How to Choose the Best Bike for You
Looking to buy a bike? Here's how to find the right two-wheeler for you—plus the 15 best bikes for every rider and every type of terrain.
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The best bike for you
With bike shops reporting anywhere from a 30 to 600 percent increase in sales this year, compared to last, it’s clear that people are turning to two-wheelers to get around and stay active while socially distancing. But considering many bikes can cost $1,000 or more, how do you know what bike is the best for you and that it’s worth the investment?
Well, the first thing to ask yourself: What do you want the bike to accomplish? Answering this question will help you determine whether you need fatter tires to take your bike off-road, one with options for add-ons so you can easily carry your stuff on a bike commute, or if you’re better off with a lower-priced cruiser so you can take a leisurely spin around the neighborhood, Ryan Birkicht, senior communications manager for Pacific Cycle, says. “A bike is a tool and you want to make sure the tool can handle the task you’re intending to use it for,” Birkicht says. Don’t be afraid to talk to a customer service representative, too, as they can help you figure out the best type of bike for your rides.
Setting a budget is also important, along with figuring out your best size. The easiest way to size a bike is knowing your inseam and the height of the top tube on the bike (the tube you’d stand over), Birkicht says. Here’s a how-to from Priority Bicycles on how to measure inseam properly. You’ll find size charts on most bike brand websites, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, but make sure you know your own measurements when you go looking for a pedal partner. “Remember, a good fit makes you more comfortable and comfort equals confidence while riding,” Birkicht says.
When you’ve identified what you want to use the bike for, your budget, and your size, check out these options to fit your style and your comfort. Then, when you’re ready to ride, check out these bike-friendly cities in every state.
Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.
Best bike for beginners: Priority Bicycles Classic Plus
The grease-free and rust-free carbon chain and puncture-resistant tires make this bike low maintenance. It’s easy-to-switch three gears and lightweight construction (it weighs 26 pounds) also allow for smooth riding. The included water bottle cage and air pump also mean you’re ready to ride as soon as it arrives at your door. Consider it the perfect companion for those looking for casual weekend rides or city cruising. Have questions about the fit or features? Priority offers “virtual visits” so you can get your questions answered in real-time.
Best bike for kids: Schwinn Elm (Girls) and Keon (Boys)
Starting at $70 for Elm
Starting at $70 for Keon
Choose from a 12-, 14-, 16-, or 20-inch bike, designed for kids ranging in height from 28 inches to 60 inches. Each bike features rear coaster breaks—meaning kids can pedal backward to come to a halt—and breaks near the handlebars too. Schwinn’s SmartStart Technology also means you get a light frame, pedals placed farther forward and closer together for more comfortable riding, plus smaller grips and a seat.
Best bike for teens: Electra Cruiser 1
Teens will love this bike for the color options (like yellow, green, blue, and brown) and a range of accessories that will make it feel personalized (think: countless bells and baskets). It also has a super comfortable seat and easy stop-and-go riding thanks to Electra’s flat foot technology, which lets you step off the pedals while still staying seated. That means you don’t even have to stand up when you’re at a stoplight or chatting with friends on the side of the road.
Best cruiser: Schwinn Huron/Mikko Adult Cruiser Bike
Starting at $499
Look stylish on a two-wheeler, while feeling comfy too. This cruiser comes in bright colors, features upright handlebars, and an extra soft seat. Plus, it has the option for a step-through frame. It fits riders from 5’4″ to 6’2″. Hop on the saddle to hit the beach or roll around town—it’s the ideal tool for fun, laid back rides. You’ll also want to check out these stunning hiking trails while you’re at it.
Best hybrid women’s bike: Nishiki Women’s Anasazi Hybrid Bike
A hybrid bike can handle both road and gravel and offers a flat handlebar that makes long, casual rides more comfortable, whether you’re commuting or clocking miles for a workout. This bike checks off all the boxes of a hybrid two-wheeler, plus it comes with a durable, aluminum frame and 24 speeds to help you handle any terrain or incline. Reviewers love its smooth ride and easy gear switches. To top it off, it comes in a cool blue and orange hue, so it’ll stand out on the streets and among the growing bike crowds.
