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27 Different Types of Cycling to Find Your Fit

There are many different types of cycling disciplines.

One might be right for you and your expectations, while another may not. While it would be difficult and expensive to try every different type of cycling in order to find your fit, you can still make a better decision with simple knowledge.

Once I learned more about it, I knew that mountain biking, road biking, and gravel biking were for me based on my interests in riding outdoors. I bought all three of those types of bikes and rode them frequently.

Had I purchased a triathlon bike, I’d have learned the hard way that it wasn’t for me due to the fact that I’m not a good swimmer, and triathlons would not be something I’d want to try.

So, in this guide, I’ll show you different types of cycling to help you decide if you want to give that type a try.

Road Biking

The Typical Types of Cycling

There are many different types of cycling to choose from. Different types call for different terrain, bicycles, and skill sets. The following are the typical types of bicycling that most are familiar with.


1 – Road Biking

Road biking is a type of cycling that is performed on roads that are paved and smooth surfaced. You’ll likely share the same roadways with motor vehicles or use a dedicated bike lane on the sides of roads.

This type of cycling is usually done for recreation, fitness, competition, or transportation.

Road bikes typically come with specialized bicycles with skinnier tires that are smooth to adjust properly to smoother roadways. Most of the time, riding a road bike on rougher surfaces is significantly challenging.

Most road cyclists are able to ride road bikes for a very long distance because of how lightweight they typically are. Many road bikes are made of aluminum, carbon fiber, and other lightweight materials. Handlebars on a road bike are designed to allow the rider to get into an aerodynamic position.

Road cyclists typically wear cycling-specific clothing such as bib-shorts, jerseys, and clipless bike shoes.

When you observe large groups of cyclists on the road with cars, they’re usually on road bikes.

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2 – Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is a type of cycling that is performed on off-road environments on rougher and hillier terrain. Most of the time, riders will use singletrack trail systems located in wooded areas such as forests and parks.

Mountain biking is usually chosen for fitness, recreation, and competition.

Mountain bikes come in different styles, including hardtail (front suspension only) and full-suspension bikes. The bikes typically have bulkier tires with grippier treads in order to go over roots, rocks, and rougher terrain.

Mountain biking is typically a one-day riding event, but some users choose to bike pack using mountain bikes. Mountain bikes are typically heavier than other types of bikes but may be built with steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, and other materials.

Mountain bikers typically wear baggier-styled clothing and may use extra protective padding for their knees and elbows. A full-faced helmet may also be used.


3 – Comfort Biking

A comfort bike is a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike. Comfort biking is designed for users who want to be able to ride on different types of surfaces on a more comfortable bike.

Comfort biking is usually done for recreation, fitness, and transportation.

Comfort bikes usually come with handlebars that keep you in an upright position, a bigger saddle (seat), wider tires, easier gearing, and an easier-to-step-over frame. The components of a comfort bike are made to make riding the bike as easy as possible.

Comfort bikes are usually ridden on the road or bike trails such as rail trails and greenways.

Comfort bikes are made with steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, and other materials.

Comfort bike riders typically wear standard cycling apparel such as cycling shorts and a jersey or more casual everyday clothing since the saddle is usually more comfortable to sit on without the need for a chamois or padded shorts.


4 – Gravel Biking

Gravel biking is a form of cycling that combines road and mountain biking for an all-terrain cycling experience.

Gravel biking is typically done for recreation, fitness, competition, and bikepacking.

Gravel bikes widely differ from comfort bikes. The bike’s frame, components, saddle, and handlebars closely mimic road bikes. The tires on a gravel bike are more like mountain bike tires. Gravel bikes usually use mountain bike pedals and shoes rather than road pedals/shoes.

Gravel bikes are usually ridden on gravel roads, dirt roads, forest service roads, some mountain bike trails, rail trails, and regular paved roads. The idea is that the bike can be ridden on virtually any type of surface.

Gravel bikes are made with steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, and other materials.

Gravel cyclists typically wear apparel like road cyclists. However, some have a semi-relaxed style, wearing tighter bib shorts with side pockets and a loose t-shirt instead of a jersey.


