There are a variety of bicycles these days each made for a specific purpose. Bicycles that are perfect for mountain, others for road, some for gravel, and others for commuting. Some bicycle companies hone in and focus on manufacturing one type of bicycle while other bike brands vary their product line. Bicycle brands have different goals and aspirations, but all strive to make great bicycles. This is a list of 31 of the best bike brands. These are all leaders within the industry who have been around for decades and have help shape the bicycle industry into what it is today.
Bianchi is the world’s oldest bicycle manufacturing company still in existence. Edoardo Bianchi began building bikes at his Milan shop in 1885, and worked tirelessly to innovate bicycle design. His idea was to reduce the front wheel’s diameter and include a chain (which had been another designer’s idea) to the bicycle. His new bicycle design opened the door for more people to ride bicycles as the new bikes were more stable than ever before. Bianchi is also credited with creating the braking system of the front caliper.
Bianchi continues to make a wide variety of bicycles (cyclocross, track, road, mountain), and are traditionally painted with what is known as Bianchi Green. Myths have that the color is the eye color of a queen that Edoardo Bianchi built a bicycle for. www.bianchi.com
I am bias towards Schwinn as a bicycle brand as I rode an old Schwinn steel frame for many years. Schwinn is a brand of bicycles that dominated the American bicycle industry during the 20th century, but fell from grace in 1992 when they declared bankruptcy. Soon after they were acquired by the multi-national conglomerate, Dorel Industries, which owns a collection of famous bike brands such as Cannondale, GT, Roadmaster, and Mongoose. If you’d like to read a cycling book on the history of Schwinn check out our article on cycling books and scroll down to the book titled “No hands.”
Schwinn has focused for years on making bikes that are great cruisers, bike commuting, and those who like a casual ride on the weekends. www.schwinnbikes.com
Compared to other bicycle brands Marin is relatively new, but this shouldn’t be a reason to dismiss this brand. Marin Bikes was founded by Bob Buckley who took up mountain biking after a doctor’s advice. Buckley fell in love with bicycling so much that he began Marin Bikes. One of their many accomplishments is that they were the first to mass-produce titanium mountain bikes.
The prices vary for Marin Bikes starting at several hundred dollars and rising to several thousand. Marin offers mountain bikes, road bikes, electric bikes, commuter bikes, comfort bikes, and designs that are specific for children and women. www.marinbikes.com
In 1988 Kona Bikes was founded by Dan Gerhard and Jacob Heilborn. The bike brand is still owned and ran by these two from their headquarters in Ferndale, Washington. Kona Bikes began by partnering with Joe Murray (mountain bike hall of fame rider) to create a unique and custom steel hard tail.
Kona continues to manufacture a range of mountain bikes, but has also branched into road, commuter, and cyclocross bikes. Kona bikes are sold in at least 60 countries across the globe.
Kona as a brand has worked hard to push the industry forward, but also worked hard to serve and help others. They started a non-profit organization called Kona Basic Needs which focuses on raising money to donate bikes to healthcare workers, schools, water monitoring officers, and good-will organizations throughout Africa. www.konaworld.com
5. Santa Cruz
When you think of high-end, top of the line mountain bikes you should be thinking of Santa Cruz Bicycles. This bike brand manufactures some of the best mountain bikes on the market. With dozens of models made of carbon fiber and aluminum, you can expect prices to go from $1200 to $10,000.
The brand was created in 1993 by Rob Roskopp, Mike Marquez and Rich Novak. In 1994 they created their first mountain bike which they named the “Tazmon.” It was the first mountain bike with a single pivot design (a simple form of rear suspension). Their frames are made in China or Taiwan, but every bicycle is assembled in Santa Cruz, California before shipping out.
In 2015 the Santa Cruz bicycle brand was sold to Pon Holdings, a conglomerate that includes other bicycle brands such as Focus, Cervélo, and Royal Dutch Gazelle. www.santacruzbicycles.com
The bicycle brand Colnago considers itself the creator of the “the most successful bikes in the world.” While this is debatable – they have sponsored at least one professional team every year since 1974 with many of the riders winning races on Colnago bikes. You can’t deny that many professionals have made it to the podium riding a Colnago.
The high-end bike brand came into existence when Ernesto Colnago decided to not go into the family farming business in 1954. Instead he chose to become a bike builder and race professionally. After a nasty crash he abandoned the racing career to focus solely on creating bikes. It was a good move career wise as the company went on to become a huge success. www.colnago.com
Scott is a Swiss producer of sportswear, winter equipment, motorsports gear, and is producer of bicycles. The company’s founder Ed Scott began the company when he engineered an aluminum ski pole that worked better than previous bamboo and steel models. The company would go on to create and innovate in the winter sports, motor sports, and bicycle industry.
