These Are The Best Bikes For College Students in 2024

by Jalen & Sarah Bromley

When trying to cut down your spending, you may have mentally put transportation in the “non-negotiable” category. Yet the average American spends 3.2% of their budget on gas alone. As a college student, chances are that you’ll have everything you need within a reasonable distance, and cycling is a more practical and time-efficient solution than walking. But what piece of equipment should you choose?

To help you make the right decision, we’ve identified the best bikes for college students in various categories, from electric bikes to fixed-gear options.

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How to choose the right bike

Managing the cost of living in college can be challenging, but there’s more to consider in your bike selection than going for the cheapest option. Here are a few key considerations.

Bike size

It’s hard to imagine a budgeting mistake worse than buying a bike that’s too large or too small for you to use. Pay attention to the size of the wheels and frame before you hit “purchase.”

Here’s a rough guide of how to choose the right bike for your height:

  • Small (below 5’): Frame of 13-14 inches and wheels of 24 inches
  • Medium (5’ to 5’6): Frame of 15-16 inches and 26-inch wheels
  • Large (5’7 to 6’): Frame of 17-18 inches and 28-inch wheels
  • Extra-large (6’+): Frame of 19 inches and 29-inch wheels


Where will you be cycling? If your college campus is surrounded by mountainous terrain or you’ll need to bike up a steep incline every day, a bike with multiple gears is non-negotiable (not to mention a good fitness level). Another option for challenging terrain is an electric bike, which will do most of the work for you. 

On the other hand, flatter areas may allow you to get away with single-speed or fixed-gear bikes, which are simpler machines that you can’t adjust to your terrain. 


You might not fancy yourself much of a mechanic, but the gear type a bike has determines what you should use it for. Most bikes have derailleur gears, a system placed on the bike’s front crank and rear wheel and connected through a chain. These are more exposed and may get damaged more easily, but they facilitate more gears — making them a must for steep terrain.

Internal gear hubs (or hub gears) are hidden inside the rear wheel hub. They’re the most low-maintenance option since their position protects them from the elements and the corresponding damage. But they’re heavier, more expensive, and allow for fewer gears. However, they’re fine for everyday trips on flatter terrain.


Generally speaking, higher-performing bikes require more maintenance.

If the terrain you’ll be riding in is straightforward and you don’t plan to travel long distances, a low-maintenance yet simple bike may be your priority — especially as a busy student. 

On the other hand, if you plan on biking a lot of miles or through tricky terrain, the maintenance work may be worth it for a better piece of equipment.

Best bikes for college students 

Now you know the basics of what to look for in bikes, let’s look at our top picks in the following categories:

  • Commuter bikes
  • Compact folding bikes
  • Single-speed bikes
  • Fixed-gear bikes
  • Electric bikes
  • Bikes for women
  • Cruiser bikes

Best budget-friendly commuter bikes

If you’re looking for a bike that’s affordable and practical for cycling to and from college, a basic commuter bike may be your best option. 


  • Flexible — function on both roads and mountainous terrain
  • Comfortable
  • Often designed to carry loads


  • Not a high performer on any terrain
  • Not the fastest option

The Schwinn Suburban Classic is a hybrid bike with 26-inch wheels and a frame of either 16 or 17 inches. It boasts seven speeds and a lightweight design. Prices fall between $300 and $400, depending on the model you choose.

For something more comprehensive but a little more pricey, the Schwinn Discover is a hybrid machine with wheels of 28 inches and frames of 15, 17, or 19 inches. It boasts an impressive 21 speeds, along with a rear cargo carrier and features for a comfortable riding experience. 

Best compact folding bikes

You can’t beat a compact folding bike if your priority is convenience.


  • Easy to store at home
  • Portable
  • Good for avoiding theft


  • Less comfortable
  • Folding and unfolding can be cumbersome

The Xspec Speed is a foldable bike with seven speeds, rear derailleur brakes, and 20-inch wheels. When folded, its dimensions are 29″ by 24″ by 13″.

