Bikes have come a long way in the past several years. They’re now more reliable, fun and functional than ever, and that’s mainly due to the fact that there are literally thousands of manufacturers that make a variety of bikes.
Up until recently, bikes were categorised as either mountain, road or city bikes, but there are now sub-categories of bikes that are specifically tailored toward distinct types of riding. While this is considered a blessing for most, a person buying their first bike may be left confused as to what type is best for them and for the kind of riding they’ll do. And that’s exactly what this article will try to address.
Different Types of Bikes and Their Capabilities
Road bikes, as their name implies, are mainly used for road driving. They’re made to be lightweight and feature narrow tyres and handlebars. If you’re looking to buy bike for recreational riding around the city, this is the option you should go for. However, keep in mind there are also a few different types of road bikes, such as touring, endurance, ultralight, all-road and aero road bikes.
Some people call them 10-speed bikes, although there are plenty of models that feature 18 or more speeds. These bikes are made for speed, and their narrow tyres allow them to ride fast and far on smooth, paved surfaces. Many road bike brands manufacture women-specific models, and they feature touchpoints designed specifically for women.
Mountain bikes are more rugged than road bikes, and they feature wide, knobby tyres and flat handlebars for riding tough dirt trails. The most popular styles of mountain bikes are hardtail, full-suspension trail, full-suspension enduro and full-suspension cross country mountain bikes. The tyres on mountain bikes are typically two inches wide or wider, and they feature knobby treads for extra traction.
Furthermore, they’re usually equipped with hydraulic disc brakes and wide-range drivetrains that allow them to handle steep descents and climbs. Their wheels are either 29-inch or 27.5-inch in diameter. Similar to road bikes, there are women’s models that feature women-specific seats, shorter crankarms, smaller grips and narrower handlebars.
Utility bikes are specifically designed for practical cycling while commuting. For instance, carrying your groceries is super convenient with a utility bike. Some of the most popular styles include folding, fixie, commuter and cargo utility bikes.
In other words, these bikes are made with utility in mind rather than performance or recreation. Most utility bikes are purpose-built, and whatever model you decide to go for, it’s likely going to help you get things done around town while providing the usual amount of exercise that comes with bikes.
Electric bikes can be bikes from any other category, and as their name implies, they run on electric power, and they give you the ability to pedal yourself. The electric motor is small and lightweight, and you can set it on multiple modes to assist you based on how much help you need. That being said, electric bikes come in three classes.
Class one electric bikes provide pedal-assist to 30 km/h; class two electric bikes provide both pedal-assist and throttle-power to 30 km/h, and class three electric bikes provide pedal-assist to 40 km/h. If you decide to buy bike that provides some assistance while you ride, you can choose between mountain, road/cruiser, commuter and folding models.
Fitness bikes are for people who want to cruise on the beach and weekend warriors who want to take a ride on multi-use paths. Some types of fitness bikes are cruiser, comfort and hybrid fitness bikes. Fitness bikes feature the broadest category of bike types, and they’re all meant for people who want to use them recreationally.
Like the other types, you can buy bike that’s specifically designed for women.
Gravel bikes, also known as adventure bikes feature a classic drop handlebar. They look very similar to road bikes, but if you take a closer look, you’ll notice some differences such as knobby tyres that perform well off the beaten trail, higher clearance and extra mounts for accessories like bike lights.
Furthermore, gravel bikes are designed to be ridden in a more upright position for more stability and comfort on rough surfaces. Almost all gravel bikes today come equipped with disc brakes and a wide range of gears. Some models feature rear and front suspension to dampen the impact that comes from riding on rough terrain.
And just like all other bikes, gravel bikes can be tailored towards women by having narrower handlebars and women’s saddles.
Park bikes, as their name implies, are specifically designed with the ability to catch air and perform tricks in skate parks. For as long as bikes have been around, people have been pushing them to the limit.
However, in the past few decades, many cities have built bike and skate parts that provide a special place for these types of bikes to shine. Since they have to withstand a lot of abuse, park bikes are rugged and built with durable components and reinforced frames.
BMX bikes are one such type, and they usually feature 20-inch wheels, which are built from quality materials like steel or aluminium, and have only one brake and gear.
Kids’ bikes were generally cheaper, heavier, BMX-like bikes. However, in the past decade or so, manufacturers have reconsidered their approach, and the end result is a change in the variety and quality of kids’ bikes.
While you may pay more for a kids bike nowadays, you’ll get a nicer product that’s built using parts appropriately sized for children of all ages. That means some models will be lighter, and some manufacturers will offer an upgrade program that provides you with buyback value.
There are many sub-categories of kids bikes, but you should look for models with smaller, quality parts and lighter weight. Weight is the ultimate factor you need to consider when shopping for these bikes, as a kid pushing around a 20-30kg bike won’t be fun.
Furthermore, parts such as crankarms, pedals, brake levers, etc. should be smaller in size to fit your kid’s body. Look for name-brand drivetrain parts and tyres to ensure you get a quality product.