Who knew that there were so many choices for bicycles? When you were a kid, you got the shiny pink one with streamers or the blue one with racing stripes. Both had training wheels and a mom attached to keep you from falling. For today’s discerning cyclist, there are several types of bikes to choose from to suit your needs.
A bike is more than two wheels, a seat and handlebars. All bicycles are not equal as you will soon discover. Before purchasing a bike, decide what type of bike you are most comfortable handling.
These are the rugged bicycles riders use to jump small boulders and navigate their way through wooded areas. Mountain biking is not for the faint of heart and can be dangerous if you are on the wrong bicycle. A mountain bike has wider wheels than a standard bike. Those wheels have deep tread to prevent slipping on all sorts of terrain from grass to loose gravel to wet pavement.
One thing that you will notice is that mountain bikes have the straight handlebars that you once saw only on those grandma bikes with the wide seats. The straight handlebars allow for better control on strange terrain.
Remember those bicycle riders in spandex trying to balance skinny wheels on the white line at the edge of the paved road? They are riding road bikes. These are bikes chosen for competition by sports riders. The name of the game is aerodynamics. The wheels are thinner for speed and maneuverability.
It probably looked like there was no seat on that road bicycle. The seats are narrow to avoid slipping as you ride. The frame of a road bicycle is lightweight either aluminum, titanium (expensive), or another alloy for further speed advantages.
For most of us who are not thrill-seekers or inclined to ride competitively, this bike is for us. As a hybrid, it is a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike. The wheels are not as wide as a mountain bike but wider than a road bike so it could support more weight on them. The handlebars will usually be straight since it puts less pressure on your back which is good news for novice riders who really want to stick with cycling and commuters.
You’ll see cruising bikes on the beach, in tropical locations as rental bikes to tool around the city streets and for older riders. The seats are wider for comfort over a long ride. These bikes have heavier frames for security on the street and are not great for maneuvering in tight places. It is the type of bicycle for a leisurely ride when you want something to do but not for regular riding every day.
Touring bikes look like a road bike but are designed for comfort on the long distance ride. They are equipped to add racks on both the front and back so that you can carry your gear. They typically have longer frames so that they are more stable and comfortable. With drop handle bars you have more hand positions for the long haul. The gearing is also designed for climbing mountains. Many touring bikes will have what we all call a “granny gear” up front to give you a huge range of gears for the big climb.
Tandems are designed for two or more riders. They come in both off road designs and racing and touring designs. Some are suited for having a child as the stoker.
Determine what bike is right for your needs before heading out to the store. Visit a good bike shop to get the best advice. Research the biking forums and groups.