Looking for a new bike? There’s probably never been a better time to buy one. In the past decade, bikes have gotten more functional, more reliable, and more fun to ride. That’s partly because the variety has bloomed from a few basic styles (e.g. road, mountain, city) to now include all manner of niches and categories-within-categories, as bike makers diversify their offerings to appeal to the many ways that people enjoy riding.

But that profusion of options presents you, the eager buyer, with a challenge: How do you know which kind of bike is right for you and the riding you’ll do? Well, that’s what this guide is for. Use the handy quick-reference section up top to narrow down between broad categories, then jump down to learn about different options within those.

A Quick Guide to the Types of Bikes:

Road Bikes – Lightweight, efficient bikes with drop handlebars and narrow tires, for recreational riding, mostly (but not exclusively) on pavement. Styles include aero, ultralight, endurance, touring, and all-road.

Mountain Bikes – Rugged machines with flat handlebars and wide, knobby tires for riding narrow dirt trails. Styles include hardtail, full-suspension cross country, full-suspension trail, and full-suspension enduro.

Gravel/AdventureBikes – Drop-bar bikes with clearance for multiple tire sizes for a range of riding experiences on- and off-road. Styles include gravel, bikepacking, and cyclocross.

Utility Bikes – Bikes designed for practical cycling while commuting or running errands, including tasks that involve carrying family members or cargo. Styles include commuter, fixie, folding, and cargo.

Comfort/Fitness Bikes – Everything from beach cruisers to flat-bar bikes for weekend spins on multi-use paths. Styles include hybrid, fitness, comfort, and cruiser.

E-Bikes – Electronic bicycles can be bikes from almost any of the other categories here, designed with a small, lightweight electric motor to assist the rider. Styles include commuter, cargo, mountain, and road.

Fat Bikes – These head-turning bikes feature 3.8-inch wide or wider tires for flotation and traction often for sand, snow, or trail. Styles include mountain (hardtail and full suspension) and cruiser.

Triathlon Bikes – Road-style bikes built to optimize aerodynamics a with wing-shaped frame, wheel cross-sections, and aggressive rider positions.

Tandem Bikes — Tandems are bicycles built for two or more riders, and thus are often built with reinforced frames and components to handle the extra weight. The rider in front is called the pilot; the rear is referred to as the stoker. Tandem bikes come in several styles, including road, mountain, and cruiser, but road is the most common.

Park Bikes — These purpose-built machines are made for various different uses, but two commonalities link them: They’re made for use in groomed terrain like bike park trails or skate parks, and they’re all great at catching air. The three main styles are dirt jump, BMX, and slopestyle.

Kids’ Bikes — Get your little ones into the action with a great kid’s bike. Once you move past department-store junk, there are all kinds of options, even dedicated road and full-suspension mountain bikes built for small riders. Higher quality means lighter weight and kid-friendly parts, so your child has more fun riding. And you can start them earlier than ever now that pedal-less “balance” bikes have largely replaced tricycles as a toddler’s first ride.

Tricycles – We’re not talking kid stuff here; these are adult three-wheelers intended for anyone who wants to haul lots of stuff, or who needs or prefers the stability of the third wheel. Styles include road, mountain, and utility in both upright and recumbent configurations. There are also adaptive (hand-cranked) versions. Some trikes have electric-assist.

Recumbent Bikes – In contrast to a traditional bicycle where the rider sits upright, recumbents put the rider in a reclined position that some people find more comfortable. Most recumbents are road style, but some can be used off-pavement.

Track Bikes — These stripped-down machines are designed for special use in velodrome racing. They feature very stiff frames, narrow tires, a single gear that does not freewheel (if the bike is moving, the pedals are turning), and no brakes.

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s works tarmac disc pro
Courtesy of Specialized

Road Bike

What it is: Some people call it a racing bike; others call it a 10-speed (Hello, progress: One can now have 18 or more speeds!). Road bikes are made for speed, with narrow tires for rolling fast and far on paved surfaces. Disc-brake versions are becoming increasingly common. Many brands have women’s-specific models, which have different touch points (saddle, handlebars, and sometimes crankarm length) for women’s anatomy and sometimes have women’s-specific frame geometry.

