Best Bikes at the Best Price
Whatever type of cycling you do, or plan to do, remember that bikes are really just a kit based around the correctly angled frame for its proposed use. You can tailor the rest by varying wheels, tyres, gears, pedals, braking style, handlebar design and of course choosing the saddle that suits you. Just make sure you start with the right frame geometry.
However, as most of us want an off-the-shelf bike with minimal tweaks, look on this site for the types commonly available. Search for, compare prices of, and choose from, a huge variety of bikes, trikes, tandems and electric bikes, then buy online securely from your chosen retailer.
Read more below about these different types of cycles, and use the links there or from the menu to take you to our comparison page for that type of bike. Once on that page, you can search for more specific items such as a brand name. You can also use the menu to go directly to one brand, or to a specific retailer. Alternatively, go straight to the on-line shop portal itself, and put your own keywords in the search box.
Types of Bicycle (...in no particular order)
You can help your kids to learn to cycle quickly and painlessly if you help them learn to ride without the distraction of pedals - so set them off on a balance bike. Or take the pedals (and any stabilisers)off a 'normal' child's bike. These options are much better than using stabilisers, where they learn to pedal and steer but not the essential balancing skill.
If older children want to join in with the adults in a particular activity, there are some scaled-down versions of more specialised types. Look at the links further below in the different sections to find these. However, there are other bikes for younger ones that are just cheap and cheerful machines for them to have fun on, probably treat badly, and then grow out of, so you only need to think about fit, based on your child's height/leg length.
These are the workhorses of the cycling world. You want a bike that can take you to work, to the railway station or bus stop, to the local shops or gym , to visit friends or to go to school.
So you need a sturdy bike that does the job without requiring too much tender loving care, is not hugely expensive so is not a magnet to thieves, has the right number of gears for your local terrain, has dynamo lights (more convenient than battery) for the inevitable night riding, has mudguards to keep the wet and muck off you and your clothes, and has provision to carry things in a basket, bag or pannier.
Commuter bikes, roadster bikes, leisure bikes, flat bar road bikes, town bikes, city bikes, hybrid bikes, folding bikes, trikes and urban/European/Dutch (sit up and beg) bikes can all be considered everyday bikes. Of course there's nothing to stop you using a more specialised bike for every day in addition to the activity it was specifically designed for. As long as it's rideable on the road, and safe to use with brakes, lights for night, with carrying capacity if necessary, go ahead.
And the not-so-new kid on the block is the electric bike, where a motor can be switched on for hills, headwinds or lack of energy, with battery range improving each year. The rechargeable battery needs plugging in to the mains at intervals. You can have electric versions of many styles of bike including MTB, hybrid, folders and trikes, plus now you can buy power assist motor kits to retro fit to almost any bike, so conversion of your favourite or custom-built bike might be possible.
Road - competitive
Obviously competitive bikes are built to help you win, whatever the type of event, so are usually lightweight, responsive, and designed to be as aerodynamic as possible, and to enable the rider to create an aerodynamic shape too. So forget the mudguards, lights, pannier racks - these are the racehorses of the cycling world and are stripped back to the bare minimum with narrow smooth (slick) tyres completing the speed spec.
Road/racing bikes (there are lots of them listed, so filter out by brand, or by rider - although men's bikes are the default, and rarely specified, you can filter by women and children - either junior,girl, boy) and time trial versions are the ones we see ridden by roadies - the road cycling clubbers who swoop uphill and down dale in Tour de France fashion. And more recently Tour de Yorkshire, and Tour de Britain.
Triathlon bikes are racing/time trail bikes too, but there's more leeway with specs in triathlon and ironman events than road racing, so there's a less specific design to these.
Track bikes, having a fixed gear, and thus often known as a single gear or fixie, are designed for the velodrome, where weather isn't an issue. However some afficinados do use them on the roads, where you need to add a front brake to be street legal, and safe.
Road - non-competitive events
Audax, Endurance, Randonneur and Sportive - these events are all about challenging yourself but are not races. So there's a little more comfort and riding ease thrown in than on a racing machine, with more gears and less jarring with wider tyres acting to absorb uneven road surfaces.
These touring and expedition machines are designed to carry you and your possessions on long trips and are designed to provide a comfortable ride.
They have robust frames that won't twist while carrying your luggage, which riders usually distribute between front and back panniers. They have strong wheels that you fit with smooth tyres for reduced friction (=easier pedalling), plenty of gears for hills and headwinds, and a variety of handlebar configurations. They also have mudguards and pannier racks, and often dynamo lights. Not just for solo riders, but duos too, with tandems available.
Off-road or mixed - competitive and non-competitive
Although you can ride an off-road bike on a road, they are better in their own habitats as they are designed to deal with the vibration or worse from unsurfaced, loose or very rough ground. Robust frames and wheels are needed, with tyres capable of traction on such surfaces too, so need to have a deeper tread than bikes for the blacktop. You know when you can hear certain bike tyres on the road? That's the sound of all the friction between the knobbly tread and the tarmac, gripping rather too well in this case and requiring harder pedalling than a road bike to move quickly.
is a generic term covering a range of off-road machines. There are the rigid frames, with no suspension built in at all, also the so-called hard tail bikes (because the front forks have suspension), and full suspension versions (with front suspension forks and a rear shock absorber), which are the most capable across rough terrain and include enduro bikes, used for endurance race challenges. You can sometimes lock the suspension for when you are on the road, to prevent loss of energy.
The hard-tails are simpler to maintain, but when riding you'll find the back wheel might skid as there is no suspension there, and you'll be prone to punctures.
Cross-country versions of mountain bikes are designed for speed, and going uphill not just racing down, so are more likely to have larger wheels - 29in giving rise to the term 29er - with wider tyres for crossing very rough ground more easily than the traditional 26in wheel. They'll also have front suspension. In comparison, downhill bikes are not designed to cycle back up that hill at all.
Bike Motor Cross (BMX) bikes usually have 20in wheels and began life as fun racing machines off-road around obstacles. One variant of these are dirt jump bikes, which are for having fun in the air, so these bikes are built to stand up to a lot of punishment.
Fat bikes have fat tyres that roll over all obstacles with ease while cushioning your ride, so are fun and practical too for off-road.
Cyclocross/gravel bikes are road bikes for off-road adventure, so will have 700c wheels unless for children in which case they will be smaller.