How to Choose the Right Bicycle for You

Bike Lifestyle School Bike Rack Close min

Walk into any bicycle shop, and you’re sure to find racks upon racks of different models. At first glance, it’s marvelous to take in all of those two-wheeled machines held together by a frame, chain, and some handlebars.

Of course, there is a lot more to these self-propelled feats of clever engineering than those three parts. But this article is all about making bicycles more accessible so we can better understand the differences between the following four model types:

  • Cruisers
  • Mountain Bikes
  • Road Bikes
  • Hybrid Bikes

Pro tip: Keeping up with proper bicycle maintenance is easy, and it’s the best way to protect your investment. Regardless of which model you take home, there are helpful products that keep the chain lubricated and preserve the overall integrity of your bike.

Cruisers

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Photo courtesy of David B. Gleason via Flickr

Skill Level: Beginner

Riding Surfaces: Paved roads and bike paths

Pricing: $200-$300 (per Bicycle Universe)

Recommended Maintenance: Routine

Cruiser bikes are often spotted near the boardwalk, beach, or in a montage from one of Hollywood’s flicks like Wedding Crashers:

These models have a wide saddle, extended handlebars, and a high seating position for optimal comfort. Cruiser bicycles are the most ergonomic model type, but you sacrifice speed and performance. In short, you won’t be able to ride exceptionally fast or handle difficult trails.

However, you will enjoy a pleasant riding experience at an easy-going pace. For this reason, cruisers are a great option for riders who want to use their bicycle in a leisurely setting on flat trails and roads.

Bottom Line: Cruisers are good for shorter to moderate distances. If you aren’t in a hurry, get one of these and enjoy some easy-going cruising.

Mountain Bikes

22504 Lifestyle Clean Suburban Bike Front Yard min

Skill Level: Experienced

Riding Surfaces: All-road riding including dirt trails and pathways

Pricing: ~$1,000 (per Bicycle Universe)

Recommended Maintenance: Frequent

Mountain bikes are built to go off the beaten path, making them a good choice for adventurers.

These models are engineered to tackle challenging terrain so you can venture into rugged areas and clear short jumps (remember to wear protective gear). Mountain bikes have more prominent, thicker tires with added tread compared to other models. Additionally, these models are made with a sturdy frame, so you will notice how heavy it feels.

Consider a mountain bike if you want a reliable machine that can take you deep into the woods or other remote areas of the world. A good model will have either a hardtail or full suspension, but we recommend the latter since it is a more all-encompassing choice.

Bottom Line: Mountain bikes are meant for rugged trails, not paved urban streets. Only get one if you are an experienced rider with a higher skill level who doesn’t need a commuter bicycle.

Road Bikes

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Skill Level: Intermediate

Riding Surfaces: Paved roads and bike paths

Pricing: $350-$700 (per Bicycle Universe)

Recommended Maintenance: Above Average

Road bikes are best understood as the “sports car” of the cycling world.

These models are engineered to go fast, look sharp, and the curb weight (rack weight???) is much lighter than other bicycle types. Since it weighs less than your standard cruiser or mountain bike, you expend much less energy on a ride, so you have more in the tank to push yourself to the limit.

Its overall design may seem less comfortable than the other three models on the list, but looks are often deceiving. You will get plenty of gratifying miles out of a road bike while enjoying the accelerated pace it provides.

Bottom Line: Road bikes make an excellent commuter machine. For this reason, it’s a nice match if you want something that can help you zoom around the city without having to rely on a car.

Hybrid Bikes

Bike Lifestyle Bike Against Tree 2 min

Skill Level: Intermediate

Riding Surfaces: All-road riding

Pricing: $450-$500 (per Pedallers)

Recommended Maintenance: Above Average

Hybrids include components of both mountain bikes and road bikes.

As you can imagine, every hybrid model falls somewhere on this sliding scale between the two, so where you land depends upon your personal preference. For example, fitness hybrids closely resemble road bikes, while dual-sport hybrids are more stout in appearance, giving them more of a mountain bike feel.

If you want your model to have the ability to tackle semi-demanding trails while still being able to go relatively fast, a hybrid bike is the one you want to get. As a token of advice, take your time testing out different styles to get a good feel for “the one” you want to take home. Fitness hybrids resemble standard cars, while dual-sport hybrids are like crossover SUVs; keep this in mind should you have any doubts.

Bottom Line: Hybrids are great if you want your bicycle to be able to do a little bit of everything. If you are the type of person that likes to see where the ride will take you, a hybrid will be able to handle that impromptu trip off the main trail.


Having a bike is a great way to stay in shape while enjoying the beauty of the outdoors. Now that you know the pros and cons of the most popular bicycles on the planet, you can shop for a new model with confidence. We sincerely hope you enjoy the one you get as much as we love making products that will protect and preserve it for the long haul.

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