These days, when you want to buy a new bike you are faced with a seemingly huge selection. There are many kinds of road and city bike, as well as off-roading models. There are also numerous types of specialist bicycles for use in everyday life, sport and leisure. We’ve created an easy-to-follow breakdown of which bike is best for which job.
A world of wheels for a wide range of requirements
Bicycles have only been around for about 200 years. Towards the end of the 19th century, they took on the shape we know today, with two wheels and chain drive on the rear wheel. For a long time there were practically only two types of bike: the universal bike and the racing bike. With an increasing focus on leisure and fitness since the 1960s, however, more and more people have wanted to use bicycles for different purposes. This led to the development of many new types of bicycles, including classics such as the mountain bike or the BMX bike. And even today, new types are still being added for special requirements. Since the turn of the millennium, the large selection has been supplemented by numerous e-bike models.
There are as many types of bicycles available today as there are riders. Whether as a companion for everyday life, for top sporting performance or as a statement piece – there is a bike for almost every requirement. The model you choose depends primarily on the profile of the route and the nature of the terrain you’ll be tackling. Comfort, transport options, handling and appearance play an important role. A simplified way to split up the bike types, is into two groups. We have everyday companions such as city or trekking bikes and models that have been developed for a specific area of use, such as racing bikes or BMX bikes.
Reliable companion for everyday life
Anyone who mainly rides short, urban routes is well-suited to a city bike. These bikes are fully roadworthy with great lighting, brakes for the front and rear wheels and a bell (which complies with the German Motor Vehicles Regulation, the StVZO). With their upright seating position, the low step-through and the softly padded saddle, they are also the right choice for people who value comfort. The similarly constructed Dutch bike is even more comfortable and is considered to be particularly low-maintenance.
For individualists, a fixie is a popular alternative, especially with city dwellers. These bikes only have one gear, so they are best suited for flat stretches. Their lack of technical components makes them particularly light and helps with their minimalist appearance.
A trekking bike is recommended if you’ll use the bike on medium-length routes, perhaps off roads and on unpaved paths, as well as in the city. Just like the city bike, it is fully roadworthy. With more rugged tyres for grip, many gears and usually also a suspension fork, however, it can also cope with different terrains and steeper climbs.
Bicycles for special daily tasks
Everyday life often places special demands on the bike, for example transporting large loads or going out of the bike’s traditional comfort zone requiring the frame to fit in a small space. Enter cargo and folding bikes.
Cargo bikes are particularly popular with families. You have a large transport box at the front, back or in the middle, which makes carrying anything, from a bulky weekly shop to several children, surprisingly easy. This type of bicycle can also be an interesting option for mobile dealers and traders, or delivery riders. It is available with two or three wheels.
A folding bike is particularly suitable for people who use their bike often but in different places. The bikes can be folded down to an astonishingly compact size in just a few simple steps. Folding bicycles are therefore popular with commuters who simply fold the bike for transport on buses and trains. You can also take your bike on holiday, relatively easily, by simply folding it up and unfolding at your destination.
Sporty bikes for rough terrain and asphalt
For sport and fitness, cyclists can choose between mountain bikes, BMX bikes, racing bikes and hybrid frames.
Those who like off-road adventures need a mountain bike. Its suspension fork absorbs shocks and the wide tyres provide more grip in the mud. Thanks to the special gear ratio, mountain bikes can also climb steep hills. The front-sprung hardtail version is usually sufficient for unpaved roads. On demanding terrain, it would be better to have a fully mountain-ready bike with front and rear suspension. With the appropriate additional equipment, both types are also suitable for the road.
BMX bikes are at their best on groomed slopes and stunt courses. They are extremely robust and have some special components. A handlebar that can be rotated over 360-degrees and pedals on the front wheel enable all kinds of spectacular tricks and stunts.
Racing bikes specialise in high speeds on paved surfaces. From the narrow tires to the elongated seating position and the low weight, it is designed for low air resistance and high performance. Racing bikes are the right choice for sports enthusiasts who want to really take their speed to the next level. Nowadays, you can also find fitness bikes and gravel bikes for easy terrain, featuring some of the characteristics of mountain bikes.
Bicycles for those who love uniqueness
In addition to the everyday bicycle models, there is a whole range of rather unusual options. Whether it’s an interesting look or a unique driving experience – there are many reasons to invest in these beauties.
With a Bonanza bike or beach cruiser, the driver is guaranteed admiring glances. Both have eye-catching profiles and usually bold colour schemes, as well as a low seat height, and the promise of a truly special driving experience. The stylish café racers are also eye-catchers with their minimalist look and retro colour schemes.
If you like a strong sense of community while cycling, you might opt for a tandem, where two or more people pedal together to get from A to B. This increases the speed and improves communication. There is even a side-by-side version.
Recumbent bikes also combine an extraordinary driving experience with a striking appearance. Due to the nearly lying position of the rider, they are particularly comfortable and have low air resistance. This makes them well-suited to longer routes.
Additional electric power for every need
For those who like a little extra power when riding, most types of bicycles are now also available as e-bikes or Pedelecs. While the motor on Pedelecs only supports you when you’re pushing on the pedals, real e-bikes power on without any intervention by you. However, since e-bikes like these usually require an operating permit and a license plate, Pedelecs are much more common. They provide the necessary support for long rides, help climb hills like an e-mountain bike, and aid mobility for senior riders.
Bicycles for women, men and children
In principle, all of the bicycle types mentioned are suitable for women and men. Because of the different body shapes and sizes, you can also find women’s bicycles with specially designed proportions. They usually have a smaller frame, without a cross bar and have a lower entry point. There is ever-less distinction between women’s and men’s bikes, however. Instead, the majority of bikes today are designed as unisex models for everyone.
For children, choosing the right bike is mostly about height. The little ones often start cycling when they are around three years old. At this age, a children’s bike with a frame size of 12 to 14 inches is an ideal starter. Teenagers usually fit adult sizes.
The use is the deciding factor
Choosing the right bike for you is always primarily about how you’ll use it. If you plan to try many types of cycling, but not too extreme, a trekking bike is often a good choice. For those who only ride in the city, a city bike, a fixie or cargo bike can be perfect companions. Sports-cycling enthusiasts should choose the appropriate specialised bike for their interest, whether racing bike, mountain bike or BMX. An e-bike or Pedelec is good for those who prefer an easy ride, or need a little assistance.