Last Updated on August 27, 2023 by FAB Jim The Cyclist
So, you have come to your senses and decided to join the cool club and start bike riding, your wisdom is great. But now you are asking what type of bike should I get? Well, I hope to help you with that question. There are a lot of different types of bikes out there and many will likely work fine for you. But think about these questions.
Where do you plan to do most of your riding?
This may be the most important question. If you have lots of nice, paved bike paths you plan to ride, you might want something better with a smooth surface. Maybe you plan to ride lots of dirt paths, that changes the type of bike you should get. Riding crushed stone bike paths may also change your choice. If you plan to try out everything a hybrid might be your best option.
How flexible/athletic are you?
If you are really athletic then any bike should work for you. If you are using cycling to get more athletic, you might start with one of the more comfortable types of bikes.
What distance do you plan to ride?
For short rides just about any bike will be good. For long rides you might want something either comfortable, or a road bike depending on how athletic you are.
Quiz – What kind of bike should I buy?
What surface do you expect to do most of your riding on?
- All road. Scroll down to section A.
- All dirt, I love offroading. Scroll down to section B.
- A little bit of road and dirt or gravel paths. Scroll down to section C.
You are going to ride only on pavement. If you want to just cruise along and get a little exercise you should check out these types of bikes:
- City bikes
- Cruiser bikes
- Comfort bikes
- Hybrid bikes
- Vintage bikes
If you want to ride far and fast on pavement you should check out these types of bikes:
- Road bikes
- Fitness bikes
- Touring bikes
You wanna go off roading and stick to the dirt and rocks and mud. You should check out these types of bikes:
- Mountain bikes
- Fat bikes
You plan to ride all over. You will travel on the road sometimes, but then go on light trails. You might ride a gravel path regularly. These types of bikes are for you:
- Hybrid bikes
- Adventure/Gravel/Cyclocross bikes
Types of bikes
Road bikes are best on a paved surface. These bikes have thin tires and usually have drop bars so you can get low and aerodynamic. Most people on a road bikes are going to ride far and fast. These bikes can be challenging if you aren’t very flexible or athletic. They do usually come in endurance and racing geometry. Endurance would be the more comfortable of the two for really long rides.
Best for: fast pavement rides
Recommended bikes: Cannondale CAAD, Felt VR, Giant Contend, Specialized Allez, and Trek Domane.
These bikes are very versatile and are great for long rides. They are like a road bike, but with a straight handlebar and wider tires. Good for commuting and exercise with a little more comfort than a road bike.
Best for: exercise and commuting
Recommended bikes: Cannondale Quick, Giant Fastroad, Specialized Sirrus, and Trek FX.
This is a type of road bike, but for self-supported long-distance rides. These are usually more heavy duty and often have steel frames. They have all the mounting spots for front and rear racks so you can carry lots of gear. They also typically have a lower gear range.
Best for: long distance pavement rides with gear
Recommended bikes: Fuji Touring Disc, Surly Disc Trucker, and Trek 520.
Mountain bikes are best riding off-road on dirt paths. They can be ridden anywhere really, but they usually have knobby tires and suspension which isn’t optimal for fast road riding. But they are great for dirt and mud and bumps.
Best for: off-road riding
Recommended bikes: Cannondale Trail, Giant Talon, GT Aggressor, Specialized Rockhopper, and Trek Marlin.
This is a great bike choice if you want to ride lots of different surfaces. They look like a mountain bike, but you have a more upright, comfortable riding position. Tires are less wide and not as knobby as mountain bike tires. Hybrid bikes are often considered a mix of road and mountain bikes. They are better on pavement than mountain bikes, but not as capable on the trails.
Best for: road, light trail, or gravel riding
Recommended bikes: Cannondale Quick, Giant Cypress, Specialized Sirrus, and Trek Verve.
Great choice if comfort is what you want. These are usually part of the hybrid bike type, but with a more upright riding position. Great for just cruising around. Visibly they usually appear the same as other hybrid bikes.
Best for: comfortable cruising
Recommended bikes: Cannondale Adventure, Electra Townie, Giant Cypress, and Specialized Roll.
These look like a road bike, but with wider tires. These are a great choice if you plan to take long rides on crushed stone paths and can be used on some dirt paths. A good choice if you plan to ride lots of pavement and gravel paths.
Best for: road/gravel/light trail
Recommended bikes: Cannondale Topstone, Fuji Jari, Giant Revolt, Specialized Diverge, State 4130 All-Road, and Trek Checkpoint
Cruisers and city bikes
These are another type of comfortable bike. They often have big seats and wide tires to absorb the road bumps. This combined with a more upright riding position makes them very comfortable for most people. These often have no gears or a shock making them low maintenance and durable.
Best for: comfortable cruising
Recommended bikes: Cannondale Treadwell, Electra Cruiser, Fuji Captiva, Giant Escape, and Specialized Crossroads.
This is a type of mountain bike with huge tires. You can ride these just about anywhere. They are heavy and have more rolling resistance, so not so good for really long rides.
Best for: off-road/snow/sand
Recommended bikes: Cannondale Fat CAAD, Giant Yukon, Surly Wednesday, and Trek Farley.
These are for BMX racing and trick riding. Very popular with kids because of their small size. There are larger sizes for bigger people. A fun bike to ride. Can be ridden on or off road.
Best for: kids/BMX racing/trick riding
Recommended bikes: Gravity Superfast BMX, GT bikes, and Haro bikes.
These are great if you have back issues and want some support while you are riding. They also come as trikes if you have balance problems.
Best for: back support
Recommended bikes: Sun Seeker and Cruzbike.
There are a lot of tricycles out there that are a great choice if you don’t trust your balance, but still want to do some biking. They also often have a big cargo basket.
Best for: people with poor balance
Recommended bikes: Husky Cruise and Schwinn Meridian
Want to always ride with a friend? Then a tandem bike might be perfect for you. They come in probably all the bike types from a road bike to a mountain bike tandem. The perfect bike for two.
Best for: 2 people riding
Recommended bikes: Northwoods dual drive, Pacific dualie, and Schwinn Twinn.
Usually called e-bikes, these have a motor to help push you along. A good option if you don’t have the athletic ability to get out and ride a regular bike. This will get you out there and still give you exercise. Also, a good option if it’s really hilly and you can’t quite make it up the hills on your own. E-bikes come in all the above types, just with an electric motor.
These are a great commuting option. Folding bikes fold in the middle, making them compact for storage. This makes them easy to carry onto public transportation, so you can ride your bike to the train stop. It can also be stored at your desk while you are at work. And it won’t be stolen because you bring it with you everywhere you go.
There are lots of old bikes out there, and many just might fit your needs at a really good price. For example, if you are looking for a cruiser there are lots of vintage options. And you will be riding an attention getter with some style.
Kids generally start on the little tricycle and learn about pedaling. Then they might move to a balance bike or go straight for a kid’s bike. Kids bikes are just like adult bikes but smaller. They are sized by wheel size starting with 12″ and going up to 24″. They will often come with training wheels to get used to the size and pedaling. BMX bikes are a great choice for kids, but so are cruisers and mountain bikes. I think the simple coaster brake bike it a good way to start.
What’s the best type of bike for a beginner?
A hybrid bike is the best option for somebody who is a beginner and is undecided about what type of bike to get. It will work well for exercise, comfort, commuting, pavement riding, and light trail riding. After spending some time with a hybrid, you will have a better idea what type of bike you want in the long run. They are also one of the more affordable types of bikes available.
Where to buy?
Now that you have an idea what type of bike you want, where should you buy it? Well, we strongly recommend you go to a bike specific store, what we cyclists call the bike shop. They will help you get the right size bike and help you with any issues you have with it. A great way to get started with cycling.
Dick’s Sporting Goods is a little cheaper, and they have some good bikes, but you will get less support. I would only buy their Nishiki or Diamondback bikes.
Please comment if we are forgetting any good brands, that’s all I can think of at this time.
After you have decided the type of bike you want to get, you will need to figure out the correct size. Check out our guide:
Want to save some money by buying used? You can save a lot, but you have to be careful. Check out our guide:
Still not sure you want a bike? Better read this:
Don’t know how to ride? Check out these tips:
There is a bike type for just about everybody. Have fun and get healthy with cycling!