The world of bicycling has changed over the past few years. As people turn to sustainable, affordable transportation options, bikes have transformed and led to the creation of the hybrid bike. While many bikes in the past may have different gears, the hybrid bike is the first all-purpose bike that works for commuting and mountain biking.
As cyclists and bike fanatics, we researched and curated the content of the web’s favourite hybrid bikes and wrote this guide to help you pick a bike that is a perfect ride for your budget and needs.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Hybrid Bike?
- Types of Hybrid Bikes
- How to Choose The Perfect Hybrid Bike Type
- Other Hybrid Bike Features to Keep in Mind
- Final Considerations
- Best Hybrid Bikes on the Market Now
What Is a Hybrid Bike?
In a simple phrase, a hybrid bike is a mountain road bike, meaning that it can take you on the trail or give you agile gears for biking on your commute. You get the best of both worlds in this cycling machine, giving you a comfortable ride through all terrains.
There are a few features that stand out in hybrid bikes. If you are shopping for one, then these are an absolute must:
With most hybrid bikes, they have a tire size of 700c. Wider tires than typical road bikes but slightly narrower than a mountain bike’s tire. You may also find a variety of bikes with 24 to 38c, but there are some hybrid bikes that have 42c tires. This is about your comfort. You should consider if you want more of a road bike or mountain tires for that all-terrain feel.
Flat Handlebar Design
The design of the hybrid bike is a happy mixture of a relaxed position for cycling around town with flat handlebars to help you navigate the road. Cyclists on hybrids typically sit with a straight back and can pedal hard while not being forced to lean forward in this design.
With designs geared more towards road bikes, you typically see a drop handlebar. These are lightweight and aerodynamic, which gives you all kinds of different riding positions.
These are another common feature of hybrid bikes that extend slightly upward. They allow you to sit upright and farther back, giving you more control and vision.
Most hybrid bikes have light padding. Cycle shorts are a good investment if you are an avid cyclist. However, if you are commuting to work, you may opt for a more comfortable saddle rather than the skinnier designs. More padding means more comfort for your backside!
Hybrid bikes have really strong brakes so that you can quickly stop. There are a few different types to note.
Rim brakes are equipped on the front tires. There are some advantages to this design over disc brakes. It’s easier for economic reasons because you can easily tell when your brake pads are worn down. However, rim brakes also wear out the wheel, which means you will have to replace it with the brake pads more often.
These brakes grip onto a rotor mounted at the type. They come in two varieties: hydraulic or mechanical. Hydraulic brakes can withstand strong braking and will self-adjust depending on wear. Mechanical brakes need manual adjusting as pads wear down over time.
There are a lot of different designers that go up to 27 or more gears. You may not need all of those combinations. This depends on your fitness level and comfort during the ride. If you are a strong cyclist or you only ride on flat terrain, then you definitely don’t need different gears for hills and such.
Hybrid do not really different in materials from other bikes, but you will find that they are made from aluminium, steel, and carbon fibre. These are typically light materials that allow you to adjust your weight to more agile turns and navigation.
There are two basic types of suspension designs found in hybrid bikes.
Most hybrid bikes do not use suspension because it makes pedalling less efficient. If you ride on paved roads most of the time, you won’t need suspension.
There are some bikes made with front suspensions to absorb impact on the front wheel and smooth the ride on bumpier streets. If you take your bike along brick roads, rough terrain, or on trails, then you want to purchase a hybrid with a front suspension.
One of the newer designs is eyelets which allows for pannier racks and mudguards. If you live in a particularly wet area, this feature comes in handy. Even with the extra weight, you protect yourself from mud and oil getting on your feet, pants, and legs.
Built-in lights are another feature of the latest hybrid bikes. These are perfect for night-time rides. Reflective lights are also necessary if you plan to bike at night.
There is a lot of variation in the types of hybrid bikes. Some are made for the road with a few options for exceptional terrain, while others are made for serious terrain and sit closer to the mountain bike design. If you are unsure about how it will suit your cycling needs, you can always rent one before purchasing so you can see how it will handle on the road.
