Tandems are bicycles built for two. The front rider (captain) controls the steering, braking, and shifting. The back rider (stoker) sometimes has limited access to brakes. The pedals on a tandem are connected so that they revolve around the hub in unison. Tandems come in four subcategories: mountain, road, hybrid, and recumbent. These bikes feature the same characteristics as their namesake, but they’re built for two riders.
Pro: Great for leisurely or competitive rides and for those who want to ride together but would otherwise do so at different levels.
Con: Limits riding spontaneity.
Unlike higher performance road bikes and mountain bikes, touring bikes have eyelets for attaching racks. They also have the gearing and stable handling required to transport heavy loads. These bikes are also a good choice for those who don’t need the carrying capacity, but who do need low gears for hilly terrain.
Pro: Low gearing, smooth tires, and stable handling make long road rides comfortable. Designed to accommodate touring bags for multi-day rides.
Con: Slower ride and less agile handling than road racing bikes.
Like its name, the Hybrid is a combination of features from both mountain and road bikes. The wheels are not as sturdy on trails as those of a mountain bike, nor are they as thin and fast as those of a road bike on paved surfaces. But hybrid wheels are versatile enough that you could ride comfortably on either surface. Hybrids tend to have a relatively high number of gears and upright handlebars.
Pro: Good for riding on multiple surfaces. A little less expensive than a road bike.
Con: Mountain bikes are a better choice for trails and road bikes for road riding.
Built with strong components that can absorb rough riding, mountain bikes are designed for off-road use. They have high-performing brakes, suspension, fat tires and comfortable seats. It is advisable to switch the “fat tires” for thinner tires “slicks” for a multi-day road ride.
Pro: Extremely durable. Even street riders can enjoy the durability when faced with potholes, curbs, and buckled pavement.
Con: Wide tires make mountain bikes less than ideal for traveling far on flat surfaces. They’re also heavier than other bikes due to their sturdy frames.
Road (“road racing”) bikes are characterized by their light frames and narrow, high-pressure tires. They’re generally less comfortable than other types of bicycles, but their design makes for a faster and more responsive ride. Riding a lighter bike up a hill takes a lot less energy!
Pro: The fastest and lightest type of bike available.
Con: Riders used to wider tires and a more upright position may find this bike style uncomfortable and somewhat hard to handle. Time in the saddle usually eases these concerns.