Different Types of Bikes and How to Find the Right One

Whether you're new to bicycling, haven’t ridden in a while or are in the market to try something different, your perfect bike is out there.
different types of bikes

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 your wants and need, you can narrow the scope of your bike search.

Different Types of Bikes

Road 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

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.

Hybrid Bikes

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.

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Fixed-Gear/Fixed-Wheel Bikes

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.

Cruisers

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.

Other/Specialty Bikes

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 are difficult to tip over. They can also support heavy loads, making them capable of carrying groceries and other tasks.

different types of bikes

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.

Find the Right Bike for You 

Even after you know 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. When starting up any type of strenuous activity or workout, take it easy on your body, start slow and know that 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.

Once you have the bike, then you need the gear. Shop our Amazon storefront for bike accessories.

Safety First

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.

Which type of bike sounds like your perfect fit? Tell us in the comments below! 

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11 Thoughts on “Different Types of Bikes and How to Find the Right One

    1. I would try to find a local bike store near you – they will most likely have the most different types of bikes to choose from, as well as specialized equipment and accessories. Plus, their employees will be the most knowledgeable about bikes. If that doesn’t work for you, try a major sports or outdoor recreation chain. They will often have a good selection of bikes and at least some expertise to help you out. If you’re comfortable ordering online, Amazon also sells bicycles. That does have some downsides, though: You won’t be able to try the bike “in store” or talk to any salespeople about what bike might be best for you.
      Thanks for reading!
      -Sarah

  1. I am 68 years young and have not ridden in many years. I do have some physical health issues, and am considering a 3 wheeler. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi, Cathy. A 3-wheeler is a great choice. There are adult tricycles like Schwinn Meridian Adult Trikes along with recumbent bikes that allow you sit lower to the ground and lounge back a bit, like Mobo Triton cruisers.

      I hope this helps! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. I would like to know what kind/make of bike the woman is riding in the photo above. Its just what I am looking for.

  3. Electric bikes should be recognized in this article. An excellent selection for seniors with health issues. Electric bikes feature power assist pedaling which allow for an easier and more enjoyable ride experience.

    1. Hi Andrew! We mention electric bikes under “specialty bikes” but that is a great added point about being a good choice for seniors. Thank you for reading. -MM

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