How to Pick the Perfect Bike for You in 2022

Picking the right bike is hard. But playing this choose your own adventure game is easy. Find out what type of rider you are and what bikes you should be looking for.

Choose the perfect bike

Written by
Bruce Lin

Published on

Posted in
Features

Ever walk into an ice cream shop with too many flavors? Unless you already know what you want, the sheer amount of choices can paralyze you. It happens to bike buyers too. Every day, our Ride Guides answer hundreds of calls, emails, and chats from riders who need help finding the right bike. That’s great! It’s their job, and they love it.

But if you want to narrow down your choices and have a little playtime before you go shopping, this is the guide for you. Think of it as an old-school choose your own adventure game. Answer truthfully, and the treasure you'll find at the end is the perfect bike for you. Game on!

[button]Shop all bikes[/button]

Start here

The world is big and full of wonder. We'll start the game by choosing your environmental settings. This is the terrain you’ll be riding your new bike on most often.

Pick the perfect bikeWhere would you like to ride?

[button]Paved roads and paths[/button]

[button]Dirt and gravel[/button]

[button]Singletrack trails[/button]

Paved roads and paths

Find the right road bikeAsphalt and concrete rule here, and it's going to take a real roadie to tame this tarmac jungle. Explore cities, the open countryside, and the high mountains. To succeed, you'll need to equip a road bike. 

Which power-up would you like to add?

[button]Comfort[/button]

[button]Speed[/button]

Dirt and gravel

Find the perfect gravel bikeThe land of renegades! Looks like you want to take the road less traveled. Well brave wanderer, I wish you luck when the pavement ends. To do battle in the dirt, you'll need to equip a gravel bike. 

Which power-up would you like to add?

[button]Comfort[/button]

[button]Speed[/button]

Singletrack trails

Find the perfect mountain bikeHere we worship rocks, roots, berms, drops, and jumps. Become one with the wilderness, my child, and you will hear the mountain speak. To achieve flow and enlightenment, you'll need to equip a mountain bike. 

Which power-up would you like to add?

[button]Go uphill faster[/button]

[button]Go downhill faster[/button]

[button]Be OK at both[/button]

Comfort

Find perfect endurance road bikeSounds like you got a softer backside and need a bike that isn’t a pain to ride. Your bike is now an endurance bike. It'll take the edge off long rides and rough roads, and and be comfortable enough to ride everyday.

What will be your specialty?

[button]Fitness, Gran Fondos, group rides[/button]

[button]Commuting, touring, exploration[/button]

Speed

Find the perfect road race bikeI heard you, Ricky Bobby. You want to go fast! Make sure you sip an espresso and calibrate your power meter before your next ride, because your bike is now a road race bike. You better pedal hard.  

What will be your specialty?

[button]Flat roads[/button]

[button]Rolling hills[/button]

[button]Mountains[/button]

Comfort

Find the best gravel bikeYou're not slow, just chill! Nothing's better that having a good time and enjoying the beautiful outdoors. Your gravel bike now has big supple tires and if things get really rough, let's add some suspension. 

What will be your specialty?

[button]Mostly hardpacked dirt or loose gravel[/button]

[button]Mostly chunky and rough gravel[/button]

Speed

Find the best gravel race bikeSo you want to be a rally legend? Well you're not going to win Dakar, but your gravel bike is now faster and more efficient, so go ahead and try. Do some burnouts and drift some corners too.

What will be your specialty?

[button]Mostly hardpacked or loose gravel[/button]

[button]Mostly chunky and rough gravel[/button]

[button]Cyclocross races[/button]

Go uphill faster

Find the best XC bikeMaybe you weigh your food so you can crush your enemies. There are climbs to conquer, faraway lands to explore, and races to win. Your bike is now a cross-country bike, light and efficient, perfect for type-A athletes.

How will you tune your ride?

[button]Low weight and responsiveness[/button]

[button]Comfort and confidence[/button]

Go downhill faster

Find the best enduro bikeGravity is the god you worship. You've been baptized with an Enduro or downhill bike. Whether it’s mellow flow trails, tech gnar, or massive jumps, you pray for the moments when the trail points down and you can let loose. 

