All set to buy a new bike, but don’t know which one to buy yet? Don’t worry! Our ultimate guide with all different types of bikes has everything you need to make the right decision.
But before anything else, you must ask yourself a few questions:
Do you want a bike for commuting or off-road purposes like touring? What type of road surfaces do you plan to take the bike on? Will you ride on paved roads, rough roads, or both? Or do you want a bike just for fun?
Think carefully before answering!
The answers you come up with will be critical to the decision on which type of bike you need whether it will be a road bike, triathlon bike, hybrid or mountain bike.
A few years ago, I used to have a classic mountain bike in my garage. I always had the most comfortable off-road rides on it. That changed just a few weeks back. I started commuting on my mountain bike; it was then that I quickly realized commuting on a mountain bike wasn’t the best decision. While it isn’t bad, it’s not great, either!
While biking around town, I met one of my colleagues (who is also a bike commuter by the way). He suggested that I need to buy a road bike since that’s what he rides. However, when I asked why, he wasn’t able to give a definite answer.
To cut short my long story, …
I spent the last few months talking with some of the professional cyclists and bike owners I know to put together this detailed guide on the different types of bikes.
So, if you are looking to buy a bike for a particular purpose, or even if it’s just to get in trend and have some fun, you might want to take a look at the different types of bikes available in the market.
What are the different types of bikes?
This section is broken down into two parts for different types of bikes that you ride mostly on the road and off-road bikes. We’ll start with the bicycles that you usually see on the streets first.
These bikes are the king when it comes to biking on the road. It is evident by its name, “Road Bike.” Of course, you can hit the road with other types of bikes as well. However, a mountain bike on pavement will not give you the same comfort nor performance as a road bike would.
Road bikes are designed specifically to increase speed and endurance on the road. A road bike allows you to go faster on pavements and tarmac roads.
What are the Main Features of a Road Bike?
Road bikes are very easy to spot due to its peculiar design. It has prominent slim tires, which make cycling effortless and thus increases speed. Moreover, it has dropped curved down handlebars. The drop-bar handlebar on a road bike provides multiple grip styles. Also, this type of bike usually comes with a high number of gears. So, speed is never an issue.
Electric Bike or E-Bike is your usual type of bike but with a touch of electric power. The presence of a silent motor and battery makes the electric bike slightly heavier when compared to other bikes. However, the motor assists you in pedaling and increases your speed and allows you to travel further without any feeling of fatigue.
So, with E-bikes, you can go as far as you want without sweating much. Electric bikes are available in different variations, such as electric road bikes, electric mountain bikes, electric commuter bikes, etc.
What are the Main Features of an Electric Bike?
The features of an electric bike are similar to any other type of bike. The only difference is that it comes with a motor and a battery. With some electric bikes, you do not have to recharge the batteries every time you bike, but with others, you may need to recharge it.
Batteries on Electric bikes all offer different performances; however, they all make riding for longer easier.
Cruiser bicycles are popular for cycling on beaches. Thus, they are also known as Beach Cruisers. This type of bicycle is widely used on sandy and flat terrain. However, they are a little slower than your usual bikes, mainly because of their bulky balloon tires and heavy steel body.
Nonetheless, these bicycles are loved by vacationers and casual bicyclists, mainly because of their stability and ease-to-ride. Also, they can be easily customized with several accessories like baskets, lights, fenders, saddlebags, etc.
What are the Main Features of a Cruiser Bike?
One distinctive feature of cruiser bicycles is their significantly high handlebars and large seats. This design is not ideal for fast rides. But in terms of comfort, sturdiness, and style, the cruiser/comfort bicycles tops it all. Also, these bicycles come with chain guards.
Touring bikes are similar to road bikes as both types of bikes have the same kind of handlebars and wheels. So, especially for newbies, it becomes quite difficult to distinguish a touring bike from a road bike.
However, one big difference lies in the inclusion of a “storage space” on a touring bike. A touring bike will feature one or two racks on which you can store or attach your bags. This feature is missing on most road bikes, so it makes it easy to distinguish. Also, these bikes are slower than racing bikes. They are slower because they are designed specifically to carry weight and thus have wider heavy-duty tires.
