It’s always a great time to get a bike. Whether you’re looking to take up cycling or venture into other types of cycling.
There are different types of bikes in the world. They’re designed bearing in mind their use, terrain and the user.
Knowing the different types of bikes available will aid in making a better choice that suits your cycling needs.
In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of bikes, their distinguishing features and suitability.
- 1 1) Road Bikes
- 2 2) Exercise Bikes
- 3 3) Mountain Bikes
- 4 4) Hybrid Bikes
- 5 5) Cruiser Bikes
- 6 7) BMX/Trick Bikes
- 7 8) Cargo Bikes
- 8 9) Kids Bikes
- 9 10) Women’s Bikes
- 10 11) Folding Bikes
- 11 12) Tandem Bikes
- 12 13) Electric bikes
- 13 14) Clown Bikes
- 14 15) Fixed/Single Gear Bikes
- 15 16) Recumbent
1) Road Bikes
Road bikes are designed for smooth or paved roads.
They are light with narrow tires and feature dropped handlebars. They are recommended for cyclists looking for speed and efficiency.
We have reviewed the best road bikes to guide you on your journey to buy a road bike.
Types of road bikes include;
- Race/ Track Bikes
- Gravel Bikes
- Cyclocross Bikes
- Sportive/Endurance Bikes
- Aero Bikes
- Commuter Bikes
- Touring Bikes
- Time Trial/Triathlon Bikes
Race/ Track Bikes
A race bike is built for speed. It is lightweight with a low front end that gives one an aerodynamic position to move fast.
The handlebars are usually low, with a short tube and flat stern. The wheels are thin and light with a higher gearing. In this design, emphasis is on speed rather than comfort.
A race road bike is recommended for cyclists looking to go fast, who have an appetite for racing and speed thrills. The racing bikes are only suited for relatively flat and paved roads.
These are a newer type of road bikes that share some characteristics with cyclocross bikes.
They are versatile and can handle off-road terrains such as trails. In addition, they are still able to cover longer distances fast.
Gravel bikes have a sturdy frame to handle the challenging terrain. They also feature hydraulic disc brakes which allow for easier and fast breaking.
The tires on these bikes are wider to tackle any road surface. You can therefore, comfortably tour varied terrain with this bike without much limit when it comes to speed.
These road bike types are designed for mixed surfaces. You’re able to comfortably cycle on paved, unpaved, grass and gravel.
To identify them, their handlebars are dropped. Moreover, the tires are wider to give them room to increase traction in the different terrains. Another special feature that distinguishes cyclocross road bikes is the brakes.
They feature a unique braking system that minimizes the buildup of mud in the tires and frames. So, who are these bikes for?
Cyclocross bikes are suitable for users who love fun and adventure, those who cycle in different conditions. They serve best an all-year round cyclist.
They’re also definitely great for cyclocross racing.
As the name suggests, endurance road bikes have a design that promotes comfort to enable you endure the cycling challenge. They’re also referred to as sportive bikes.
The focus is on endurance rather than speed. Here, the seat and handlebar are higher to give an upright riding position.
The gear system is also lower, to maneuver hilly terrain. You may also find that these bikes have disc brakes and large clearances (of more than 25mm width) for tires. This braking system allows for an elevated stopping power in all-weather.
The bike tires are fitted with seat stays, forks and a provision for mounting bike fenders. These allow for the wide tires to increase traction. They may also have inserts for dampening vibration in not-so friendly terrain.
Generally, endurance road bikes are lightweight but lack the aerodynamic features that other bikes have.
Since these bikes are made for endurance, they suit people who cycle for longer distances and in challenging terrain such as hilly and mountainous regions.
Aero road bike designs focus on the aerodynamic capabilities. They combine the characteristics of race and time trial bikes.
Unlike the endurance bikes, they have a lower sitting position, thus compromising on comfort while enhancing speed.
Their weight is slightly higher since the frames are made using more carbon material. However, their aerodynamic design compensates to allow you to move faster.
The frame, handlebars and wheels are shaped to cut through the wind and reduce the resistance and drag.
Aero road bikes are suitable for individuals who cycle in relatively flat terrain and value massive speed.
Commuter road bikes are created with the daily cyclist in mind. They factor in durability, comfort and visibility when designing this bike.
They offer an upright positioning to allow the cyclist to have a clear view of all the directions. This is important because these cyclists often cycle in busy streets and traffic.
To lessen the burden of a daily cycler, these bikes have features to enable the commuter to endure all weather conditions. Most have mud guards to keep dirt and water away when it rains.
