I never knew so many bike types existed before moving to Sanibel Island. Sure, I grew up in Southwest Florida, but my bike experience had mainly been limited to either beach cruisers, mountain bikes, and racing bikes. But the more I pedal around Sanibel, the more unique bikes I come across.
It’s actually a fun activity, bike watching. Similar to people-watching, you see some interesting things along the 26-miles of shared-use path on island. We can see a good stretch of it from our office on Periwinkle Way. Who knew there were so many options?! Which prompted me to ask, what’s your bike type?
Types of Bikes on Sanibel Island
The Beach Cruiser
Probably the most prominent bike for locals and a popular rental bike for visitors, the beach cruiser, or single speed, is a classic on Sanibel. The thicker tires allow you to ride on the road and in the sand without concern, and the front basket and rear rack allows you to strap on beach gear or carry groceries.
“Multi-speed” is somewhat of a generic umbrella category of bikes, with many bike types that classify under it. The ability to shift gears and the use of hand brakes are the biggest difference from single speed beach cruisers. The tires are also narrower, and there’s often less space for bike baskets and transporting goods.
The Mountain Bike
The mountain bike is a popular multi-speed bike. While you might scratch your head thinking, “there are no mountains on Sanibel,” the style is still popular peddling through some of the unpaved trails on island and getting a closer look at nature. Our family has used mountain bikes both on island and on vacation while biking trails in North Carolina.
The Racing Bike
Again, there are many types of racing bikes, from road to trail, but the majority of racing bikes you’ll see on Sanibel are road racers or those training for triathlons. With such skinny seats, low handlebars, and light-weight frames, these bikes are certainly not for beginners, or anyone looking for a comfy ride for that matter. Still, I cheer them along as they zoom by, sometimes faster than the cars.
Ah yes, the trike. I see a few around the island, and I am surprised I don’t see more, as they are probably the sturdiest and most comfortable ride. They do take up more space along the bike paths, but for younger kids with less experience, and older souls with less balance, they are a good option!
You’ve seen the bike style where you sit in the seat and have a backrest. These are recumbent bikes, where the handlebars are shoulder height, and your feet are stretched out in front of you while peddling. Another great option for those who could use the backrest and don’t care for sitting on the saddle of single and multi-speed bikes.
This two-seater bike looks like a balancing act, and, well it is! But it is a fun way to bike around town with your significant other – so long as you are well-coordinated and on the same page as one another.
The Arm Attachment
The trail-a-bike arm attachment is a great option for biking with kids. The arm attaches to the back of your bike, and has a smaller set of handlebars and peddles which create an adult/child tandem bike. The adult controls the steering and braking of the bike, while the kid can participate by peddling along.
We used this with Abbie on our trip to Paris in 2017!
Kids Bikes & Carts
Kids bikes often come in the same single-speed or multi-speed options as adult bikes. Tricycles or training wheels are good options for the kiddos just learning to ride. But there are also a number of carts and attachments that can be pulled behind adult bikes. Aside from the arm, there’s the baby trailer, which I’ve seen used for pets, and the chair style trailer, with seat belt straps and a backrest for younger kids.
Family 4-Seater Surrey
The Surrey bike is the big cart-looking bikes with overhead cover and four wheels. There’s bench-style seating and four sets of peddles for each one to contribute. Let me tell you, it’s harder than it looks to steer and accelerate, especially on narrow bike paths or with any sort of wind in the opposite direction.
The new craze is over electric bikes, which come in a variety of sizes including fat wheeled for the beach, and regular tires for the roads. There are mixed feelings over the use of e-bikes on island, with concerns of reckless use alongside traditional bikes on the shared-use path. It will be interesting to see how the City handles the growing popularity of e-bikes going forward.
These are just a few of the many styles of bikes of course! It’s fun to see a mixture along the paths on island, especially families with multiple generations peddling along, making memories.