One significant innovation that they introduced to cycling is the clip-on aerodynamic handlebar. Greg LeMond used this handlebar in his winning 1989 Tour De France ride and quickly after the handlebar joined the mass market. Scott continues to make lightweight bikes that are ideal for going fast. Starting in 2017 they also introduced a stylish e-bike to their product line. www.scott-sports.com
Cicli Pinarello S.p.A. is an Italian bicycle company in Treviso, Italy. The company was founded in 1952 by Giovanni Pinarello who learned how to make bicycles in his father’s factory at the age of 17. Pinarello initially was a professional racer, but became a bike builder after not being able to ride for his team at the Giro d’ Italia. His team compensated him 100,000 pounds even though he didn’t ride, and this compensation was used as seed money for the bike building company.
Orginally Pinarello bikes were made of steel. In the 1990s, the company produced frames not only with steel, but carbon fiber as well. Some of Pinarello’s most celebrated bike models are the Pinarello Bolid, Pinarello Dogma, Pinarello FV1, Pinarello Siblio, Pinarello FP, Pinarello Paris, Pinarello Treviso and the Pinarello Montello SLX.
The Pinarello Bicycle Brand has been sponsoring professional teams since 1960. These teams include British Cycling, British UCI Continental team Velosure-Giordana Racing Team, Movistar Team, Fassa Bortolo, Caisse d’Epargne, Team Telekom, Banesto, and Team Sky. www.pinarello.com
Dahon is an interesting company to have on this list of bike brands, but they’re deserving. Dahon is the world’s largest manufacturer of folding bicycles. Two brothers, David and Henry Hon, started the company in 1982 after failing to persuade established bike companies to take on their invention. Knowing they had a great idea they went on to raise money and began Dahon bikes.
Most of the Dahon bikes are a single-hinge frame design that allows the handlebars to fold down and the frame hinge swings left. This allows the handlebars to be tucked inside. Dahon produces folding bikes with a variety of gearing. Bikes that have derailleurs, hub gears, both, or neither.
One of the company’s best selling bikes is the Boardwalk, an entry-level, steel-frame commuter bike (see on Amazon).
Cervélo Cycles is a Canadian manufacturer of racing and track bicycles. The name Cervélo is a blend of the Italian word for brain (cervello) and the french word for bike (vélo). This racing bike manufacturer started in 1995 by two engineers. Their goal was to develop faster time-trial bikes, and they succeeded. Cervélo is the world’s largest manufacturer of time trial and triathlon bikes. They currently make 5 different series of bikes. The 5 series of bikes are the classic road, endurance road, aero road, time trial/triathlon, and track series. All of which are made of incredibly light carbon. www.cervelo.com
The Fuji bike brand took the name and logo from Mount Fuji. The Japanese symbol portrays strength and endurance. One of the bicycles I personally own is a Fuji SL, and it’s a strong bike that can go the distance. I’ve ridden it on countless rides with its longest being a tour from from Central California to Mexico. Trust me – it can endure whatever you throw at it.
Initially the company was called the Nichibei Fuji Cycle Company, Ltd and was established in 1899. Fuji Bikes are now owned by the privately held corporation Advanced Sports International. www.fujibikes.com
Merida manufactures road bikes, mountain bikes, urban bikes, e-bikes, and bicycles for children. It’s a Taiwanese company that was founded by Ike Tseng in 1972. When Tseng passed away in 2012, his son Michael took the helm as the company’s president.
Merida makes and sells bicycles all over the world. The company is publicly traded in the Taiwanese stock exchange, and as of 2012 was valued at approximately £350 million. This made it one of Taiwan’s largest companies. Who knew that a bike company could be that successful? www.merida-bikes.com
13. GT Bike
GT Bicycles is part of Dorel Industries which is the Canadian conglomerate that also owns Cannondale, Schwinn, Road Master, Mongoose, and other bicycle brands. GT is known for their road, mountain, and BMX bicycles. The company originated in 1979 with Gary Turner and Richard Long from Santa Ana, California. The company is acknowledged as helping bring attention to BMX bikes. GT is also known for their “triple triangle” hard-tail frame design. The seat stay parallels the downtube and is attached to the top tube forward of the seat tube.
