When trying to decide on the best type of bike, think about these questions:
- Who do you ride with?
- What do they ride?
- What have you had in the past that you liked?
- What have you had in the past that you disliked?
- What would you like to do with your new bike?
- How much money are you comfortable spending?
If you are buying a bike to ride with a group of friends—buy something similar to what they ride. You will not be able to keep up with road bikes if you are on a mountain bike or cruiser. And a road bike cannot go on the dirt or the sand.
If you enjoyed a three speed as a child, you may find this a fun bike again. If you disliked the road bike you bought a few years ago—perhaps a mountain bike would be better.
Road bikes are fast and easy to pedal on pavement. They are not as well suited for operating off the road. Some people find the "dropped" riding position difficult to maintain, comfortably, for a long time.
Mountain bikes are harder to pedal and slower on pavement. But they have a cushy ride, an upright riding position, and can travel easily on a wide variety of surfaces.
Hybrid or cross bikes are almost as fast and easy to pedal as a road bike, while being almost as comfortable and versatile as a mountain bike.
Comfort bikes are just that—comfortable. They are less efficient, but sitting on one is much more comfortable.
Cruisers are fun to look at and, when ridden at a relaxed pace, they are ideal for admiring the scenery, exploring the neighborhood or beach.
Recumbents are quite comfortable, and very fast. They sit so low to the ground that visibility in traffic can be an issue, and they require some learning to be operated with maximum efficiency.