So far, I have provided some information on cycling helmets, accessories, and tips for those who are new to cycling. I would be remiss if I didn’t go over the most important decision one makes when they decide to be more serious about cycling; whether for commuting, recreation, or are looking to be competitive in the sport. That would be the bike itself! What are the different types of bicycles available? Which one should you purchase? There are various types of bicycles available to fit nearly all styles of riding. Before you purchase a bicycle, it is a good idea to put some thought into what kind of riding you are looking to do, what your goals are, and what price range fits with your budget.
When the Road Calls to You
One of the most common bikes you’ll see people riding are what as known as road bikes. They are usually lightweight, with drop handle bars (they appear to curve down forming a C-shape), and have thin tires. These bikes are designed to be ridden on the road, with speed in mind.
Originally, the frames of road bikes were made of steel. These days, in addition to steel, frames are made of aluminum, carbon fiber, or even titanium.
Within the road bike realm, there are different types to choose from besides the standard road bike. Here are a couple examples:
- Gravel Bikes. These have sprung up within the past few years. The frame geometry differs slightly from a usual road bike, providing more comfort for the rider. Also as slightly wider tires to help with light off-road riding.
- TT (Time Trial) Bikes. These bikes are built with pure speed in mind, and you’ll most likely see them being ridden during time trial races, or triathlons. The frames have an appearance of being flat, and are designed that was to be as aerodynamic as possible. Even the handle bars are designed in a way that positions the body for aerodynamic efficiency. More than likely you won’t be riding these starting out.
What if I’d Rather Ride in the Woods?
There are valid reasons why road cycling may not be attractive to people. Perhaps you live in an area with dense vehicular traffic. Maybe the local roads always seem littered with potholes and other obstacles. Or, you want to explore forest trails, but want to cover more ground than hiking.
If you have those concerns, or just prefer being in the woods, a mountain bike would be a great choice. They are designed to handle obstacles you may encounter on the trail such as rocks, tree roots, or thick patches of dirt.
Mountain bikes have flat handle bars, and a slightly different frame geometry than road bikes. The frames are made, like road bikes, out of steel, aluminum, titanium or carbon fiber. They have more weight than road bikes, and have wider tires. The tires should be knobby. This helps provide traction.
Listed below are some different mountain bike types available:
- Full-Suspension. Many mountain bikes available have suspension forks integrated into the frame. A full-suspension bike contains both a front suspension fork and a rear suspension system. The benefit of this type of bike is it allows you to cover more difficult terrain without your body taking the brunt of the punishment.
- Hardtail. This type of bike has a front suspension fork, but does not have a rear suspension system. These bikes are good for trails that are smoother/have fewer obstacles, and are decent even for road riding over shorter distances.
- Rigid Bike. This type of bike has no suspension at all. That means your body will take more the absorption of riding over obstacles. However, my first mountain bike was a rigid, and I found it to be slightly lighter, and handle just as well as my hardtail.
- Fat Bike. These type of bikes have become popular over the past few years. They are called fat bikes because they have tires which are wider than a standard mountain bike. These bikes can handle almost anything, including snow.
Just Want to go Casual
Say you don’t want to spend hours out on the road, or navigate rocks, and you just want a bike you can ride around town. An urban bike may just be what you are looking for. These bikes lack the bells and whistles of more tradition road bikes, and don’t have as many gears to shift through. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t be useful!
Frames of urban bikes are usually either steel or aluminum. They have wider tires than road bikes, and are designed for both going on the road, and light off-roading (dirt paths for example). Some have fenders over the tires, and may include front racks or pannier baskets to store things.
Prices for these types of bikes run lower than road and mountain bikes. If you’re looking for an economical bike that will allow you to safely commute within town, an urban bike may be something to consider.
Cost Considerations and Your Budget
While I am a firm advocate that cycling can be taken up without obliterating your budget, purchasing a bike will be the most expensive cost you’ll take on when you start. Yes, you can purchase a bike at a lower cost from a retail store, but the quality will probably not the same as purchasing from a bike dealer. Whether it is due to using less expensive components that wear down quicker, or no free lifetime service (which some bike shops offer), you may ultimately pay more in the end versus purchasing a bicycle from a local bike shop.
Bicycles will fit into a wide range of pricing. High-performance ones can cost thousands of dollars. This is due to better materials and components. However, there are entry-level bicycles that cost less than $1000 (understandable if that still seems expensive) that can perform and serve you well for many years.
More than likely you’ll be spending some hard-earned money on a bicycle. As such, do as much homework as possible before making a purchase. You want to be happy with your bike, for there is a good chance you’ll still be riding it well after, say years, after you purchase it.
Find the Type of Bike that Suits You!
In answer to the question of “What Are the Different Types of Bicycles Available?”, you can now get the idea that there is plenty, and you are bound to find one that is right for you. This article provides a glimpse of just some types out there. Two key factors at the start that should play into your decision are the type of riding you are looking to do, and what you can afford. Don’t purchase a bike based of how it looks, or brand.
It is very important to do some homework before making a purchase. You can search online, or go to your local bike shop and talk to a salesperson. They can provide suggestions based off information that you give them.
The good thing about cycling is if you are just starting out, you’re not limited to the bike you start out with. Over the years, you may find you want to upgrade to a bike that’s lighter, a bike that better fits your riding style, or you may decide to switch to mountain biking from road. You’re not locked in, but if you are just starting out, definitely seek out a bike that you feel fits you the best for that stage of your journey.
Have fun out there!