Perhaps one of the most exciting parts of welcoming in the spring and summer is dusting off your old bike and even more exciting, trading it in for a newer ride, or even buying your first bike. As we have rounded the corner into the 2023 season, now has become the perfect time to look into replacing that old bicycle hidden away in your garage or buying the first bike for your child. With new developments in cycling technology and designs catering to every type of rider or niche cycling has never been more accessible or fun! As the cycling community enters a new era it has resulted in the creation of many diverse options and variety for riders, new and old, to choose from. However, this wealth of new options has left you, the eager rider, with the challenge of deciding which type of riding you’d like to enter and which type of bike will serve your needs best. This guide will help make that at times daunting process much easier.
What are the Types of Bikes to Choose From?
Road bikes are designed for well, riding on roads! With their narrow tires they are designed primarily for speed and long distances and can also be referred to as “racing bikes” at times. In addition, models with disc brakes, similar to what can be found in most automobiles, are becoming increasingly common to give the rider better braking control. Some brands are now offering women’s specific models which offer different touch points on the bike, i.e. saddle or handlebars, and even women specific frame design to better cater to our female riders.
If you want your riding to stay on the pavement it is hard to beat the quick and efficient riding of a strong road bike. For any event from a leisurely solo or group ride up to fast paced and competitive racing the road bike is perfect for a wide range of recreational cycling on the road.
Mountain bikes are designed for rugged and off-road riding styles of varying levels of difficulty and extremity on generally narrow dirt trails. Equipped with wider tires and deep tread for better traction, their flat; wide handlebars for better control, and wide variety of drive trains and hydraulic disc brakes for better handling on steep climbs and descents these bikes are extremely durable and well suited for this extreme riding.
These bikes are often equipped with either 27.5 or 29-inch diameter wheels, with the older 26-inch wheels slowly but surely fading away aside from a couple specific niche uses. Some brands also offer woman-specific models equipped with seats designed to better support the female build, smaller grips, narrower handlebars, and shorter crank arms. Most of these bikes are also equipped with lighter suspension tuning for smaller and lighter riders.
Mountain biking has a plurality of meanings from cyclist to cyclist. Depending on the style of mountain bike, these bikes can be used for anything from unpaved roads and paths to steep and rocky goat paths. The more technical the trail, the more rear suspension you will want and the smaller cyclists will likely want 27.5 inch diameter wheels for better bike control.
Gravel bikes are designed for use on gravel or crushed stone paths, such as the towpath running through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park adjacent to our Peninsula store but are extremely versatile. These bikes are typically equipped with a drop handlebar and at first glance look very similar to road bikes. However, after closer inspection you will notice the differences such as larger clearance for bigger wheels, additional mounts for accessories, and frame geometry designed to support a more upright riding style for more control and comfort on unpaved riding surfaces. Most of these bikes are equipped with disc brake systems and wide range gearing for better handling and some brands offer women specific options such as specially designed seats and better suited handlebar widths for the female build.
As stated above these bikes are extremely versatile and combine efficient and fast paced benefits of a road bike with the rugged sturdiness and larger treaded tires for off-road cycling. These bikes no doubt can handle almost any type of ride you throw at them aside from the most extreme cases such as road races or extreme terrain mountain biking.
E-bikes still pedal much like a standard bike frame and still provide much of the same exercise when used properly but the “E” stands for the small electric motor that can provide power assistance to the pedaling of the rider. E-bikes can be broken down into three classes starting with Class 1 which provides pedal assist up to 20 mph, Class 2 which provides pedal assist or throttle driven power up to 20 mph, or lastly Class 3 which provides pedal assist up to 28 mph. Although originally seen rarely on urban bikes, E-bikes are becoming wildly popular and an affordable option even for the average cyclist allowing for a new type of fun riding experience.
E-bikes, as described above, are designed to provide the experience of cycling but requiring less effort from the rider when desired. E-bikes allow anyone regardless of age or physical fitness to once again enjoy the fun and physical exercise derived from riding a bike! E-bikes now come in all different shapes and sizes including road bikes, mountain bikes, comfort bikes, or cargo bikes among many others, allowing anyone to enjoy these styles of riding and making the difference on high inclines or hilly terrain. They are even allowing riders to set aside the car in favor of riding an e-bike for commuting to work or running an errand.
There is one characteristic that distinguishes a utility bike from the rest. They are designed for non-recreational activities. Utility bikes come in a wide variety of purpose-built designs allowing for easier use. Whatever style you choose, you are still receiving the benefits of getting exercise, completing a task, and getting free parking wherever you go!
There is no “best” utility bike, so it is up to you to identify your needs and purchase accordingly. Whether it be for more cost effective and emission free commuting, getting exercise in a money-saving mode whilst running errands, or taking kids to the park, the utility bike family might be the right choice for you.
Fat Tire Bike
The fat tire bike is easily recognizable by its very wide tires ranging from 3.8 to nearly 5 inches in width to provide superior traction and flotation on soft riding surfaces such as a sandy beach or a snowy road or path.
The mountain bike style of these fat tire bikes allows you to continue your riding season into the winter as you ride on snow covered trails. The beach cruiser style is a fun and effective alternative to your average mountain bike that works great for beach vacations or beach homes to continue your rides on the sandy coasts of a nearby body of water.
Since the early 80’s, many children’s bikes have been cheap and bulky BMX style designs that never last long or serve the rider well while in use. However, in the last ten years many bicycle brands have taken a new approach to the children’s bike market resulting in an expanded variety and better quality of bikes on the market. While in some cases the prices of children’s bikes may be higher than they once were, you are certainly getting quality for the price you are paying. The bicycles you can now buy for your children are lighter, more durable, have parts and frames specifically designed to fit the build of the average child rider. Century Cycles offers a trade-in program so you can trade in a bike when your child outgrows it and receive a credit towards a new bike for your son or daughter.
Weight matters when purchasing a bike for your child. Can you imagine how tired you would get pedaling a 60 or 70-pound bike up a hill? That is what a 25-pound bike feels like to a 60-pound child. Additionally, it is important that parts such as brake levers and pedals are correctly sized for a child and that you are ensuring that the bike you purchase has quality parts and is professionally assembled to ensure your child’s safety and fun while riding!