Are you searching for a new bike so you can use to get to and from work, or a bike you can take out on the weekends for some leisurely trail riding? During your search you’ll quickly find out that a road bike and a mountain bike both offer some of the features you’re looking for, making it difficult to choose between the two styles. Enter the best hybrid bike.
In recent years, hybrid bikes have gained serious attention in the cycling world. Most major manufacturers now produce this style of bike and offer a wide variety of features and accessories to choose from that can make your hybrid a mile-crunching machine.
So, what are hybrid bikes used for and can they handle daily commutes?
What You Need to Know About Hybrids
The hybrid bike is a mix of a mountain bike and a road bike. The result is a bike that you can use for riding over a variety of terrain types, offering the type of versatility you need if you want a daily commuter and a bike you can enjoy riding the trails on the weekend.
A hybrid bike features the same type of flat handlebars you’ll find on a mountain bike, instead of the drop bar you’ll find on a road bike.
The brakes and gear systems are usually very similar to the type you’ll find on mountain bikes, instead of the traditional shift levers and STI style integrated brakes you’ll find on most road bikes.
This design allows you to enjoy riding in an upright position, which is more comfortable and potentially safer when you’re riding in high traffic areas.
Hybrids also often use wider tires than road bikes, but the tires are much thinner than mountain bike tires.
Some hybrid bikes are closer to road bikes than mountain bikes and others will lean more towards a standard road bike.
The wheel size is often the best indicator. Hybrids will use a twenty-six-inch format that’s commonly found on mountain bikes. Wheels of this size are more designed for off-road riding. Bikes that are equipped with 700C style wheels aren’t designed for off-road use.
Braking also varies from model to model, with the V-brakes being the most common.
A hybrid usually offers very versatile gearing. Triple chainsets are pretty typical. However, there are exceptions. Some models of hybrids will use hub gears for cyclists in need of a low-maintenance setup.
If simplicity is your thing, single speed hybrids are also available.
Some hybrids come with pannier racks and full mudguards.
If you want a hybrid that allows you to hit rocky trails, then you’ll need one with a suspension fork. These models are usually pretty basic but they provide a comfortable ride over bumpy terrain. Just keep in mind that the hybrid isn’t really designed for heavy off-road riding.
A mountain bike will be much better off-road, and a road bike will be much faster, but a hybrid is perfect for the cyclist who wants to ride mixed terrains in total comfort.
What You’ll Get with a Hybrid
As we’ve mentioned, hybrids take the best characteristics of mountain bikes and road bikes, resulting in a bike that offers a decent top speed, a comfortable ride, and a bike that’s ideal for riding on bike paths or on streets.
Mountain bike features:
- A stouter frame that’s able to handle more weight. As well as the ability to handle heavy use.
- Slightly wider tires for improved stability and traction.
- A frame that’s more upright, offering a riding position that’s more comfortable.
Road bike features:
- A variety of gears and lighter components for a faster speed
- Lighter rims
- Relaxed riding stance
The tires are definitely a true combination of what you’ll find on a mountain bike and a road bike, offering a higher recommended air pressure that places them at the same level as a road bike, but wider like a mountain bike for improved durability and stability. A higher air pressure reduces rolling resistance, allowing you to go faster.
The spokes and rims are also much lighter, just like on a road bike.
Why You’ll Love a Hybrid
So, to answer, what hybrids are used for, many cyclists highly recommend them for commuting. They’re built tough so they can handle daily use, but the lightweight frame will allow you to quickly get to and from work, faster, and without requiring as much effort to pedal as a mountain bike.
Off-roading is possible, but you can’t hit rocky mountain trails like you could with a mountain bike. The hybrid can handle going over gravel, asphalt, sidewalks, dirt paths, and other types of cultivated or semi-cultivated terrain.
If you need a bike that you can use to train for your next race, the hybrid is a perfect choice. Equipped with better tires than a road bike, the hybrid can ride in wet and muddy conditions, easily.
A hybrid can be used for recreational riding, running errands, or as a daily commuter. They’re durable, affordable, lightweight, and more comfortable to ride compared to mountain bikes. But they don’t offer the same type of off-road riding that some cyclists enjoy.
But if you want a bike that’s more versatile, then the hybrid is the best choice.
Whether or not a hybrid bike is right for you will often depend on intended use and your specific needs. The casual cyclist who’s searching for a more versatile bike to ride on dirt roads or paved roads at longer distances, or cyclists who want a bike they can easily ride around town should take a second look at a hybrid.
They’re also very low-maintenance compared to mountain bikes. Most models feature rim brakes, which are easy to fix, adjust, and maintain. You can find more information on how to fix back brakes on bikes right here.
Aside from simple maintenance needs, hybrids tend to offer a more comfortable ride compared to mountain bikes.
If you’d like to learn more about hybrids and find out the answers to such questions as “do hybrid bikes have suspension?” or “how fast do hybrids go?” click here to take a look at our hybrid bike FAQ.
- Top Rated Hybrid Bikes