The bicycles that stand out most in consumer reviews and sales offer the perfect marriage of features, quality and value. These best-sellers are a big step up over the department store bikes because they're easier to ride and maintain, and offer years of high performance. Look for the features of the best-selling bikes when you decide to purchase a new set of wheels for yourself.
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Hit the Trails
Mountain bikes are the best selling bicycles. In 2012, they constituted 25 percent of the overall bicycle market. Top-performing mountain bikes can cost several thousands of dollars, but these bikes are generally catered to a small percentage of riders. Bikes in a more reasonable price range that still offer the reliability to be taken off-road are winners for consumers. These mountain bikes usually have a front suspension, but lack a rear suspension to reduce cost. 29" wheels and large tires offer some additional absorption to keep you rolling over difficult terrain. A best-selling mountain bike usually comes with a wide gear ratio to make difficult hills easier, and are usually made from steel for durability.
Hitting The Road
Road bikes have always been a popular model. Once the best selling bicycle model, road bikes now constitute about 20 percent of the market. Road bikes are a diverse and expansive class of bicycles with a ride for every budget. The best sellers for road bikes usually match professional-level bikes in terms of geometry and sizing, but slightly heavier or less durable parts keep the price reasonable for the average consumer. A best-selling road bike usually has an aluminum frame and wheels, with middle-of-the-road components that perform excellently without frequent maintenance. These more affordable road bikes are especially popular as a training bike for riders who invest in top equipment for racing, giving them a place in almost every cyclist's garage.
Keeping It Casual
Cruiser and comfort bikes make up a substantial part of the bicycle market -- around 13 percent -- because of their popularity with beginners, casual riders and older individuals who don't need the performance of a traditional road bike. These bikes offer wide seats, a very relaxed and upright geometry, and tall handlebars to make a short daily ride around the park as convenient as possible. The best-selling comfort and cruiser bikes are also usually made from steel for durability. Steel also offers great vibration absorption and ductility, which further increases riding comfort.
A hybrid bike, which combines the geometry and capability of a mountain bike with the speed of a road bike, are some of the most popular models for city commuters. Together with cyclocross bikes, which are road bikes with wider tires for gravel and dirt, hybrid bikes make up over 24 percent of the bicycle market. They're more relaxed than traditional road bikes and often have a front suspension for absorbing rough pavement, but retain the smooth tires of a road bike for more efficient pedaling. Other bike styles like folding bikes and recumbent bikes make up much less of the bicycle market and are not best sellers, but are still rated highly by consumers who decide to go with these less-popular styles.