Utility bicycles are commonly single-speed, three-speed, or five-speed machines, although automatic gear transmissions have also begun to appear on some models. This category also includes some children’s bicycles. A utility bicycle commonly weighs more than 14 kg (30 lb); has a long frame with large rakes, or bends, in the front fork (two-pronged extension of the frame that attaches to the hub of the front wheel) for a soft ride; internal gearing, if any; upright or flat handlebars; and durable, wide tires.
Utility bikes may also have a chain guard to keep legs and pants from catching in the chain and coaster brakes that engage by rotating the pedals backward. The saddles are often wide, have coiled springs, and are made of padded vinyl. Utility bicycles are generally inexpensive, are comfortable to ride for short distances, and require relatively little maintenance. They are commonly used as rental bicycles (especially at resorts where people may ride on the beach) and as transportation in developing countries throughout the world. In the first half of the 20th century, utility bicycles were found to be useful in warfare because they could go most places a horse could but required less maintenance and no food.