11 Different Types of Bicycles Explained (With Photos)

A cyclist on a track.

Did you know that more than 100 million bicycles are manufactured each year? And that there are over 1 billion bicycles that are currently being used and ridden all around the world? Looking at these statistics, there’s no wonder why cycling is one of the best and most preferred pastimes for people who wish to reduce the risk of strokes and heart diseases.

But did you ever wonder how bicycles really came into existence? Or how the two-wheeler vehicle with pedals, handlebars, and a saddle-like seat that you ride today acquired these particular features and characteristics?

Bicycles have quite a varied history that goes back about more than 600 years, during which the bicycle was extremely different than the one you know of today. They have significantly evolved over time with major innovations that dramatically transformed all of its form and features.

Back in the days, bicycles did have two wheels like we do today, however; earlier models didn’t have pedals or steering. Imagine riding a bicycle without pedals – crazy, isn’t it?

Evolution of The Bicycle

A highly interesting fallacy in the bicycle history is that Leonardo Da Vinci sketched a few bicycle designs during the 1940’s that sported a very modern and contemporary look and form. The sketches were said to have been discovered in the 16th century however, many historians claim that those designs were never transformed into working models, hence deeming the existence of the sketches untrue.

Another erroneous belief that sprung up in ancient times was that the first ever bicycle was invented during the 1860’s by Pierre and Ernest Michaux, the French father and son duo who were basically carriage-makers. While they did invent a bicycle with rotary cranks and pedal in 1861, there is no evidence that they were the first ones to make the first ever bike with pedals.

So who really did invent the first bicycle?

The very first practical and verifiable bicycle is believed to have been invented by a German man called Baron Karl von Drais in 1817. He named this bicycle “Laufmaschine” or “The Running Machine” since it consisted of two wheels held together with the help of a single central bar. It was a balance bike made out of wood and consisted of a lever to help steer the front wheels, instead of pedals. during its first ride, the bicycle was reported to have covered 13 kilometers in less than an hour, which was considered super impressive for a machine that weighed almost 22 kilograms.

Types of Bicycles

Below is our popular “types of bicycle” chart.

Don’t do what I did when I bought my first bike in many years last summer.  I had no idea what was available and bought the first one I saw.  A couple months later I learned about electric bikes and bought one of those.  The first bike now gather dust.

This article will hopefully help you put together a shortlist.

An illustration of the different types of bicycles.

When choosing the perfect kind of bicycle for yourself, it is very important to understand that you should know what you are looking for. When you walk into a bike shop, you are probably going to be asked first what type of bicycle you want, be it a road bike, mountain bike, or a hybrid bike.

Your decision entirely rests upon your biking needs and personal preferences. Some people look for speed control, some love doing tricks while many others take part in bike races.

So, in order to pick the best bicycle for yourself, you must ask yourself how often you plan to ride, how much you are willing to invest and what exactly will you use your bike for. For that, however, you must be aware of the different types and kinds of bicycles that are available today, each with unique styles, features and form.

Here is a comprehensive list of all the possible types of bicycles that you can get for yourself.

1. Road Bike

Road Bike

Road bikes are best identified by their drop or turned-down handlebars and skinny tires. The downward-curving handlebars are usually super lightweight that help put you in an aerodynamic position. The lightweight frame makes this type of bicycle particularly good for numerous pavement uses including racing, touring, fitness riding, long-distance rides and daily commuting.

The large, thin tires allow you to glide the bike along various terrains with zero to little effort. If you are supremely concerned about speed, varied options for hand and riding positions, and an efficient transference of energy into propelling the bike forward, a road bike is the best option for you.

2. Mountain Bike

Mountain Bike

This bike is designed with excellent braking systems and shock-absorbing features that can easily handle serious bumps, rocks, dirt trails, roots and ruts.  Mountain bikes are meant for dealing with steeper terrain which is why most of them consist of lower gears as compared to most other road bikes.

They usually have 26-inch or 29-inch wide knobby tires that make them function amazingly well over obstacles and in loose dirt. They also consist of rugged components and frames, flat handlebars and suspension in order to assist cyclists in navigating rocky mountain hills.

3. Touring Bike

Touring Bike

These are almost like the traditional road bikes, except with a few tweaks and changes that make them perfect for long-distance bike tours. Touring bikes come with multiple attachment points with the help of which you can attach fenders, pumps, lights, racks, water bottles and so much more. They also contain super sturdy frames that allow them to carry heavy loads on both the front and the rear racks.

You must have noticed that in many touring bikes come with a longer wheelbase, which is specially engineered to provide more control to the rider, owing to their lower center of gravity. Majority of touring bikes also consist of disc brakes that provide them with enhanced stopping power, particularly on non-paved surfaces. A defining feature of touring bikes is their wide or semi-knobby tires that are especially designed to handle gravel roads.

