bikes
buying guide

which bike style is for me?

From casual strolls through town to rugged mountain biking adventures, bicycles take you on an exciting journey. With so many styles and features to choose from, finding the right one for your lifestyle can seem overwhelming. Academy is here to help.

Use this buying guide to learn all about the different types of bikes available to you. Find out each bike's best use, specific features and how to find the right size so you can start riding in style. Are you ready to get those wheels turning? Keep reading to get riding!

  • road bikes
  • bmx bikes
  • mountain bikes
  • fat tire bikes
  • hybrid bikes
  • specialty bikes
  • kids' bikes
  • hit the road!

road bikes

choose if...

You want to ride on pavement or road surfaces. Road bikes are perfect for long-distance fitness, commuting to and from work, touring, racing and other activities. If you want to ride your bike daily, a road bike is your best option.

features include...

  • Lightweight frames made out of steel or aluminum
  • Single gears or multi-speed options
  • Flat, bull horn or drop handlebars
pro tip: Drop handlebars are better for fast, aerodynamic riding, while the other options offer comfort during leisurely strolls. Choose a bike with multi-speed options if you'll run into rolling or rocky terrain.

picking a size

Keep in mind that like clothes, bike sizes differ depending on the brand. However, you can generally choose a road bike based on your height. Measure yourself, and then check this chart to find out which road bike size you'll need.

Rider Height Road Bike Frame Size
4'10"-5'2" 33-37cm (Size XS)
5'2"-5'6" 38-42cm (Size S)
5'6"-5'10" 43-47cm (Size M)
5'10"-6'1" 48-52cm (Size L)
6'1"-6'4" 53-57cm (Size XL)
6'4"-6'6" 58-61cm (Size XXL)

bmx bikes

choose if...

You're an advanced rider who's ready to race. BMX bikes can go over rough and rugged terrain and hills with ease. With lightweight, durable frames and reliable BMX-specific handlebars, you can practice jumps or freestyle for hours at a time.

features include...

  • Lightweight frames made out of steel or aluminum
  • Strong rear hand brakes
  • BMX handlebars
  • 20" wheels

picking a size

BMX bikes usually have 20-inch wheels, though there are smaller sizes for younger riders. Beyond the wheels, BMX frame sizes range to fit riders of all ages. Use this chart to find out which size is right for your height.

Rider Height BMX Bike Size
4'2"-4'10" Mini
4'6"-5'1" Junior
5'0"-5'4" Expert
5'2"-5'6" Expert XL
5'3"-5'8" Pro
5'7"-6'0" Pro XL
6'0"+ Pro XXL

mountain bikes

choose if...

You want to ride up and down hills and over rugged terrain. With a mountain bike, you can tackle long and bumpy dirt trails comfortably. Shock-absorbing features, strong braking systems and low gears help you navigate rocky ground and steep hills with ease, while riser bars help you sit more upright to keep you in control. You can find mountain bike styles with full, front or no suspension, depending on your riding ability and preference.

features include...

  • Aluminum or steel frames
  • Low gears
  • Enhanced braking systems
  • Different tire widths
  • Riser bars
  • Full, front or no suspension
pro tip: Choose full suspension to drastically reduce impact and increase traction on rough terrain. If you want a smoother ride on a rocky trail, front suspension can do the trick by absorbing impact on only the front wheel. "Rigid bikes" - mountain bikes without any suspension - are easier to maintain but don't offer much comfort.

picking a size

Mountain bikes traditionally come with 26-inch wheels, but they're getting bigger. Today, you can find wheels as large as 29 inches that make it easier to navigate trails with tall growth or large rocks. Choose which wheel size is most comfortable for you, and then determine the right frame size for your height.

Rider Height Mountain Bike Frame Size
4'2"-4'10" Mini
4'6"-5'1" Junior
5'0"-5'4" Expert
5'2"-5'6" Expert XL
5'3"-5'8" Pro
5'7"-6'0" Pro XL
6'0"+ Pro XXL

fat tire bikes

choose if...

