The Best Bikes for Every Type of Rider

Versatile and a great value, the Cannondale Topstone 4 earned our top pick.

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Best Bikes for Every Type of Rider

Mike's Bike

Whether it’s to explore nature, green your commute, or stay in shape, riding a bike is an efficient and fun way to get around. However, the range of bike styles, designs, and prices are as varied as the reasons for cycling, which can make finding the right bike seem daunting. 

To help you with your search, we consulted cycling experts to share their best tips for buying a bike. We’ve also reviewed the best bikes based on intended use and style. From the latest and greatest electric model to kids’ wheels and the perfect tandem bike for two, our best-of list covers a wide range of cycling needs. Out of the pack, the Cannondale Topstone 4 earned our top pick for its versatility in use, customization, and quality features at a value. 

Here’s our breakdown of the best bikes for every type of rider:

Best Overall: Cannondale Topstone 4

Cannondale Topstone 4

Mike's Bikes

Why We Love It: This versatile bike performs well on any surface and offers plenty of personalization at an accessible price. 

What to Consider: You need to purchase the pedals separately.

As a gravel design, the Cannondale Topstone 4 combines elements of road and mountain bikes so you can explore a variety of terrains with a single model. The bike’s drop bar handlebars and road-style dimensions are ideal for long-distancing riding. Meanwhile, the forward position of the front wheel enhances control like a mountain bike. The microSHIFT Advent X 10-speed drivetrain offers ample range without too much shifting to find the right gear. Including a carbon fiber fork in the otherwise aluminum alloy frame helps dull vibrations and impact. Though it comes with 37-millimeter tires suited for gravel, the Topstone’s 45-millimeter clearance gives the option to slap on more robust tires for tackling rougher terrain. Riders are afforded further customization with three water bottle mounts, a top tube storage mount, removable fender bridge, and 27.2-millimeter dropper post compatibility. The latter allows for rapid remote-controlled adjustment of the seat height while riding. And with five size options (XS - XL), the Topstone is suitable for rider heights running from 5 feet to 6 feet, 8 inches. 

Weight: 23 pounds | Frame type: Aluminum alloy  | Sizes: XS-XL

Best Beach Cruiser: Specialized Roll Low-entry

Specialized Roll Low-entry

Specialized

Why We Love It: With its user-friendly design, comfort features, and affordable price point, this bike is an accessible option for daily recreation and leisurely joyrides. 

What to Consider: Though it’s not a single-speed cruiser, it still doesn’t have much zip.

While beach cruisers are known for their simplicity, the Specialized Roll Low-entry enhances this classic bike style with greater performance and functionality. The Shimano Altus seven-speed drivetrain gives greater pedaling efficiency and a more tailored riding experience. Wide, puncture-resistant tires help navigate sand and off-road terrain. The padded saddle, which can be easily adjusted with a quick-release clamp, provides excellent pressure relief and sit bone support for longer rides. The Roll’s upfront sitting position, ergonomic hand grips, and low step-through frame make this a very accessible model for riders of all ages and abilities. It also has compatibility for a rear rack and front basket — great for running errands or carrying provisions for a trip to the beach. 

Weight: 30.6 pounds | Frame type: Aluminum  | Sizes: S-L  

Best Electric: Ride1Up 700 Series

Ride1Up 700 Series

Ride1Up

Why We Love It: This level three e-bike delivers great value with excellent features and quality design at a mid-level price. 

What to Consider: The added weight of the motor and other e-bike components makes it much less portable than a conventional bike.

For some added zip, the Ride1Up 700 Series employs a 750-watt motor to propel riders up to 28 miles per hour with pedal assistance, or 20 miles per hour using just the throttle. The 48-volt battery, which affords a range between 30 to 50 miles depending on terrain and assistance, is integrated in the frame’s downtube to maintain the e-bike’s sleek and aerodynamic profile. Battery power also supports integrated LED headlight and taillight, as well as a mounted LCD display that lets riders customize pedal assist settings and track advanced metrics. Between trips, the 700 Series’s battery easily detaches by key for recharging wherever is most convenient. Other notable features include an eight-speed Shimano trigger shift, rear rack, cushy gel saddle, and hydraulic suspension for smooth riding. The 700 Series also has the option of standard or step-through design, letting riders choose the frame that matches their riding style and needs.

Weight: 62 pounds | Frame type: Aluminum | Sizes: One (rider height 5 feet to 6 feet, 2 inches) 

Best Commuter: Priority Continuum Onyx

Priority Continuum Onyx

Priority Bicycles

Why We Love It: This bike is designed for year-round performance and keeping your outfit intact. 

