Best Bike for 2020: A Buyer’s Guide for which type of bicycle is right for you
From road bikes to mountain bikes and hybrids – use our handy Cycle SOS buyer’s guide to help you decide which bicycle you should buy in 2020.
As a nation, our attitude toward cycling widely varies with only 3% of UK residents claiming to cycle every day in 2018. As the new decade becomes ever closer, many of us are likely making new years resolutions to become more active, find more time for hobbies, or take some time to explore the great outdoors. Cycling can offer all of the above, and more.
At Cycle SOS, we understand how confusing the ever-growing bicycle market can be. So, whether you’re looking for a bike for your daily commute to work, a bike to cover long distances or a bike to explore the countryside on, our buyer’s guide lists the pro’s and con’s of 10 different bicycle types to help you make an informed decision.
Which type of bike should I buy in 2020?
Road Bikes are perfect for gaining speed and riding fast on surfaced roads with minimum effort. They have a lightweight frame, skinny tyres and dropped handlebars and gear system. If you’re looking for an aerodynamic riding design, to allow you to achieve maximum speed when riding, then a road bike may be the right choice for you.
However, the focus on speed and a demanding riding position may cause discomfort for more casual riders. Although many cyclists choose a road bike to commute on as well as for long-distance weekend rides, the thin tyres and lightweight wheels may be more susceptible to damage than others, especially on roads with plenty of potholes or tall pavement kerbs.
There’s also different types of road bike to choose from, including sportive and endurance bikes for long distances, road race bikes for more experienced cyclists, aero road bikes for increased aerodynamics and time trial bikes for racing against the clock!
Mountain Bikes are best suited to rough, off-road terrain and are built to withstand more impact than a road bike. They have a robust frame, thick tyres with a strong grip, powerful disc-brakes and wide range of gears for downhill rides and steep terrain. Many mountain bikes now also boast both front and back suspension for the ultimate control over challenging ground.
There are a few different options when buying a mountain bike, including the full suspension, which has become increasingly popular and more affordable, as well as hardtail mountain bikes which arguably take more skill to ride.
Ideal for casual or leisurely rides due to the rider’s upright position, as well as intense mountain ranges or rough, countryside terrain, mountain bikes can often prove the right choice for many cyclists. Although their bulky, often expensive frames, are perhaps best avoided if you only plan to cycle on the road or you require a more lightweight, commuter-friendly bike in 2020.
Hybrid bikes are considered a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike and are becoming increasingly popular with cyclists due to offering the best of both worlds. Identified by their upright riding position combined with a lighter than a mountain bike frame and fast-rolling wheels, the hybrid bike offers the rider increased visibility than a road bike would but still allows for the opportunity to cover distance when riding on the roads.
As well as a comfy riding position, albeit at the expense of aerodynamics, the hybrid bike often has disc brakes for consistent handling in wet weather and connection points for luggage mounts making it the ultimate city, commuter bike for many cyclists.
A city bike is a dutch-style bike best for commuting short-distances on flat terrain. They have a relaxed, upright riding position perfect for spotting upcoming hazards, as well as flat pedals and a chainguard, perfect for avoiding any oil marks on your work clothes.
A practical and robust bike, the city bike is ideal for everyday use, but those who need speed may require a lighter, more aerodynamic bike for their journey.
Touring bikes offer the ability to handle a wide range of terrains, making them suited to both city commutes and long-distance or cross-country adventures. They have fast-rolling wheels similar to both road and hybrid bikes, as well as their thicker tyres allowing for more challenging ground, and ability to carry heavy loads.
As versatile all-rounders, touring bikes offer a more comfortable riding position than typical road bikes, although this comes at a slight cost to speed. For many, touring bikes are perfect for both weekend rides to a local park, short commutes to work and even international cycle tours.
Similar to touring bikes, gravel bikes are also more in demand with cyclists looking for the efficiency of a road bike with the robustness of a mountain bike. They are also known as adventure bikes, all-road bikes or bike-packing bikes and have sleek road frames and off-road tyres (35mm wide or more) suitable to tackle gravel paths, muddy terrain and uneven road surfaces.
Choose from a range of frame materials to suit you from extremely lightweight aluminium frames to carbon, titanium and steel. Their versatile build also allows for adding mud-guards and pannier racks for carrying luggage, making them perfect for long-distance adventures.
Fixed Gear Bikes
Often referred to as a Fixie, Fixed Gear bikes aren’t exactly beginner-friendly, as no freewheel means they require constant pedalling once on the go but are the bike of choice for many city dwellers.
Fixed gear bikes require concentration but can achieve super-quick speeds. Due to their simple design, they also need little maintenance, making them very popular with cycle couriers who require regular, intense use. However, as mentioned, they are perhaps best avoided for the more casual rider or if you live in a challenging, hilly area!
For those hopping on and off public transport, a folding bike may be the right type of bicycle due to their compact size and easy storage. Identified by their folding ability and small wheels, a folding bike can be used for short journeys to the office and stored almost anywhere.
However, despite being capable bikes, a folding bike is not as suited to unstable grounds as other bikes such as a hybrid, and due to the weight and design, they aren’t likely to achieve the speeds of a road bike.
Electric bikes are no longer a thing of the future as more and more cyclists are choosing to buy an e-bike. Assisted by a powerful motor, e-bikes essentially help the rider to tackle distances or uphill terrain. They are great for commuters who don’t wish to exert themselves on the way to work and cyclists who are less confident in their physical abilities, although there is still some pedalling involved to activate the motor.
The current UK speed limit (excluding N.Ireland) for electric bikes is 15.5mph, and you may find that they are significantly heavier and more expensive than a regular bicycle. There are now also Electric Mountain Bikes available to buy for a less demanding ride – just remember to charge it!
Cycling is a wonderful passion for sharing with your children, and many of us have fond memories of our first or favourite bike. If you’re looking to buy a bike for your child, you must consider their age and ability.
We believe that balance bikes give children the best introduction to cycling, teaching them the basic principles of controlling the bike with their own bodyweight before introducing a bike with pedals. Secondly, when they move onto a bike with pedals, making sure that the size is right is important to inspire confidence. Children should be able to reach the brakes, handlebars and pedals comfortably. Read more here about buying your child’s first pedal bike.
So, when considering which type of bicycle will be the best bike for you and your needs in 2020, there’s quite a lot to consider. At Cycle SOS, we advise that you do your research before buying a bicycle, ensure the frame is the right size for you and that above all, it is safe to ride.