10 Types Of Bicycles: Picking The Right Type of Bike For You

There is a bike for every person and every situation. You may be aware of some of them, but there may be some you have not come across yet.

Therefore, in this post, we will highlight the 10 main different types of bicycles out there.

Maybe you’re in the market for a bike, or have heard the term gravel bike or cyclocross and wondering what types of bikes these are: let us guide you through the top 10 types of bicycle you’re going to find out there!

#1: Commuter/City Bike

types of bicycles types of bikes

A commuter or city bike is designed for getting to and from work in urban areas.

These bikes provide you with a comfortable and smooth ride on paved surfaces. They are reliable and easy to maintain, so the chances of being late for work due to a mechanical failure are slim.

Commuter bikes put you in an upright riding position.

This is so you have an excellent field of view, allowing you to stay safe while riding in traffic. They usually have small wheels for agile handling so that you can weave around cars and pedestrians with ease.

The downside of commuter bikes is that they are not great if your route consists of different surfaces. Therefore, if you need to ride on river paths, cobbled streets or rough roads, you might want something a little more rugged.

#2: Road Bike

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You can easily spot a road bike, thanks to its rounded handlebars and super thin tyres.

The handlebars curve downwards to give the rider an aerodynamic riding position.

The aerodynamics are enhanced by the rider wearing skin-tight lycra clothing to reduce wind resistance.

Road bikes are also incredibly lightweight, so they are very efficient for high-speed riding and biking uphill. This is just one characteristic that makes road bikes great for racing, fitness, long-distance rides, and commuting.

Road bikes are limited to where you can ride them, though. They can be uncomfortable to ride, especially on rough surfaces. Therefore, they are best suited to smooth tarmac roads.

#3: Mountain Bike

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Mountain bikes have flat handlebars and big chunky tires. They also put the rider in an upright riding position, which allows them to ride over technical terrain.

There are many different types of mountain bikes that can be used in different circumstances.

For example, a cross-country mountain bike is suitable for long-distance riding, while an enduro mountain bike is designed for big mountain ascents and descents.

The two main types of mountain bikes are hardtail and full suspension.

A hardtail mountain bike only has suspension on the front wheel.

A full-suspension bike has it on both, making it suitable for rougher terrain.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but they will allow you to ride pretty much anywhere.

Mountain bikes are not as efficient as road bikes. They are heavier, and their tires have a higher rolling resistance. Therefore, you cannot ride as fast on smooth surfaces.

#4: Gravel Bike

types of bicycles types of bikes

A gravel bike could easily be mistaken for a road bike at first glance.

However, closer inspection will reveal that it is much more rugged. Gravel bikes strike a balance between road bikes and mountain bikes.

A gravel bike is much more comfortable to ride, especially when the surface gets rougher. You wouldn’t want to take on a mountain bike trail on one, but you would be fine on fire roads and gravel tracks.

If you are looking for all-out speed on tarmac, a road bike would be a better choice. However, if you ride varied terrain over long distances, a gravel bike will suit your needs.

#5: Touring Bike

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Touring bikes are very similar to road bikes, but they have a few additions that make them for long-distance riding.

These additions include various mounting points for carrying everything you need for a long journey. You can attach panniers and bags to touring bikes so that you can take a tent and other camping equipment for multi-day rides. 

They often have other attachment points so you can fit mudguards, water bottles, lights, and anything else you need. Being able to attach stuff to your bike is much better than carrying them in a backpack, as it lowers your center of gravity, making riding easier.

Touring bikes have chunkier tyres than road bikes. This is to enhance grip and to make riding over rough surfaces much more manageable.

Touring bikes have a longer wheelbase than regular road bikes.

The extra length provides stability, giving the rider more control. Touring bike riders tend to carry lots of weight; therefore, most manufacturers fit them with powerful disc brakes for increased stopping power. 

#6: Fixed Gear Bike

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Fixed gear bikes are also known as “fixies“.

These bikes are used for racing and fitness training.

They have a single fixed gear, which prevents you from coasting. As long as the bike is moving, your pedals are spinning, so you have to use the strength in your legs to slow the bike down.

You will come across various styles of fixies with different handlebars and brakes.

Fixies are great for fitness, but they are challenging to ride. If you ride somewhere with lots of hills or varied terrain, you need to be super fit to stay safe on a fixie.

#7: Cruiser

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Cruisers are perfect for leisurely rides.

