Have you taken a look at how many different bikes are available right now?
Or how many manufacturers are building “specialized” bikes and trying to sell them to you?
And the price tags on those specialized bikes?
It’s crazy. Just trying to wrap your head around which type of bike you want to get can be difficult, but then when you start digging into that category of bikes and see how many different models are being put in front of you, the rabbit hole only gets deeper.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already figured out how frustrating it is to sift through the hundreds of different bikes being thrown at you to find the perfect bike for what you’re wanting to do.
Go into any bike store and ask one of the salespeople which bike you should buy, and you’re going to get bombarded with questions.
What are you using it for? How often do you ride? Are you trail riding or street riding? Do you want to do tricks on it? Are you going to be racing the bike? How much do you want to spend?
You don’t have to go to a bike shop and get pitched on different, crazy expensive bikes when you can answer the same questions in the comfort of your own home.
Here, take this quick quiz to help figure out which bike is right for you.
Once you’ve taken the quiz, take a look at some of the industry-leading bikes below.
When it comes to “jack of all trades” bikes, you’re going to find the Hybrid line. These are primarily for riding around the city, getting your shopping done, and enjoying some recreation in the great outdoors.
With the “Hybrid” name, though, they can be used for other tasks. You can take them onto a trail, but they’re not going to be as good as a specialized trail bike. You can race them, but they’re not going to be as fast as a full-fledged racing machine.
Hybrid bikes are typically equipped for getting in and out of traffic quickly and have the necessary equipment to help you get around quickly and effectively.
Some models will have fenders on them so they’re easier to ride in the rain, while others won’t. Most models have lights and reflectors scattered across them so you can safely ride at night. Some have more gears than others to make it easier when you have to navigate over hills.
The options that you choose on your Hybrid bike are going to come down to exactly how you need to use it and the terrain you’re going to be using it on.
A Hybrid bike’s primary goal is to keep the rider safe and comfortable.
How you outfit it comes down to your budget and what those needs are. If you need more storage space? Get a rack over the back tire. Want more comfort for longer rides? Spend more on the seat. Need to navigate hills without wearing yourself down? Get a bike with more gears and a better gear selector.
Road bikes are similar to Hybrid bikes, in that they share a similar frame, but once you get past the frame and the tires, the similarities end.
The frames on road bikes are designed for comfort, speed, and maneuverability -- just like Hybrid bikes -- and the tires are designed solely for gripping paved surfaces, which means they’re not going to perform very well if you want to take them off-road.
Where Road bikes differ from Hybrid bikes, though, is the amount of safety features and extra gear that gets tacked onto the frame. Extras, such as fenders, full sets of safely lights, and gear racks aren’t going to be found on a road bike. Road bikes usually have one goal in mind -- speed on the street.
If you intend to race the bike or spend long amounts of time on it while you’re enjoying the great outdoors a road bike is going to be a much better option for you than a Hybrid bike.
When you’re ready to take your bike off the pavement and onto the trail, a Road bike or Hybrid bike simply won’t cut it.
Their tires and frames aren’t designed for the punishment a good trail can put them through and they’re likely to end up putting you in dangerous situations.
Mountain bikes, on the other hand, have frames that can withstand the forces that trail riding will put on them, and tires that are designed to grip in the dirt and grass far better than a slick Road bike tire will.
A specialized MTB is going to go over different types of terrain while still maintaining speed and keeping you safe. This means you can ride them on the street, and you can ride them on the trail, but they’re really going to start shining and coming into their own when you get them off the pavement.
Like Hybrid bikes, when you’re thinking about buying a MTB, you’re going to want to look at the tire tread, how many gears are available, the frame construction, seat comfort, and the wheel construction.
BMX bikes are some of the smallest bikes on this list and they’re designed for the sole purpose of giving the rider mobility. Most times, you can see professional stunt and trick riders on a BMX bike.
BMX bikes have smaller frames and most of them have 20” tires, which make them great for young riders. The frames are usually aluminum and rigid, the forks rise high, and they are primarily a single-gear or cassette gear setup.
When it comes to BMX bikes, you have two different options you can take -- either racing or freestyle.
Freestyle bikes are going to be easier to do tricks on with a gyro on the fork and are built to withstand the punishment of being thrown against the ground, while racing bikes are going to be focused on being lightweight and fast. Many racers will remove their front brakes while freestyle riders will keep their front brakes to aid in their tricks and stunts.
At the other end of the spectrum, you’re going to find Cruiser bikes.
They’re not built for speed. They’re not build for tricks. They’re usually not even built to be taken off-road.
The name defines them perfectly -- they’re built for cruising and enjoying the great outdoors.
They are typically built with wider tires to help hug the road (or sand if you’re taking them on the beach), thicker frames that are more focused on being stylish than functional, and fewer gears than a full-blown MTB, for instance.
The seating position on a Cruiser bike is more upright than what you’ll find on a BMX stunt bike, to help promote comfort when you’re riding the bike for long periods of time.
If you’re just wanting to get out and ride your bike, travel the beach, go sightseeing down a nature trail, or get around town for the day, a Cruiser bike is probably perfect for you.
Their larger frames and tires make it easy to gear them out however you see fit and their easy going nature makes them perfect for laid back riders that focus more on the journey than the destination.
Buying a bike is a big investment, unless you’re comfortable buying a bike that you’re going to be unhappy riding for long periods of time, or it simply doesn’t do what you need it to do and do it well.
There is a reason that specialized bikes are more expensive than a run-of-the-mill bike you can buy from your local big box department store.
You get what you pay for sums up the cycling industry perfectly.
The bike that you buy ultimately comes down to how you are going to use it. The types of terrain you’ll be riding it on, whether or not you will need to take gear with you when you ride, whether or not you’re planning on racing the bike are all questions you’ll have to answer.
When you answer those questions, finding the right bike based on your budget becomes substantially easier.
This post was last updated on January 15th, 2018 at 11:47 am
Over the last few years, I’ve taken my love of the outdoors, hiking, skiing, trekking and exploring to the next level by starting this site. I started a bike shop in Denver, CO, and have seen amazing growth over the last few years. Getting paid to do what I love has been a dream come true for me. That’s also what led me to start BikesReviewed.com. In my shop, I spend a large amount of time helping people find the perfect bike for them and the style of biking they’re going to be doing. It only made sense that I expanded my reach and got online, making it possible for me to help people all over the world. If biking and staying fit is your priority, too, you’ve come to the right place.
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