What are the main features of Touring Bikes?
Touring bicycles are designed carefully to make them strong enough to carry heavy weights yet comfortable for long distances. These bikes usually have a long wheelbase for comfortable rides and to avoid any contact between pedals and luggage.
Folding bikes were designed with one purpose in mind – increase portability. Just as its name suggests, a folding bike allows you to fold your bike in a smaller shape and size. This feature enables the bike to save a lot of space and makes it easier for you to carry it on a car, bus, train or even a plane in some instances.
For people who make use of both public transport and cycling on their daily commutes, a folding bike is their best option. Not only while traveling, but it also saves a lot of storage space.
What are the Main Features of a Folding Bike?
Most folding bicycles have small wheels, up to 20-inch wheels. Different folding bikes offer different folding mechanisms. Also, in comparison to other bikes, folding bikes have a more upright build.
A hybrid bike is also known as a commuter bike. It is a combination of a mountain bike and a road bike. Thus, this is popularly used as the standard commuting bike to move around. On a hybrid bike, you will find the perfect balance of all the great features you would find on the road as well as a mountain bike.
The only downside is that this bike does not specialize in a particular feature. But it gives you the flexibility to use it for different purposes, so that’s a good trade-off. Be it on paved roads, wet surfaces, or rough terrain; the hybrid bike can give you a smooth ride. So, if you often go for rides on different routes and terrain, a hybrid bike can be the best option for you.
You can also add several accessories like racks, bags, baskets, etc. for added convenience on a hybrid bike.
What are the main features of a Hybrid Bike?
It has a flat bar handle that provides added comfort and agility while riding. A hybrid bike features narrow tires like a road bike but with the geometry of a mountain bike for long comfortable rides. Also, another cool thing about the hybrid bikes is that you can conveniently change its tires depending on your route condition.
The different types of off-road bikes
Now, let us discuss all the types of off-road bikes. Of course, while these bikes are made for riding off roads, you can still ride them on the road if required. However, the off-road bikes are better suited for more advanced cycling or cycling on rough terrain. As a result, off-road bicycles are often more robust and durable.
A fat bike is mainly used for cycling on snow, mud or sandy terrain. Fat bikes compromise with speed but never on strength and durability. Thus, this is not your ideal bicycle for persons that want to ride fast or long distances. Rather, it is built to get you through tricky and tough terrains conveniently, which is a little harder to do on other types of bicycles.
What are the main features of a Fat Bike?
It has big, oversized tires, usually 3.8 inches or even bigger. Also, it has wide rims of about 2.16 inches or more. Thanks to the larger tire found on fat bikes, you can tackle a variety of terrains and they are among the few mountain bikes that can comfortable accommodate very large riders. Fat bike tires typically have better threading patterns and provide overall better handling off-road.
BMX or Trick Bike
The BMX bike, Bicycle Motor Cross, is a single-speed bike. It is designed for a particular purpose – bike tricks, jumps, racing, stunt riding, and the like. It is not comfortable for long rides since it has a smaller frame than most other bike types for adults.
However, thanks to the short design, a BMX bike offers the rider better control over the bike to perform stunts, which would be challenging to perform on any other bicycle type.
What are the main features of a BMX?
The wheels in a BMX bike are typically about 20 inches. These bikes have a strong frame and raised handlebars. Most BMX bikes are made of steel. And thus, they are durable and also low maintenance. Also, BMX bikes include rear dropouts, which are excellent in maintaining the right chain tension.
You will also notice that BMX bikes typically have stunt pegs on either the front or rear wheels. These pegs are used by the bike to perform stunts.
A Mountain bike, just as the name suggests, is designed for biking on mountains or other off-road trails. You can easily ride a mountain bike on any off-road terrain, whether rocky, unpaved, loose dirt, uneven, etc.
You can still ride this bike on the road. But again, since this bike does not excel in speed or comfort as other on-road bikes, it is not ideal for regular road commuting. However, if you happen to ride on hilly or upward routes regularly, the mountain bike can be a perfect pick for you.
What are the main features of a Mountain Bike?
Mountain bikes have similar features as other popular bikes, but with few additional special features and designs. Some of their distinctive features include a complete front suspension, robust wheels, knobby and bulky tires, powerful brakes, low gear ratios, and also straight handlebars.