What to Consider: It’s not the lightest model, making it less suited for commutes that require stairs or public transit. 

For regular use or getting to work every day, the Priority Continuum Onyx is up to the task. The eight-speed gearing system lets cyclists optimize pedaling efficiency, while the Enviolo CVT Shifter ensures a smooth ride when changing gears. The Continuum Onyx’s design helps ensure your outfit stays work ready: the belt drive and hub gears avoid any oil stains on your clothes, and integrated fenders provide protection from spray and splatter. The Continuum Onyx packs superb safety features too: dual piston hydraulic disc brakes help stop on a dime while pedal-powered front and rear lights illuminate your way without you having to worry about recharging or battery life. 

Weight: 31 pounds | Frame type: Aluminum | Sizes: S-L 

Best Fat Bike: Surly Ice Cream Truck Fat Bike

 Surly Ice Cream Truck Fat Bike

Surly

Why We Love It: The bike’s durable design and performance specs can conquer diverse and tough terrain. 

What to Consider: It’s not the most budget-friendly fat bike.

The Surly Ice Cream Truck stands out from the fat-tire pack for many reasons, unique name aside. The bike offers clearance for a 26 x 5-inch tire on 100-millimeter rims, which is high even for a fat bike. Adept for sand, snow, and gripping loose trails, tubeless-ready Surly Bud & Lou 4.8-inch tires come included. The long top tube and 68-degree headtube angle give the Ice Cream Truck nimble handling for more technical terrain. The Shimano SLX 12-speed drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes boost comfort and control. The Ice Cream Truck also integrates parts from other top-notch bike brands, notably a Selle Italia saddle and Salsa Rustler 31.8 handlebars. And its Chromoly steel frame has an electrophoretic deposition coating to prevent rust, ensuring many years of off-road adventure

Weight: 37 pounds | Frame type: Steel | Sizes: S-XL 

Best Folding: Brompton C Line Explore Folding Bike

Brompton C Line Explore Folding Bike

Brompton

Why We Love It: This highly customizable bike folds down to incredibly compact dimensions for easy storage or transport.  

What to Consider: The small wheel frames aren’t the most durable for rougher road conditions.

If you have limited storage space at home, work, or in your vehicle, a folding bike is a convenient solution. With folded dimensions of 25.3 x 23 x 10.6 inches, the Brompton C Line Explore can be easily stowed away between use. Handmade in London, this folding model delivers excellent performance and a good deal of customization too. Cyclists can choose from seven colors and three handlebar styles: low, mid, and high, depending on their riding style. The Explore’s six-speed, 300-percent gearing range makes it well-suited for varied terrain and longer distances. The bike’s steel frame and puncture-resistant tires add durability, while its low center of gravity enhances control. 

Weight: 27 pounds | Frame type: Steels | Sizes: Single unisex model 

Best for Kids: Cleary Owl 20-in Single Speed Bike

Cleary Owl 20in Single Speed Bike

Competitive Cyclist

Why We Love It: This bike helps younger riders hone their riding skills and coordination without the complication of shifting gears. 

What to Consider: There’s no option for coasting brakes on this model.

Finding a bike that helps little ones develop their skills and have fun is important for the transition to two wheels. The Cleary Owl 20in Single Speed delivers kid-friendly design and useful features for children still getting the hang of cycling. The Owl’s frame keeps riders centered for stability and responsiveness on varied terrain. Large brake levers on the handlebars are easy to use and give serious stopping power. The integration of the brake cables in the bike frame to avoid snagging or tangling is another helpful kid-proof feature. 

The bike is designed to accommodate inseams between 19 and 23 inches, providing a significant window of time for kids to use the Owl before scaling up to a larger bike. 

Weight: 19 pounds | Frame type: Steel | Sizes: One size (20 inches) 

Best Mountain: Ibis Ripmo XT Mountain Bike

Ibis Ripmo XT Mountain Bike

Backcountry

Why We Love It: This all-around performer delivers remarkable downhill handling and exceptional efficiency to climb back up for another go. 

What to Consider: This mountain bike comes with a steep price tag. 

The Ibis Ripmo XT Mountain Bike is a top-notch performer for off-road adventure. The bike’s carbon frame reduces the weight from earlier Ripmo models, and the upgraded geometry is geared for intense ascents and descents. For excellent downhill performance, the XT’s 64.9-degree head tube provides a slacker angle for more stability at high speeds, while the XT foury-piston brakes give superb stopping power. This mountain bike is equipped for tough climbs, with the 12-speed XT drivetrain advancing shifting performance and ample low gear choices. The XT’s 76-degree seat tube angle supports power transfer into the pedals to tackle steep hills as well. Long days on the XT are made possible by the Fox Float X2 air shock. The highly tunable rear shock absorbs impact for a smoother ride while keeping the tire in contact with the ground for greater control. 

