Choosing a bike Choosing a bike

There are so many different styles of bikes available, we've prepared a list of things to think about to help with selecting a bike to best suit your needs.

Finding a bike to suit your riding

To help guide your search, start by running through the questions below. Thinking about these will help narrow the range down so you can find your ideal bike.

  • What sort of riding did you want to do? e.g. recreation, commuting, off-road exploring, mountain biking, long distance touring, road riding, racing or everyday riding around the neighbourhood.
  • Where will you be riding? e.g. on roads, cycle paths, gravel paths, dirt paths, mountain bike trails or on a combination of different surfaces.
  • How often and how far are you likely to ride?
  • Do you have a budget in mind?
  • What kind of features are important? e.g. front and rear suspension, disc or rim brakes, how many gears.
  • Are you going to be carrying anything whilst cycling? i.e. do you want to fit a basket, racks, pannier bags or baby seat.
  • Is there a particular style, colour or look that appeals to you?

Trying different bikes

Before buying a bike it's a great idea to try as many bikes as possible to get a feel for the differences between them.

You can borrow one from a friend, hire a bike or go in to your local bike store for a chat and test ride their bikes and see what accessories are available. Chat to others who cycle or talk to a local cycling group.

Bike styles

There are a range of bikes for different purposes and some are right for one particular purpose only, whereas others are more versatile.

Road bikes

Road bike
  • Designed for riding on the road and are suitable for commuting to work, racing, triathlons and lightweight touring.
  • Generally very light, have smooth, slim tyres, dropped handlebars (downturned, curved handlebars) and a range of gears.
  • Designed and built to maximise aerodynamics and minimise weight.
  • Provide good speed-handling and sprinting ability, but may not be the most comfortable choice for everyone.

Mountain bikes

Mountain bike
  • Specifically designed to handle rough terrain, but versatile enough to be used on and off-road.
  • Their design often incorporates suspension to tackle rough paths, easy gears for steep climbs, and wide tyres with knobbly tread to maintain grip.
  • These features can add comfort and ease but slow the bike down when riding on a road.

Hybrid/Commuter bikes

Hybrid bike
  • Combine features of both road bikes and mountain bikes.
  • Feature a more upright riding position than a road bike to make cycling more comfortable.
  • Can be used on bike trails, parks and city streets.
  • Ideal for adding accessories such as mudguards, racks, panniers and baskets.

Comfort/Step-through bikes

Step-through bike
  • Step-through bikes do not have the cross-bar associated with most bikes, so you can 'step-through' without having to swing your leg over the seat to get on.
  • Like hybrid bikes, they have a more upright riding position and can be used on bike trails, parks and city streets.
  • Can be made more versatile by adding accessories.
  • Best for cruising shorter distances.

Folding bikes

Folding bike
  • Portable, easy to use and store.
  • These lightweight multipurpose bikes are good for commuting, taking on holiday, going to the shops or visiting the local café.
  • Great for combining cycling with other transport options as they can be taken on trains, buses and ferries or put in the car boot to help you get to places easily.

Electric bikes (E-bikes)

Electric bike or E-bike
  • E-Bikes are available in a variety of styles.
  • They have a battery and small motor to provide extra help in getting places.
  • This tends to make them heavier but can help you travel further, flatten hills and arrive still feeling fresh.
  • They can either assist when pedalling or use the throttle.
  • A specialist bike shop can provide more advice about power, weight, speeds etc.

Find out more details and tips for riding an e-bike.

Lifestyle, Classic, Urban and Cruiser bicycles

Cruiser bike
  • Urban bicycles are used widely in Europe and gaining in popularity in New Zealand.
  • They're perfect for commuting, leisure, or riding to the local café on the weekend.
  • They feature an upright riding position and ideal for adding baskets, racks, mudguards and panniers.

Fixed-gear bikes (fixie)

Fixed-gear bike
  • These bikes are reduced to the bare essentials.
  • Often similar to road bikes, fixies have one gear and no free wheel, meaning that when the wheels turn, so do the pedals.
  • Often there are no other brakes so they are not recommended for novice cyclists.
  • If you just like the look, fixie-styled bikes can also come as singlespeeds with one gear, a free moving hub and brakes.

BMX and Trick bikes

BMX bike
  • BMX or bicycle motorcross bikes are designed for off-road racing and stunt riding.
  • Built to be robust they have one gear, smaller wheels and lower seats so not ideal for long distance riding.
  • Pegs can be attached to the axle to allow for performing tricks too.

Cargo and other bikes

Cargo bike
  • There are many other types of bikes that are gaining popularity and a bike can be found to suit almost any purpose.
  • Cargo bikes allow you to carry a lot of baggage (sometimes with electrical-assistance).
  • Tandem bikes allow for two people to ride together.
  • Cruiser bikes are all about moving in style, allowing for a relaxed ride, at low speeds on easy terrain.

Getting the right size and fit

Getting the size and fit right is really important. Comfort, handling, aerodynamics and efficiency all rely on the right fit for correct bike set up.

Each model of bike should come in a range of sizes from XS to XL. Bike size refers to the size of the bike frame, but there are also a variety of wheel sizes from 20" (BMX) 700c (road racing bike) to 27.5" or 29" mountain bike wheels.

Once you've got the correct bike frame size, this can then be fit to you by adjusting parts such as the seat, handlebars and gear and brake levers.

Spend some time adjusting these to get it right as you'll benefit from it when going out on rides. If you purchase a bike through a bike shop then they should be able to make the adjustments for you.

​Record your bike serial number

When you get a new bike you should record its unique serial number. Learn where to find the serial number on your bike and how to record it.