An Introduction to Different Types of Bikes
With so many different types of bikes available in-store and online, finding the best type of bike for your situation is normally extremely confusing!
So don’t worry, you’re not alone! If you’ve been asking yourself questions such as “what type of bike should I get” or are wondering what the different types of bikes are, you’ve come to the right place.
After working with bicycles for over ten years, I’ll be able to help you learn about the different types of bikes, including the less well know bike types.
In this bike type guide, I provide a brief summary of:
- What each type of bike is
- What each type of bike is used for
- Who different bike types are suitable for
- People that should avoid certain bike types
From different types of mountain bikes, to road bikes, they’re all covered in my guide. So without further ado, let’s hit the road!
If you already know what type of bike you’re looking to find out more about, use the table of contents above and jump on in.
The Ultimate Guide To Every Type of Bike
27.5" Mountain Bikes
What Is a 27.5 Bike?
Mountain bikes with 27.5-inch wheels (diameter) are typically referred to as 27.5 bikes or ‘tweeners’.
The nickname tweener is assigned to 27.5 mountain bikes as they sit between traditional 26-inch wheels and modern 29er mountain bikes.
27.5 bikes are more manoeuvrable than 29er’s and have a higher top speed than 26” mtbs, making them a versatile choice for anyone looking to explore the world mountain biking.
What Is a 27.5 Bike Used For?
27.5 bikes are suitable for riding a plethora of terrains, this ability means they’re utilised by professional athletes in various mountain biking events and competitions.
27.5 bikes are also ideal bicycles for recreational riders and can be customised to suit your riding style and preferences.
Who should use a 27.5 bike?
27.5-inch mountain bikes are typically used by cyclists who are willing to compromise on a higher speed for increased agility and flexibility whilst riding.
Due to their smaller wheels, 27.5 bikes offer faster acceleration than 29er. In addition, the smaller profile of a 27.5” mtb wheel also allows snappier changes of direction when riding.
If you’d rather ride relaxed trails or some quiet, flat woodland paths, a 27.5 bike will also be suitable for you.
On top of this, a 27.5” mtb’s increased manoeuvrability makes them a great choice for bicycle commuters than ride on busy city roads as well as spending time off-roading.
Who Shouldn’t Use a 27.5 Bike?
29er mountain bikes are typically preferred to a 27.5 bike by mountain bikers who prioritise speed.
A “tweener” has a lower top rolling speed than a 29er and isn’t as effective at navigating large obstacles and rock gardens due to its decreased attack angle.
If you spend most of your time cycling on roads or other paved surfaces but enjoy the occasional trail or off-road venture, check out gravel bikes below.
If you’re looking to get into mountain biking, a 27.5 bike is a good place to start. Just choose some gentler trails until you’ve gotten to grips with your bike!
Want to Learn More About 27.5" Mountain Bikes?
29er Mountain Bikes
What Is a 29er?
A 29er is a mountain bike subtype that uses wheels with a 29-inch diameter. These are the largest readily available wheels of any mountain bike.
The 29inch wheels that 29ers utilise have the same diameter as 700c road bike wheels. However, a 29er’s wheels are wider to cater for their chunky tires with increased tread.
Invented in the late 1990s, 29ers were manufactured to develop a more versatile mountain bike capable of traversing more challenging terrain.
What Is a 29er Used For?
Recreational and professional mountain bikers use 29er mountain bikes in a wide range of mountain biking disciplines.
29ers are more suitable for trails and paths with big obstacles such as rock gardens, ramps and steep hillsides than 27.5” mountain bikes.
Whilst 29ers are ideal for competitive cycling, mountain biking rookies can benefit from their increased traction and stability, which can help to build confidence when you’re getting to grips with the sport.
Additionally, 29ers are a good choice for bicycle commuters who hit off-road trails in their spare time, due to their high top rolling speed.
Who Should Use a 29er?
The smoother, less jerky ride a 29er provides, makes these mountain bikes the perfect option for beginners to the sport. Whilst their faster rolling speed (compared to a 27.5 bike) makes 29ers ideal for competitive riders.
Because 29ers have larger wheels than 27.5 bikes, they offer increased traction, making them ideal for bikers who enjoy hill climbs, especially on loose terrain.
Finally, it’s important to remember that 29ers demand a slightly taller rider than 27.5 or 26-inch mtb. Therefore, cyclists looking to ride a 29er should be taller than 5’6. Otherwise, a 27.5 bike will probably be more suitable.
If in doubt, your local bike shop will be happy for you to test ride a 29er!
Who Shouldn’t Use a 29er?
Whilst 29ers are capable of hitting the biggest jumps, their bulky frames are less manoeuvrable. So if you ride trails that focus on airtime and tricks with multiple ramps, a jump bike/dirt bike will be more suitable.
You can read more about jump bikes here.
In addition to the minimum rider height of 5’6, mountain bikers who require the increased steering control should opt for a 27.5 bike.
Want to Learn More About 27.5" Mountain Bikes?
What Is a BMX Bike?
A BMX bike is a unique bicycle type used in and named after the cycling discipline of bicycle motocross.
Generally speaking, there are three different types of BMX bikes, these are suited to different sub-disciplines within the sport:
- Racing BMX – Racing BMX Bikes are the original model of BMX bikes. They’re used for competitive BMX racing around asphalt and dirt tracks.
- Freestyle BMX – Freestyle BMX bikes are normally found in skateparks. They’re designed for tricks and stunts and are commonly used in vert-riding.
- Jump/Dirt Bike – As we discovered above, jump bikes are a BMX subtype used to navigate trails with multiple ramps and achieve big air whilst performing tricks.
First entering the market in the 70s, BMXs were designed for competitive dirt races (covered above). BMX bikes are traditionally rigid framed bicycles, with smaller 20″ wheels
What Is a BMX Bike Used For?
A BMX bike is suitable for everything from skate parks to pump tracks.
BMX racing has exploded in popularity since the bike first appeared; BMX races are a staple of the X Games Extreme Sports Competition and BMX racing is even an Olympic sport!
Along with racing, BMX bikes are also longtime favourites of young riders and are commonly used as introductory bicycles.
Who Should Use a BMX Bike?
BMX Bikes are primarily designed for off-road cycling and performing tricks.
Today, BMXs are popular with children and teens and are frequently used at skate parks where many riders enjoy socialising. However, many adults continue to ride them for the childhood nostalgia!
BMXs are simple and sturdy bicycles that don’t use many complex components. This allows beginners to reap their benefits without the worry of intricate maintenance.
Who Shouldn’t Use a BMX Bike?
Almost all BMX bikes use a single-speed low gear, which means pedalling is easy but renders BMXs unsuitable for long-distance journeys.
If you don’t see yourself performing tricks or hitting ramps, but desire a versatile bike for all terrains, a 27.5″ mountain bike will probably be a better choice of bike for you.
Want to Learn More About BMX Bikes?
What Is a City Bike?
Also known as a utility bicycle, urban bicycle, or classic bike, a city bike is a simple and sturdy bicycle built for durability and frequent use within urban environments.
City bikes are typically heavier than road bicycles, have fewer gears, and are ideal for shorter rides on city streets and other paved surfaces.
Ultimately, city bikes are designed to provide increased comfort whilst riding. For example, their saddles tend to be wider and offer more cushioning, with their handlebars flared and elevated to promote an upright riding position.