The company won a commission of $30,000 to build a 16lb. carbon fiber “superbike” for the Olympic Summer games of 1996. GT supports a variety of race teams and professional riders. www.gtbicycles.com
Diamondback Bicycles produce mid-range bicycles, but also a few higher tier bikes. It was initially a BMX brand that was founded in 1977, but over time expanded to mountain bikes. www.diamondback.com
Roman Arnold and Franc Arnold are two brothers who founded “Radsport Arnold” in 1985 to become a supplier of bicycle parts. In 1996 they began selling bikes with the ‘Canyon’ name on them. Early on the company took a direct sales strategy through the internet rather than go the traditional bike shop selling method. Starting in 2001 they began to focus more on manufacturing bicycles rather than only be a parts supplier. During this transition they changed their name to Canyon Bicycles and hired expert frame builders. Since than the company has gone on to create top of the line mountain, road, track, urban, and triathlon bikes.
In 2019, the world champion Alejandro Valverde will be riding a unique Canyon Ultimate CF SLX with a colorful paint job to match his rainbow striped jersey. www.canyon.com
SOMA is a company that aims to make frames for the everyday cyclist. This doesn’t mean cheap or common, but unique bicycles for the everyday commuter. As a website that’s dedicated to helping more people commute by bike – we are fans of companies like SOMA doing their part. Their base is in San Francisco. www.somafab.com
17. PUBLIC Bikes
PUBLIC is another bicycle brand that is focused on making bikes to ride in the everyday parts of your life. They were founded by Rob Forbes in 2010 after he was inspired by the bicycling culture of Amsterdam. Cycling in Europe didn’t require special clothing or fancy gear. It was simple enough that anyone could do it. With this in mind, PUBLIC bikes are designed to be stylish and functional. The company ships bicycles that are 99% assembled and ready to ride. www.publicbikes.com
18. Cannondale Bikes
Cannondale as a company began in 1971 in a loft above a pickle factory. The company was led by Joe Montgomery and Murdock MacGregor who were initially manufacturing concrete housing and other non-bike related projects such as microfilm reproduction. It wasn’t until they created a wildly successful bicycle trailer (the Bugger) that they dived headfirst into the cycling industry. Their reputation grew when they introduced their first bicycle in 1983. Since then, they’ve continued to produce a variety of high-end bicycles. Cannondale bikes are no longer made in the United States. www.cannondale.com
Surly bicycles as a company was founded in 1998 in Minnesota. They specialize in steel bikes. They’re adamant about steel, and so you won’t find any aluminum or carbon Surly bikes. They build heavy duty bicycles that are meant to be durable and last forever. One of their more unique bicycles is the “Big Dummy” and “The Big Fat Dummy” which are cargo bikes capable of carrying 200 lbs of gear in addition to a 200 lb rider. These bikes are excellent for commuting around town while carrying children, groceries, or any other heavy object. https://surlybikes.com
20. Specialized Bike
Mike Sinyard is the founder of Specialized Bicycles. As an avid cyclist he sold his Volkswagen bus for $1500 so that he could go on a cycling tour in Europe. Initially the company was only focused on creating their own bicycle parts, but in 1981 they released their own bicycle line. Specialized presently manufactures high-tech bicycles that can perform amazingly on mountain or city roads. They also offer great entry-level bikes that are light, yet uniquely strong. In 2001, Merida bought 49% of Specialized. www.specialized.com
The first Jamis bicycle was the ‘Earth Cruiser’ beach cruiser in 1979. At the company’s start they focused on making comfortable bicycles for people to pedal leisurely on. It wasn’t until the 80’s that the brand branched out to mountain and road bikes. Jamis has won multiple awards for creating affordable bikes that aren’t flimsy or trash. They’re known for making high-quality bikes that won’t break the bank. www.jamisbikes.com
Trek bicycles are marketed all over the world with over 1,700 dealers across North America. Most of their bikes are manufactured outside the U.S., in the Netherlands, China, and Germany. Trek makes tough bikes with proper design and strong frames. They offer multiple models of bikes perfect for road biking, urban riding, and mountain biking. As a major brand, they’ve historically innovated and pushed the bicycling industry forward and will continue to do so. www.trekbikes.com
Giant is the king of bicycle manufacturing. This Taiwanese brand is truly the world’s large bike manufacturer bringing a revenue of $1.9 billion in 2017 selling 6.6 million bicycles. That’s a lot of bicycles! It all began in 1977 when Giant’s chief executive crafted a deal with Schwinn to begin manufacturing bikes. From this start they slowly began to sell more and more bikes. Nowadays, you’d be hard pressed to find a cyclist who has never heard of the brand.
