Specialized, Trek, Giant, Scott, Cannondale, BMC, Cervelo, Bianchi and hundreds of others I could list. What’s the difference? Well, if you’re looking for any kind of road or mountain bike, honestly not much. There are differences, but they’re so subtle that no normal person would notice. Put it this way, even professionals who basically live on their bikes have to ride whatever their team’s bike sponsor provides. Mark Cavendish has won on all sorts of bikes for example on road and track.
If you walk into your local bike shop, they are likely to carry one or more brands. If you’re looking for a road, hybrid style or mountain bike then you’ll find one to suit without going to another store. They all use the same components, generally either SRAM or Shimano. The only differences will be in geometry and any number of gimmicks, for example the Lefty fork from Cannondale, or the specialized Future Shock suspended handlebar design. They’re not things that will make huge differences. The frame and rear suspension linkage designs on mountain bikes do differ, but again, unless you’re a very serious rider, it won’t matter.
I don’t like agreeing with Lance Armstrong particularly, but he was right when he said that when buying a bike, just go with whatever brand you like, and which colour you like. Because they’re all basically the same.
While this is true for road and mountain bikes, it isn’t the case if you want something else. If you want a folding bike, there is an enormous variance in folding mechanisms for example. Brompton being by far the best in my opinion.
If you want a bike for commuting, I’d personally recommend a Dutch style upright bike and for those, you’ll have to go to a specialist retailer or online if you’re in the U.K. As we’ve lost our minds and sold mountain bikes as commuters for some reason I can’t fathom.
When you get to e-Bikes, it gets more complicated as the different motor systems actually do make enough of a difference to the point that you might want to do your research, and then figure out which dealer you need to visit. And if you want something really special, such as a belt driven, full suspension urban e-Bike with full fenders and wider tyres, then Riese & Muller are there for you.
Simply put, the mainstream bicycle industry has lost its way completely and the only way to buy the types of bikes that in my opinion, most people would benefit from, you have to go to niche brands. That cannot be right.
The types of bikes that are popular in the Netherlands, where cycling is a normal, daily activity that almost everyone does are upright bikes with chain cases and heavy duty luggage racks, and cargo bikes which are incredibly useful and will be indispensable tools in fighting air pollution and congestion in our towns and cities.
We’re not going to solve all of the transport related issues we have in the U.K. with road bikes and mountain bikes. It’s not going to happen. Things need to change, and quickly. We need the infrastructure to be built first and foremost, but we also need to be seeing huge numbers of Dutch and cargo bike shops opening up.