What Is a City Bike Used For?
True to their name, a city bike is designed with urban use in mind. For this reason, cyclists tend to use city bikes for short spurts of activity on flat, paved surfaces.
Whilst exploring major cities, you can often find city bikes for hire, for example, London’s famous Boris Bikes.
City bikes are designed with the casual cyclist in mind and can be effectively used in everyday clothing without requiring any special cycling gear or attire, apart from a helmet!
If you’re looking for a comfortable bike for commuting, a city bike is a great, low-cost option!
Who Should Use a City Bike?
Anyone looking for fast and easy commuting should consider using a city bike, they’re easy to use, even for inexperienced cyclists.
City bikes offer a great opportunity to get from one place to another faster than on foot. Whilst their comfortable riding posture allows you to enjoy your surroundings along the way.
These urban commuting bikes provide a welcome escape from gridlock traffic on downtown roads and highways, making them perfect for commuters and city tourists alike.
Who Shouldn’t Use a City Bike?
Want to Learn More About City Bikes?
What Is a Comfort Bike?
A comfort bike features many of the same distinctive elements as a city bike: flared & raised handlebars and a wide padded saddle.
As you may have figured from the name, comfort bikes are designed to provide the most comfortable ride possible.
Due to their comfortable intentions, many comfort bikes feature suspension seatposts and front forks with suspension.
These suspension components don’t provide a huge amount of travel, so comfort bikes aren’t designed for mountain bike trails.
However, the suspension will absorb the shock of potholes and bumps on the city streets, saving you from a real pain in the….!
What Is a Comfort Bike Used For?
Essentially comfort bikes are a more accessible version of a mountain bike, built for less intense uses.
They are best suited for paved urban surfaces or flat, well-manicured bike paths.
Sometimes they may be used for very gentle dirt trails but are best suited to low-performance environments such as neighbourhood rides or beach rides.
If you want a slightly more versatile bike, a 27.5-inch mountain bike will allow you to ride the city streets comfortably whilst tearing up the trails when you fancy time off-roading!
Due to the relaxed posture comfort bikes promote, they are used by many to commute to work. This allows you to remain strain and sweat-free by the time you arrive.
Who Should Use a Comfort Bike?
If mountain bikes and other high-performance models seem too intense or over the top for you, then a comfort bike might be just what you need.
Comfort bikes are easy to use bicycles that are perfect for cyclists who desire gentle, strain-free cycling.
If you’re new to cycling or are of older age, a comfort bike will be a great way to get around.
They’re also relatively cheap, making them a great option for cyclists on a tighter budget!
Who Shouldn’t Use a Comfort Bike?
A comfort bike might not satisfy those looking for more versatility and durability in their bicycles.
Although they can work for commuting, a comfort bike’s slow speed isn’t super ideal for that purpose. An electric bicycle will cost more, but will get you around effortlessly without breaking a sweat!
Want to Learn More About Comfort Bikes?
What Is a Commuter Bike?
A commuter bike is a type of bike optimised for easy use and smooth cycling. While commuter bikes vary from model to model, most feature common elements such as wide and steady tyres, broader saddles and handlebars that provide an upright position.
Some commuter bikes use a basic suspension front fork to increase comfort levels whilst riding. Whilst others feature accessories such as fenders (mudguards), chain guards, and pannier racks.
Commuter bikes are built to offer dependable and steady rides, with minimal maintenance thanks to their durable components.
What Is a Commuter Bike Used For?
As the name suggests, commuter bikes are built for anyone who uses their bicycle to get to and from work or school.
Commuter bikes are best used in urban environments with flat bike paths, roads and other paved surfaces.
These bikes are suitable for short-medium distance city rides rather than long journeys on bumpy terrain.
Due to their more relaxed riding position, commuter bikes aren’t used in races (apart from the morning race to the office!) and are instead reserved for personal use in commuting.
Who Should Use a Commuter Bike?
A commuter bike could be a great choice if you live a short distance from your school or workplace and don’t want to put up with the hassle of driving in traffic or navigating public transportation.
Commuter bikes are ideal for short trips to help you comfortably get to your end destination. They’re also a great way to get in some easy exercise during your everyday routine!
Who Shouldn’t Use a Commuter Bike?
If you plan to use your bike for anything other than commuting, it might be a worth looking at a different type of bike.
Want to Learn More About Commuter Bikes?
What Is a Cruiser Bike?
Cruiser bikes, also known as beach cruisers or motobikes, offer curved frame tubes, single-speed drivetrains, and an upright seating posture. These elements provide comfort and head-turning style for when you’re cruising down the beach.
Cruiser bikes also utilise wide, flared handlebars, fat ‘balloon tyres’, large padded saddles, and coaster brakes, which reduces strain on your back and core. The lack of complex components also reduces the difficulty of maintenance, making cruisers a great choice for casual cyclists.
Frank W. Schwinn was one of the early pioneers of cruiser bikes. He originally set out to create a more durable and affordable bike than what was avalible on the market during the 1930s.
What Is a Cruiser Bike Used For?
Similarly to comfort bikes, cruiser bicycles are designed for use on flat, paved surfaces such as roads or sidewalks. But again, cruisers prioritise rider comfort over speed, making them perfect for scenic routes and enjoying a social ride with friends.
Cruiser bikes are commonly used for beach cycling because their wide and steady tyres allow them to ride over sand, which is how these bikes earned their original name – “beach cruisers”.
Who Should Use a Cruiser Bike?
Cruiser bikes are ideal for low-stress rides, neighbourhood strolls, downtown sightseeing and rides along the oceanfront are what this type of bike was built for.
Beach cruisers are equally as comfortable as they are affordable, making them a perfect option for those who want to ride in style without breaking the bank!
Because cruisers promote a relaxed cycling position, cruisers are popular with older cyclists and cyclists who desire a less intense ride.
Cruisers are also built to last, they use simple components which require minimal maintenance, so if you don’t want to be constantly fiddling with your bike, a cruiser would be a good option.
Who Shouldn’t Use a Cruiser Bike?
As their name implies, cruiser bikes are built exclusively for cruising and enjoying a slower-paced ride.
This means that if you need to get anywhere fast or want to experience thrills on your ride, then a cruiser bike probably isn’t the best option for you.
Cruisers are sturdy but slow compared to other bikes meaning that they aren’t ideal for commuters working on a tight schedule or long-distance bike rides.
Want to Learn More About Cruiser Bikes?
What Is a Cyclocross Bike?
Cyclocross bikes (otherwise known as CX bikes or CXBs) are lightweight, drop bar bikes that are purpose-built for the competitive cycling discipline of cyclocross.
Cyclocross bikes are the original off-road racing bikes designed to travel at high speed over a range of rugged terrains. During CX races competitors must traverse various obstacles, so cyclocross bikes use lightweight frames that are easy to dismount and carry.
Whilst they remain similar to traditional gravel bikes, cyclocross bikes have several unique design features. Requirements set by the UCI determine the shape, size and components cyclocross bikes can use, such as their maximum tire width of 33mm.
What Is a Cyclocross Bike Used For?
Unsurprisingly, cyclocross racing is what cyclocross bikes are designed for. In CX events, competitors race around a course, tackling barriers, steep hill climbs and loose gravel sections as they ride.
