A bicycle, also known as a bike, is a human-powered (sometimes motor-powered), pedal-driven, single-track vehicle that has two wheels attached to the frame. The two-wheeler evolved and improved. Several innovations took place and that led to us seeing the different types of bikes that exist today.
The bicycle evolved in the 19th century and in 1817, a German baron, also known as Karl Von Drais made the first major attempt by creating a steerable, two-wheeled contraption.
Later, at the beginning of the 1860s, several French inventors, including Pierre Lallement, Pierre Michaux, and Ernest Michaux, developed antecedents with pedals attached to the front wheel.
Later, inventors like Eugene Meyer and James Starley introduced a new model that sported an oversized front wheel.
At the beginning of the year 1884, an Englishman, Thomas Stevens rode a high-wheeler bike on a journey around the world. While the high-wheeler brought the idea of cycling, it became too dangerous for riders because of its four-foot-high saddle which finally changed a year later in 1885 when John Kemp Starley perfected a safety bicycle, a design that featured equal-sized wheels and a chain drive.
The inducement in the two-wheeled machines flared by the 1890s. Europe and the United States of America were amid the bicycle craze.
Just some of the content in this article discusses;
- Road bikes
- Hybrid bikes
- Fixed bikes
- Touring bikes
- Recumbent bikes
- Folding bikes
- Cargo bikes
- Fitness bikes
The Different Types Of Bikes
Many new cyclists always rush to get mountain bikes simply because they are more popular and common on the roads. This article is going to dig deeper into the types of bicycles based on the activity they are for.
When one is trying to choose a good bicycle from the best bike brands, it’s always good to buy a bike for the kind of activity or the purpose you want it for.
Road bikes are types of bikes designed for fast and smooth riding on smooth pavements.
It has smooth, skinny tires, and drop handlebars. Road bikes can be used for on-road racing and are usually lighter than other bikes.
Road bikes are not capable of carrying heavy loads but are good for long distances as their wheels are lightweight and are also fast. Here are some categories of road bikes;
- Sportive Road Bikes; Sportive Road bikes are intended for circumstances where comfort in endurance is important than speed.
- Race Road Bikes; This type of road bike is designed to be as fast, light, and as durable as possible. It is also equipped with high-tech components to give accurate shifting and braking.
- Aero Road Bikes; Aero road bikes are designed to have aerodynamic features compared to other road bikes. They have a low position and they sacrifice comfort to achieve it. Are best for high-ranking athletes.
- Recreational or Fitness Road Bikes; Recreational or fitness road bikes are all about speed and comfort. They are often preferred by riders who use their bikes to go from point A to point B with comfort and speed.
- All-road bikes; This bike is a bridge between pure roads and gravel bikes. They come with bigger tires.
- Ultralight; This bike is made for long climbs. They strip weight by using light materials and are not good for all-around use.
Mountain bikes are types of bikes that are rugged and are the most popular form of cycling. It’s designed for riding rough off-road trails. In addition, mountain bikes have flat handlebars and low gear ranges for pedaling up steep trails.
They also have shock absorbers, suspensions, and wide knobby tires that make them more functional on narrow dirt trails.
Mountain bikes are outfitted for use as touring bikes or commuting bikes. Mountain bikes can virtually go anywhere, but are heavier than road bikes and are slow on pavements. Here are some subtypes of mountain bikes.
- Cross-country; Is designed to be ridden anywhere from city streets and it’s meant for fast trails. Cross-country is also available in hard full-suspension or rigid frame and it is also preferred for its fast zippy riding quality.
- Trial Mountain Bikes; Trial Mountain bike is one of the most popular all-rounder mountain bikes. It has comfortable seats which make short or long riding efficient.
- Enduro Mountain Bike; Enduro MTB can handle quite a lot. They have a speed drivetrain, fully adjustable suspension, and slack geometry.
- Mullet Bikes; This is the type of Mountain bike with mixed wheel sizes.
- Downhill Mountain Bikes; Are designed to take the most extreme conditions and shred hard. Downhill MTB are the most expensive, the lightest, and the toughest Downhill bikes. It has exclusive Mountain bike technologies, from advanced suspensions to good frames that make it easy for you to control.
- Hardtail Mountain Bike; Hardtail bikes have a suspension fork on a rigid frame. They are also the cheapest and affordable bikes in this category.