Best hybrid men’s bike: Trek Dual Sport 3
Whether you’re riding on city streets or dusty trails, this bike gives you the adventure you’re looking for—all in comfort. You can also easily add fenders, a kickstand, lights, or whatever else you want to accessorize your frequent rides. And the best feature: You get a front suspension system, which you can close on even pavement or open on rough trails. When you’re ready to take your show on the road, try one of these 13 bike tours you can take around the country.
Best women’s road bike: Liv Avail AR 3
Liv builds bikes specifically for women (and made and tested by women), with adjustments that match female dimensions and maximize the rider’s power. You’ll get that comfy, efficient ride with this two-wheeler, as well as a lightweight frame that will have you speeding through long miles. To make your ride even more enjoyable, you get a seat post meant to absorb vibration, wider tires to take on slightly rougher terrain, and plenty of gears to keep you confident as you roll up and down hills.
Best men’s road bike: GT Men’s Grade Sport Road Bike
Handle bumps and inclines with ease on this road bike that features an aluminum frame and a price point below $1,000 (a rarity for sturdy, reliable road bikes). It has flat pedals with straps to keep your feet in place, disc breaks, and 16 gears you can seamlessly switch between, whether you’re pedaling heavy on an ascent or speeding down the other side.
Best Beginner Mountain Bike: Mongoose Switchback Adult Mountain Bike
Starting at $400
Always wanted to test your two-wheeler skills on the trails? This bike will be your best friend on that unpredictable terrain through the trees. The 2.1-inch wide tires help you handle gravel and dirt with ease, as the front suspension absorbs the shock of any uneven paths you pedal over. Buy it in a step-through or regular frame. Then check out the American bike trails with the best views.
Best e-bike: Cannondale Treadwell Neo
This bike is so fun to ride, you’ll wake up dreaming of hopping back on it. The handlebar position strikes a balance between upright and a forward lean, giving you a more comfortable riding position that won’t leave you with an aching back, even on longer trips. It offers three power modes, from a slight assist to a major boost when you’re climbing up a steep incline (you still have to pedal to make it work, though!). This bike also connects with the Cannondale app so you can see distance traveled, calories burned, and even carbon emissions you save. Get the EQ version (for $450 more) to get a front rack for all your belongings, as well as fenders and lights. It’s the commuter you’ve been waiting for.
Best bike for seniors: Trek Verve 1 Disc Lowstep
A low frame that’s easy to step over, high handlebars that provide a more upright position, disc breaks to help you stop in slippery conditions, and wider tires to take on any terrain—put all these features together and you have the Verve bike, aka the perfect companion for fresh riders. These features all make it easy to pedal around town, without having to worry about discomfort during daily rides. Prefer an e-bike? The Verve also comes in an electric version that’ll power you through many miles and hills.
Best bike for petite sizes: Liv Alight 3
Only a few brands feature extra small sizes, and Liv is one of them. You’ll love this lightweight, comfy ride that’ll carry you on an enjoyable commute, and also offers steady and speedy pedaling, ideal for weekend fitness. The flat handlebars provide added comfort. In addition to a design made for smaller frames, Liv also offers home delivery with pro assembly and 14-day free returns.
Best bike for tall sizes: Argon 18 Gallium CS
You can get the Argon in a range of sizes, including extra-large, which not many bikes on this list will offer. What’s even better: While this bike is designed for newbie road cyclists, it also comes with lots of performance benefits. That includes a carbon frame, a seated position that promotes speed, and a balanced feel without being too stiff.
Best budget-friendly bike: sixthreezero Around the Block Cruiser Bike
Your classic, colorful cruiser, this bike falls well below $500 for the single speed. It fits riders from 5-feet tall to 6-foot-4. As for features, it has a soft seat to keep your backside comfy, and a rear rack for anyone who wants to add a basket to the back. Simply pedal backward to come to a stop, no hand breaks necessary. It’s an easy-riding and easy-on-the-wallet bike.
Best for family rides: Priority Bicycles Turi
If you’re looking for an easy-to-ride, no-fuss bike that can hold your kid in a seat on the back—this bike is for you. The upright position takes the strain off your low back and wrists, while the mid-step frame makes for seamless mounting and dismounting. The gear switches are simple too, as you transition from gear to gear by twisting your wrist and rotating the handle. Prefer four wheels to two? Here are some of the best road trips in America.
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