Best bike with a bottle opener in the seat: This bike is popular in NYC, largely because it’s a great deal (and, you know, the bottle opener). In essence, the SE Draft is a stripped-down track bike with a coaster brake installed. Simply move the pedals backward to activate the in-hub braking system on this spare, BMX-inspired rig. A steel frame is heavy but durable, and cruiser bars and saddle mean a bump in comfort. That extra weight doesn’t do it any favors as a commuter, but a great price and a simply cool look make it one you’ll want to lock up.
Fuji Track Classic
Best budget single-speed: The Fuji Track Classic is what you would call your bargain single-speed bike. It’s relatively durable and functional for short trips and even slightly fashionable. It comes in a couple cool colors and has the ability to switch the rear wheel from a fixed-gear to a single-speed depending on your riding preference. The Fuji is an all-around good value; the downside is that it’s a mass-produced bike. So if finding a unique ride is your thing, you’re going to have to start swapping parts or adding stickers to make it anything out of the ordinary.
Best made-in-Queens single-speed: The last of a dying breed of American factories, Worksman Cycles’ bikes are built to last and hand-made in Queens. Although they offer several variations of models, our pick is the front loader Low Gravity Bike, or LGB. With a built-in front rack and a coaster brake, it doesn’t require much thought to operate — but the best part of this bike is a front wheel that’s smaller in diameter than the back one. This allows the center of gravity of whatever goods your carrying to be lower, and thus more stable; it also allows the handlebars to turn independently of the basket. For anyone who’s constantly loading up their backpack with cool, cheaply bought stuff, this feature is prime. Of course, they’re a little on the heavy side, but for a made-in-the-USA product they are very affordable — and with no embellishments or fancy parts, there are fewer worries about locking up when you’re out and about.
Weirdest single-speed: The Strida is a single speed we’ve always wanted but that won’t be for everyone (it looks a bit like a walker-bike hybrid). It was made for over two decades in the UK, but the company is now located in Taiwan; this has brought down price but it doesn’t seem their build quality has degraded. So what makes it a rad bike? There are no corrosion-susceptible parts and it’s extremely small and fold-able. Although it’s not meant for use over five miles, it’s perfect for almost any city riding. A belt drive means you won’t get grease on your pants and the tires are the only part you’ll ever have to replace. The Strida will also turn some heads and makes a great conversation starter — perfect for when you bring it to a friend’s house party on a hot summer night.
Bowery Lane Broncks
Best Dutch-style commuter: Dutch-style commuter bicycles are making a wave in New York City. The Broncks model from Bowery Lane Bicycles is made in the United States by hand and flouts some added flair and small details (leather saddle, cork grips and a hand-made wooden crate) that really make it unique. While other Dutch bikes might be lighter or slightly more affordable, getting a bike of this quality — built in Brooklyn — for a few hundred bucks under a grand is a steal. The head badge alone will spark plenty of conversations.
[Note: the bike pictured above is the Bare Bones model and retails for $500.]