Different Types Of Bikes: Explained (15+ Types You Should Know)

Popular Types of Bikes Explained (15+ Types You Should Know About)

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There are tons of different types of bikes out there and you might be asking – what type of bike should I get?

A mountain bike or a city bike, a road bike or a cruiser?…

There are so many bicycle types around, but which one should you choose? How many gears? With or without accessories? Learn the answers to these questions and what kind of bike to choose below.

Let’s begin with the most popular types of bikes that you should first consider when buying a new bike. The chances are that one of these five bike types will suit your needs perfectly. These include mountain bikes, road bikes, hybrid bikes, city bikes, and kids bikes. Let’s find out more about their characteristics and uses.


1. Mountain Bikes (MTB)

Full-Suspension Mountian Bike (Diamondback Release 5C)Mountain bikes are the most widely used bicycle type. It was designed for traversing forests and rougher or mountainous terrains. Its construction differs from a typical bicycle in many ways.

The most noticeable of these differences are the inclusion of suspension on the frame and fork, larger knobby tires, more durable heavy-duty wheels, more powerful brakes, and lower gear ratios, which are needed for steep gradients and better traction.

Related: Bike Brakes Explained

Substantial controllability and the bigger tire pattern makes riding on technical tracks easier and more comfortable.
MTB is good for riders who don’t care about high speeds but instead focus on crossing terrains that can be hard to pass and enjoy bicycle tours and marathon rides.

There are hardtail (with front suspension) and full-suspension (with front and rear suspension) bikes. The latter kind is considered more comfortable but typically costs and weighs more. The mountain bike is in fact a larger category, which also includes downhill, enduro, trail, XC, all-mountain, and so on. The price of these can vary from 250$ up to that of a good mid-class car.

Related: Road Bikes vs. Mountain Bikes – The Main Differences


Full Suspension Bikes

Full Suspension Bike

Full suspension bikes are a subtype of mountain bikes. They have suspension both on the fork and on the back end of the frame. They are typically more expensive than hardtail and rigid bikes and are designed for more demanding terrain.

Best Full Suspension Bikes


Hardtail Bikes


Hardtails 2

As the name suggests, these are mountain bikes that have only front suspension. The tail is hard, so they are less capable than full suspension bikes when it comes to tackling rough terrain. They are usually also more affordable. They are great for riding harder packed trails, forest, and gravel roads.

Best Hardtail Bikes


Rigid Bikes


These are types of bikes without any suspension. The frame is completely rigid which makes them the least comfortable type. However, they still have wide and knobby tires and a MTB frame, so they are designed to go off-road. They are a great choice for terrain that is not extreme and riders who want to save weight by eliminating suspension.


Cross Country (XC) Bikes

XC bikes are designed to be ridden across the countryside, on fire roads and gravel roads, but on singletrack trails as well. You can do some challenging stunts with them, but they are typically not intended for long drops and jumps.

XC bikes are either full suspension, hardtail or rigid, with a suspension of 100-120mm of travel. They have a steeper head tube angle, typically in the 69-71-degree range, which is great for sharp maneuvers. The tires are usually 29″ in diameter and less than 2.2″ in width.


Enduro/All Mountain

All-mountain is a cycling discipline that involves tricky downhills and physically demanding uphills. Enduro bikes are then designed to do both. They are typically found with both 27.5 and 29″ wheels, but the 29er’s are becoming more and more common. They have a very slack head tube angle and a lot of travel (front and back), so they can attack larger obstacles when going fast down the hills.


Trail Bikes

Trail bikes are similar to XC bikes, but they are designed for more demanding single tracks and more extreme stunts on the trails. They are characterized by a full suspension setup with more travel, usually between 130-170mm. These bikes also have a slacker head tube angle, typically between 65 and 68 degrees. It gives the rider more stability and lowers the chance of going over the bars. When it comes to the tires, both 27.5 and 29″ are the norm, but they are usually 2.3″ wide and more.


Downhill bikes

As you can guess, downhill bikes are made to attack the most demanding and technical downhills that there are. They are also known as DH bikes and usually have plush front suspension with up to 200mm of travel. The head tube angle is as slack as it gets and the geometry is relaxed. They are great for fast descents but are mostly useless in other cycling categories.


