When looking into different types of bikes, the number and variation of makes, models, subcategories and crossovers can be a little overwhelming.
To find the right bike for you, the first step is to assess the kind of riding you’ll be doing. Consider how and where you plan to use your bike. Will you be traversing dirt or woodland trails, biking around community streets or using it to commute? Once you know what you want/need a bike for, you can narrow the scope of your search.
Different Types of Bikes
As the name implies, road bikes are best suited for pavement. They tend to be fairly light compared to other bikes and feature smooth, thin tires and “drop” handlebars that bend down. Subcategories of road bikes include cyclocross and touring bikes, which are good for racing and long-distance riding.
Mountain bikes have wider, treaded tires and suspension that absorbs shock, making them perfect for off-road biking on rugged trails and gravel paths. These bikes are for adventurous riders looking to take on unpaved trails.
Somewhat of a middle-ground between road and mountain bikes, hybrids are suited for both pavement and moderate dirt/gravel roads. The stability and comfort of these general-purpose bikes make them popular among a variety of riders.
Also called a “fixie,” this bike is the standard for track racing, though it’s becoming popular among urban cyclists as well. Fixed-gear bikes are not for novice riders, since they require constant pedaling and typically have only front brakes – or no brakes at all.
Similar to hybrid bikes, cruisers offer a comfortable, casual riding experience. These single-speed bikes aren’t very fast, but their “balloon” tires, upright seating position and durability make them easy to ride.
Although there are many more types of bikes, some modern favorites are folding bikes, electric bikes and adult tricycles.
Folding bikes are popular for their compact-ability, making them easy to transport and store. Electric bicycles, or e-bikes, have small motors to assist with pedaling and propulsion. Adult tricycles are a great option for older bike-enthusiasts and people with disabilities, since they are easy to ride and won’t tip over. They can also support heavy loads, making them capable of carrying groceries and other tasks.
Benefits of Bicycling
There are many benefits to bike riding. First, bikes are one of the most eco-friendly modes of transportation. Once they’re on the road, bikes produce zero emissions and require relatively low maintenance.
“Increasing pedestrian and bicycling trips, with a corresponding decrease in automobile trip lengths, by as little as 1 to 3 miles on average, can have a significant effect on both emissions and fuel consumption,” according to the Adventure Cycling Association.
When it comes to individual health benefits, biking is a good aerobic and muscle-building workout while also being low-impact on joints. These days, in light of the pandemic, people are biking to get exercise and enjoy some fresh air while also following social distancing guidelines.
Find the Right Bike for You
Once you have an idea of which type of bike you want, there are still some variations when it comes to finding the perfect fit.
Many bikes come in different frame sizes – like small, medium, large, etc. – based on a rider’s height, weight or both. Seat height and angles can also be adjusted.
You should feel comfortable riding your bike. Although, if this is your first time on a bike, or the first time in a while, some soreness can be expected. “After participating in some kind of strenuous physical activity, particularly something new to your body, it is common to experience muscle soreness,” according to WebMD.
Like the beginning of any new workout, flexing lesser-used muscles gets easier with repetition. If soreness persists or worsens, you may need to make some adjustments to your seat, replace it altogether or invest in some athletic attire suited for cycling.
Whether you’re looking for a bike to exercise or simply get out of the house, it’s important to keep safety in mind while bike riding. Always wear a helmet, follow the rules of the road and stay hydrated to make the most of your excursion.
AAA members can rest assured knowing AAA Northeast offers 24-hour roadside assistance for your bike, too! The free service is available to all members. Learn more.
AAA members can save on bike rentals, guided bike tours, and guided walking tours with Unlimited Biking.
Which type of bike sounds like your perfect fit? Tell us in the comments below!