- XC Full Suspension; They have a shorter travel rear suspension design to prioritize low brake weight.
Hybrid bicycles are the types of bikes that combine different characteristics from more specialized bicycles, like road bikes, touring bikes, and mountain bikes.
This bike was originally designed to give the advantage of both the road bike and mountain bikes.
It is a general-purpose bike whose tires can handle a wide range of riding conditions. Hybrid bikes are ideal for both paved and unpaved bike trails. Hybrid bikes have disc brakes for responsive and impressive braking.
They also have a medium width with a semi-smooth tread to provide a smooth ride on pavement. Most of the hybrid bikes have front suspension to smooth out small bumps, but some are fully rigid.
Hybrid is more popular with cyclists, casual riders, children, and commuters because of its comfort, stability, and ease of use. Here are some categories of hybrid bikes.
- Trek Hybrid Bikes; They are versatile and are easy to ride. They are proved to be light, comfortable, and durable.
- CTY1.1 Step-Through; It has a low standard height, which makes it easy to straddle with both feet flat on the ground. CTY1.1 Step-Through hybrid bike is also fast and light.
- Sirius X4.0; Goes very fast on pavements. It has wide tires and suspension that help it to absorb the bumps. It’s the cheapest hybrid bike with suspension.
- Cannondale-Bad Boy; Is the toughest and unique hybrid bike. It has a Lefty-Rigid fork for fast riding.
- Utility Hybrids; Utility hybrids make the best touring bike mostly on tarmac ground. They are designed to be tough and can also carry heavy loads.
- Dual-Sport Hybrid; This is the type of hybrid that is designed for riders who want the multi-surface versatility of hybrid bikes.
Cyclocross bikes are types of bikes designed to be used on a mixed surface course, for example, around dirt trails. They have treaded tires designed for better grip in off-road conditions.
Cyclocross bikes also have drop handlebars, just like regular road bikes. This bike has super lightweight but also tough and sturdy. Types of Cyclocross bikes.
- Nature Cross Geared; It is a stylish steel ride for someone who is looking for something new or different.
- Energize Evo eTap AXS Cyclocross Bike; This one is a new approach to Cyclocross geometry.
Fixed Gear Or Single-Speed Bikes
Fixed Gear (fixes) or Single-Speed bike is mostly used by racers or athletes who are training for professional races. Fixies contain a single fixed gear that doesn’t provide the ability to coast without turning the pedals, this is where Fixies differ from Single-Speed bikes which have a freewheel cog that will require one to have one caliber brake that will help you to stop the bike.
This bike has no brakes, but it has dropped handlebars. Since fixies have minimal parts with no derailleurs, shifters, and cables, they are often the cheapest type of bike in the market.
Fixies and Single-Speed bikes are significantly lighter than 9-speed all-terrain bikes and are made from lightweight steel and thin slick tires.
Cruiser bikes are modeled for casual riding positions. They have a very comfortable upright riding position, and also a very comfortable seat that allows for a relaxed sitting position. Cruiser bikes are designed with inexpensive materials and often have a single-speed drivetrain with a simple coaster brake.
Theses types of bikes also have wide balloon tires and upright handlebars and it can only be used for a leisurely ride since it can only go for short-distance rides, are not good for commuters as they are heavy and seldom have rack mounts.
Cruisers come with fun extra fenders, kickstands, and baskets and are most popular on the beachside, hence the name “Beach Cruiser.” They are fun and come in pretty good colors and an enormous design.
Touring bikes are designed to be comfortable for long-distance riding. They come with longer wheelbases and stable steering, which is engineered to give more control and confident handling to cyclists.
The bikes also have disc brakes which provide them with enhanced stopping power. They have wide semi-knobby tires that are designed to handle gravel roads.
Touring bikes are usually built for longevity and durability since they are allowed for carrying loads. They also include lots of bosses for adding racks and cages for carrying gear.
Fat Tire Bikes
Fat tire bikes are designed for low ground pressure to allow riding on soft, unstable terrain. They have extra-wide tires that allow them to roll through snow or sand.
This bike has the same gearing systems and handlebars. They are built around frames with wide forks.
The fat tire bike is not ideal for fast cycling on a hard surface and should be used on sand and snow and are also capable of traversing diverse terrain but can also be used for traditional mountain biking although they are heavier and slower than the standard mountain bikes.
