You would think choosing a bike would be easy. It’s a two-wheeler transport, how hard can it really be. Well, turns out, not only are there many different types of bikes but there are also some factors you need to keep in mind as well.
Most of them will be made pretty well – it’s quite hard to mess up a metal frame, you know? But things like fit, accessories, price and also which frame size is right for you are also very important.
This will be the ultimate guide to types of bicycles. So, buckle up and put your helmet on. We are going for a ride. Well, figuratively speaking.
The 10 Types of Bikes
If you aren’t much of a cyclist and just think of cycling as a normal activity, you would be surprised to know just how many types of bikes there are. While cycling can be a very fun and exhilarating experience, picking out a bicycle isn’t.
This is especially true for newcomers who aren’t much familiar with the world of cycling. What are the types of bikes then? Let’s check them out. Later on, in this guide, we will also tell you which type of bikes are good for whom.
Let’s start with the most popular types of bikes you will see in competitions. Road bikes are amongst the most commonly seen bikes for riders and speeders. That’s because this bike is particularly made for speed.
From the name, you can tell these bikes are made to be ridden on the road. While all bikes can be ridden on the road, these bikes are specially designed.
They make it super-efficient and easy to ride for long hours and also ride faster, as we mentioned already.
A primary characteristic of road bikes is their distinct thin tires. The shape of the frame and even the weight all play a part in making it as good as possible to ride on the road.
You will most likely see a very lightweight frame. Another cool thing about them is they have a low handlebar. This allows the rider to be closer to the bike with less of their body exposed.
What does this do, you ask? Well, it reduces the friction, of course, which gives you more speed. They also have gears. But they are set up in a way that helps you to put it into the fastest gears as easily as possible.
For their design and how they are made, these bikes will perform very poorly on a dirt track. In fact, it will be quite unrideable.
A subcategory of road bikes is adventure road bikes. These are quite new to the cycling world and share a lot of similarities with other bike types.
You still get the low handlebars that are basically the defining feature of a road bike. But you also have wider tires and a longer frame shape with a high saddle. This makes it more comfortable to ride if you’re a tall fellow.
- Light frame
- Low handlebars
- Very thin tires
- Speedy bike
- Not good on dirt tracks
Speaking of dirt tracks, if you want to zoom around on mountains and off roads, mountain bikes are the way to go. These bikes are built to perform on an uneven dirt road and have just the right qualities to do so.
Unlike road bikes, the tires are durable and wide. That’s because you need all the stability you can get. Most bikes will use 26 to 29-inch knobby tires. The frame or the geometry of the bike is tailored in a way so that you would love to ride these on a mountain or an off-road track.
Remember how the handlebar on the road bikes is low? Well, these have flat handlebars, which allow you to hold on to them properly and keep your balance when you hit a bump or two.
Knobby tires, gears, and suspension design are some of the defining characteristics of mountain bikes. Not all MTBs (mountain bikes) have suspension, though.
Some have no suspension at all. Others will only have suspension on the front wheels. These are called hardtails. Quite a clever name if you ask us.
Of course, you have the ones that have suspension on both the front and rear wheels. Bikes with this kind of suspension are called full-suspension or ‘full sus’ for short.
- Flat handlebars
- Wide knobby tires
- Sturdy frame
- Good for off-roading
If you want a more modern bike, then an electric bike will check all the boxes. Electric cars are the new hot thing, and it certainly is the future. Looks like so are electric bikes.
These make excellent commuter bikes as well. You can ride these to work without working up a sweat, and there won’t be a need for a clothing change either. Of course, these types of bikes are quite a new addition.
They have been around for only around a decade. Contrary to what most might think, these aren’t fully motorized. Yes, there is an electric motor, but you still need to pedal it.
The motor is there to give it more oomph, basically, and that’s what makes riding it easier.
Powering the thing will be an electric motor typically between 500 to 750 watts. The price range will also depend on the wattage you get. Don’t think you can use these to zoom uphill, though.
In certain places, especially the UK, the law requires the motor to cease helping you when you reach 15.5 mph. This is to ensure safety for you and other commuters and pedestrians. Electric bikes are also called e-bikes, which is a fitting name.
- Easier to ride
- Sports an electric motor
- Low effort riding
- 500 – 750 watts
Hybrids or hybrid bikes are meant to be a combination of road and mountain bikes. With these types of bikes, you won’t get a lot of specializations. But since they are more versatile, these are a good deal.
