Buying a new bike can feel like a major purchase, so it’s worth taking some time to consider the best options, especially if you are buying a bike for the first time. The range of bikes available can be confusing.
The first question is “What is the Right Kind of Bike for Me?”
There are essentially four main types of bike to choose from, and your selection should really depend on what you think your main type of riding to be.
Road Bikes are designed for riding on, you guessed it, roads! And for going fast. Featuring slim tires, a lightweight frame and a racing riding position that puts you bent over the handlebars, you might choose this type of bike if traveling longer distances at higher speeds is important to you.
The frames of most road bikes can be a little less robust than other types of bike, and generally won’t stand up quite as well for extended periods under heavy load or on really rough surfaces. If you’re thinking of cycling on rougher terrain, lets look at the next option.
Mountain Bikes have exploded in popularity over the past few decades. These bikes have wide chunky tires with knobbly treads, and a strong frame, and are designed to handle the rugged trails without falling apart.
Mountain bikes do not go as fast as road bikes, and mile for mile will use more energy, but this is a trade-off for their durability along with a more comfortable riding position. You tend to sit higher and more upright on these bikes, with the straight handlebars, and this is often a better choice for people with back problems. People sometimes buy a mountan bike but then never actually take it off road. If you are going to buy a mountain bike, make sure you are doing so because you know that you will in fact be riding off-road, otherwise it may not be the best option for you. You will be paying for unnecessary features, and probably missing out on a bike that would be a better choice for your needs.
Hybrid bikes are compromise between road and mountain bikes and offer the best features of both. With skinnier, smooth tires, they will typically be faster than mountain bikes, but feature the upright seat and handlebar position that many people prefer. Hybrids are a good choice for city riding, and offer speed, durability and comfort.
Cruisers are bikes that have wide tires, wide seats, upright handlebars and sometimes even just a single gear. You’ll often see this type of bike at the beach. Mechanically very simple, they are easy to maintain but work best with flat roads and a rider whose main interest is more about comfort than speed.
There are of course, other types of bike that are less common. Tandems, recumbents, and tricycles are all unique types of bikes that you likely won’t see very often, either out on the road or at your local bike shop.