17 Different Cycling Types

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BY James Roland

Contents

Updated on 12/27/2022

Contents

Cycling is an increasingly popular form of transportation and recreation. There are many different types of cycling, each with its own unique benefits and characteristics. This article will explore 17 different cycling types and discuss their advantages.

The list of all cycling types are listed below.

1. Bicycle commuting

What is bicycle commuting?

Woman cycling through the city centre

Woman cycling through the city centre

Bicycle commuting is the use of a bicycle for transportation, primarily for utilitarian purposes. It is an environmentally friendly and healthy alternative to motorized vehicles.

What are the benefits of bicycle commuting?

Bicycle commuting benefits are listed below.

What kind of bike do you need for bicycle commuting?

The type of bike needed for bicycle commuting depends on the terrain, distance, and other factors.

  • A hybrid or city bike: is suitable for short distances on relatively flat terrain.
  • A touring bike: best for longer distances over hilly terrain and can accommodate more cargo.
  • Mountain bike: may be used if there are unpaved roads or trails to traverse.
  • Electric bike: is gaining in popularity for commuting due to their ability to assist with hills and longer distances.
  • Gravel bike: offer upright riding position, leading to a convenient riding for long distance.

2. Mountain biking

What is mountain biking?

Female bike racer going fast at sunset

Female bike racer going fast at sunset

Mountain biking is a type of cycling that takes place on off-road terrain such as mountains, trails, and forests. It is often done for recreation, exercise, or sport.

In che chapter 11: Outdoor Education of the book named “Standards-Based Physical Education Curriculum Development”, mountain biking includes all types of riding done off-pavement, including cross country (XC), all-mountain, downhill, bikepacking, and cycle touring.

What are the benefits of mountain biking?

The benefits of mountain biking are listed below.

What kind of bike do you need for mountain biking?

For mountain biking, a specially designed off-road bike is recommended.

Mountain bikes features are listed below.

  • Wider tires (26, 27.5 or 29 inch diameter tires) with aggressive treads and front/rear suspension to absorb impacts from rough terrain
  • Lower gear ratio for climbing steep hills and traversing obstacles
  • Hydraulic disc brakes for precise control
  • Stronger frames made of wide tubing
  • Platform pedals or clipless pedals with special shoes that engage mechanically into the pedal
  • Flat or upwardly-rising handlebar

What gear do I need for mountain biking?

Some accessories for mountain biking are in the list below:

  • Glasses
  • Shoes
  • Clothing
  • Hydration system
  • GPS system
  • CO2 inflator with cartridge
  • Bike tools
  • High-power lights

3. Downhill mountain biking

What is downhill mountain biking?

Competitors ride their mountain bikes during a race as part of the Raid des Alizes exclusively all-female multi sport competition in the French Caribbean island of Martinique

Competitors ride their mountain bikes during a race as part of the “Raid des Alizes” exclusively all-female multi sport competition in the French Caribbean island of Martinique

Downhill Mountain Biking is a type of mountain biking that focuses on speed and downhill terrain. It typically involves navigating steep, technical trails with jumps, drops and other features while competing against the clock.

This sport has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its exciting blend of thrill-seeking and skillful riding. Racing places are found in many countries, such as Italy, Norway, Sweden, …

What are the benefits of downhill mountain biking?

Downhill mountain biking benefits are given below.

What are Downhill mountain biking equipments?

Downhill mountain biking equipments are listed below.

  • A full-face helmet
  • Padded shorts
  • Gloves
  • Knee guards
  • Elbow pads
  • Front and Rear suspension (20 cm greater than gravel’s rear suspension)
  • Flat sole shoes
  • The highest gear is chain ring (front)
  • The smallest cog is on cassette (rear)

4. Mountain bike racing

What is mountain bike racing?

Ride down a new downhill mountain bike park trail at the Lee Canyon in Las Vegas

Ride down a new downhill mountain bike park trail at the Lee Canyon in Las Vegas

Mountain bike racing (MTB or ATB racing) is a cycling sport in which riders compete over off-road courses on mountain bikes. The courses consist of a variety of terrain, including steep hills and descents, rocks, mud, sand and other obstacles.