Types of Hybrid Bikes
Hybrid bikes are not really broken down into categories. You can pick a hybrid based on features that accommodate what you are using the bike for.
For example, if you use the bike mostly for long commutes on congested roads, you want a bike that is more suited for the road but possibly has some gears or hydraulics to deal with different terrain.
However, if you truly want a bike that can provide speed and agility on the road while also handling mountain biking trails, then you want a bike that comes with hydraulic brakes, front suspension, multiple gears, and strong disc brakes.
- Also, read our guide to choosing your first bike
How to Choose The Perfect Hybrid Bike Type
If you go into any bike shop, the first question will always be, “What are you using the bike for?” Just like when you go to pick out a vehicle, if you want to be able to take your car into the mountains, then you’re going to need the right tires, brakes, and design to meet those needs.
Hybrid bikes are perfect for the avid cyclist who goes everywhere on their bike. The stronger bikes combine a few of the features needed to get uphill, while others may have stronger mountain biking features if you really want to take your bike on the trail.
The best way to figure out what type of hybrid is best to evaluate how you currently use your bike. If you are using the bike every day for a road commute, then you want to pick a bike that is heavy on the road bike design.
These are a few important considerations to decide what’s best for your ride:
Urban streets have bumps, turns, lifts, and cracks. You want a bike that is sturdy and can easily whip around corners or go up hills as needed. If you live in a heavy traffic area, then you also want a handlebar design that is going to give you more agility.
Road bikes are known for their speed. Commuters know that you need a bike that can fly and handle well around street corners. If you have a longer commute, you want to pick a bike that can take you quickly from here to there without a whole lot of effort.
Adventure / Terrain
If you want to take your bike on an adventure or know that your city has a few hills that you battle, then you can get a bike that has more gears, suspension, and hydraulic brakes to handle these areas. However, with most hybrids, you are not going to get a strong mountain bike.
The type of materials used for your bike’s design really matter. You should ask the shop about the material of the frame, fork, handlebars, and belts. While hybrid bikes are lightweight, you want to be able to turn the bike easily and not feel you have too much extra weight.
The majority of bikes today are made from aluminium, carbon, or steel. The least used in bike frames is steel, so you should automatically eliminate these bikes as they are heavier and not typically used in any road bike design. It can be difficult to take these bikes over hills as well.
Aluminium is the common material used for most hybrid bikes. This is because it cuts down on the budget, makes the bike lightweight, and gives you a comfortable ride over the hill.
Road bikes typically have fewer gears, comfortable seating, smaller tires, and narrower handlebar designs. This makes it easy to fly through city streets and navigate around traffic with ease.
If you are riding mostly on roads and bicycle paths, then the best option will be a road-oriented bike that has some hybrid features. These bikes have the same fork and frame as a typical road bike, but you get a flat handlebar and more upright design. Tires on these bikes are also a bit narrower, which gives you a faster ride to keep up with traffic.
- Related: read our buying guide to road bikes
- Also read our article on best road bikes under £1,000 for 2018
However, if you plan to go on an adventure or simply know that you like to use the wooded path sometimes, then you should pick one that can handle all types of terrain. The main difference with bikes more orientated for all-terrain is that they will have a suspension fork. This gives you more comfort when going over rough terrain and bumpy surfaces. Slightly wider tires are also more common in hybrid bikes geared towards mountain frames. These tires may have lots of treads to give more grip.
With each of these bikes, you will make a trade-off in speed, agility, comfort, materials, or terrain. You may want to have a bike that can handle different types of terrains so that you can switch more readily as well.
Other Hybrid Bike Features to Keep in Mind
While the materials and components of the frame matter, other features will help you make a decision for day-to-day use. If your bike needs to carry a pack or heavy items, then you want a bike that can support a rack. You will need to invest in a pair of panniers, which will place more weight on the bike.
Most of the latest bike designs also have eyelets that make it easy to attach a pannier rack. You can also purchase clips that let you adapt to a bike that has no eyelets, but these do not hold the rack as securely, so make sure that you attach the pannier racks carefully.
In addition, cyclists need a lot of clearance between the frame and tire that lets you fit on mudguards and eyelets. While you may not want to change the look of your bike, it’s always better to have convenience and value, especially if you are cycling on wet roads frequently.
