CHOOSING THE RIGHT STYLE OF BIKE
So, which style of bike should you buy? This largely depends on for what purpose you plan to use the bike, though a lot of people will buy a bike just for its looks!
We sell mainly 3 types of bike:
Hybrid bikes (including trekking bikes, comfort bikes, and city bikes)
These should be sufficient for most people's needs...
THE MOUNTAIN BIKE (MTB)
Mountain bikes have tough frames, good brakes, lots of gears, and knobbly tyres - perfect for riding off the beaten track. The riding position is fairly upright so you can see where you are going quite easily. Suspension is now common, for two reasons: it's more comfortable, and it can increase traction. However, not all mountain bikes have suspension.
Hard-tail mountain bikes have rigid frames and forks. They are ideal for general road and occasional mild off-road use.
Front suspension mountain bikes have rigid frames with suspension forks. They are ideal for general road and mild off-road use with more comfort.
Dual/full suspension mountain bikes have suspension at the front (suspension forks) and rear (via a rear swing arm with coil spring). They are ideal for general off-road use, but not so good on the road.
Mountain bikes are available with other wheel sizes, although these smaller wheeled (12", 14",16", 18", and 20") bikes are purely childrens' bikes.
Advantages & disadvantages:
Strong... but can be heavy
Huge range available... but can be expensive
Very versatile... but may need add-ons
Comfortable... but not that fast
Here is a list of some "types" of mountain bike:
ATB or All Terrain Bike: low cost version of a mountain bike
Freeride: Mountain bike with suspension
XC or Cross Country: Mountain bike with suspension
Downhill: Mountain bike with long-travel suspension and extra powerful brakes
Slalom: Mountain bike with wide tyres, small frame, suspension forks and high gear ratios for speed
Trails: Mountain bike with wide tyres, small frame, rigid forks and low gear ratios for acceleration
THE BMX (BICYCLE MOTO-CROSS)
The BMX bike started life in the late 70's but peaked in popularity in the early 80's. It was originally the human powered form of Moto-Cross where instead of using a motorbike, riders would tear round a circuit of bumps and jumps on a small wheeled push bike with a single gear. They were fitted with 20" wheels, had a relatively small frame and high bars.
This style of bike became very popular with the younger rider, particularly teenagers who adopted this new "style" of bike as their own. As with many types of bikes, the BMX evolved into more than just a race circuit bike. Although BMX bikes faded away in popularity when mountain bikes really began to catch on, a core of riders and enthusiasts has kept the "style" alive. More recently, the BMX bike has seen a resurgence in popularity.
BMXs tend to be stronger than other types of bike, due largely to their small frames and because they have only a single gear. Consequently they tend to need less maintenance.
There are essentially 2 types of BMX:
Race BMX (the original): A basic, no frills machine built for speed around a dirt covered track with humps. Typically fitted with frame pads to protect the rider.
Freestyler: The first evolution of BMX bikes, designed to be ridden purely to perform tricks and stunts. They are fitted with smooth tyres instead of knobbly ones, and have some form of mechanism to allow the steering to be rotated fully through 360 degrees without entangling the brake cables. In addition, you will usually find stunt pegs fitted to one or both wheels.
BMX bikes are available in other wheel sizes, although these smaller wheeled (12", 14", 16" and 18") bikes are purely children's bikes.
Advantages & Disadvantages:
Solid and robust... but not indestructible!
Doesn't need much maintenance... but basic by design
Good acceleration... but poor top speed
Ace street machine... but useless for long distances
Here is a list of some "types" of BMX bike:
Race: Original, basic, no frills BMX
Track 'n' Trail: Similar to a race BMX
Freestyler or Trick: Stunt BMX featuring 360 headset, smooth tyres and axle pegs
Ramp: Freestyler with slightly longer frame
Street or Flatland: Freestyler with slightly shorter frame
Dirt jump: Freestyler for the dirt
Jumping: Heavy duty Freestyler with extra strength
THE HYBRID (TREKKING) BIKE
The Hybrid is a relatively new style of bike. Also referred to as Trekking bikes, they are ideally suited to most leisure riders and commuters.
Hybrids were first seen in the late 80's and early 90's, but have taken a while to catch on. They feature the best elements from 3 styles of bikes available at the time. They originated at a time when most people buying a bike were buying a mountain bike, but often a mountain bike was simply too cumbersome, heavy and slow for the average rider. Designers took the best elements from mountain bikes, tourers and racing bikes and built a bike which met the requirements of the average rider.
A hybrid is fitted with 700c wheels but with wider tyres and rims than a racing bike. These tyres are generally multi condition, in that they have a smooth centre line for efficiency on tarmac, but have a knobbly outer tread, to give good traction if the bike is ridden on a non-tarmac surface. They are fitted with the same gear systems as mountain bikes, with between 18 and 27 gears, and similar braking systems. Better models come factory fitted with mudguards and pannier carrier(s), and some even offer suspension seat pillars and adjustable rise handlebar stems. These are often referred to as "fully equipped".
All in all, the hybrid is the best all round bike there is - it suits the majority of riding that you might wish to do. It is perfect for tarmac riding, even longer journeys, and yet it is more than capable of being taken onto canal footpaths and forestry tracks.
Advantages & Disadvantages:
Good over most surfaces... but not severe off-road conditions
Jack of all trades... but master of none