5 – Commuting

Commuting is when bikes are used for transportation purposes.

Some riders commute for work, shopping, and other tasks to help save gas or get exercise. Other riders commute as a form of transportation without owning a vehicle or using public transportation. Bikes can easily be treated as the only form of transportation in areas with significant cycling infrastructure.

Commuting bikes are typically hybrid or comfort-style bikes with racks, baskets, and storage capacity for being used to get groceries and other shopping items.

Commuters usually use bike lanes, greenways, sidewalks (where legal), or roadways.

Commuter bikes are made with steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, and other materials.

Most commuters dress in everyday clothing that they wear to work, casual travel, or play.


The Different Types of eBiking

The eBike industry offers many different types of cycling to the riding community. eBikes allow people to get into cycling who are not able to use traditional bicycles for whatever reason. While some cyclists are against the rise of eBikes, the eBike has been a major component in creating more cycling infrastructure in many areas due to the increasing interest in them.


6 – Road eBike

Road eBikes are just like road bikes but made with electronically assisting components.


7 – Mountain eBike

Mountain eBikes are just like mountain bikes but with electronic assist components.


8 – Commute eBike

Commuter eBikes are typically hybrid or comfort-styled eBikes built with electronically assisting components.


9 – eBike Touring

eBike touring is when eBikes are used to travel by roadways across multiple communities, territories, states, countries, and other geographical locations. Most of the time, road or commuting styled eBikes would be used for eBike touring.


10 – eBikepacking

eBikepacking is when mountain bike or gravel bike-styled eBikes are used to do overnight riding events on trails or off-road environments.


The Different Types of Cycling Travel

There are a few different types of cycling travel to know about. Many travel types allow you to expand your interest in cycling to a whole new level.


11 – Bike Touring

Bike touring is a form of long-distance cycling where you are typically traveling by bike for more than one day.

Bike touring is more of a traditional cycling adventure using a road bike or touring bike, which mimics a lot of road bike features. Some touring bikes use upright handlebars for comfort during longer rides.

Touring bikes are usually equipped with racks and panniers to hold all the gear needed for touring.

Many cyclists who tour are on longer trips across states, countries, or even across the world.


12 – Bikepacking

Bikepacking is another form of long-distance cycling, but unlike touring, it is mainly focused on off-road-styled adventure cycling.

Bikepacking is usually done using a gravel bike or a mountain bike.

Bikepacking is usually done with minimal gear. The most common bike bags include large saddle bags, frame bags, top bar bags, and handlebar bags. Multiple water bottle cages may be attached to the bike, and the rider may use a hydration pack, too.

Bikepacking is usually done on gravel back roads, trails through the forest, and in backcountry environments where camping is the only option.

Cycling Training

The Competitive Types of Cycling

There are many different types of cycling competitions and races. If you’re wanting to get into bike racing, you should be able to find the best type of racing for you with all the options available.


13 – Road/Gravel Racing

Road and gravel races are a popular bike race discipline.

In road racing, there are a few different types of cycling competitions:

Stage Racing – This is when races occur in stages or sections during a multi-day span. The Tour de France is a good example of a stage race.

One-Day Classics – These are single-day races. The Tour de Flanders is a one-day classics race.

Gravel racing typically consists of mixed-terrain competitions. These races may be for one day, multiple days, or even in an ultra-racing capacity that could take days where racers have to get the best time. There are many gravel races all over the world.


14 – Mountain Bike Racing

There are two main types of mountain bike racing.

Cross-Country (XC) and Downhill (DH).

Cross-country is when racing is performed in a mixed-terrain environment. It requires riders to have endurance and the ability to race on technical courses will steep hills, rocky terrain, and often wetter conditions.

Downhill is a mountain bike racing discipline that focuses on downhill riding. The descents are usually very steep and very technical. Riders win based on the time it takes them to finish the ride.


15 – Cyclocross

Cyclocross is a form of cycling that uses bikes that are a lot like gravel bikes.

The cyclocross course usually consists of a loop with many technical challenges and obstacles. Riders often have to dismount and carry their bikes across the obstacle course.

