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Types of Bikes

Jeff Balton

What Type Of Bike To Choose

A mountain bike or a city bike, a road bike or a cruiser? How to buy a bike? There are so many bicycle types, but which one should you choose? How many gears? With or without accessories? What price range to consider? Learn the answers to these questions and what kind of bike to choose below.

The Most Popular Bike Types On The Market

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)It is 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.

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.

An excellent MTB-related discussion can be found here on Singletracks.

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.

Our suggested mountain bikes are here.

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.

Related: Best Full Suspension Bikes

Hardtail bikes, as the name suggests, 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.

Rigid bikes 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 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 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 are similar to XC bikes, but they are designed for more demanding single tracks and more extreme stunts on the trails. They are characterized with 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, 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


Cannondale CAAD12 Ultegra 12 as best road bike

The road bike for competitions – Cannondale CAAD12

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. 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 section

Triathlon/Time trial 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.

Cyclocross (CX) is a discipline which 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 tyre 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.

Gravel/Adventure 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.

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.

Read more: Best Gravel 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.

3. Hybrid Bikes


Diamondback Hybrid BikeHybrid 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.

Related: 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.

City Bike

Pure Cycles’ city bike

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.

 

5. Kids Bikes


KidsBike

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.

Related: 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.

State Bicycle Co

State Bicycle’s Wulf is an excellent example of single and fixed gear bicycle

 

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.

Related: State Bicycle Overview

7. Cruiser Bikes


Sixthreezero around the block review

Sixthreezero Around The Block cruiser

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

Read Next: Best bikes for commuting

 

8. Electric Bicycles


 

 

Electric bikes

Small selection of IZIP eMTBs

Electric Bicycles, also known as e-bikes or booster bikes, are bicycles with an integrated electric motor which 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.

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.

Related: Raleigh and IZIP electric bikes review

 

9. Fat Bikes


Diamondback El Oso Fatbikes Overview

Diamondback El Oso series 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.

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.

Read Next: Best Fat Bikes Out There

10. Cargo Bikes


Izip Utility Electric bikes

Izip Utility & Cargo bikes

Cargo 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 for transportation of 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.

 

11. BMX Bikes


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.

 

12. Folding Bikes


Folding bikes

Dahon folding bike available on Amazon

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.

Related: Best folding bikes

 

13. Recumbent Bikes


Recumbent Bikes

Image Source: ElectricSpokes.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.

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 thousands of dollars, depending on how deep your pocket is.

 

14. 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.

 

Where to shop for different bike types?


Where to shop

  • REI – A big selection of different bike types
  • Diamondback – Diamondback road, city and mountain bikes. Redline BMX and IZIP electric bikes.
  • Raleigh – Raleigh urban, road, recreation, mountain, electric, kids and women’s bikes
  • Aventuron – A large selection of different bicycle types
  • Giantnerd – 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:


This Article Has 38 Comments

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  • Julie Anderson says:

    Hi Jeff.
    I am 63, 5’6”, 160 lbs with moderate arthritis in my right knee and hip. This summer I got back into riding my bike. However, my bike is 20 years old and the handlebars are low. I would prefer a bike which is upright and comfortable. I ride approximately 40 min 4 times per week. I only ride on asphalt trails and roads. I just want to have a reliable bike and enjoy the outdoors. Thank you.

  • Melanie Wood Moody says:

    Hi Jeff. My almost 13 year old has finally decided to learn to ride a bike. He has been afraid to in the past, but he now wants to ride with his friends. He is 4’11” and 70 lbs. What do you recommend for riding around the neighborhood? I don’t want to spend too much, because he never rode the last 2 bikes I purchased for him.

  • C Krause says:

    Hi, I’m trying to find a bike for traveling around San Diego and maybe biking long distances up the California coastline or going from the beach to the mountains to do some hiking. Basically weekend trips of 30 miles or so, but mostly just short 5-10 mile bike rides to spots in the city. What type of bike would you recommend I get? I was thinking either road or hybrid.

