bicycle-buying-guide

Bike Types by Category

Road Bike

Road Bike, are designed to be ridden fast on smooth pavement. They have smooth, skinny tires and "drop" handlebars, and can be used for on-road racing. They are usually lighter than other types of bicycles. They can be ridden on paved trails.

This is ideal for racing purpose: cutting through a crowded pack of riders, but also for fun, fast rides in the country with cycling buddies.

Road race bikes also use longer top tubes to help create a flat-backed, stretched-out riding position. It means you'll have a much smaller head-on shape, making you more aerodynamic – all to help you ride as fast as you can. Short seat stays keep the wheelbase length under a metre and road racing bikes will have drop handlebars.

Hybrid Bikes

The original hybrids took their shape and styling from mountain bikes and mixed them with the advantages of a road bike. They use bigger wheels and slimmer tyres to make them faster.

Hybrid bikes are normally lighter than mountain bikes, but heavier than road bikes. Hybrid road bikes often have race bike styling but will have flat bars to make them comfortable and give them a riding position that’s useful in city traffic.

Hybrids can also be designed with more obvious mountain bikes traits. Hybrids like that will still have skinnier tyres than a mountain bike and gears more suited to tarmac, but will come equipped to deal with forest tracks, towpaths, bridleways and byways. Hybrids that are designed to be more capable off-road may also be available with a suspension fork.

Mountain Bikes

Mountain bikes are a great way to get started riding off-road, but they're also great fun for any rider. A mountain bike uses a suspension fork at the front to provide cushioning from bumps and improve grip and handling.

Mountain Bikes come in two types of suspension: Hardtail and full suspension mountain bike

Hardtail mountain bikes

Hardtail mountain bikes offer a lightweight bike, with just front suspension. These bikes have a fully rigid rear end, and are ideal for a wide variety of trails.

Because hard trail don't have any rear suspension, they're generally cheaper, simpler to maintain and lighter than more complicated full suspension bikes, meaning they're a wise choice for beginners.

Hardtails also have an advantage when it comes to pedalling. Full suspension bikes can move up and down as you ride.

Full suspension mountain bikes

Full suspension mountain bikes offer the rider increased comfort and control. The front and rear suspension cushions the rider from the impacts on the trail.

Cyclocross Bikes

This is a type that combines both off-road and on-road cycling. Typical Cyclocross terrain includes grass, woodland trails, pavement, mud and even sand!

A Cyclocross bike can appear to look like a road bike; however there are many features that make them uniquely different, and more suited to the specific purpose of multiple terrain riding.

The best way to describe a Cyclocross bike is to think of it as a road bike that’s been cross-pollinated with a mountain bike. However, the best Cyclocross bikes aren’t just road bikes fitted with knobbly tyres. They may have started out like that, but today they’re more focused machines.

To prevent mud from jamming wheels, which is a big issue in CX racing, Cyclocross bikes have lots of wheel clearance. Their bottom brackets are also higher than what you’d find on a normal road bike, which keeps the pedals away from obstacles on the ground. Wheels and tyres are designed to be tough as nails. Hubs will be well-sealed against grime and water and wheels will have strong three-cross spoke patterns with as many as 32 spokes.

Cyclocross bikes have traditionally come fitted with cantilever brakes, or mountain bike-style V-brakes. Both cope well in all weathers and have plenty of clearance for muddy conditions. Disc brakes are becoming more common; they're less susceptible to getting clogged up with mud and offer improved performance in adverse weather

BMX BIKES

A BMX bike is an off-road sport bicycle used for racing and stunt riding. BMX means bicycle motocross.. Sizing is less of a consideration with BMX bikes as it is with other bikes. Most BMX bikes have 20” wheels as standard – sometimes smaller (16” or 18”) on bikes aimed at junior riders, while other ‘cruiser’ type BMX bikes are available with 24” wheels.

Because pedalling efficiency is not an issue, there can be something of a ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to frames, although different disciplines have different requirements.

Folding Bikes

Folders appeal to riders who need a bike that’ll fit into less space than a regular bike. Wonderful as they are, conventional bikes take up a lot of room and that makes it hard to store them in a small flat, transport them on a peak hour train or any sort of bus, or park them inside most offices. Get a bike that folds and all these things become possible.

The main use for folders, then, is commuting, and especially commuting that involves a section of another transport type. Hand out at any major central London rail station for a while and you’ll see hundreds of folders being assembled as their owners get off trains and head into the traffic.

Ride position is generally upright – perfect for short-distance urban cycling – with plenty of stem and seat adjustability to ensure a comfortable fit.

Bike Types by Speed

Single Speed Bikes

The two varieties of single-speed bicycles, fixed gear and freewheel, use a single-gear ratio to propel the rider. Fixed-gear bicycles have a fixed rear cassette, which keeps the pedals spinning any time the wheels are turning. Freewheel bicycles can coast freely when the bike is moving, without the need to continuously pedal. The minimalist design of a single-speed bike makes it ideal for many different cyclists, from beginners to experts. Single-speed bicycles use horizontal dropouts or a chain tensioner to maintain chain tension, since there's no derailleurs on the front or back of the bicycle.