These races award riders based on their time in the course.


16 – Ultra-Distance Cycling

This type of cycling is where riding is done in long distances and based on a time-trail format.

Races like these typically span across multiple states or even an entire country.

A good example of this sort of competition is the TransAmerica Bike Race, which occurs every year in the United States.


17 – Time Trial Cycling

These are timed road races where competitors are racing against the clock.

The Tour de France has a few time trial stages each year.


18 – Enduro Cycling

Enduro cycling is when cross-country and downhill mountain biking are mixed together with timed segments.

Mountain bikes are typically used during these kinds of races.


19 – Track Cycling

Track cycling is when cyclists race around a track (usually inside a gymnasium-type building) for competitive events.

Racing has many different types of categories.

There are short events called Sprints. There are longer-riding events called Endurance. And there are mixed events called Omniums.


The Unique Types of Cycling

Many different types of cycling fall under the more unique or less typical categories. Some of these categories might be something you might wish to try.


20 – Unicycling

This form of cycling uses a one-wheel bicycle.

The technical ability to ride and balance the bike is often why unicycle riders choose this particular form of cycling.

Unicycles come in many different types of bike styles, including road, mountain, and gravel.

There are unicycle competitions, and some cyclists even tour and bikepack using them.


21 – Tandem Cycling

A tandem bike is a bike that two or more people can ride.

Typical tandems have two or three riding spots. Each spot has its own handlebars and pedals.

The idea is that all the riders on the bike pedal in tandem to help the performance of the cycling event.

Some tandem riders race, tour, and bikepack.


22 – Recumbent Cycling

Recumbent bikes are a type of bike where the rider sits in a reclined position instead of the upright position on traditional bikes.

These bikes are popular because they typically offer more comfort for riders.

Those with limited mobility or physical strength often choose recumbent bikes. You can get them in an eBike, too.


23 – Paracycling

Paracycling is a form of specialized bicycles that use recumbent-styled bikes made for handicapped riders.

Many riders who are paralyzed or missing limbs will use para-cycling setups.

This form of cycling is popular in the para-Olympic racing sectors.

Paracycling bikes come in eBike, road, mountain, and other styles.


24 – BMX

BMX (Bicycle Motocross) is a type of smaller bicycle used for competition and trick cycling.

Many BMX riders will use skateboarding parks as their courses. There are also dirt courses created for BMX utilizing human-made hills and dirt courses.

The bike frames are typically very compact. Most wheels are 20 inches. They use a single-speed drivetrain. There isn’t typically any cable brake system allowing the handlebars to turn 365 degrees. The tires are knobby. The saddle is low.

BMX freestyle and competition riding is a popular form of cycling.


25 – Fat Cycling

Fat cycling is when cyclists ride bikes with oversized tires.

These types of cycling tires can handle softer terrain like mud, gravel, sand, and snow. They are popular in snowy and beach areas where cycling is popular.

Fat bikes are growing in popularity.


26 – Artistic Cycling

Artistic cycling is when bicycles are used for artistic and acrobatic purposes.

You’ve probably seen videos of people riding two-wheel bikes on one wheel while standing up. This is a form of artistic cycling.

While not as popular as other forms, there is definitely a niche for this kind of biking.


27 – Single/Fixed Cycling

Single-speed and fixed cycling refers to bicycles that use one gear and are typically made with only one gear.

These are popular in city and heavy urban environments.

Most of these bikes are road bike-styled or mountain bikes

Bicycle messengers commonly use these types of bikes, especially in bigger cities.


Final Thoughts About Different Types of Cycling

As you can see, there are many different types of cycling available for potential riders. If you want to get into cycling, I’m sure you can find your best option on the list above.

Please share this article with others if you enjoyed reading it. If you’d like to support my efforts even further, consider Buying Me a Coffee.

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Shawn Gossman

About Shawn Gossman

Shawn Gossman is the author of this post and founder of the Beginner Cycling Tips Blog.

Shawn has been an avid cyclist for around 12 years. He road, gravel, mountain, and trail bikes. He likes adventuring more than racing.

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