Because of the intense nature of these races, cyclocross bikes are built to be strong, which also makes them suitable for off-road rides, especially smooth trails and forest paths.
Due to their efficiency across multiple surfaces, cyclocross bikes are a relatively popular choice for commuters who want the ability to explore a range of different terrains on their bike.
Who Should Use a Cyclocross Bike?
The most obvious use for cyclocross bikes is cyclocross competitions. To be eligible to ride in many cyclocross events, your bike must comply with UCI rules, meaning cyclocross bikes are a no brainer for cyclocross competitors.
Cyclists looking for a reliable commuter bike that performs well on hilly and flat roads will find a reliable method of transportation in a cyclocross bike.
Due to a cyclocross bike’s more aggressive riding position, a gravel bike will be more comfortable for non-competitive cyclists. Gravel bikes also offer more room for customisation to their rider.
Who Shouldn’t Use a Cyclocross Bike?
Despite their sportiness, cyclocross bikes aren’t the best for extreme offroad environments.
Alternatively, if you enjoy all of your cycling time on the road, a road bike will likely be a better type of bike for you.
Want to Learn More About Cyclocross Bikes?
Many cyclists have contacted me for help because they’re struggling to decide between a gravel bike and a cyclocross bike.
This short guide will explain all of the key differences and help you choose the most suitable option for your riding style.
What Is a Downhill Bike?
Also known as a downhill mountain bike, downhill bikes are bicycles with full suspension frames specifically built the cycling discipline of downhill riding.
Downhill cycling includes big air jumps, steep descents and fast technical sections.
The construction of a downhill bike is similar to other full-suspension mountain bikes in many regards. However, downhill bikes offer increased suspension travel (typically around 200mm front and back), allowing riders to cope with heavy impacts and large jumps.
On top of this, downhill bikes are designed to provide increased stability and durability (compared to other mountain bikes), two essential characteristics when hurtling down the mountainside!
What Is a Downhill Bike Used For?
Downhill bikes are built from the ground up for the most intense racing. This particular cycling discipline puts you and your bike through the wringer, so downhill bikes provide the strength and durabilty handling necessary to endure long rough races.
Because of the extreme nature of these bikes, they don’t tend to be used outside of the discipline of downhill riding.
Theoretically, you could use a downhill bike to ride flatter trails with technical terrain, but their increased travel means they’d be more sluggish than an XC mountain bike.
Who Should Use a Downhill Bike?
It should go without saying that a downhill competitor will need a downhill bike.
A downhill bike’s hefty suspension, paired with its remarkable sturdiness and durability, make it an excellent choice for those looking to take first place in a downhill race.
If you’re looking for a mountain bike that’s suitable for a wider range of terrains, a full-suspension trail or enduro bike will work well for you.
Who Shouldn’t Use a Downhill Bike?
As we’ve found out, downhill bikes are built with a strong emphasis on competitive downhill cycling. This means there’s probably a better type of bike for anyone looking to ride a mixture of environments.
Their full-suspension systems and overall geometry mean pedalling is tiring over longer distances, making them less viable for urban commuting or bike touring.
Instead, as stated above, an enduro mountain bike provides the ability to ride many different terrains. Otherwise, if you enjoy flat trails with plenty of ramps, a jump bike would probably be a better option for your riding style.
Need to Know More About Downhill Bikes?
What Is an E-Bike?
E-bikes, often called ‘electric bikes,’ or ‘electric bicycles,’ are bikes that use onboard batteries and motors to provide propulsion assistance.
The majority of e-bikes provide something called pedal assistance. Pedal assistance uses the bike’s motor to supplement some of the power required to turn your pedals.
A smaller number of electric bicycles provide direct throttle to the wheels at the press of a button or lever. These types of e-bike are typically referred to as “throttle e-bikes”.
Nowadays, e-bikes are available for almost every type of bike and cycling discipline. You can find electric urban commuter bikes, e-cargo bikes, and even e-mountain bikes.
The primary shared characteristic shared between all e-bikes is their signature motor propulsion.
What Is an E-Bike Used For?
E-bikes are used in much the same way as old fashioned pedal-powered bicycles. The main difference is that while conventional bicycles completely depend on the riders pedalling, e-bikes require less energy to pedal as their motor provides assistance or completely supplements the need to pedal!
As covered above, cyclists can use e-bikes for various pursuits, such as commuting, racing or recreational cycling.
E-bikes are best utilised in environments that would be difficult to navigate without electric assistance, or when you don’t want to exhaust yourself on longer rides.
E-mountain bikes have become extremely popular with mountain bikers because their powerful motors allow you to ascend steep trails without expending as much energy. This means you’ll have more energy for the way down and will be able to ride for longer!
Who Should Use an E-Bike?
Anyone who enjoys riding a bike but finds them physically taxing will benefit from using an e-bike. Additionally, e-bikes normally offer more speed for less effort than traditional bicycles.
It’s not uncommon for electric bikes to reach speeds up to 45 km/h or 25 mph. This makes e-bikes a good pick for anyone with lower fitness levels or needs an extra push to motivate them to exercise.
Otherwise, e-bikes have recently surged in popularity all over the market, commuters, cycle couriers and casual cyclists can all enjoy the thrill of riding these modern bicycles.
Who Shouldn’t Use an E-Bike?
There are a few downsides to riding e-bikes. First of all, e-bikes tend to be considerably more expensive than other types of bikes, which means they’re not an ideal option for cyclists on a tighter budget.
Thanks to their heavy additional components, E-bicycles are also heavier than most other bikes. This additional weight makes e-bikes slightly harder to transport than other bikes.
However, due to the assistance provided whilst cycling, you won’t really notice the extra weight until your battery runs out!
Additionally, e-bike maintenance tends to require specialised expertise, so if you’re not prepared to pay for specialist bike technicians or learn the skills yourself, e-bikes may pose some issue.
The Ultimate Guide To E-Biking | Laws, Speed, Cost & More
If you’re set on buying an e-bike, before you spend thousands, read this guide.
There are many laws and regulations you’ll want. to be aware of, so make sure to learn your local rules before committing to buy!
What Is an Enduro Bike?
Enduro bikes are a type of bike built for the competitive cycling discipline of Enduro. Like a downhill bike, an enduro bike is designed to descend steep trails at high speed whilst racing against other competitors’ times.
Enduro bikes are available with both hardtail and full-suspension frames. Typically enduro riders will opt for 29” wheels, as these provide increased control and a higher top rolling speed than their 27.5-inch counterparts.
Enduro bikes tend to offer 140-180mm of travel on their front and rear suspension systems, slightly less than downhill bikes, which means they sap less energy on the way up the trails.
What Is an Enduro Bike Used For?
An enduro bike is a mountain bike subtype used to compete in enduro racing, a popular form of mountain bike racing that involves timed downhill runs and untimed uphill ascents.
Enduro bikes work best in hilly terrain, but they can also make for exciting cycling on flatter trails and other intense off-road rides.
Who Should Use an Enduro Bike?
Of course, it would be sensible for those planning to participate in enduro races, to invest in an enduro bike.
Additionally, if you want a fast, dependable bike for use in rough, technically challenging environments, an enduro bike would be a good choice.
Cyclists who opt for a 29” enduro bike will benefit from an increased attack angle, making crossing uneven ground easier.