Weight: 28.2 pounds | Frame type: Carbon | Sizes: S-XL 

Best Road: Cannondale Synapse Carbon 2 RLE

Cannondale Synapse Carbon 2 RLE

Mike's Bikes

Why We Love It: This road bike achieves an ideal balance of speed and comfort alongside some high-tech safety features. 

What to Consider: It’s on the heavier side for a high-end road bike.

The Cannondale Synapse Carbon 2 RLE is designed for long-distance performance and enhanced road safety. This model introduces Cannondale’s new SmartSense system, which integrates a headlight, taillight, and rear-facing radar into a discrete central battery. The smart lights adjust to ambient light conditions and function as brake lights when slowing. Meanwhile, the Garmin Varia radar notifies riders of approaching traffic so they can stay focused on the road ahead. The Synapse RLE also boasts functional customization with six size options, eyelets for fenders, and three mounting points for bottle cages. The bike’s geometry supports a slightly more upright position than a racing bike, alleviating strain on the lower back and wrists when racking up mileage. Built-in flex zones on the carbon frame help absorb bumps and vibrations for a smoother ride. 

Weight: 19.7 pounds | Frame type: Synapse carbon | Sizes: 48-61 

Best Tandem: Electra Tandem 7i

Electra Tandem 7i

Electra

Why We Love It: The lightweight design and ability for both riders to plant their feet while standing make for an enjoyable tandem riding experience.  

What to Consider: The retro-style tires are not the best fit for off-road riding. 

Riding a bicycle built for two takes coordination and cooperation. With these challenges in mind, the Electra Tandem 7i frame was designed with patented Flat Foot Technology ® to let riders achieve proper leg extension while pedaling and touch the ground from a seated position. This and the step-through frame in the rear ease the mounting and dismounting process. The 7i’s aluminum frame keeps the bike’s weight manageable. The padded saddle is fitted with elastomer springs for added comfort and shock absorption. And with its aqua and cream color scheme and classic cruiser design, the 7i makes for a stylish, vintage ride. 

Weight: 58 pounds | Frame type: Aluminum alloy | Sizes: One size

Tips for Buying a Bike

Get a bike optimized for your experience level

Robert Evans, CEO at Cycling Quest, emphasizes the importance of choosing a bike that matches your current skills and abilities. “Even if you have the means to purchase a top-of-the-line bike, you may not yet have the body and spinal flexibility to ride it properly,” says Evans. Riders can upgrade to more advanced bike models as they progress, but it’s key to be realistic in order to hone their skills and enjoy riding in near-term. “It takes years of training and time spent in that position for Tour de France riders to look that perfect,” Evans adds. 

Think about where you plan to ride

Consider what surfaces and terrain you will primarily be riding on to narrow your search. If you have a singular use, like commuting daily to work, the options are clearer cut. Cyclists with multiple uses in mind should consider more versatile models, like gravel or hybrid bikes. 

Consider the maintenance required

The characteristics of bike components like the chain, brakes, derailleurs, and gears will impact the level and type of maintenance required. For less mechanical tune-ups, consider choosing a bike with a belt drive instead of a chain, internal gear hubs, tubeless or puncture-proof tires, and caliper brakes. 

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Which bike size should I get?

    Most bike brands include a size guide that advises your decision based on height. But the appropriate bike size will also depend on the type of bike and your preferred riding style. Having your inseam measurement (in both centimeters and inches) is useful when evaluating bike sizes. It’s possible to make some adjustments, like changing the seat height, angle, and position or swapping out handlebars, to improve a bike’s fit. 

  • What accessories do I need for my bike?

    Many bike accessories come down to personal preference, though some add-ons are highly recommended for safety and practical reasons, such as a water bottle holder. Evans underscores the benefits of having the tools handy to repair a flat tire. In your saddle bag, Evans suggests having “a multi tool, tire levers, inner tube, at least two CO2 cartridges, and an inflator.” 


    Evans also encourages road cyclists to get a bike light to stay visible to vehicle traffic. “I recommend at least a 300-lumen front headlight that can blink and 150 lumens for the tail light,” he says. 


    For comfort accessories, bike shorts and gloves are useful for added support and reduced chafing during longer rides. Alternatively, riders can opt for a comfortable bike seat or gel handlebar insert in place of wearing bike apparel. 

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Kevin Brouillard is a contributing writer at T+L, specializing in outdoor gear and apparel. An avid cyclist himself, he researched dozens of bikes, interviewed cycling experts, and used his expertise as a travel writer to curate this list. 

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