Bike finder: Which urban commuter should I buy?

A composite image of two halves of bikes. The back of the silver Vitus Mach 1 One City Bike SS and front of the black Carrera Subway All-Weather Edition
Which urban commuter would you buy: Vitus’s Mach 1 (left) or the Subway from Carrera (right)?
Johnny Blake cycles to work in central London. He’s looking for a low-maintenance commuter bike that will take him through the capital’s busy urban streets. Here are some options

London commuter

For: Jonny Blake, aged 25, from central London.
Bike needs: Commuter bike for work in London.
Must haves: Straight handlebar. Easy maintenance. Space for mudguards.
Budget: £500.

Simon Withers

In an ideal world and for low maintenance I’d like to recommend a hub-gear bike, but price largely puts them out of the equation, though the Vitus Mach 1 Three (£519.99) nearly hits your price point. But my final choice covers most of your requirements and even gives you a little change from your £500.

I’ve ridden a lot of Carrera Subways over the years and their performances far exceeded their quite modest prices. The Carrera Subway All-Weather Edition looks like being no exception (£485 – members get an 8% discount on selected Halfords bikes).

Not only does this aluminium-framed flat-bar bike come with full-length mudguards, the spec also includes automatic lights (I’d recommend an extra front light at least) and heated grips. I’m not sure how crucial they are but, unusually and very impressively at this price, you also get hydraulic disc brakes, which will be a real boon in London’s traffic.

You also get an exceptionally good gear range from the 2×9 Shimano Tourney setup. The low bottom gear from the 30/36 pairing – a wall-climbing 22in – will also go a long way to ameliorating the effects of the Subway’s 14.5kg weight.

The 27.5in tyres have a healthy 1.95in width that’ll put a big cushion of air between you and even the poorest city surfaces, so you won’t be battered by the road. Reflective frame and mudguard decals and reflective strips on the tyres will aid your visibility to other road users during night-time commutes.

Carrera Subway All-Weather Edition £485

The Carrera Subway, a black flat-bar hybrid bike with mudguards

Dan Joyce

Central London is flat enough that you can dispense with variable gears – and the need to maintain them. You see a fair number of fixie riders in the capital for those reasons. Skinny tyres aren’t optimal for London’s potholed and patched-up roads, however; wider rubber will give a safer, more comfortable ride.

The Vitus Mach 1 One City Bike SS (£399.99) – a stablemate of the hub-gear model Simon mentions – is an urban mountain bike with 27.5×1.95in tyres. I tested its predecessor, the Vitus Dee 29, in the Feb/Mar 2017 issue of Cycle (, riding it on road and off. The Mach 1 One looks equally robust.

Its Alhonga mechanical disc brakes are not as powerful as the Carrera’s hydraulics but they should be effective enough, and are not hard to maintain. Just dial in the fixed piston and adjust the cable tension as the pads wear. The singlespeed drivetrain should need no attention beyond occasional oiling.

With a 38-tooth chainring and an 18t screw-on freewheel, the gear is 58in. If that’s too spinny, fit a 16t one (approx £15) for a 65in gear.

The Mach 1 One doesn’t come with mudguards but does have fittings for them, as well as for a rear rack. Frame-fitting guards like the SKS Bluemels Basic 28" 65 Mudguard Set (£42) will give more wraparound and keep you cleaner.

Theft is a big problem in London so I’d recommend spending most of the rest of your budget (~£50) on a short-shackle Sold Secure Gold-rated D-lock from the likes of Abus or Kryptonite.

Vitus Mach 1 One City Bike SS £399

The Vitus Mach 1 One SS, a silver fixed-wheel flat-bar bike

First published in Cycle magazine, October/November 2023 issue. All information correct at time of publishing.

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