BikeParts Wiki

This list gives an overview of different types of bicycles, categorized by function (racing, recreation, etc); number of riders (one, two, or more); by construction or frame type (upright, folding, etc); by gearing (single speed, derailleur gears, etc.); by sport (mountain biking, BMX, triathlon, etc); by means of propulsion (human-powered, motor-assisted, etc); and by rider position (upright, recumbent, etc). The list also includes miscellaneous types such as pedicabs, rickshaws, and clown bikes. The categories are not mutually exclusive; as such, a bike type may appear in more than one category.

By function[]


Bicycles parked outside an academic building at Stanford University

  • Utility bicycles are designed for commuting, shopping and running errands. They employ middle or heavy weight frames and tires and they often have internal hub gearing. To keep the rider clean, they often have full front and rear fenders and chain guards. To make the bike more useful as a commuter vehicle, they are often equipped with a basket. The riding position varies from upright to very upright.
  • Mountain bicycles are designed for off-road cycling, and include other sub-types of off-road bicycles such as Cross Country (i.e."XC"), Downhill , and Freeride bicycles. All mountain bicycles feature sturdy, highly durable frames and wheels, wide-gauge treaded tyres, and cross-wise handlebars to help the rider resist sudden jolts. Some mountain bicycles feature various types of suspension systems (e.g. coiled spring, air or gas shock), and hydraulic or mechanical disc brakes. Mountain bicycle gearing is very wide-ranging, from very low ratios to mid ratios, typically with 16 to 28 gears.

An aluminum racing bicycle made by Raleigh and built using Shimano components. It uses a semi-aerodynamic wheelset with low spoke count.

  • Racing bicycles (aka road bicycles) are designed for speed, and the sport of competitive road racing. They have lightweight frames and components with minimal accessories, drop handlebars to allow for a powerful and aerodynamic riding position, narrow high-pressure tires for minimal rolling resistance and multiple gears. Racing bicycles have a relatively narrow gear range, and typically varies from medium to very high ratios, distributed across 18, 20, 27 or 30 gears. The more closely spaced gear ratios allow racers to choose a gear which will enable them to ride at their optimum pedaling cadence for maximum efficiency.
    • Time trial bicycles are similar to road bicycles but are differentiated by a more aggressive frame geometry that throws the rider into (i.e "aero") riding position, sacrificing manoeuvrability for aerodynamics. They also feature aerodynamic frames, wheels, and handlebars.
    • Track bicycles, intended for indoor or outdoor cycle tracks or velodromes, are exceptionally simple compared with road bikes. They have a single gear ratio, a fixed drivetrain (i.e. no freewheel), no brakes, and are minimally adorned with other components that would otherwise be typical for a racing bicycle.
  • Messenger bikes are typically used for urgent deliveries of letters and small packages between businesses in big cities with heavily congested traffic. While any type of bike can be used, messenger bikes are often stripped-down track-style bicycles (especially in the US), with either a fixed or singlespeed freewheel drivetrains.
File:Bike refelector safety flash.JPG

A modern touring bicycle, with accessories and baggage

  • Touring bicycles are designed for bicycle touring and long journeys. They are durable and comfortable, capable of transporting baggage, and have a wide gear range.
  • Randonneur or Audax bicycles are designed for randonnées or brevet rides, and fall in between racing bicycles and those intended for touring in terms of frame geometry and weight.
  • Recumbent bicycles, which are sometimes referred to as 'Bents in the US, are designed to maximise comfort and minimise wind resistance, because the rider in a supine or semi-supine position. Whereas most of the other types of bicycle in this section are designed around a ‘diamond frame’ geometry, where the pedals and chainset are located at the bottom of the bicycle and handlebars are at the front, recumbent bicycles (recumbents) generally use a “boom” and rear triangle combination with the pedals and chainset located at the front of the boom and the handlebars are located either “over seat” or “underseat” in the centre.
  • BMX bicycles are designed for stunts, tricks, and racing on hilly dirt BMX tracks. They have a single gear ratio with a freewheel and are built with smaller frames and wheels with wider, treaded tires.
  • Cruiser bicycles are heavy framed balloon tired bicycles. They are also called beach bikes or boulevardiers and are designed for comfortable travel. Cruisers were the bicycle standard in the USA from the 1930s until the 1950s. The traditional cruiser is single-speed with coaster brakes, but modern cruisers come with three to seven speeds. Aluminum frames have recently been used in Cruiser construction, lowering weight.
  • Finger bicycles Are toy bicycles usually made with a metal frame and rubber tires and handle bars. They unridable mini bmx bikes with working parts used for stunts and are about 4 in. long