Different brands offer variations in features, so the main features of a mountain bike will be slightly different for each brand. However, most will offer some form of shock suspension that is easy to notice. Still, like any other bicycle type, mountain bikes offer different price ranges. So, before getting mountain bikes, make sure to check the list of features. And buy the one that suits you best.
Other notable types of bikes:
Let us now discuss some special types of bikes that may be suitable for on-road as well as off-road purposes. While some focus more on racing or speed, others are more modern and have sleek designs. If you haven’t found your ideal pick from the bikes mentioned above, you might want to check out this section.
Cyclocross Bikes are also called “Cross Bikes.” This bike is similar to road bikes, but you can comfortably ride this bicycle off-roads as well. Cyclocross bikes are suitable for most terrain and during any kind of weather. Thus, you may call it an “all-rounder” bike as well.
You might have heard about events like cyclocross racing before? These events have since made the cyclocross bike a popular bike choice in recent years. So, whether you want a bike to take part in a cyclocross race or to ride it throughout the year for various purposes, the cyclocross bike is an ideal pick.
What are the main features of a Cyclocross Bicycle?
You can easily distinguish cyclocross bikes from hybrid bikes by their handles. A cyclocross bike features dropped handlebars, similar to that of a road bike as compared to hybrid bike’s flat handlebars.
The Hydraulic Bike is a special type of bicycle that runs without a chain. Instead, a kind of liquid generates power in the pedals. A hydraulic pump pushes the liquid through a tube to the pedals.
Because of the absence of a chain, these bikes do not require much maintenance. So, when comparing it to other bicycles, the hydraulic bike has a much simpler mechanism and system.
What are the main features of a Hydraulic Bike?
The significant feature of a hydraulic bike that sets it apart from the rest is the absence of a chain. It does not involve any extra or complicated features.
Tandem bicycles are also popularly known as twin bicycles. This bicycle type is designed to be ridden by two or more persons at the same time. Several variations are available such as single-speed tandem, a tandem mountain bike, etc. The term “tandem” refers to the seating arrangement and not the number of riders.
So, a tandem designed for three riders is known as “triplets,” four riders as “quadruplets” and for five riders as “quintuplets.” People generally ride this bicycle for fun. And also, you do not need any extraordinary skills for riding a tandem.
What are the main features?
A tandem bicycle has similar features to any other typical bicycle but with additional seats and handlebars. When compared to other bikes, a tandem is heavier and, of course, longer.
A recumbent bike is different from other bikes in its laid back or recumbent design. Laidback as in, the rider sits in a laid-back position while riding a recumbent bike. These bicycles are most popular due to their ergonomic design.
What are the main features?
A recumbent bike offers a range of variations with different features. Some of their typical features include a reclined seat, above, under-seat or no-hands steering, tandem recumbent, etc.
A fixie bike is also known as a fixed-gear bike or a track bike. This type of bicycle is predominantly a road bike but includes only a single gear. Also, you cannot coast on a fixie bike due to the continually moving pedals.
A typical track bike does not even include brakes. Riders or athletes usually use the strength of their legs to stop the bike’s motion. A fixie bike is a different variation of a track bike and may or may not include brakes.
It is a single gear bike with or without brakes on the handlebar. Different fixie bikes may vary in several features like design, handlebars, wheel size, etc. One interesting feature of a fixie bike is that it allows you to pedal in reverse motion.
The last notable bike type is the stationary indoor bike, also known as an exercise bike. You may have heard about the famous Peloton bike, which is a typical stationary bike. Exercise bikes feature a similar design to other bikes with a handlebar, seats, and pedals. However, it differs in the mechanism used while pedaling.
So, unlike other bikes that propel you forward, exercise bikes are stationary while pedaling. They are stationary because instead of wheels, they feature a magnetic disk/wheel attached with either chains or a belt to the pedals. Exercise bikes use a perimeter weighted disk with either a felt pad or a magnet that acts as resistance to simulate a feeling of riding a real bike.
What are the main features of an Exercise bike?
Exercise bikes typically have a single weighted flywheel. They are often seen indoors and offer a great way to cycle at home.