Who Shouldn’t Use an Enduro Bike?
While enduro bikes can zip downhill at high speeds, their components aren’t optimal for use on flat paved surfaces.
That being said, many enduro and downhill bikes feature lockout suspension forks. Locking the suspension of your enduro bike will make riding flat and uphill terrain much less tiring.
If you don’t plan to ride harsher trails with intense downhill sections, a trail mountain bike or a gravel bike will be suitable for a wider variety of cycling pursuits.
Should I Get a 27.5" or 29er Enduro Mountain Bike?
Nowadays, 27.5 vs 29er is the question that every mountain biker is wondering about.
Fortunately for you, I’ve put together an in-depth guide for either wheel size and covered the key benefits of either size. Reading these will help you decide which will best suit your riding style.
What Is a Fat Bike?
Fat bikes are an alternative subtype of bicycle that utilises ‘fat’ tires, which are usually 3.5-5″ wide. This increased tire width provides increased traction thanks to their distribution of weight over a larger surface area.
Because their tires are much chunkier, cyclists can ride fat bike tires at a very low psi. Low psis means increased traction and vibration dampening, enabling fat bike riders to cross technically challenging terrain effortlessly.
What Is a Fat Bike Used For?
Fat tire bicycles work best in areas where the terrain is too soft to accommodate a conventional bicycle.
Due to their increased weight distribution, fat bikes are among the best bicycle subtypes for cycling on snow, mud, sand and other soft-ground environments.
Nowadays, fat bikes are common in many urban environments as they provide a comfortable ride on paved surfaces. If you want to ride a fat bike in urban areas, slicker tires inflated to a higher psi will perform best on roads and bike paths (depending on weather conditions).
Who Should Use a Fat Bike?
Fat bikes are prevalent in countries with long, harsh winters, as they allow cyclists to continue riding throughout snowy/icy conditions.
Similarly, if you enjoy riding on beaches or sand dunes, a fat bike will provide the traction you need and won’t sink into the soft ground as a road bike would.
On top of that, fat bikes require more effort to pedal, making them a good way to maximise your workout while cyclin. A great optionif that’s what you like!
Who Shouldn’t Use a Fat Bike?
Smaller cyclists may struggle with the increased weight of a fat bike, which makes them less manoeuvrable and agile on most terrains. Fat bikes also have a hefty price tag due to their increased number of specialised components.
If you don’t live or ride soft terrain or have a specific use for a fatbike, you’d probably be better off with a hybrid or 29er mountain bike. These bike types are suitable for many different terrains and will require less energy to get up to speed than a fat bike.
Will a Fat Bike Work For You?
Since I don’t know your preferences when it comes to different types of bikes, I put together the quick guide of fat biking.
This guide will help you understand if a fat bike is a suitable choice for you.
Have a quick read before making your mind up!
What Is a Fixed-Gear Bike?
A fixed-gear bike, also known as a “fixie,” is a type of bike without a freewheel mechanism. Instead, a single sprocket (cog) is attached to the rear hub.
This fixed-gear sprocket means that you’re unable to coast as you can on a multi-geared bike. Put simply, whilst a fixed-gear bike is moving, the pedals will constantly rotate.
The nature of a fixed-gear bike also makes the drivetrain far more efficient than other types of bike. This is because it transfers power directly from the pedals to your wheels, meaning a fixie will require less energy to power than a geared bike running the same gear ratio.
Because the rear sprocket is attached directly to the wheel, fixed-gear bikes allow riders to brake whilst riding when pedalling backwards.
What Is a Fixed-Gear Bike Used For?
Fixed-gear bikes are exploding in popularity as riders become enamoured with their simplicity, speed and straightforward customisation.
Many urban cyclists use fixed-geared bikes for commuting, as their dependability and efficiency make them a great choice for zipping through downtown foot traffic. Furthermore, fixed-gear bikes tend to carry a lower price tag than other types of bikes because of their lack of complex components.
Technically speaking, fixed-gear bikes are used in the Olympics (as track bikes) and are also extremely popular with cycle couriers worldwide.
Die-hard fixie riders often organise alleycat races – unsanctioned cycling events, often deemed illegal by local authorities.
Who Should Use a Fixed-Gear Bike?
Urban cyclists who spend their time commuting or riding for fitness & leisure within cities will benefit most from using a fixed-gear bike.
Beyond the city, riders in all locations can enjoy the intimate connection with their bike with the simplicity and heightened control of riding a fixed-gear.
That being said, fixed-gear bikes aren’t suitable for off-roading as the constant rotation of your pedals will cause pedal strikes on tighter corners.
Fixed-gear bikes also provide a great workout for cyclists who utilise them daily. Because you’re unable to drop to a lower gear, your legs will quickly grow stronger. So if you want stronger legs, fixies are the way to go!
Finally, due to their reduced number of complex components, fixie bikes are super easy to maintain and are a great place for cyclists to begin learning about bike maintenance.
Who Should'nt Use a Fixed-Gear Bike?
Riding a fixed-gear can take some getting used to if you’re more acquainted with multi-gear bikes.
The inability to coast on your pedals means that riding a fixed-gear will require more power and concentration than a multi-gear bike. So, if you like taking your feet off the gas when riding downhill, a road bike may be more suitable for you.
If you like the minimalist set-up of a fixed-gear bike but want to be able to coast as you ride, you can swap the fixed-gear sprocket out for a single-speed cassette.
To finish, if you live in areas with large hills and haven’t ridden a fixie before, a fixed-gear bike might not be the best option. However, if you did choose one, you’d soon build the leg strength to crush any hill!
Learn More About Fixies Before Buying One
Buying a bike just to find out it’s not suitable for you has to be one of the most irritating and time-consuming things.
Fortunately, this short guide will transform you into a fixed-gear expert and save you from the hassle of returning an unwanted bike!
What Is a Gravel Bike?
Sometimes called an “adventure bike”, a gravel bike is a hybrid bicycle subtype that combines the features of a road and mountain bike. This combination allows riders of gravel bikes to achieve high speeds on roads whilst having the durability and endurance to handle rough terrains.
One of the defining features of a gravel bike that set it apart from other types of bikes is their wider, treaded tyres. Gravel bikes have tyres that are normally at least 35mm wide, although most gravel bikes use 38mm+ tyres.
Gravel bikes are very similar to cyclocross bikes but often provide better off-road capabilities because UCI regulations don’t define their geometry or components.
What Is a Gravel Bike Used For?
A gravel bike can handle a wide variety of cycling pursuits. Their wide, treaded tyres enable them to travel through rough off-road terrain and bumpy trails, they also thrive just as much riding in paved urban environments.
While gravel bikes are not specifically built for competitions, they can make for great racing bikes – some competitors use them in cyclocross events that don’t follow the UCI’s strict regulations.
With the recent explosion of gravel bikes, they’ve become one of the most popular types of bike for bikepacking and bike touring. Consequently, most gravel bikes have multiple mounting points to allow their users to carry multiple bike bags and other equipment whilst riding.
Who Should Use a Gravel Bike?
If you’re looking for a versatile bike, it doesn’t get much better than gravel bikes.
Whether you’re looking to race, explore local forest trails, or commute downtown, a gravel bike could definitely be the right type of bike for you. Their extreme versatility is the driving force behind their huge growth in popularity.
