Whether you’ve decided to invest in your first bike, or you’re looking for an upgrade, you need to know your options. There is a broad range of cycles to choose from depending on your needs—but it can be overwhelming.
I’ve gathered key information to help you pedal on over to the pages you need to read.
Women’s vs Men’s Bikes
Before we get into more detail, I want to highlight the main differences between women’s and men’s bikes. Is it really that important?
In the past, women’s bikes were often less spec’d than men’s. Manufacturers would put more thought into the aesthetics than actual useful features.
Fortunately, the cycling scene of today has turned things around—women’s bikes generally offer a cute exterior with a bang of performance features.
Fit is the most significant. Because women (on average), are shorter than men, manufacturers construct female-specific bikes with more compact frames. Women’s cycles usually also include lower stack heights.
However, ladies, when purchasing new wheels, don’t feel confined to a sign that says “women’s.” When sizing up a bike, it should be all about your measurements. There is a chance a unisex bike (aka men’s) could be a better fit.
It all boils down to what bike you find comfortable riding. If you're on the heavier side and worried about finding the right fit of bicycle, read my review of the best bikes for heavy riders.
Shopping for something for your little adventurer? I round up the 5 best 16 inch bikes for kids.
Types of Bikes
In the world of two-wheels and bike technology, manufacturers are continually trying to create something new. We’re faced with choices such as fat or skinny tires, cross or comfort.
To get to my point, here’s a quick look at the different types available:
- Comfort bikes.
- Cruiser bikes.
- Fat tires.
- Mountain bikes.
- Single-speed bikes.
- Road bikes.
- Triathlon bikes.
- Hybrid bicycles.
These are essentially urban luxury bicycles. They aren’t made for thrashing the trails or winning races—they’re for cruising the boardwalk or around the neighborhood.
Comfort bikes are easy to distinguish. You’ll know them from the upright riding position, wide handlebar and broad seat that looks as if it can pamper your butt for miles.
The riding position is what makes such machines comfortable to ride, even for the newbie cyclist. There’s less focus on aerodynamics and speed, as we see with performance bikes, which means less strain on your back.
You can also expect to find a front fork and seat post suspension system and wide, thick tires—providing a cushioned ride. For this reason, I’ve gathered the five best comfort bikes for your review.
Tagged as a beach bike, a cruiser has similar traits to that of a comfort cycle—they’re often found under the same category.
Cruiser bikes are for leisure riding—cyclists who want a relaxed ride to the store, around the local area or along the beach. Their fat tires enable them to ride comfortably on pavements and over sand.
We characterize them by their steel frames, raised, wide handlebars and broad, comfortable saddles. They promote an upright riding position, which contributes to their overall relaxed-ride reputation.
It’s one of my favorite options as it has that vintage vibe. Hence, I’ve put together a list of the best cruiser bikes.
BMX stands for “bicycle motocross.” As the name suggests, these bikes are for racing motocross-inspired courses that include big double jumps, bermed turns and tabletops.
Bikes are built using steel or aluminum frames, but no suspension—the only features included is a brake and single gear. Wheel sizes range from 16-inch to 24-inch.
You’ll notice the reinforced riser handlebars. These provide a shorter cockpit, promoting more of an upright position. Such a stance is crucial for the rider to enhance maneuverability during jumps and stunts.
These bikes, however, aren’t merely for the track. We see them in bike and skate parks, with cyclists using them for freestyle riding. Feel free to have a look at my top 10 BMX brands.
If you’re looking for a versatile option to keep you active year-round, then fat tires could appeal.
Not to be confused with mountain bikes, fat-tire bikes, or fat bikes, are for off-road riding. What distinguishes them from mountain bikes is their larger rims and thicker tires.
Rims generally run between 26 to 27.5 inches, where the tires can reach up to 5 inches in width! This is massive compared to the 2.36 inches we see on the average mountain bike.
The width allows them to cope with tough terrain, including snow and mud effortlessly. Instead of sinking into the ground, they’re able to “float” across. For more information, check out my review of the five best fat tire bikes.
Mountain bikes are rugged, durable machines, made for mastering narrow dirt trails and steep hills. They comprise wide, flat handlebars that enhance control.
