Choosing the right bike for your needs throws up a plethora of questions. Where will you be doing the majority of your riding? On what surface and gradient? In what amount of traffic? Will you be lycra clad or smartly dressed? How fast do you ride? Do you need the option to ride off-road? How much maintenance would you sign up for?
Whichever steed you choose, you’ll need to compromise on at least one or two aspects. Below, we’ve noted down the basic pros and cons for each model of bicycle, to help you choose the right bike for your individual needs.
- Lightweight frames and skinny wheels make road bikes ideal for travelling fast on well-surfaced roads.
- Road bikes feature dropped handlebars, which enables a more aerodynamic and efficient riding pose. The speed this gives to the road cyclist puts them firmly at the front of the peloton.
- Lightweight, so easy to carry through bike-free zones.
- Expensive, and for that reason, popular with bicycle thieves. Best bought with a decent bike lock.
- Treacherous in wind or icy weather. Their thinner tyres provide little grip and the lightness of the frame can make it hard for cyclists to maintain balance in strong winds.
- For some riders, the speed-oriented riding position (with dropped handlebars) can be uncomfortable over long distances.
- Built like tanks, mountain bikes allow cyclists to take on tricky terrains and absorb maximum shock.
- Disc brakes allow impressive braking control, important for those downhill runs.
- Wide range of gearing to account for the steep up and downhill nature of off-road cycling.
- The upright handlebar position makes them a more relaxed ride than a road bike
- The wide, knobbly tyres can make mountain bikes particularly hard work on tarmac. Not advised for commuting or long distances.
- The suspension means extra weight and cost and will make you slower on road.
Casual Urban Rides
- Hybrids combine the lighter frame of road bikes with the relaxed riding position of a mountain bike.
- Versatile: hybrids can cope with commuting and gentle off-roading alike.
- Hybrids generally have a good luggage carrying capacity.
- The upright riding position makes hybrid bikes less aerodynamic, so expect to be overtaken on road.
- Disc brakes do put hybrid bikes at a slight disadvantage to road bikes when it comes to overall weight.
Lazy Cyclists & Hipsters
- Fixies are ideal for commuting – they’re very quick, lightweight and very little can go wrong. It’s probably for these reasons that they’re popular with Deliveroo and other cycle couriers.
- Minimal maintenance
- Fixies technically can’t freewheel, so you always have to pedal to move. This can take a little bit of getting used to.
- The absence of a gear set can make a mountain of a moderate hill – if your commute takes you up steep gradients, be prepared to work hard.
- Arrive on time for meetings without having broken a sweat.
- With flat bars, most electric bikes are a fairly comfortable ride.
- They also have good luggage capacity.
- Novelty factor!
- In the UK, electric bikes are speed-limited to 25km/h (15.5mph). That’s nifty for a commute, but on open roads, you may be a little frustrated.
- They can be fairly heavy, due to the battery, motor and electrics.
- Regular recharging may be a hindrance.
- They’re not cheap. Why not hire an electric bike instead?