Within road bikes, there are some sub-types:

  • Aero: With wing-shape frame tubes and wheels, these bikes reduce drag to a bare minimum. Intended for racing or time-trialing, they often feature more aggressive rider positions; the emphasis is speed over rider comfort.
  • Ultralight: Made for long climbs, these bikes strip weight by using the lightest materials, but may not be as good for all-around use.
  • Endurance: The right pick for most riders, these models feature a more upright rider position for comfort, slightly wider tires and gearing ranges and, sometimes, vibration-absorbing technologies in the frame and/or fork.
  • Touring: These lightweight roadsters are built for all-day comfort and carrying capacity. Long wheelbases and stable steering make for confident handling, while accessory mounts for racks and bags let you gear up for long-distance, self-supported rides.
  • All-Road: A bridge between pure road and gravel bikes, this relatively new style (sometimes called road-plus or pavement-plus) combines clearance for moderately bigger tires (up to around 38mm wide) with a more-traditional road bike geometry that features quicker steering and an aerodynamically efficient rider position.

    What it’s for: If you’re staying on pavement, it’s hard to beat the fast-rolling efficiency of a good road bike. From racing to group rides to solo spins, a road bike can handle a wide range of recreational rides.

    Price range: Quality road bikes with aluminum frames, 18-speed drivetrains and conventional rim brakes start around $800. Super high-end models go well north of $15,000, with exotic materials, 22-speed electronic drivetrains, hydraulic disc brakes, and ultra low weights.

    juliana maverick women's mountain bike
    Courtesy of Juliana

    Mountain Bike

    What it is: These durable, rugged bikes are made for riding narrow dirt trails. They have wide, flat handlebars for control; two-inch or wider tires with knobby tread for traction; and wide-range drivetrains and hydraulic disc brakes for handling steep climbs and descents. Wheels are typically either 27.5-inch diameter or 29-inch; the older 26-inch is rapidly disappearing. Women’s models are marked by women’s-specific seats, smaller grips and narrower handlebars and shorter crankarms. Most also have lighter suspension tuning for smaller riders.

    For mountain bikes, here are the sub-types:

    • Hardtail: As the name suggests, these often have suspension forks on a rigid frame. They are typically the most affordable type, but there are also high-end versions for racing.
    • XC Full-Suspension: Features a shorter-travel (110mm or less) rear suspension designed to prioritize low bike weight and efficiency under power, especially on climbs.
    • Trail Full-Suspension: Mid-travel (120-150mm) suspension that balances climbing efficiency and descending abilities. Tires get wider, with larger brake rotors for stopping power. Some versions are “Plus” compatible, offering conventional 29-inch wheels or 27.5x3-inch “plus-size” rubber.
    • Enduro/Gravity Full-Suspension: With 160mm or more of rear wheel travel, powerful brakes and aggressive tire treads, these bikes are intended for maximum control when descending, especially on steep, technical terrain.

      What it’s for: Mountain biking means lots of things to lots of people. Depending on the style, a mountain bike can be used for everything from unpaved roads to steep, goat-path singletrack. Generally, the more technical the trails, the more rear suspension you want. Smaller riders may benefit from bikes with the 27.5-inch wheel size.

      Price range: A basic hardtail for light trail use can be as low as $400, while the top trail and enduro-style models cost $10,000, with carbon fiber frames and wheelsets and sophisticated suspensions.

      allied able gravel bike
      Trevor Raab

      Gravel/Adventure Bike

      What it is: With a classic drop handlebar, a gravel/adventure bike looks almost exactly like a traditional road bike. But look closer, and you’ll find differences like clearance for much larger, knobby tires for off-road use, additional mounts for accessories like bottle cages and frame bags, and a geometry that’s designed for a more upright rider position for comfort and stable handling on unpaved surfaces. Virtually all of these bikes today have disc brakes and wide-range gearing for steep climbs. Some incorporate front or rear suspension elements for rider comfort. More companies are making women’s-specific models, which typically differ from men’s in parts selection, like saddle model and handlebar width.

