There are a number of different styles of bike available for you to buy currently. Sometimes, knowing which one will best suit your individual requirements is the biggest problem facing a potential buyer, and unless you are given realistic information about what each style is designed for you can easily end up with a bike which is largely unsuitable for your style of riding.
Here, we try to give you the low-down on what each style is good for, their strengths and weaknesses and a rough price guide as to what you should be expecting to pay for a bike which will give you good service and should be reliable.
Mountain Bikes... ...have knobbly tyres and a wide range of gears to cope with riding off-road on paths and rough tracks. Their strong frames and comfy upright riding positions mean they are also good for commuting and general riding. Prices start at about £60 for a machine that 'looks' like a mountain bike, but you should pay upwards of £200 for something which is going to give you good service .
Racing Bikes... ...have very skinny tyres - and skinny just about everything else for that matter! They are built for going as quickly as possible on the tarmac, but sometimes sacrifice comfort to do this. Expect to pay £400 and upwards.
City Bikes... ...are specially designed for the rigours of riding on tarmac very quickly. This new evolution is perhaps one of the most exciting that has taken place in recent years.
Hybrids... ...Like a mountain bike but not a mountain bike! Road bike size wheels but fitted with mountain bike style equipment. Possibly the most universal bike type there is.This is the biggest growth area in cycling today ,
Touring Bikes... ...look superficially similar to racing bikes, but are generally a bit more solidly built. They are designed for that round-the-world epic you dream about, and have a wide range of gears and plenty of places to put the piles of luggage. Prices start at about £500.
Folding Bikes... ...have come a long way from the old Dawes Kingpin. These bikes are designed to take up as little space as possible when you're not using them. Some are perfect for commuting in combination with buses or trains (what the boffins call Multi-Modal Transport), others perform as well as their full-sized MTB or touring bike cousins and are perfect for taking on holiday. Prices start at about £100, but good ones are over £300.
Electric Bikes... ...are finally beginning to come of age. We all laughed at the Sinclair C5, but now motor and battery technology have progressed to a stage where an electric motor for your bike is no joke. Ideal for where the hills just get too much for you, if you want to carry lots of shopping, or want to get to the office without arriving all hot and sweaty. Motors are available for £70, but for a good motor or bike expect to pay £700 and above.
Traditional Bikes... ...are specially designed for the everyday necessity rider. Designs date back many many years although components have been modernised where necessary. They usually have low-maintenance sealed gears and brakes, mudguards, lights and carriers. All of this paraphernalia can make them a bit heavy though. Prices are from about £250 and upwards.
Recumbents... ...are not as new as they seem. Banned in 1934 for being too fast, recumbents are now making a strong recovery because they are more comfortable than upright bikes, and you go faster and further for the same effort. Prices start at £400, but expect to pay upwards of £1000 for a good one.
BMX... ...are not just kids bikes! Single speed and designed for tricks more than distance. Always a popular favourite with Teenagers. Three main types.
Trials/Slalom... ...Newer variations of the typical mountain bike. Smaller frames and less gears, designed for riding over obstacles (BikeTrials) and also designed for navigating a slalom course (like skiers do) racing head to head with another rider (Dual Slalom)
Womens' Specific... ...Encompassing many different styles of bike, but with one main common feature. Bikes designed for women. General advice about what you should look for and why..