There are dozens of specialist bikes for sale today your final choice will depend entirely on what style and reason of bike riding you want to do, there are numerous bike types you can choose from including exercise bikes. While some of the differences are obvious, there are more detailed aspects of choosing a bike that will greatly enhance your enjoyment of your bicycle and make your purchase a wise investment that pays you back for years.
While a bike may be simple as it has two wheels, handlebars, and a seat, there are as many bike types, as there are reasons, for riding. Each bike-type forms and follows its own function and what bike you ride will depend on where and how you will ride it. Here are the different general types of bikes, the main features, and what they are designed for.
Mountain Bikes: The main components of mountain bikes are wide tires with deep treads for traction on various surfaces, at least 10 gears, and an upright riding position with either a flat handlebar or slightly curved. Most modern mountain bikes will have suspension front and rear or just the forks (hard tail) the amount of travel and quality of your suspension will dictate the price and the use of your mountain bike, the better the suspension the more technical the trails your bike will cope with. The more relaxed sitting position puts your body weight over the seat to provide control over the front end for greater control and ease of maneuvering as well as compact frame geometry.
When ridden on flat surfaces the wide, knobby tires will provide a rougher ride. The gearing provides for lower gears for control first and fast speeds second. The less expensive bikes in department stores are this kind, but based on model and equipment, the good quality highly specialized mountain bikes can run into several thousand dollars.
Road bikes: These bikes are made for speed in a straight line. The handlebars are called “drop bars” providing a top hand position or a lower “curled bar” position for more aggressive riding and more aerodynamic stance. Gearing is varied but some road bikes can have up to 30 speeds for very fast cycling. Premium models value aerodynamic design, larger frames, and light weight. Frame and component materials will determine weight and cost and can vary from aluminum (most common), titanium, to carbon fiber (lightest and most expensive). Tires are skinny and have small if any tread for speed.
Beach Cruisers: These are typically recreational bikes, as such they a have larger, more comfortable seat and curved handlebars for a very upright sitting position. Tires are large and built for a smooth ride. Traditional cruiser bikes include tire fenders and no gearing. Anywhere you look there are many variations on these three kinds, some of which you may own or would fit your cycling goals:
Triathlon/Time Trial bikes: These are modeled after Road bikes but have a few features that make them the fastest bikes you can ride. For a very aerodynamic position triathlon bikes feature ‘aero bars’ that allow a rider to lean forward over the handlebars and rest on the elbows, in essence cutting through the wind. This sitting position is facilitated by a more steep seat angle moving the rider forward. This entire design allows you to utilize leg muscles efficiently, saving energy and power for the last leg of a triathlon, the run.
Hybrid Bikes: To suit specific needs it is a mix of a road bike and a mountain bike. Also known as Flat-bar Road Bikes, they are almost identical to a road bike except instead of the ‘ram-horn’ drop handlebars, you can ride seated more upright, like a Trail Bike. Hybrid bikes will normally have road bike tires for speed.
Cyclocross Bike: If you go the other direction in combining a Trail bike and a Road Bike, you get a special breed for racing or training called a cyclocross bike. These have the shape and handlebars of a road bike but are designed to accommodate wider, deeper tread tires for off-road riding.
Fixed-speed, or “Fixies”: These are versions of Hybrid or Trail bikes but with no gearing and no freewheel. The chain connects the crank and the rear wheel directly so it cannot coast but provides excellent control over power output. Fixies are most commonly commuter or messenger bikes in urban areas made for short and quick rides.
These are the basics of bike models, and as you grow as a cyclist you can venture into each of the bike types to find just the right one. And once you do that, there are plenty of others out there for your next training, casual ride, or adventure.