The bike world is vast, and it is difficult to pick a suitable bike when you are a complete newbie. Do you know where to start on this journey?
It is to learn about bike classification. Once you get to know different types of bicycles, you will understand the defining characteristics as well as purposes of each type. Then, choosing a bike for yourself is no longer such a hard task.
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A Detailed Guide to the Types of Bikes
The most common way to categorize a bike is probably to look at its main riding purpose, for example commuting, touring or simply for entertainment. In this guide, I will add the terrains as another criteria to group the types of bike more precisely.
Check out the main bike types below.
A typical road bike features drop handlebars, which curve back down towards the riders in a low position.
Also, road bikes are known to possess a lightweight frame, skinny tires, as well as a high gear ratio. It means the gears are installed to help you speed up if you want to.
For more information, you can check out this video about Road Bike:
|Rider Height||Suggested Frame Size|
|Feet and Inches||Centimeters||Centimeters||Descriptive Sizing|
|4’1’’ - 5’0’’||148 - 152||47 - 48||XXS|
|5’0’’ - 5’3’’||152 - 160||49 - 50||XS|
|5’3’’ - 5’6’’||160 - 168||51 - 53||S|
|5’6’’ - 5’9’’||168 - 175||54 - 55||M|
|5’9’’ - 6’0||175 - 183||56 - 58||L|
|6’0’’ - 6’3’’||183 - 191||58 - 60||XL|
|6’3’’ - 6’6’’||191 - 198||61 - 63||XXL|
This is a typical road bike sizing chart for you to refer to. Note that the exact numbers can be more or less in reality.
The road bike is equipped with every essential feature to achieve lightning speed on the road. For example, the handlebars are lightweight and offer more aerodynamics as you have to lean forward while riding.
Also, the frame geometry and thin tires allow for efficient transmission of energy to push the bike forward. In other words, it does not take much effort to ride a road bike fast.
Of course, a road bike rides best on the roads. In fact, this type of bike can perform well on any path that is smoothly paved.
As mentioned above, road bikes are the best when it comes to riding on smooth pavements with speed and efficiency. As an added perk, the lightweight frame makes it great for a wide variety of purposes, from daily commuting to touring and fitness riding.
But I do not recommend a road bike for those who want to take it off the road. It can be dangerous if you insist on riding road bikes on bike trails or icy roads since the skinny tires cannot handle these surfaces.
When choosing a road bike for your needs, you may want to look at these subtypes.
Aero: Its frame tubes and wheels are able to reduce drag to minimum for optimal speed. Therefore, this type of road bike is meant for time-trialing or racing.
Endurance: The endurance road bike is to serve riders who sometimes look for an adventure off the beaten track. It is designed with slightly wider tires than typical road bikes, and some shock-absorbing technologies to handle more roads other than smooth ones.
Touring: A touring bike is known for its comfort and carrying capacity. You can recognize touring bike types seeing long wheelbases, stable steering, and some accessory mounts to keep bags and racks in long-distance rides.
For more information, you can check out this video about Good Touring Bike:
All-road: This is a relatively new style of bike that combines road and gravel bikes. It uses a traditional frame geometry, wide tires (around 38mm wide), and an efficient riding posture.
Defining Characteristics: The mountain bike (MTB) is best identified by its two-inch or wider tires, wide-range drivetrains, and wide, flat handlebars. About the wheel size, mountain bikes typically feature either 27.5-inch diameter or 29-inch diameter wheels.
In fact, you can sometimes come across mountain bikes with 26-inch diameter wheels, but these wheels are not optimal as the other two. That is why they are rapidly disappearing from the market.
|Rider Height (inches)||Rider Height (cm)||Suggested Frame Size (inches)||Suggested Wheel Size|
|4’10’’ - 5’3’’||147cm - 160cm||13’’ - 14’’||26’’|
|5’4’’ - 5’7’’||160cm - 170cm||15’’ - 16’’||26’’|
|5’5’’ - 5’9’’||165cm - 175cm||16’’ - 17’’||27.5’’|
|5’9’’ - 6’0’’||175cm - 183cm||17’’ - 18’’||27.5’’|
|6’0’’ - 6’3’’||183cm - 190cm||18’’ - 19’’||29’’|
|6’1’’ - 6’6’’||190 - 200cm||19’’+||29’’|
Take a look at this mountain bike sizing chart so that you can choose the right bike based on height.
The mountain bike is not optimized for speed and efficiency. Its speed is on average and of course, cannot compare to a road bike. But in off-road conditions, you may want to prioritize safety first.
Mountain bikes are available for virtually any road condition except for smooth pavements. It means you can ride a mountain bike on unpaved roads, bike trails, and even goat-path single tracks.
But if you want to challenge technical trails, you need to invest in more rear suspension.
A MTB is meant for riding narrow, rough, dirt bike trails, or anything off-road in general. In other words, it is the best to handle a number of road conditions, not to mention the fact that it is really durable and long-lasting.
Within the mountain bike category, there are some subtypes as follows.
Hardtail: As its name might already suggest, this type of MTB is often designed with suspension forks in the frame.
Trail Full Suspension: The suspension here is mid-travel (120-150mm) that offers efficiency when either ascending or descending. Also, the tires and brake rotors are wider than normal mountain bikes.
