City Bike Vancouver
Credit: David Webb

Riding a city bike is about more than style—it's a lifestyle.

I’ve been cruising the streets of Vancouver on my Linus Roadster Sport for two years and every ride still brings a smile to my face. City bikes are about joy in simplicity. They’re about comfort and sustainable transportation. Then, style comes in—because, yeah, city bikes are about looking good too.

So what makes a city bike? I prefer internal-hub gears or single-speeds, for low maintenance and clean design. An upright riding position is key for comfort and all-around sight lines. Cargo capacity is important, for runs to the farmers market. Style notes? It should  look like it's either half-a-century old, or from 50 years in the future. Here are five top picks, starting with my own (biased) ride:

Linus Roadster Sport ($800)


Linus dubs their Roadster “The Ultimate Gentleman’s Ride.” As an owner, I unabashedly agree. From the mid-century alloy bell, to the stable steel frame, to the leather grips and seat—this is a most civilized steed. However, the 700c wheels, forged aluminum crank and three-speed Shimano NEXUS internal-hub gears with twist-shifter mean the Roadster is built to be ridden hard too. Add some personal touches like a teardrop headlamp or a homemade rear crate and you’ll have a bike with style and substance in perfect harmony. (Also available in single- and seven-speed.)

Electra Loft 1 ($470)

Electra BikesElectra Bikes

This is cyclist minimalism at its finest. Though Electra’s steel-framed Loft is available in three- and seven-speed models, the Loft 1—with its single-speed, 700c wheels and coaster brake—epitomizes the simplicity we love about city bikes. Light, nimble and virtually maintenance-free, the Loft 1 lets you concentrate on pure riding, not bells and whistles. Heck, it doesn’t even have a rear-rack! (Which skirts the cargo capacity requirement, but I’ll let Electra slide on this one.)

Norco City Glide 3IGH Mixte ($690)


Most of us have owned a Norco and one point or another (maybe still do). This Canadian company has forged a reputation for quality bicycles—which continues with the City Glide. They’ve merged responsive, ergonomic and lightweight aluminum frame with old-school design (love the cork grips) to craft a stylish city bike with real riding pedigree. The City Glide’s 700c wheels and three-speed Shimano Revoshift internal-hub gears hint at urban performance—other City Glide models feature single-speed, two-speed automatic and eight-speed hubs. (Men’s and women’s models available.)

Brooklyn Driggs 7 ($845)

Brooklyn Bicycle Co.Brooklyn Bicycle Co.

Born from a hipster epicentre where city bikes rule the road, the Brooklyn Driggs 7 oozes style. From its signature double top-tube, to the cream tires, to the colour-matched fenders, to the Vegan Leather grips and seat, you will turn heads. That is, if they can catch you as you speed by—the Shimano Nexus seven-speed internal hub gearbox, chromoly frame and 700c wheels mean this steed can cruise. (Also available in three-speed.) 

Bobbin Birdie ($699)


Bobbins are for daydreamers. These stylish urban go-arounds are for folks who wear straw hats, shop at farmers markets and picnic in the park. The Birdie is all about whimsy—the paint-scheme above, for example, is dubbed “mushroom.” A colour-matched chain guard keeps your pants un-stuck; a sprung saddle is comfy on the bum; cream tires scream style; the painted rear rack fits a basket of veggies; and 700c wheels (52cm frame only) mean you can actually cover some ground in this cutesy cycle. The three-speed gearbox is made by Sturney-Archer—how delightfully retro!