Bicycles are used all over the world and are, in fact, the most common mode of transportation. Indeed, if you are a homeowner who lives anywhere in Europe or North America, chances are a working bicycle exists in your garage and is being used by someone in your household. Bicycle riding is also increasing in popularity these days, in no small part because more and more people are becoming more cognizant about the benefits bicycle riding has to their health and environment.
Because bicycles are so popular and will continue to be popular for generations to come, the number of bicycle manufacturers has exponentially increased in recent years, so very few buyers put the stock on brands they’re buying into. Of course, we think this is a mistake since some bicycle makers are better than others. Some manufacturers are so good at making bicycles because of the decades of experience they have in the industry that their products are simply unmatched in terms of quality, reliability, and design.
We’ve owned many bikes, and indeed we are bicycle fanatics through and through. And one advice we can give to the budding enthusiast who’s looking to purchase a bicycle is that granted a budget has already been established, the bikes’ brand should matter. It should sway one’s buying decision one way or the other. It is just a fact—confirmed by our years of experience—that some brands are better and more reliable than others. And one way to acquire some degree of certainty about a particular bike’s reliability is by looking at its brand. What is the history of the brand? Do they have a track record of producing superior bicycles? What do their consumers say?
So, if you’re looking to purchase a bicycle, then at least take a gander at the list below, where we’ve rounded up (in no particular order) what, in our opinion, are the best bicycle brands on the market today.
1. Giant Bicycle
Giant Bicycle is widely considered to be the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer, and they’ve been around since 1972, which means they have a lot of experience in making bicycles. Indeed, Giant Bicycle is such a big company that they have manufacturing facilities worldwide, including in Taiwan (where the company started), in China and the Netherlands. In 2014, the company was reported to have established 12,000 retail facilities in 50 countries all over the world. When we said Giant Bicycle is a big company, we were not kidding. They are so big that they even sponsor cycling teams and individual cycling athletes.
When it comes to professional bicycling, Giant is among the most preferred brands in the world. Giant also manufactures bicycles for all categories, from mountain bikes to road bikes and in different price ranges.
2. Trek Bicycle
The Trek Bicycle Corporation, a USA-based company, established in 1975, is another huge manufacturer of bicycles and bicycle equipment. They have more than a few brand names under the Trek Bicycle corporation umbrella, including Electra Bicycle Company, Diamant Bikes, Bontrager, and a lot more else. Trek bikes are known for their quality and craftsmanship, and it was reportedly the 850 mountain bike that they released in 1983 that got the brand the bona fides that it is still enjoying today.
They are a major brand that manufacturers bicycles in all categories but are best known for their mountain bikes and hybrid bikes. Some models get a lot of praise from industry experts and are very popular among avid consumers.
Just to give you some scale of how big a brand Trek Bicycle is, it’s been reported that in 2014, Trek was manufacturing 25,000 bikes on average each year, which equals approximately half of all bikes produced in America.
Established in 1958, in Sun Valley Idaho, the Scott brand started as a maker of aluminum ski poles. It eventually branched out to manufacturing other sporting products, including bicycles. Currently, Scott is now a big bicycle manufacturer but is better known for its exceptional mountain bike line. Indeed, the Scott brand introduced a popular innovation to the bicycle manufacturing industry in 1989: the aerodynamic handlebar design.
Today, Scott is a brand that is trusted by professional triathletes the world over because of the quality and reliability of their bicycles.
Since Kona is a brand that emerged in 1988, it can be considered a new arrival to the bicycle manufacturing industry. However, the Kona brand was able to take the industry by storm with the introduction of the first straight leg mountain bike production fork. Today, they have around 10 different variations of that original fork design and produce bicycles that run the gamut, from mountain bikes to road bikes and hybrids.
Specialized is a bicycle manufacturing company based in California that was founded in 1974. They started as a company that imported Italian bike parts, eventually evolved into one that manufactured their own.
In 1981, Specialized made the first Stumpjumper model of a mountain bike, which holds the distinction of being the first mass-produced mountain bike in the history of mountain bikes. This accomplishment was significant in the bicycle industry because it was a move that introduced mountain biking to a wider audience.