      There are a few sub-types of gravel/adventure bikes:

      • Gravel: An all-around, all-surface bike made for a range of uses, from races to all-day adventures.
      • Cyclocross: A stripped-down version of an adventure bike for racing. Tire clearance is similar, but geometry features sharper, more aggressive handling, and there are often no additional accessory mounts beyond two bottle cages.
      • Bikepacking: The extreme adventure version, bikepacking bikes have clearance for fat, 29x2-inch tires, lots of mounts for accessories and, sometimes, suspension-corrected geometry so you can outfit it with a suspension fork.

        What it’s for: These go-anywhere, ride-anything machines are the most versatile bikes on the market today. They combine much of the fast-rolling efficiency of a road bike with treaded tires for traction off pavement. They can handle almost any kind of riding you want to do with the exception of road races. Some models have rack and fender eyelets, making them serviceable tourers and commuters.

        Price range: Gravel/adventure bikes start around $1,000 for basic, aluminum-framed models with cable-activated disc brakes, and go up to $10,000 for carbon fiber versions that are often as light as good road bikes and have upgrades like carbon fiber wheels and electronic shifting.

        giant escape 2 disc city bike
        Giant Bicycles

        Utility Bike

        What it is: These bikes defy easy classification: They are essentially any bike made with utility, rather than recreation, in mind. They come in various, purpose-built styles. Whatever you pick, you get exercise, stuff gets done, and you always get free parking. You’ll find traditional “diamond” frame and step-through models in all styles except fixed gear (fixie) for anyone who wants an easier way to get on the bike.

        Here are the four sub-types of urban bikes:

        • Commuter: Efficient and fast-rolling, this bike typically has flat handlebars for an upright position that lets you see well in urban environments. Multi-gear drivetrains handle hills, rim or disc brakes stop safely, and high-end versions come with accessories like fenders, racks and even lights pre-installed.
        • Fixie: Stylish and slick, these are the café racers of urban bikes. They’re based on track racing bikes, with lightweight frames, only one gear, and a clean, stripped-down aesthetic, often with color-matched parts and accessories.
        • Cargo: There are three styles: long-tail, mid-tail, and front-load (Dutch: bakfiets). Long-tail bikes feature a stretched-out wheelbase with built-in racks and pannier compatibility for large loads. Mid-tails attempt to pack close to the same carrying capacity in a shorter wheelbase (often by using smaller-diameter wheels), so that they’re more versatile for non-cargo use. Front-loaders have a spacious cargo bin ahead of the pilot and between the wheels. The low center of gravity and large capacity are ideal for heavy and bulky loads.
        • Folding: Designed for the tight spaces of urban environments, folding bikes feature frames that articulate via lockable hinges or couplings. Typically accompanied by smaller-diameter wheels, they feature fast, partial disassembly to make them far more compact. That’s ideal for commutes on crowded public transportation, carrying up stairways, or storage in smaller living and working spaces. But small is still powerful: Folders can feature impressive cargo capacity and versatility, and there are electric-assist versions for a boost to natural pedal power.

          What it’s for: There’s no one “best” kind of urban bike; just the right kind of bike for your needs, which can range from commuting and errands, to taking kids to the park or trips to the home and garden store.

          Price range: Fixies and commuters are typically the most affordable. They start around $400 for the most basic models; high-end, fully-accessorized commuters can run $2,000. Cargo bikes start around $1,500 for serviceable mid-tail designs, and go well past $5,000 for electric versions.

          canyon roadlite fitness bike
          Courtesy of Canyon

          Comfort/Fitness Bike

          What it is: If it’s a bike built for fun—but not a road or mountain bike—it’s probably in this broad category that encompasses everything from flat-bar fitness bikes to beach cruisers. Some fitness bikes come in women’s versions with different touch points, and you’ll also find traditional diamond-frame and step-through versions in styles like hybrid, comfort and cruiser.

