If you are a total beginner to riding bikes or are not familiar with what sort of bikes are on the market today, then here are a few of the most popular categories, as well as some tips and guidance to help you choose what bike to go for.
Hybrid bikes are often the go to style of bike for someone who is just starting to learn how to ride, as they are comfortable, have stable geometry, and have relatively easy gearing compared to a road bike. They will typically have 700c size wheels, with around 35-40mm tyre widths and semi-slick treads making them excellent all-rounders. You can often find them at affordable prices and they usually offer great value for money. They also make excellent commuter bikes for this very reason.
Mountain bikes have been around since the late 80s/early 70s, and are now a hugely popular category of bicycle. They are many different sub categories of MTB, including Downhill, Enduro, Trail and Cross Country to name a few. The common characteristics of these bikes are thicker tyres, with 26", 27.5" or 29" tyres (on adult-size bikes), longer travel suspension and wide/flat handlebars. If you are looking to go off road, they make great bikes for beginners due to their unrivalled stability, excellent braking and easy gearing. They are typically more expensive than your hybrid bikes however, and if you choose anything other than a lightweight Cross Country bike, you can expect to go a lot slower due to the extra weight, suspension and increased rolling resistance of the wider tyres.
Electric bikes, although a relatively new breed of bike, are hugely popular nowadays and make up around 17% of bike sales in Europe. You can find them in virtually any style of bike you want, be it road, hybrid, gravel or MTB. There are quite a few things to bear in mind when choosing an e-bike and it is advisable to do plenty of research if you are planning on buying your first. The key things to check for are battery size, motor type (crank set or hub), and brand. These can vary greatly and also offer varying levels of performance.
Road bikes are an excellent choice if you are looking to ride fast on roads. They are optimized to be as mechanically and aerodynamically efficient as possible, which is why they have slimmer tyres, higher gearing and a more "bent over" geometry. These bikes might not be the best to start on if you've never ridden a bike; drop handlebars can take some getting used to and the fact that your facing the floor most of the time can feel a little uncomfortable if you're not used to it. The brakes are also generally not as effective as flat bar lever-type brakes, which is another point for consideration. This being said, nothing beats going really fast on a road bike and flying past everyone else on their thicker tyred counterparts.
Gravel bikes are the latest popular trend in the cycling world, which offer a nice middle ground between mountain bikes and road bikes. They have slightly more relaxed geometry and thicker tyres than road bikes, but still have drop handlebars and slightly harder gearing making them ideal for going (slightly) offroad. They also make excellent touring/adventure bikes due to often being ladened with rack and bottle cage mounts, and being slightly sturdier than their more slender road bike siblings. One thing to bear in mind is if there are actually any gravel routes near you... Some locations, Spain or California for example, have thousands of miles of sprawling gravel and fire trails which the gravel bike is perfectly suited for. However, if you're living somewhere with not so optimal conditions, ie: Britain, where the weather is grey and damp for most of the year, then you might find yourself slipping and sliding around on a muddy bridleway more often than not. If this is the case, perhaps opt for a mountain bike.
Cyclocross bikes are essentially road bikes designed for racing offroad. They are very similar to Gravel bikes in this sense, however, they are limited by UCI rules and are built to comply with these standards. They are also optimized for short races around fields. If you like this style of bike (drop bar offroad bike) but don't intend to participate in this fairly niche sport, then you might want to consider going for a gravel bike instead, as gravel bikes can offer you more versatility with things like tyre widths and mounting points.
There are many more subcatagories of bike to consider, Folding Bikes for example, which are usually of the hybrid bike style. These are obviously extremely handy if you are lacking storage space, want to fit a bike in the back a car/campervan or the like; but with the smaller wheels, you will have different riding experience to that of a standard bicycle, and with the folding mechanisms, there will be added complication and cost involved. So unless you really like the feel of having smaller wheels, I would suggest only going for one these if you are intending to fold/unfold it regularly, or just really need something more compact.
Single Speed/Fixie's make a fantastic town bike, (so long as it's a flat town). They are stripped of many of the components you'd find on a standard bike, with only one gear and sometimes just one brake (two if you count the fixed gear braking). This means they're really easy to maintain, and less likely to have parts nicked off them while you leave them locked up. One thing to note, unless you're a polka dot wearing grand tour rider, you will probably struggle going up hills with a gradient of more than 10%. Also, fixies look really cool until you see one descend down a hill... riders have no choice but do a "no footer" and let the cranks spin wildly until the hill starts to level out. Although the purists out there may disagree, I believe the innovation of pawl and ratchet hubs have come a long way to mitigate this issue. But the fixie still remains a popular choice for many riders, particularly those hipsters who just love to do things differently. If you are thinking of buying one but are perhaps not experienced with fixed gears, opt for one with a "Flip Flop" hub, which will allow you to turn the wheel around and use a single speed freehub if you decide that fixed is not for you.
If you have more questions about what bike you should buy, or for anything else bke related, get in touch via the contact section of the website. I would be delighted to help. Also, check out what bikes we have for sale here: https://www.fivevalleycycles.co.uk/emu-electric-bikes