One day you might want to go riding on the road. The other day you might want to take your bike for an off-road adventure. That kind of multipurpose use is exactly what hybrid bikes are made of.
The handles on these are that of the mountain bikes. So, they are flat, which gives you more stability and helps you sit upright. The frame is comfortable and resembles that of mountain bikes.
Tires, however, are a bit narrower compared to mountain bikes which make it closer to a road bike in some sense. You can choose between smooth and slick tires for the road or knobby tires when you want grip during off-roading.
Suspension can be found on the front tires, but there are also rigid ones. So, you can see how it takes the characteristics of both road and mountain bikes and essentially merges them together.
Hybrid bikes are called commuter bikes too. That’s because these make a great option for commuting since they are fast as a road bike but can also deal with some off-roading.
Riding to an office with these will surely give you some serious style points. Well, depending on how your colleagues feel about bikes in the first place.
- Best of both worlds
- Low handlebar
- Wider tires
- Jack of all trades
Touring bikes are exactly what the name suggests. They are made for touring. These are made to be comfortable, stable, and also speedy to some extent. One of the important things about these is you can place an extra load on them.
If you need to carry some supplies with you for the road, touring bikes will be great for that. The handlebar is strong and sturdy. Front wheels will often come with suspension.
Since carrying some load is also a priority, the gear range is lower compared to a road bike. This helps you go uphill when the bike has an extra load or items on it weighing it down.
The tires are wider, too, which will add more stability and overall comfort during long-distance rides. If needed, you can even add mudguards over the tires to stop your clothes and possessions from getting spoiled.
Touring bikes are also some of the most durable bikes out there. While it won’t be indestructible since these, at the end of the day, are built for endurance, they will last you for a long time.
- Low handlebar
- Can carry loads
- Long-distance riding
- Children Bikes
What is there to say about children’s bikes. They are good for the young cyclists that want to get some exercise and also enter the fantastic world of cycling. Children’s or kid’s bikes are meant to be very easy to ride.
They are, of course, smaller than your average bikes that are made for adults. The thing to note here is you can find different kid’s bikes. You can find mountain bikes that are made for kids.
So, it will have almost all the features like a fully functioning adult mountain bike, but just be smaller.
Here is a cool thing, if you are an adult who is on the shorter side, these smaller bikes are worth a look. Just because they are made for children doesn’t mean they are made cheaply either.
- Great for children
- Smaller size
- Comes with pedals
- Folding Bikes
Folding bikes are one of the more interesting types of bikes on this list. They can be folded easily (duh), and that’s what gives them their particular shape. When folded, these can be stored easily too.
If you like traveling and want to keep a bike with you to zoom around and sightsee, folding bikes won’t be a bad choice, actually. Of course, you can’t lug around a bike everywhere you go. So, do keep your destination in mind.
The frame and the bike geometry are quite unique, as we already mentioned. It has an upright geometry with a long saddle that shoots upwards. Also, the handle extends upwards as well.
Basically, the whole design is made in a way that helps it to be folded. Don’t worry about the durability, though. The frame is still made from durable materials like steel, aluminum, or carbon.
Another defining characteristic is the smaller wheels. Folding bikes will have smaller wheels compared to most bikes out there. They give you good stability when riding over muddy roads, puddles, or wet roads.
Quite a nifty little bike, if you ask us. Whether you have a small space or like to travel around the city a lot, these can be a great thing to have with you.
- Space savers’ dream
- Can be used for traveling
- Easy to ride
- Cyclocross Bikes
To the untrained eye, a cyclocross bike will look just like any road bike. But there are some subtle key differences. Yes, there are similarities too. The low handlebars are a major one.
But unlike slick tires that all road bikes have, cyclocross bikes can be equipped with knobby tires for more grip. This allows you to use the bike throughout the year.
These bikes are fast on the road and can handle some off-roading as well. The frame is made like a hybrid bike. This is why you will see space for mudguards on them.
You can find these in two different versions. Some can have single discs, and others will be double disc variants. Climbing up a hill, tackling the off-road, or cruising on the tarmac, all are fair game with cyclocross bikes.
Other names for these are CX bikes or cross bikes.