How are you getting back to the top?

[button]Guess I’ll pedal[/button]

[button]Ride a lift or shuttle[/button]

Be OK at both

Find the best trail bikeYour stats have all been equalized. You know what they say about being a jack of all trades? You’re a master of fun! You bike is now a do-it-all trail bike that can kill quivers. But you have a few points left to use. 

What stats do you favor?

[button]Simplicity, reliability, value[/button]

[button]Performance, comfort, capability[/button]

Fitness, Gran Fondos, group rides

You are a Fondo-master. Comfortable doesn’t have to mean slow. Modern endurance bikes have the technology to match road race bikes in terms of weight and efficiency without sacrificing ride quality.

Best bikes:
[product-block handle="2021-specialized-roubaix-m-4"/]
[product-block handle="2021-trek-domane-sl-7-m"/]
[product-block handle="2018-cannondale-synapse-carbon-disc-l"/]

[button]Back to start[/button]

Commuting, touring, or exploration

You are a Commuter. Rain or shine, you got things to do and places to be. To get the job done you want something a bit more rugged and utilitarian. This is where metal frames, fenders, and rack mounts rule.

Best bikes:
[product-block handle="2016-fairdale-goodship-l"/]
[product-block handle="surly-long-haul-trucker-l-2"/]
[product-block handle="2014-salsa-colossal-s"/]

[button]Back to start[/button]

Mostly flat

You are a Sprinter. Your greatest enemy is air resistance — what a drag. Your greatest allies are friends you can draft. But sometimes you need to do a solo mission in the wind. You’ll want a slippery aero bike.

Best bikes:
[product-block handle="2020-trek-madone-project-one-l"/]
[product-block handle="canyon-aeroad-cf-sl-8-0-road-bike-2019-large"/]
[product-block handle="2018-specialized-allez-sprint-l-5"/]

[button]Back to start[/button]

Rolling hills

You are a Rouleur. There are many challenges to contend with, so you need a good all-rounder that can do it all. It must be aero enough for the flats, but light enough to sprint up climbs.

Best bikes:
[product-block handle="nc_2020-specialized-tarmac-sl-6-l"/]
[product-block handle="2020-giant-tcr-advanced-1-disc-pro-compact-l"/]
[product-block handle="2018-trek-emonda-sl-6-disc-m"/]

[button]Back to start[/button]

Mountains

You are a Climber. Reach for the heavens, but be ready to pay the price. Every pedal stroke is a battle against gravity and your pain tolerance. It’s best to get a stiff and lightweight bike that will reduce your suffering.

Best bikes:
[product-block handle="2019-cannondale-supersix-evo-ef-l"/]
[product-block handle="2021-specialized-s-works-aethos-sram-red-etap-axs-m-1"/]
[product-block handle="2019-cervelo-r5-l-1"/]

[button]Back to start[/button]

Mostly hardpacked dirt or loose gravel

You are a Vagabond. To aimlessly wander the countryside, you need a comfy frame and cushy tires. Having some rack mounts to carry extra gear will let you really disappear on backcountry adventures.

Best bikes:
[product-block handle="2020-bmc-urs-m-2"/]
[product-block handle="2019-specialized-sequoia-m"/]
[product-block handle="2019-niner-rlt-9-steel-3-star-105-m"/]

[button]Back to start[/button]

Mostly chunky and rough gravel

You are a Rover. You're out to cruise through the rough stuff. In that case, progressive geo and gravel suspension forks give you an extra bit of cushion. Or go all out with a drop-bar 29er, which will let you really get out there.

Best bikes:
[product-block handle="2018-salsa-cutthroat-carbon-axs-l"/]
[product-block handle="2021-evil-chamois-hager-m"/]
[product-block handle="2021-cannondale-topstone-carbon-lefty-3-l-7"/]

[button]Back to start[/button]

Mostly hardpacked dirt or loose gravel

You are a Maverick. Achieve max speed on imperfect surfaces with a gravel bike that lets you hit terminal velocity. Racey geometry and lightweight or aero frames are key.

Best bikes:
[product-block handle="2022-cervelo-aspero-l"/]
[product-block handle="2019-3t-exploro-ltd-force-carbon-l"/]
[product-block handle="2020-pinarello-grevil-grx2-m"/]

[button]Back to start[/button]

Mostly chunky and rough gravel

You are a Drifter, going full speed into the gnar. having a fast bike with extra tire clearance and compliance features will keep you confident, comfortable, and in control.

Best bikes:
[product-block handle="2019-lauf-true-grit-race-edition-l"/]
[product-block handle="2021-trek-checkpoint-sl-7-m-3"/]
[product-block handle="2018-specialized-s-works-diverge-s"/]

[button]Back to start[/button]

Cyclocross races

You are a Weirdo. Good thing we love weirdos. Cyclocross bikes are purpose-built for 'cross (duh). A level top tube makes for easier shouldering while running and higher geometry makes them more agile for tight corners and beer hand-ups. 

Best bikes:
[product-block handle="2018-specialized-crux-expert-m-1"/]
[product-block handle="2020-trek-boone-7-m-1"/]
[product-block handle="2019-pinarello-crossista-s"/]

[button]Back to start[/button]

Low weight and responsiveness

You are an XC Racer. Sounds like you’re in need of a pure cross country race machine. These bikes weigh less and maximize efficiency so you can reach the finish faster.

Best bikes:
[product-block handle="2020-pivot-mach-4-sl-m-1"/]
[product-block handle="2017-trek-procaliber-9-8-sl-l"/]
[product-block handle="2020-specialized-epic-hardtail-expert-m-1"/]

[button]Back to start[/button]

Comfort and confidence

You are Downcountry. You want to go fast, but there’s some rough and tough trail ahead threatening to slow you down. A little more travel lets you go fast, but send it too. 

Best bikes:
[product-block handle="2020-yeti-cycles-sb100-turq-m-3"/]
[product-block handle="2020-trek-top-fuel-9-8-gx-l-3"/]
[product-block handle="2021-scott-spark-rc-900-world-cup-axs-l"/]

[button]Back to start[/button]

Guess I’ll pedal

You are a Shredder. You gotta take the ups with the downs. That’s where enduro bikes shine. You get the long suspension travel and downhill geometry you need, but you can still pedal it uphill.

Best bikes:
[product-block handle="2020-specialized-s-works-enduro-l"/]
[product-block handle="2022-yeti-cycles-sb150-t2-turq-m"/]
[product-block handle="2021-rocky-mountain-slayer-alloy-30-m"/]

[button]Back to start[/button]

Ride a lift or shuttle

You are a Park Rat. Looks like pedaling uphill is off the menu. Take the lift, the shuttle, or just hike. Either way, big and burly freeride and downhill bikes will keep you alive when things get gnarly.

Best bikes:
[product-block handle="2021-specialized-demo-race-xl"/]
[product-block handle="nc_2019-trek-session-9-9"/]
[product-block handle="2018-santa-cruz-v10-cc-l"/]

[button]Back to start[/button]

Simplicity, reliability, value

You are a Workhorse. For you, the classic and timeless trail hardtail is perfect for everything. It costs less to run, and can take a beating. Plus it’s just fun to get buck wild with no rear shock.

Best bikes:
[product-block handle="2022-specialized-fuse-comp-l"/]
[product-block handle="2019-santa-cruz-chameleon-s-l"/]
[product-block handle="2021-yeti-cycles-arc-c-series-c2-xl"/]

[button]Back to start[/button]

Performance, comfort, capability

You are the true Jack-of-all-trades. Your mid-travel trail bike is capable of everything from cross-country to “light” enduro. With one by your side, you can take on anything.

Best bikes:
[product-block handle="2020-yeti-cycles-sb130-turq-m"/]
[product-block handle="2020-cannondale-habit-carbon-1-l"/]
[product-block handle="2019-transition-smuggler-carbon-l"/]

[button]Back to start[/button]

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