Types of Bikes – Road Bike, MTB, Hybrid Bike, and others.

Date: 2022-01-19 Posted by: Yogesh Chauhan, Co-Founder & CEO, Beetle Bikes

You must have often heard these terms, especially when talking to a cyclist – Hybrid bike vs a road bike vs an MTB and so on. 

So what are these bike types? And why are there so many bike types? Read on to find out.

Each of these bike types has been designed keeping a specific kind of usage pattern. Rather than having a one size fits all approach, cycling has evolved to offer a product that enables a rider to give their maximum in their choice of use. 

Each of these bikes differ from each other not only in the type/shape of frame, but also in terms of weight, tyre width, gearing ratios and frame geometry. For this blog, I will limit myself to the simpler differences and leave out frame geometry as that would need a whole blog in itself. 

MTB – or Mountain Terrain Bike – is the most commonly seen on Indian roads(apart from the Black, city cycle). The MTB is designed to be used on trails/off roads and has a frame design that offers more control and balance. 
MTBs have wider tyres(tubeless tyres for advanced users), that offer more traction when you are off the tarmac, but better control on uneven surfaces. You will also find the tyres to have bigger and much more prominent grooves as the tyres have to generate more traction in off road scenarios. 

The frame design also offers more control with a dipping top tube. The frame is made heavier and stronger than a road bike as it has to endure many more impact forces while going off roads. MTBs also have a front suspension – unlike a fixed front for a road bike. In some cases, you will find both front and rear suspension on an MTB. 
Gear Ratios in MTBs are set to offer more torque – that would be needed during a climb, or while riding off roads. You will find larger gear wheels in the rear cassette in an MTB compared to the other types of bikes(more on MTB gear ratios in another blog). 
The handlebars are flat and wider than all other bikes – wider handlebars offer more control. 
Brakes are usually disc, and for advanced riders, you will see hydraulic disc brakes in these bikes. 

Road Bikes: The easiest way to identify a Road Bike is with their handlebars. These are curved downwards towards the rider. 
Road bikes are designed for speed and distance riding. Everything in these bikes is planned to reduce the resistance from wind and from the surface. 
For starters, the handlebars are narrower, so the rider position is in a tight form to reduce the wind resistance. Further, the rider can choose to rest their arms on the lower part of the handlebars, thereby reaching a very aerodynamic riding position.
Secondly, the tyres are extremely thin. The thinnest that you would see on any cycle type. This reduces the contact area between the tyre and the road drastically, thereby reducing the frictional force. However, this also make this cycle incapable of going anywhere other than smooth tarmac. 

The frame has a flat top tube, and is made as light as allowed by the materials used. Carbon frames are also quite common in road bikes as these are the lightest possible. 
Gear Ratios are designed to make the bike go faster. You will see a large front crankwheel and smaller wheels on the rear cassette in a road bike. These ratios enable the bike to go faster. Brakes, in almost all cases, are rubber pads. 

Hybrid Bikes: These are midways between Road Bikes and MTBs – specifically on tyre width and gear ratios.
Hybrid bikes are designed to give a comfortable riding experience to new riders. The frame looks like and MTB, but has a flatter top tube. The tyres are wider than a road bike, but narrower than an MTB. This allows for the cycle to endure a more rough surface than the road bike, while still trying to keep the frictional force low. 
The handlebar is flat, similar to an MTB, but less wide. 

Gear ratios are also set to be in between a road bike and an MTB. They allow for an easy ride, while also giving options of climbs and speed at the lower and upper end respectively. 
The frame is lighter as it is not expected to endure a lot of impact forces. 
Hybrid bikes are quite good for new riders wanting to do leisure rides or office commutes. The riding position is comfortable, and the bike is easy to ride.

Other Bikes
There are some other kinds of bikes that have not really taken off in India so far.

Tandem Bikes – Fancy a ride with your family? Get on a tandem bike! The bike allows for 2, 3 or even 4 riders at the same time. All the riders have their own set of pedals and contribute to the effort of cycling. These are extremely fun to ride with family/friends – but needs a bit of getting used to. 

Fat Bikes – While quite a few people are buying these and using them on the roads in India, these are actually designed to run specifically on sand or snow. The extra wide tyres give surface area needed by the bike to avoid sinking into the snow. On roads, these bikes just consume many times more effort and are not efficient at all. 

City bikes – These are similar to the black city bikes that we see everyday, but have a much larger handlebar that is closer to the rider. These are easy bikes used for commute in countries like Netherlands. 

Foldies – These bikes have a folding frame and wheel structure that allows it to be carried around in between rides – for example, on a metro train or a local bus. A lot of office commute in the western countries happens using foldies as these allow users to ride to/from the metro stations on their way to office. 

There are multiple sub-versions of the above broad types of bikes – for example Trail, Cross-Country, Downhill within MTB and Aero, Gravel within Road Bikes. More on those, in another blog. 

Write in to us at support@beetlebikes.in to know more details on these.