What Kind of Bike Should I Get?

Your choice of bike matters. And we don’t just mean what specific bike you’ll end up choosing – the type of bicycle that you buy has a huge effect on whether or not you’ll end up satisfied with your purchase.

With so many variants and subcategories, it’s easy to get confused. We’ve prepared a short, helpful guide that will clear things up a bit – so that you can focus your search in the right direction.

The Bicycle Planet has this video on Youtube that will help you sort through some of the basic types of bikes and help you figure out (possibly) which category could be the right one for you. Check the video out!

What Kind of Bike Should I Get?

The feeling of being out on the road, just you and your bike is hard to describe. But in theory, it sounds pretty simple, right? There’s only one step – you just have to get a bicycle, and that’s it.

But a lot of people mess up, even when it comes to that single requirement. It’s equally important to consider what kind of bike you should get. Buying the first cool or well-made bike that you come across can easily turn into a disaster.

a man checking out a bike

Choosing a bike should be based on a couple of factors. Once you’ve established your criteria, you can go ahead and buy a bike.

In this article, we’ll cover the factors that you should consider when settling on a bike type. We’ll briefly go over the different subcategories. Who knows, maybe you’ll find out about a specific type of bike you’ve never even heard of before. Let’s kick things into gear.


Universal Criteria

There are several factors that you always have to take into account when buying a bicycle. We’ll go over the most important ones. And once you’re aware of them, you can begin searching for a bike that fulfills your needs. If you keep these universal criteria in mind, you’re bound to make the right choice.


Terrain and Environment

By far the most important item on our list – the terrain and environment that you’re going to be riding a bike in have the biggest impact on what kind of bike you should choose.

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    extreme cycling

    Are you planning to cycle in urban areas along bike paths and over the pavement? Or are you gunning for some off-road action, conquering hills, and crossing challenging trails?

    Bikes differ in how versatile they are with regard to the terrain. Some can handle incredibly treacherous paths full of obstacles, while others should only be ridden on flat surfaces. Establishing where you’re going to ride is always the number one priority and the first thing that you should do.


    Price

    The second item on our list is less exciting – but it is ever-present. After you’ve figured out what type of terrain you’ll be facing, you should set a budget – and stick to it. It’s all too easy to go overboard and spend too much. Sure, you’ll probably end up with a great, high-performance machine. But do you really need something that is so high-end?

    This is all the more important for beginners who are making a first-time purchase. Don’t be stingy, you don’t want to compromise on build quality, materials, durability, and performance. But the fact that plenty of bike components are replaceable means that it’s easy to upgrade your bike step by step, one piece at a time. Once you’ve decided on a budget, you can narrow down the search.


    Size

    The best bike in the world won’t amount to anything if it doesn’t fit you. Before you settle on a bike model, make sure that it’s the proper size for you. When ordering a bike online, double-check that you’ve selected the right size option. Riding a bike that doesn’t fit you isn’t just unenjoyable – it can also be dangerous. A mismatch regarding size will mean that you’ll tire more easily, suffer back and wrist pain, and have a higher risk of crashing.


    Purpose

    Last but not least, just like you’ve asked yourself “Where am I going to ride this bike?”, you should also ask yourself “Why do I want to buy a bike?”

    different kinds of bikes

    Do you need a bike for your commute?

    Do you want an enjoyable form of low-impact exercise?

    Do you want to spend more time in nature, or do you simply want a recreational leisure activity?

    The why of the matter is an important thing that you should keep in mind.


    Bike Types – And What They’re Good For

    Now that we’ve established the criteria, let’s take a quick look at the different kinds of bikes that are out there.

    Road, Mountain, and Hybrid Bikes

    The road bike/mountain bike divide is the oldest and most enduring dichotomy of cycling. Road bikes are light, have sleek frames, and have large, thin tires. As the name suggests, they’re primarily geared toward roads and urban conditions.

    On the other hand, mountain bikes feature thicker, more durable tires that have aggressive tread patterns that will rip through most obstacles, and which can easily handle a wide variety of rough terrain. Mountain bikes are slightly slower, but much more versatile than road bikes, and feature suspensions to more easily overcome obstacles.

    Hybrids are a relatively recent phenomenon – combining features of both road and mountain bikes. They’re dependable, solid all-rounders – but it’s tough to describe them using blanket statements other than that – each hybrid is a story of its own.

    red road bike used by a model on a street

    And these are just the basic subcategories – there’s a whole slew of bikes that fall into these three categories, but that is geared toward something more specific.

    Gravel bikes are the most versatile, all-terrain machines on the market, hardtails feature beefy front suspensions but no rear suspension, bikes with fat tires are an interesting, adaptable new trend,  and endurance, touring, and cyclocross bikes all put interesting spins on the classic road bike formula.

    But for now, stick with the basics. Once you’ve decided on a basic category, you can dig deeper to find a specific style that suits you.