Races can take place in either cross country or downhill formats and are typically held over several days with different courses used each day. Mountain bike racing requires a combination of aerobic fitness, technical skills and mental strength to complete the course in the fastest time possible.

Riders need special mountain bikes that are designed to handle off-road terrain with features such as gears for climbing, suspension to absorb shocks and wide tires for better traction on loose surfaces.

What are types of mountain bike racing?

The 15 different mountain bike racing types are given below.

  • Cross-country – Cross-country (XC)
  • Short Track Cross-Country
  • Downhill
  • Super D
  • Freeride
  • Dual Slalom/Dual
  • Four cross – (4X, also known as ‘mountain cross’ or ‘bikercross’)
  • Eliminator – Cross-country eliminator (XCE)
  • Marathon – Marathon (XCM)
  • Enduro
  • Stage Races (XTS)
  • Bike trials
  • Dirt jumping – Dirt jumping (DJ)
  • Mountain bike orienteering (MTB-O or MTBO)
  • 24 hour mountain bike races

5. Road cycling

What is road cycling?

Phillip Atwill (GBR) during UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Val di Sole 2022

Phillip Atwill (GBR) during UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Val di Sole 2022

Road cycling is a type of cycling that takes place on paved roads. It is the most popular form of cycling, with millions of recreational riders taking part in organized races, charity rides and touring events such as century rides.

According to Wikipedia, road bicycles are those “used for racing on the road, whether massed start or individual time trial, including access to specific cycle-paths”.

What is the average age of road cyclists?

According to a survey by Zippia, the average age of road cyclists is 40+ years old. Further information, the majority is male with 71.6% while women only takes 28.4%.

What is a good speed for road cycling?

A good speed for road cycling depends on the terrain and your ability level.

According to Cycling Weekly, a recreational cyclist averages between 10-16 mph while a competitive cyclist can average between 25-30 mph. For long rides on flat terrain, some cyclists may be able to maintain higher speeds of over 20 mph.

What kind of bike do you need for road cycling?

For road cycling, you will need a road bicycle.

These bicycles typically have:

  • Narrow tires with high pressure and smooth surfaces to reduce rolling resistance
  • Handlebars that are bent downwards for better aerodynamics
  • Derailleur gears or single-speed/fixed-gear varieties
  • Disc brakes or rim brakes with short and wide pads specifically designed for road bicycles.
  • The frame is typically made of lightweight materials such as aluminium alloys or carbon fibre.

These features help to make a road bicycle well-suited for cycling on roads and other paved surfaces.

6. Vehicular cycling

What is Vehicular cycling?

Stefano Introzzi (ITA) during UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Val di Sole 2022

Stefano Introzzi (ITA) during UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Val di Sole 2022

Vehicular cycling is a concept in transportation planning which encourages cyclists to ride bicycles as vehicles and obey the same rules of the road as other users.

It is based on the idea that bicycles are legitimate and equal forms of transportation and should be afforded an equal place in urban streets.

This approach contrasts with segregated cycle paths, dedicated bicycle lanes, or other infrastructure that is designed to separate cyclists from other road users.

Vehicular cycling needs to follow rules related to lane controlling, lane sharing, speed and destination positioning, and so on.

7. Freestyle BMX

What is freestyle bmx?

National BMX Freestyle competition in Caracas

National BMX Freestyle competition in Caracas

Freestyle BMX is a form of cycling which involves riding trick-oriented stunts on specially designed BMX bikes. It originated in the early 1970s when riders would experiment with tricks and stunts on their bikes at skateparks.

According to the International Olympic Committee, Freestyle BMX became an official sport in 2017 and would be included in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo 2020. The most common stunts performed on a freestyle BMX bike are jumps, grinds, and spins.  Riders must use balance, timing and coordination to perform their stunts safely.

What are the five disciplines of Freestyle BMX?

According to Wikipedia, The five main disciplines of Freestyle BMX are listed below.

  • Street: involves riding on urban obstacles such as stairs, rails and handrails.
  • Park: includes ramps with various shapes and sizes that require aerial maneuvers like 540s.
  • Vert: requires the use of a ramp with an incline to perform aerial maneuvers.
  • Dirt Jumping: involves riding on dirt mounds and performing tricks in mid-air.
  • Flatland: requires the BMX rider to stay on the ground and use various hand or foot moves.

