Bicycle Buying Guide

With so many different models to choose from, buying a bicycle can seem like a complicated task. This guide examines different types of bicycles and offers some useful insights for making your purchase easier.

Bicycles 101

Bicycles offer a great way to get around your city, spend a weekend outdoors with the family, or simply get an excellent workout. There are a range of specialized bikes on the market including mountain bikes, cruiser bikes, road bikes and BMX bikes. Each type is designed to meet the needs of a different kind of rider. The extreme sports fan in the family may want a BMX bike, while a road bike can turn your commute into an eco-friendly exercise routine. Your kids’ bikes should be fun and comfortable for them to ride, while a cruiser bike may be a perfect way to see the city on a sunny afternoon.

Types of Bikes


Road Bikes

These bikes are made to travel well-paved roads, getting you where you need to go with speed and style. Sometimes called “touring” bicycles, they usually feature low handlebars, derailleur gears, narrow high-pressure tires and light frames. Road bikes are most often used for commuting or racing, but they’re also great for couples who want to spend some quality time together while pursuing a fun outdoor activity.

Mountain Bikes

Ideal for hitting the trail, these bikes are designed for off-road cycling and typically feature cross-wise handlebars, durable frames and wheels, and wide-gauge treaded tires. Mountain bikes are great for teens who want to ride to school, into town or around the park. They can be the perfect way to share an outdoor adventure with your family.

Cruiser Bikes

These are stylish, heavier bikes designed for comfort with an upright seating posture and solid frame. They usually feature longer, upward-sloping handlebars to accommodate the upright position, and the thicker balloon tires help keep speeds in a manageable range. Retro and hip, cruiser bikes are great for running errands around town, light shopping trips and visiting friends. And while your cruiser bike is comfortable and fun, it’s a heavier bike and not well-suited to off-road activity.

Kids’ Bikes

These are smaller-framed bicycles made for children, typically with a mountain, hybrid or BMX frame. Specially designed to comfortably accommodate small bodies, the smaller wheels and lighter frame make them perfect learning bikes for young riders. For first-timers, simply fit your child’s bike with training wheels and watch a life-long love of cycling begin.

BMX Bikes

These smaller bikes typically have very strong, lightweight frames and high handlebars with a crossbar. Ideal for tricks and jumps, their thick wheels allow them to resist impacts on the course or half-pipe. BMX cycling takes skill, discipline and athleticism, making it a great activity for any extreme sports fans in the family. The small size of BMX bikes also allows them be easily packed into a car after a day on the ramps.

Fixed-Gear Bikes

Simple and stylish, fixed-gear road bikes, or “fixies”, originated in velodrome cycle racing but can now be seen on the streets of trendy neighborhoods world-wide. Their single-speed design makes for easy maintenance even for beginner cyclists. And the lack of a heavy gear structure contributes to the overall lightweight design. 

Performance Bikes

Performance bikes are the top-of-the-line, cutting edge leaders of the bicycle family. They are often designed from space-age materials and have been tested on professional courses around the world. Great for the hardcore cyclist in the family, performance bikes let serious athletes get the most speed, control and endurance possible, complementing their riders perfectly.

Bicycle Safety Tips:

• Always wear a bike helmet
• Ensure that child riders understand road rules and safety
• Obey all traffic laws if riding on the road
• Always ride with traffic, not against
• Signal before turning
• Check the tires for adequate air pressure before riding
• If riding after dark, wear reflective clothing and keep your bike lights on
• Ensure that your bike is securely locked when not in use

Bicycle Features

Frame +

The mechanical core of a bicycle, the frame provides points of attachment for the various bike parts that make up the complete machine. Lightweight frames make stowing in the garage or minivan a snap.

Handlebar +

The control mechanism of the bike, the handlebar comes in many shapes and sizes, such as the solid cross-wise design of mountain bikes or the swept-back design found on most cruiser bikes. Accessories like grips, tassels, bells or speedometers let your family customize their handlebars to suit their individual riding styles.

Seat +

Often specially designed for male or female riders, the seat should be comfortable and durable. Always be sure to adjust the seat for children, as a seat that’s too high or too low can be uncomfortable and dangerous.

Wheels +

Available in a wide range of styles and sizes, your bike’s wheels are the often the pieces that will require the most care and attention. Made up of hubs, spokes, inner tube and tires, they can be modified and upgraded to suit any rider. Keep a bike pump handy to top off your tires’ air pressure before hitting the road or the trails.

Pedals/Gears/Chains +

The machinery that propels your bike down the road, these pieces also allow you to switch gears and speeds to make your ride easy and comfortable. Keep your chain oiled and clean to get the most out of it, and your pedals should be comfortable and secure under your feet. Serious cyclists may spend a lot of time tinkering with these pieces, but a casual rider is usually safe just keeping them clean and protected.

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Bicycle Maintenance Tips:

• Store your bike somewhere safe and dry
• Check the air pressure in your tires regularly, and inflate as necessary
• Consult with experts before making any repairs yourself
• Ensure that your family is familiar with bike care and safety
• Take your bike to a shop for regular tune-ups
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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