When you get into cycling, you wonder “What is the deal with all of these categories? What is the difference between all of them? Do I need a road bike, a cyclocross bike, or a hybrid?”.
In this article, we are going to make things clear for you.
Keep in mind that there is always a bike for you. You can also have different bikes depending on what you want to do. No matter your level, or whether you want to ride for leisure or as a racer.
There are 5 main bicycle categories:
- Mountain Bikes (MTB)
- Road Bikes
- Hybrid Bikes
- CycloCross (CX)
- Gravel Bikes
Mountain Bikes (MTB)
Let’s keep it simple. If you want more comfort, more cushioning, and if you want to be mostly off road, then a mountain bike is the right choice for you.
I am not going to lie, this is my favorite one… but I don’t own one at the moment because it’s not what I currently need.
So there are two main categories: hardtails and full suspension bikes.
Hardtail means there is only suspension on the front of the bike. The advantage is that you get a lighter bike that is easy to maintain and more practical for travelling. Perfect for a beginner.
This being said, you can guess that full suspension bikes have suspension on the front and also on the back. This one is for more serious jumping as it gives you more confidence and more comfort on the bike thanks to the double suspension. Also, the tyres get better traction as they stay more on the ground due to the suspension. This kind of bikes are a bit more expensive due to their many moving parts but they are a lot more fun for riders who like adrenaline.
So how to choose between these two sub-categories? Well, it will depend on your riding skills and the types of places you want to ride. This will be important in order to determine the size of the suspension that you will need.
This is the most popular form of cycling, as there is more publicity and support through well known events like the Tour de France, la Vuelta, and more.
There are 3 different sub-categories: triathlon (TT), sportive/endurance, and racing.
Triathlon – as the name says – requires athletes to perform 3 different activities in one go: swimming, cycling and running. The bike is designed for pure speed. Be aware, you shouldn’t use a triathlon bike for commuting for two main reasons: first, it will be really uncomfortable, second it’s not street legal.
Sportive/Endurance, the most popular. If you are new to cycling, this is what you need to look for. Super comfortable, over both long and short distances, ideal for training, commuting, and used as an all-in-one solution. These bikes are for use on the road only, unless you like to fix punctures!
Racing, as you can imagine, is similar to triathlon. These bikes are built for pure speed which requires you to be into cycling for a couple of years to get into aero position (short distance/speed).
I like to recommend hybrid bikes to people who are new into cycling as it’s a combination of a MTB and a road bike. This specific bike always has flat handlebars.
The biggest advantage is the price range. It is affordable if you don’t want to spend too much yet but still want a good deal on a comfortable bike.
This is the bike I recommended to my girlfriend who just started. It gives us the flexibility to ride on the road but also through the canal and sometimes off road.
Depending on the terrain, you can have a front suspension or rigid fork.
So basically, CX bikes are racing bikes designed to be ridden off road. Now, this is when people get confused because they think that it is a hybrid. The answer is no. This is a stronger and lighter frame to be used in muddy competition. Therefore, as mentioned, this bike it’s only for a specific category of rider.
Similar to CycloCross but more relaxed and comfortable to ride on in any terrain.
Due to the marketing these days, gravel bikes are more popular as the frames are stronger than the road bikes and it gives you more stability due to the wider tyres.
Some people are doing longer distances, and even going on camping trips, as there are a lot of ways to hang accessories and bags on these bikes for traveling.
As mentioned before, I love MTB but I am currently riding a gravel bike as I need it to commute long distances to go to work but also because I like to ride off-road.
It’s like having a mountain bike but way lighter and faster.
Which Will You Choose?
To conclude, these are the main bikes categories and we tried to give you as much information we could in a short overview.
Obviously, there is more information we’ll share with you, but that will need a specific article for each bike category. Choosing which kind of bike you would like to ride is the first step you need to focus on.
Remember that we are here to help you, so please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.