Buying a Bike? Get the Type That’s Right for You!

When it comes to bicycle styles, you’ve got a range to choose from. Here’s a rundown of the most common types.

Mountain Bike

These include trail, cross-country, and all-mountain bikes. They have wide, knobby tires (26-inch, 650B aka 27.5-inch, and 29-inch) and wide, flat or upright handlebars. Suspension types include front, front and rear, or no suspension at all.

These are best for rugged trails and gravel roads

Road Bike

These include racing, endurance, cyclocross, and touring bikes. Road bikes have smooth, skinny tires (23mm or 25mm) and “drop” multi-position handlebars.

These are best for pavement.

Gravel/Adventure Bike

Sometimes called all-road bikes, any-road bikes, or gravel bikes, these are the most versatile sub-category of road bikes. They have drop handlebars and can accommodate wider tires.

These are best for dirt roads, less technical trails and pavement.

Recumbent Bike

Recumbent bicycles come in two- to four-wheel designs and feature a long, low design and a full-size seat with a backrest. The style choice will determine the best road surface. While riders may find them more comfortable, they are hard to pedal uphill, weigh more than the average bike and can be difficult to transport by vehicle.

Tandem Bike

The bicycle-built-for-two bike comes in a range of styles for on- and -off-road biking. The style choice will determine the best road surface. They work well for those with visual impairment as well as for new or younger riders.

Other Bike Types

Other bike styles include

  • Touring Bike
  • Hybrid Bike
  • Adult Trikes
  • Commuter Bike
  • Cargo Bike
  • Cyclocross Bike
  • Commuting Bike

For more tips, read our Selecting the Right Bike article.


For More Information

Visit these sites for more information on bike types and styles.

REI–How to Choose Bike Tires

REI–How to Choose a Bike

West Trails Bicycles–Types of Bikes

Road.cc–Beginner’s Guide To Bike Types

Century Cycles–Bicycle Types: How to Pick the Best Bike for You

The Bicycle Escape–Types of Bikes