  • Yvonne Merideth says:

    Hi.. I am a 70 yr old female wanting to get backing into casual riding for excercise. I’m 5’5 and weigh about 160. I want a heavier bike like back in the 60’s. One with big tires.
    These thin tired and framed bikes I loose my balance on
    What bike do you recommend?
    Yvonne

  • Faye says:

    https://cantireapp.page.link/uyNqptEAQR4obpKXA

    I am planning to buy this cruiser bike. Is it the right height for 5’2 woman?

  • Ruby says:

    Hi!

    I am a 45 year old woman, 5’3” who took her first cycling class at REI! They gave me a17” bicycle which was hard to get used to.

    As a beginner, I am looking for a bike where I can ride along with my 7 year old in the Neighborhood. What is your suggestion on what type of bike I should get?

    Keep in mind that I only learned to balance during my lesson and will need to learn more of the basics…

  • Laarni says:

    I am 60 yo and biked when I was 20 for a short time .i need a bike, not so basic , with good quality, but with a little challenge on rough roads once in a while but mostly in smooth paths .
    I am 5’2 , 125 lbs in weight.
    Which one I should get , size and etc.
    Please help .
    Thank you .

  • Wendy says:

    Hi! I’m a 65-year old woman with joint issues and back problems. I used to be an avid rider and still own my 1986 Cannondale Touring Bike but can no longer balance on it due to spinal curvature (I broke my T10 vertebrae and have a fusion in my mid-back). I’ve been riding my daughter’s clunky L.L.Bean hybrid which is heavy and cumbersome. So, time for a new bike? I’m thinking a higher end hybrid is the way to go but should I consider a recumbent? I’d like to get back to being able to ride for pleasure for a few hours at a time, 20-40 miles. The area I live in is hilly and my aerobic fitness is currently suboptimal. I’d also be willing to try and reconfigure my Cannondale but, much as I love that bike, I’m not sure if it’s worth the effort and money if I can’t get a proper fit. Any advice you have would be more than appreciated!

  • Angela says:

    Hi Jeff, it’s a great article. I’m a girl, 5’7” and 145 lbs. I ride for leisure 3-4 times a week, 12-20 miles at a time, usually on asphalt and dirt roads (among other things because I don’t think my current bike could handle anything else). I live on a hill, so I have to go uphill every time I’m going home and the heavy frame doesn’t help much. What type of bike and what type of frame would you recommend? Also, am I correct in that I should look for M? Thanks.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Angela, thanks. 🙂 A hybrid or a gravel bike would be good choices for the type of riding you do. Aluminum frames are pretty lightweight and cheap nowadays, so there’s no need to look for carbon.

      As for the size, a 17″ (M) size frame is a good choice. If you decide to get a gravel bike, a 54/55cm frame would be good.

  • ahmer Kodvawala says:

    I am looking to buy a bike for my 9 year old daughter, What type of bike should I buy ? She mostly be riding in neighborhood and city parks.
    Thank you

  • Kelly says:

    Hi, my height is 5’5′. Will this bike fit me ?https://www.target.com/p/mongoose-men–39-s-700c-28–34–hybrid-bike—black/-/A-79684730

    28 is the wheel size ? Does the size affect the speed of the bike ?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      According to the size chart, it should fit you. The size of the frame does not affect the speed of the bike directly, but the size of the wheels does.