If you’d prefer a compact folding bike that’s also electric, the Jasion EB3 may be a better option. It costs under $450, but it can travel at speeds up to 21 mph, and one charge can last for 20 miles. 

Best single-speed bikes

Single-speed bikes have a single gear ratio, with no gear hub or derailleur gear. This makes them one of the simplest, most minimalistic bicycle designs possible.


  • One of the easiest bike types to maintain
  • Cost-effective
  • Lightweight 


  • Not suitable for steep terrain
  • Limited speed control

The Firmstrong Urban Man is a single-speed bike with a 19-inch frame and 26-inch wheels. It costs less than $350 and boasts a sleek, black cruiser style.

The sixthreezero Around The Block is even more affordable, coming in at under $300. With a matte black design, it has wheels of 26 inches and a 19-inch frame.

Best fixed-gear bikes

Fixed-gear bikes are similar to single-speed bikes as both options only have one gear. But unlike single-speed bikes, fixed-gear bikes don’t have a freewheel — so if you stop pedaling, the bike won’t move. 


  • Low maintenance
  • Lightweight
  • Versatile


  • Harder work to ride
  • Terrain limitations
  • Less control

The 6KU Fixie Urban comes in either black or white with a stylish design, and has various sizing options suitable for people of all heights. It was made specially for city cycling, and you can choose whether or not to enable coasting.

Meanwhile, this Golden Cycles bike is an excellent lightweight option for commuting. It is single-speed as well as fixed-gear, and you can choose a standover height between 27 and 34 inches.

Best electric bikes

Electric bikes have grown in popularity for those who want to get from A to B in minutes.


  • Easy and less tiring riding experience 
  • Fast
  • Good for long distances


  • Inconvenience of needing to charge your electric bike 
  • Higher costs
  • Heavier

For less than $300, you could purchase the Jasion EB5 Electric Bike. It can travel up to 20mph (seven speed settings are available) and last 25-40 miles per charge. The bike also weighs less than 50 lbs, which is lightweight for an electric bike.

Another surprisingly affordable option is the TotGuard Electric Bike, which also costs less than $300. It can travel up to 30 miles in full electric mode, or 60 miles in pedal assist mode. There are 21 speed settings available, with a frame of 26 inches.

Best bikes for women

Many bicycle brands offer special machines for women. Since women are typically shorter than men, the stack heights and reach lengths of women’s bikes are shorter. Many women’s bikes also have step-through frames, though this isn’t always the case. Some women may find a unisex or men’s bike more comfortable than women-specific options, however — it’s all about the individual. 


  • More comfortable and safe for smaller women
  • Often have aesthetic designs and colors


  • Not suitable for all women 
  • Less choice

The Firmstrong Urban Lady Beach Cruiser Bicycle comes in a range of colors, including mint, baby blue, and pink. You can also choose sizes ranging between 24 and 26 inches and there are both 1-speed or 3-speed models.

Or, for a mountain bike, this Hiland bike comes in a striking purple color. With a step-through design and a 26-inch frame, it’s designed for people with a height between 5’ and 5’8.

Best cruiser bikes

Cruiser bikes have padded seats, thick tires, and allow cyclists to ride in an upright position (instead of having to lean forward).


  • Less muscle strain
  • More ergonomic
  • Width of tires absorbs shocks 


  • Less efficient, so require more work
  • Often heavier
  • Often slower

The Schwinn Sanctuary comes in a striking bright red color and 26-inch wheels. It has seven speed settings, an 18-inch frame, and a useful rear cargo rack.

Also from the same brand, the Schwinn Destiny & Baywood comes with wheels of 26 inches and a navy blue design. It’s lightweight and boasts comfortable, stylish features like a padded saddle.

Bike off into the sunset

As far as affordable transportation options for college students go, you’d be hard-pressed to beat the humble bicycle. And with options available for people of all fitness levels, budgets, and preferences, you’ll never want to walk or drive again once you find the bike for you.

For more tips on managing your finances at college, make sure you keep up to date with Frugal Student. As well as sharing our favorite product recommendations, we offer practical advice on budgeting, insurance, and more.

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