- Wide tires
- Can be ridden all year round
- Space for mudguards
- Off-roading and hill-climbing
- Fixed Gear Bikes
Fixed gear bikes are probably the easiest to maintain. They will break down the least since there are no gears to deal with. However, there are some disadvantages though.
There are no disc brakes, and it also doesn’t have any coasting function. There is one single gear, and you will need to pedal more. For people who want to be the least sweaty after riding their bikes, these might not be the best choice.
However, it isn’t all bad. The handlebar is lower, much like road bikes. So, you do get less drag when riding. This should make riding it easier. Some people use these as commuter bikes.
Although that’s fine, if your travel distance is a bit long, then we won’t really suggest fixed gear bikes. However, easy maintenance is appealing to some. Keep on reading, we have a full section of this guide dedicated to pairing the right type of bike with the right person.
Other names for a fixed gear bike are single-speed bikes or a fixie. Fixie is quite a fun word, isn’t it? Quite a good name, we must say.
- Low maintenance
- Needs a bit more effort
- Low handlebar
- No coasting
- Women’s Bike
Lastly, you have women’s bikes that are designed for, well, women. They have a smaller frame, and the geometry of the bike is slightly different compared to men’s bikes.
A key feature of these bikes is the step-through frame. This allows women who wear skirts and dresses to ride the bike comfortably. The saddle is shorter, and the handlebar is narrower too.
Grips on the handlebars are also narrower, which makes it easier for women to hold them. Women aren’t, of course, limited to these types of bikes only. If you’re a woman and are comfortable riding a men’s bike or a bigger bike, you can easily do so.
Women’s bikes are just made with certain design elements in mind that help most women to ride comfortably. That’s all there is to it.
- Smaller frame
- Comfortable to ride when wearing dresses and skirts
- Narrow handlebar and grip
What Type of Bicycle Do You Need?
Now that you know the types of bikes that are available to you, let’s dive into which type is the right one for you. We will talk about use cases and specific features/characteristics of all the 10 bikes we mentioned.
If you want speed and a smooth ride, road bikes are great. Their narrow wheel and lighter frame make this one of the fastest bikes you can find. The frame is light, and the aerodynamics are great as well.
They can be used for competing and also commuting if you want to. Plus, they are very easy and efficient to ride on the tarmac.
If you’re an off-roader, though, road bikes are a no-go. The very thin wheels won’t give you much grip, and the low handlebars can get difficult to hold onto when going over bumps.
For people who live in cold climates where icy roads are a common thing, road bikes will be a problem as well. Since the tires are slick, you won’t get much grip when riding.
This can be dangerous and may cause falls. And let’s be honest, none of us wants that.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Off-road junkies will love a good mountain bike. The flat handlebars help you sit upright and give you much more stability compared to, say, road bikes.
The tires are also wider, which helps you conquer mountain roads and uneven grounds. You won’t risk falling either. Knobby tires help with grip and stability when it comes to mountain bikes.
Having said that, these aren’t the best for going fast on tarmac or riding long distances on smooth roads. The frame is heavy, and the upright sitting position will also give you a lot of air resistance.
Millennials and the modern generation will love an electric or e-bike. If you don’t want to put much effort when cycling and still want to cover some serious ground, electric bikes are great for that.
They can take you twice the distance with just half the effort. Electric bikes are also very good for commuting too, in our opinion. Since you need to put less effort, you won’t end up being a sweaty mess when you finally reach your workplace.
A lot of bikes will need you to do a wardrobe change since you will be sweating. And in an office, that isn’t the most attractive thing, to say the least.
However, if you want to use cycling as a form of exercise, electric bikes aren’t really great for it. Since your thighs won’t be taxed much, you won’t get that much of a good workout with these kinds of bikes.
Can’t decide whether to get a road bike or a mountain bike? How about a hybrid of both? Hybrid bikes are a good middle ground between mountain and road bikes since they give you the best of both worlds in a way.
These are also a good way of commuting too. They have slightly narrower tires, and you can zoom around town with moderate ease. Now, maybe during the weekends you also want to enjoy some off-roading. Well, guess what? You can do both of those with hybrid bikes.
Where these types of bikes fall short if you want a specialized bike. These aren’t the best for going as fast as possible on the road or tarmac or even competing, for the matter.
Also, they won’t give you the best off-roading compared to a purpose-made off-road bike. It’s just a good middle ground. If you want top performance on-road or off roads, it’s better to get a bike that’s specially made for that.