Manufacturers include wide-range drivetrains with hydraulic disc brakes, which enable them to handle steep climbs. Their wheels typically run between 27.5 to 29 inches—older versions would have 26-inch rims, but these are slowly disappearing.
Tires are narrow—usually no more than 2.5 inches—with knobby treads, providing reliable traction.
Surprisingly, these cycles don’t always have a full suspension system. We’ll see three different types:
- Dual/full suspension: Such mountain bikes have suspension both in front and rear. These are often required on rough trails.
- Hardtail: As the name suggests, hardtail cycles only have suspension in the front, meaning there’s no cushioning from the back.
- Rigid: These hardcore bicycles don’t include any suspension. They’re best used on easy trails.
Feel free to check out my guide on mountain bikes.
As the name suggests, single-speed bicycles don’t come with derailleurs or hub gears—only a front and rear chainring. You merely get on, pedal and brake—there’s no shifting gear when going up a steep hill.
Although it may sound like a child’s bike in an adult size, I believe single-speed bicycles are worth considering.
For starters, they’re quite affordable and also easy to maintain. The lack of parts and features eliminates much of the time-consuming maintenance to ensure optimal performance.
And lastly, they’re enjoyable—various models are available, even comfort-like styles. These are fantastic for cruising and leisure riding. This is why I’ve made a guide detailing my five best single-speed bikes.
Cyclocross—a type of racing discipline in which riders encounter everything from forest paths, meadows and pavement. Courses are usually short—about 1.5 to 2 miles—but tough.
Cyclocross bikes are a combination of different performance bicycles, but their closest cousin would probably be a road-racing cycle. They have their matching narrow tires with drop handlebars.
They’re durable, have lower gearing, greater tire clearances and can tackle above and beyond tarmac terrain. You could even ride them in the snow, similarly to fat tire bicycles—one thing you can’t do with your average road bike.
I’ve compiled a list of the best cyclocross bikes for you to check out.
Road bikes are built for fast-paced fun. They typically comprise slick skinny tires and drop handlebars. This combination offers an aerodynamic advantage and enables them to roll super-quick on paved surfaces.
Within the road bike premise, there are several subcategories:
- Aero/race: Intended for racing with an aggressive rider position.
- Endurance/sportive: Offers a more upright position for comfort or long-distance rides.
- Ultralight: Made for climbing by stripping any unnecessary weight and only utilizing light materials.
To help you with your search, please read my guide on road bikes.
Triathlon bicycles are road-style bikes, built for extreme aerodynamic efficiency. True to their name, they’re primarily used by triathletes during the cycle heat of the race.
The central point of such bikes is frame geometry, which reduces drag, allowing more speed. The high saddle post and low handlebars force the rider into an aerodynamic tuck while preserving optimal control.
Their tires are generally narrow to enhance handling, and disc brakes are becoming more common. You can read more in my guide on triathlon bicycles.
If you want something versatile, then a hybrid bike could be where to look. It’s a personal favorite of mine simply because you can use it for many riding scenarios, like leisure rides with the kids or daily commutes.
Hybrids are all-round bikes—they comprise all the useful attributes of specialized bicycles into one.
They generally combine the comfortable upright position of a mountain bike, a lightweight frame from road bikes as well as rack and carrying options seen on tourers. This is why I’ve gathered a post of the five best hybrid bicycles.
These are relatively new to the cycling scene (less than a decade old). As you might’ve guessed, the “E” stands for electric, as it incorporates an electric motor to boost your pedal power.
Three classes are available:
- Class 1: These are defined by including a pedal-assist system, reaching up to 20 miles per hour.
- Class 2: This category features a pedal-assist or a throttle-driven motor up to 20 miles per hour.
- Class 3: The fastest, featuring pedal-assist up to 28 miles per hour.
Electronic bicycles are fantastic for urban dwellers. Although, we can find the technology across multiple bike styles now. You can read more in my guide on E-bikes.
When searching for the right bike, too much choice can blow your mind. Whether you’re looking to lose weight or simply become more active as a family—finding the ride to suit your lifestyle can make all the difference.