          Within comfort/fitness bikes, here are the sub-types:

          • Hybrid: Named because they share features of road and mountain bikes, these feature the upright rider position, broad-range gearing and flat handlebar of a mountain bike, with narrower, fast-rolling tires with light tread. Some have suspension.
          • Fitness: These emphasize road bike-like efficiency without the aggressive position, with lightweight frames, performance parts, and narrow slick tires paired to flat handlebars for a more comfortable rider position.
          • Comfort: These bikes are marked by wide, lightly-treaded tires, cushioned seats (and sometimes suspension) and a very upright rider position.
          • Cruiser: The classic swoopy-framed beach cruiser with fat tires, 1-7 gears and wide, chopper-style handlebars.

            What it’s for: As with urban, this category covers a broad range of use, and you’ll want to pick your style based on what you’ll do with it. Fitness bikes are made for working out; hybrids are great for rambles on paved or light dirt paths; comfort is perfect for a refreshing Saturday morning spin to the coffee shop.

            Price range: Basic cruisers can go for as little as $200, while high-end flat-bar fitness bikes can easily run $2,000.

            gazelle e bike
            Trevor Raab


            What it is: The “E” stands for a small electric motor that provides an assist to the rider’s own pedaling. There are three classes: Class 1: pedal-assist to 20 mph; Class 2: pedal-assist or throttle-driven to 20 mph; Class 3: pedal-assist to 28 mph. Once mostly found on urban bikes, you can find styles now across almost all kinds of bikes.

            For e-bikes, there are several sub-types:

            • Commuter: As in the Urban category above; you’ll find all three classes; Class 3 is great for fast commutes.
            • Cargo: Especially useful on long-tail and front-load bikes, the motor makes load-hauling easy.
            • Mountain: Can be hardtail or full-suspension, usually Class 1. Not always legal on local trails.
            • Road: Usually Class 1 or 3, made for spirited road rides alone or with friends.

              What it’s for: The point of an e-bike is to deliver the same basic experience of cycling, with a little less effort. E-bikes can help people enjoy the same kind of road or mountain bike rides regardless of differences in age or fitness; give your commute a speedy boost with less sweat; or make the difference between using the car or the cargo bike for that grocery run. Basically, e-bikes allow more people more access to ride.

              Price range: Older, hub-driven technology can be found on bikes down to $1,000. Newer “center drive” systems are found on bikes starting around $2,000. A typical price range is $1,500-$6,000, and high-end full-suspension mountain bikes can go above $10,000.

              kona wo fat bike
              Courtesy of Kona

              Fat Bike

              What it is: It’s the tires that are fat, not the rider. Fat bikes feature ultra-wide tires—at least 3.8 to almost 5 inches wide—for better flotation and traction, especially in soft soils or packed snow.

              Within fat bikes, there are three sub-types:

              • Hardtail Mountain: The original style, these are very similar to normal hardtail mountain bikes. Many are fully rigid, with the only suspension coming from the oversize tires.
              • Hardtail Full-Suspension: Rarer than hardtails, these typically combine shorter-travel rear suspension with tires on the narrower end of fat (3.8 inch). Also known as the monster truck of mountain bikes.
              • Cruiser: A more recent variant, this pairs beach cruiser looks with ultra-wide tires for a pillow-like ride.

                What it’s for: Mountain fat bikes are great for getting out on days you might not otherwise, especially in winter. They’re ideal for hardpacked snow, as well as sand and loose soils. They offer confidence and control for getting over obstacles without losing traction. The beach cruiser variety? Those are just fun.

                Price range: Beach cruiser-style bikes start around $500. Hardtail mountain bikes typically start around $1,400. High-end versions, with carbon fiber frames and rims to keep weight down, can go for $7,000.

                canyon speedmax triathlon bike
                Courtesy of Canyon

                Triathlon Bike

                What it is: A road-style bike that’s built for aerodynamic efficiency to help triathletes achieve their best performances. The central features of a triathlon bike are frame geometry and special handlebars that allow the rider to maintain an aerodynamic tuck while preserving stable handling; and aerodynamic frame and component design for reducing drag. Frames and wheels, especially, are designed with wing-style airfoil shapes for aerodynamic efficiency. At the high end, bikes are designed as complete, custom-integrated units; parts are not easily swapped. Disc brakes are becoming more common, but adoption here still lags behind other road styles. Tires are typically narrow (25mm or less). Some companies offer women’s-specific models, with different saddle and handlebars, shorter crankarms and, sometimes, different frame geometry.