Which is the best type of bike?
The answer to this question depends on your preferences and purpose. What works perfectly for someone else may not work for you. If you want a bike for commuting, a road or hybrid bike can be the best option for you.
But if you want a bike to ride on rough terrain or for mountain biking, a mountain bike will be ideal. So, depending upon your purpose and route condition, you can pick the bike that suits you best.
What is the fastest type of bicycle?
Road bikes or city/commuter bikes are faster than most types of bikes. This is because of their skinny wheels. And also, they weigh much less than other bikes.
Which bike should a beginner buy?
Road bikes are simple and easy to ride. This is the best option if you are still a newbie in the bike community. But, if you want a bike for mixed off-road purposes, then getting your hands on a hybrid bike or a mountain bike may be an ideal option too.
How often should I service my bike?
On average, servicing your bike every 12 months should be fine. But, always make sure to clean and lubricate your bike after every use. It is easier to maintain a bike during warmer days.
However, during cold and rainy days, cleaning your bike after every use is mandatory.
How do I clean my bike?
Wash your bike with water and diluted dishwashing soap after every use. Make sure the water pressure is not too high, as this may cause damage to your bike. Also, make sure to lubricate your bike chains regularly.
Depending upon the weather conditions, you can either use dry lubricator or wet lubricator.
How do gravel bikes differ from traditional road bikes?
Gravel bikes are similar to road bikes but with wider tires and a more relaxed geometry for stability on loose surfaces. They’re great for exploring unpaved roads and gravel paths.
What are the best city bikes for commuting?
City bikes are designed for urban commuting with features such as upright riding position, lightweight frames, and racks for carrying cargo.
How are cyclocross bikes designed for off-road racing?
Cyclocross bikes are designed for off-road racing with a mix of features from road and mountain bikes, such as a lightweight frame, drop-bar handlebars, and knobby tires.
What are the benefits of riding a cruiser bike?
Cruiser bikes are designed for leisure and comfort with a relaxed riding position, wide tires, and upright handlebars. They’re great for cruising around town or riding on the beach.
How do hardtail mountain bikes differ from full suspension mountain bikes?
Hardtail mountain bikes have a suspension system in the front, but not in the rear, which makes them lighter and more efficient for climbing. Full suspension mountain bikes have both front and rear suspension for added comfort on rough terrain.
What are the benefits of a gravel bike for off-road riding?
Gravel bikes are ideal for off-road riding on gravel paths, dirt roads and unpaved roads. With wider tires than road bikes, they provide more stability and cushioning on rough surfaces.
How do city bikes differ from other types of bikes in terms of design and functionality?
City bikes are designed for urban commuting with features such as upright riding position, lightweight frames, and racks for carrying cargo. They’re great for navigating city streets and carrying your belongings.
How does an electric bike differ from a traditional bike?
Electric bikes, also known as e-bikes, have a motor and battery that assist in pedaling, increasing speed and allowing for longer rides without fatigue.
How are recumbent bikes different from other types of bicycles?
Recumbent bikes have a reclined seating position and pedals located at the front wheel rather than the traditional under-seat position. This design allows for a more comfortable ride and reduces strain on the upper body.
How do cx bikes differ from other types of bikes?
Cyclocross bikes, also known as CX bikes, are designed for off-road racing on a variety of surfaces such as pavement, dirt trails, and mud. They have similar features as a road bike but with wider tires and a more upright position.
How does buying a bike from a local bike shop differ from buying online?
Buying a bike from a local bike shop allows you to test ride the bike, get professional advice, ensure proper bike fitting, and have access to after-sales service. Online buying can be more convenient and cost-effective, but you may have to assemble the bike yourself and not have the same level of support.
Whatever type of bike you choose to buy depends mainly upon the purpose you are riding for, or the route condition you are most likely to ride on. No doubt, you can ride any kind of bike on any type of road. But there is a reason why different types of bikes with different features are manufactured.
Each type has a targeted purpose and delivers the maximum benefits when used correctly. For instance, a road bike may not give you the same level of comfort you get when you ride a mountain bike on rough terrain.
So, we highly recommend you get a bike that suits your purpose best.
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Last Updated on October 13, 2023 by Daniel White