20+ Types of Bicycles for Adults (Comprehensive Guide)

Whether you’re a leisure rider, professional athlete, elderly, or physically handicapped, you’re sure to find many types of bicycles for adults that suit your needs.

While selecting any type of bike, you should also check that it meets existing regulatory requirements like regulations by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. This ensures the structural integrity and safety of all parts including assembly, braking, and protrusions.

You also need to ensure that it fits the intended use, as elaborated in this guide.

1. Road Bikes

Road bicycles/ roadies are specifically designed for smooth pavement.

Roadies also fall under the general category of endurance bikes, designed for long rides. They feature smooth, skinny tires with drop handlebars, and are great for on-road racing. Compared to other types of bicycles, they are quite light.

Although you can ride on paved trails with relative comfort, riding on unpaved trails would be uncomfortable and unstable.

Also, they won’t carry heavy loads.

Fortunately, they are useful for commuting, which would benefit the roughly 870,000 mainly young urban US residents who commute by bicycle.

2. Fitness Bikes

Fitness bikes are good commuter bikes.

So, what are the features of a fitness bike?

Well, they typically have a lightweight frame with a flat or upright handlebar. The tires are relatively narrow for efficiency on pavement. That makes them great for people who want light, high-performance bikes without the drop-handlebar riding position found on regular roadies.

The bicycles are sometimes called performance hybrid or flat-bar road bikes.

Most designs allow for somewhat wider tires for use on unpaved trails. And you can even mount cargo racks and fenders.

3. Folding Bikes

Folding bicycles are great if you need to travel with your bike; want to take it on a bus, train, boat, or plane; don’t have a safe parking space; or don’t have enough storage space.

They fall under the general category of utility or commuter bicycles.

Basically, utility bikes are designed for practical cycling like commuting, running errands or carrying family members or cargo. Other commuter bicycles include:

  •  Fixie: A fixed-gear bicycle where the tires only move while you pedal.
  • Single speed: A bicycle that can coast downhill and the wheels turn without pedalling.

Folding bikes typically have smaller wheels for easy storage. But that also makes them less efficient and trickier to handle compared to standard varieties.

4. Cargo Bikes

The United Parcel Service and many disaster relief agencies use cargo bicycles to transport goods through traffic or in places where cars can’t go. You too can use it for groceries instead of a gas-guzzling SUV.

Nowadays, electrically assisted cargo bikes ease the load of carrying heavier goods.

Three main varieties exist:

  • Bakfiets/ box bikes/ Long Johns: Front loaders that position loads in front of the rider, with a low-slung frame.
  •  Longtails: It has an extension at the back for carrying loads.
  •  Midtails: These are shortened longtails.

5. E-Bike

Electric bicycles offer pedal assistance on the road so you can get to your destination without sweating.

Multiple e-bike options exist.

E-bikes for city use have fewer gears, unlike mountain e-bikes that have a wider gear range. However, the bike’s battery life is a key consideration for every option. Fortunately, you can extend battery life by using the “pedal assist” mode rather than the full-on boost mode.

Low-speed type 1 and 2 e-bikes (20 mph top-assisted speed) are almost like regular bikes. And, depending on the specific legislation in your area, they’ll likely be allowed wherever regular bikes are allowed.

On the other hand, type 3 e-bikes (28 mph top-assisted speed) may not be allowed on trails, bike paths, or lanes.

6. Cyclocross Bikes

Cyclocross bicycles are also called cross or CX bikes.

They fit within the gravel/ adventure/ bikepacking bicycles category, which are drop-bar bikes having clearance for multiple tire sizes. They work for a range of on- and off-road riding experiences.

The cyclocross is designed to be raced on mixed surface courses that are a combination of pavement, gravel, unpaved trails, and grass. The tires are a little wider than regular roadies for more off-road traction.

To top it all, the bike has a style of brake that prevents mud build up in the frame.

7. Touring Bikes

Touring bikes are good commuter bicycles.

They are a special type of roadie offering durability and the ability to carry heavy loads. Such two-wheelers are suited for self-supported long-distance riding on pavement.

