Typology systems are frequently used in applied and fundamental ecology and are relevant for environmental monitoring and conservation. They aggregate ecosystems into discrete types based on biotic and abiotic variables, assuming that ecosystems of the same type are more alike than ecosystems of different types with regard to a specific property of interest. We evaluated whether this assumption is met by the Broad River Types (BRT), a recently proposed European river typology system, that classifies river segments based on abiotic variables, when it is used to group biological communities. We compiled data on the community composition of diatoms, fishes, and aquatic macrophytes throughout Europe and evaluated whether the composition is more similar in site groups with the same river type than in site groups of different river types using analysis of similarities, classification strength, typical species analysis, and the area under zeta diversity decline curves. We compared the performance of the BRT with those of four region-based typology systems, namely, Illies Freshwater Ecoregions, the Biogeographic Regions, the Freshwater Ecoregions of the World, and the Environmental Zones, as well as spatial autocorrelation (SA) classifications. All typology systems received low scores from most evaluation methods, relative to predefined thresholds and the SA classifications. The BRT often scored lowest of all typology systems. Within each typology system, community composition overlapped considerably between site groups defined by the types of the systems. The overlap tended to be the lowest for fishes and between Illies Freshwater Ecoregions. In conclusion, we found that existing broad-scale river typology systems fail to delineate site groups with distinct and compositionally homogeneous communities of diatoms, fishes, and macrophytes. A way to improve the fit between typology systems and biological communities might be to combine segment-based and region-based typology systems to simultaneously account for local environmental variation and historical distribution patterns, thus potentially improving the utility of broad-scale typology systems for freshwater biota.