Types of Bikes
Bicycles are divided into a seemingly endless number of categories and sub-categories. The following list will help you understand all the various styles and features.
Mountain bikes have wide knobby tires which allow them to be ridden in loose dirt and over obstacles. These bikes have flat handlebars and rugged frames and components. Mountain bikes often have suspension to help any cyclist navigate rocky mountain trails. Many people ride mountain bikes on roads as well as trails. This does the bike no harm. It could be likened to one driving an SUV on the highway: the vehicle will operate fine–it is simply not the most efficient choice. While mountain-style bikes come in all price ranges, the lower end recreational versions are not suited for aggressive mountain biking but work great for trips on smooth dirt paths.
Hybrids and Sport Comfort Bikes share the same comfort features but are distinguished by wheel size. Traditionally, hybrids have a larger road bike sized wheel with a slightly thinner compared to the comfort bikes which yield smaller, mountain style wheels. Both bikes are loaded with comfort features and will work equally well on smooth dirt, paved trails, and family cycling trips. These bikes have a very upright position meant for comfort.
Road bikes can be identified by their skinny tires and down-turned or “drop” handlebars. These bikes rule the road due to their extreme efficiency and speed. The larger thin tires help it glide along the road with little effort, while the multi-position handlebar offers grip variations from upright to more aggressive. A road bike is a supreme choice for one intent to ride on pavement, especially for longer rides. It is our great fortune to live in an area with an abundance of great roads for cycling.
Triathlon/Time Trial Bike
Bicycles built specifically for triathlon or time trial events are basically specialized road bikes. These machines have forward bull-horn shaped handlebars and aero bars. Aero bars allow the rider to lean forward in an aerodynamic position. The shifters on these bikes are located at the end of the aero bars. The geometry of the bicycle frame is designed to suit triathlon or time trial racing, both heavily focused on aerodynamics.
A cyclocross bike has road bike style drop handlebars but with wider knobby tires. These bikes are designed to be raced around a dirt trail where obstacles have been placed at various intervals. These obstacles require the rider to dismount and carry the bicycle for short periods of time. Cyclocross events are a lot of fun and the bikes are versatile so they are a great do-anything bike.
Track Bike/Fixed Gear
A track bike is a road bike with a single gear that does not freewheel or coast.This means the cyclist cannot coast on this style of bike. In fact, true track bikes do not even have brakes so the athlete must use their leg strength to stop the cranks from turning, which stops the motion of the bike. Track racing is done in an indoor track with banked turns called a velodrome. Fixed gear bikes are the outdoor version of a track bike. They have a single, fixed gear but may have brakes and different styles of handlebars. These bikes are often used for racers in training because they force the athlete to spin their legs in a consistent circle and run a higher cadence. They are also used in cities or as foul weather bikes. Because there are so few moving parts on a fixed gear, they are inexpensive and little can go wrong. Finally, many individuals ride “fixies” for the noblest of all reasons, FUN! Fun, coupled with a deep rooted nostalgic connection to the early years of cycling when all bikes were fixed gears.
BMX stands for Bicycle Motor Cross because these single-speed bikes are raced around a short dirt track similar to the motorsport. Frequently, the term BMX is used to describe any single-speed bike with a 20” wheel. These bikes are often very robust and durable and would be the best selection for anyone intending to do jumps or tricks.
Simply put, a commuting bike is any bicycle used as general transportation, regardless of the style. Commuting bikes generally have practical amenities such as lights, rear racks, bags, locks and fenders. These accessories make the bicycle a utilitarian tool. If cycling to work is impossible for you, try riding to the post office, grocery store or other small errands. Using bicycles for transportation is a great way to get some exercise, save money, help the environment and to have fun! Our experts can help you select an appropriate commuter bike or even adapt your bike to be more commuter-friendly.
A tandem is a bicycle built for two. They come in many styles and are the great leveler of the cycling world. Two riders of different abilities can enjoy a ride at the same pace when riding a tandem. They work well with younger riders, new cyclists, or the blind. Tandems do not require any special skill to ride and can be great fun…as long as you don’t argue about who is pedaling more.
An adult trike is exactly what it sounds like: a three wheeled bike designed for an adult. These bikes come in many different configurations. Trikes can be used by people who have difficulty balancing, as industrial transportation vehicles, or by someone who simply enjoys fun on three wheels.
A folding bike can be a great travel companion. Because they fold, they fit easily on a subway, in the trunk of a car, or on a boat. When traveling by air one can avoid the additional charges and hassle associated with transporting a full-sized bicycle.
A child’s bike is a bicycle that has been designed specifically for youth. Every aspect of these vehicles is scaled down to be safe and appropriate for a child. While kids find cycling to be lots of fun, it is important to remind them that a bicycle is not a toy, it is a vehicle that is fun when used safely.
A Beach Cruiser is a bicycle designed for riding short distances on flat terrain, like a boardwalk. Cruisers are identifiable by high handlebars and usually have fenders, and chain guards. Typically these bicycles only have a few speeds since they are not designed to be ridden in hilly areas.
Recumbent bicycles are non-traditional looking bicycles where one sits lower to the ground in a seat that looks like a chair. They come in many different configurations consisting of long to short wheelbases, above and under-seat steering, two, three and four wheel varieties, tandem recumbents and many other variations. The backrest of the seat allows the rider to turn a larger gear since they have something to brace against, similar to doing a seated leg press. However, when riding a recumbent one cannot stand as they pedal up a challenging hill.