Multiple Speed Bikes

Bicycles with multiple gears are more complex than single-speed bicycles. Using a spring-loaded arm, a multiple-geared bicycle keeps tension on the chain. A cable attached to the shifter pulls the derailleur arm toward or away from the bicycle, which pulls the chain up and down the rear cassette or front chain ring. This action is facilitated by small ramps on the cassette and chain ring, which throw the chain to the next gear under lateral tension.

Bike Types by Frame material

Road Bike/ MTB/ Hybrid Bike

Aluminium

It is the most common material for modern bike frame manufacture: it is reasonably light, durable and has good ride qualities.

Carbon Fibre

Superlight, vibration absorbing and strong. Carbon fibre is relatively new in the mountain biking frame market, but it offers the highest performance characteristics of all the frame materials.

Steel

A very popular and traditional material for building bikes. Steel frames are renowned for their comfort, strength and durability. Steel is quite a heavy frame material however, and therefore despite its good ride qualities it is used less commonly than other metal alloys.

Titanium

Titanium was once the most exotic material a bicycle could be made of. It has a similar character and quality to steel - light and lively. Titanium is impervious to rust, meaning Ti-framed bikes are usually given 'bike for life' status. Titanium frames are usually built using either 3AL/2.5v tubing or 6AL/4v. The numbers stand for the percentages of aluminium and vanadium alloys in the titanium mix, so in 3AL/2.5v the mix is 3% aluminium and 2.5% vanadium.

Cyclo cross

In Carbon fibre and Titanium frame

BMX

Comes only in Aluminium and Steel frame.

Folding Bikes

Frame materials are typically lightweight aluminium or aluminium alloy, although some steel models are available for that extra dimension of comfort and vibration absorption, albeit with a small weight penalty.

Gear Shifting Technique

Road Bike Gears

The transmission on an a beginner road bike is likely to be fitted with an 8,9 or 10 speed cassette on the rear wheel, and most likely a compact style chain set. 10 and 11 speed rear cassettes are standard.  Shimano 105/Ultegra, Campagnolo Centaur/Athena/Chorus and Sram Rival/Force are very popular group sets used on these bikes.

Mountain Bike

Mountain bikes often had either 18, 21, 24, or 27 speeds, with 3 gears in the front and 6, 7, 8, or 9 gears at the rear wheel.

Hybrid Bike

Mountain bikes often had either 18, 21, 24, or 27 speeds, with 3 gears in the front and 6, 7, 8, or 9 gears at the rear wheel.

Cyclo Cross

The gearing is lower on a Cyclo-cross bike, as the speeds involved are a lot slower than on the road. Chain sets with 46/36 chain rings are fairly common, though you can tailor this to suit the course or your fitness level. If you live somewhere hilly, a lower ratio chain set will be a good choice. A wide range cassette like an 11-32 will give you plenty of gears for coping with steep hills, handy if you have ambitions beyond the limited terrain of a Cyclo-cross race.

BMX Gearing

BMX bikes are all single-speed, but the gear ratio will vary depending on the riding discipline.

Street and flatland BMX bikes often have a low gear ratio of 25 teeth on the chaining and eight teeth on the rear sprocket (25/8). This gear ratio offers precise pedalling control around tight obstacles and while performing complex tricks, while the smaller chain ring gives better clearance.

Dirt and racing bikes have larger chain rings (36-38 teeth) and sprockets (16-18 teeth) for better acceleration and maintenance of speed.

Here, the rider should shift into a larger chain ring and use the gears around the middle of the cassette.

Bicycle Size Guides

Road Bike Sizes Mountain Bike Sizes Hybrid Bike Sizes

Wheel Sizes

Road Bike Wheel

The wheel size of road bike is 700c and the tyre width is 23c, 25c and 28c. Mountain bike tyres are measured in inches and road tyres use the unit 'c'. (700c) clinchers. This size is sometimes referred to as "28 inch" or "700"

Mountain Bikes Wheel

26-inch (26T) and 29 inch wheels were a mountain biker’s only option. Whether riding cross country, endure, downhill.

Cyclocross Tyres

Cyclocross tyres are higher volume than road bike tyres - to provide increased cushioning, grip and puncture resistance. These tyres are often tubular or tubeless too.

For racing, the UCI stipulates a maximum width of 32mm, but tyres are available much wider, up to 38 and 42mm.

BMX Tyres

BMX typically comes with 20inch wheels and is generally suitable for riders of 12 years old and up, bikes with 18, 16, 14 and even 12inch wheels are available for younger riders.

Tyres for riding on concrete (flatland, street and park) will have a smooth tread pattern, while tyres for dirt work – jumping or racing – will often have a knobbier tread. Racing tyres are thinner (around 1.75”) for more speed, with jump and freestyle tyres from 2.0” to 2.2” in width, depending on rider preference.

Folding Bike

There are two main categories of folding bike – small-wheeled (dedicated folders with 16” or 20” wheels to minimise size when folded) and normal-wheeled (with 26” or 700c wheels – these are more akin to ‘normal’ bikes, that just happen to fold in order to make transport easier).

Wheel Sizes