How To Find The Perfect City Bike: A City Bicycle Checklist

A checklist to help you find the perfect city bike.

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The perfect city bike should provide hassle-free riding no matter the season, weather, or time of day. While you can get around the city on any bike in working order, there are a few features that will make your commute, your errands, and your general enjoyment of your bicycle as easy as possible. Here’s our checklist to assist you in finding the perfect city bike.

FRONT BASKET: Look for a large, sturdy basket that easily attaches to your handlebars. Wicker and rattan baskets definitely have a wonderful aesthetic, but do tend to break down or lose their shape more easily over time. Wire baskets are the most durable, but may not have the same aesthetic appeal for some people.

DYNAMO LIGHTS: Many hub dynamos now have very little drag and power lights with a solid beam and standlight feature. Check out our dynamo lights buyers’ guide for a few ideas.

FENDERS: Long fenders provide better wet weather protection and can be found in colors that match your bicycle. Fenders are available in metal, plastic, wood, and even bamboo, so no matter what your bike style, you’re sure to find a set that you like.

REAR RACK: Look for racks that have a place to mount a red rear light, and enough weight capacity to hold your groceries, work materials, and whatever else you haul around the city on a regular basis.



  • lagatta à Montréal

    Diamond frames are not appropriate for people who have certain mobility limitations (such as arthritis). An open (so-called “women’s” frame) can be better for many people, and also for installing seats for small children.

  • Tom W

    I haven’t driven a car in 28 months – I do about 6 miles every day (many times more) – I cruise to the coffee shop every day and stop by the grocery on the way home – average 50 miles a week easily – I drive a fat tire step thru cruiser – three speed in the hub – huge basket – bike weighs a ton – but rides very smooth and with the low gear I can’t be stopped. The health benefits have been extraordinary – I’m a 66 year old guy and I love love love my ladies bike.

  • I was glad to see a step-through. Remember, they aren’t only for women who wear skirts, or beginners. I have arthritis, and often I can get in good rides even when I have a flare-up and am limping heavily when I walk. Cycling is very beneficial for many people with arthritis. Moreover, the step-through makes it easier for many other people with minor disabilities.

    Why the frigging helmet?

    I don’t live in NYC, but here in Montréal I find a good bell very useful because of its distinctive “ding”. Yelling often get heard as another road-rager. Large Dutch bells are suprisingly loud. And there is no way I’d ride a bicycle in town without mudguards. Looking filthy is not cool, unless you are doing muddy mountain biking.

    Another question for Momentum. I thought you were a Canadian publication. Why the hell are you using American spelling?

    • Stuart Paterson

      Helmets are unfortunately a legal requirement here in Australia. They may not offer protection against head injuries but they do protect against a $50 fine 🙁

  • Bicycling Midwife

    No one hears bells in NYC but law requires them. Screaming often works better. Wider saddle is not better. Get one that fits based on sitz bone measure. Too much cushion can also cause more chaffing.

  • Curious about the diamond-frame suggestion. I’d guess that for many, a step-thru makes it easier when sporting skirts (or kilts), when experiencing stiffness (beginners who may be older, less fit, or just lazy about stretching like me), and easier to mount if there’s cargo or kids strapped to the back.

    • Oops! Missed that there are two pages, with step-thru included. All is good. Plus one to Chris M’s suggestion for safe, comfortable infrastructure (if only that was a low-cost option with each bicycle purchase!).

    • Bicycling Midwife

      My commuter bike is a step through. Easier with skirt and quick dismounts. My road bike is a modified diamond.

  • Chris M.

    All great ideas. But for me, hassle-free riding means having a light, stripped-down single speed that I can easily maintain and lug up to my apartment. Plus safe, comfortable infrastructure.

    • Bruce Alan Wilson

      If you live somewhere that is flat as a pancake, singlespeed makes sense; but we have hills here. Gears are a must. For year-round riding, an IHG.

      • Bicycling Midwife

        Love the Raleigh Detour series. 24 speeds and rack and fender friendly. Can handle almost everything. Not supper light (28lb) but under $500.

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