2. Road Bikes

Ridely's Fenix

Road bikes are the most specialized of all the types of bikes and are meant only for riding on tarmac. The advantages of road bikes are speed, low weight, and an aerodynamic riding position.

It allows you to ride for longer and see more. Typically, road bikes are more expensive compared to other types, but there are good cheaper models on the market. They are not meant for racing but still offer you a ride full of pleasure and fun.

Something to Consider

It is very important to get the right position on a road bike to avoid injuries. To do this, check that your knees do not lock up when pedaling. Then, move your saddle forward or backward to find the most comfortable position. Road bikes aren’t as comfortable as other types of bikes because they’re meant for speed. But remember – riding a bicycle should never be painful!

Road bike frames are usually made either using aluminum or carbon, just like MTB frames. However, racing road bikes typically have carbon frames, whereas recreational models have aluminum frames.

When riding a road bike, you must pay more attention to the road because it won’t forgive certain mistakes. Sharp curbs or potholes can cut your tires. So, compared to other types of bikes, it is not the most versatile type. Road bikes don’t have front suspension and because of that (and the high-pressure tires), your hands take more beating from road vibrations.

When riding a road bike make sure to ALWAYS wear a helmet!

Prices for road bikes start at $500 and can go up to $7,000.


Road Bikes Subcategories

Apart from standard road bikes, there are several other subcategories to consider, derived from the main type. These are:

  • Triathlon/TT bikes
  • Cyclocross (CX) bikes
  • Gravel / Adventure bikes
  • Touring Bikes


At first glance, all of these subtypes have some similarities with road bikes. They have similar frame geometry, use similar materials, and have drop bars.

Learn more: Road Bike Types

However, they also have some significant differences.

For example, TT bikes are more aerodynamic and put the rider in a low, uncomfortable position.

Cyclocross and gravel bikes have wider, knobbier tires and more comfortable geometry.

Touring bikes, on the other hand, have drop bars, but can be made with 26″ tires and sometimes have steel frames.

See Our Road Bike Selection


Triathlon/Time Trial Bikes

These bikes are specialized subtypes of road bikes used for triathlon and time trial races. They have much more aerodynamic frames that go through extensive tests in air tunnels. These bikes put the rider in a very low and aggressive position to further reduce the air resistance.

To achieve such high performance, comfort needs to be sacrificed. Therefore, riding these bikes can turn into suffering over longer distances. Because of that, proper bike fitting is especially important if you plan to ride Triathlon/TT bikes. They are usually quite expensive and cost $3,000 and more.

Best Triathlon Bikes


Cyclocross (CX)

This is a discipline that combines off-road and on-road riding. In a cyclocross race, riders will take their bikes through mud, sand, gravel, dirt, and tarmac. That’s why cyclocross bikes need to have special features, even though they look a lot like road bikes.

CX bikes are characterized by an increased tire clearance on the frame and fork to accommodate for wider tires, a more relaxed geometry, more powerful brakes, and so on. Expensive CX bikes are usually made of carbon, but aluminum and steel frames are popular as well.

Best Cyclocross Bikes


Gravel/Adventure Bikes

Gravel bikes have a lot of similarities with both road bikes and cyclocross bikes, but they are still unique. These bikes are designed for going fast on rough terrain. They are also called adventure bikes because they are often used for bikepacking and traveling.

Related: 8 Reasons Why Gravel Is The Hottest Trend In the Cycling World

Gravel bikes have a longer wheelbase and a lower bottom bracket compared to road bikes, which gives them more stability on uneven terrain. They also have 32mm or 35mm tires, a tubeless setup, and reliable hydraulic disc brakes.

Best Gravel Bikes


Touring bikes

Touring Bikes, as their name tells you, are used for traveling over long distances and spending hours in the saddle every day. They are usually bought by people who love bicycle touring and need to carry a lot of stuff with them. They usually have a strong frame made of aluminum or steel, which is easy to maintain and repair. The rear triangle is larger than on other bicycle types, which lets you hang large panniers on the rear rack without rubbing against them with your heel.

Touring bikes are all about comfort. They typically come with wider 26″ wheels, a relaxed geometry, plushy saddle, and drop bars, which lets you stay in the riding position for 10 or more hours a day if necessary.

