Best Bikes for College | MTB – Road – Hybrid – Fixie Bikes ALL under $500

With the many different types of bikes available today.  Choosing the best bikes for college can be quite confusing, not to think of the budget you’ll also be thinking about.

As once a college student I can say that one of the best types of bikes I’d recommend would be a hybrid / mountain bike.


Well Hybrid Bikes were designed to be a combination of the road bike and mountain bike. 

Meaning the best use cases for a hybrid bike are short commutes to college but also suitable for single tracks roads. 

Skip to Recommendations:

What if I Only Plan on Using it on the Road?

Then maybe a road bike could be for you. However, at first I thought I’d only be using it for my short commute to college. But I was wrong, with many of my friends also using a bike to get to college.

We ended up going on a few bike rides outside of college and as you’ll probably know there are many cycle routes that use single track roads. And you don’t want to be having to buy a second bike.

So overall, the best case scenario would be a hybrid bike as this allows you to use it for multiple purposes. They’re also designed to be more comfortable than a road bike. As well as being specifically made for more casual riding.

Even though we’ve recommended Hybrid Bikes.  We understand as a student you might not want the typical bike so we’ll be including some fun alternatives that are practical.
You can skip to that section here.

Typical Hybrid Bike Specifications

If you’re on a budget then the typical hybrid bike we’ll be showing you today will have an aluminium frame, making it lightweight. A 21 speed Shimano shifter.  Potentially depending on your budget a 24 speed. But for casual use this upgrade would probably not be the best use of your money.

Standard brakes.  Again depending on your budget you may be able to opt for an improved braking system such as disc brakes. As we’re trying to find the best bike for college we’ll try to get the most for your money.  So we’ll be looking for bikes that include front suspension forks for a more comfortable ride.

However, some may be included that don’t have front fork suspension if it offers other features.
As it’s a hybrid bike the typical riding position will be upright.  This is known to be the most comfortable way to ride a bike and will include a padded saddle.

Best Bicycle Brands

Even though we’ll be looking for some budget bikes.  We’ll make sure to only include the popular well-known brands. These include: Raleigh, Diamond Back, and Schwinn.

If you’ve bought bikes before you’ll have probably heard of those three brands.  They’re popular across most of the world for their quality.

Safety Precautions

As you’ll be riding a bike it’s important for us to tell you about some of the safety precautions and equipment you should be using and wearing when riding your bike.

Check your Equipment

  • Make sure the seat is adjusted to a proper height and locked in place.
  • Check the tires are inflated to the correct tire pressures.
  • Make sure bike reflectors are attached and can be seen.
  • Make sure all parts are correctly installed and tightened correctly.
  • Plan to be seen.
  • Wearing a Helmet is extremely important and make sure it’s fitted correctly.
  • Wear protective reflective clothing.
  • Follow the rules of the road.


As you’ll be travelling to college you’ll be leaving your bike locked up so make sure you have a bike lock and you’ve locked it up so it’s secure.

Why Cycling is the Best Mode of Transport for College?

Travelling by bike is one of the cheapest mode of transports.  Not only is it cheap, but you’re able to cut across campus or around town taking all the short cuts and arrive at your destination in minutes.

When I say cycling is cheap, it’s because you only need a bike and a few safety accessories.
For a good bike and accessories you’re probably going to be looking $350 at the highest.
$350 for a mode of transport that will last you throughout your entire college years.

If you do have extra cash to splash on a more expensive bike then we’ll show you the recommended bikes for college at those price ranges.  But the best thing about cycling is you don’t need a $600 bike.

Not only will cycling allow you to travel across campus quick.  But as you cycle more you’ll start to get stronger and healthier.  Trust me you can quite easily cover 10 miles in a very short period of time.

But as we’ve said cycling is one of the best modes of transport for college.  In this article we’ll show you the different bikes for college students, throwing in a couple of quirky additions if you don’t want a standard bike.

Even though there are 100s of different bikes out there.  Picking up the cheapest no name brand out there probably won’t last you that long.  And you don’t want to be buying a new bike every few months.  So we’ll make sure to only recommend the best bike brands on the market.

What to Take Into Consideration?

The ultimate bike for college students will check the following boxes;

  • Affordable
  • Reliable
  • Good Aesthetics

Types of Bikes

Different types of bikes seem to be popping up all the time.  Combinations of different bikes etc.
But for college the hybrid bike as we mentioned above is one of the best options.
Other good choices include a road bike if you’re not planning on travelling on unpaved surfaces.