Recumbent bikes are the type of bikes that have a low design and full-size seat with a backrest and allow the cyclist to sit in a laid position while cycling. It’s considered much safer than the other types of bikes.
It has different features like short wheelbases, two to four-wheelers, under-seat steering, over-seat steering, front-wheel drive, no hard steering, and wheel sizes.
Most recumbent bikes are used on roads, but some can also be used on unpaved bike trails. They are good for those cyclists who are experiencing back pains and knee pains when cycling or when you just want a bike that is comfortable and gives a completely different experience.
Recumbent bikes are more expensive than regular bikes because of the technology, time, and effort that goes when making them and are also more difficult to pedal up hills and can be a challenge to carry from one place to another.
Tandem bikes are those types of bicycles designed for two people and since they are for two, they are often built with reinforced frames to handle the extra weight.
This bike comes in different styles, from mountain tandem bike, cruiser tandem bike, to hybrid tandem bike, but it is generally a road bike.
Tandem bikes allow riders of different abilities to work together and enjoy a ride, are fun and good for riding with children, persons with disabilities, and couples who would like to ride together.
Folding bikes are the types of bikes that fold up just like their name suggests. This bike has adjustable functions on frames, handlebars, and saddle, which allows an easy folding frame and also adjustable latches that help the bike fold easily.
These bikes are easily transportable and storable and have smaller wheels that make it easy for the bike to get over potholes and also make it trickier to deal with.
Folding bikes are ideal for those who want to travel with their bikes.
BMX bikes are single-speed bikes raced around short dirt tracks.
It consists of small frames, single gear and is designed for either racing or leisure. The BMX bikes are usually popular with kids just because of their small size, but can also be used by grown-ups who will like to ride with their children.
Cargo bikes are designed and constructed for transporting and carrying heavy and large loads for longer distances.
They are great for city riding and can also replace a car. This type of bike can carry lots of stuff.
Cargo bikes come in different shapes and sizes.
- Cycle truck; This is the type of cargo bike with a smaller front wheel than the rear wheel to accommodate large baskets.
- Long John; It has an extended front flatbed cargo loader.
- Long-tail; It has a large rear rack built over a small back wheel.
- Bakfiets; Backfiets have a front cargo hold over a small front wheel.
Cargo bikes are generally a good investment because they are economically and environmentally efficient when compared to other bikes.
City Bikes/Urban Bikes
City bikes, which are also called “Dutch bikes” because they resemble the other types of bikes, are those bikes that have some of the characteristics of both hybrid bikes and cruiser bikes. They usually have the upright position of the cruiser bike and its wheel size is like those of hybrid bikes.
City bikes are designed to be ride primarily in urban areas, this is because the quality of the components and comfort levels are suited for the city, are intended for commuting around town.
It has 26” wheels, rim brakes, and smooth tires that are not too wide and provide an easy ride on the city roads.
This bike comes with several accessories like the fenders, racks, a basket, built-in generator and lights for safety when riding during the night, dynamo hub, skirt guard on the rear wheel, internally geared rear hub that makes it easy for users and to maintain, and much more.
City bikes have a soft and cushiony curved handlebar that is positioned higher than the saddle and they are very affordable, offer low maintenance, and are also quick-rolling bikes.
Fitness bikes are designed for riders who want a light and high-performance bike. They have lightweight frames and narrow slick tires for efficiency on the pavement with flat upright handlebars for a more comfortable rider position. Some have wide tires, which makes them suitable for use on unpaved bike trails.
They are built for fun and some come with different versions, like the women’s versions which have different touchpoints. Fitness bikes emphasize road-like bike efficiency with no aggressive position.
This bike also can mount cargo racks and fenders, which makes it a good commuting bike.
Gravel bikes are lightweight racing bikes that are designed to be used on mild off-road terrains like country lanes, and smooth singletrack, have drop handlebars, and also have the ability to use wider tires.
They have specific frame geometry that makes them comfortable for long-distance riding on loose, rocky ground.
This type of bike has thicker, stronger frame materials that are modeled to handle the abuse of hard rocky terrain.
Some gravel bikes are designed for racing with lightweight frames, thick road tires with a medium tread that makes them feel much more comfortable on pavements.
