Everyone always says “I know what I need”, but there’s a bike out there for every purpose!
When considering your new purchase, you should first consider the type of riding you would do and where most of it will be done. Check our individual categories below for more detail on the different types of bikes and their applications.
Mountain bikes use knobby, wide tires for better traction and stability. Many feature front suspension, shock absorbing forks on the front end to smooth out rough trails and terrain. Mountain bikes usually come with three chainrings in the front and eight or nine gears on the rear wheel, for a total of 24 or 27 speeds. The three chainrings on the front allow for more gear choices for easier pedaling on steep, difficult hills. Some mountain bike designs also use rear suspension, which allows the rear wheel to move and smooth out bumps for added comfort and control. Mountain bikes without suspension are available for less aggressive riding on smooth surfaces. These rigid bikes are generally lighter, and less expensive than their suspended cousins are. However, the more expensive suspension mountain bikes weigh even less than the cheaper “hard tail” version. Lower weight equals higher cost and that’s a decision you’ll have to be comfortable with.
Road bikes are light, sleek and built for covering mega-miles on smooth pavement, with surprising speed. The tires are thinner than hybrid or mountain styles, which make them faster and somewhat less stable to newer riders. If you haven’t shopped for a road bike in a while, you will be amazed by the advances of the past decade. The biggest benefit to a new road bike is the integrated shifter and brake levers. This revolutionary advancement allows you to change gears and put on the brakes without moving your hands from the brake levers. Road bikes designed for casual and pleasure riding use a triple chainring in the front, with nine cogs on the rear wheel, allowing wider gear ranges for steep hills. Bicycles geared for performance riding and racing usually feature two chainrings up front and nine gears in the rear, because racers require higher gears for competition. The curved handlebars of the road bike offer more hand positions, and a lower, more aerodynamic position than a mountain bike and may take some getting used to. These newer bikes have almost nothing in common with that old 10 speed that might still be down in your basement. The investment in a newer road bike is well worth the investment and will re-invent the world of cycling if you’re trying to re-establish yourself.
A hybrid bike is the Sport Utility Vehicle of the bicycle world. It is essentially a mountain bike with larger wheels (700cc, same size as a road bike) and narrower tires. The idea is that the larger wheels and narrower tires enable you to travel more efficiently over longer distances while still being stable and worthy of the occasional jaunt on an unpaved fire road or non-technical singletrack. Hybrid bicycles are perfect if you are looking for the comfortable upright position and multiple gear selections offered by a mountain bike and the smooth efficiency of a road bike. If you’re a causal cyclist, check out the Hybrid style bike.
Comfort and cruiser bikes are built for recreational riding, generally on bike paths, over flat terrain. Tires can be very wide and soft, as on a “beach cruiser,” but are usually a smoother version of a mountain bike tire. Comfort bikes have an upright position, unlike a racing bike on which the rider is crouched to slice through the wind. Many comfort bikes include shock-absorbing seats and suspension seat posts which help to make the ride as cushy as possible. Weight is less of an issue, and many cyclists add rear-view mirrors, lights, panniers for carrying items, and reflective tape to their comfort bikes. The theme of this style is comfort.
A folding bicycle is a bicycle that folds for convenient storage and portability. With a folding bike, one can extended the functionality of the bicycle because you can go anywhere you want, and your bike can go with you, whether you ride the entire way or go part of the way by bus, train, car, boat or plane.