Find the one that will make you fall in love with riding again.

By Riley Missel

Jun 28, 2019

Beginner bikes are more affordable and better than ever. You can now buy a high-quality bike for less than $600 that is designed to be more stabile, simple, and comfortable to ride. That’s a bit more than something you may find at a big-box store, but spending the extra money is almost always worth it: You get pro assembly and parts that won’t rust, perform better, and will last years longer than lower-cost options. Listed here are our five favorites, and lots of other tested options and buying advice down below:


Which Type of Bike Is Right for You?

If you’re ready to buy your first bike, the number of options can be daunting. Start by asking yourself where you want to ride. How you answer that question will help determine the right type of bike.

If you’re planning to ride trails or unpaved paths, you might be most comfortable on a hardtail mountain bike. The knobby tires give you better traction in the dirt and the suspension fork will soak up some of the bumps in the trail. Basic options start at $700 to $800.

If you’re planning to stick to paved paths, sidewalks, and boardwalks, try a cruiser or hybrid bike. A cruiser bike is a classic-looking bike with a wide, sweeping handlebar that’s great at lower speeds and start at about $300 for models with just one speed. A hybrid bike is designed to be ridden for exercise or fun while still keeping the rider in a comfortable, upright position. Prices start at about $500.

For mostly paved-road riding, your fastest option is a road bike. Built with narrower tires and drop-style handlebars, a road bike is the fastest option for riding smooth surfaces. Look for models with an aluminum frame and (if you can afford it) disc brakes which offer better control. Look to spend about $900, but some cheaper options exist if you go with rim brakes. If you plan to ride mostly dirt and gravel roads, try a gravel bike. The wider, grippier tires will make your dirt or gravel road riding more comfortable when the pavement ends. Like with road bikes, prices start about about $900.

Do I Need an E-bike?

If you are looking for a bike for transportation as opposed to exercise, e-bikes will get you to your destination with less effort (and less sweat) than a regular bike. While an e-bike still requires pedaling, the motor will boost your speed according to how hard you pedal (up to 20mph). In exchange for this assist, you’ll have to charge the battery every few days (or daily depending on your battery’s range) and because of the added weight of the battery and motor, e-bikes are much heavier than regular bikes, so they’re harder to move and store. They’re also more expensive. The cheapest e-bikes still cost at least $1,000.

Key Features for Beginner Bikes

Stability: A stable bike will give you enough support from the bike as you balance and corner, allowing it to be predictable and maneuverable at slow speeds. A bike with good stability will have a longer wheel base, wider handlebars, and a low standover height so you can more easily put your foot down to steady yourself.

Relaxed positioning: You want to be comfortable on your bike—the more happy and relaxed you are, the more you’ll ride. Most beginner bikes keep the rider’s back somewhere between a 90- and 70-degree angle with the ground, to put less strain on your back and neck.

Wider tires: No matter what type of bike you purchase, look for options with wider-than-typical tires. They offer more grip and traction, so you can ride more safely across most conditions.

Proper fit: Use this guide to get an idea of what size you need. Try to test ride the model you like if you can, or research the geometry and hop on something similar to get a sense of it.

How We Tested These Bikes

Every bike on this list has been thoroughly ridden and evaluated by our team of test editors. We research the market, survey user reviews, speak with product managers and engineers, and use our own experience riding these bikes to determine the best options. Our team of experienced testers spent many hours and miles using these bikes for their intended purpose. We’ve commuted to and from work on them, hit the trails and local bike paths, used them to run errands, tested their passenger-hauling capability, ridden them in annoying traffic, and run the e-bikes’ batteries down to officially see how long they last on one charge. We evaluated them on performance, price, comfort, handling, value, reliability, fun, and aesthetic appeal to come up with this list of bikes that will best serve the needs of anyone looking to fall in love with riding their bike.



Benno Ballooner Ladies’ 8i

Ballooner Ladies 8i
Price: $1,100

  • Very low standover = easy step-through
  • Stunning good looks
  • Disc brakes and 8 speeds

x Price! At $1,100, this is an investment.

The Benno Ballooner Ladies’ 8i isn’t the kind of bike you buy four extra of so you can store them at your beach house for guests. It’s more than a cruiser; it’s a commuter, too. You’ll appreciate the Shimano Alfine 8-speed internal hub for its low maintenance and generous gears, the intuitive Rapidfire shifting, and the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes for their precise stopping power. The steel fork keeps road jitters from creeping up through your arms and teeth, and 2.35-inch balloon tires roll fast and smooth. Matching fenders and rims, a retro aluminum crankset and pedals, and super-comfortable ergo grips top off this well-appointed bicycle.




Test editor Riley Missel is an experienced road racer, mountain biker, and a national champion on the track who has been at Bicycling since 2017.

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