4. Folding Bike

Folding Bike

Folding bikes are believed to be excellent travel companions. As the name suggests, they fold super easily and smoothly, allowing them to be able to effortlessly fit on a boat, in the trunk of a car or on a subway. They can even be folded and carried in a carrying bag which makes them extremely convenient for commuters who have limited storage space at home or elsewhere.

A few overriding features of folding bikes include smaller wheels, with most of them being 20-inches, making it easy for the bike  to get over bumps and potholes in order to provide you with a smooth ride. Another great feature is that they have adjustable functions on the folding frame, handlebar and saddle, all which allow an easier folding process. Many also have adjustable latches that help the bike collapse easily.

5. Fixed Gear/ Track Bike

Fixed Gear/ Track Bike

Often referred to as “fixies”, Fixed Gear or Track bikes are primarily used for racers and athletes that are training for professional races. The main reason for this is that as the name aptly suggests, these bikes contain a single, fixed gear, which means that you cannot coast or freewheel on this type of bike. This suggests that cyclists or riders using this bike have to make use of their leg strength in order to stop the cranks of the bike from turning, and further halting its motion.

Fixed gear bikes may contain several brakes and varied styles of handlebars and they usually require cyclists to spin their legs in constant circles in order to run a higher cadence.

6. BMX


BMX is an acronym for Bicycle Motor Cross, primarily because this type of bicycle is a single-speed bike that is raced around short dirt tracks, quite similar in nature to the motor sport. The acronym is also often used describe any bike with single-speed and a 20-inch wheel.

BMX bikes are ideal for people who intend to perform tricks and jumps with their bikes because they are especially built for that, with their robust and durable design and structure. They consist of small frames, a single gear and twenty inch wheels which means that they are not only strong but very low maintenance too as compared to an average bicycle.

7. Recumbent Bike

Recumbent Bike

This type of bicycle is more popular as a “non-traditional” bicycle because it requires one to sit in a seat that is lower to the ground and looks like a chair. Recumbent bikes consist of different configurations including long to short wheelbases, varieties of two, three or four wheelers, as well as under and above seat steering.

These bikes allow for a function similar to doing a seated leg press whereby the cyclist is required to properly rest against the backrest of the bicycle in order to help them turn a larger gear. A defining feature of recumbent bikes often deemed as a drawback is that one cannot stand up while pedaling up a challenging hill because of its form and design.

8. Cruiser


Cruiser bikes come under the umbrella term of “specialty bikes” that contain very specific end uses and features, setting them apart from other types of bikes.  Cruiser bikes are meant for leisurely rides that one would take around the town and their neighborhood.

Most of these bikes feature wider 26-inch tires as compared to several other pavement bikes. They consist of comfortable seats that allow for relaxed seating positions, and often also internally geared rear hubs that allow easy and convenient maintenance.

9. Hybrid Bike

Hybrid Bike

Hybrid bikes are best described as a mix of road, mountain and touring bike designs, making them more of “do-it-all” kind of bikes that cater to a wide range of uses. These bikes usually sport a combination of large road bike sized wheels that make them work amazingly well on both paved trails and smooth dirt. They also feature a flat bar and a heads-up ride to ensure better view and comfort while riding. They may often contain disc brakes for responsive and impressive braking, especially when riding in turbulent weather conditions.

Many hybrid bikes that are considered as commuter-friendly models include fenders, racks and lighting systems. However, it is important to note that no two hybrid bikes are entirely same so you must choose one according to your requirements and the type of riding you plan on doing.

10. Cyclocross Bike

A cyclist using a cyclocross bike.

Cyclocross bikes are primarily designed to be raced around a dirt trail that consists of different obstacles and blockages placed at various intervals. The purpose behind those barriers is that the rider or cyclist has to dismount mid-cycling and carry the bicycle for different short periods of time.

These bikes are super lightweight but also tough and sturdy enough to deal with intense conditions of cyclocross racing, which may often, involve cyclists taking laps around courses on pavements, grass and dirt trails. Most cyclocross bikes come with semi-knobby tires to ensure that the bike can handle any given terrain challenges.

11. Electric Bike

Electric Bike

I’m well acquainted with electric bicycles. I bought an electric mountain bike last summer and love it.

They are growing in popularity, although I’m surprised they aren’t more popular. 

These bikes include an electric motor which you can charge by plugging it into a regular outlet.  When you peddle, the electric motor provides an assist so that you go faster and hills are made easier.

Many types of bicycles are available in electric versions including mountain bikes, road bikes and hybrid bikes (for commuting).

I will probably never get a non-electric bike again.  You still get a great workout or can take it nice and easy.  Learn about things to know before buying an electric bike (based on my extensive use).

Now that you are aware of the major types of bicycle available for you out there, which one are you going to buy for yourself? Regardless of whichever bicycle you choose, remember to pick one that you truly need and one that perfectly fits your cycling requirements.

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