Best Commuter Bike Overall In 2021: Schwinn Traveler III – Features And Review


When I woke up yesterday, I never dreamed that my three-year search for an upright mixte commuter bike would be over. But here she is, in all her fire engine glory, and she’s mine.

She’s a cute Schwinn Traveler III with ten speeds and original everything. That means paint, seat, tires, grips, and even the dear little bag strapped to the seat. It’s a bit scratched and rusty, but it’s in far better shape than many vintage bikes I’ve seen, especially for $90.

Those of you who have been reading the blog for a while know that a couple of times a year, I get a hankering for a dedicated commuter bike. I get tired of making do with my road bike or simple hardtail for errands. I’ve looked at a lot of different commuter and cruiser options, but the vintage mixtes make me swoon, especially when they’re restored by someone like Velouria from Lovely Bicycle!

For years, I struggled to believe there was an upright step-through with more than three gears that could handle the demands that my mom’s life can dish out. So I’ve kept one eye on eBay, used sporting goods stores, and bike shops, hoping the Fates would smile in my direction.

They unleashed their grin when I walked into a used gear shop nearby, hoping to check out the Terry bike saddle I’d seen there a few days ago. I chatted with the owner about his new snow/beach bike (now on my fantasy bike list), then headed to the bike section. And stopped dead in my tracks.

  • Upright handlebars? Yes.
  • Step-through frame? Yes.
  • Great color? Definitely.
  • Lugs? Simple, but yes.
  • Good condition? Oh, yes!

I held my breath during the test drive, figuring that some glitch would appear, and I’d have to walk away from a dream bike. Again. But everything checked out, over and over again.

Now it’s all mine! I’m completely reveling in the joy of having a simple bike with such lovely lines. It’s always ready to go! No special shoes, no fancy clothes. I love the upright position in traffic, and the bike is so nimble!

What I didn’t expect was the magical sensation of being transported. As soon as I hopped on the bike, suddenly I was a young girl again, cruising along in flip-flops, with the sun and wind in my hair. No pressure, no appointments, no grown-up fretting. Even watching my boy take a turn on it immediately brought me back to my grandparents’ lawn on summer nights, where my cousins and I hitched along on impossibly big bikes.

Bike therapy comes in different shapes and sizes. When I need to fly above my everyday life, I have my road bike. For gettin’ dirty on gravel, my chunky-tired Wahoo fits the bill. Now, I have a bike that moves at an easy, civilized pace where beauty flows by.

Some thoughtful readers who know goo-gobs more about bikes than I do may feel the need to point out that this isn’t a high-end bike. Please don’t. I’m completely okay with my fun, girly play bike. Since it’s not a collector’s item, I’m looking forward to accessorizing and making it mine.

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