What kind of bike do you need for freestyle bmx?

You need a sturdy, lightweight BMX bike for freestyle BMX.

8. BMX racing

What is bmx racing?

There is one girl wearing a pink and black uniform, racing on a bmx track. She is wearing a pink and black helmet

There is one girl wearing a pink and black uniform, racing on a bmx track. She is wearing a pink and black helmet

BMX racing is a type of off-road bicycle racing. It is an individual time trial sport on specially designed dirt tracks, ramps, or box jumps. Riders compete in heats, completing as many laps of the course as possible in a given amount of time.

According to the Afghanistan Cycling Federation, BMX racing originated from motocross racing in the late 1960s. Riders use BMX bikes with 20-inch wheels to compete on tracks which usually feature jumps, banked corners, and other obstacles. Races are divided into different categories based on age and experience level.

BMX racing is now an Olympic sport with competitions held during the summer games.

Although BMX racing is a sport for all ages, it has become increasingly popular among younger riders, particularly children. It provides a safe and fun way to get exercise, develop skills and build confidence.

What is the age limit for BMX racing?

There is no set age limit for BMX racing.

The USABMX recommends that children be at least five years old before starting to ride a BMX bike, and those under the age of 18 must have parental consent.

Racers are usually divided by age categories: 6 & Under, 8 & Under, 10 & Under, 12 & Under, 15 & Under and 17 & Over.  However, some tracks may also offer special “novice” divisions for younger riders who are not yet ready to race in the main division.  The age categories may vary depending on the track or league.

What are the basic rules of bmx racing?

The basic rules of BMX racing may vary by track or league, However, here are some general guidelines.

  • Riders must wear proper protective gear such as full-fingered gloves, long pants, eye protection and a helmet that meets safety standards.
  • Riders must ride within their ability level to ensure their own safety and that of their fellow riders.
  • All racers must start from the starting gate, which is usually composed of 8-10 gates depending on the class.
  • Riders are not allowed to block or impede other riders during a race.
  • Intentional contact with another rider is prohibited and will result in disqualification.
  • Riders must stay within the boundaries of the track and not cross into another racer’s lane.
  • After crossing the finish line, riders should slow down and not interfere with other racers on their way back to the staging area.

9. Bicycle touring

What is bicycle touring?

Fans Celebrate Argentina's World Cup Victory In Argentina

Fans Celebrate Argentina’s World Cup Victory In Argentina

Bicycle touring is a form of cycling where riders travel long distances with camping gear and other supplies necessary for an extended journey. It can be seen as a self-supported version of bicycle racing, combining physical ability, endurance, route planning and mental strength.

According to the CBI – Ministry of Foreign Affairs, cycling tours can range from single day outings to multi-week expeditions.

What are types of bicycle touring?

The 8 different bicycle touring types are listed below.

  • Lightweight touring
  • Ultralight touring
  • Fully loaded touring
  • Expedition touring
  • Bikepacking
  • Supported touring
  • Day touring
  • S24O

What kind of bike do you need for bicycle touring?

According to Wikipedia, a touring bicycle is specifically designed for long trips. Also, road bike and hybrid bike are acceptable.

No matters what kind of bike you use, some features must be included:

It has features such as convenient mounting points for luggage racks and water bottles, which make it more suitable for carrying heavier loads over long distances than other types of bicycles.

The frame geometry is also more relaxed than on a racing or mountain bike, allowing the rider to remain comfortable for extended periods of time. Therefore, a touring bike is the most suitable type of bicycle for long distance bike tours.

10. Indoor cycling

What is indoor cycling?

Jordan De Goey of the Magpies is seen on an exercise bike during a Collingwood Magpies AFL training session at AIA Centre

Jordan De Goey of the Magpies is seen on an exercise bike during a Collingwood Magpies AFL training session at AIA Centre

Indoor cycling, also known as spinning, is an aerobic exercise that involves riding a stationary bike or similar equipment. It often includes simulated road events, high intensity intervals and other types of endurance-based workouts. Most classes feature music to help motivate participants, and instructors guide the class through drills and exercises.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of indoor cycling?

According to Chavarrias, Manuel et al. “Health Benefits of Indoor Cycling: A Systematic Review.” Medicina 55 (2019): n. pag. and Wikipedia, the advantages and disadvantages of indoor cycling can be found in the table below.

