Biking is a great way to get some exercise, a fun activity that everyone in the family can enjoy, and an eco-friendly form of transportation. There are many types of bikes on the market, and each bike meets different needs of the rider. With this beginner’s guide to bike types, you’ll discover the most popular types of bikes available so you can pick the one that’s right for you.
While all bikes can ride on a road, road bikes are specifically designed for riding on smooth pavement. They have light frames that are typically made with either carbon fiber or aluminum. While carbon-fiber frames are more expensive than aluminum, they offer a more comfortable ride that absorbs vibration better. The tires on a road bike are extremely skinny – usually only 23mm or 25mm wide. Additionally, the tires have a light tread. Some tires have no tread at all so that there’s little rolling resistance and you can pick up more speed.
Another distinctive feature of a road bike is the handlebar. Road bikes have a dropped or curled handlebar designed for more comfort over longer stretches of riding time. Because road bikes have lightweight frames and small tires, they’re not suited for riding on rough or unpaved surfaces or for carrying heavy loads on a multi-day tour. Instead, these bikes are good for competitive rides, event rides, and fitness enthusiasts.
Hybrid bikes combine some of the best features of road bikes and mountain bikes and put them into one. This type of bicycle is perfectly suited for general-purpose riding over different types of terrain, and is a popular choice if you’re looking for a good commuter bike. While hybrid bikes are ideal for paved roads and unpaved bike trails, they’re not good for off-road mountain bike trails. They’re almost always constructed with aluminum because this metal offers a nice combination of strength and low weight.
A hybrid will have a flat handlebar like a mountain bike, which gives you a better view but doesn’t let you pick up as much speed. The tires are wider than on a road bike but thinner than on a mountain bike. The tires also come with a semi-smooth tread that can handle anything from potholes to an unpaved trail.
If you want to take your bike off-road and on rough trails, you need a mountain bike. These bikes have flat, wide handlebars that let you sit upright to have a better view of the trail ahead. They also have wide tires with substantial tread that can take on a variety of surfaces, including rock, dirt, sand, and gravel. They have low gears for climbing and powerful brakes to help with tricky descents.
Mountain bikes come with suspension or shock absorbers on either the front wheel or both wheels. If the bike has suspension on the front, it’s a hardtail bike; if the suspension is on the front and rear, it’s a full-suspension bike. Finally, mountain bikes have a variety of frame materials. Most entry-level mountain bikes are steel. You can also find aluminum and carbon fiber frames. The top-of-the-line mountain bikes are titanium.
Cruiser bikes, sometimes also called beach cruisers, are like hybrid bikes in that they’re good for casual riding. The cruiser bike features a large, comfortable seat and a design that helps you sit up in a more natural way. The elongated frame of a cruiser bike also puts the pedals a few inches in front of the seat, which lets you put your feet flat on the ground when you’re stopped. The balloon tires are thick and heavy. While these tires make the bike rather slow, they also help provide a stable and easy ride.
Most cruiser bikes come with either one speed or three speeds, and they have the old-fashioned coaster brakes that require you to pedal backwards to stop the bike. Cruiser bikes are ideal on paved roads and for moderate speeds and distances. They’re good for commuting short-distances and running errands, as long as your route is reasonably flat.
Touring bikes come with special racks where you can mount your luggage to go on a multi-day bicycle tour. The touring bike is the heaviest bike option because it’s built for durability. It has a drop handlebar like a road bike, but it also comes with a lower gear range to handle steep hills. Commuters like to choose touring bikes because the racks offer a convenient place to store bags.
Whether you live in a small apartment without a lot of storage space, or you take a train or bus as part of your daily commute, a folding bike might be a convenient option for you. As the name suggests, a folding bike folds into a compact size when not in use. This feature makes them ideal for people who don’t have a secure places to lock their bikes at work or while running errands.
Folding bikes have lightweight steel or aluminum frames that make them easy to pick up and carry. They also come with small wheels. While these wheels don’t get in the way as you’re carrying your folding bike, they’re also slightly less efficient than standard wheels. Additionally, you have to sacrifice some ride comfort for the convenience of folding.
Once you decide what type of biking you’re interested in, this helpful guide will give you an idea of which bike type will meet your needs.