Cruiser bike manufacturers make these bikes to be very comfortable. They have plush saddles, relaxed upright riding positions, and high-volume tires to create a smooth ride.

These bikes are also designed with style in mind. They often have a vintage motorcycle look to them, making them a lifestyle vehicle.

Cruiser bikes are designed for people who like to ride along the beach and visit friends. They are low-maintenance bikes, as they have internally geared hubs, so you can concentrate on having fun and not get greasy fingers.

If you are looking for a high-speed bike or one that can go anywhere, a cruiser is not for you. But, if you like to take it easy and look cool, they are ideal.

#8: BMX

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BMX bikes may be regarded as a toy by many due to their size.

However, they are surprisingly versatile and rugged machines. BMX stands for Bicycle Motor Cross, which gives you a hint of what they are used for.

BMX bikes have a single gear and are primarily designed to be raced on dirt tracks.

However, there are many other disciplines of BMX riding. For example, there are BMX competitions for jumps, flatland freestyle, mini ramps, and street style (all very similar to skateboard competitions).

These bikes have 20″ wheels and small but sturdy frames. This combination makes them very strong and agile. The stresses BMX bike are put under also means that they need to be simple. Therefore, they are also straightforward to maintain.

BMX bikes are very fast at accelerating, thanks to the small wheels and gearing. But, once you get to a certain speed, it is difficult to go any quicker or maintain your speed. They are great for short rides, but prolonged or hilly journeys will become tiring.

If you want lots of fun and fancy perfecting some freestyle tricks or take up dirt track racing, a BMX is the bike for you.

#9: Cyclocross

types of bicycles types of bikes

A cyclocross bike looks very similar to a gravel bike, as it has rounded handlebars and an aerodynamic riding position.

These bikes’ primary purpose is to be raced on off-road trails littered with various obstacles. The obstacles ensure that the rider has to get off their bike and carry it over logs or whatever is in the way.

Therefore, manufacturers build cyclocross bikes to be lightweight but tough enough to cope with intense racing on a multitude of surfaces. Most cyclocross bikes have off-road tyres, giving them plenty of traction on the changing and challenging terrain.

If you want to experience a unique and exciting form of racing, a cyclocross bike is a good choice.

Alternatively, a cyclocross bike is a great fast commuter, especially if your route consists of multiple terrains. However, a gravel bike will be more comfortable and versatile.

#10: Electric Bike

types of bicycles types of bikes

Electric bikes are changing the way we get around, either for commuting or for fun. These bikes require you to pedal, but an electric motor amplifies your efforts.

They usually have 3 or 4 assistance levels, so you can choose how much the motor helps you.

You can buy electric bikes for pretty much any type of riding.

But, they enhance the experience by making riding uphill easier and allowing you to ride longer before you get tired. The motor also makes carrying cargo on a bike much more manageable.

Electric mountain bikes give you access to new terrain while giving you extra laps on your favourite trail. Using an electric bike for commuting means you can arrive at work without looking hot and sweaty and much more quickly.

The downside of electric bikes is that they are very expensive. But, if you want a more cost-effective mode of transport than a car, they are the perfect solution.

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Final Thoughts On Types Of Bicycles

Now you have a good idea of what types of bikes are available. Some dedicated cyclists have a collection of different types of bicycles to suit their needs.

Before you buy a bike, you need to carefully consider what you want or need it for.

Photo of author
Thomas Watson grew up cycling round the coast of his hometown in Scotland. After competing in several Sprint and Olympic distance Triathlons, he turned his focus to ultrarunning. Now when he's not running, you can find him on his gravel bike on the trails near his home!

2 thoughts on “10 Types Of Bicycles: Picking The Right Type of Bike For You”

  1. Great article, but I’m going to add two varieties.

    11. Fat bike – large beefy 3 – 4″ wide tires used for rugged offroad, sand, or snow.

    12. Hybrid (fitness or dual sport) – basically the bike I recommend anyone buy when they aren’t sure what they want. Both have flat handlebars with a slightly sporty forward riding positions. Fitness bikes have a rigid fork while dual sports have a light front suspension fork. Pretty much do everything well, though not as well as a bike built for a purpose.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment Fred – two very worthy additions that will definitely be making it into our next update! If you’re interested, we’ve got a separate article comparing road bikes vs hybrid bikes that you can check out here.

      Glad you enjoyed the article!

      Rory
      BikeTips Editor

      Reply

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