What is a hybrid bike?

hybrid bike

With this article, we aim to answer the question: “What is a hybrid bike exactly?’. Simply put, hybrid bikes are a blend of road bikes, mountain bikes and touring bikes designed to offer a comfortable riding experience that is fit for various riding conditions and terrains. 

We own and ride hybrid bikes ourselves because we appreciate the versatility and comfort they offer. We drew from our own personal experiences and did hours of research online while putting this article together. In this post, you will first learn about physical features that are common in hybrid bikes. Following that is information on the most popular subgroups of hybrid bikes.

These general-purpose bikes are engineered to provide comfort and ease to their riders, which makes them a very popular option among beginners and advanced cyclists alike. They are also supposedly the best-selling bike type in the UK. So what is it about hybrid bikes that makes them so versatile and popular? Let’s jump into their physical features to get a better understanding.

Physical Features

Similar to mountain bikes, hybrid bikes typically have straight, flat handlebars which support an upright riding position. This upright position is part of the ease that comes with hybrid bikes. However, these bikes are typically lighter than mountain bikes. This allows the rider to reach high speeds without having to exert themselves too much. 

Hybrid bikes might have skinny tires (similar to road bikes) but wide tires with threads are more common. Thick tires make it possible for the bikes to ride on uneven terrain such as forest roads and less challenging singletrack trails with ease. 

Finally, hybrid bikes typically have mounts on the frame for mudguards, racks to carry bags, water bottles and other belongings similar to touring bikes. Other hybrid bike accessories include dynamo lighting, built-in lock and a kickstand.

Material

Hybrid bikes are typically made of aluminum, which is ideal for its strength and relatively low weight. A lighter material would be super-light carbon fibre. However, not all manufacturers make super-light carbon fibre frames and bikes made of this material tend to be more expensive. It might be a good investment for bikers who have to carry their bikes somewhere daily. Urban riders, on the other hand, typically opt for steel-framed hybrid bikes. What makes steel attractive as a bike frame material is that steel is very durable. It can survive dents, scratches and bends while retaining structural integrity. A steel bike frame can last decades if it’s well made and nicely cared for. Aluminum doesn’t possess the same durability. It’s more susceptible to being compromised by physical damages. Even small accidents might make aluminum bikes unsafe to ride if a critical point in the structure is damaged. 

Different Types of Hybrid Bikes

There are various kinds of hybrid bikes including city, trekking and cross bikes.The kind that’s best for you depends on your intended use. We will start off with city bikes, which are very popular in urban areas. 

City Bikes

They are also known as utility bikes given their low-maintenance nature. 

City bikes are designed for moderately-paced, short-to-medium length rides through a variety of weather conditions. They are best for bikers who get on the saddle simply to commute in urban areas. Their design tends to focus on convenience and comfort as opposed to speed. That’s why city bikes usually have bigger saddles and elevated handlebars which allow for an upright sitting position while riding. These features tend to make even long rides more bearable. 

City bikes also feature 26-inch wheels and middleweight 1.5-1.95 inch heavy belted tires. These tires help bikers remain balanced and in control while riding over drainage grates, potholes, cobblestones and sidewalk curbs. These bikes additionally have good suspension to make your ride over these terrains more comfortable. 

A fully equipped commuter bike will also come with front and rear lights for when it’s dark out as well as full fenders to allow for riding in various weather conditions. City bikes are typically heavier than road bikes.

Trekking Bikes

As we mentioned under “Physical Features”, there are lots of accessories that can be attached to hybrid bikes. Trekking bikes make up a subset of hybrid bikes that come with all the necessary accessories for bike-touring such as mudguards, lights and a pannier racks.

Cross Bikes

Another subset of hybrid bikes is cross bike. Cross bikes are similar to road bikes such as racing or touring bikes in terms of their frame. However, they have nearly flat handlebars to support a more upright riding position. Compared to road bikes, cross bikes additionally have somewhat wider tires to make rides on certain uneven terrains easier. These might include shallow mud, hard-packed sand, leaves and other littered surfaces. Cross bikes are no MTBs but they can handle moderate off-pavement use. They also tend to be lightweight. 

Final Thoughts

The term hybrid bike entails various types of subgroups. Here we tried to describe the general characteristics of hybrid bikes and break down the function and features of some of those subgroups. Whether any one of these types of hybrid bikes is a good fit for you depends on where and for what purpose you will get on the saddle. 

To make these decisions about choosing a bike easier for you, we put together a guide titled: “How to choose a bike” . Feel free to head on over to that article to see descriptions of various bike types as well as other information and tips to help you make an informed decision regarding which bike to purchase.

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