For many people, riding bikes has become a way of life and over the years we’ve seen the introduction of many different types. Depending on the type of riding you do, specific bicycles are best-suited to give you the experience you’re looking for. Some bikes are best suited for off-road riding, others offer more of a comfortable ride best for those looking for a daily commuter, and of course there are many more.
Hybrid bikes on the other hand offer the best of all worlds as they take the best features of each type and combine them into one cycle to offer a great balance. This one size fit all approach combine elements of road, mountain, sport and touring bicycles which provide a great deal of versatility.
Hybrids offer the same design with flatter handlebars and seat the rider in more of an upright position. Depending on the type, you may see fatter tires which are best-suited for various terrain or lighter frames best-suited for city commuting. Some models also feature eyelets which are frame mounting points used to attach add-ons like a child seat, basket, rear rack, fenders and other options.
Below, we break down all you need to know about hybrid bikes along with other information to help you with your buying decision.
Types of Hybrid Bikes
Although hybrid bikes feature resemblances of many different types, they’re primarily more like a mountain or commuter. Both offer you the ability to ride both on and off-road, but depending on the varying type they may be slightly better for one type of terrain over the other.
Mountain hybrid bikes typically boast wider, fatter tires better adapt for off-road riding. The larger tires offer more comfort over terrain while some offer even better comfort with a front suspension. These bikes are popular with trails and riding on dirt roads or paths.
Commuter hybrid bikes have smaller tires and are usually lighter in weight. These tend to be more portable or even foldable and are better suited for longer rides, or even daily commutes.
Hybrid Bike Drivetrain
A drivetrain are all the integral parts together which offers propulsion and starts with the rider emitting force on the pedals and ends with the force being propelled through to the wheels. This is what ultimately causes the bike to move, but to get there, there are numerous parts in between which depend on which type of drivetrain your hybrid has.
There are three traditional drivetrains seen in bicycles which are better explained below.
A derailleur gear system is seen in most hybrid bikes which consist of numerous cogs at the rear wheel, cranks, and pedals. A crankset are the latter two cranks and is linked to the first set of cogs at the rear wheel by the chain. This by far is the most common in hybrids and other types of bikes.
Belt drives offer similar concept seen in belt drive transmissions seen in cars. This type of hybrid bike doesn’t have a chain, but instead, has a toothed belt that doesn’t require to be lubricated or tightened. This ultimately means less routine maintenance and tends to be more expensive than derailleur drivetrain hybrids.
Bikes with hub gears are better protected then and tend to be more expensive. Instead of cogs which are completely exposed, the gears are enclosed in the hub of the rear wheel keeping them free of dirt and grime.
Hybrid Bike Features
There are numerous hybrid bike features which allow you to get the ride you want. Some features allow more customization then others giving you the ability to add on later. Some features to consider before making your purchase include wheel size, gears, brakes, suspension, fenders and much more which are better addressed below.
Just like anything, the frame provides the foundation of the bike and have a lot to do with weight, comfort, durability and strength. The three most common bike frames are aluminum, carbon fiber, and steel with each having pros and cons over the others:
Inexpensive, lightweight, durable
Poor shock absorption
Stronger than steel and lighter than aluminum
Strong, more flexible offering a more comfortable, smoother ride
Understanding gears on a bicycle is probably the most confusing part. The amount of gears can range from 1 – 27 and this doesn’t take into consideration the many different combinations due to the amount of chainrings, teeth, and cogs.
When buying a hybrid bike, the most important thing to remember when looking at the gears is understanding where the bulk of your riding will take place. For off-road riding you’ll need more gears which provide variable adjustments depending on the type of terrain, fitness level and amount of force you’re looking to pedal against.
For those who are avid cyclists or look to spend the bulk of your time riding on level ground, you won’t need as many gears.
Most hybrid bicycles don’t have a suspension. Just like a car, suspensions provide more comfort and provide better shock absorption when riding over different terrain, bumps, and are highly recommended for off-road riding. For bikes that have a suspension, it’s located off the front wheel and provides a smoother ride.
For those who intend on riding on city streets, a suspension is typically not needed which is why most they’re not standard on most bikes.
The size of any bike is addressed by the size of the wheels. In hybrids, the standard size is 700c which are slightly larger than 26-inch wheels.
Hybrid Bike Accessories and Options
There are numerous accessories and options which may either be standard or can be added on later. If you’re considering adding on any of the following, look for eyelets which allow you to easily affix without having to drill any holes straight into the frame.
Some of the most common hybrid bike accessories are a front basket, rear rack and fenders which are addressed below.
Baskets offer a vintage look that offers a visual appeal while providing a small stowaway for your phone and other smaller items. Don’t plan on loading up the basket with groceries as their quite small and most would say its more decorative than practical.
Fenders allow you to customize the look of the bike while also providing a barrier between you and whatever sprays from the tires, especially when the roads are wet. If you’re looking for a commuter, this will be an essential which will help keep grime and dirt from getting on you and your clothes. Fenders do add weight which will slow you down and make the bike less portable which is something to consider when riding on sunny days.
Racks come in handy and never seem to be there when you need them the most. They can easily be attached through frame eyelets if your hybrid doesn’t come include with one and have become highly popular with urban riders. Racks come in handy with trips to the grocery store and can be extended with panier bags which provide an enclosure.
Price of Hybrid Bikes
The versatility of hybrid bikes makes them quite affordable. This is especially the case when you consider they offer qualities of more then one type of bicycle and saves you the money of having to buy a road and mountain to get the ride quality of both in one.
The average price of hybrid bikes come in around $200 - $300 for good quality rides. Some higher end models can top over $1000 and we’ve seen them as low as just under $100, but of course, price somewhat reflects quality. One sure thing is to stick with the most reputable manufacturer’s including Schwinn, Diamondback, Sixthreezero, Bikehard, Polygon Bikes, Montague, and a few others.
Hybrid Bike Reviews
Throughout this site we’ve created the most in-depth reviews to help with any consumer’s buying decision. If you’ve made it this far then you’re intent on picking up a new hybrid and we couldn’t have made it any easier for you. Below, we’ve broken down the best of the best by category which can all be seen in the following unbiased hybrid bike reviews.