What to look out for in an adult’s bike

Do you want to buy a new bicycle to go cycling with your kids but not quite sure what type of bike to purchase? You're in the right place because this article covers adult bike for cycling and some advice on how to carry children, if they're not cycling on their own bikes yet.

We’ve got lots of recommendations on what to look for in a bike for yourself, as mum or dad, or childminder, or grandparent, so that you can enjoy cycling with your children.

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What will you be using the bike for?

First of all, you’ll need to determine what you’ll be using the bike for. Is it for leisure rides, or for everyday journeys such as cycling to school?

The most important things to know are where you’ll be riding, for what purpose, and your budget.

What surface will you be riding on:

  • Roads or paved paths
  • Off road such as tracks, trails and bridleways
  • A mix of paved and unpaved

What will you be using your bike for?

  • Occasional leisure rides
  • Mountain bike trails
  • Everyday journeys such as cycling to school
  • Towing a trailer or tagalong
  • Carrying groceries
What to look for in an adult bike - family cycling

Different types of bikes

Before you head to the bike shop or look online, it’s useful to know the different types of bicycles out there.

Here are the most common types of bikes available in most bike shops and online retailers.

Hybrid bike

A hybrid bicycle is a bike that is a bit of everything. It is fairly lightweight, has gears and is the most popular option for urban riding, leisure riding and for everyday journeys.

What we think: a hybrid bike can handle most terrains and is a good all-rounder. They’re a good option if you’re new to cycling and are looking to buy a new or secondhand bike.

City bike

City bikes are suitable for urban riding in flat or fairly flat areas because they usually don’t have gears, or not many, and are a good option if you are looking to cycle at a leisurely pace. They usually come with a pannier rack and mudguards and have an upright riding position.

What we think: city bikes have a stylish look and feel, but may slow you down because they are heavy.

Mountain bike (or MTB)

If you’re going to be riding on mountain bike trails you’ll be looking to buy a mountain bike for yourself, as well as your kids.

Mountain bikes come with specialised features which makes them suitable for off-road fun, for example suspension and bigger tires.

What we think: great for off-road fun but not the best option for cycling on the road.

Gravel bike

A gravel bike is a mix between a hybrid bike, a mountain bike and a road bike. A good choice if you're wanting to ride on road and off road with kids as they start to get older. You can have one bike for different types of riding, for commuting and for leisure.

What we think: lovely way to cycle on one bike with two or more people, but be mindful they are less nimble because of their length.

gravel bike for adults


An e-bike is a pedal bike with electric assist, which means they have a small motor fitted which will kick in when you are pedalling.

Electric bikes can be useful when you live in a hilly area and/or when you carry a load, such as a trailer or a child in a bike seat.

What we think: very useful if you have a health condition, live in a hilly area, or to keep up with your kids. Only downsides are that they are more expensive and heavy.

Haibike e-bike adults

Cargo bike

A cargo bike can carry children in a box at the front, or on the rear rack. Cargo bikes come in many shapes and sizes and they are sometimes e-bikes.

What we think: great to carry lots of stuff or more than one child, but they are quite heavy and big so it can take a bit of getting used to riding and you need to consider storage.

E-cargo bikes can be used to replace a (second) car, with potential savings to be made on fuel, insurance, MOT and parking costs.

Folding bike

A folding bike is a bike that can be folded so you can carry it with you on public transport, or into your house or office. Folding bikes are popular in big cities.

What we think: easy to store if space is tight but tricky to carry a child on. Can be tricky to carry a child on.

Brompton folding bike for adults

Tandem or triplet bike

Tandems or triplets are bikes which are ridden by two or three people. This is ideal for an adult with a child or two children, because the children can ride without having to navigate traffic and they can take a rest when needed.

What we think: lovely way to cycle on one bike with two or more people, but be mindful they are less nimble because of their length.

Circe Helios triplet tandem bike adult child
tandem bike for adult and child

Other types of bikes

There are plenty of other types of bikes which we haven’t mentioned here and these may be of interest to you if you are joining a cycling club, if you prefer a particular type of riding, or have specific needs.

  • Road bike
  • Fixed gear bikes
  • Recumbent bike
  • Trike

Not sure where to start?

If you’re new to cycling and will be using the bike either for occasional rides or everyday journeys, you’ll most likely be looking at buying a hybrid bike.

A hybrid bike is versatile and will probably suit your needs, if you’re not after something specific. Hybrid bikes start from around £400, or cheaper if you go for a secondhand hybrid bike.

hybrid bike with waterproof panniers

Bicycles for everyday journeys

If you will be using your bike every day you will probably want to look for the following features:

A rear rack on your bike, or a front rack or basket will help you carry your stuff. Cycling with a rucksack on is not always the most comfortable, especially when you’re going up hills.

Also think about carrying your kids stuff, because you may end up carrying book bags and other bits from your children.

woom 3 automagic kids bike - kickstand and bike features

A pannier rack is also useful to mount a rear bike seat on.

Mudguards are an essential feature if you will be cycling in all weather conditions and you don’t want to get covered from head to toe when you arrive at the school gates or your office.

A kickstand is not essential, but very handy if you want to not have to rely on a wall or stand for your bike when you stop or take a break.

Some bikes come with these additional features and on some bikes you can add them. If you know you want these things on your bike, look for a bike that has them fitted, as it will save you money and time.

Essential bike accessories for adults

You don’t need much to start cycling, but some of these accessories may be useful, especially if you are going to be using your bike regularly:

Try to find out what accessories are included with your bike, because sometimes lights may be integrated or fitted on to them, for example.

What accessories do I need for an adults bike
What accessories do I need for an adults bike - bike lock
What accessories do I need for an adults bike - bike lights

Carrying children on your bike

If your children are old enough, they can go on their own bikes, and if they’re smaller you can carry them on your bike.

Among the Cycle Sprog team we have plenty of experience as parents of using bike seats (front and rear seats), trailers, tagalongs and cargo bikes.

You can carry children on your bike in lots of different ways:

If you’re new to all of this and you want to find out if cycling with your child is for you, we recommend you start with a trailer or a bike seat.

If you are looking to make a lot of journeys and are planning to do so for a number of years, you may want to look into buying a tandem or cargo bike.

Getting your child ready to use a rear bike seat - strapping them in

Before you go…

If you are thinking of using your bike to cycle to school with your children and you're not sure where to start, read our article on How to start cycling to school with kids. It is full of tips on what you need to do to get ready for that first bike ride to school (or nursery).


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