No matter what your motivation for riding, there’s a style of bike best suited to it. Bicycles all share the same general design, however, specializations in geometry, componentry, and materials prescribe certain bikes for specific types of riding. If you’re thinking of buying a bike, you’ll want to consider these differences before making your final choice.
The following guide has been written to help new cyclists differentiate between the many bike styles and choose the one that’s right for them. In each category you’ll find a description of the style’s features, a rundown of its main uses, and an example from one of our manufacturers.
Road – Manufacturers: Fuji, Kestrel
Road bikes are built to cover long distances with speed and minimal effort. Racing models are fast, lightweight, and aerodynamic, while touring models have a more relaxed riding position and can accommodate racks for carrying cargo. Both styles have drop handlebars that give the rider multiple hand positions.
Best for: Road and criterium racing, touring, triathlons, club rides.
Triathlon – Manufacturers: Fuji, Kestrel
Aggressive geometry and unconventional tubing make tri bikes extremely aerodynamic. Like road bikes, tri bikes are engineered for speed. They are the least versatile bike, built exclusively for racing.
Best for: Triathlons, time trials.
Fixed/Track/Single Speed – Manufacturers: Fuji, SE
Designed for track riding, fixed gear bikes lack the freewheeling mechanism that lets other bikes coast. Like spin bikes at the gym, if the wheels are moving, the crankarms are spinning. Because they only have one speed, derailleurs are not necessary. Many fixed-gear bikes also lack brakes. ‘Fixies’ have become popular off the track with riders who enjoy their simple construction and minimal maintenance requirements. Single speed bikes with freewheeling capabilities and brakes are also available.
Best for: Track racing, city riding, and commuting.
Cyclocross – Manufacturers: Fuji
Cross bikes are superficially similar to road bikes but the relaxed geometry of the frame results in smoother handling. Greater clearance between the wheels and the frame permits wider, knobby tires. These features help make cross bikes one of the most versatile bike styles. With their original knobby tires, they maintain traction on gravel roads, grass, and hard packed dirt while not sacrificing speed. With slick tires installed, cross bikes can perform many of the functions of road bikes.
Uses: Cyclocross racing, commuting, touring, and road riding.
Mountain – Manufactuers: Fuji, Breezer
Wide tires, low gearing, and suspension assist mountain bikes in going where other bikes cannot. Available features include rear suspension which increases traction over rough terrain, and disc brakes, which aid in persistent speed control on steep hills and in wet conditions.
Best for: Trail and downhill riding, rocky and loose terrain.
Comfort – Manufactuers: Fuji
Recreational riders and people with back problems appreciate the relaxed riding position of comfort bikes. Unlike most other bike styles, they are equipped with adjustable handlebars and suspension seatposts. The upright position is both comfortable and practical as it allows the rider to easily see what’s happening around them. Both 26” and 700C models are available.
Best for: Recreational riding and short distance commuting.
Fitness – Manufacturers: Fuji
Also called hybrids, flat-bar road bikes, and a variety of other names, fitness bikes have 700C wheels and a straight handlebar. They usually come with thin tires but can accommodate wider ones. They have a more aggressive riding position than comfort bikes. The gearing ranges from that of mountain bikes to that of road bikes.
Best for: Commuting, road and path riding, and exercise.
City – Manufacturers: Breezer
City bikes are set up for commuting. They have upright riding positions, full fenders, chainguards, and racks for carrying cargo. To minimize wear and tear from poor weather conditions, many of them have internal shifting systems. Some models come with generator powered front and rear lights.
Best for: Commuting, running errands, and recreational riding.
Multiple models in each of the styles above are all available from our suppliers. Visit our shop for pricelists and catalogs for more detailed information on each model. If you’re still unclear on which bike is right for you, contact one of our staff and we will be happy to help you.