Some of the best bikes on the market today include parts such as a carbon frame.  A carbon frame is quite possibly the best material for a bike frame due to the weight and versatility.
However, bikes with carbon frames come with high price tags.

And for college you don’t really need to be spending that much on a bike. So an aluminum frame would be best suited for both budget and weight.

Aluminum frames are still lightweight and still offer that strong sturdy shell that you want from a bike.


Another compromise you’re probably going to have to make will be the amount of gears.
Choosing the amount of gears that would be best suited for you will all depend on your local commute.

If your commute is going to be on the flat with no hills then you’ll be pleased to know that you may be able to go for a cheaper bike as these tend to have less gears.

However, if you live in a hilly area then choosing a bike with a low number of gears might not be the compromise you’re able to make.

Having to pedal up steep inclines with little gears will make your life hell and commute extremely tiring.

What Size Bike to Choose?

Checkout our Recommended Bike Size Chart

Hybrid / Mountain Bikes

Kent Dual Suspension 26 Inch

Kent KZ2600 Dual Suspension Mountain Bike

Kent is a much known bicycle manufacture that’s been around since the late 50s.  Since then Kent have produced all kinds of bicycles. One of the main focuses of Kent is to provide high quality bikes at affordable prices.

The Kent KZ2600 is a Dual-Suspension mountain bike.  Providing a reliable and affordable mountain bike.  Whilst not compromising on comfort. For your commute to college you’ll be riding in comfort from the dual-suspension system.

Kent assembled the bike with a front disc brake but compromised on only having a rear linear pull brake. One of the downsides to this bike. 

If you was going to have a disc brake on the front why not charge the slight increase in price and add one to the back? 

However, the linear rear pull brake offers a safe stopping distance when travelling at normal speeds.

The full suspension Aluminium frame makes the Kent KZ2600 a lightweight but still has its advantages of being strong and sturdy.

The total weight of the bike is 40 lbs.  Which for an entry level mountain bike may not be the lightest but you do have to take into consideration the full suspension system that has been added.

Overall the bike is definitely worth the price.  And extremely suitable for commutes of around 10 – 15 miles.  If your commute is shorter then that’s a bonus.  But the 21 speed shifter will make pedaling easy even for the longer 15 mile commutes.

Mongoose Status

Mongoose Status

The 21 speed shimano shifter provides a wide range of gears at good gear ratio’s to make sure you’re not overworking yourself on your commute. Having 21 gears is a huge benefit over 7 gears.  It makes for climbing up hills easily.

With Mongoose a well-known US bike manufacture you can expect high quality components. Having an aluminium frame brings the benefit of making the bike lightweight compared to steel frames.

One of the downsides to the bike has to be the difference in price compared to the Kent MTB above.  You get a similar suspension, frame and shifter but also the increased price.

Overall the Mongoose Status is a very high quality mountain bike.  And would definitely be a reliable bike for college. But on a college budget you may think twice about the alternatives out there.

Unless you can grab a used one for a similar price.

Knight 21 Speed

Titan Knight 21 Speed

The TITAN Knight may not be the cheapest out there but had to be included for some of its components the cheaper ones don’t include.

The lightweight aluminium frame makes the bike extremely light at only 33lbs.  However you don’t get the dual suspension system like the two above.

There is only the front suspension.  But other nice features have to include the alloy racing bar ends. Quick release seat post.  And the centre mounted kick stand. The 26 Inch double walled aluminium alloy wheels make for strong and sturdy wheels.

Also included the standard 21 speed shimano shifter. TITAN is a relatively new bicycle company being founded in 2005.  However, their main aim was for racing bikes.  Which require very strong and reliable components.

So you can be rest assured although it may not include a dual suspension system the quality of the components will be very high.

Schwinn Step Through

Schwinn Step Through

Anyone who knows something about cycling knows that Schwinn is one of the best bicycle manufactures in the world. 

Founded in 1895 and still making bikes to this day. If you’re looking for a reliable and cheap bike for college.  Then the Schwinn High Timber is one of the best bikes in its price range.

No matter your daily commute the Schwinn high timber will make your commute comfortable and with the 21 speed Shimano Revoshifter you’ll have enough gears to tackle any hills with little effort.

Schwinn doesn’t compromise when it comes to safety the linear pull brakes provide precision stopping power for maximum braking power.

Increased durability comes from the front suspension aluminium frame.  Offering both durability and reliability.  But also comfort when you’re riding over uneven surfaces.

The weight of the Schwinn High Timber is around 38 pounds.  So again on the light side of entry level mountain bikes.

