How to choose a bicycle

Cycling

No matter what type of bike you choose, continually monitor your tire tread, air pressure and amount of wear on the brake pads to ensure you’ll have a safe ride.

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Bicycle buying guide

Cycling isn’t just a fun and convenient way to get around. It’s also a great form of exercise and an environmentally-friendly mode of transportation. Whatever your reason may be for biking, choosing the right bike for your lifestyle isn’t always as easy as it sounds. 

There are various styles, sizes, price ranges and additional features to consider before making a purchase. Helping to make that decision a little easier, we’ll cover all the bases and divide our list according to the bicycle style, so you can make a choice that satisfies your needs.

What to consider when buying a bike

Style

Not all bikes are made the same. On one end, you have mountain bikes designed with wider tires, advanced suspensions and frames built to handle unpaved trails, while road bikes are sleeker and built for speed on smoother roads. Once you know what kind of riding you’ll be doing the most of, you can narrow down your options. 

Size

Both men’s and women’s bicycles are available in a variety of frame sizes. Depending on your height and inseam length, you’ll want to find a frame that fits your measurements. Using a bike that is too small or too large can lead to decreased performance, difficult handling and an uncomfortable ride. Helpful charts can provide a good starting point.

Price

The pricing for bikes can range from under $100 for the cheapest models to several thousand for high-end options. By establishing a budget, you can significantly narrow down your choices. Casual bikers looking for occasional rides around town probably won’t need to shell out as much as serious cyclists. 

Extra features 

Additional features such as the brake type, seat type, fenders, racks, etc., can also impact your decision. 

Caliper brakes are the most common type of bike brakes, though disc brakes are another popular and reliable option. 

Seats, also called saddles, vary depending on the type of bike. You can find everything from narrow, lightly cushioned options, which are common on performance road bikes, to wider, plush options used most often on cruisers.

Some recreational bikes might come equipped with carrying racks, baskets or fenders. However, you can also purchase these accessories separately. 

What type of bicycle should I buy?

Road bikes

Road bikes are lightweight, streamlined and designed for high-speed cycling on paved roads. These bikes have narrow tires and will often feature drop handlebars that allow for different hand positioning while riding. 

Tommaso Imola Endurance Aluminum Road Bike

Tommaso Imola Endurance Aluminum Road Bike

This versatile road bike is excellent at providing all-day comfort, especially when in the midst of a long ride or steep uphill climb. Built with durable, long-lasting components, the Imola Endurance model offers great value for the price.

Sold by Amazon

Vilano Shadow 3.0 Road Bike

Vilano Shadow 3.0 Road Bike

The Shadow 3.0 is a quality entry-level road bike that features convenient STI integrated gear shifters for maximum control at a relatively low price. Available in different frame sizes, you can find the one that best matches your height.

Sold by Amazon

Eurobike OBK XC550 Road Bike

Eurobike OBK XC550 Road Bike

With 21 speeds and disc brakes for more sensitive braking, this budget-friendly road bike is a great deal. While the somewhat heavy frame means it won’t perform as well as high-end models, it is still a fantastic value for the casual rider or amateur road cyclists.

Sold by Amazon 

Mountain bikes

Unlike road bikes, mountain bikes have much thicker tires meant to grip a variety of surfaces. Though heavier and bulkier, mountain bikes offer better suspension systems and allow the rider to sit in a more upright position. 

Mongoose Impasse HD Mens Mountain Bike

Mongoose Impasse HD Men’s Mountain Bike

Featuring a lightweight aluminum frame, full suspension, front and rear disc brakes and a 21-speed derailleur, you’ll be able to conquer rough terrain on and off the trail.

Sold by Amazon 

Schwinn Traxion Mountain Bike

Schwinn Traxion Mountain Bike

The dual suspension frame works well to absorb bumps and challenging road conditions. The EZ fire gear triggers allow you to quickly shift from a high to low gear when approaching a tricky climb.

Sold by Amazon 

Nishiki Women’s Pueblo Mountain Bike

Nishiki Women’s Pueblo Mountain Bike

With three frame sizes to choose from, you can find the perfect fit with this Nishiki model. This affordable mountain bike is just as fun to ride on a bumpy gravel path as it is coasting down a city street.

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods 

Hybrid bikes

If you’re looking for a bike that can be used for road cycling but can still handle some off-roading now and then, a hybrid option might be the perfect choice. These types of bikes are great for everyday commuters. 

Schwinn Sporterra Adventure Gravel Bike

Schwinn Sporterra Adventure Gravel Bike

A quick-release saddle feature makes for straightforward and simple seat adjustment. The multi-terrain tires are perfect for going from pavement to grass to gravel without an issue.

Sold by Amazon

Raleigh Bikes Detour Hybrid Bike

Raleigh Bikes Detour Hybrid Bike

Utilizing a frame that allows for a more comfortable riding posture, this hybrid bike will perform smoothly mile after mile. This model is great for commuting or occasional weekend touring, especially considering its cushioned saddle.

Sold by Amazon 

Schwinn GTX 3 Hybrid Bike

Schwinn GTX 3 Hybrid Bike

Complete with front shocks and seven speeds for various terrain, this hybrid bike can glide down forested trails while still offering a comfortable experience for the rider.

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods

Cruisers

Beach cruisers are ideal for casual and recreational use on relatively smooth and flat terrain. They usually have comfortable padded seats with a unique frame and handlebar design. 

sixthreezero EVRYjourney Men's Beach Cruiser

sixthreezero EVRYjourney Men’s Beach Cruiser

Sporting a back cargo rack and matching fenders, this single-speed cruiser can manage flat terrain while providing a luxurious ride.

Sold by Amazon

Schwinn Sanctuary 7 Cruiser Bike

Schwinn Sanctuary 7 Cruiser Bike

If you’re looking for a standout retro style that isn’t lacking in modern upgrades, the Sanctuary 7 is a good choice. The padded seat will keep you comfortable all day long, while the matching red fenders will block the spray from water and mud.

Sold by Amazon 

Huffy Cranbrook Women's Comfort Cruiser Bike

Huffy Cranbrook Women’s Comfort Cruiser Bike

The Huffy Cranbrook Cruiser is a well-made budget option that will get you where you need to go. Its spring saddle feature allows for a smooth coasting experience, and the chain guard helps keep your chain clean and free of debris.

Sold by Amazon

Other styles 

Mongoose Legion Freestyle BMX Bike

Mongoose Legion Freestyle BMX Bike

BMX bikes are great for performing tricks at bike parks, but they can also be fun options for kids and shorter riders. Mongoose is a well-respected brand known for making quality BMX-style bikes.

Sold by Amazon

IDS Home unYOUsual U Transformer 20" Folding City Bike

IDS Home unYOUsual U Transformer 20″ Folding City Bike

The design is unique, but what it lacks in classic appeal, this folding bike makes up for in portability. With the ability to fold up and store in small spaces, this is an excellent option for large cities where living space can be limited.

Sold by Amazon

 

Matthew Young is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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