Long car rides are fun. But some of us do enjoy a good tour on a touring bike. These bikes are made for going long distances. Not only that, but you can also load up your bike with lots of things and still maintain balance.
Touring bikes can be used as commuter bikes as well. They feature similarities between road bikes but aren’t quite as fast though.
On the other hand, if you need a really fast bike and don’t really care about carrying things, road bikes might be a better option for you.
We aren’t sure if there is even a need to mention who should use children’s bikes. A children’s bike is for children. If you have a little one in your life and want to introduce them to the beautiful world of cycling and its vibrant community, these are the bikes to go with.
Since they are smaller, they can also be used by someone shorter. It will be much more comfortable than larger bikes. You will have more control and also more stability on a shorter bike compared to a larger bike if you can’t reach the ground.
Do note that you can find mountain and road bikes that are also made for children. We would still put them in the same category as children’s bikes since they are made to be ridden by kids.
It goes without saying that if none of those apply to you, it’s better not to get a children’s bike. There are other fantastic options for bikes that adults can use and will enjoy endlessly.
Folding bikes are made for road warriors, travelers, and long-distance commuters. People who travel a lot can use folding bikes since they can be easily folded and stored away.
Do be reasonable, though. It’s still a bike at the end of the day. When folded, it won’t be all that portable but still is more manageable than other bikes.
Also, if you just have little space in your home and still want to own a bike, folding bikes are the perfect choice for you in that case.
These types of bikes are also easy to ride. That makes it a good choice for using during long commutes. Then again, electric bikes exist. So, you need to make the final call there.
Folding bikes aren’t the best for off-roading, though. They are, in fact, terrible at off-roading. You will find them hard to ride and very slow.
Recommending a cyclocross bike is a bit tricky. These are very similar to hybrids. You get the low handlebar design of road bikes but also the slightly wider tires than mountain bikes have.
Nonetheless, cross bikes are great for those who want to go fast on the road and also take their bike to do some good old off-roading as well. To no surprise to anyone, these face the same problems as the hybrids.
They aren’t the best at just road riding and off-roading. For that matter, if you want to go the fastest on the road, a road bike is the better choice. And if you want a super durable off-roading experience that will give you more stability, a mountain bike is the one you should go with.
As we said, it’s quite tricky recommending a cyclocross bike.
Fixed Gear Bikes
Okay, here is the thing, if you find maintenance a pain, fixed gear bikes will work wonders. Since they are just so simple, they will break down less, and not having gears means you won’t need any gear replacements. Can’t replace something it doesn’t have in the first place, right?
Fixies come with a low handlebar like road bikes which makes it easier to ride on roads. However, they are heavier. So, you won’t be zooming at high speeds. They will also require a bit more effort.
For the commuter who doesn’t need to go a long distance but also wants a low maintenance bike, these are the best bet.
If you, however, want a specialized bike, then fixies aren’t the best way to spend your money.
Well, what do you want us to say here? Women’s bikes are great for the smaller female who loves wearing dresses and skirts. The frame is smaller, and the step-through design allows you to still ride the bike comfortably even if you’re dressed all cute.
As we already said before, though, women aren’t limited to riding bikes. Quite the contrary. These bikes are only for women who aren’t comfortable riding a bigger bike or bikes made for men.
What To Look For When Buying a Bicycle?
This article is meant to address two things – an ultimate guide to types of bicycles, and what kind of bike you should get. However, choosing the right bike isn’t only about knowing the types and who it’s for.
If you want to further make sure that you spend your money the best way possible, there are a couple of things you need to take into consideration when going ahead and buying a bike. Here are the things you need to keep an eye out for.
What Will You Use the Bike For?
This is probably the most important one. When buying a bike, the first order of business is narrowing down your use cases. What kind of rider are you? Do you want a fast bike on the road? Or maybe you want a bike that can work off-road.
All these things will come into consideration when getting a brand new or even a used bike. If you don’t want to put too much effort into riding a bike, then an electric bike will be great for you.
On the other hand, for people who do like a workout and want to train their muscles, cross bikes, fixie bikes, or even road bikes are good choices.
When cyclists talk about the frame of the bike, they refer to it as the heart and soul. That’s because how well made the frame is will essentially dictate how well the bike rides.
A heavy frame will be difficult to ride, and a light frame will make the bike very peppy and fun. You also, of course, want a durable frame.