Advantages Disadvantages
The ability to control the environment Limited range of motion compared to outdoor cycling
No need for special outdoor clothing Lack of fresh air
Easier to maintain an even pace, particularly for beginner cyclists Potential discomfort due to repetitive motion

 

Reduced risk of injury due to controlled conditions Risk of overexertion and injury if proper technique is not followed

 

Easier to measure and track progress Cost may be prohibitive

 

Social interaction if taking a class Usually done alone, requiring pre-registration for classes.

 

Allows for longer workouts in a shorter amount of time.  This is due to the increased intensity of indoor cycling compared with outdoor cycling
Potential to burn more calories due to higher intensity exercise.  This is due to the use of resistance levels on indoor cycles.  The resistance levels can be adjusted allowing for a higher intensity workout.

11. Underwater cycling

What is underwater cycling?

Vittorio Innocente poses after his first world record in immersion with his bicycle at a depth of - 40m

Vittorio Innocente poses after his first world record in immersion with his bicycle at a depth of – 40m

Underwater cycling is a form of exercise which is done in a swimming pool. It involves pedaling underwater on an exercise bike while wearing a specially designed air-filled tank or float vest, typically made of neoprene and other materials.

What are the benefits of underwater cycling?

According to Rewald, Stefanie et al. “Aquatic cycling—What do we know? A scoping review on head-out aquatic cycling.” PLoS ONE 12 (2017): n. pag., the benefits of underwater cycling are listed below

  • Increased respiratory and muscular endurance
  • Relief of joint pain due to low-impact exercises
  • Improved flexibility due to stretching in water
  • Cardiovascular fitness improvements
  • Easier control over speed and intensity while pedaling
  • Increased calorie expenditure compared to land-based cycling. This is due to the increased resistance from the water.
  • Safety benefits due to a monitored environment. The ability for medical staff to monitor an individual in case of an accident is much higher when performing underwater cycling than on land.

12. Enduro (mountain biking)

What is enduro (mountain biking)?

Raewyn Morrison competes during the 2021 Aorere Enduro at Waahi Taakaro Golf Course

Raewyn Morrison competes during the 2021 Aorere Enduro at Waahi Taakaro Golf Course

Enduro mountain biking is a type of mountain bike racing where riders race against the clock in stages that include both uphill and downhill sections. Riders typically ride uphill sections at their own pace but time is taken during the downhill sections. The overall winner is determined by the cumulative time taken for each stage.

13. Mountain bike trials

What is mountain bike trials?

Bike Trials Training Session In Dublin With Alin-Ionut Milian

Bike Trials Training Session In Dublin With Alin-Ionut Milian

Mountain bike trials is a cycling sport in which riders navigate their mountain bikes over obstacles without touching the ground.

Riders must combine balance, strength and finesse to successfully traverse the course. It requires the rider to use techniques such as hopping, wheeling and manuals (balancing on the back wheel) through a series of natural or constructed obstacles.

The key objective is to reach the finish line without putting a foot down or going out of bounds.

14. Dirt jumping

What is Dirt jumping?

Participants during the Dirt Jumping practice, one of many attractions of the 2022 Rzeszow Bike Festival

Participants during the Dirt Jumping practice, one of many attractions of the 2022 Rzeszow Bike Festival

Dirt jumping is a type of mountain biking that involves riding over dirt mounds and other obstacles. It typically requires the rider to build momentum through undulating terrain and then jump from lip to lip or perform aerial tricks off jumps.

The focus is on style, technique and control rather than speed. It can involve performing stunts such as backflips, tailwhips and 360s. Dirt jumping is sometimes referred to as “freestyle mountain biking”.

What kind of bike do you need for dirt jumping?

BMX bike or dirt bike are appropriate.

Dirt jumping typically involves using a hardtail BMX bike or a full-suspension downhill bike.

The important thing is that the bicycle has been modified for dirt jumping with lighter weight components and stronger suspension components.

Some further notes are:

  • Long top tube
  • Single-speed with one brake
  • Using single or dual disc brakes
  • 24-26 inches wheels
  • 80-100 mm travel forks
  • 25-36 tooth chainring
  • 48-spoke rear rim
  • 36-spoke front rim

15. Artistic cycling

What is Artistic cycling?

