Bicycles can be categorized by function, number of riders, gearing, sport, means of propulsion, position of the rider.
This list gives an overview of different types of bicycles, categorized by function (racing, recreation, etc.); number of riders (one, two, or more); by construction or frame type (upright, folding, etc.); by gearing (single speed, derailleur gears, etc.); by sport (mountain biking, BMX, triathlon, etc.); by means of propulsion (human-powered, motor-assisted, etc.); and by rider position (upright, recumbent, etc.) The list also includes miscellaneous types such as pedicabs, rickshaws, and clown bikes. The categories are not mutually exclusive; as such, a bike type may appear in more than one category.
Different Types of Bicycles
Road bicycles are designed for traveling at speed on paved roads.
Touring bicycles are designed for bicycle touring and long journeys. They are durable and comfortable, capable of transporting baggage, and have a wide gear range.
Randonneur or Audax bicycles are designed for randonnées or brevet rides, and fall in between racing bicycles and those intended for touring in terms of frame geometry and weight.
Hybrid bicycles are a compromise between the mountain and racing style bicycles which replaced European-style utility bikes in North America in the early 1990s. They have a light frame, medium gauge wheels, and derailleur gearing, and feature straight or curved-back, touring handlebars for more upright riding.
Flat bar road bikes are road bikes fitted with mountain bike-style shifters, brake levers and a flat handlebar. They fit into the continuum between hybrids and road bikes.
Cyclo-cross bike (also known as “cross bike’) – A road bicycle frame similar to a racing or sport/touring bicycle, but with more slack geometry, wider rims/tires and cantilever brakes. This bicycle style was originally intended for racing cyclo-cross. However, due to their robust design, strong brakes and more stable geometry, cyclocross bikes are frequently used as commuting, touring and “all rounder” bicycles.
Utility bicycles are designed for commuting, shopping and running errands. They employ middle or heavy weight frames and tires and they often have internal hub gearing. To keep the rider clean, they often have full front and rear fenders and chain guards. To make the bike more useful as a commuter vehicle, they are often equipped with a basket. The riding position varies from upright to very upright.
Freight bicycles are designed for transporting large or heavy loads. They often have a flat cargo area or large basket. Some freight bicycles also have cargo trailers.
Porteur bicycles are a kind of cargo bicycle designed for carrying loads on a platform rack attached to the fork.
Butcher’s Bikes typically have a basket or storage box mounted within a framework on the front of the bike, and would often feature an advertising sign attached within the main triangle of the bicycle frame. Despite the name, these were popular with wide variety of trades during the first half of the 20th century, particularly in the United Kingdom.
Longtail bicycles are a type of bicycle (specifically a type of longbike) with a longer than usual frame wheelbase at the rear compared to a standard utility bicycle.
Boda-boda, also known as a Poda-Poda in some parts of Africa, is a bicycle taxi.
Messenger bikes are typically used for urgent deliveries of letters and small packages between businesses in big cities with heavily congested traffic. While any type of bike can be used, messenger bikes are often stripped-down track-style bicycles (especially in the U.S.), with either a fixed or singlespeed freewheel drivetrains.
Ice cycles are designed for riding on ice.
Mountain bicycles (also called All Terrain Bicycle) are designed for off-road cycling. All mountain bicycles feature sturdy, highly durable frames and wheels, wide-gauge treaded tires, and cross-wise handlebars to help the rider resist sudden jolts. Some mountain bicycles feature various types of suspension systems (e.g. coiled spring, air or gas shock), and hydraulic or mechanical disc brakes. Mountain bicycle gearing is often very wide-ranging, from very low ratios to mid ratios, typically with 16 to 28 gears, although some riders prefer the mechanical simplicity and ease of maintenance of single-speed mountain bikes.
Racing bicycles (aka road bicycles) are designed for speed, and the sport of competitive road racing. They have lightweight frames and components with minimal accessories, drop handlebars to allow for a powerful and aerodynamic riding position, narrow high-pressure tires for minimal rolling resistance and multiple gears. Racing bicycles have a relatively narrow gear range, and typically varies from medium to very high ratios, distributed across 18, 20, 27 or 30 gears. The more closely spaced gear ratios allow racers to choose a gear which will enable them to ride at their optimum pedaling cadence for maximum efficiency.
Time trial bicycles are similar to road bicycles but are differentiated by a more aggressive frame geometry that throws the rider into (i.e. “aero”) riding position, sacrificing manoeuvrability for aerodynamics. They also feature aerodynamic frames, wheels, and handlebars.
Triathlon bicycles have seatposts that are closer to vertical than the seatposts on road racing bicycles. This enables a greater contribution from hamstring and gluteus muscles. Triathlon bicycles also have specialized handlebars known as triathlon bars or aero bars.
Track bicycles, intended for indoor or outdoor cycle tracks or velodromes, are exceptionally simple compared with road bikes. They have a single gear ratio, a fixed drivetrain (i.e. no freewheel), no brakes, and are minimally adorned with other components that would otherwise be typical for a racing bicycle.
BMX bikes are designed for stunts, tricks, and racing on dirt BMX tracks. They have a single gear ratio with a freewheel and are built with smaller frames and wheels with wider, treaded tires.
Cruiser bicycles are heavy framed bicycles designed for comfort, with curved back handlebars, padded seats, and balloon tires. They are also called beach bikes or boulevardiers and are designed for comfortable travel. Cruisers were the bicycle standard in the United States from the 1930s until the 1950s. The traditional cruiser is single-speed with coaster brakes, but modern cruisers come with three to seven speeds. Aluminum frames have recently been used in Cruiser construction, lowering weight. Cruisers typically have minimal gearing and are often available for rental at beaches and parks which feature flat terrain.
Cycle rickshaws (also called pedicabs or trishaws) are used to transport passengers for hire.
Motorized bicycle motorbike, cyclemotor, or vélomoteur is a bicycle with an attached motor and transmission used either to power the vehicle unassisted, or to assist with pedaling. Since it always retains both pedals and a discrete connected drive for rider-powered propulsion, the motorized bicycle is in technical terms a true bicycle, albeit a power-assisted one. However, for purposes of governmental licensing and registration requirements, the type may be legally defined as a motor vehicle, motorcycle, moped, or a separate class of hybrid vehicle. Powered by a variety of engine types and designs, the motorized bicycle formed the prototype for what would later become the motorcycle.
Gyroscopic bicycle uses a detachable gyroscope in front wheel to make it stable and can be easily ridden by a disabled person. The gyroscopic disk can spin several thousand times per minute and has 3 speeds, the fastest rotation for higher corrective effect of stability.
An electric bicycle allows the rider the choice of pedaling or ‘coasting’; the bicycle being propelled by an electric motor, which is frequently incorporated into the front or rear hub. Some electric bicycles allow these two functions to be carried out simultaneously, and some motors will match the power the rider has contributed through the pedals; this type of e-bike more commonly known as a Pedelec (pedal electric). Electric bicycles primarily use lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries.