What makes a good bike? The answer is different for everyone, especially when it concerns how and where they ride. For instance, if you ride on trails, you probably want a bike that’s super-durable, has solid suspension, but it still light enough for you to carry when the trail requires. If you ride on the road, you likely prefer a bike that’s geared to keep up with traffic, handles well, and doesn’t need too much maintenance. What you ride says everything about where you ride.
In this guide, we’re going to look at some top options in each class to give you a full spectrum of options for all your riding pleasures.
ALL AROUND ROAD BIKE
Cervelo Caledonia 105
Cervelo states that the Caledonia is “engineered for the modern road,” which sums up its many strengths quite nicely. It’s quite light with a frame that’s just over 2 and a quarter pounds, and features a shorter wheelbase than many bikes in its class.
The Caledonia’s carbon layup is focused on rider comfort, balancing strength and flexibility that fully acknowledges the fact that road bikes don’t always ride on roads. This is backed up by the 34mm tire clearance that goes beyond the realm of standard road design.
Add in the Shimano 105 semi-compact drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes, and you’ll find a bike that is incredibly rideable just about everywhere it needs to go.
ALL AROUND MOUNTAIN BIKE
Santa Cruz Tallboy CS
In looking for the best general mountain bike, then take a gander at the Santa Cruz Tallboy CS. For roadless riders, the Tallboy checks all the right boxes, offering a rugged, lightweight frame, ample suspension, and the kind of maneuverability harsh terrain requires.
Like the Caledonia (above), the Tallboy seems focused on rider comfort, utilizing the same engineering principles of Santa Cruz’s longest-travel bikes to help riders explore further on down the trail.
Santa Cruz offers a variety of build options for both aluminum and carbon frames, allowing riders to custom tailor the Tallboy to their riding style.
COMMUTER ELECTRIC BIKE
Valen Rev Fat Tire E-Bike
Recognizing that e-bikes are not just electric powered road bikes, Valen goes a different route with the Rev, offering urban riders a full-featured bike that looks retro-cool and performs superbly.
The Rev features fat tires and thick tubes that make it look a bit like an old gas-powered scooter without an engine. But make no mistake, the Rev packs a powerful 48v/500W brushless motor powered by a lithium-ion battery that delivers a range of 55 miles and tops out at 20 mph, making it ideal for urban environments. It also features 6 levels of pedal-assist, allowing riders the freedom to explore outside of town without fear of running out of juice.
While there are plenty of e-bikes that may offer higher performance in specific settings, we found the Valen Rev to be the best choice for commuters, especially when you take its looks into consideration.
ALL AROUND CRUISER
sixthreezero Around the Block Beach Cruiser
Cruisers are leisure bikes that focus on providing an easy comfortable ride, which is why you’ll often find them riding on sidewalks and around beach towns. Cruisers like the AtB by sixthreezero are designed to allow the rider to sit up straight rather than hunched over like a mountain bike.
Thus, the kind of features riders want in a cruiser are things like color, and seat comfort, and the AtB delivers on all fronts. It comes in a dozen colors, and the pedal position encourages full-leg extension to prevent sore knees, hips, and back.
The AtB is also available in single speed or 3-, 7-, or 21-speed configurations, which can add extra comfort to hilly environments.
And the built-in rear rack is just begging to carry your towel to the beach.
ALL AROUND KIDS
Black Mountain Bikes Skøg
Kids bikes are a notoriously challenging category to review for the simple fact that kids simply grow too fast. Even though kids tend to be very hard on their bikes, most bikes will be outgrown before they are worn out, even if they are passed down to younger siblings.
That’s why we’re recommending the Skøg, which was apparently built to address this exact issue. Unlike most children’s bikes, the Skøg is designed to grow along with its rider, which helps justify its higher price point (than what parents might normally pay for a kid’s bike).
Without its pedals and belt drive, the Skøg is a balance bike, perfect for getting young riders accustomed to the most basic of riding skills. Add in the pedals, and the Skøg works as a regular pedal bike. But the Skøg takes it even further. It allows you to adapt the gearing to the rider, allowing small kids the opportunity to keep growing with the same familiar bike.
And of course, true to its kid-friendly design, the Skøg is available in four bright colors – purple, neon green, sky blue, and orange.