Disc brakes were not used for road bikes until the hybrid bike started to become popular. Traditional road bikers do not embrace the disc brake because they are more expensive and require some maintenance. However, rim brakes also cause issues for daily commuters. Disc brakes are good for braking power and consistency on wet roads. If you take a muddy pathway to work, then you definitely want a disc brake that can easily clear the debris and keep you on the ride.
The best way to pick a hybrid bike is by thinking about your day-to-day use and what issues you currently face during your commute. If you know that you have a lot of traffic and need an agile bike, pick a design that is lightweight and comfortable.
If you are just popping around town on the weekends, it may not matter as much to have a road-oriented bike. You could pick a more comfortable saddle, lots of gears, and front-end suspension so that you can take on any type of terrain as you ride. After all, that’s what hybrid bikes are meant to do!
Best Hybrid Bikes on the Market Now
These are a selection of hybrid bikes that we think fit most of the needs of riders today. They have most of the features listed above and are designed for smooth cycling in all types of terrain.
With an aluminium frame and a design that provides a high standover clearance, this is the perfect bike for someone who commutes to and from work every day on a bike. Giant’s design uses integrated cables, which reduces maintenance. The design is unusual but great for the price point, which is typically around £625.
The disc brakes are hydraulic, which provides for a fast pump across any type of terrain, making it extra speedy as well. There is a wide choice of gears and even a riser stem that lets you sit with a straight, comfortable back for an easy trip to the office.Check the bike out on Tredz
This is a favourite of many cyclists because of its design and easy handling. The flat bar package is a design that everyone loves as well. This B’twin provides a 6061 frame and combines a carbon fork. For the price point, you get a lot of value from this bike, and you still get all of the comforts.
The triple gears up front make it easy to go up hills and straddle rough terrain like a professional. Lightweight and agile, the B’twin is the perfect road bike and has some of those additional features for when the terrain gets a little rough. At around £429, it’s one of the best bikes on our list.
What’s not to love about this funky yet agile design? Cyclists have been talking about this bike for many years due to its shape and handlebar location. Canyon is a German-based bike manufacturer that is best known for race-ready cycling machines. With the urban bikes that they have created, they are trying something different.
The 8.0 level design does retail for a smooth £1,649, but you don’t have a lot of maintenance with these bikes due to their design. The nifty belt drive cuts down on the wear and tear, while the eight gears and VCLS seat make it easy to overcome rough road terrain.
The wheel axle and seat post clamp down for a design that is extremely sturdy. The disc brakes also stop instantly. If you want a flat city bike with a unique design, this is definitely a perfectly engineered bike just for that purpose.
Specialized Sirrus is a very popular hybrid bike. The frame is lightweight aluminium, but the fork is made from steel. Pannier and mudguard mounts are available with this design, which makes it a great commuter bike.
However, there were some issues with the comfort. Unlike some of the others on this list, the frame is set very low, creating a difficult upright position to maintain during certain areas of the commute.
For the price point, this bike does not offer as much of the “hybrid” features as other options on this list.View the bike on Evans Cycles now
This hybrid bike caters to all terrain cycling and will have wider tires as well as a front end suspension. If you like to experiment with off-roading and want that all-purpose cycling machine, then the CrossFire is definitely our top choice.
The fork offers over 75mm of travel, and you can adjust to provide a sturdier ride for long commutes. However, the tires are particularly wide with this model, which uses 42mm Kendra tires. The extra spring will take some getting used to if you are used to smooth road riding.
We absolutely enjoyed riding the Cannondale Bad Boy B. It has a similar design to the German-engineered Canyon on this list, but it has some new upgrades to the 2017 model. This includes a lefty fork. The 2016 model had 28mm Schwalbe tires that also allowed for quicker commutes, but the wide bars make it more difficult to navigate during congestion on the roads.
This is always a good choice for the value if you are looking for a hydraulic bike with a comfortable riding design. This is also ideal for commuters who have long trips and just want to spend a little bit less than some of the others on this list. You can find this bike for about £750 in most cycling shops.View the bike on Evans Cycles now