List of bicycle types

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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
A modern touring bicycle, with accessories and baggage

The main categories of bicycles in relation to their intended use are:

An aluminum racing bicycle made by Raleigh and built using Shimano components. It uses a semi-aerodynamic wheelset with low spoke count.
  • An electric bicycle allows the rider the choice of pedalling or 'coasting'; the bicycle being propelled by an electric motor, which is frequently incorporated into the front or rear hub. Some electric bicycles allow these two functions to be carried out simultaneously, and some motors will match the power the rider has contributed through the pedals; this type of e-bike more commonly known as a Pedelic (pedal electric). Electric bicycles primarily use lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries.

By sport

Flatland rider on a BMX bike
  • Time trial bicycles are road bicycles with an aerodynamic features that are not permitted when the racers ride as a group, such as aero bars and a disk rear wheel.
  • 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.
  • Downhill bikes 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.
  • 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 frame design

By material

By rider position

Standing up on a seatless treadle bicycle

By number of riders

Two people riding a Sociable

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. On the Conference Bike, riders sit in a circle facing each other.[4] On the Busycle, the captain faces forwards, one row of stokers faces left, and one row faces right.[5]

By number of wheels

While not strictly bicycles, these devices share many features such as drivetrains and other components with bicycles.

  • Velomobiles have three wheels and are enclosed for aerodynamic advantage and protection from weather and collisions.
  • Cycle rickshaws (also called pedicabs or trishaws) have three wheels and are used to transport passengers for hire.

By number of steering axes

While most bicycles have one steering axis, some have more than one:

By means of propulsion

A treadle bicycle from 1925
  • A pedal cycle, commonly known as a bicycle is driven by legs and feet on pedals.
  • A hand-cranked bicycle or handcycle is driven by arms and hands.
  • A rowing cycle 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.
  • A bucking bike (with one or more eccentric wheels)[6]
  • A balance bicycle (a kind of velocipede) and a Footbike use Flintstone power, as the rider pushes themselves along with one or both feet on the ground.
  • A caster board or a Trikke is driven forward by pushing a wheel approximately perpendicular to the direction of travel.
  • 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 moped propels the rider with a motor, but it usually includes bicycle pedals for human propulsion.

By gearing

The majority of bicycles transmit power from the crankset to the drive wheel with a bicycle chain

  • Derailleur gears, featured on most racing and touring bicycles, offering from 5 to 30 speeds
Shimano XT rear derailleur on a mountain bike
  • Single-speed bicycles and fixed-gear bicycles have only one gear, and include all BMX bikes, many 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. The pedals can, or sometimes must, be used to slow down.
  • Internal hub gearing is most common in European utility bicycles, usually ranging from three-speeds to eight speeds, however hub gears with fourteen speeds are also available.
  • Retro-Direct bicycles have two sprockets on the rear wheel. By back-pedalling, the secondary, usually lower, gear is engaged.

By style

Some bicycles are defined by their appearance.

  • Dekocharis are a form of art bike indigenous to Japan dating back to the mid 1970s.
  • Lowrider bicycles are highly customized bikes with a long wheelbase and styling inspired by lowrider cars.
  • Scraper bikes are ordinary bicycles that have been modified by their owners, typically with decorated spokes with candy-colored pinwheels and matching body and wheel colors, using tinfoil, re-used cardboard, candy wrappers and paint.
The 2005 Giant Innova is an example of a hybrid bicycle. It has 27 speeds and disc brakes for wet-weather riding.
  • 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).
  • Reverse-steering bike, in which rotation of the handlebars is transmitted to the front wheel through a pair of interlocking cogs, so that turning to the left steers the bike to the right.[7]
  • Sideways bikes are bikes ridden sideways with the rider steering both wheels.
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.

See also