There are lots of types of bike available these days so it's wise to know a bit about them so that you can choose which suits your needs best. Here are some of the most common types of bike:
All Terrain Bikes, XC, Downhill,
Mountain Terrain Bike - there are lots of different types of mountain
bike but basically they are all made to tackle rough ground rather
than tarmac roads. They have
flat bars, wide, knobbly tyres and often have suspension.
Mountain bikes are strong
and absorb bumps but their slow tires and extra weight waste energy on
tarmac roads. They are good for leisure rides and short commutes and can
easily cope with mud and loose ground, un-surfaced tracks and pot holes.
There are lots of cheap mountain bikes around these days but often the quality is poor and spending a little more will be better in the long run.
Fast road bikes or
‘racers’ are the type of bike used in races like the Tour de France.
They are light weight with ‘drop’ handle bars and thin, fast,
high pressure tyres. They are
designed for speed on tarmac roads.
These bikes are good for going
fast and getting fit. Usually
they don’t have mudguards or luggage racks and their thin tyres are not
suitable for rough or loose ground - but on tarmac they can easily go
Fast road bikes can be very expensive and made from materials such as carbon fibre but similar steel or aluminium bikes can be bought much cheaper.
Hybrid bikes mix features
from different kinds of bikes. They
may have fast road wheels with a strong mountain bike style frame and flat
bars or have touring bike features but with suspension forks.
Most hybrids make good
bikes for commuting and leisure rides but won’t be able to reach the
speeds of fast road bikes, go as far as touring bikes or
deal with rough terrain like a mountain bike. However they are good at everything in between.
When buying a hybrid bike, decide what sort of use you want it for - shopping, leisure, commuting - and make sure you check for the features you need.
Touring bikes come in a
variety of different versions but most are also very good for a journey to
work, too. They usually have mudguards, luggage racks and reasonably
wide tyres designed for road use.
They are good for cycling around
town, day tours or whole weeks away using panniers.
They are also suitable for the loose gravel surfaces found on many
traffic free cycle routes or Sustrans routes.
Some touring bikes use
stronger 26” wheels and are designed for rugged expeditions while others
are lighter and use fast tyres and are used for Audax (long organised
rides that are not races).
By sitting with your legs pointing forward in a recumbent position
you reduce the amount of air resistance there is when you ride.
‘Bents can be fast and also good
for people with back trouble as your back is supported by the chair like
seat. There are race versions
and touring versions as well as tricycles.
Some have fairings to further reduce air resistance but they cannot
be used in professional road races such as the Tour of Britain.
Often recumbents have a much lower
profile and can be harder for other road users to see but there
unusualness often makes up for this.
Speed/ Fixed Gear Bikes
Single Speed bikes have
only one gear and the only way to go faster is to pedal faster.
They can be good for winter use and in town as they need very
Fixed Gear bikes, like
single speeds, have only one gear but they have no ‘freewheel’.
This means that you cannot stop pedalling!
They are very low maintenance and can be good for commuting and
training. Recently they have
become fashionable and they are often used by cycle couriers.
A fixed gear bike still needs to
have a front brake even though the rider can slow down by controlling
Bicycles made for two (or more) have less resistance than using a
bike each - and you never loose your partner.
These small wheeled bikes are used for tricks and special races
- they are good for children, too.
If you travel by train but want to cycle from the station at
the other end you can take a folding bike on as luggage without having to
book a place.
Time trial bikes:
These are even faster than fast road bikes and use special
handlebars, wheels and frames to improve aerodynamics.
These are used on special banked tracks such as the Manchester
Velodrome. They are stripped
to the bare essentials.
These bikes are used to race through muddy woods and fields in
autumn and winter. They have
been around longer than mountain bikes, don’t have suspension and have