The popularity explosion cycling has seen in recent years means more types of bicycles are widely available. From cruisers to road bikes, there’s a type of bike for every occasion.

The options may seem daunting. How do you know which type is best suited for your purposes? And does it actually even matter?

As a matter of fact, it does. The type of bike you pick can influence not just efficiency but also safety when you’re out riding. While some are interchangeable with different purposes, there are others you’d want to avoid in certain conditions.

Here’s a breakdown of the most popular uses of bicycles and the best bike suited for each:

1.       Sport and fitness – if you have a love of riding fast or want to go long distances, a road bike may be your best bet, with its dropped handlebars, slender tires, and slick, ultralight carbon frames built for aerodynamics.

2.       Commuting – if you ride long distances every day to get to and from work, school, or even the gym or grocery store, you’ll want a bike that’s built to handle the mileage, especially if you’re taking city streets frequently. A hybrid bike is your best choice, with a tire style that is narrow enough to ride efficiently but thick enough to withstand unpredictable surfaces. Many allow a slightly more upright position and have a sturdy enough frame to include racks to hold baskets, while remaining lightweight enough not to weigh you down.

3.       Backcountry riding – if you have any plans to go off-road with your bike, a mountain bike is likely the bike for you. The thick tires grip slick surfaces and the gears allow steep climbs. On roads, mountain bikes are slightly slower, heavier, and bulkier, which is why they’re not the most ideal for general city biking.

4.       Cruising and sightseeing – some people just love seeing the world from on top a bike. Maybe you live near a beach or in a small, quiet town without much traffic. Cruiser bikes are built for leisurely peddling, often without a particular destination. They’re large, slow, and inefficient, making them less ideal for using on busier city streets and even downright dangerous in high-traffic areas, whether the traffic is motorists or other cyclists.

Bicycling is a great way to stay in shape while reducing your carbon footprint. You can enjoy the time you spend on a bike even more if you have the right one for your circumstances.