                What it’s for: Going fast on race day. Drafting behind other riders is not legal in most triathlons, so the bikes are optimized to reduce wind drag, and to go fast over the flat to rolling terrain found on most triathlon bike courses. They’re not as versatile as road bikes; the rider position and handling aren’t suited to long climbs or technical, twisty descents.

                Price range: Basic triathlon bikes start around $1,400, with metal frames with less aerodynamic shaping, and more conventional wheels. Top-shelf models feature carbon frames with striking wing-shape tube profiles, carbon fiber wheels with deep aero rims, and advances like electronic shifting with multiple shifter points on different parts of the handlebar. These can run well over $10,000.

                cannondale road tandem

                Tandem Bike

                What it is: Simply, a bike made to carry two riders. To handle the extra weight and long wheelbase, the frames are built from oversized tubing, and often feature a second downtube that bisects the bike to add stiffness. Crucial parts like wheels and tires are typically built for strength and durability as well. Pay special attention to the brakes; you’ll want powerful versions for sure, safe stopping (discs are best). Some production manufacturers make tandems, but they’re also popular items from custom framebuilders.

                Here are the sub-types:

                • Road: The most common type you’ll see. Tandems make great road bikes because the design places two riders closer together than they could be on singles, which creates more aerodynamic efficiency. They’re freight trains on the flats, and you’ll often see them driving the pace at the front of group rides and in organized events like fondos and centuries. The flip side is they’re less efficient on climbs, so road tandems typically feature low gearing designed to let both riders stay in the saddle and spin up grades.
                • Cruiser: This style takes the classic beach-cruiser look and stretches it out for two riders. Cruiser tandems typically feature multi-speed gearing, but you will find a few single-speed models. Again, mind the brakes here; the classic coaster brake found on most single cruiser bikes simply isn’t powerful enough to stop the weight of two riders. Instead, look for front and rear rim, disc, or hub roller (drum-style) brakes.
                • Mountain: Yep, people ride tandems off-road, even on technical singletrack. You’ll find hardtail and a few full-suspension tandems, like Santana’s El Conquistador de Montañas. If you go with a hardtail, a suspension seatpost is a good idea for the rear/stoker rider, since they can’t see rocks and bumps as well. You’ll want sturdy wheels and tires, a suspension fork with oversize sliders (36mm at least), and powerful disc brakes: look for four-piston calipers and 200mm-diameter rotors.

                  What it’s for: Tandems are popular because they allow riders of different abilities to work together and enjoy a ride. They’re particularly suited for riding with children, and riders with certain disabilities, like impaired vision. They require excellent communication between the riders. The pilot has to look for and anticipate changes in terrain and let the stoker know when to pedal, coast, and stand, as well as sudden turns that shift weight.

                  Price range: Simple tandem cruisers can be found for as little as $500, but may not feature appropriate brakes. Tandems are typically more expensive than their single-rider brethren, and prices for performance road and mountain models can easily surpass $6,000.

                  types of bikes
                  Courtesy of Redline

                  Park Bike

                  What it is: These bikes mostly exist to catch big air. For as long as bicycles have been around, people have been jumping them. But in the past two decades, many cities have added skate and bike parks, which provide special, purpose-built places for these task-specific machines to shine. Because they have to stand up to repeated hard landings, they’re rugged, built with reinforced frames and components that are meant to take abuse.