Because they’re capable of carrying more cargo, gravel bikes are perfect for commuters and bikepackers alike.
The chunkier tires of a gravel bike can also be ridden at a lower psi, which provides dampening and reduces vibrations and impact felt when crossing rough terrain. Perfect for road cyclists who desire a more comfortable, less clunky ride.
Who Shouldn’t Use a Gravel Bike?
If you’re not planning any off-road trips on bumpy, uneven terrains or difficult trails anytime soon, you might not need a gravel bike.
For long-distance touring, gravel bikes are a good option, otherwise, a steel touring bike will serve you well.
Finally, because gravel bikes are a relatively new addition to the market, they are currently more expensive than many other bike types. Make sure to read my complete guide to gravel biking to make sure a gravel bike is the best option for you.
If you’re on a budget, a second-hand gravel bike will provide more bang for your buck. Otherwise, some road bikes offer enough clearance to accommodate thicker tires.
Going To Buy a Gravel Bike? Read This First
With how popular gravel bikes have become I’m not surprised that I receive so many questions about them.
If you have still have any gravel bike-related questions, my in-depth gravel bike guide will answer them and help you understand everything there is know about gravel bikes.
Take a look.
Hardtail Mountain Bikes
What Is a Hardtail Bike?
A hardtail bike is an all-terrain mountain bike that lacks rear shock absorbers but uses a front suspension fork.
Hardtail bike frames tend to be lighter than full suspension bikes, meaning they offer efficient pedalling and increased manoeuvrability.
The lack of rear suspension also means that hardtail bikes are less energy-sapping during steep hill climbs. But, on the other hand, they’re joltier and harder to control on fast descents, where a downhill or 29er would be in their element.
What Is a Hardtail Bike Used For?
Hardtail bikes are utilised for various cycling disciplines and events, including enduro, cross country and trail riding.
Because hardtail bikes are designed for versatility, they perform well on many off-road terrains but especially thrive on smoother trails and uphill climbs.
More experienced cyclists can still use a hardtail in rougher environments, even if doing so can be difficult because of the lack of a rear shock.
Suitable areas for hardtail mountain biking include mountain and forest trails, pump tracks and less intense downhill trails.
Who Should Use a Hardtail Bike?
If you’re an amateur cyclist and looking to get started in the world of mountain biking, a hardtail bike is a great entry point.
Many professional mountain bikers recommend newcomers to start on a hardtail. Due to their lack of rear suspension, riders are forced to pay attention to their body positioning, balance, and trail choices more than when riding a full-suspension bike. In comparison, a full-suspension bike would do a lot of this work for you!
A hardtail will also serve you well if you primarily ride smooth trails with smaller obstacles and less intense descents.
If you commute to work by bike, a hardtail can be a great option. But, take note, if you plan to use your hardtail as a commuter bike, opting for one with lockable suspension forks will allow you to transform your hardtail into a fast hybrid bike. Handy, especially for longer commutes.
Who Shouldn’t Use a Hardtail Bike?
Need to Know More Baout Hardtail Mountain Bikes?
If you’re planning on getting a hardtail mountain bike one of the key questions you need to understand is: which is better for me a 27.5″ MTB or a 29er MTB?
Hardtails can be bought with either of these wheel sizes, so read the guides and find your preference.
Hybrid / Commuter Bikes
What Is a Hybrid Bike?
Hybrid bikes are faster on the road compared to mountain bikes, thanks to their thinner wheels and lighter (normally fully-rigid) frames.
On top of this, hybrid bikes position riders in an upright position and use broad handlebars designed to maximise rider comfort.
Many hybrids provide mounting positions for panniers or baskets for carrying luggage, whilst also using wide-ranging gears and triple chainsets.
What Is a Hybrid Bike Used For?
Hybrid bikes are used for a vast array of purposes.
Many cyclists use hybrid bikes for commuting, thanks to their stability and comfort. Other cyclists use them for cycling day trips and even gentle off-road adventures in their local areas.
Who Should Use a Hybrid Bike?
Since hybrids can handle various terrains and cycling disciplines, they’re a suitable choice for recreational cyclists and beginners who don’t desire a bike for extreme performance capabilities.
A hybrid bike is a dependable way to get around town, and their comfortable seating and steady handling make them a safe method for navigating hectic city roads.
Hybrid bikes are also an ideal choice for cyclists on a budget who aim to invest in a bike suitable for multiple uses.
Who Shouldn't Use a Hybrid Bike?
If you have a specific purpose in mind for your bike, whether that’s wilderness exploration or regular commuting, a hybrid bike might not be for you.
Hybrids can do a little bit of everything, but if you plan on pursuing a single cycling discipline, there’s probably a better type of bike for you. For example, a gravel bike will be more suitable for off-roading and faster on the roads, and a fixie or road bike will travel faster on paved surfaces.
Need More Information on Hybrid Bikes?
What Is an Ice Bike?
An ice bike, also known as an ice cycle or icycle, is a type of bike built for riding in snowy and icy conditions. Many ice bikes replace their front wheel with an ice skate style blade, whilst others simply use metal studded tires.
Most ice bikes only have one skate at the front, whereas others have two or three blades for additional stability and control.
If you don’t want to buy a whole new bike for riding on ice, the majority of bicycles (especially fat bikes and 29ers) can be converted into ice bikes by replacing their existing tires with metal studded winter tires!
What Are Ice Bikes Used For?
As their name implies, ice bikes are built specifically for use on ice.
The front skate of a traditional ice bike allows riders to maintain traction when riding on ice.
Ice bikes are often used in frigid, northern landscapes by cyclists who wish to remain active and mobile during harsh winter months.
Meanwhile, ice bikes are also used recreationally for races and other cycling adventures.
Take note, ice bikes with blades instead of front wheels aren’t as versatile as ice bikes that utilise studded tires. With a bladed ice bike, you’ll limit yourself to frozen bodies of water, whereas studded tires can handle almost any icy/snowy environment.
Who Should Use an Ice Bike?
If you’re looking for a fun new cycling experience and want to ride your bike on ice safely, then consider getting or custom building an ice bike.
As covered above, ice bikes with studded tires can ride on a wider range of terrains than ice bikes with blades, making them a more useful option for cyclists who wish to continue cycling in areas with harsh winter months.
An ice bike will be an excellent purchase if you live near large bodies of water that tend to freeze over.
Who Shouldn’t Use an Ice Bike?
Many bikes are built with specific purposes in mind, but they don’t get much more specific than ice bikes with blades!
If you don’t see yourself regularly riding on frozen lakes and rivers, then there are likely far better investments when it comes to seasonal bikes.
Fat Bikes, The More Versatile Alternative To Ice Bikes
Ultimately, I’d be hesitant to recommend anyone to purchase an ice bike, unless you specifically want to spend long periods cycling on frozen rivers and lakes.
Especially considering that fat bikes are a much more versatile alternative. Learn more about fat bikes and their benefits here.
What Is a Motorised Bike?
As the name would suggest, a motorised bike is a bicycle with a motor attached to it that either assists with pedalling or provides direct power to the wheels (throttle).
Motorised bikes use many different engine tpyes, including gasoline (petrol), diesel, and electric motors.
Most motorised bikes use regular bike frames as their base, such as those from utility bikes.
Some municipalities allow you to use any sized engine to attach to your bicycle. In contrast, others areas consider a bike with 50cc+ motors to be a motorbike, scooter, or moped.