Triathlon bikes are wind-turned optimized bikes that combine aero performance with a smart design. It is the convergence of training, mindset, and equipment.
This bike is the fastest compared to other bikes and is made from carbon. The triathlon bike is designed for athletes who are getting their first real dedicated triathlon bike.
They also have all brakes and rear cables which are routed through the tubes. The rider’s seat is low and extended over the bike.
Electric Bikes/ E-Bikes
E-bikes are compelled by both riders and small electric motors or the powered battery that can help a cyclist uphill or speed up when riding long distances.
Electric bikes have a special frame designed to accommodate motors which are integrated into the bottom bracket between the cranks.
They are designed for everyone, but especially those with physical limitations or those who would like to cycle less and the bike to do more.
It makes riding simple, and it is described as a standard road bike with a motor in the rear hub and battery. They come in different classes, which includes;
- The pedal assists; Are the most common type of E-bike. It requires the rider to pedal to operate.
- Throttle; They have a powerful motor that propels the bike without the need for pedaling.
- Speed pedals; They are just the same as pedal-assist bikes but they don’t have strict speed restrictions.
Kids’ bikes are those bikes that are designed for small riders. They are typically cheap, heavy BMX-style models. The most common type of kids’ bike is the balance bike.
The balance bike is a two-wheeled bike without pedals, gears, and brakes. It allows the kids’ feet to keep firmly on the ground and push to get going. It is ideal for beginners.
Track bikes are stripped-down machines that are designed for a special use in velodrome racing. They have stiff frames, narrow tires, a single gear that does not freewheel, they have no brakes.
Flat Foot Comfort Bikes
Flat foot comfort bikes are those bikes with an elongated frame, a design that pushes the pedals a few inches forward of the seat and also allows cyclists to ride with the seat low, they also have wide tires for flotation and traction for use on sand and snow.
They have flat foot technology and you will still get the full extension of your legs while pedaling.
Park bikes are made for various uses. They are designed for use in groomed terrain like bike part trails or skate parks and are great at catching big air.
They have to stand up to repeated hand landings, are rugged, built with reinforced frames, and all components meant to take abuse.
Women’s bikes have been designed with a lower-top tube that accommodates long dresses.
It comes in a slightly smaller selection of sizes, has saddles with a hollow center. They are also designed with different patterns and colors that are believed to appeal to female riders.
Dual sport bikes are oriented for riders who want the multi-surface versatility of hybrid bikes and most have front suspension.
These bicycles have upright handlebars, smaller and more performance-oriented seats, and are good commuting bikes and also for touring on unpaved bike trails.
Bike Types Guide for Beginners: 10 Need-to-Know Facts
- Choosing a bike based on the activity you want it for is recommended, but buying a bike just because you like the way it looks is fine too.
- The main categories of bike types based on activity are road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrid/commuter bikes, gravel road bikes, folding bikes, electric bikes, touring bikes, women’s bikes, and kids bikes.
- Road bikes are designed for efficient cycling on tarmac roads, with a lightweight frame, skinny tires, drop handlebars, and a high gear ratio.
- Mountain bikes are designed for off-road trails, with wide, knobbly tires for traction and a wide range of gears.
- Hybrid/commuter bikes are a mix of road and mountain bikes, with flat handlebars, versatile geometry, and tires that can be changed for different terrains.
- Gravel road bikes are similar to road bikes, but with drop handlebars and clearance for knobblier tires.
- Folding bikes can be folded up into a compact size for easy storage and transport, but are not ideal for off-road or fast riding.
- Electric bikes have a battery and motor to assist with pedaling, making them heavier but allowing riders to go further with less effort.
- Women’s bikes have smaller and lighter frames, shorter top tubes, and narrower handlebars designed for female riders.
- Kids bikes come in a range of sizes and styles for boys and girls of all ages.
Types Of Bikes – Final Thoughts
When you are trying to get one of the best bikes to go for, always consider asking yourself some of these questions, who do you want to ride with, and what do they like to ride?
So, if in any case, you were wondering which bike fits your choice and interest, this article has provided valuable and informative guides that will give you guidelines on which bike fits your choice.
However, when you are going to get one of the bikes, remember that it’s good to go for that one bike that you need and that one that fits your requirements.
For instance, you don’t need to go for gravel bikes if you want or if you are planning to ride on trails, instead go for mountain bikes.