m pretty much riding it (3 speed internal, dynohub/drum brake up front, full chainguard) but I would love a nice front rack, along the lines of what Kogswell and CETMA put out.

  17. Joel

    oh yeah – and reflective sidewall tires made for old Schwinn wheels (s-6)

  18. J.

    a Surly CrossCheck singlespeed with disc brakes (BB-7..) and “magnetic” lights, Reelights or what are they called? that’s pretty much it, bling to taste, ie drop/straight bars, mudguards, rack, panniers, heavier lights, reflective tires, whatever.

    would be nice to try to get rid of the chain and use the belt thingie, Orange had a prototype, someone else had one as well, what was it called?

  19. Jon Karak

    Things that are must have:
    — fender & pannier mounts
    — inline brakes (if using drop-handlebars)
    — a full lighting set, including: front, rear, and turn signals
    — long enough chain-stays so my heels aren’t kicking the panniers
    — reflective paint/styling
    — and a vandal-proof sun roof (just kidding)

  20. Ghost Rider

    Spot Brand had a belt-drive bike at Interbike…but I’m pretty sure it’s a singlespeed. Perhaps such a thing could be developed to run on an internally-geared hub like a Nexus or Nuvinci?

    Long chainstays won’t help too much with heel strike. What really might help is a longer rear rack — there was a thread on this in the “commuter” forum recently. Some of the pricier racks like Tubus allow panniers to be mounted further back, reducing or eliminating heel strike for larger riders…

  21. russ roca

    some that haven’t been mentioned:
    -embedded electrolumenescent paper beneath the clear coat so you can turn the whole bike into a blinky
    -a little nub on the headtube to mount a cycle computer so it clears up handlebar space
    -integrated front porteur rack
    -integrated rear wheel lock
    -integrated u-lock holder

    ditto to some of the above posts:

    -horizontal or semi-horiz. dropouts so you can run internal hubs, fixed, or single as well as derailleurs
    -plenty of water bottle brazeons
    -plenty of tire clearance

  22. r.

    A built in lazar with a sensor to shoot the tires out on cars with hostile drivers.

  23. Ghost Rider

    I never understood why so many companies moved away from horizontal/semi-horizontal dropouts and went with verticals…the horizontal ones can’t be any more expensive to manufacture, and they’re so much more versatile — like Russ and others stated, you could run internal gears, singlespeed, fixed or derailleur with equal ease. This seems like a no-brainer to me!

    +1 for more tire clearance, too. Not everyone likes rolling on 23mm rubber blades!

  24. tom

    Here in the Siberia of the western hemisphere (Minnesota) the number one requirement for year around commuting is, IMHO disc brakes, at least in front. A good snow fighter would also include mud guards, an internal gear rear hub with coaster brake and chain guard.

  25. Pingback: Speedlinking 3 January 2008 » Treadly and Me

  26. PushingWind

    I would like an internal geared hub. Preferably with a ratio like the 11×32 XT rear cassette I have on my 1×9 cross/commuter bike. It should weigh no more than 200% of the current drivetrain. A little extra weight is fine, but not 11 pounds like that NuVinci hub! An enclosed drivetrain to avoid problems with nature (snow, rain, MUD, sticks, rocks). Maybe belt driven. Better puncture proof tires and liners. I flatted twice last night in 25 degrees. Cross tires and Mr. Tuffy’s are great, but I need more when the temp goes below freezing. Anyone have ideas?

  27. Wayne Myer

    -Disc brake mounts with the rear mount inside the triangle
    -Avid BB7 disc brakes (or whatever ultimately supercedes these)
    -Clearance for 45mm tires with fenders
    -Full fender and rack mounts
    -Reynolds or Columbus steel tubing
    -True touring geometry
    -52-tooth max chainring diameter
    -Threadless headset
    -Bar-con shifters
    -Serviceable bearings, a la Chris King
    -Durable wheels that don’t weigh a ton
    -Selle Anatomica leather saddle
    -Convenient place to store batteries for lights
    -Accomodation on small frames for 1L water bottle
    -Pogies for drop bars
    -Proper clearance for frame pumps on smaller frames

    Don’t Want:
    -Aluminum (although it comes in handy for salty, snowy conditions)
    -Flat bars (although I understand why some might, hence the threadless headset)
    -STI/integrated shifters (ditto)

  28. RL Policar

    Would any one be willing to draw some artist renditions of some of the bikes mentioned?

  29. James

    Why does everyone want disk-brakes? I ride winter in Toronto in all types of crap and could lock-up my wheels with rim-brakes, even before I put the Kool-Stop Salmons on. Maybe it’s a better idea to practice using the better brake: front.

  30. James

    Here it is:
    Or in cyclocross style:

    Lugged steel beauty! As many braze-ons as you could need. 130mm rear spacing will take any internal hub or fixed/free cogs. The vertical drop outs mean the wheel pops in/out for flats, or to change fixed-gear to internal-gear: two bikes in one! The eccentric bottom bracket means no fussy chain-tensioner, half-links or other ugly way to keep your chain in tension. It is built in. PR tells me it will run 32mm tires, but possible more in larger sizes.

    No way to run disk-brakes, even though it is made in Canada and I’d run in it our winters, because YOU DON’T NEED DISK BRAKES.

  31. Ghost Rider

    James, disc brakes are desired on commuter bikes not only because of their stopping power, but also because they’re less susceptible to problems should the rim be damaged or warped. In other words, if you partially taco a rim, you’ll still be able to make it to work.

  32. James

    ‘Ghost Rider’, that makes sense, and I have dented a rim, making for a shaky stop, but I think a rare taxi is a simpler, and cheaper, solution. Disk brakes for such a rare eventuality is a case of the cure being worse than the disease: more expensive, less versatile and harder to service.

  33. Moe

    Integrated powerful lights, removable fenders, rear rack, some sort of reflective paint job, integrated loud ass horn and a much lighter NuVinci Hub.

  34. Val

    Pushing Wind (et al): I just weighed one of the new 2008 NuVinci hubs, and our Topeak digital scale it comes in at 8.14 pounds. Still not the lightest hub out there, but it’s progress. They also now have a factory kit to adapt them for mounting in vertical dropouts, which was a bit of a problem before. It’s good to see designers actually listening to the riders.

  35. hpavc

    breezer uptown 8, civia, giant trans sport hybrid

    sensible rack (giant trans sport)
    dyno power + lamps for front and back

    disc brakes
    fenders of merit (not rattle rattle like civia)
    lock up guard (ala trek soho 4.0)
    internal gearing

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