How to Choose a Bike: Picking the Perfect New Bike for You
Are you looking to get a bike and daunted by the number of options available? If so, we created this guide to help you find the perfect bike for your needs. There are three key areas you’ll need to consider:
The bike type that suits your riding needs
Level of performance and costs
Determining the right bike size
Let’s dig deeper into these things you should consider for choosing a bike.
Table Of Contents For How To Choose A Bike
What Are the Things You Need To Consider When Choosing A Bike?
Getting the Perfect Bike Fit
Type of Bikes Available
What Are the Things You Need To Consider When Choosing A Bike?
Do You Want A Regular Bike Or An Electric Bike?
An electric bike has a motor, a battery, and pedal assistance. Electric bikes require less effort to ride than regular bikes and they allow you to ride further. The pedal assistance gives you either 2x or 4x your pedaling output, depending on the model you buy.
Otherwise, electric bikes are the same as regular bikes. Besides the motor and battery, they come with all the same components.
Analog bikes are often more affordable, don’t have as many parts to take care of, and are easier to clean and maintain. They also don’t have the added weight of the motor and battery, making them lighter than an e-bike.
Analog bikes are often more affordable and don’t have as many parts to take care of. This makes them lighter and easier to clean and maintain.
Electric bikes are more expensive, but they are faster and easier to ride, helping you go faster with less effort.
What Level of Performance Do You Expect From Your Bike Components?
As with any product, the price can dictate what quality and performance you will get from a new bike.
We offer different bike levels, based on component quality and price to meet a wide range of rider demands best. Our starter-level bikes (Base and Comp) are great entry points for new cyclists using more affordable components without sacrificing performance. These components are from the same component lines that the higher-end bikes use.
Our Expert and Pro level bikes are designed for riders who are ready to take their riding to the next level. These high-end bikes use carbon frames, carbon wheelsets, the lightest and snappiest gear sets, and the most powerful hydraulic brakes.
Top-end range bikes are expensive and use the best components available, both in terms of parts and materials. Our S-Works bikes are our top-end performance bikes. These are the bikes that elite athletes use in championship races.
Getting the Perfect Bike Fit
A bike that fits you will be most comfortable to ride and allow you to get the most performance out of it. Finding the right fit will not only make biking easier, but it will also ensure that you don't get muscle aches, pains, and discomfort.
Get the right bike size by referring to a size chart. You can see what bike size you need with our Retul Bike Sizing App. If you go into your local Specialized bike shop, you can get a bike fitted with Retul. Retul prevents aches and pains so that you can live a healthier lifestyle with less pain.
If you'd like to ride a bike before buying it, you can find our bikes at a local bike shop to test ride. Additionally, they can fit the bike to you specifically, ensuring a great ride from your very first ride.
Type of Bikes Available
We break out our bikes into three main categories; road bikes, mountain bikes, and hybrid bikes. Which bike you choose depends on the terrain or environment you’re riding in.
What Type of Terrain Will You Be Riding Your New Bike on?
You can divide terrains into two different types, paved roads and unpaved roads. Paved roads include tarmac, asphalt, and concrete roads.
Off-road terrains are those which are unpaved. This includes unpaved gravel roads and country roads, which are the smoothest unpaved roads. Other off-road terrains include bike trails on mountains such as fire roads, singletracks, doubletracks, rock gardens, and other hilly terrains.
Road bikes are bikes meant for riding on paved roads. Our road bikes are designed for fitness enthusiasts, event riders, and competitions.
Performance bikes or race bikes are meant for competitive cycling for road competitions. With a more aggressive riding geometry, these bikes are built for speed. They are lightweight and aerodynamic so that riders can race over tarmac, asphalt, and even cobbled roads.
Riders used to face a choice between a light bike and an aerodynamic bike for road racing.
At Specialized, we refused to choose between lightweight and aerodynamic. Our Tarmac Series has long been successful by producing high-performing race bikes, but the latest Tarmac SL7 has gotten one step ahead.
This bike has a lightweight body, that comes in an aerodynamic form. The high-end S-Works Tarmac SL7 is one of the lightest performance bikes available on the market!
While speed is important for every performance bike, sometimes it is more important to be able to stay on the bike for longer. Some competitive races are about endurance, challenging you to ride for long sessions and still getting that win.
While you need to crouch over a race bike, an endurance bike has a more upright riding position, so that you can ride more comfortably.
The wheelbase is longer so that you are more stable and comfortable, and the drop bars are closer giving you a shorter, more relaxing reach.
By staying in a more upright position, you can endure longer competitions as you will be more comfortable in the saddle.
Our & Specialized Roubaix Series puts comfort first, ensuring that you can ride till you finish that last lap. With wider tires and handlebar suspension (Future Shock), you will make it through hilly terrain while staying comfortable.
Looking for an all-rounder road bike? Gravel bikes are meant for the road and a variety of unpaved surfaces
Long dirt roads are unpredictable, and you are bound to run into rocks, jumps, ditches, holes, and other road faults that make for a rougher ride.
Gravel bikes also have a longer wheelbase than road bikes, which gives you more stability on rough surfaces.
Our Specialized Diverge and Crux are a capable range of gravel bikes. With Future Shock suspension, thick tires, and an innovative thin chain that is also super strong, Diverge and Crux can help you tackle any terrain, fast.
Unless you are a bike fanatic, it is highly possible that you have never heard of cyclocross. This rare and niche, off-season sport, requires a bike that has sport-specific aggressive geometry. Cyclocross terrain has mud, sand, rock, snow, and anything else you can find on country roads.
Cyclocross races are short and rough, so cyclocross bikes need to be strong yet fast, ready to handle difficult terrain.
These bikes have a higher bottom bracket, lower stack height, and a short chainstay, all of which make the bike more aggressive and agile. They need to be light too since the sport allows racers to carry the bike when needed.
Smooth roads aren’t your thing and you are looking for more adventurous and rough terrain? Then, you are looking for mountain bikes.
Mountain bikers find trail riding quite addictive and you will too if rocks, jumps, drops, fast descents, and rough terrains are your thing. These bikes have flat handlebars, thicker tires, and chunkier frames.
Check out this mountain bike guide from the Pros Closet.
Mountain Bike Suspension
Suspension is often a highlighted feature in mountain bikes. Riding rigid, without any suspension, on trails is quite difficult and can take a toll on your body. It is certainly not recommended for inexperienced riders and long days on the trails. Most mountain bikes are either full-suspension or hardtails.
Hardtails: A hardtail bike only has a suspension fork. Some cross-country and trail bikes are hardtails. Having only front suspension makes a bike more affordable, lighter, and versatile.
It’s recommended that beginner mountain bikers start with a hardtail. They are:
easier to climb hills with than full suspension
easier to maintain
great for smoother, flowier trails
lighter than a full suspension bike
Full-Suspension: Full-suspension mountain bikes are bikes that have a suspension fork and a rear shock. A combination of both eats up all the bumps and faults on the trails, ensuring you don’t feel them.
Having more suspension on both ends helps you ride longer on trails as you don’t feel every bump and vibration. You feel less fatigued and more confident to charge through obstacles.
If you want to ride rough terrains like rock gardens and downhill parks, you need more suspension. The more suspension you have, the easier it is to make gnarly downhill descends.
Specialized pioneered the mountain bike industry. We came out with the first ever mountain bike back in 1981. We led the mountain bike industry with FSR suspension technology. We continue to innovate our lineup of mountain bikes.
Cross-country bikes are for cross-country courses and trails. These bikes handle versatile terrain, including smooth fire roads and rough forest paths.
XC trails can be singletrack, doubletracks, or may even look like small dirt roads. XC bikes are often light and meant for fast racing on rough bike paths. There would be plenty of obstacles on the path like tree roots, broken branches, rocks, stones, and other natural debris.
Cross-country bikes must have quick and capable handling so that riders can make technical turns and tight corners. These bikes are often hardtail, which makes your bike lighter and easier to handle, so that you can avoid obstacles instead of going over them.
We have three different cross-country bikes. The Rockhopper brings you a capable and reliable XC bike that is super affordable. The Chisel has a progressive geometry, meant to make tough climbs while it races through rock gardens.
If you are looking for a cross-country bike that will ‘wow’ you, try out our Epic bikes. This series has bikes from different price ranges, including hardtails and full-suspension models.
Trail bikes are versatile mountain bikes meant to do more than just one thing. They are awesome at climbing and descending, giving you a balanced bike that will help you explore different types of mountain terrains. Some trail bikes are hardtail, but if you want more versatility, opt for full-suspension bikes.
Our world championship-winning Stumpjumper is a highly capable bike on climbs and steep descents. Its rear suspension is adjustable, light, and responsive for different types of terrain.
Most mountain bikes are specialized for certain terrains, like downhills, trails, cross-country, etc. But, there is one bike that is capable of doing almost every kind of mountain biking, and that is our Enduro.
Whether you want to climb with confidence, sprint through smoother terrain, or fly down steep rock gardens, your enduro can do it all. They are designed for enduro races where you must make climbs and steep downhill descents.
Enduros are often heavier than trail bikes and have more suspension, both upfront and rear. They are chunkier so that they can endure the abuse of rough trails.
Enduros are the most adjustable bikes ever. Most capable enduro bikes have adjustable geometry. Our Enduro has a flip-chip that allows you to adjust its geometry in two ways, one is slacker for downhill drops and the other is steeper for technical climbs.
Downhill bikes are the other extreme of mountain bikes. These bikes are meant for steep and technical downhill descents.
While they aren't as versatile, they don't need to be either. Downhill trails need a sturdy, durable, and stable bike. They are often bigger and have larger wheelbases than other mountain bikes.
A larger body makes you feel more stable and confident, which is crucial for downhill biking. The bikes need to have a super slack head angle and a lower center of gravity, which makes you feel more grounded in your bike.
Downhill bikes have more suspension travel than most mountain bikes so that your bike can handle the rough jumps and drops without you feeling it.
Professional downhill mountain bikers prefer mullet wheels, meaning the rear wheel is smaller than the front wheel. It not only gives you quicker handling and acceleration, but it drops your center of gravity lower and further back. This reduces your chances of flipping your bike over, making downhill biking safer.
Our downhill Demo comes with a mullet setup and is perfect for gnarly downhill riding. You will feel plated and confident, due to the lower center of gravity and extra suspension travel.
BMX Bikes/Dirt Jumps
Are you a potential daredevil, looking to participate in a BMX bike competition, or do dirt jumps? Explore more extreme and adventurous biking, with dirt jumps or BMX bikes. Bicycle motocross is for thrill seekers, who want to do mind-boggling dirt bike stunts on BMX tracks.
Our P. Series has bikes that are super solid, heavy, and come with thick tires. They are not for versatile terrains or long distances. You ride them through adrenaline-pumping dirt bike courses, showing off your dirt bike tricks.
If you are looking for a new bike that you can use for casual riding, chances are that you will end up with a hybrid. Hybrid bikes are similar to gravel bikes, but they generally have flat handlebars. These bikes have features of both road and mountain bikes and can handle a variety of terrains.
City bikes or urban commuters are bikes that are used for commuting. While these bikes are mostly used on roads, they can also handle smoother off-road paths.
These bikes don’t need complex gears. Some are single-speed bikes or even fixies, which are fixed-gear bikes.
Urban bikes need features like fenders to keep away mud, and panniers to haul your things. They always need to have higher visibility, so that other vehicles can spot them when it’s dark. This is why they may be of bright colors and have reflective bike frames or reflective stickers on their frames.
Commuter bikes also need headlights and taillights, which either come with the bike or you can add them separately. If you are just starting a beginner's commuter like Crossroads can work great for you.
Fitness bikes are hybrids that resemble road bikes, as they also focus on performance. These are used by people who want to use cycling as a form of exercise and add it to their fitness regime.
Fitness hybrids are lightweight so that you can accelerate and go faster during your fitness training sessions. These bikes are often built for comfort as well so that you don't strain your body.
If you want a fitness-focused bike that you can also use for commuting, check out the Specialized Sirrus.
Cargo, Cruiser, and Comfort Bikes
Beach cruiser bikes are bikes you ride for relaxation. You can use them for short-distance commutes and cruising. They are built to ensure that you can ride comfortably while enjoying the scenery on sandy beaches.
Specialized Roll is a starter beach cruiser that you can use for cruising, short commutes, fitness, and more. It is affordable and comfortable and can be the best bike to start your cycling journey.
Cargo bikes are bikes that have a relaxed geometry and a sturdy frame so that can carry you and your cargo.
Comfort bikes are similar to cruisers, but they provide even more comfort. Specialized Sirrus X is a bike you can use for comfortable commutes, touring, and even hauling light cargo over hilly terrain.
Electric bikes are similar to analog bikes, but they have a motor and battery. E-bikes that you can pedal turn on pedal-assist technology, where the motor helps you go faster as you pedal, helping you feel less tired even on the most strenuous journeys.
Our e-bikes have lithium batteries, that are built into the frame. You charge these batteries with a charger, as you do with your eclectic devices.
Similar to traditional bikes, you can find different types of electric bikes that suit different cycling disciplines. Electric bikes just come with a motor, battery, and Control Unit. We also have a Mission Control App that allows you to record rides and stats.
Electric Road Bikes
Electric road bikes are e-bikes with road bike features. While electric road races are not publicly renowned, e-bikes are soon getting their official competition. In 2023, we will see the first ever E-Bike Grand Prix, which will be an electric road bike racing series.
Until then, you can use your electric bike for powered training, group riding, and even commuting. Our Turbo Creo SL is a lightweight e-bike range that sports a small but powerful motor.
Turbo Creo SL EVO is the gravel version of the e-bike. This bike can handle rougher terrain, especially dirt country roads. If you want a bike e-electric road bike that can tackle more terrain, this is the perfect bike for you.
Electric Mountain Bikes
Electric mountain bikes have created quite the buzz in the last decade, especially because they can help you tackle terrain you couldn’t even dream of doing with analog bikes, like long, steep, technical climbs.
Since there is less regulation regarding mountain e-bikes on trails, it is more accessible. If you want to expand your riding capacity and ride technical mountain terrain, e-mountain bikes will be perfect for you.
The specialized electric mountain bike lineup is versatile, with each bike being capable of tackling more than one type of cycling discipline.
Looking for a dedicated cross-country e-bike, opt for Turbo Tero. Ride the trails with confidence and explore more terrains with this powerful e-bike.
While all the other mountain e-bikes are branded enduro, each can handle a specific type of riding better.
If you want your perfect trail companion Turbo Levo can offer you more range on the trails. The e-bike has a powerful motor that can eat up technical climbs and descents.
Want a lighter trail bike, opt for Turbo Levo SL, a bike so light that it handles like an analog mountain bike. This is a super light bike that can handle all-mountain trails. It has super adjustable geometry that makes it capable enough to tackle different types of mountain terrains.
If you want an e-bike that will help you with downhill descents, try Turbo Kenevo. This bike is a beast on steep and gnarly downhill trails.
Electric Hybrid Bikes
Electric hybrid bikes are possibly the most popular type of e-bikes out there. People use them for commuting, fitness, comfort riding, cargo hauling and so much more. Choosing a bike depends on what you are using it for.
Electric cargo bikes are great for hauling cargo. Want to carry lighter cargo or even a passenger, try Haul ST. Want to carry two children to school, try Haul LT which comes with a long tail.
Want even more power, Haul Chop has dual-hub motors that can carry you, your kids, your cargo, and more.
Bike Components to Consider
Bike components and geometry makes one bike different from another. Here are a few crucial components you should consider before choosing a bike.
There are two main types of handlebars, drop bars and flat bars. Drop bars help you sprint and are common in road bikes. Flat bars give you more control and are generally seen in mountain bikes.
The drivetrain is the gear system of your bike. A bike can have a 1x, 2x, or 3x drivetrain, these numbers represent how many chainrings they have. Road bikes have more chainrings, while MTBs mostly have a 1x drivetrain.
The number of speeds is the number of sprockets your bike cassette has. The more sprocket you have the higher the range and speed. Casual bikes can have lower gearing and might even have a single gear.
There are a few types of brakes available in the market. Caliper rim brakes are quite common in lower or mid-range bikes. Top-end bikes often have mechanical or hydraulic disc brakes, which are compact, allow more mud clearance, and have more stopping power.
Wheel sizes differ for road bikes and mountain bikes. Road bikes have thinner, smaller wheels, and mountain bikes have thicker, larger wheels. Common road wheel size is 700c, while mountain bikes often use 27.5-inch wheels or 29ers.