DIY motorized bikes are a popular choice because countries and states often have more tolerant regulations for DIY motorised bikes.
What Is a Motorised Bike Used For?
Motorised bikes find themselves in a middle ground between conventional bicycles and motorcycles.
The assistance they provide means motorised bikes are typically used for transportation in areas where cars are either impractical or not easily accessible.
Learn about the laws and rules of motorised bikes here.
Because any type of bike can be tailored to the riders’ needs, with alterations, motorised bikes can ride terrain like rough forest trails, urban streets, and even on race tracks!
Many cyclists choose motorized bikes for their commutes to work, as their engines allow you to keep up with other road traffic whilst filtering through congested areas.
Who Should Use a Motorised Bike?
A throttle motorised bike allows you to zip around at high speeds without pedal and expend energy! If you’re looking to increase speeds while reducing the effort it takes to ride, a motorised bike could be a worthwhile investment.
You can even motorise bikes you already have by adding an engine to them, so soup up your old mountain bike or commuter cycle for a bit of extra speed and crusing time!
Additionally, if you enjoy cycling but live in an area with many steep hills, the addition of an onboard engine will provide assistance whilst cycling uphill.
Who Shouldn’t Use a Motorised Bike?
It’s worth noting that motorised bikes occupy a nebulous legal environment.
Many governments are torn about whether to classify them as bikes or automobiles, meaning that if you live in an area with heavy regulations or even bans on motorized bikes, you might consider opting for a traditional pedal-powered bicycle or just buy a moped instead.
Additionally, motorised bikes require additional upkeep to maintain their engines, which will cost more than regular bike maintenance if you don’t have the skills required.
Finally, if you aim to reduce your overall carbon footprint, a motorised bike probably isn’t the best option for you. Instead, a conventional bicycle (such as a road bike) will require no fuel apart from your energy or an e-bike is a greener type of motorised bike.
E-Bikes - A Better Investment Than Motorised Bikes
With the environment in an ever-declining state, it’s time to switch to green power.
An e-bike will provide a very similar ride to motorised bikes, whilst not spewing out harmful fumes and being an all-around safer option.
What Is a Recumbent Bike?
A recumbent bike is immediately recognisable by its comfortable reclined riding position.
Unlike many other types of bike which sit their riders in an upright position, recumbent bikes support the rider’s back and position them in a seated or fully reclined position while riding.
Many recumbents utilise suspension systems to provide increased comfort for their riders.
Although similar, recumbent bikes shouldn’t be confused with recumbent trikes, they’re are similar in appearance but use three wheels for increased stability.
What Is a Recumbent Bike Used For?
Recumbent bikes serve many purposes. For example, if you enjoy cycling along scenic routes, a recumbent bike will allow you to travel at a steady pace, enjoying the view as you ride.
Similarly, riders are often able to cover longer distances on recumbent bikes. Again, this is because their reclined position places less strain on the posterior chain, meaning you’ll be more comfortable whilst cycling.
Otherwise, recumbent bikes can be found that cater for a wide range of cycling disciplines. Recumbent road bikes and recumbents full-suspension mountain bikes are just two of many different recumbent bike subtypes.
Who Should Use a Recumbent Bike?
If you’re looking for a completely new cycling experience that not only makes you up to 30% faster but also supports your back and keeps you comfortable, then you might enjoy a recumbent bike.
Recumbent bikes are also ideal for anyone with arthritis or other joint issues, as their ergonomics allow you to ride without placing too much stress on your joints and pressure points.
Who Shouldn't Use a Recumbent Bike?
You might not want a recumbent bike if you intend to cycle on the roads alongside cars and trucks.
Due to their decreased height, recumbents are less visible to other road users than conventional bikes, increasing the risk of you not being seen.
That being said, safety flags and powerful bike lights will increase your visible presence on the road and help to prevent accidents.
Additionally, it’s also more difficult to ride a recumbent bike uphill than it is for other kinds of bikes, so if you live in a hilly area, a recumbent trike will be a more stable option!
Recumbent Bike vs Recumbent Trike - Which Should You Use?
Seeing as recumbent bikes and trikes are both expensive due to their specialised components, you’ll want to make sure you read the two guides below.
These guides contain information that you won’t know and will help you make the right choice.
What Is a Rickshaw?
First seen in Japan during the 1860’s rickshaws were traditionally a two-wheeled means of transportation pulled by a person on foot. Now, rickshaws have evolved to incorporate bicycle components and be pedal-powered.
While the specific design of a rickshaw varies from country to country, it is typically built around the frame of a trike that features three large wheels with one in the front and two in the back or vice versa.
While many rickshaws simply move by pedalling, others are powered by a gasoline or an electric motor.
Furthermore, because of their use for travel within cities, rickshaws are often referred to as “pedicabs” in English speaking countries.
What Is a Rickshaw Used For?
Rickshaws are similar to taxis in their functionality and are used as a method of transportation within cities. In addition, rickshaws tend to be popular with tourists as their slower pace is good for sightseeing.
Other rickshaws are used for cargo transportation purposes, as their wide wheelbase can carry luggage that would be too heavy and unstable for other kinds of bikes.
Who Should Use a Rickshaw?
Driving a rickshaw is a great alternative to being a taxi driver in many urban areas.
Riding your own pedicab can be a lucrative business in cities that attract tourists, as they often enjoy using rickshaws for sightseeing.
Rickshaw-style bikes can also be useful if you don’t have access to a motor vehicle and need to transport large cargo.
If you’re new to an area or are on holiday and want to explore your surroundings, taking a rickshaw ride can be a great way to get around! Many rickshaw drivers will be locals who can also provide information on nearby tourist attractions.
Who Shouldn't Use a Rickshaw?
Rickshaws are usually not meant for solo personal use.
If you don’t intend to transport passengers or cargo with your bike, then you won’t need a rickshaw.
Rickshaws are also built for relatively level, paved surfaces and aren’t designed to be extremely responsive for fast riding, steep hills or sharp turns.
Going To Be Driving a Rickshaw or a Rickshaw Passenger?
What Is a Road Bike?
A road bike is one of the most common types of bike on the market. Road bikes are designed to be ridden on flat, paved surfaces such as roads and bike paths.
Different road bikes are available for many different pursuits. These include racing road bikes with aggressive riding positions and better aerodynamics, whilst most other road bikes are primarily designed for everyday leisurely use and efficiency on paved surfaces.
The vast majority of road bikes use 700c wheels (29 inches/ISO 622 mm) and use tires typically one of three different widths, 23c, 25c, and 28c.
These tire sizes refer to the tire width at its widest point in mm. As you’ll now realise, most road bikes have significantly thinner tires than other types of bikes.
The thin tires of a road bike allow cyclists to reach high speeds with minimal effort due to decreased rolling resistance and their slick surfaces with minimal tread.
What Is a Road Bike Used For?
As suggested by its name, a road bike is built for cycling on level, paved surfaces.
Road bikes are used by millions worldwide as a reliable method of transport and by professionals in some of the biggest cycling competitions, such as the Tour de France.
In fact, road bike racing is now considered the most popular competitive cycling discipline in the world.
Road bikes can be taken on paved trails, however, loose terrain is difficult to cross on a road bike, and it’s easy to have accidents on sharp corners due to their decreased traction.