You’ll also get all the necessary mounting bolts for fenders and cargo racks.

Despite having drop handlebars, they do have a more relaxed frame design so you can sit more upright. This delivers more comfort during long distance rides. Most importantly, they have lower gear ranges compared to regular roadies, so you can carry heavy loads up steep hills.

8. Adventure Road Bikes

If you’re planning on long days in the saddle, regular commuting, and light touring, adventure roadies are a great choice.

Why are adventure road bikes so great?

They are one of the newest bicycle categories and the most versatile sub-category of roadies. They are also called all-road, any-road, or gravel bikes.

Being similar to the cyclocross, they have drop handlebars plus the capacity for wider tires. The frame geometry is the main difference with the cyclocross, since they are longer and more upright.

9. Triathlon/ Time Trial Bikes

These are roadies specially designed to maximize their aerodynamic properties.

Essentially, triathlon/ time trial bikes are a form of performance or track bicycles.

So, what aerodynamic features do they have?

First, the handlebars allow you to crouch forward while riding; hence, minimizing wind resistance against your body. This is further complemented by deeper aerodynamic tube sections for the frame.

Specific requirements on the bike design apply for different events, such as USA Triathlon sanctioned events which limit the length to 2 meters (6.5 feet), and width to 75 centimeters (29.5 inches).

10. Tracked/ Fixed-Gear Bike

With a fixie/ fixed-gear bicycle, the tires only move while you pedal.

Track fixies are specially designed for velodromes, which are banked, oval bicycle racing tracks. Because of their simple design, they are easy to maintain, making them an attractive option for some commuters.

Since the fixed-gear mechanism acts as a brake (fixies stop when you stop pedaling), some riders prefer not having brakes. But it’s probably advisable to attach a handbrake for legal reasons.

Most come with drop handlebars, but you can outfit it with flat or upright handlebars.

11. Mountain Bikes

Mountain bicycles (MTBs) are made for rough off-road trails.

These cross-country/ trail bikes are one of the most popular types of bicycles for adults in the US.

But what makes MTBs so special?

An important feature is a very low gear range suitable for pedaling up steep trails. Another critical feature is shock absorbers or suspension for the rough terrain. Some only have front suspension (hardtails) and others have both front and rear suspension (full-suspension bikes/ duallies).

Other MTBs have no suspension at all and are called rigid.

Since they have flat or upright handlebars, they can also provide comfortable touring or commuting experiences.

12. Fat Bikes

Fat bikes are a subcategory of MTBs.

What makes them different from other MTBs is the 3.8-inch wide or wider tires. This gives great flotation and traction on sand, snow, or trail.

The large tires running at low pressure tend to float over soft surfaces like sand and snow. This smoothens out your ride even if the frame doesn’t have suspension.

The wide tires are also less likely to damage trails.

13. Hybrid Bikes

Hybrids provide the combined advantages of roadies and MTBs.

They have large, padded seats with upright handlebars that produce a comfortable riding position. This makes them excellent for:

  •           casual riding around your neighborhood
  •           short-distance commuting
  •           bike paths
  •       errands around town

Although not as lightweight or efficient as roadies, hybrids are ideal for paved or unpaved bike trails. That’s made possible by the medium-width tires with a semi-smooth tread for a fairly smooth ride on pavement, and enough grip and cushioning for unpaved trails.

Just don’t ride them on rough off-road mountain trails.

14. Dual-Sport Bikes

Dual-sport bicycles are a sub-category of hybrids.

They are good commuter bikes, and work well for touring on unpaved trails. This is the multi-surface versatility you would expect in a hybrid, plus a more aggressive style and riding position.

So, what makes dual-sports different from hybrids?

Well, the flat or upright handlebar isn’t as upright as regular hybrids. They also have a smaller, more performance-oriented seat, unlike a hybrid’s large comfort seat. And most have front suspension.

15. Cruiser Bikes

Cruisers work well on fairly flat routes for short-distance commuting and errands.

That sounds much like hybrids, right?