No matter the length of your commute, whether it’s 1 mile or 15 miles.  This bike would make your commute quick and easy.

DiamondBack Trace Sport

Diamondback Trace Sport

Diamond back opted for a high tensile steel fork for better steering.  If you’re not the most confident when it comes to riding a bike, this feature will make you more confident in steering.  Along with high quality linear brakes.

Once again Diamond Back is one of the best in the cycling business when it comes to quality.

The forged dropouts in the frame allows for increased durability.  As well as being made from aluminum alloy for strength.  Making the overall frame extremely high quality and good for a beginner when it comes to cycling.

One downside to the bike would be that even though Diamond Back say the dual sport 700C tires have traction for trail use.  The tires don’t have the high traction grip of other bikes. 

This however, must be said that you would be able to swap the tires and still be cheaper than other alternatives on the market.

Overall the Diamond Back is high quality and extremely reliable for a college student.  Likewise the bike is on the cheaper side so possible upgrades could be made if needed. 

The 21 speed shifter again allows for smooth and comfortable riding if you live in a hilly area.

Schwinn Bonafide MTB

Schwinn Bonafide MTB

The Schwinn Bonafide MTB definitely isn’t the cheapest but it shows the quality of bike you can get for an extra 100 – 160 dollars. For the added price tag you get front and rear disc brakes.  Making braking very safe and exceptional stopping distances at faster speeds.

You also get the added 3 extra gears.  Although three gears may not be a lot of noticeable.  It was worth a mention.

The powerful Schwinn suspension forks absorbs the bumps and provides you with extra comfort making for a more enjoyable ride.

From the images you can see the more knobbly tires that provide great traction on more bumpy terrains. For the added price you get Schwinn’s durable alloy cranks with provide for better steering and less maintenance.

Once again Schwinn is one of the best quality bicycle manufacturer’s.  And you can rest assured knowing that the added price tag brings very high quality components that are reliable and durable.

But the extra price tag may not be within budget for a bike for college students. You’ll also however, never need to buy another bike for a long time.

Road Bikes

EuroBike TSM550

EuroBike TSM550

You may not have heard of EuroBike before like you’ve heard of Schwinn or Raleigh.  But EuroBike is a fairly new competitor in the market.  And they haven’t got into the market by magic.  They provide high quality components that compete with some of the well-known brands.

Being one of the cheapest road bikes on the market you’d expect there to be a few compromises to reliability. But there isn’t.

If you’re looking for a reliable and cheap road bike.  You must bear in mind that you should only purchase a road bike if you plan on using paved roads only. Then this is a cracking deal.

Front and Rear disc brakes providing for a stronger and faster stopping power.  Unlike some of the traditional linear pull systems we’ve been reviewing.

One compromise is the steel frame instead of the more common aluminium frame.  Although it does still only weigh around 42 pounds.

A Shimano shifter is used to provide excellent smooth gear changes.  Which when riding on the road you need to have a good gear system to keep up to speed with the traffic.

One downside to this bike if you’re tall is that the recommended height is between 5’3” and 5’9”.

Schwinn Volare

Schwinn Volare

A more expensive road bike is the Schwinn Volare. Although it does have the lightweight aluminium frame.

One disappointment to the Schwinn Volare was the option for not adding disc brakes.  Unlike the EuroBike which is cheaper and included both front and rear disc brakes.

However, with Schwinn you know the quality will be top notch.  And this can be seen with Schwinn offering a limited lifetime warranty for as long as you own the bike.

The aluminium frame defintelty reduces the weight of the overall bike.  With the weight coming in around 28 pounds. Another downside would be the 14 speed shifter.

Overall.  This Schwinn may be for you. But we believe that there are better alternative road bikes such as the EuroBike above and the GoPlus Commuter below.

These two not only offer more features you’d see in more expensive road bikes.  But also are cheaper than the Schwinn Volare.

GoPlus Commuter

GoPlus Commuter

As we stated above the GoPlus seems to offer a lot more features for a cheaper price.  But again you’re looking at a brand that started in 2014.  So there isn’t the history of high quality components and excellent customer service that comes when buying a Schwinn bike

Likewise the GoPlus doesn’t come with disc brakes and they’ve opted for the standard linear pull brakes.

However, the lightweight constructed aluminium frame reduces the overall weight of the bike which gives benefits such as improved speed as well as meeting demands for increased ride efficiency.

The quick release front wheel allows for easy assemble and disassemble for storing in smaller spaces. GoPlus have included quality components that you can rely on such as the Shimano shifter.