A man rides his bike without holding the handle-bars along the beach promenade at sunrise. Murals are painted on the wall behind.

A man rides his bike without holding the handle-bars along the beach promenade at sunrise. Murals are painted on the wall behind.

Artistic cycling is a form of competitive indoor cycling in which athletes perform acrobatic maneuvers on specially designed bikes. It involves performing up to four-minute routines that combine elements of balance, strength and coordination while riding the bike.

The performances are judged based on criteria such as difficulty and execution of tricks, execution of combinations, originality, style, choreography and overall impression. Artistic cycling is also known as “stunt riding” or “After School Sports”.

What kind of bike do you need for Artistic cycling?

To participate in artistic cycling, riders need to use a specialized type of fixed gear bicycle with equally sized wheels, shallow drop handlebars and crank arms between 130 and 170 millimeters long.

The handlebar can spin 360 degrees and is mounted to a stem that has no horizontal extension, which allows for the handlebars to remain in the same position regardless of the direction of the front wheel. Handle Grips or bar tape are applied to the top, horizontal portions of the bar.

This type of bicycle is designed to make tricks like wheelies easier to perform.

16. Utility cycling

What is Utility cycling?

Young man standing by electric bicycle using smartphone

Young man standing by electric bicycle using smartphone

Utility cycling is the use of bicycles as a mode of transport for everyday activities such as shopping, commuting to work or school, running errands and going out with friends. It typically involves riding on roads or dedicated bike paths but can also include off-road adventures.

What kind of bike do you need for Utility cycling?

Utility cycling requires a different type of bicycle than traditional recreational cycling.

The utility bicycle is designed for everyday use and long-term durability. It typically has features such as a step-through frame, dynamo lighting, fenders to protect against rain and mud, luggage racks or baskets, hub brakes and wide tires for comfort and stability on roads and paths.

A utility bicycle is usually heavier than a road or mountain bike, but it is the ideal choice for daily commutes and errand running. With its practical features and comfortable ride, utility cycling makes transporting oneself by bike both easy and enjoyable.

17. Track cycling

What is track cycling?

Matthew Richardson celebrates winning the mens Keirin final during day one of the UCI Track Champions League 2022 at Lee Valley VeloPark, London

Matthew Richardson celebrates winning the mens Keirin final during day one of the UCI Track Champions League 2022 at Lee Valley VeloPark, London

Track cycling is a bicycle racing sport usually held on specially built banked tracks or velodromes. It involves individual and team races where riders race around the track in an attempt to achieve the fastest time.

The velodrome’s steeply banked oval track facilitates high speeds, while also requiring riders to have excellent bike handling skills and aerobic endurance.

What kind of bike do you need for track cycling?

To participate in track cycling, riders need to use a specialized type of fixed gear bicycle known as a track bike.

These bikes typically have no brakes and feature a single gear ratio that does not allow for coasting. The frame geometry is different from traditional road bicycles, with the center of gravity lower to the ground and further back, which helps maintain control when leaning sharply into the turns of a velodrome.

Track bicycles also have a shorter wheelbase, deeper drop handlebars and crank arms that are between 130 and 170 millimeters long. This type of bicycle is designed specifically to maximize speed around the tight corners of a banked track.

What are the types of cycling races in the Olympics?

Dutch Mathieu Van Der Poel pictured in action during the men's elite race of the Cyclocross World Cup race in Val di Sole, Italy

Dutch Mathieu Van Der Poel pictured in action during the men’s elite race of the Cyclocross World Cup race in Val di Sole, Italy

At the Olympics, there are four cycling disciplines contested: road racing, track racing, mountain bike and BMX. In detail:

  1. Road races: involve a mass start on closed roads and typically cover distances of 100-250km for men and 80-130km for women.
  2. Track races: consist of individual or team events around an oval track using special fixed gear bicycles.
  3. Mountain bike: races are held on off-road courses with a variety of terrain and obstacles.
  4. BMX racing: involves sprints around an obstacle course featuring jumps, turns and berms.

For the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, two additional events were added:

  1. Madison track cycling for men and women
  2. BMX freestyle park for men and women

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