Moreover, they’re fitted with carriers to ease the burden of having to add more weight on the cyclers. One can easily carry a substantial load on the rack.
Remember, the users of these bikes may require to carry a change of clothes, books and material relating to school or work.
The wheels and tires are sturdy to offer protection against impact in the busy and daily commute. This includes a higher puncture resistance level. They’re also fitted with disc brakes for fast and efficient breaking.
Commuter bikes being comfortable and reliable undergo the most work. This is because they’re used by individuals on a commute to work on a daily basis.
They are recommended for normal cycling, free of the need for speed, stunts and thrills.
When you’re looking to explore while cycling for longer distances, touring road bikes are it. Their design allows for comfortable cycling for long durations with as much loading as possible without compromising comfort.
The bike is relatively heavy and sturdy to accommodate the loading. However, this doesn’t interfere with the speed.
Touring bikes have resilient tires and rims to withstand difficult terrain. They also have more spokes set up that work to effectively transfer the load between the rim and bike hub.
The frames and handlebar are long and upright for comfort and hassle-free handling. They’re also fitted with disc brakes since they offer better braking.
The emphasis when using this bike is touring and adventure. They’re not recommended for any form of racing or speed.
They are go-anywhere bikes making them perfect for individuals who love adventure. Adventure road bikes can handle a multitude of terrains and activities. The activities you can tackle may vary from racing, camping, hiking or even commuting.
You’ll get adequate speed with the ability to tackle both short and long distances. They feature high volume of tires, mechanical or hydraulic disc brakes and a relaxed geometry to keep you fairly comfortable.
Time Trial/Triathlon Bikes
Time trial road bikes are manufactured with only one thing in mind- speed. They feature an aerodynamic design, not only for the bike but also the user.
This design ensures that cutting through the wind is quick with minimal resistance. This minimizes the power that the cyclist needs to exert to move forward.
The beauty of the triathlon bikes is their efficiency. This is because they’re designed with a geometry that sets the cyclist in a lower position for a fast, seamless and cosy ride. The low position sets the user parallel to the ground.
You can identify aero bikes by their steep angles, flat tubes and hidden brakes. The bars of aero bikes also extend to the front.
Time trial road bikes are recommended for straight and flat roads since they move with speed.
2) Exercise Bikes
Exercise bikes come in handy to elevate your fitness journey. They provide a means to add some cardio into your workout at the comfort of your home.
There are different types of exercise bikes available. However, they lie in 4 categories as follows;
Recumbent exercise bikes distinguish themselves from the ordinary exercise bikes due to their recline design. This design provides adequate back support that makes exercising easier. Your upper body is supported as you work the lower one.
The advantage of using a recumbent bike is the flexibility to undertake other tasks. Since only the lower body is engaged in the exercise, you’re able to comfortably carry out other activities with your hands.
It features a chair, rather than a bike seat for comfort which is positioned to allow leaning back. The seat is also lower to the ground minimizing the center of gravity which gives more balance.
There are two sets of handles on the bike- at the front and back. Most noteworthy, the pedals are set up in front of the cyclists’ feet as opposed to below.
Recumbent exercise bikes are great for beginner riders who are looking to put in cardio work. They also serve experienced cyclists since one can vary the resistance and speed of pedaling to vary the challenge.
An upright exercise bike resembles a standard bike, only that its stationary. The rider is positioned in an upright position while holding onto the handlebars. Here, your entire body is engaged in the exercise.
Compared to the recumbent, the seat is smaller and less comfortable. The pedals are designed under the users’ feet.
These bikes are compact, affordable and convenient. You’re able to vary your workouts by adjusting the position and intensity.
Hybrid/Combination Exercise Bikes
These exercise bikes combine the features of upright and recumbent bikes. They offer a variety of exercises that focus on the legs and abdominal area.
Hybrid exercise bikes are recommended for beginners who are looking for introductory exercises.
Dual-action Exercise Bikes
Dual-action exercise bikes adopt the characteristics of road bikes, only that they are stationary. Unlike the other exercise bikes, these bikes work both the upper and lower body.
You’re able to put your entire body in action at the same time when using this exercise bike. They feature moving handlebars for the hands that move the same way as the pedals.
3) Mountain Bikes
Mountain bikes are constructed for cycling off-road. They have attributes that enable them withstand rough and unpredictable terrain.
Features that distinguish the mountain bikes is the number and positioning of the suspension. There are three main categories of mountain bikes.
