SHARING THE ROAD: It’s all about finding the right bike

The right bike depends on what you want to do with the bike

What kind of bike do I want?

The answer depends on what you want to do with the bike.

What’s a road bike, mountain bike, hard tail, commuter, hybrid, cyclocross, touring, cruiser, or city bike?

I know this is stepping into muddy territory and many people will disagree with me, but here’s my quick summary of the differences.

  • Road bike: Built and designed primarily for speed.

Narrow, smooth large wheels and high-pressure tires, drop handlebars, two or sometimes three front chain rings, and usually 9 or 10 speed rear cogs.

Road bikes have a fairly aggressive riding position and can be uncomfortable for people with lower back/shoulder problems. They are designed only for the smooth road and are usually very light and responsive, mainly built from aluminum and/or carbon fibre. Use for fitness training, racing and serious road riding.

  • Mountain Bike: A bike designed for off-road. There are many sub-types of mountain bikes. A more upright riding position, big wide knobbly tires for superior grip off road, usually 26” or 29” diameter. Front suspension fork, usually disc brakes on the better bikes and optional rear suspension (dual suspension) with adjustable shock distinguish mountain bikes.

Mountain bikes come in various suspension designs and configurations (hard tail, dual suspension) for cross country riding, all mountain riding, dirt jumping or downhill riding. Use for off road recreation and racing.

  • Hybrid bike: As the name implies, this is a blend of both road and mountain bikes. Again, there are many sub-types of hybrid: commuter, cross, touring and trekking.

Usually road-designed frames with 700c tires, but wider and more aggressive tread than road bike tires, designed to withstand rougher and littered surfaces as found in most bike lanes.

Flat, mountain bike style handlebars and mounting points for fenders, racks, bags, lights and other accessories.

Hybrids have a more upright riding position than road bikes and are suited more for commuting and fitness riding. Some have a front suspension fork for riding rough terrain and light, hard packed trails and logging roads. Some have disc brakes for superior stopping power. Use for commuting, touring and general fitness riding.

  • City or comfort bike: A traditional European designed bike. Usually a very low top tube so ladies with skirts can mount the bike easily, a very upright riding position and usually internal hub gears although there are many variations with this style of bike. Designed for relatively flat roads these bikes can be quite heavy.

These bikes usually come equipped with a kick stand, fenders, chain guard and a bell, handlebar baskets are a popular accessory on city bikes. Use for non-serious riding, cruising to Starbucks for a latte and looking cool.

Each bike has its merits and most are designed for specific kinds of riding.

Whatever kind of bike you use, enjoy riding it, ride safely, be alert, respect pedestrians and don’t ride on the sidewalk and above all, WEAR A HELMET.

Till next time, enjoy summer!

Steve Nagel can be found at