Buying the right bike for you

man looking at bike shop

When do you want to use your bike and where do you want it to take you? Your bike should complement your lifestyle, so choose the type which reflects the majority of journeys you intend to make for a more comfortable and enjoyable ride.

Types of bikes

Each bike comes with its own set of benefits. Remember, you get what you pay for, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend more. Sometimes bikes come with lots of extra features that you might not need, so think about what’s essential for the journeys you make.

Road bikes

Also known as racers, these are lightweight and fast with skinny tyres. Most have drop handlebars and they’re designed to be aerodynamic and speedy. 
Good for: the hi-tech versions are perfect for road racing and lower spec models are great for nipping around town. Touring bikes are sturdier versions of racing bikes, suitable for long distance rides with panniers to carry your luggage.

Mountain bikes 

Mountain bikes have sturdy frames, knobbly tyres and highly effective brakes, and they often have a wide selection of lower gears. Some have front suspension, some have rear suspension and some have both, helping to cushion the bumps. 
Good for: the suspension and thick tyres make this bike a great off-road option on rough ground such as forest trails. But change to slick tyres and they’re also comfortable for road riding.

Hybrid bikes 

A cross between the speed of a road bike and the strength and gearing of a mountain bike, hybrids are lightweight but sturdy with smooth tyres.
Good for: an upright riding position makes them ideal for cycling in traffic and commuting through town. A good everyday option.

Folding bikes 

These have smaller wheels and fewer gears than other bikes so they can fold down compactly and are easier and lighter to carry. They’re perfect for short hops to the bus or train station, and tuck easily under desks or into cupboards.
Good for: people who commute on public transport but use their bikes at either end of their trip.

Electrically assisted bikes

Depending on which model you choose, the power kicks in automatically or on demand. You can still get fit with one of these bikes, but remember that they do need to be charged up, so there will be some running costs and carbon emissions involved.
Good for: cyclists who need extra help to get up hills, or have a longer daily commute.

Women’s bikes

Women can use any type of bike, but bear in mind that on a classic women’s frame the crossbar is dropped - some are dropped much lower so you can step through the frame. This makes it much more practical if you cycle in a skirt or a dress and also makes it easier to get on and off with a child on the back.

Dutch-style sit-up-and-beg bikes

These stylish options are fashionable on the continent and becoming increasingly popular here in the UK. Like hybrids, their upright sitting position makes them great for cycling through traffic, as you can easily see what's happening around you. The low crossbar makes it easy to mount and dismount gracefully, too.