Some parts of the frame design will also depend on the type of bike you get. But it’s still very much worth it looking into sturdy bike frames that are built with good materials and are durable.
Good frames are made from aluminum, steel, or carbon. Buy a cheap bike, and you will immediately notice how poorly made the frame is. This will ultimately lead to a poorer riding experience.
The size of the frame is equally as important as getting a good frame. Imagine you buying an incorrectly sized shirt. That shirt is practically useless since it won’t fit you and you can’t wear it anywhere.
And the same concept applies to bicycles. Here is the thing, though – most people don’t know that different manufacturers actually measure frame sizes differently. So, don’t make the mistake of thinking sizes are universal.
What’s best here is to choose a model you want and work with the shop/dealer or the manufacturer to settle on a size that feels right to you. This will ensure you get the absolute right size that’s comfortable.
Once you have that, get it fitted properly, and you should be all set for a fun riding experience.
Then, we have the components. While the frame is the most important part of the bike’s overall construction, the components also play a big role. Look for high-quality components that are durable.
What you’re checking here are the wheels, suspension, rest, contact points, brakes, and drivetrain.
Good wheels are a must-have. High-quality rubber wheels will help you stay planted on the ground, and a good braking system will give you better control of the bike.
The last thing you want is the brakes failing at a crucial point. That can be quite dangerous and, at worse, fatal. Suspensions make the whole riding experience more comfortable.
This is especially true for off-road bikes. If you are buying a mountain bike, for example, you want a good suspension to take you over those bumps without breaking your spine.
Then comes the drivetrain, which is also an important component that makes up the bike. Top-notch gears are always vital.
This one will be more of a personal choice, but it still matters. A bicycle is a prized possession of any biker. So, it only makes sense that they would want to get one that has a good design. Something you can look at and admire. And preferably, one that others will admire too.
Color choices, frame design, accent colors, and seat designs, all these things, and more come into the equation. Pick the one that looks best to you and fits your style.
A lot of bikes will have very good accessory compatibility. Some bikes will let you attach different types of accessories like fenders, racks, and water bottle cages. These are a great way to increase the functionality of your beloved bicycle.
So, if you think you might want to attach accessories, then keep an eye out for that. However, not all types of bikes will let you attach accessories, though.
Maintenance is another factor. You don’t want a bike that is difficult to maintain. It will become a chore at that point. While all bikes will require some maintenance and care for them to keep working properly, good bikes make the process easier.
This will depend on what you want, though. If you want a high-end bike that has a lot of bells and whistles, it will require some maintenance.
For low maintenance bikes, you can look into fixies, for example. We also have a section on how to keep your bike running properly coming up later in the article.
The thing about good bikes is that they are an investment. They will last you for a long time, and since you will be using the bike for all sorts of activities, it’s best to spend a little more and get a high-quality one.
However, there is no need to spend on features you don’t need. There are some models out there which don’t really have a benefit over others and are just marketing fluff.
A good quality bike will set you back around the $300 to $400 mark. If you are looking to spend around $500, you will get a great frame, good drivetrains, and suspension. From $500 upwards, you will see high-quality suspensions, disc brakes, and more.
How To Care For Your Bicycle?
So, you have bought your dream bike. Now what? Well, you ride it, of course. That’s not the only thing. You also need to take proper care of it.
We think it’s safe to assume that you don’t want your bike to break down after a couple of months, do you? So, here are some quick maintenance tips for you.
This is probably the simplest thing you can do to ensure your bike’s longevity.
Check on the Tires and Brakes
Regularly check on the tires and brakes to see if they are operating properly. You want to deal with squeaky or saggy breaks right away. Also, inflate your tires properly too.
Proper lubrication for the moving parts of your bike will go a long way in keeping your bike in pristine condition.
When needed, a chain replacement is nothing to ignore. They can make the bike run very well.
When you aren’t riding the bike, don’t just let it rot in the garage. Keep it in a proper place and maybe also cover it, so it doesn’t get dusty.
By now, you should have a pretty good idea of what types of bikes there are and which one is right for you. Remember, getting the right type of bike is one thing. But also make sure the frame size works for you.
Before we wrap up this ultimate guide to types of bicycles, we want to leave you with another piece of advice. A quality bike is an investment, so make sure you know your needs and riding style to help you make the best decision.
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