Who Should Use a Road Bike?
Cyclists who want to travel from A to B (via road) as quickly and efficiently as possible are the prime candidates for a road bike.
Road bikes are also more than capable of handling steep hills thanks to their lightweight frames, making them a suitable choice for cyclists living in hilly areas.
Because road bikes allow cyclists to reach high speeds with minimal effort they’re a popular choice with bicycle commuters and bike couriers.
Additionally, if you want to join in or compete in local road races, you’ll want to use a road bike.
Who Shouldn't Use a Road Bike?
If you only want one bike and want to ride a wide variety of terrains, a gravel bike will be a better choice for you than a road bike.
A gravel bike will allow you to ride woodland trails whilst retaining traction thanks to their treaded tires with increased width.
Additionally, if you live in an area with long, harsh winters, a 29er mountain bike or fat bike may be more suitable for you. Road bike tires offer little traction and can easily result in injury if used during bad weather conditions.
Get More Value for Your Money With a Gravel Bike
Chances are, if you enjoy cycling, you’ll have heard of gravel bikes before.
And what you’ve heard is probably right! Gravel bikes are a much more versatile alternative to road bikes and allow you to ride off-road trails and paths with relative ease.
Want to get the best bang for your buck? Read about gravel vs road bikes in my complete gravel biking guide.
What Is a Tandem Bike?
Tandem bikes are one of the most recognisable types of bike on the market, as they’re one of the only bikes that allow for two or more riders to cycle together in tandem.
For those who didn’t know, the word “tandem” means two people or objects arranged, one directly behind the other. So on a tandem bike, this is the position of the riders and seats.
Riders of tandem bikes play one of two important roles. First, the cyclist at the front of the tandem is the captain.
The captain controls the steering, pedalling, braking, gear shifting, and overall balance of the tandem bike. Because of this, they are usually the more confident cyclist and have higher fitness levels than the stoker.
Second, the stoker or stokers are any riders behind the captain.
A stoker’s role is to pedal in sync with the captain, and sometimes the stoker will be in charge of navigation, communicating directions to the captain whilst on the move.
Due to their increased frame size, tandem bikes are typically heavier, longer, and bulkier than traditional bikes to fit multiple riders comfortably on board.
What Is a Tandem Bike Used For?
Tandems enable two or more cyclists to ride together, regardless of fitness or experience.
Because two or more riders provide power to the wheels, when ridden well, tandems have the ability to travel much faster than a rider on a conventional bike. This additional power also makes tandems better at tackling large hills.
Before you get carried away, riding a tandem isn’t as easy as you may think! Riders have to be in constant communication to keep pedalling at the same cadence and leaning into corners at the same time to avoid being thrown off balance.
Tandem bikes are often custom-built due to the smaller demand for this type of bike. However, from carbon road tandems to full suspension mountain bike tandems, you’ll be able to find a tandem bike to cater for almost any discipline of cycling
Who Should Use a Tandem Bike?
Many cyclists share long-distance cycle tours on a tandem. Tandem touring is especially good when one rider is more confident than the other, who may struggle to keep up if they were riding separate touring bikes.
Riding a tandem bike with a friend or partner is a great team-building exercise that will force you to work together. Whilst it may be tricky to get the hang of, once you’ve got to grips with your designated role, you’ll be flying up and down the hills!
Tandem bikes are also a great way for older people or those with disabilities to join in. If at any point you feel too tired to pedal, as long as your companion is feeling fit, you’ll be able to enjoy the view, whilst they do all of the pedalling!
Who Should Use a Tandem Bike?
Of course, it wouldn’t make sense to ride a tandem if you prefer to ride alone.
Additionally, as I covered above, due to the decreased demand for tandem bikes, they’re often made to order and will cost considerably more than a conventional bike.
This means if you’re a cyclist on a tight budget, a tandem might not be suitable for you. Otherwise, if you want a cheaper tandem, why not look for a second-hand tandem?
Finally, tandem bikes are an awkward size, which can pose storage and transportation issues. Make sure you’ve got space for a tandem before buying one!
Want to Learn More About Tandem Bikes?
What Is a Touring Bike?
A touring bike is built with features meant to provide reasonable comfort and allow cyclists to carry additional gear on long cycle tours and multi-day rides.
Touring bikes typically use steel frames which provide great strength and durability, disc brakes for superior performance in all weathers, a wide gear range for tackling hills, and a long wheelbase for increased comfort and stability.
Like gravel bikes, touring bikes provide multiple mounting points for bike bags, panniers, and other equipment.
What Is a Touring Bike Used For?
Touring bikes are designed to be used for cycle tours of all distances.
Because you cover many miles whilst cycle touring, the components of a touring bike are designed to last.
As stated above, touring bikes almost always utilise a steel frame, enabling them to be repaired on the fly. Often when bike touring, you’ll find yourself in remote areas, so a repairable frame and durable components are essential!
Whilst normally used for long-distance, multi-day rides, touring bikes are often used as commuting bikes. Their comfort and stability make them an ideal bike for any distance trip, whilst their strength will allow you to carry all of your essentials with you.
Who Should Use a Touring Bike?
Touring bikes are ideal for anyone who wants a dependable, durable bike. Even if you’re not planning on taking multi-day rides, a tourer will last you a long time and provide good value for money.
If, however, you’re planning on going cycle touring, you’ll definitely want a touring bike!
Many cyclists choose to build their own touring bike from scratch, especially those who plan to spend months or years on the road.
Building a custom touring bike allows riders to tailor its ergonomics to suit their requirements, making long gruelling rides more comfortable!
Touring bikes use wider treaded tires than road bikes, meaning they’re a good option in irregular weather conditions and perform well on short trips.
Who Shouldn't Use a Touring Bike?
If you’re not planning on taking any epic cycling adventures, a touring bike might not be the best option for you.
Additionally, whilst they’re capable of riding on gravel roads and loose terrain, touring bikes aren’t the best type of bike for off-road cycling.
Finally, if you’re going to be hitting bumpier trails or uneven mountain paths, a hardtail mountain bike with lockable forks will likely provide a more comfortable ride.
What Is a Track Bike?
A track bike is a fixed gear subtype built specifically for competitive cycling on velodromes or outdoor tracks.
Out of every type of bike, a track bike is the most barebones approach to cycling. In track cycling, aerodynamics is key since riders are often only competing over a few hundredths of a second.
This need for speed and aerodynamics means track bikes use very few components. For example, most track bikes (especially those used professionally) won’t feature breaks and run a fixed gear set-up to increase power transfer to the wheels.
Track bikes come in three variations for amateur and professional use: standard, sprinter, and pursuit.
These three types of track bike typically share several features such as lightweight, super-stiff frames usually made of carbon or aluminium with large cranksets and chainrings.
What Is a Track Bike Used For?
Track bikes are designed from the ground up for competitive velodrome cycling, one of the oldest and most respected kinds of professional bike racing.
Currently, in the Olympics there are five different track cycling events:
- Team Sprint
- Match Sprint
- Team Pursuit
Different track bikes are used for most of these events, demanding differing ergonomics and components from each track bike.
Track bikes aren’t used outside of the velodrome. However, fixed gear bikes are popular within urban areas, and are essentially the same thing, although normally utilising brakes.
Who Should Use a Track Bike?