Gravity Full Suspension: You can expect aggressive tire treads as well as powerful brakes in this type of bike. It is probably the ideal bike for descending from anywhere, especially on steep terrains.
Defining Characteristics: Also known as adventure bikes, gravel bikes boast classic drop handlebars with wide, knobby tires. A typical gravel bike comes with additional mounts so that you can keep some accessories such as a bottle cage.
Also, adventure bikes have wide-range gears and disc brakes for climbing steep trails.
Like MTBs, gravel bikes are not meant for riding fast on the roads. It is more of something that offers comfort while challenging off-road paths.
You can take a gravel bike anywhere, from smooth to unpaved roads, from city streets to bike trails on the mountains. This type of bike is much like a go-anywhere machine.
Gravel bikes are an all-around option that can serve the needs of almost all riders. You can buy a gravel bicycle if you often join bike tours that include many road conditions, or you want to ride all year round.
Apart from the normal gravel bikes, there are some following subtypes:
Cyclocross: A cyclocross bike is an adventure bike tailored for racing. It offers sharper frame geometry and a more aggressive handle. Accessory mounts are still available, but only for two bottle cages.
For more information, you can check out this video about Gravel Bike:
Bikepacking: This is generally considered as the extreme version of the common adventure bikes. It boasts 29×2-inch diameter tires and many mounts for accessories.
Defining Characteristics: Fitness or comfort bikes are a wide category that consists of many subtypes. That is why comfort bikes do not have specific defining characteristics, but you can find them in the subtypes.
For more information, you can check out this video about Fitness Bike:
Specific types of fitness bikes will fit particular conditions. For example, the beach cruiser is meant for riding on the sand.
The fitness bike is a flexible choice for anyone, and I advise you to look at the subtypes to make the best decision.
There are a lot of subtypes in the fitness bike category.
Fitness: Like a road bike, the fitness bike strives to give you more efficiency on the road, but without the aggressive leaning-forward riding position.
In contrast, you will use the flat handlebars for more comfort. The lightweight frames and slick tires remain the same.
Comfort: This type of bike is marked by the cushioned seats and an upright position, both of which offer riders the ultimate comfort anytime they hop on the bike.
Hybrid: As its name suggests, the hybrid bike is the one you get when combining a mountain bike with a road bike.
Hybrids inherit the wide-range gearing, flat handlebars, and upright rider posture from the MTB, while featuring slick, fast-rolling tires like the road bike. Some hybrid bikes come with suspension as well.
For more information, you can check out this video about Hybrid Vs Road Bike:
Cruiser: In fact, the cruiser bike can also be categorized as a fat bike. It features a swoopy frame with fat tires, along with chopper-style handlebars. It is built for cruising on the beach, or riding leisurely around the town.
Defining Characteristics: Utility bikes refer to any bike built for utility rather than entertainment. Like the comfort bike, this is a broad range that encompasses many types and styles of bikes.
Utility bikes are the right kind to pick if you do not ride a bike for pure fun. From commuting, running errands, to taking your kids to school, there must be a utility bike that serves your needs.
Take a look at the subtypes to learn more about utility bikes now.
Commuter: This is similar to a road bike with efficient and fast-rolling tires, but you will ride a commuter bike in an upright position for more comfort and visibility in urban spaces. In addition, the powerful disc brakes allow you to stop safely.
Cargo: Pick a cargo bike if your main goal is to transport stuff from one place to another. Long-tail cargo bikes have an extended wheelbase along with built-in racks for large loads. Meanwhile, front-load bikes feature a spacious bin for bulky loads.
Folding: Space is a serious concern in urban environments, and the folding bike is designed with space in mind. It is foldable via couplings or lockable hinge, thereby saving much space in tight areas.
For more information, you can check out this video about Folding Bikes:
Typically, folding bikes also come with small wheels that facilitate fast disassembly and assembly. And more interestingly, the small folding bike often offers cargo capacity so that you can carry loads when riding.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Which is the best type of bicycle?
A: There is no exactly best type of bike, but the right type of bike for your purposes. It means you need to consider your needs carefully before choosing the best bike for your own. That is not to mention the bike price range and budget you have.
Q: Generally, how many types of bicycles are there?
A: It largely depends on how you categorize bicycles. For example, the cruiser can be both a fat bike and a fitness bike.
Q: Are the differences between different bike types big?
A: Yes and no. Again, it depends on how you categorize these types of bike. A road bike and a mountain bike can be poles apart, but a road bike and a commuting bicycle is not that different.
Q: Does bike weight matter?
A: Bike weight is not a serious thing, but it does make a difference in some scenarios. For example, a folding bike should be as lightweight as possible since you may want to disassemble and carry it with you.
Q: What is the most comfortable bike to ride?
A: Look around the comfort bike category and you may find some bikes that fit your needs. Recumbent bicycles are also a good type to take into consideration as it offers a full-size seat coupled with a backrest.
The Bottom Line
There you have it! I have categorized different types of bicycles above, and I hope the big picture of the bike world is clearer to you now. Knowing the type of bike will help you make a quick and well-informed decision when choosing the best bike for yourself.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to leave it in the comment section.
Thank you for reading.