                  The sub-types are:

                  • BMX: The oldest style, BMX is short for “bicycle motocross.” These bikes are made for racing on motocross-style courses that feature short, wide tracks with big double jumps, tabletops, bermed turns, and features like whoop-de-dos. They typically feature 20-inch wheels, but you’ll also find 16-inch and 24-inch varieties (the latter is called “cruiser” style, which is not to be confused with beach cruisers). Built from steel or aluminum, these compact-looking bikes have no suspension, only one gear and brake, and reinforced riser handlebars that offer a short cockpit and upright rider position, which offers essential maneuverability for the rider in jumps. Aside from actual BMX racing, you’ll also find these bikes are popular at bike parks and at skate parks, for freestyle riding (freestyle bikes are easy to tell apart from race or jump bikes: look for the fat steel pegs at the front and rear wheel axles, which are meant for skateboard-style grind moves).
                  • Dirt Jump: These are a sort of mashup between a traditional hardtail mountain bike and a BMX bike. They feature larger wheels (traditionally 26-inch, but a few dirt jumpers now have 27.5-inch wheels). Like BMX bikes, most have a single gear and rear brake only, but they can be fully rigid or come with front suspension. And some have front and rear brakes. They’re made for freestyle dirt jumps rather than racing, but like BMX bikes, they feature sturdy steel or aluminum frames with very short seat tubes, which keeps the saddles down and out of the way for jumping. You’ll see them in skate parks as well, although the larger wheels and longer wheelbases aren’t quite as suited to the tight quarters of those settings as freestyle BMX bikes.
                  • Slopestyle: As with dirt jump bikes, frames are built compact to keep the seat out of the way. So what’s different? These models feature full suspension, multiple gears (but fewer than the 10-12 found on most modern mountain bikes), and front and rear brakes. Suspension is usually a simple, short-travel design, typically 100mm or less. Simply put, these bikes are for going fast and big (as in air) in bike parks or four-cross race courses, typically on heavily groomed trails that have multiple human-made jumps or features across a large vertical drop from top to bottom.

                    What it’s for: Jumping and racing. BMX and slopestyle models are intended in part for timed competitions. But all of these excel at catching air on heavily groomed trails in specific settings—BMX race courses, bike park trails, and skate parks—where trailbuilders sculpt jumps with smooth takeoff and landing zones or, in the case of skateparks, smooth swimming pool-like bowls and street-like features such as boxes and rails.

                    Price range: This varies widely. BMX bikes are the most affordable (many kids’ bikes are BMX style) and quality models can be had for around $350 and up. Dirt jump bikes start around $1,000, and slopestyle models typically range $2,000 and more.

                    cannondale kid's bike

                    Kid’s Bike

                    What it is: For decades, kids’ bikes were typically cheap, heavy, BMX-style models, but in the past 10 or so years, specialty bike makers have re-thought the approach, and the result is a major change in quality and variety of children’s bikes. The downside? Yes, you’ll pay more. But in return, you’ll get nicer bikes that are lighter, with parts that are appropriately sized for kids, and which hold their value—some manufacturers even offer an upgrade program with guaranteed buyback value. There are various sub-types, but in general, look for light weight overall, smaller parts, and quality components. Weight matters because, proportionately, a bike is heavier to kids than adults. How tired would you get if you had to hustle a 60-70-pound bike up a hill? That’s what a 25-pound bike feels like to a 60-pound kiddo. Parts like brake levers, crankarms, and pedals should be appropriately shrunk to fit kids’ bodies. And watch for signs of good quality: name-brand tires and drivetrain parts, plus brakes with short-reach levers that operate with minimal hand force.

                    Here are the basic sub-types:

                    • Balance: These no-pedal bikes have mostly replaced trikes and training wheels, and for good reason: Your tyke simply sits on the seat and scoots along just by pushing off with her feet. She’ll quickly learn balance and steering without having to also master pedals and brakes. They’re light, affordable, easy to use, and will get your child riding faster and with fewer spills than anything else.
                    • BMX: A classic choice for a kid’s first conventional bike, they’re typically ruggedly built, feature just one gear, and stand up to the abuse that kids can dish out.
                    • Mountain: With wide handlebars, sturdy tires, multiple gears and two brakes, this style is offered in a wide range of wheel sizes for kids of all ages, and is the most versatile type. Kids can ride these bikes to school or on family trail rides on the weekend. Larger-wheel models for bigger kids can feature many of the same attributes as adult bikes, like hydraulic disc brakes and even full suspension, which makes them ably suited for longer rides on more demanding terrain.
                    • Gravel/Cyclocross: A great choice for the young rider who wants to do everything from unpaved exploring to the occasional race or event. These bikes typically feature smaller-diameter wheels (often 24-inch) than adult bikes, as well as kid-sized seats, handlebars, and crankarms, and gearing that’s adapted for less-powerful riders. You’ll still find older-style cantilever rim brakes on some of these, but for more money you can get bikes with cable-activated or hydraulic discs. They’re a versatile choice that works for road rides, too.
                    • Road: If your child has decided that pavement is where the action’s at, there are also kid-specific road bikes. Like kids’ cyclocross/gravel bikes, these use 24-inch wheels and a lower gearing range that’s easier on long climbs. Crankarms are typically shorter, and brake levers may also be sized for smaller hands.

                      What it’s for: For kids, duh. They serve various purposes, and those will change as your child grows and decides what she’s interested in. But overall, these are bikes that will help grow a love of cycling in your little one, whatever the style.

                      Price range: Costs vary widely depending on the bike. Balance bikes for toddlers can be had for under $100, while more sport-specific models, like mountain bikes, with high-end parts and features can be $2,000. Rest assured you don’t need to spend that much, though: many quality kids’ bikes, even for bigger riders, are between $500 and $1,000. Quality bikes tend to offer better resale value; be sure to ask about shop or manufacturer-sponsored buyback programs to help your dollar go further.

                      schwinn meridian tricycle
                      Courtesy Schwinn


                      What it is: For anyone who wants more hauling capacity, or more stability, a trike is a great option. These bikes feature a conventional bicycle front end paired to two, side-by-side wheels in the back (or the reverse, with two parallel wheels in front, sometimes called tadpole). You’ll find both upright and recumbent versions, as well as both conventional pedal-only and electric motor-assist drivetrains. Gearing range from single to multi-speed derailleur and/or internal hub. Brakes can be either conventional cable-activated rim or hydraulic disc systems.

                      There are several sub-types:

                      • Adaptive: People who have no or limited lower-body mobility can find models with hand-cranked drivetrains, while recumbent models help those with nerve, skeletal, or muscle issues that prevent them from riding an upright.
                      • Mountain: These burly machines (sometimes in quad-wheel format) are typically recumbent, and feature suspension and disc brakes just like their conventional two-wheeled cousins. Some have fat bike-style wheels and tires for more traction and comfort. Because of the wheel configuration, they won’t do most singletrack but are capable of even rugged trails that are wide enough.
                      • Cargo: These largely conventional trikes use the extra real estate between the two parallel wheels for a cargo basket. Trikes offer stability that bicycles can’t match, and sometimes have larger hauling capacity (both in terms of volume and weight). You’ll find pedal-only and e-assist versions.

                        What it’s for: Trikes have a wide range of uses; they can be pure utility bikes for errands and commuting or haul cargo in both personal and work settings (cargo trikes are popular on factory floors and as bicycle rickshaws in downtown areas). Or they can be recreational machines that help riders stay fit and active or enjoy rides with friends and family on the road, bike path, or trail.

                        Price range: Because of the broad range of use, styles, and technology (conventional or e-assist), the price range here is similarly wide. Adult trikes start as low as $300 for simple, single-gear designs that are pedal-only with conventional cable-activated rim brakes. E-assist cargo models and mountain bikes can run well past $4,000.