The main types of mountain bikes include;
Full-suspension mountain bikes are designed with suspensions at the front and rear. Suspension on both fronts helps to increase the level of comfort as the bike is able to take in the shocks in all directions.
This gives you the flexibility to cycle in more terrain- even the not so easy to cycle ones. Full-suspension mountain bikes are recommended for experienced riders since they may pose a challenge when it comes to navigation.
On the flip side, suspension on both forks makes them heavier and more expensive to purchase.
These types of mountain bikes only have suspension at the front fork. The suspension at the front reduces fatigue on your front limbs. You’re able to easily control your hold on the handlebars to navigate the trails.
They are lightweight and much easier to handle compared to the full-suspension mountain bikes. In addition, they are affordable making them a great option for beginners. They are also a good choice for cross country cycling and racing.
Rigid mountain bikes don’t have any suspension. They are thus lightweight and surprisingly easy to pedal compared to road bikes.
With no suspension, cycling on off-road is a challenge especially for beginners in mountain biking. They are more comfortable on pavements.
4) Hybrid Bikes
Hybrid bikes stem from the crossing of mountain, road and touring bikes. They adopt a characteristic from each of the mentioned bike types to bring forth a bike that is able to transverse all types of terrain.
Mostly, hybrid bikes take up the handling capabilities of mountain bikes and wheel design of road bikes.
Most noteworthy, you might find that one closely matches either of the three bikes.
Moreover, hybrid bikes can be used for a number of activities, saving the need to have different bikes for the activities that you may have.
The common features of hybrid bikes include; relatively wide tires between 28 to 42c, flat handlebars and disc brakes. The frames are also designed to accommodate mudguards and allow the carriage of luggage.
Types of hybrid bikes include;
- Trek/ Dual Sport bikes
These are reduced to make them better for small types of sports and touring races. They are suitable for both rough and paved surfaces.
Trek/ Dual Sport
A light bike meant for paved surfaces. They allow for alterations with a number of accessories such as lights and frames.
The city hybrid bikes are created for the urban cycler. They are meant for short distance trips around the city.
Although similar to mountain bikes, their design is meant to enhance comfort, aid in visibility and ease of use.
They are similar in function to the commuter road bikes. Suitable for long commuter cycling. They also have features that make the commuter enjoy the ride such as a carrier rack, fenders and a frame.
As they name suggests, comfort hybrid bikes are for simple trips such as errands and short visits. They are simple with no enhanced accessories.
5) Cruiser Bikes
Cruiser bikes are a single or multi-speed bicycles that come with balloon tires, wide handlebars and comfortable saddles. The thick tires ensure that they can easily rollover in varied terrain without the risk of a puncture.
They feature an upright style orientation and are suitable for leisure cycling, basic exercise and running of errands.
Examples of cruiser bikes include;
- Beach cruiser
- Tricycle cruiser
Beach cruisers are great for recreational cyclists. They feature a comfortable and simple design with affordability.
The handlebars of beach cruisers are curved, their frames bulky and wide tires for stress free cycling. They are bikes that focus on comfort.
Most noteworthy, newer models of beach cruisers give adequate room for upgrades. You’re able to upgrade the style to suit your needs.
A cruiser tricycle shares all the characteristics of cruiser bikes. The only difference is in the number of wheels.
The tricycle has three wheels, with a provision for storage. A spiffy basket is normally fitted to give room to carry luggage, pets and even kids (with caution).
It gives safety and stability to users who are unable to keep their balance on a two-wheel cruise bike.
6) Adult Trike
A tricycle is a three-wheel bike. Traditional adult tricycles feature large rear baskets, high seats and 26-inch wheels.
There are more sophisticated adult tricycles that have come up. These have lower ground designs making them sleek and aerodynamic.
You'll find a number of designs depending on the user needs. There are those with upright seats and low ones for those who prefer to lean.
There are also some made for speed and leisure. An advantage of trikes is the ability to make adjustments. Their prices also range with the design.
Adult trikes are suitable for individuals unable to maintain their balance. They also benefit the old, people with diseases or are recovering from various medical conditions. For example, individuals with cerebral palsy, Parkinson's Disease and multiple sclerosis.
Example of adult trikes include;
- Saddle seat
- Sling seat
- Loop handlebar Tricycle
- Chopper handlebar tricycle
- Traditional Tricycle
7) BMX/Trick Bikes
Bicycle Motor Cross Bikes (BMX) bikes, come in handy when racing or stunt riding. They’ve been around for years, originating when kids used to ride on dirt tracks.