Best Touring Bikes


3. Hybrid Bikes


Best entry level hybrid bike - Vilano700c

Hybrid bikes are finding more and more supporters due to their being the most versatile bikes on the market. Without favoring one surface over another they allow for comfort and efficiency in forests and streets alike. Typically, a hybrid bike has 21 – 27 gears and 28” wheels, that are around 35mm wide.

It is also possible to equip it with various accessories, making it nearly indispensable for bicycle tours. The larger wheel diameter is a definite advantage, which allows for greater speeds and lowers the rolling resistance.

So, when you are thinking about what type of bike to choose, consider hybrid bikes if your idea is to mostly cruise around on your new bike. Prices are similar to those of mountain bikes – starting at around $250. Here is a good place for discussions related to hybrid bikes.

Best Hybrid Bikes


4. City Bikes


City bikes roll much better on city streets and are usually fully equipped. That is, the standard equipment includes lights, a rear rack, a bicycle stand, fenders, and a chain guard.

They are mainly designed for streets, but they won’t disappoint you on hard-packed forest roads either. City bikes typically have between 1 and 27 gears. The price depends on the equipment and quality and ranges from $250 to several thousand dollars.

If you make it your choice for urban rides, you won’t go wrong. However, there are several other types to consider, including Dutch bikes that are most popular in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe.


5. Kids Bikes

Retrospec Cub


Kids’ Bikes’ wheels range between 12” and 24”. Bicycle riding for kids could start at the age of two, usually on a 12″ balance bike. Bigger tires can be used for 10-13-year-olds, and bikes with gears are usually offered from the age of five.

High-quality and durable kids’ bikes can cost from around $100. Pedal-less Bikes (balance bikes) are great for kids’ physique and usually cost even less. There are also high-end mountain and road bikes for kids, intended for children who love racing at a young age.

Best Kids Bikes


6. Fixed/Single Gear Bikes (Fixies)

Fixed and single gear bikes are built or rebuilt to be as minimalistic as possible.

A fixed-gear drivetrain has the drive sprocket (or cog) threaded or bolted directly to the hub of the back wheel, so that the rider cannot stop pedaling. When the rear wheel turns, the pedals turn in the same direction and at the same pace.

Retrospec Harper Fixie

Most fixed-gear bicycles only have a front brake, and some have no brakes at all. If those aspects don’t bother you, then they are very easy to ride on streets and lack parts that can break. They can be commonly seen among bike messengers in big cities because they force them to stay in flow with the traffic and reach their destination more quickly.

Fixies can cost as little as several hundred dollars or as much as several thousand dollars.

Best Fixed Gear Bikes

OR Best Single Speed Bikes


7. Cruiser Bikes

Sixthreezero Amelia


Cruiser Bikes are focused on comfort, style, and affordability, compared to mountain and racing bikes which focus more on performance. This has led them to renewed popularity in recent years. They have a classic “retro” look, reliable mechanical performance offers a comfortable ride, and come at a relatively low price.

If you want to talk with other cruiser bike owners, then Bikeforums.net  has a Cruiser subforum that you should visit. Nearly every major bike manufacturer now offers at least one cruiser model, if not an entire line. Therefore, it’s pretty easy to find one that you like and that meets your needs.

They usually cost less than $1,000 and many are priced below $500.

P.S. If you’re lazy enough like I am on the weekends, then the next bike type is the best one for you.

Related: Sixthreezero Around The Block cruiser bike review.

Best Cruiser Bikes


8. Electric Bicycles

RipCurrent S
Ripcurrent S

Electric Bicycles, also known as e-bikes or booster bikes, are bicycles with an integrated electric motor that can be used for assistance on the road. There is a great variety of e-bikes available worldwide, from e-bikes that only have a small motor to assist the rider’s pedal-power (i.e., pedelecs) to somewhat more powerful e-bikes which tend to be closer to moped-style functionality. However, all of these retain the ability to be pedaled by the rider and are therefore not electric motorcycles.