Hiland Commuter

Hiland Commuter

Hiland is a UK bicycle brand that are currently expanding to the US.  Hiland are known for high quality bikes. And purchasing through amazon means that you get exceptional support if anything was to go wrong.

The Hiland Commuter is one of the cheaper road bikes for college students that we’re reviewing.  And would make a comfortable daily commute bike.  As long as you don’t plan on going on any unpaved services.

Although the Hiland doesn’t have disc brakes the linear pull brakes that are used both at the front and rear offer suitable braking power for a road bike.

The frame is made from Hiland steel.  Although made from steel the bike weighs 33 lbs with the pedals attached.  Which must be said isn’t the lightest road bike but it’s definitely not a deal breaker.

However, for the price and specs compared to the Schwinn Volare below.  I’d probably recommend the Schwinn Volare.

Schwinn Volare

Schwinn Volare 1500

The 14 speed shimano shifter allows for smooth and quick gear changes.  Especially useful on road bikes where you’ll be on the road with cars and vans. You want to feel confident in shifting gears to keep up to speed with traffic.

As we’ve mentioned before in this review.  You know you’re getting a quality bike that will last for many years with Schwinn.

Compared to the Hiland above.  The Schwinn Volare uses a aluminium frame that gives you a rigid and durable bike. Whilst also making the bike light at 29.8 pounds.

The one downside to the bike would be the regular linear pull brakes.  But for the price you’re paying it’s easy to see why they haven’t included disc brakes in this model.

Overall as a college commute bike.  There is no problems that would be hard to deal with. The price and components make this compete for one of the top budget friendly road bikes.

Folding Bikes

Schwinn Loop

Schwinn Loop Adult Folding Bike

If you don’t have much space to store your bike.  Then maybe a fold-able bicycle could be for you.  Some fold-able bikes tend to have smaller wheels. Like the Schwinn Loop which comes with 20 Inch wheels.

The Schwinn loop does however only come with a 7 speed shifter. So if you live in a hilly area I’d recommend staying away from this one.

The included nylon carry bag allows you to store the bike away and carry it around campus into class as if it was just a normal bag. The bags dimensions are 29.5 x 29 x 19 inches.

Overall the bike weighs around 33 pounds. One thing that you get with a lot of Schwinn bikes is the limited lifetime warranty. Which is of great value and shows the brand is extremely confident in its durability.

Best Fixie Bikes

RetroSpec Fixie

RetroSpec Fixie

The RetroSpec Mantra is widely known as one of the top fixie bikes. And it’s slightly more expensive than some of the bikes we’ve been looking at. But it has the modern appeal in the geometry of the frame.

The steel frame makes the bike weigh around 30 pounds. But we have to take into account that compared to the other types of bikes we’ve been looking at the Fixie bikes only have one gear.

The modern appeal of the bike makes it very appealing to a younger audience. RetroSpec was founded in 1982, so they’ve had quite a few years in the manufacturing business. And have since considerably improved the overall quality and reliability of its bike ranges.

6KU Fixed

6KU Fixed

You’ve probably never heard of 6KU.  But the reason we’ve included this bike is due to the ratings from customer feedback. Not only were most of the ratings positive but the bike looks extremely cool.

For short daily commutes to college it’s definitely worth the price and reliable. The 6KU includes the standard brakes and steel frame. As well as a Deep V double wall alloy wheels.

The main appealing factor that makes this bike appeal to near enough everyone is the 10 different color combinations that you can choose from. The bike looks modern and slick.

But the only thing to consider is 6KU are not one of the well-known bike brands out there.  Which could be an issue to some.

Raleigh Fixie

Raleigh Fixie

One of the best known bike brands out there alongside Schwinn is Raleigh.  Raleigh is an extremely good bike manufacture making sure that quality is at the heart of the customer.

An advantage of the Raleigh is the larger alloys.  Included 40mm high profile rims and 700x32c tires make the bike roll over obstacles easily.

You know with Raleigh that the quality of components is going to be next to none. As for disadvantages of the bike. For the price we couldn’t really see any.

The bike offers a solid and durable frame, larger high profile rims, and standard dual pivot caliper brakes that provide really good stopping power. Overall for the price you can’t really go wrong with the Raleigh Fixed City Bike.

State Fixie Single Speed

State Fixie Single Speed

The State fixie single speed bike definitely isn’t the cheapest but was included to show you how good the Raleigh single speed above is compared to it’s competitors.

With pretty much the exact same spec as the Raleigh above yet considerably more expensive.

State do include a Durable steel frame with 5 years warranty.  But we’re not to sure if that’s worth the price increase over the Raleigh.