For many people buying a bicycle will be as simple as choosing one that will suit:
However, if caregivers are choosing a bicycle for a child, the following things also need to be considered:
If on the road:
The information we have provided in this section aims to give you the basics about different types of bicycles. We recommend you talk to your local cycling shop for more detailed information.
The most common styles of bicycle are: children's bicycles, BMXs, road bikes, mountain bikes and hybrids.
Each style of bicycle comes in different sizes. Determine the following:
Straddling the bike to check the frame size
There are many combinations of bicycle components, even within each style group and it is often possible to change parts of your bicycle so that it suits your needs. Experts at your cycle shop will be able to tell you more about the options and help you with your choices. You may want to think about the following things.
Apart from the style and height, the main differences between frames will be the material they are made from. Materials include steel, alloy, and carbon, which vary in cost, strength and weight. The frame should be strong if the bicycle is going to be ridden off-road, and light if it's to be ridden in competitive or difficult situations (eg up hills).
Raised handlebars help learner cyclists to better control the bicycle. Low handlebars (including drop handlebars) put the cyclist's body in a low position which reduces wind resistance.
Gears are useful for cyclists with some experience who want to cycle over varied terrain and conditions. Using gears helps cyclists maintain a comfortable and manageable level of force and effort when pedalling up and down hills, in windy conditions and when accelerating.
Seats are normally designed to suit the type of bicycle, but different seats can be added to suit the rider and the type of riding they do. Seats come in varying widths and styles. There are types designed to suit men or women.
Tyres are also designed to suit the type of bicycle, but can be changed to suit the type of riding you do. Normally, bikes designed to be ridden off-road will have wider wheels with knobbly tyres. Bikes designed for racing on the road will have thin wheels with relatively smooth tyres. For normal road riding, tyres with some tread are recommended. Thicker tyres with a dense tread pattern will generally be more forgiving of loose gravel, potholes, broken glass and bike handling errors.
For each type of bike available there will be a number of bikes to choose from that have differing brake systems. Talk to an expert to find out what type of brake system is best for the type of riding you do.
For young or novice cyclists the best bicycle to learn on has:
Cycles need to be the right size for the cyclist. Don't be tempted to buy a cycle for the child to grow into - it will be too difficult to manage and will be unsafe.
Last updated: 24 April 2013