You want to bike over terrain you wouldn't normally be able to ride over, such as mud, sand or snow. Fat tire bikes are designed to help you glide over areas with low ground pressure, but they can also take you through city streets where you can show of your cool, trendy style. These four-season bikes are becoming more and more popular each year!

features include...

  • Oversized tires that absorb shock as you ride
  • Disc brakes (typically)
  • Aluminum or steel frames
  • Multi-speed options
  • Low-rise or flat handlebars

picking a size

Rider Height Fat Tire Bike Frame Size
4'10"-5'2" 33-37cm (Size XS)
5'2"-5'6" 38-42cm (Size S)
5'6"-5'10" 43-47cm (Size M)
5'10"-6'1" 48-52cm (Size L)
6'1"-6'4" 53-57cm (Size XL)
6'4"-6'6" 58-61cm (Size XXL)
pro tip: If you fall between sizes, go smaller. That way, if you dismount on soft terrain, you'll be less likely to hurt yourself on the frame when your foot sinks lower than the bike itself.

hybrid bikes

choose if...

You want to ride in a range of environments. If you want to use your bike for more than one purpose, a hybrid bike may be the perfect choice. These bikes blend elements from both road and mountain bikes to create a lightweight yet rugged riding experience you'll enjoy whether you're speeding through the city or countryside, cruising around town, or commuting to work.

features include...

  • Lightweight frame made of steel or aluminum for increased speed
  • Upright seating position
  • Thin wheels (typically)
  • Flat handlebars (typically)
  • Responsive brakes
  • Multi-speed options

No two hybrid styles are built the same. In fact, the term "hybrid" indicates that these bikes combine qualities from various models so you can find the perfect fit for your specific needs. For example, a comfort bike combines the wide tires and cushioned seat of a mountain bike with the agility of a road bike. That way, errands and rides on unpaved bike paths can be easier and more comfortable. If you already have an idea of how you'll use your hybrid bike, make sure the make and model include all the features you need.

picking a size

Rider Height Hybrid Bike Frame Size
4'10"-5'2" 33-37 cm (Size XS)
5'2"-5'6" 38-42 cm (Size S)
5'6"-5'10" 43-47 cm (Size M)
5'10"-6'1" 48-52 cm (Size L)
6'1"-6'4" 53-57 cm (Size XL)
6'4"+ 58-61 cm (Size XXL)

specialty bikes

choose if...

You want a specific look with unique features. Specialty bikes include styles like:

features include...

Specialty bike features will vary depending on the specific style you're looking for. Check out our guide on How to Choose the Right Bike for more information on all the elements you should consider.

picking a size

Like the features, sizing options for specialty bikes change depending on what kind you want. Cruisers require taller bike frames, for example, while tricycles tend to be low to the ground. Use this sizing chart as a general guide, and then check with your local Academy to determine which specialty bike size you need.

Rider Height Bike Size
4'11"-5'3" 13-15 in
5'3"-5'7" 15-17 in
5'7"-5'11" 17-19 in
6'0"-6'2" 19-21 in
6'4"+ 23+ in

kids' bikes

choose if...

Your little one is ready to ride! We offer a variety of styles to fit tiny tykes, from trikes and bikes with removable training wheels to powerful kids' BMX and mountain bikes.

features include...

The features of kids' bikes vary depending on the bike style your little rider needs. Younger kids require safety features like training wheels, reliable brakes and pads that keep them comfortable, while older kids can enjoy lightweight frames and durable tires that offer a smooth ride or freestyle handlebars to help them practice tricks. No matter which kids' bike you choose, all the options at Academy come with essential protective features to keep young riders safe.

picking a size

Kids' bikes are measured by wheel size. Use your child's current height to determine the best wheel size for the bike you buy.

Rider Height Wheel Size
3'0"-3'5" 12 in
3'5"-3'9" 14-16 in
3'9"-4'5" 18-20 in
4'5"-5'0" 24 in
5'0"+ 26 in

hit the road!

After you've picked the perfect bike for your lifestyle and found the right size to ride, don't forget the rest of your biking gear! Visit our website or stop by your local Academy to pick up essential safety equipment and other tools and accessories that will keep you riding in style, including:

For even more information to help you find the right bike, check out Academy's other helpful guides: