Back to School: Best Bikes for College 2018
A new academic year brings a new you, new opportunities and, hopefully, a brand new bike to take you from class to class. Life is way too short to waste plodding around campus, laden down by your books, an overbearing sense of underachievement, and – dare we say it – a hangover. It’s about time you made the commute on two wheels…
Taking a bike to college will not only give you a new-found lease on life, it will also make sure you not miss a 9am seminar ever again – take that, attendance police. Cycling to class is a cheap and effective way to stay healthy, as well as make new friends while rolling down the bike path. Tip-top health and a handful of friends are just some of the essentials you’ll need if you’re planning to make it all the way through college.
A bike is also your ticket to freedom and fun while living at college. Want to hit up that coffee shop on the other side of town? A bike will get you there in no time. Fancy getting out of the city? A good bike’ll take you there for free.
What are the key features to look for in a college bicycle?
The most important thing when it comes to flying around campus is comfort. No one wants to be burdened with an uncomfortable ride after suffering through hours of class. After all, the commute by bike is supposed to be the fun- and freedom-filling part of your day.
Most college bicycles are in fact hybrid bikes. Hybrid bikes take the best bits from all manner of other two-wheeled machines to create a beast that can tackle all terrains, speeds, and tasks, without ever compromising on that all-important aspect – comfort. Here are just a few of the features to look out for when choosing the best bikes for college:
- Wide tires, ranging from 700x28-32c is the most common, but some can go up to a fat 700x42c. The wider the tire, the more comfort, especially on rougher back roads.
- Fenders and pannier attachments. You can never have enough eyelets to mount extra carrying attachments on your bike.
- Relaxed, sit-up geometry to increase overall comfort
- Classic, timeless aesthetics – you’re going to need a bike that stays on top of all the college trends.
These are just some of the key features to look out for when choosing the best college bike, but they are by no means the be-all, end-all. The perfect bike differs for everyone and while some may pride flashy style over function, others may just opt for a no-muss, no-fuss urban stomper. We have this handy list of some of the best, proven college bicycles on the market, just for you…
Specialized – Langster Street
Comfort: Adopting the same race-winning design as Specialized’s road racing frames, the Langster isn’t best known for its comfort but it is fast. 5/10
Performance: The road racing geometry encourages a compact, aero riding position that is bound to get you reaching top speeds. 8/10
Style: Super-sleek and simple, the Langster adopts a classic ‘fixie’ look with all the tapering and aero detailing of a top-end road bike. 7/10
Price: A mid-level bike with a price worthy of its proven, speedy design. 7/10
Ease of maintenance: A single-speed drivetrain limits the number of moving parts, drastically cutting the amount of maintenance. 9/10
College-ready features: Bullhorn bars give a classic, timeless aesthetic while also providing comfort and nimble handling around twisty college campuses. 6/10
OVERALL SCORE: 42/60
Trek – FX 3
Comfort: Wide tires, sit-up geometry and flat bars with IsoZone pads make this Trek FX 3 one super-comfy commuter. 8/10
Performance: Equipped with a 27-speed Shimano drivetrain, the FX 3 can conquer just about any incline you can throw at it. 8/10
Style: This bike prides function over aesthetics. The matte black colors do turn some heads, however. 6/10
Price: The FX 3 hits the sweet spot between value and performance, an entry-level commuter with some reliable, no-fuss components. 8/10
Ease of maintenance: There’s a lot going on with this bike; triple chainrings and multiple gears can mean a lot to go wrong if you neglect it. 5/10
College-ready features: Has a wealth of eyelets to mount fenders and panniers, perfect for ferrying your textbooks to and from class. 7/10
OVERALL SCORE: 42/ 60
Raleigh – Harlan
Comfort: An upright riding position complete with ergonomic handlebars and springy saddle make the Harlan a delight to ride, especially around the city. 9/10
Performance: A Sturmey Archer 3-speed drivetrain doesn’t give you many gearing options, but powerful mechanical disc brakes sure do come in handy when riding on busy streets. 6/10
Style: The Harlan has that classic look that many bicycle lovers fawn over. It’s simple, it’s steel, and it oozes both style and class. 9/10
Price: The Harlan is intended for comfortable, inner-city riding with the components reflecting that. It may not be as versatile as other commuters, but its low price will certainly entice budding buyers. 8/10
Ease of maintenance: Internal gear hubs are a devil to fix if they break, as are disc brakes. They’ll run smoothly, but as soon as you encounter a problem, this is one for the trained mechanics. 4/10
College-ready features: Eyelets on the rear allow easy mounting options and a bell up top on the handlebars is a simple, yet perfect addition for this campus-cruising bike. 7/10
OVERALL SCORE: 43/60
LIV – Flourish 2
Comfort: A low-step frame with slack and upright geometry is tailored for female riders, as is the padded LIV Comfort saddle. 9/10
Performance: A wide range of gears allows you to conquer both the flat roads and hills. 8/10
Style: A smart and elegant way to get around town, this bike takes a timeless design and slaps it with a classic-looking color scheme that will no doubt turn heads as you make your way across campus. 8/10
Price: The Flourish 2 has both performance and style in abundance. For the entry-level price, this is one bike that deserves a second glance. 8/10
Ease of maintenance: The brakes are easily accessible and simple to fine tune; the drivetrain, however, is not. 6/10
College-ready features: With a basket up top, kickstand, and mounted panniers, this is a bike that was made for traveling to and from campus. 9/10
OVERALL SCORE: 48/60
Public – R24
Comfort: With a spongy, leather-look saddle, this is one of the comfier road-faring machines. 7/10
Performance: A triple chainring in front, and wide cassette at the back means that this bike can climb just about any mountain. 8/10
Style: Steel bikes are in, as are classic aesthetics and color schemes. This bike has both of these. The sky blue and leather brown color scheme a gorgeous partnership. 9/10
Price: On the more expensive side, but one must remember its versatility is second to none. 7/10
Ease of maintenance: All the components are wired on the outside of the frame, making them both easily accessible, and simple to fix. The gearing, however, could prove a pain for some home-mechanics. 7/10
College-ready features: Fenders are ideal for those wetter days on campus. 7/10
OVERALL SCORE: 45/60
Comfort: With an ergonomic frame and handlebar shape, as well as a padded leather-look saddle, this is one incredibly comfy campus cruiser. 10/10
Performance: The AroundtheBlock features a solid 7-speed drivetrain for tackling varying degrees of terrain, as well as super grippy and wide tires that will coast over any road surface you throw at them. 8/10
Style: The base bike is clad in a sleek, matte-black paint job with the options to choose between black, white or leather brown detailing. 9/10
Price: The perfect campus cruiser on a cheap, college budget. 10/10
Ease of maintenance: Cantilever style brakes are simple to maintain, as is the one-by drivetrain and external cabling. 8/10
College-ready features: With pannier rack already equipped, and the option to add fenders, not only can this bike act as your college packhorse, it can also be ridden in any weather – perfect. 10/10
OVERALL SCORE: 55/60
Conclusion and Final Pick
In our opinion, the AroundtheBlock is the perfect bike for cruising and commuting around campus – a machine that blends utility and comfort with drop-dead gorgeous looks gets a massive thumbs up from us.
It may not be the fastest or the most versatile machine out there, but when it comes to commuting and flying from class to class, you’d struggle to find a better choice of a back-to-school bike than the AroundtheBlock.
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