    Photo Title Price Buy
    Schwinn Phocus 1600...image Schwinn Phocus 1600 Drop Bar Adult Road Bicycle, 58cm/Large Alluminum Step-Over Frame, Carbon Fiber Fork,16-Speed Drivetrain, 700c Wheels, Black $637.49
    PanAme 26 Inch...image PanAme 26 Inch Road Bike for Men and Women, 700C Wheels Commuter Bicycle, Racing Bicycle with 14-21 Speed Drivetrain, Light Aluminum Frame Road Bicycles,Multiple Color (FT-Red) $269.98
    Schwinn Sporterra Adventure...image Schwinn Sporterra Adventure Adult Gravel Bike, 14 Speeds, 700c Wheels, Light Weight Aluminum Frame, Black $666.17
    Tommaso Sentiero Gravel...image Tommaso Sentiero Gravel Bike, Shimano Claris Adventure Bike with Disc Brakes, Extra Wide Tires, Perfect for Road Or Dirt Trail Touring, Matte Black, Red - Large $949.99
    Vilano Diverse 3.0...image Vilano Diverse 3.0 Performance Hybrid Road Bike 24 Speed Disc Brakes $449.00
    Schwinn Discover Hybrid...image Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bike for Men and Women, 21-Speed, 28-inch Wheels, 18-inch/Medium Frame, Black $539.99

    Commuters, Cruisers, and City Bikes

    Commuters, cruisers, and city bikes are all geared toward urban areas and are mostly used for leisure or commuting. They’re simple, dependable machines meant for casual riders – and as an added bonus, they’re usually quite affordable, simple, and easy to maintain.

    pink and blue cruiser bikes

    These bikes usually featureless versatile drivetrains and aren’t designed to be high-performance machines. Quite often, they’ll have mounts for fenders, racks, or panniers for additional storage space, making them an even more practical choice.

    Specialized Bikes

    Specialized bikes feature design elements that can’t be found in other types of bikes. This is a catch-all term – the different subcategories don’t have much in common, but we’ll quickly go over the most important ones. 

    Folding bikes, as the name suggests, feature foldable parts – most commonly the frame and handlebar. This, combined with their small size and low weight, makes them a formidable choice for urban commuting. 

    Furthermore, electric bikes are a new, interesting trend that has taken the industry by storm. Combine a bike of more or less any kind with an electric motor. And you’ll end up with a fast, powerful machine that whizzes past pedestrians and other cyclists alike. That too with plenty of range to boot. 

    Another specialized category is the gear bikes that lack freewheel mechanisms and hence also go by as fixed-wheel bikes. The absence of freewheels warrants constant pedaling to keep the bike moving. The natural habitat of such bikes is velodrome but you can also use them to develop fast and fluid pedaling action.

    Furthermore, the fixed wheel chain is more efficient than the geared chains because there are no derailleurs to drag it. Hence, with the same amount of energy that you put in a regular bike – fixed wheels can ride a little faster. 

    Finally, the touring bikes as the name suggests have designs to facilitate multi-day rides. Such bikes have several mount points where riders can attach all sorts of luggage depending on the type of trip. Furthermore, the geometry of a touring bike supports the back and does not fatigue the rider. You should look for solid frame material, decent mudguards, and a disc braking system on these bikes. 

    Things To Look Before Choosing a Bike

     The fundamentals of the bike designs remain the same regardless of whichever type you choose. Hence, the core elements that constitute a bike are also the same and should be considered while purchasing a bike. These are: 

    Frame Material 

    The frame makes the core of a bike and it has significant importance regardless of the bike type. Usually, a frame employs one of three materials that include carbon, aluminum, and steel. Carbon is the most premium in terms of strength and durability. It is also lightweight but often has a hefty price tag as well. 

    Aluminum finds a balance between performance and cost. It is lightweight and has decent strength that can withstand all sorts of terrains. Steel on the other hand is the most inexpensive but has a shorter life owing to rust over time. 

    Wherever you go to explore the market, try to get a bike that has a solid and durable frame. It is because almost all other components can be replaced or changed but the frame. Hence, it is wise to get a rugged frame in the first place even if it means compromising on other features or sparing a few extra bucks. 

    Suspensions 

    Suspensions absorb the shocks and keep the rider comfortable and fatigue-free. Except for a few types, all bikes come with suspensions. Some have one just at the front while others have one at both sides. Things to notice in suspension are its travel distance. The greater the travel distance the better it would absorb the shocks. We recommend getting suspensions with travel distances ranging between 50-and 100 depending on the terrain.

    Saddle 

    Wide tires, quality suspensions, and ergonomic handles account for nothing if the saddle is uncomfortable. It should have enough cushioning and design to suit your riding style. Usually, the seating position differs on different bikes but there are certain factors that remain the same. For example, a saddle that is tiled up or downwards would produce discomfort in the groin areas. Plus, if it is too wide for your size, it will be a nuisance. 

    Hence, while selecting a bike ensure that its saddle is horizontal and fits your size. Plus, the saddles for both genders are different so keep an eye out for that as well. 

    Bottom Line – What Kind of Bike Should I Get

    Each bike has a design that entertains different purposes. You would be well off with a mountain bike on treacherous terrain but it would not be ideal for urban conditions. Conversely, a foldable bike would help in crowded cities but would not be able to absorb body-shaking jerks on rough terrain. So, the choice comes down to the terrain where you will ride on the bike. 

    Once you have narrowed down the category, you look for things like frame material, braking, and gear systems. Even then, it would not be too easy to select the right bike but you would know where to start at the very least. Fortunately, we have tons of similar pieces to help you out in that process as well. We hope this read has been helpful.

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    What Kind of Bike Should I Get? — Bike Hacks