Cyclists tend to stick to one cycling discipline but if you are starting out as a new cyclist, you won’t yet know what style you prefer or which one suits you best. So, read on to find out about all of the different cycling styles to help you decide what to try.
- 6 different styles of cycling you should try
- Tandem riding
- Mountain biking
- Final thoughts
Cycling is cycling, right? Actually, no. Apart from the two wheels, the different styles of cycling are really different. The bikes, the kit, the skills and the demographics are all really varied.
There are different benefits to each type of cycling though many of the required skills are transferrable between the different styles. Professional cyclists will often mix their training so that they work different fitness levels and different muscle groups. For instance, a professional downhill race cyclist might be seen on a road bike in order to improve their cardio and stamina. Just because the professionals mix it up, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a go too!
BMX was developed to find a midway point between bikes and motorcross. This discipline is a ramps and stunts affair. BMX cyclists use short energy bursts to propel them forward from one side to another all while carrying out stunts and tackling obstacles in their path.
There are a lot of advantages to this type of cycling. It is great for indoors and outdoors and doesn’t need a lot of kits, unlike mountain biking. It’s also super fun!
Doing the short bursts of energy and tricks and jumps are great training for other off-road cycling. It means you can handle your bike with increased confidence as you navigate over tree routes and technical trails. Also, you will reap the benefits of energy-saving as you develop pedal power. If you’re a road cyclist, this is great for developing your sprinting technique.
When compared to many bikes, BMX bikes are relatively cheap. You can get an entry-level BMX bike for as little as £100.
This bike was first developed in the late 1800s. At first, and even still, the tandem was seen as a novelty bike that you will often see near holiday destinations. However, they are quite popular racing these days and you will even see road tandems, fat bike tandems and off-road tandems. Tandems are great as they’re great fun and require a teamwork element. Riding a tandem isn’t as easy as you might think. You need to be able to trust your partner and be able to synchronise your movements and cadence.
A cyclocross bike is like a road bike but with mountain bike tyres. This cycling style is really fun but really messy! You will need a lot of pedal power in order to get across (and through!) the difficult terrain but you will also need technical skills too. Cyclocross races usually take place over 60 minutes on a course of short laps. Lots of professional cyclists train off-season on cyclocross. You could see cyclocross as a transition between mountain and road biking as there are elements from both.
There is an increase in popularity more recently for track cycling. It is a different discipline as you are required to pedal constantly in a gear that is fixed. When you get the hang of it, you will learn how to manage your cadence really efficiently. There are no brakes on track cycles and speeds are high so you’ll learn how to handle a bike at speed!
Mountain bike riding really does give you the best work out as well as a great rush of adrenaline. Mountain bikes, however, are much heavier than road bikes and have softer, more supple suspension. This makes climbing bitter-sweet. All aspects of mountain biking are great for increasing your fitness levels.
When you conquer the climb, your descent will truly make up for the hard work. Learning to ride a mountain bike well has great advantages for all other cycling disciplines. Tackling rough ground and learning how to shift your body weight on your bike will help you to keep light while your bike stays firmly on the ground.
Road cycling is by far the most popular of the disciplines. The lighter bikes and seemingly endless tarmac roads to cover make it a really pleasant experience. The difficulty of road cycling is managing your pace and your energy and staying safe in traffic!
Road cycling can improve your muscle conditioning, cardio and confidence. With road cycling, all you have to do is step out of the door and get on your bike. There is so much less preparation than when you load up your car to go mountain biking.
It is good to try out new cycling disciplines and you might even decide to stick to a different discipline once you’ve experienced them all! Varying your training, whichever is your preferred discipline, is never a bad thing and you will find your skills and performance improve on your regular cycle rides too.