By number of riders[]

File:Sociable 1.jpg

Two people riding a Sociable

  • Most bicycles are designed for a single rider
  • Bikes with child seats or single-child trailers can carry an adult and a child
  • Bikes with double child trailers can carry an adult and two children
  • A tandem or twin has two riders.
  • A triplet has three riders; a quadruplet has four.
  • The largest multi-bike had 40 riders.[1]

In most of these types the riders ride one behind the other (referred to as tandem seating). Exceptions are "The Companion", or "Sociable," a side-by-side two-person bike (that converted to a single-rider) built by the Punnett Cycle Mfg. Co. in Rochester, N. Y. in the 1890s. Another bicycle, the "Conference Bike", rented to tourists in Berlin carries seven people seated in a circle.

By construction type[]

  • An old-fashioned penny-farthing or ordinary has one high wheel directly driven by the pedals and one small wheel.
  • On an upright bicycle, also called a safety bicycle, the rider sits astride the saddle.
  • On a recumbent bicycle the rider reclines or lies supine.
  • On a prone bike the rider lies in a prone position.
  • A crank forward bicycle has the rider upright with the pedals far enough forward that the rider can reach the ground with his or her feet without getting off the saddle.
  • A Pedersen bicycle has a bridge truss frame.
  • A folding bicycle can be quickly folded for easy carrying, for example on public transport.
  • A small wheel bicycle, such as a Moulton Bicycle, has a traditional seating position and small wheels.
  • An exercise bicycle remains stationary; it is used for exercise rather than propulsion.
  • An electric bicycle is primarily propelled by the rider; although this is assisted by the use of an electric motor, usually located in the hub of the front or rear wheel. The electric motor is powered by a battery which is secured to the frame. These are available in various technologies including Lead Acid, Nickel Cadmium, Nickel Metal Hydride, Lithium Ion and Lithium Polymer. Many of these are not classed as a motor vehicle, but as a bicycle if they comply with UK and European regulations.
  • A staircycle has pedals arranged in a stair master fashion instead of circular. There is no seat as it is designed to be used upright much like a stairmaster.

By gearing[]

  • Derailleur gears, featured on most racing and touring bicycles, offering from 5 to 30 speeds
File:Shimano xt rear derailleur.jpg

Shimano XT rear derailleur on a mountain bike

  • Single-speed bicycles and fixed-gear bicycles have only one gear, and include all BMX bikes, children's bikes, city messenger bikes, and many others. The fixed gear has no freewheel mechanism, so whenever the bike is in motion the pedals continue to spin. An advantage of this is the pedals can also be used to slow down.
  • Internal hub gearing is most common in European utility bicycles, usually ranging from three-speed bicycles to five and seven speed options. But hub gears with eight and fourteen speeds are available as well.
  • Chainless bicycles, either shaft-driven bicycles or belt-driven bicycles use a driveshaft or a belt-drive, respectively, rather than a chain to power the rear wheel. These are often used as commuter bikes because they eliminate inconveniences associated with chains and pant-legs, but shaft-driven bicycles are less efficient than chain-driven bicycles. Chainless bicycles are either single-speed, or employ internal hub gearing.
  • Retro-Direct bicycles have two sprockets on the rear wheel. By back-pedalling, the secondary, usually lower, gear is engaged.

By sport[]

File:Velo acrobatique 2.jpg

Flatland rider on a BMX bike

  • Road racing bicycles
  • Time trial bicycles are road bicycles with an aerodynamic features that are not permitted when the racers ride as a group, such as triathlon (foward pointing) bars and a disk rear wheel.
  • Track bicycles are ultra-simple, lightweight fixed-gear bikes with no brakes, designed for track cycling on purpose-built cycle tracks, often in velodromes.
  • Cyclo-cross bicycles are lightweight enough to be carried over obstacles, and robust enough to be cycled through mud.
  • XC mountain bike
  • Down-hill racers are a specialized type of mountain bike with a very strong frame, altered geometry, and long travel suspension. They are designed for use only on downhill courses.
  • BMX (bicycle motocross) bicycles have small wheels and are used for BMX racing, as well as freestyle with tricks such as wheelies. Freestyle BMXers often ride dirt jumps and skatepark ramps, or in street-style BMXing where a rider navigates through a course of stairs and metal rails.
  • Triathlon bicycles have seat posts that are closer to vertical than the seat posts on road racing bicycles. This concentrates the effort of cycling in the quadriceps muscles, sparing the other large muscles of the leg for the running segment of the race. Triathlon bicycles also have specialized handlebars known as triathlon bars or aero bars.
  • Bike trials riding is a form of off-road cycling derived from motorcycle trials where one slowly negotiates man-made and natural obstacles.
  • Freeride Bicycles in this category usually have very strong frames and dual-suspension with travel of six inches and up. They tend to have a shorter wheelbase than downhill bikes but otherwise have very similar geometry and components. Whereas downhill racers tend towards strong and light components, extreme freeriders tend not to worry about weight as much as strength of materials so it can withstand the huge drops and gaps that they typically perform.

By means of propulsion[]

  • A Human-powered transport uses only human power
    • A pedal cycle, commonly known as a bicycle is driven by pedals.
    • A hand-cranked bicycle or handcycle is driven by a hand crank.
    • A rowing bicycle is driven by a rowing action using both arms and legs.
    • A Treadle bicycle is driven by a reciprocating, not rotary, motion of the feet.[1]
    • A bucking bike (with one or more eccentric wheels)[2]
    • A balance bicycle (a kind of velocipede) uses Flintstone power, as the rider pushes themselves along with their feet on the ground.
  • An electric bicycle is primarily propelled by the rider; although this is assisted by the use of an electric motor, usually located in the hub of the front or rear wheel. The electric motor is powered by a battery which is secured to the frame. These are available in various technologies including Lead Acid, Nickel Cadmium, Nickel Metal Hydride, Lithium Ion and Lithium Polymer. Many of these are not classed as a motor vehicle, but as a bicycle if they comply with UK and European regulations.
  • A motorized bicycle provides motor assistance. (Not to be confused with motorcycles or Electric motorcycles and scooters.)
    • A moped propels the rider with a motor, but it usually includes bicycle pedals for human propulsion.
  • A Flywheel uses stored kinetic energy.

By rider position[]

Other types[]

  • Chopper Bicycles are low-rider bikes with extended forks designed to provide a smooth ride. There are factory-made chopper bicycles as well as custom-made bicycles.

The 2005 Giant Innova is an example of a hybrid bicycle. It has 27 speeds and disc brakes for wet-weather riding.

  • Hybrid bicycles are a compromise between the mountain and racing style bicycles which replaced European-style utility bikes in North America in the early 1990s. They have a light frame, medium gauge wheels, and derailleur gearing, and feature straight or curved-back, touring handlebars for more upright riding.
  • Cruiser bicycles are designed for comfort, with curved back handlebars, padded seats, and balloon tires. Cruisers typically have minimal gearing and are often available for rental at beaches and parks which feature flat terrain.
  • Freight bicycles are designed for transporting large or heavy loads. They often have a flat cargo area or large basket. Some freight bicycles also have cargo trailers.
  • Cycle rickshaws (also called pedicabs or trishaws) are used to transport passengers for hire.
  • Velomobiles or bicycle cars provide enclosed pedal-powered transportation.
  • Clown bicycles are designed for comedic effect or stunt riding. Some types of clown bicycles are:
    • bucking bike (with one or more eccentric wheels)
    • tall bike (often called an upside down bike, constructed so that the pedals, seat and handlebars are all higher than normal) -- other types of tall bikes are made by welding two or more bicycle frames on top of each other, and running additional chains from the pedals to the rear wheel.
    • Come-apart bike, (essentially a unicycle, plus a set of handlebars attached to forks and a wheel).
Clown bikes are also built that are directly geared, with no freewheeling, so that they may be pedaled backwards. Some are built very small but are otherwise normal.
  • Art bikes: Some bikes are built so that the frame appears to be made of junk or found objects: Bongo the Clown built several ridable parade bikes which were as much kinetic sculptures as transport.
  • Plastic bicycles were an attempt in the early 1980s to introduce a bicycle made entirely out of plastic materials instead of metal.
  • A unicycle is not a bicycle, as it has only one wheel, but it is related to bicycles, in that it uses a bicycle wheel and crank.

See also[]

  • List of bicycle manufacturers


  1. 38-43 CycleVISION
  2. Template:Cite web

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