What type of bike do you ride? Do you judge other cyclists riding different bikes (don’t lie, we all do it). How much do you really know about the benefits of other types of bikes? It is easy to get set into a specific riding style, but switching it up can add some excitement to the daily commuting grind. It can also allow you to expand your cycling sphere. Here are our brief thoughts on the different bikes available, and our list of major bike types. Do you think we have it right, or are at least heading in the right direction?
Bike types (the main ones anyway)
A cross between a mountain bike and a road bike.
+ All-rounder, fast-ish, light-ish, good range of gearing and brake options
– Not really exceptional for any one type of riding style.
Pared down version of a geared bike. Geometry can be that of any other bike type
+ Simpler to run and fix, light, more efficient to ride if gear ratio fits terrain, fun
– Only one gear means that you may struggle on ascents and spin out on flats
Single geared bike with no freewheel so the cranks turn with the wheel
+ Even more simple than a regular single speed, very efficient on correct terrain, can be very light
– Hard to get the hang of, only one gear means that you may struggle on varied terrain.
A bike with thin tyres and gearing options designed for tarmac. Geometry tends to be aggressive- low and stretched out.
+ Lightweight and fast. They are efficient on road and can handle hills.
– Generally need adaptation to make them suitable for London streets, don’t usually have mudguard points
Time trial bike
Similar to a road bike, but even more aggressive geometry – made for travelling a set course as fast as possible.
+ Usually very light and very fast
– Very specialist, not for commuting. Very expensive.
These bikes collapse down for easy storage and transport.
+ Smaller wheels means faster acceleration, practical for storage, can be taken on commuter trains and put in taxis
– Good ones are expensive. Over long distances they are less efficient. Must be taken with you, locking not advised!
These bikes are designed for carrying stuff. Lots of stuff.
+ You can use it to pick things up, take your kids to school, etc. The gearing, brakes and frame are all built for purpose.
– They are extremely heavy and large – hard to store. Can be hard to ride and lock up. Very specialist.
Like a bike, but you sit in a chair instead of on a seat. The height off the ground is variable.
+ Very comfortable to ride. Good for people with limited mobility or back problems.
– Awkward riding style for some. Not so good for stop start traffic. Low ones can be very dangerous on the roads.
An upright city bike, the kind often found in European cities being ridden with effortless cool.
+ Can be ridden wearing pretty much any clothing. Generally fairly low maintenance. Comfortable for casual ridding.
– Heavy, not good for getting anywhere at pace
Like a Dutch bike it is upright but has suspension, a big saddle and extensive gearing.
+ Comfortable and can be ridden in most clothing. Usually has mounts for mudguard and rack. Gearing makes hills easy.
– Heavy, lots of parts to maintain, not good for getting anywhere at speed.
Like a comfort or Dutch bike but very relaxed position and very wide tyres
+ Great for casual cycling. Easy maintenance and aluminium frames – good if being left outside.
– Often single speed with coaster brakes, along with wide tyres not good for cycling on tarmac at pace.
Hard tail mountain
A mountain bike with front suspension forks, thick tyres, good brakes and wide handlebars.
+ Wide tyres and front suspension makes it easy over potholes. Gearing and brakes good for anything a city throws
– Suspension and knobbly tyres are inefficient on flat ground. Tend to be a bit heavier.
Full suspension Mountain
A bike with suspension on both wheels, large tyres and low gearing.
+ Tend to have good brakes, very comfortable over rough ground
– Very inefficient on tarmac, heavy, low gearing can mean you spin out at higher speeds. Expensive
Fully rigid mountain
A mountain bike with fixed forks and wheels, a robust frame and thick tyres
+ A strong frame is good for cities. Good gearing and brakes mean you can cover long distances with ease.
– Need to put on thinner tyres for tarmac. They don’t always have mounts for mudguards.
Robust bikes with mounts for racks and mudguards, wide gearing ranges and somewhat upright road geometry.
+ Frames are generally good for potholes. Gearing and rider position make for comfortable city traversing.
– Tend to be heavy. Often handle better with weight on the racks.
Like a road bike but with clearance for wider tyres and a more robust frame. Often used as touring bikes.
+ Often have mounts for mudguards. Good brakes and gearing make city riding easy.
– Heavier than a road bike, tyres can be a bit nobbly for tarmac and so might need changing.
Electric town bikes
Comfort-style bikes with a battery for power assisted peddling.
+ Power assist makes cycling easy. Comfort features such as suspension make potholes easy.
– Very heavy. Batteries sometimes don’t have good a good mileage range. Top speed for assistance is 15mph.
A bicycle built for two. Style can vary from casual through touring and racing.
+ Two powering the bike is more efficient. Can cycle very close to your buddy.
– Hard to store and travel with. Can be heavy. Generally the shorter rider always has to ride at the back.
Pretty similar to a dutch bike or comfort bike but with two rear wheels.
+ Great for riders with mobility issues. Gearing is usually easier to make starting easy.
– Heavy, large to store. They are not very good for going at pace or up big hills.
A tricycle that is powered by hand and arm rather than foot and leg. They are available with full gearing options.
+ Great for those who would not be able to power a different form of bike. Very stable and comfortable to sit in.
– Hard to use if you are not accustomed to powering a vehicle with your arms. Bulky and non-standard for maintenance.
Standard frame, smaller (normally 20″) wheels, these can be built from a variety of frame types, road, hybrid etc.
+ The increased acceleration of smaller wheels, comfort of a bigger frame. Easier to store inside.
– Hard to find good quality ones. Often have non-standard parts. Lose speed on long stretches.
A sturdy bike for performing tricks on. They usually have no brakes and freewheels.
+ Small and generally pretty light, they are easy to store. Good for getting kids into cycling.
– Hard to ride, not good for extensive rides.
Last but not least, the definitely pub bike. Probably not a great idea for the commute though.
+ Social and allows you to work off the carbs while consuming them, therefore highly efficient.
– Heavy, hard to store. Non-standard parts. Disconcerting riding position.
Did I get all the main ones?
Whew, OK, that is as many as I can think of right now. Before anyone says anything, I know there are some slight variations on a road bike depending on intended distance etc (e.g.. an Audax) but that would just be getting silly. Likewise, variations on the number of wheels you put on ie. tandem tricycle. Similarly, children’s bikes tend to just be shrunk down versions of the adults ones.
Are there any major categories or bike types you have seen around or used that you think should be on this list? What is your favourite bike type and how many of the above have you tried out?
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.