Wondering what is a hybrid bike?
Like all great inventions created by minds that needed practical solutions to their everyday life problems, hybrid bikes were created to make cyclist´s lifes easier and more comfortable. But in what way and what exactly is a hybrid bike?
Today, if you go to a bike shop and you ask for a hybrid bike, they will probably show you ten or more different versions, so you may end up even more confused.
So, how can you choose the right hybrid bike? It depends on various factors, but one of the main factors is how you intend to use the bike.
For example, do you want to use it for commuting to and from work, go out for leisure rides or take the bike on light bike trails?
What Is A Hybrid Bike?
Hybrid bikes are a mix of features from a mountain and a road bike. But all hybrid bikes are not created equal, some bikes are closer to mountain bikes and others might be more like regular road bikes.
When you see a hybrid bike, wider tires with deep treads are quite common.
Flat handlebars are also usually provided as well as cushioned seats, making these bicycles very versatile.
Of course, you can take a hybrid bike on terrains where you may be hesitant to use a road bike. These terrains include forest roads, mountain paths, and light trails.
In most cases, these bikes have mounts on the frame for fenders and carry racks as well as mounts to carry a water bottle.
Additionally, you will find a wide choice of gears and maybe a suspension on some high-end models.
Hybrid Bike Features
In order to make your choice easier, here is a simple guide detailing the most notable features of hybrid bikes. It will help you determine which bike has all the required features according to your needs.
Let’s take a closer look at which characteristics to look for in the best hybrid bikes.
Wheels and Tyres
Nearly all hybrid bikes come with the same rim size commonly known as 700C.
Most of these bikes have wider tires usually in the range of 28mm or more in some cases. The tires have chunky tread on them for better grip on dirt tracks.
One option is to look for tires that are puncture resistant, which can save you from a lot of hassle on the road.
Hybrid bikes come with either rim brakes or disk brakes.
The rim brakes come with pads which apply pressure and grip the rims when you brake.
This system is economical, efficient and easy to repair simply by replacing the worn out pads.
The downside is that after a long period of use, it can wear out the rim which you may need to replace. It may also be less effective in wet and muddy terrains.
The disk brakes work by gripping onto a motor which is mounted to the hub of the wheel.
This system offers better braking power on all types of steep as well as wet terrains. It is also a lot cheaper to repair if you compare it to changing the wheel when you have rim brakes.
The disadvantage is that they are more complicated to repair and expensive to service.
Some bikes may include the front suspension fork which will absorb bumps on the rougher roads.
Nevertheless, you must bear in mind that the suspension fork adds weight to the bike and may make the pedaling more difficult.
Of course, many hybrid bicycles do not come with a fitted suspension. If you intend ridding on paved paths or smooth roads, you don’t really need a suspension.
Remember that if you want a bike with a suspension fork, you must make sure it comes fitted with the bike. The reason is that it is not possible to fit it after you have bought the bike.
Hybrid bikes have a wide range of gears. It could be anything from a single speed to 27 or even more.
The requirement of gears mainly depends on the level of fitness and the kind of terrain you will be riding on.
If you live in a hilly area or plan to ride on steep terrains, then you should opt for more gears.
Remember that fewer gears will keep your bike lightweight and easier to maneuver.
The vast majority of hybrid bikes are manufactured from aluminum. However, you can also find bikes made with steel and carbon.
All of these materials have their advantages and disadvantages and you should decide on what your priorities are.
- Aluminum is very light and strong. It is also available at an affordable price.
- Steel is much heavier compared to aluminum but it is also stronger and offers a smooth ride.
- Carbon fiber is the lightest and even stronger than steel. But it tends to be much higher priced and is only available on some high-end bikes.
Normally, in order to have a comfortable ride, the seat should be a little below the handlebar.
On the other hand, the seats which are higher than the handlebars allow the rider to be in a more aerodynamic position and able to apply much more power to the pedals.
Here are the two most common styles of handlebars on hybrid bikes:
- Flat bar: These are the most common handlebars on hybrids. They allow the rider to sit in a relaxed sitting position. The upright stance also reduces the strain on the back, shoulders and hands.
- Riser bar: Also commonly found on hybrid bikes, riser bar extends slightly upwards and leans towards the rider.
This gives even more upright position for better vision and control on the road.
Some hybrid bikes come fitted with rear racks to carry your bag or shopping. If the bike doesn’t have the rack, the manufacturers usually leave a provision for you to mount one.
Fenders are very important to block the road debris from splashing on to you. A lot of bikes come fitted with fenders or you can buy them separately. You just need to make sure that the bike has the facility to fit these.
Ready To Ride A Hybrid Bike?
Now that you know what is a hybrid bike, whichever bike you select, you must also make sure that it is the correct size for you. Hybrid bikes are usually sold in several frame sizes.