Related: How to Choose An Electic Bike

E-bikes use rechargeable batteries and the lighter varieties can go up to 16 – 20 mph. Today, e-bikes come in the form of hybrid bikes, city bikes, cruisers, and even road bikes and mountain bikes. They are typically used by older people or those struggling with injuries. However, commuters who don’t want to get to work drenched in sweat or those who are a bit lazy to deal with hills can use them as well.

They typically cost between $1,500 and $5-6,000 (And some even more).

Best Electric Bikes


9. Fat Bikes


Fatbikes are extremely popular today due to their practicality and their mean looks. They have big 26″ tires which makes them suitable for riding in deep snow, mud, on rocks, and anywhere else where the ordinary MTB isn’t as good.

Related: Best Electric Fat Tire Bikes

Fat bikes are gaining popularity very quickly, just as was the case with cyclocross bikes years ago. If you are planning a long tour off the beaten track, exploring the backcountry where it will be hard to find good roads and trails, then a fat bike is a fantastic choice.

A fat bike can cost you between $500 and several thousand dollars.

Best Fat Bikes


10. Cargo Bikes

Cargo optionsCargo bikes (also known as Freight bikes) are simple bicycles that have a cargo area at the front or the back of the bike. They can be used to transport goods, pets, and even kids and adults, depending on the size of the cargo area.

The cargo area can be a simple platform, on which you can strap your load, or it can resemble a basket or a crate. These bikes are usually made of steel because it provides a sturdier construction. They typically have just one gear, but some might have more.

Cargo bikes are very popular in European cities, especially in Scandinavia and the Netherlands, where there is a good cycling infrastructure for their riding.

They can cost between $500 and several thousands of dollars, depending on what you want to get.

Best Cargo Bikes


11. Tandem Bikes

Tandem bike

The tandem bike concept is known to many, but these bikes are not too popular in the cycling world. That is because you need two people to ride one.

The fact that you need a second person to ride one makes them appealing to many — tandem bikes are a great way to spend time with your loved ones.

A tandem bike allows two people to ride together, regardless of the fitness level of each person.

Even though both cranksets are linked together with a chain and rotate at the same time, the two riders don’t need to produce the same power. One rider can do all the hard work, whereas the other can simply enjoy the ride.

Best Tandem Bikes


12. BMX Bikes

GT Bicycles BMX

BMX are small bicycles with 20″ wheels that are typically used by children. However, they are not necessarily made for kids. Most of us started on a BMX bike back in the days, but later on moved to different types. BMX bikes are also called Trick bikes because they are used by adults who like doing spins, jumps, and other tricks on them.

These bikes usually have just one gear, which allows the rider to pedal in both directions (go forward and backwards). They often have no brakes, but may include a front brake which helps with some tricks.

BMX bikes are usually quite cheap and cost under $500.

Best BMX Bikes


13. Folding Bikes

Electric folding bike

Folding bikes come in different shapes and sizes. They are usually the favored means of transportation for travelers and commuters because of their practicality. These bikes have foldable frames which can be taken apart in a matter of minutes. Therefore, they can easily be packed inside a suitcase and taken on a plane, or carried onto a subway or a train.

Folding bikes, apart from taking less space, also allow travelers to avoid paying expensive air fees. If you pack it inside a suitcase, you can check in with just regular baggage. These types of bikes usually have smaller wheels, but there are some folding bikes with 26″ and 700c wheels as well.

A folding bike can cost you anywhere between $200 and $2,000, depending on the components and features.

Best Folding Bikes

OR Best E-Folding Bikes


14. Recumbent Bikes

About Recumbent Trikes - RAD Innovations
Image source: rad-innovations.com

Recumbent bikes are very popular among older riders and those who are suffering from back issues. These types of bikes have a long and low design that almost puts the rider in a lying-down position. They have a seat with a backrest, so the force on the back is not as strong as it is on a regular bike. They are also great for knee issues, because of the forward-pedaling motion, instead of a downward-pedaling one.

Read more: Recumbent Bike Benefits

Even though recumbent bicycles are more challenging to ride uphill, they are a popular choice among some world travelers because of how comfortable they are. If you plan to spend hours on a bike every day and you have back, shoulder, or knee pain, definitely consider this type.

If you decide to go for it, you will need to pay anywhere between $500 and several thousand dollars, depending on how deep your pocket is.