Today, Specialized makes bicycles in all categories and all price ranges, but the brand is particularly known for its superior mountain bike and road racing bike lines.
Cannondale is another top bicycle brand that is known to many bicycle enthusiasts the world over. The company dates back to the 1970s, and they first started as a maker of bike accessories and apparel. By the 1980s, Cannondale had already been able to branch out into making bicycles.
Cannondale remained a trendy bicycle brand during the interim. They were still able to increase their popularity even further by having the Saeco cycling team ride their large-tubed aluminum-framed bikes at Tour de France in 1997.
By the early 2000s, Cannondale released carbon fiber bikes that were leaving the competition in the dust, which further cemented their status as one of the premier bicycle manufacturers in the world. Today, Cannondale makes all kinds of bikes, and for all categories, but are generally priced as premium bicycles, and for a good reason.
Mongoose is another well-loved bicycle brand. It was founded in 1974, and the number of innovative bicycle designs they’ve released throughout their history has worked well to make them one of the most recognizable bicycle brands.
They started as a BMX bike maker, but have branched out into making bikes for other categories. Indeed, Mongoose makes mountain bikes that are highly rated among MTB users the world over. Although Mongoose makes different kinds of bikes, and at different price ranges, they are still more popularly known for their quality BMX bikes, which are known to be sturdy, reliable, and incorporate different innovative designs.
Schwinn, without a doubt, is one of the oldest bicycle manufacturers in the world. They’ve been around since 1895, after all, and have introduced so many innovations to the bicycle industry that naming each of them will require its own article. The Schwinn bicycle company also has a very storied and interesting past. It went through numerous different owners and even went bankrupt in 1992. Of course, they are still up and running now, producing bicycles in all categories and all price ranges. Indeed, the name Schwinn has, within the bicycle industry, largely become associated with bikes that are both affordable and reliable.
Fuji, another old bicycle manufacturer, was founded way back in 1899 in Japan. As you might have already guessed, the name Fuji was taken from Mt. Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan, located on the island of Honshū.
In the 1980s, Fuji developed a line of touring bicycles that became popular because of their unique designs and innovations. In 1986, Fuji got the distinction of being the first bicycle manufacturer to develop a titanium frame.
Today, Fuji is known for its high-performance bicycles and their consumer bicycles in different categories. Without a doubt, the brand is trendy among bike enthusiasts because of their products’ quality and craftsmanship.
Speaking about old bicycle manufacturers allows us to introduce you to the bicycle manufacturer that holds the distinction for being the oldest. Founded in Milan, Italy, Bianchi is a bicycle manufacturer that has been around for over 125 years. It is also a bicycle manufacturer that’s been able to introduce a slew of innovations throughout its history that have effectively changed the landscape of bicycle design.
If you want to know just how incredible the pedigree of this company is, consider for a moment that it was the company that introduced the first BMX bike and the first mountain bike to the world. Indeed, if this company did not exist, we’d probably be seeing a wholly different bicycle design landscape. Even the front-brake was a Bianchi first.
Today, Bianchi is, like other manufacturers, a producer of bicycles that run the gamut. From mountain bikes to road bikes and hybrids, Bianchi produces them all in different price ranges, ranging from the affordable to the expensive.
Salsa is a bicycle manufacturing company that was founded in 1982. And from then to now, they were able to make themselves one of the world’s premier mountain bike manufacturers.
Initially, the company focused on manufacturing mountain bikes alone but eventually branched out other bicycle types, including road bikes, hybrids, and even fat bikes. Not only that, but they’ve also branched out to making bicycle accessories, like helmets, pedals, and the like.
One of Salsa’s contributions to the bicycle industry is the Salsa Beargrease, the first carbon-framed fat tire bike.
Diamondback, a company founded in 1977, is one of North America’s biggest bicycle manufacturers. The company originally focused on BMX bikes but eventually branched out to manufacturing bikes of all kinds.
Diamondback releases new models every year and primarily markets them online. One thing we can say about Diamondback as a bicycle making company is that they have consistently come out with good quality bicycles that many people rate highly. So, yeah, they must be doing something right.