Due to the size of the company, Giant bicycles make practically every kind of bike you can imagine. They have bikes for men, women, and children. Doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a cyclocross bike, a bike for the urban streets, a BMX bike, or a top of the line road bike. They cover every type of bicycle, and sell bikes worldwide. www.giant-bicycles.com
According to Felt, since their origin in 1991 they have desired to be “the most innovative cycling company on the planet.” They produce road, track, cyclocross, mountain, electric bicycles, and cruiser bikes. While their bikes are designed in the United States the majority of their production is done in Asia. Felt has a reputation in the time trial and triathlon bike scene as they work hard to make bikes that excel in these fields. They’ve also provided bikes for various teams in the Tour De France. https://feltbicycles.com/
As you can see there are many bike brands, but Salsa is one of the few that aims to bring adventure to cycling. You can see this in the company as they were one of the first to manufacture a fully carbon fat bike. What I wouldn’t give to take that bike out for an adventure through the mountains! Salsa works with aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber, and chromoly steel. They’ve been making touring bikes, fat tire bikes, backpacking bikes, and gravel grinders since 1982. https://salsacycles.com/
Focus was founded in 1993 by Mike Kluge – the cyclocross world champion. He won with a Focus bicycle and decided to partner with Derby Cycle of German to begin producing bicycles. While historically Salsa has manufactured primarily mountain and road bikes, in more recent years they’ve developed multiple e-bikes. Not only everyday commuter e-bikes, but mountain and road electric bicycles too. www.focus-bikes.com
Ritchey is truly one of the best bike brands. For over 40 years, Tom Ritchey has lead and designed innovative bicycles and cycling components. The brand has pushed the cycling world forward with innovations in bike geometry, forks, handlebars, tire tread, tension systems for pedals, and more. The price for a Ritchey bike isn’t cheap, but you can expect every dollar to be worth it. Ritchey specializes in mountain bikes, cross bikes, and road bikes including accessories. ritcheylogic.com
Raleigh as a bicycle brand is one of the oldest bike companies in the world. It was founded in 1885 by Woodhead and Angois, but was later acquired by another man who renamed the company to “The Raleigh Cycle Company.” In 1913 it was the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world. During this time they also produced motorcycles and three-wheeled vehicles. Currently, Raleigh is owned by the Dutch corporation Accell.
Raleigh manufactures a diverse line up of bicycles. Many of their bikes are good entry-level bikes for road, mountain, and commuting. They do offer higher-tier bikes too, and have sponsored professional teams throughout the decades. www.raleighusa.com
BMC is a premium Swiss bike brand that makes high quality bicycles. You can expect only the best road bikes, mountain bikes, and commuter bikes from this brand. To get an idea of their philosophy on bike creation – they built a carbon producing facility in Switzerland so that they could produce the “Porsche of race bikes.” This bicycle brand has gone on to win numerous awards for their design, while also seeing professional riders win the top competitions on their bicycles. www.bmc-switzerland.com
30. Eddy Merckx
Eddy Merckx is a former professional road and track bicycle racer who is the most successful rider in the history of cycling. Upon retiring he started Eddy Merckx Cycles. Initially the company had financial setbacks and nearly went bankrupt, but slowly bounced back. Throughout the years Merckx has given insight and input into the bike designs even after resigning as CEO. These well made bicycles were used throughout the 80’s and 90’s by professional riders. Eddie Merckx bikes will be used in the 2019 Tour De France competition as well. www.eddymerckx.com
The genius behind the Brompton folding bicycle is a man named Andrew Ritchie. He began designing the folding bicycle in his flat that overlooked the Brompton Oratory in London. In 1977, the first designs became reality. Ritchie had created a true folding bike with an innovative (at the time) design that pushed folding bikes forward. Production started in 1981 and has continued ever since. In 2013, Brompton was the largest volume bicycle manufacturer in all of Britain. It was approximated that they produced 40,000 bicycles every year.
Brompton bikes are a leading brand creating well designed folding bikes. Their goal is to see more people riding their bikes than ever before. Their folding bike allows people to commute to bike while making the bike portable when needed. The bicycles are easily carried once folded allowing commuters to bring them onto trains, buses, and cars. In addition, they’re less likely to be stolen because they can be easily stored in an office when not in use. www.brompton.com
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