Best Recumbent Bikes


15. Trikes

Ixip electric trike
Izip eTrike

Trikes or Tricycles, as you might guess from the name, are types of bikes with three wheels. They exist in the form of ordinary bikes, but they are also made as recumbents and cargo bikes. This bike design is perfect for carrying loads because there is a lot of room for a cargo area in the back.

Trikes are often popular among kids and among older folks who are not too confident in their riding skills. These bikes are also a popular choice in industrial and warehouse applications because of their practicality.


16. Lowrider Bikes

Original lowrider bikes

Lowrider bikes were really popular in the 1960s, but they are still somewhat popular today. Inspired form lowrider cars, these bikes are incredibly customizable, from sissy bars to detailed handlebars.


Where To Shop For Different Bike Types?

Where to shop

  • REI – A big selection of different bike types
  • evo.com – A large selection of different bicycle types
  • TommasoBikes.com – Tommaso road bikes
  • JensonUSA – Mainly mountain bikes

Do you know a good shop? Let us know in the comments…

Additional Bike Buying Guides You Might Like:

101 thoughts on “Popular Types of Bikes Explained (15+ Types You Should Know About)

  1. Hello, I am 73 years old, 5 foot 9 inches tall and weigh about 170 lbs, male. I haven’t ridden a bike in over 10 years but would like to resume this for summer activity. I live now in a smaller town and would probably limit myself to local roads and bike paths. I’m looking for suggestions and tips on choosing a bike for this. Your input would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

    1. Hi Edward,
      Have you tried riding a hybrid bike? It’s comfortable and can be ridden on or off-road. Try to get a large frame size, preferably a 17”. Get a bike fit too. Goodluck! 🙂

  2. Hello. I’m completely new to bike riding but would like to learn. I live in a suburban neighborhood and would like to ride around in the neighborhood and maybe to the grocery store. Unfortunately car drivers aren’t always mindful of bikers, so I’d be riding on street and sidewalk paths at times. Would really appreciate your recommendations on inexpensive (ok, cheap) options since I’m very new to riding. I’m 5”5’, 180lbs with some weak ankle problems. Thank very much for your reply and very useful website!

    1. Hi Aubai,
      Why don’t you try a hybrid bike? It will allow you go ride on pavements and gravel. Size medium is good for you. Here’s a good link.

  3. Hai jeff..my height is 170cm/5’5 feet..i want to use a road bike..can u give me a guide..frame size..inseam size..wheel size that suits for me..tq jeff

    1. Hi Jardani,
      You will be ok with a 15″ or 16″ frame. It overlaps between medium and small but I think you will be ok with either of them.

  4. Hi I hope you can help with this question I am a 67yr old female fairly fit and looking to buy a bike for excercise. I have found one at millets at a reasonable price it’s a Vitesse women’s pulse hybrid ebike. But they only seem to have one size OS whatever that means modelno. 16049318. I’m trying to figure out if it will be ok for me I am 5’4” tall weigh 11st have an inside leg measurement of 30” but I need to sit fairly upright when cycling as I suffer with neck pain if I hunch over. I have included the spec on the bike which is on offer but would welcome your advice as to whether it would be the right bike for me.
    LED Control system with Walk assist mode
    World power Li-ion 10.4ah/36v Battery Using Samsung cells
    Prop Stand, Mudguards & Carrier all included
    Aged 11 to Adult
    Depth: 180 CM
    Height: 110 CM
    Width: 55 CM
    Weight: 21.5kg
    Brake Detail: V Brakes
    Frame Size (in inch): 20
    Gear Type: Rotational Shift
    Saddle Detail: Comfort padded sports saddle
    Suspension: N
    Tyre Size (in inch): 28
    Frame: 20″ Ladies 6061 Alloy Sports hybrid (Patented)
    Motor: Mxus Front hub 250w/36v
    Number of gears: Shimano Nexus 7 Speed
    Gears: Shimano Nexus internal 3 Speed gear system
    Shifters: Shimano Nexus Shifters
    Tyres: CST 700 x 35c Electric bike specific reflective tyres
    Range: 120/100km Dependant on Rider weight and terrain
    Charge time: 5 hours
    Range: (62- 75 Miles) dependant on rider weight and terrain
    Stem: Adjustable Stem
    **Some minor assembly is required. See our video (below the image) or consult our assembly guide for assistance.