  • Chrissy Bargas says:

    Any recommendations for an e-bike around $1,000 – $1,200 for a woman with a 26 inch inseam? I was thinking about a city bike. I am out of shape and would like to ride for pleasure.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Chrissy, Rad Power’s RadRunner 1 is an excellent e-bike and costs just $1,200, so it fits your budget. Plus, the size is perfect for your 26″ inseam. We wrote about it earlier here, so you can learn more if you wish. 🙂

  • lori woodard says:

    I am a 61 year old female, 5’6” and 140lbs. I am looking for a road bike to replace my specialized sequoia.
    I ride for leisure 60-80 miles per week. I don’t mind spending some money. I am curious if i should buy carbon or aluminum, and any other suggestions you may have. Thank you

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Lori. Unless you’re worried about shedding every last pound off your bike, I recommend going for a higher-end aluminum frame with a carbon fork. The difference in weight compared to a low-end carbon frame is negligent and you’ll get a much better bang for the buck in terms of components. Aluminum frames have come a long way nowadays, so they offer excellent stiffness and ride quality, especially if you’re not a pro looking to race. Also, make sure you get a road bike with endurance geometry and not racing geometry, for the sake of comfort.

  • Kay says:

    Hi. I’m about to embark on bike commuting. What’s the best brand of commuter bike for around $ 3-400? What’s the best bike maintenance book for a beginner? Thanks for all of your help. Oh! I’m 5’6″. What size bike is best? Thanks again.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hello Kay, a 15″-16″ size bike would be a good fit for you. As for the bike recommendation, you can check out our article about the best cheap bikes, many of which are under $500. 🙂

      When it comes to maintenance, I think nowadays YouTube is your best friend. You can find video instructions that are easy to follow for literally anything bike related.

  • Johnny says:

    Thanks Jeff, I found other stores with XL in stock. My riding will be on city trails which are a combination of asphalt, small stone paths, flat dirt…nothing hardcore. I’ll probably go out once or twice per week for 2-3 hours at a time.

    I’ve narrowed it down to 2 bikes that are in my price range and because I recognize Norco:

    Norco Yorkville – $530
    https://www.cyclepathtoronto.ca/product/norco-yorkville-314223-1.htm

    Norco VFR 2 – $560
    https://www.cyclepathtoronto.ca/product/norco-vfr-2-369567-1.htm

    I suppose I’d like to ask your opinion on the two bikes and which of them represent a better value? I read through the specs but I don’t know anything about bikes so I can’t evaluate them. Appreciate your time.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      If you don’t mind spending $30 more, I’d go for the VFR 2, just because of the better Altus rear derailleur. It will last you longer.

  • Johnny says:

    Hi, I’m looking to purchase this bike: https://www.bikesonwheels.com/collections/bikes-hybrid/products/norco-yorkville which comes in small, medium, large.

    I’m 6′ 1″ and 180lbs and according to Norco’s Bike Sizing Information https://www.norco.com/support/bike-sizing-information/ I should be getting an XL.

    It seems that none of the Norco bikes at this store have XL, they’re either sold out of them or perhaps they don’t make XL bikes for the Canadian market?

    Any help is appreciated.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hey Johnny, you’re right, you need an XL frame. That L frame would not be a good fit for you. They’re probably sold out, so I’d send them an email and ask when and if they’ll have it in stock again in the future. 🙂

  • elanor mathew says:

    My favorite one is the mountain bike

  • Tammy DeStafney says:

    This was some great information. I recommend a section for hand cycles as there are many people with disabilities that make pedaling harder. Those that aren’t that knowledgable they may just type in different kinds of bikes and not find this information.

    I came on to research if I should switch from mountain bike to hybrid. This was certainly helpful.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Tammy, I’m happy that you found value in this article and that you managed to learn something from it. Thanks for the suggestion as well, we’ll definitely add a section about handcycles in the future.

  • Pat says:

    Hi- Lots of info but… how does an adult measure what size cargo bike they need? Does it matter how many inches from your crotch to the ground? I’ve seen a lot of cargo bikes that say they are 24” or 26”. Are they referring to tire size? Any help is appreciated.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Pat, yes, the 24″ and 26″ refers to the size of the wheel. The inseam length is very important when choosing the size of the bike. Since I do not know your measurements or the bikes you’re considering, it’s best to contact the company or the shop where you’re planning to buy the bike and ask them for a size chart. 🙂