What’s the difference between all those different kinds of bikes?

Have you looked at all those different kinds of bikes out there, and wondered what the difference between them all was?  I mean, road bike, downhill bikes, hybrids… what are they all?

Drop bar Road bikes

pic from giant-bicycles.com

These are bikes for riding road (fancy that).  They generally run skinny tyres with minimal tread and have big wheels so they go pretty quick. They are happiest going straight on smooth roads.  The rims are generally not designed to roll over dirt or pot holes.

As they are deisgned to be pretty quick, they are generally all about aerodynamics – drop handlebars to get you down lower, and low handlebars make you more streamlined, but have the consequence that the riding position is quite hands heavy.

Most road bikes also don’t have braze ons for attachment of a rack

Flat bar road bikes

These bikes are like road bikes (skinny tyres, 700 wheels) but have flat handlebars for a more comfortable riding position.  They are very popular commuter bikes.

pic from bikes.com.au

Hard tail

A hard tail is a mountain bike with front suspension only (hence the ‘hard tail’).  They are quite versatile and are used for things such as racing (lots of the fast people use them for racing as they are super quick over dirt compared with a duallie, but you need to be a comparatively better rider to ride one than a duallie as it has no rear suspension to soak up the bumps). People also use them for commuting (you can also replace the tyres with slick tyres so they roll faster).

They have 26 inch wheels and flat handlebars.

Dualiies

These bikes are for mountain biking.  They have both front and rear suspension (ie dual suspension mountain bike).  They are better for rough riding than a hard tail, as the front and rear suspension soak up bumps better, but are comparatively slower.

They generally have 26 inch wheels (but 29 inch wheels are starting to become quite popular)

Downhill

These are made for one thing, and one thing only.  Going downhill and doing it fast.  They have a lot of suspension both front and rear.  They are best suited to going uphill via a truck or chair lift.

Hybrids

These are a combination of a mountain bike and a road bike.  They generally have mtn bike sized wheels (26 inch), and may also have some light front suspension, but generally run skinnier, smoother tyres than a mountain bike.  They are popular for commuting

Other types

Tandem

Two people… one bike… need I say more?

Recumbents

These bikes let you sit and pedal in a super comfortable position.  They can be great for people that have back problems or hand/wrist problems that don’t allow them to ride a traditional bike.  You can get them in 2 wheeled or 3 wheeled versions, with different kinds of wheel sizes.

(pic from greenspeed.com.au)

Cargo bikes

Need to move house?  This is the bike for you.  These bikes let you carry stuff – lots of stuff.

(pic from cargocycles.com.au)

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3 thoughts on “What’s the difference between all those different kinds of bikes?

  1. Good Article, You missed out hand cyles though!! which are similar to recumbents in some designs. I have tried recumbents and found that they are a bit too low to the ground to be safe on roads as cars and lorries may not see you, but they are fun on cycle tracks.

  2. Good article, short, sweet & to the point. Hard to cover them all though isn’t it? I have a tourer and would love a ‘city bike’ ‘step over’ or ‘shopping bike’ – you know, one you really can just jump on in whatever you are wearing to pop down to the shops, and that can carry a couple of bags of groceries back. Would love a folder too.
    Ravs

    • Thanks Rachel – I’m thinking about adding a few more to the list. I would LOVE a beach cruiser. Sadly, Sydney is way to hilly to contemplate riding one, however I love the way they look

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