Unusual Bicycle Designs That Went Mainstream

When I was a kid, there were just two kinds of bicycles, road bikes – with their thin tires and trademark ram’s horn-like drop handles – and BMX bikes for off-road and stunt riding. Later on, mountain bikes – with their wider tires and straight handlebars – joined the picture.

Today, there are more than a dozen standard designs to choose from. Here are a few that were for a narrow niche but are currently enjoying wide popularity.

Gravel Bikes – from afar, they look like regular road bikes. But closer inspection will reveal wider tires and options for lower gearing. They’re not as off-road as mountain bikes, but they can do very well both on paved and rough roads.

Tracked / Fixed-Gear Bikes – also known as fixies were originally designed for velodrome racing. They have only one fixed gear meaning you can’t coast while pedaling. They’ve gained some popularity because of their light built, easy maintenance, and simple design (some don’t even have handbrakes!)

Folding Bikes – sometimes called “folders”, these are usually smaller than the road bikes and their party trick is that they can be collapsed or folded into a more compact form for easy hauling or storage. When folded, they can be stashed in a car’s trunk or taken aboard the train and used as a last-mile solution.