The clue is in the name but there have still been complaints that Road.cc has given its "commuting bike of the year" award to a road bike.
From a shortlist of ten the number one spot was given to the £2,150 Whyte Wessex. The £320 B’Twin Hoprider 520 was the only Dutch-style bike in the list, but could only manage sixth place from the Road.cc reviewers. There was no place on the list for what many consider to be Britain’s leading commuting bike, and that’s the Brompton. (The reason for this is reasonably obvious, the "commuting bike of the year" is chosen from the new-to-the-market bikes that Road.cc has tested during the year, and if there have been no new Bromptons to review, that bike won’t be on the shortlist.)
"The bike you choose will depend on the distance, terrain and nature of your commute, your riding style and whether you want to use it for more than commuting, such as long weekend rides," states Road.cc’s Dave Arthur.
"Many people get into cycling through commuting with half an eye on longer cycle rides in the future, and that’s why a road bike can be a good choice."
However, some on social media feel a road bike – even one with mudguards – isn’t the most practical bike to commute on.
"Stupid that a bike which out of the box doesn’t have mudguards, racks and built in dyno lighting is "commuter bike of the year"," reckoned @gazza_d He added: "The Hoprider is what commuting bikes should be [and] should have won."
@PeterKinsella1 went further, explaining that the low take up of cycling in the UK isn’t down to ninety years of car-centrism or the lack of cycling infrastructure but bike shops, cycle manufacturers and the bicycle media.
I have maintained for years that the biggest impediment to cycling in the UK is the cycle trade and press.
— Peter Kinsella (@PeterKinsella1) January 14, 2017
Road.cc publisher Tony Farrelly told BikeBiz: "There are bikes you should commute on on and bikes you want to commute on. What counts as the rational choice of commuter bike is going to be dictated by a whole load of variables – the nature of your commute, your budget, what else you might want to do with the bike and so on.
"We tried to reflect that in our list, but with a bias to the sorts of bikes our user surveys tell us our users actually ride when they commute, and also to the sorts of machines we see being ridden on our own commutes (a mix of suburban, rural and urban riding)."
Farrelly confimed that the short-list was "limited to bikes we’ve actually had in for review" and that "we know we need to test more folders."
He added, by email: "I’m sorry if Peter and Gaz don’t like our choices, but I did enjoy Peter’s assertion that the cycling media and bike trade are the biggest impediment to cycling in the UK – I almost LOL’d. Oh to be so powerful!"
Instead, said Farrelly, Road.cc follows the market: "We give people what they tell us they want – if we didn’t we’d go out of business.
"Maybe the real impediment to cycling in this country is that it’s just full of the wrong sorts of cyclists – people who don’t listen to those who know what’s best for them but instead want to do frivolous stuff like enjoy the ride – even when it’s to and from work. And yes, it is possible to enjoy the ride even in the rain without mudguards – just not as much."
To that last point he added a smiley, 😉
Perhaps the solution for Road.cc would be to create another award category, perhaps "Dutch-style commuting bike of the year"? That way everybody’s happy.
Unless, of course, there should also be an award for "cargo-carrying commuting bike of the year", but then I’m biased because below is the bike I commute on. (When it’s fitted with ice-spike tyres – such as now – there’s no room for mud-guards.)