So, what’s the difference between cruisers and hybrids?

The main similarity between the two is the comfortable, upright riding position; plus a large, comfortable seat for casual riding. However, cruisers usually have wide “balloon” tires; and even more upright handlebars that, in some cases, are swept back unlike hybrids.

Most cruisers are single- or 3-speed, and have coaster brakes (you pedal backwards to stop).

16. Flat-Foot Comfort Bikes

Flat-foot comfort bicycles are a sub-category of cruisers.

The flat-foot’s elongated frame design places the pedals a few inches in front of the seat. That puts the seat low enough so you can plant your feet flat on the ground when you stop.

With that design, you still get full leg extension while pedaling.

17. City Bikes

City bikes are also called “Dutch bikes,” since they look like the popular types of bicycles for adults in Amsterdam or other bike-friendly European cities.

This isn’t really a specific category, but a general descriptive term for “commuter” or “urban” bikes. However, most people categorize them as bicycles that have the upright riding position of cruisers and the wheel size of hybrids.

They tend to have fenders, chain guards, and skirt guards on the rear wheels, so you can ride in regular clothes – no need for cycling-specific clothing.

They might also have internally-geared rear hubs and built-in generators and lights.

18. BMX Bikes

BMX (bicycle motocross) bicycles are popular with kids and adults.

This type of park bike is intended for various styles of trick and stunt riding. Other park bikes include slopestyle (have suspensions to soak harsh impacts) and dirt jump bikes (designed for aerial stunts).

Park bikes are purpose-built for groomed terrain like bicycle park trails or skate parks.

With the BMX, you’ll have various options to choose from, including: race, dirt, park, street, and new “retro” bikes.

Due to their close relation, multi-speed MTBs might be accepted in BMX competitions based on the wheel diameter.

19. Dirt Jump and Slopestyle Bikes

Dirt jump and slopestyle bikes have some basic similarities with a few differences.

The main difference between these two is due to the biking course. Slopestyle biking courses are generally a mix between dirt jump biking courses and downhill courses. That’s why slopestyle courses are typically dug into mountain or hill sides.

On the other hand, dirt jumps ride on flatter, slightly slanted slopes.

Therefore, dirt jumps are twitchier and more controllable in the air, but not as controllable at high speed and less comfortable on bumpy tracks when compared to slopestyle bikes. Dirt jump tires are also slicker than slopestyle bikes.

These bikes can withstand severe twisting forces and short or overshot landings.

20. Recumbent Bikes

Recumbents give you an excellent workout while reclining in a comfortable position.

Since they are easy to ride, seniors and physically challenged riders are sure to enjoy them.

They have a long, low design with a full-size seat and a backrest. Some have two-wheels and others three-wheel designs. However, they aren’t designed for pedaling uphill.

Technically, in some jurisdictions, recumbents may not be strictly classified as bikes because the seat height is no more than 25 inches above ground.

21. Adult Tricycles

3 wheels are more stable and safer than two wheels.

Moreover, adult tricycles are easier on your knees and hips, more comfortable, and can accommodate larger riders. That makes trikes ideal for older riders or people with balance issues and other special needs.

In industrial or warehouse applications, you may also find cargo trikes.

They typically have several extra features like baskets for carrying loads, flags, and bells for safety.

22. Tandem Bikes

Tandems are great if you want to cycle with your roommate or partner.

These are “bicycles built for two” that come in all styles, including: cruiser, hybrid, off-road MTB, and high-performance road racing tandems.

Learning to ride in sync will require a bit of practice, plus good communication skills between the stoker (rider in the back) and pilot (rider up front).

Some advantages of tandems include:

  •           introducing beginners to road riding
  •           chatting with your friend while riding
  •          riding faster than normal bikes

Selecting the Right Types of Bicycles for Adults

Most people can easily fulfill their varied riding needs with the hybrid options.

This way, you don’t have to buy multiple bikes and crowd your storage space. However, if your goal is to excel in specific riding events, you definitely must get a specialized option.

In certain cases, you can apply more customization features to suit your unique needs.

Leave a Comment