There are 2 main types of BMX bikes;
- True /BMX Racing Bikes
- Freestyle bike
BMX Racing Bikes
These are ready for racing in the dirt. They feature lightweight bike sections such as the frame, knobby tires and strong rear brakes.
These enables them to move with speed necessary for racing. It’s important to note they are only suitable for short distance dirt racing.
Freestyle BMX Bikes
These BMX bikes evolved when riders started to move away from racing to trying out tricks and different bike handling techniques.
There are categories of freestyle BMX bikes;
8) Cargo Bikes
These are used to not only carry the individual but also other goods, people and pets. They’re designed with a box or rack that allow for additional storage.
They make the experience of cycling fun since you’re able to accomplish several tasks. You can carry kids, pets, books and shopping and still cycle comfortably.
The best part, the cargo bike having a box or rack does not affect your ability to cycle. Whether the carriage is loaded or not, you’re able to balance and navigate.
Cargo bikes are increasingly popular because they relieve the need to use vehicles which bring a host of other problems. You can comfortably transport yourself and your goods avoiding the congestion and traffic that most people experience when using cars.
Another interesting bit, you can choose the type of cargo bike you prefer depending on what you intend to carry around.
The different types of cargo bikes available include;
Aside from the above types of bikes, there are other classifications that fall in the above sections bike. Their differences come in design or who they are made for. They include;
9) Kids Bikes
Kid bikes are those that are designed for kids. Standard bike sizes are normally larger for children. This is why brands manufacture bikes specifically for kids.
They may be mountain or road bikes but meant for kids. What’s more, there are children bike sizes depending on the age of the child.
Bike sizing charts are available to aid in choosing the right fit.
10) Women’s Bikes
Just like the kids’ bikes, women’s bikes are specially designed for women. They are designed with features that make them comfortable and user friendly.
This may be in terms of the bike saddle and handlebar positioning. However, this doesn’t mean that males can’t use these bikes.
11) Folding Bikes
Just as the name suggests, folding bikes folds to reduce in size. This is especially convenient when it comes to storing and transporting them.
They feature smaller wheels that makes them easy to fold. On the other hand, the wheels make it difficult to ride. They also have an upright geometry.
A folding bike can be a road or mountain bike. Folding bikes are a favorite for cyclists who travel, have limited storage space or commute using public transport. They’re not recommended for off road cycling.
12) Tandem Bikes
These bikes are built to accommodate two cyclists. They give partners an opportunity to enjoy the cycling adventure even though their capabilities are different.
Tandem bikes can be a lot of fun to use since you’re sharing the experience. They’re recommended for new cyclists, users who need guidance such as the disabled and young riders.
13) Electric bikes
Electric bikes are also known as E-bikes. They are part electric with a silent motor and battery. They work to give additional power to tackle the terrain. Once you start pedaling, the motor starts up and aids in pushing you forward.
Although they have additional features, they’re not as heavy as anticipated. They are small in size and convenient for users who don’t want to experience the hassle of having to pedal a lot.
The downside, electric bikes are expensive and, in some regions, their use restricted. For example, in the UK, you’re required to have the motor stop running when you achieve a speed of 15.5mph.
If you need to minimize the sweating, fatigue and pain associated with riding a bike, electric bikes are for you.
14) Clown Bikes
These are made for stunt riding as opposed to cycling and transport. They’re used by circus clowns to amuse their audience by creating comedic effects.
Clown bikes come in different shapes, sizes and designs depending on the stunt to be executed. The types of clown bikes you’re likely to come across include;
- Bucking bike
- Tiny bike
- Unicycle/ Come-apart bike
- Upside down/ Tall bike
- BMX bicycle
15) Fixed/Single Gear Bikes
Single/fixed gear bikes are commonly referred to as fixies. They have the normal front and rear brake but only one gear. They may also have a fixed rear wheel.
Fixies are basic bicycles, fixed with the main moving parts i.e. wheels. This makes pretty easy to maintain and use.
They’re comfortable and mostly used for racing. However, newer models of single speed bikes are adaptable to touring. Most can also be customized with accessories to meet a cyclers’ need.
Recumbent bikes are those designed to position the user in a laid-back reclining position. They may feature in all the other bike categories discussed.
They have a large area making them suitable for cyclers who need back and bottom support. This is because one is able to rest comfortably and cycle at the same time without engaging the upper body.