These are bikes that are designed to be ridden off road. There are many features that make mountain bikes ideal for riding on uneven or muddy surfaces such suspension, wider tires and disc brakes. Nowadays, mountain bikes are available in 3 different sizes: 26”, 27.5″ and 29″. Each of these wheel sizes are suited for different types of riding. Larger wheels are more suitable for faster speed cross country riding while smaller wheels are easier to handle on more technical trails. Bikes can either come as a ‘Hardtail’ where only the front wheel in suspended or ‘Dual suspension’ where both wheels are suspended. Hardtails are better for going on faster, more smoother ground whereas Dual suspension bikes are better for bumpy ground.
Get a mountain bike if: You will spend most of the time riding on trails or uneven surfaces.
Great Bikes in this category: Santa Cruz 5010, Giant Fathom
These are bikes that are designed to purely be ridden on paved tarmac. In the pursuit of making bikes that are much lighter and that have less rolling resistance, road bikes lose a lot of the features that mountain bikes have. They have light weight frames, no suspension and high pressure, low profile tires. These bikes will also position the rider in a lower position in order to improve aerodynamics.
Get a road bike if: You are only going to ride on paved tarmac only and you want to ride longer distances at faster speeds.
Great bikes in this category: Giant Defy, Giant TCR
These are bikes that have the best of both worlds in that they have the potential to be ridden both on and off road. Very often, they will have a 700C rim but with a wider tire than you will find on a road bike. This results in faster rolling speeds on smooth tarmac but enough grip to ride on light off road trails. This category also covers comfort style bikes which are very easy to mount and dismount and are more user friendly.
Get a hybrid bike if: You want to ride both on and off road.
Great bikes in this category: Liv Alight, Liv Flourish
Gravel bike is a combination of a road bike (happy on tarmac) and a cyclo-cross bike (happy on mud). Mellow single tracks, farm roads, gravel, crushed cobblestones, tarmac — whatever. It’s a machine that’s capable of performing on various surfaces while sustaining comfort.
Get a gravel bike if: You want to ride both on and off road.
Great bikes in this category: Giant Revolt, Cannondale Topstone