If you want to partake in competitive track cycling, using a track bike is an absolute necessity.
As I previously explained, the margins in track cycling often come down to a few thousandths of a second, so the bike you ride has a huge impact on how you perform and compare to the competition!
With their unique frames and fine-tuned geometry, track bikes are optimised for high-speed cycling and are easily the best choice for any current or prospective athletes looking to participate in this prestigious sport.
Equally, some track bikes can be customised to be ridden on the road. However, if you don’t have experience with bicycle mechanics, a fixed gear bike will be a hassle-free similar option!
Who Shouldn't Use a Track Bike?
As good as track bikes are for professional cycling, they’re not ideal for many other purposes.
They aren’t suited for commuting or off-roading because of their lack of gears and thin tires, which normally measure 21mm or slightly wider.
Additionally, because most track bikes use huge cranksets and chainrings, they’re also designed to be ridden at very high speeds. Thus, making the majority of track bikes unsuitable for riding in public areas with other road users.
Fixed Gear Bikes - The Track Bike of the Road
Love the look of track bikes? Me too. Unfortunately, they’re not always suitable for riding on roads and I wouldn’t advise anyone to ride without brakes.
A fixed-gear bike will ride the same as a track bike and will normally come fitted out with brakes ready for riding on the roads.
What Is a Triathlon Bike?
Triathlon bikes (often referred to as tri-bikes) appear similar and ride similarly to road and time-trial bikes. However, tri-bikes possess several characteristics that set them apart from other types of bike.
Triathlon bikes are designed to
A triathlon bike’s number one priority is to provide the best speed and aerodynamics possible whilst being ridden during the cycling stage of triathlons. Their speed and aerodynamics are critical because riders compete against other triathletes to achieve the fastest time to complete all three triathlon stages (swim, cycle and run).
Unlike TT bikes, which focus solely on speed, tri-bikes position riders in a position that places less pressure on the hips. This positioning means that by the time riders reach the running stage, their hamstrings aren’t worn out, and they’re able set their best run time.
What Is a Triathlon Bike Used For?
As its name would suggest, a triathlon bike is used for triathlon races.
While road bikes are often used for triathlons, triathlon bikes are specifically built to achieve optimal performance in these demanding competitions. The cycling stage in “Olympic Standard” triathlon races is 40km long, roughly 25 miles.
Due to the intense nature of triathlon events, triathlon bikes normally feature onboard storage for liquids and high energy snacks to keep their riders powered throughout the duration of their ride.
Who Should Use a Triathlon Bike?
Any aspiring or professional triathlete would be wise to invest in a triathlon bike.
If you anticipate regularly entering triathlons and want to have the best chance in your competitions, it’s worth investing in getting a high-quality triathlon bike to set yourself up for success.
Who Shouldn’t Use a Triathlon Bike?
If you don’t plan on entering a triathlon, or if you only compete in triathlons very rarely, you might not need to splurge on a triathlon bike.
Road bikes are an alternative that can perform well in triathlons whilst also working for other purposes such as recreational cycling and commuting.
Triathlon bikes are designed exclusively for triathlon events and won’t be comfortable for commuting or social cycling due to their aggressive riding position.
Furthermore, if you struggle with bad posture or spinal problems, a triathlon bike may aggravate your condition. Instead, a road bike with a less aggressive riding position will be a better choice.
Thinking of Buying a Triathlon Bike? Read This Guide.
What Is a Trike?
A trike is a three-wheeled bicycle, commonly referred to as a “tricycle”.
Due to their additional wheel, trikes provide a stable wheelbase for their riders and are hard to fall from.
This increased stability is why trikes are a popular first bike for young cyclists who are getting to grips with life on wheels.
There are three main types of trike:
- Recumbent trikes
- Semi-recumbent trikes
- Upright trikes
Within these trike subtype categories, you can find trikes suitable for a range of different cycling disciplines.
What Is a Trike Used For?
Many people recognise trikes as ideal introductory bikes for children. Thanks to their additional wheel, trikes provide greater stability than bicycles for children and other cyclists who are getting to grips with the basics, before progressing to a bicycle.
On top of this, trikes are used to transport passengers or luggage in the form of rickshaws.
Finally, you may be asking, “what is a trike” because you’ve seen one zipping around your neighbourhood.
The triking community, especially recumbent trikes, has grown a lot in recent years. Recumbent trikes can travel up to 30% faster than conventional bikes and provide a more comfortable riding position for soaking up your surroundings!
Who Should Use a Trike?
If you have a child who wants to ride a bike but is afraid of falling, consider getting them a trike so they can learn without fear.
Similarly, trikes are a good option for those who need to transport heavy cargo whilst riding.
In addition, recumbent trikes are extremely comfortable to ride, making them ideal for those with joint issues or disabilities that prevent them from comfortably riding a conventional bicycle.
Who Shouldn't Use a Trike?
Trikes are not especially well-suited to riding at high speeds. While their additional wheel provides increased stability when moving slowly, it prevents you from leaning into corners, increasing the risk of tipping over when turning quickly.
Trikes are also not suited to off-roading or riding on uneven terrain in general. Consider purchasing a full-suspension bicycle instead if you want higher speeds and better performance off-road.
If you were thinking of getting a trike due to fitness issues, an e-bike would likely be a suitable alternative as it’ll provide assistance when you’re low on energy or struggling on a big hill!
Keen to Learn More About Trikes?
What Is a TT Bike?
Otherwise known as time trial bikes, TT bikes are a type of bike built for competitive time trial racing and are therefore designed to provide the best aerodynamics possible.
During time trial races, competitors take turns racing through a timed set route. The fastest time being the winner.
The frame of a TT bike has a steep seat tube angle with low aerobar extensions. This set-up places riders in a tucked position with their body further over the handlebars than on a traditional road bike, providing increased aerodynamics.
What Is a TT Bike Used For?
As their name implies, TT bikes are used for time trial competitions in which a cyclist or a team of cyclists are challenged to ride a specific course as fast as possible
For that reason, TT bikes are built from the ground up to go as fast as possible.
Some of the most famous bicycle time trial races happen during the Tour de France. This year’s Tour featured two time trial routes totalling 58km.
Although they are almost exclusively used in races, TT bikes can be used by triathletes who wish to participate in both cycling disciplines.
Due to the nature of most time trial races, TT bikes are best suited for flat roads and smooth paved surfaces without many steep hills or uneven ground.
Who Should Use a TT Bike?
Individuals dedicated to time trial racing will benefit most from using a TT bike. However, please take note, time trial bicycles are designed for a very specific purpose, and they don’t perform well for cycle commuting or social cycling.
Unless you’re serious about time trial competitions, there’ll be a better type of bike out there for you. A road bike will likely cost less and offer increased usability compared to a TT bike, whilst a gravel bike provides a greatly increased number of uses.
Want to Learn More About TT Bikes?
Summary - Different Types of Bikes
I really hope this guide explaining the different types of bikes available has been helpful to you.
If you think there’s something missing from this article, or I didn’t explain the type of bike you were looking to learn about, leave me a comment below and I’ll do my best to get it added!
If you’re keen to learn more about a certain type of bike within this article, I’ve created an individual bike guide for each bike type.
I’ve included some lock recommendation guides below, take a look.
As the saying goes, lock it or lose it!
Ciao for now.