    1. Hi Linda,
      I’d say this is the right bike for the kind of requirements you need. A “small” category fits you well. Did you ask them if they have a size 15” ?

  5. Hi Jeff, Chethan here from India. Your information & insights about all types of cycles are really helpful for a beginner like me. I wanted to ask you that, as of now I am 5 feet 11 inch height guy. So,which bike will be suitable for me Mountain bike or hybrid then what about frame size and tyre inches?. It would be more helpful if you provide me with precise info about the exact brand cycle and model which is best in India for me at an affordable price. Will be waiting for your reply jeff

    1. Hi Chethan
      If I were you and just beginning to get into bikes, then I would get a hybrid bike. This is a good compromise between road and offroad. I am not sure if you will be a hardcore mountain biker or a roadie, so a hybrid will help determine your riding style. I would also suggest that you get a large frame, specifically a 17″. Check this link to help you with your buying decision.

  6. What is the best bike to hang a basket or something like that to take a 15 pound dog cruising? Thought the Margaritaville Coast is Clear, but I’m thinking the basket is too small. Also, you think the basket should be in the front or back of the bike for a dog?

    1. Hi Gina,

      A beach cruiser or city bike type is what you are looking for. Personally, I think a front basket is safer. This way, you can see the dog before you. There are baskets that can accomodate a 15-pound dog if you look harder. About the bike, check out my post about Best Commuter Bikes and scroll all the way down. You will see bikes that are good for putting a basket on for your lovely dog.

  7. Hi Jeff! I perused all your fabulous responses to see if any fit or are close to my circumstances but afraid I’m just too complex… either that or a mess! I’m looking for either a cruiser or a city bike I think. I’m over 50 & 5’9” I’ve always loved long rides on tall bikes but am afraid I no longer have the strength or coordination if something goes wrong so I better stick to safe. I have arthritis in my hands and wrists and deal with a couple other autoimmune issues but really want to get back out there and at least ride flat on community streets, paved parks & along Fort Lauderdale Beach boardwalk/sidewalks. I’m now on disability & don’t really want to go crazy overboard price-wise although hubby says get whatever I want – so a couple recommendations would be great please. I appreciate how well you take care of inquiries. You totally rock and ride!!! 😉

    1. Hi Milly,
      I think I know exactly what you need: a bike that is geared for upright riding. Something that is more of a beach cruiser/city bike/hybrid type. This type of bike is what I am talking about. Note the geometry. You may check out other bikes that I have posted but make sure that you look for this type of bike. Note that, you need to look for a Large category of frame. Something in the range of 56-57-58 cm.

  8. Hi Jeff I’am 5’8 170 weight, 60 years old, I like mountain bikes. Which would be the measurement for me S M or L, I like 29” tires and full suspension. Thank you very much. My name Gio.

  9. Hi..I’m recently discovered this site and im loving it.. its very helpful.I have one question… i want to buy city bike but i have a dilemma with the wheel sizing between 26′ and 28’… all my previous bikes were 26′ and i love the control of it.. but because of my size and hight everybody says i should take 28′.. im 40 years old, have 108 kg and 169cm hight… please help… thank you very much.. regards Borkica

    1. Hi Borkica,
      Forget what others say. Pay more attention to what you feel. If you are comfortable with a 26′ then by all means have that wheel size. All sizes have their pros and cons. A smaller wheel diameter gives you control. Bigger ones give you smoother ride. Sometimes it’s all about aesthetics and not practicality. So be very careful about that issue. Just ensure you get a ‘Medium” frame size like a 16”.

  10. Hi Jeff,

    I am Rituraj weighing 115 kgs in weight and height 5 feet 10 inches.I work in a tea plantation.I am looking for an hybrid MTB with 3 piston and more gears .
    Will be thankful if you can help me get one good bike from the online stores.

    1. Hi Rituraj,
      I assume you are going to use this mostly for off road riding right? Check out our entry level bike Cannondale Trail 8. You can also check out other Cannondale series. The Trek Marlin 4 is another popular brand. You can also check out other Trek Marlin series. These are all under our comprehensive Mountain Bike link.

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