13. Pure Cycles
Pure Cycles is a newcomer to the bicycle manufacturing industry, having been founded just last 2010. Legend has it that the founders dreamt up the brand in their dorm room after surveying people on campus by asking them the reason they weren’t riding bicycles. It turned out that for many, bikes were too expensive. This pushed the three founders of Pure Cycles to get to work on their bicycle company.
Of course, it didn’t take long for their bicycles to become a hit among the students on their campus and, later, across the country. The company has grown since then and now makes different kinds of bicycles that run the spectrum.
Amazingly, Pure Cycles now dominates the US market, selling over 25,000 bicycles annually. They are very affordable bicycles, but they are also known for their great quality.
In 1986, when off-road bicycle riding became a thing in Northern California, a man named Bob Buckley decided to cash in by creating the Marin Bicycle Company. It would only be two years later that the Marin Bicycle Company would establish itself as a leader in mountain bike manufacturing.
By the 90s, Marin was already producing a large number of bikes, some of which incorporated unique innovations. One of these innovations was the Manitou suspension fork.
Marin is, to be honest, a pretty underrated brand in that it’s not as well-known as other brands despite that it makes great quality bicycles that rival the best. This might be because they insist on remaining authentic to the Northern California culture from which the brand emerged, but whatever. They make great bicycles, and any bicycle you get from them will be assuredly something of great quality,
A company based in California, Firmstrong, is known for its well-designed quality cruisers. Indeed, their bikes are beautiful to look at, which is why they are so popular. And the good things about their bikes don’t only run skin-deep. Firmstrong bikes are also known to have exceptional quality, all at an affordable package.
One reason that makes them able to keep the prices of their bicycles down is that they sell their bikes directly to their consumer base. This method of marketing is actually part of their overall philosophy, and many say it’s also what sets them apart as a bicycle company.
The Tommaso Bicycle company, which started in 1988, specializes in road bikes. They are a very popular bicycle brand, known for their exceptional quality and affordable prices. The factory where each bicycle is assembled is located in Denver, Colorado.
One thing noteworthy about Tommaso bicycles is that they are almost ready to use out of the box. Indeed, Tommaso users will confirm that it takes only 10 minutes to set up a Tommaso bike once pulled out of the box.
Fortified is another newcomer to the bicycle manufacturing industry, but it’s been making strides in the market and a brand known for its extremely well-made bicycles. The company was founded just a few years ago, in 2016, and they are particularly focused on manufacturing road and commuter bicycles.
Unfortunately, Fortified doesn’t make mountain bikes, time-trial bikes or the like, because it is mainly focused on making bikes for the average commuter.
Sixthreezero is a bike manufacturing company that was founded in 2005 by a bunch of friends who wanted to shake the industry up. They are mainly focused on beach cruisers, and their designs are unique and eye-catching. They’ve branched out to selling cruiser-like e-bikes, too.
One thing unique about this company—and is testament to the quality with which they make their bikes—is that they allow prospective buyers to test-ride a bike for a full year. You heard that right; a new buyer can test ride a bike for a year and return it if not completely satisfied. It’s not an entirely free test-ride, however, since one will have to purchase the bike. But Sixthreezero claims that it will accept any bike returned before a year, which presumably means the payment will be returned, too.
19. Critical Cycles
Critical Cycles was founded in 2009, and are known for their quality fixed-gear bicycles. Indeed, when the company started, it focused mainly on fixies. They’ve eventually branched out to making other bicycle types, but their fixed-gear bikes are really what we recommend since they are of excellent quality and are simply fun to ride.
One thing notable about Critical Cycles as a bike company is that their buyers get a warranty on the bike’s frame for life.
20. Santa Cruz
They named the company Santa Cruz because the first bike they made was in—you guessed it—Santa Cruz, California. It’s a company that was founded in 1993, and the founders are huge advocates of green energy, which is why their bikes are typically made from carbon fiber and aluminum.
It’s also a brand that has introduced more than a few innovations to the bicycle industry, including the use of what they call single-pivot technology to create the 80mm travel mountain bike.
Their bikes are a little pricier than other brands, but the quality and reliability each of their bikes come with more than offset that fact.