Beyond recreation, people are also using them for transportation.
Robert Scott enjoys cycling so much that most days he rides his bike to work at a bike shop.
"It's the healthy way to get to work," Scott says. "You save money on gas, it's a lot of fun and I love it."
Consumer Reports tested 17 bikes that are good for commuting or just tooling around town. There were three types in all:
- Fitness bikes are most like road bikes, with a small seat and narrow tires, but they're more comfortable because you sit semi-upright.
- Hybrids are a cross between a road and a mountain bike. They have wider tires and can have front shocks and suspension seats, so they absorb more of the bumps for you.
Each bike was put through a series of tests.
Rough road surfaces were used to measure shock absorption. A brake test determined how far it takes for a bike to stop. Testers also sized up the gears to see how easy they are to shift.
When all the tests were done, Consumer Reports found two top-rated bikes.
The Cannondale Comfort 4 at $580 has very good handling and is quite sporty for a comfort bike.
If you're looking to bike longer distances or tackle more hills, the Fuji Absolute 3.0 fitness is a better bet. At 26 pounds, it's fairly lightweight and costs $480, which is less than many other fitness bikes.
No matter what bicycle you choose, make sure you have a proper fit. Testers recommend buying at a bike shop, where you can get help from an experienced salesperson and actually take the bike for a ride to make sure it's right for you.