What Type of Bike Should I Get?
So, you want to buy a bike?
Whether it's for fitness, health or just the general joy of it, buying a bike can be a great way to get around and have some FUN while you do it.
But if you're new to cycling or this is your first time buying a bike as an adult, the range of bikes on offer can be a little overwhelming.
Do you get a touring bike? How about a cyclocross? Or maybe even an electric bike? The choice can be paralyzing.
To help you out, we've put together this guide to help you choose the right bike for your requirements, cycling type and price range.
Follow the simple advice below, and you should be shopping for bikes that are the perfect fit in no time.
Where will you ride?
The first question you need to ask is: "What type of terrain will I be riding on?".
This simple question will cut down the range of bikes on offer to a few simple choices. For example:
From here, read each of the relevant bike types below to find the right bike for your particular circumstance.
Road bikes have handlebars that circle down toward the rear of the bike, skinny tyres and a lightweight frame. All the features of a road bike are designed to make the bike aerodynamic and achieve maximum speed with minimum effort.
The benefits of buying a road bike are that it is quick, efficient and easy to move around. However, the riding position for this particular bike can be uncomfortable and will take some getting used to. It's also worth noting that road bikes are usually expertly designed, meaning they often come with a hefty price tag.
Mountain bikes have either front, back or full suspension shock absorbers, fat mud-tackling tyres and heavy, tough frames. All the features of a mountain bike are designed to tackle rocks, roots and ruts on a dirt trail. Mountain bikes will also come equipped with lower gears to tackle steeper terrain.
The real benefit of a mountain bike can be seen on rough terrain. Now, you might be picturing a young twenty-something crushing rock on a mountain's edge, but even a casual trail rider will appreciate the extra comfort afforded by the front or full suspension. The extra weight also makes the bike a tad more steady and offers the rider a sense of security.
As the name suggests, hybrid bikes are a collision of mountain bike and road bike engineering. Combining the fast wheels and light frame of a road bike, with the comfortable seat and handlebars of a mountain bike, this set up offers you the best of both worlds.
So, maybe you like the sound of a road bike? But you also want the comfort of a mountain bike? If so, then you will love the Hybrid Bike. This bike is particularly great for commuting, allowing you to cover on-road distance but in a comfortable, right-up position.
Touring bikes have handlebars that circle down toward the rear of the bike, a comfortable seat, a "light" weight frame and fatter tyres. They will also come pre-fitted with some additional attachments that allow you to carry extra bags and equipment.
Touring bikes, as the name suggests, are best for long-distance travel. The bike is designed to support heavy loads and the fatter tyres allow you to take on diverse terrain. The downside of this design is that it tends to be quite slow, preferring a gradual steady pace rather the lightning-quick design of a road bike.
All-road bikes have handlebars that circle down toward the rear of the bike, frames with lots of clearance from the ground and 35mm-wide tyres. Your all-road bike may also come pre-fitted with mudguards, pannier racks and hydraulic disk breaks.
The idea behind this bike design is in the name. Yes, this bike can take on all road types. That includes awful tarmac, bridleways, gravel paths, you name it. They also perform quite well in winter weather, allowing you to more easily handle ice, snow and general wet weather.
Cyclocross bikes have fat tyres, drop handlebars, mudguards, panniers and usually come equipped with disc breaks. This is a racing bike, used in the entertaining sport of cyclocross.
If you're interested in purchasing a cyclocross bike, we doubt you'd be reading this article. This bike is usually used by amateur and professional racers or general cycling enthusiasts. That said, if you're looking for a bike that allows an aggressive approach to gravel and bridleways without sacrificing speed, this may be the bike for you.
Singlespeed bikes, as the name suggests, are fixed in one single gear position. They are designed with a rigid, all-in-one frame and come fitted with racing-style slim tyres. Most singlespeed bikes have no freewheel, meaning you always have to pedal if you're moving.
The main benefit of purchasing a singlespeed bike is how easy they are to maintain. This, combined with its ability to maintain high speeds, makes it ideal for commuting. The only major downside is that the fixed-gear position makes it near impossible to ride uphill.
City bikes are "dutch" style, meaning they are designed with a taller frame that allows the rider to sit up straight when riding. City bikes most commonly come with either single speed or three-speed gears, but you will find some city bikes that offer seven gears.
The main benefit of the city bike is the taller frame. This offers greater visibility of the road and more comfort than other bike styles. As the name suggests, it's perfect for riding casually in and around busy cities but is also a popular bike for casual weekend bike rides.
Electric bikes come in either hybrid or mountain bike styles and are built with powerful "pedelec" motors that assist the rider with pedalling. In the UK, electric bikes are limited to 15.5mph on the road and must be "pedal activated". This means you need to pedal to activate the motor.
As you can imagine, the main benefit of an electric bike is how easy it becomes to get around. Fancy getting to work without a sweat? Get an electric bike. Worried your fitness might not cope too well on a regular bike? Get an electric bike. Tough hill to climb on the daily commute? Get an electric bike. The only downside is that the bike needs to be regularly charged and electric bikes do tend to be a little more expensive than regular bikes.
Folding bikes are ideal for commuting if there's a need to combine cycling with public transport. Let's say you get a bus or train as one part of your journey, but then need to cycle two or three miles to your actual workplace. This is where a folding bike can be particularly useful, allowing you to easily complete the additional two or three miles, without having to lug a full-size bike on and off trains in the morning.
So, there you have it. A complete guide on what type of bikes are available and the pros and cons of each. Which one is right for you?
If you need to transport your bike safely, be sure to take a look at out selection of bike racks.