                        mobo triton recumbent bike
                        Courtesy Mobo Triton

                        Recumbent Bike

                        What it is: Most simply, any bicycle where the rider sits in a reclined, rather than upright, position. The benefits are wide-ranging. For anyone who finds conventional upright bicycle positions (or traditional bike seats) painful or impossible to use, a recumbent offers a vital alternative to enjoy riding. Recumbent positions can also be more aerodynamic, particularly if the bike features a fairing (many human-powered speed records are set on recumbents). And long-wheelbase versions have low centers of gravity, so they’re stable on descents. They are typically heavier than upright bikes, and they tend to be inefficient and slow climbers even for very fit riders. While they provide an excellent view for the rider, their lower height can make them a bit harder for drivers to spot in traffic. The two basic styles are long wheelbase and short wheelbase. Both are made for road riding, but some are capable of lighter off-road duty. There are also recumbent tandems.

                        What it’s for: Mostly recreational road riding. Some models feature rear racks for light touring or modest cargo hauling, but they’re not cargo bikes. Generally, these are the preferred option for anyone who still wants to get out on the road for a spin, but can’t use an upright or prefers the more comfortable recumbent position.

                        Price range: Recumbents are a bit more specialized than uprights and no one is mass-producing in large numbers, so they start at a higher price range: around $1,200 for a reasonably equipped aluminum frame model with a wide-range drivetrain and rim brakes. Just like upright performance bikes, you can find carbon models with high-end components for upward of $4,000.

                        bianchi pista sei giorni track bike
                        Courtesy Bianchi

                        Track Bike

                        What it is: The purest distillation of a bicycle, track bikes are all business: one gear, no brakes, and made for racing. Track bikes are meant to be used on a velodrome—a closed, oval track with banked turns that is expressly made for bike racing. Track bikes feature a single gear that does not freewheel; the gear is used both to propel the bike and to slow it down (via back pressure), and there are no brakes. They roll on narrow tires inflated to very high pressure for low rolling resistance. These bikes are sometimes used on the road as urban bikes, where they’re called fixies and often outfitted with flat handlebars and, sometimes, a brake of some kind. But a true track bike isn’t even drilled to accept bolt-on brakes. Wheels can be anything from conventional metal hub-spoke-rim constructions to carbon-fiber multispoke and disc versions.

                        There are three basic sub-types of track bike:

                        • Standard: Much like conventional road bikes in form and geometry, these are made for longer mass-start events like a scratch or points race, where a rider has a slightly less aggressive position than sprint or pursuit events, and may feature round tubes or some aerodynamic elements like tube shaping on the frame or aero wheels. They use conventional drop handlebars, albeit with a more rounded shape to the top and a deeper drop than most road bars.
                        • Sprint: They look similar, but spring bikes are typically sturdier and heavier, and have a more aggressive rider position. These bikes are overbuilt to resist the forces of powerful riders doing maximum sprint efforts; secondarily, that makes them a bit better at withstanding the violent crashes that sometimes happen in events like a match sprint or keirin. Wheels are typically rear disc and multi-spoke carbon front for stiffness and aerodynamics.
                        • Pursuit: Bikes made for timed events, like the 1-kilometer time trial, and team and individual pursuits. They look very similar to time trial or triathlon bikes, with heavy emphasis on aerodynamic tube shapes and wheels. These have flat, cow horn-style handlebars with aero extensions for a ski racer-style tuck. Most riders will use front and rear disc wheels or a multispoke carbon front wheel.

                          What it’s for: While track-style bikes (fixies) have become popular as urban rides, the true purpose of a track bike is very narrow–riding and racing on velodromes.

                          Price range: Because there’s not much to them, track bikes can be quite affordable. For actual track racing, level up a bit from the wide array of inexpensive metal “fixies” (which are often just road-style frames with track parts) to something specifically designed for velodrome racing. Basic track models with metal frames and conventional wheels can be had for around $500, but sprint and pursuit models can easily cost $5,000, in part because they’re not widely mass-produced. The craziest are the models designed for and raced by national Olympic teams; because of UCI rules, any bike used in competition must be available to the public, but these are often priced so high that it’s almost unheard of for a sale to happen. Hope’s HB.T, raced by the British Olympic team, starts at £15,550 (about $20,500 at current exchange rates) for the frameset alone, while Felt’s TA FRD, raced exclusively by the U.S. Olympic team at the 2016 Olympics, is $26,000. At least that gets you the complete bike.