What Is A Hybrid Bike? Everything You Need To Know

Last Updated on November 8, 2021

Want to get yourself a hybrid bike?

Before you look up the best hybrid bikes, you’re going to want to know all there is to hybrid bikes. You’ve come to the right place. Hybrid bikes are a staple in the cycling community for all types of riders.

If you haven’t tried a hybrid bike before then you’re missing out in my opinion. We all know that not everyone is pro cyclist or will do only one type of cycling. If you cant make up your mind between a road bike and a trail bike, then hybrid bikes are worth a look at.

From commuting to exploring the local dirt track uphill, hybrid bikes are a convenient way of getting somewhere when you want to skip the traffic jam to work. Wherever you’re going, hybrid bikes have been designed to give you the best of both worlds.

That’s not all.

I am going to show you what kind of riding hybrid bikes are for, what are hybrid bikes, and how to size a hybrid bike. You’ll know whether hybrid bikes are the style for you, or if you’re into a different type of cycling.

You’re probably wondering, what is a gravel bike vs hybrid?

Ready?

woman biking on gray concrete pavement

What is a hybrid bike?

Hybrid bikes are very popular for their versatility and can bring you loads of benefits. Why is it called a hybrid bike? Well, because it’s a mix of a road bike, and a mountain bike. What is a hybrid bike used for?

The benefits of a mountain bike include a high number of gears, wide tires and capable of navigating off road trails. Road bikes are built for racing, suited to asphalt and roads. They give you a horizontal riding position and narrow tires that sometimes come with the option of locking your feet onto the pedals for more power.

A hybrid bike is the middle ground, comfortable but fast, suited to both types of terrain due to a good selection of gears and mid width tires. The idea is that you’ll be able to go fast on pavement, but also be able to explore off road trails well due to the gears and the upright riding position.

If you can’t decide whether you want a mountain bike or a road bike, or you’re a beginner that is unsure where to start, then a hybrid bike is a good option.

Who is a hybrid bike for?

Most people go for a mountain bike if they love riding off road or on a family vacation, whilst road bikes are mainly used as commuting bikes or getting around the city quickly. So, how to choose a hybrid bike?

Hybrid bikes work great for commuting, for errands in town, going to work, and other urban places. Hybrid bikes are fast and ride well on the pavement, but they won’t have an uncomfortable riding position or lock on pedals as a race bike would.

Are you someone that also enjoys riding off road or through a park or even the beach? Well, even there the hybrid bike won’t disappoint. Whether it’s a family vacation or cycling through the park, you’ll be able to use your hybrid bike for this too.

With that said, who is a hybrid bike NOT for? I would suggest that if you want to pick up high speeds, are a more experienced rider that knows they want a bike specifically for off road, or you want to do stunts, then it’s best to go for another type of bike rather than a hybrid.

Beginners and occasional cyclists who want versatility and comfort, this is the bike for you!

Features of hybrid bikes

What makes a hybrid bike, a hybrid bike? there are a couple of things that you won’t find on other bikes, and there is also a range of styles to choose from.

blue beach cruiser bike parked beside wall

Types of Hybrid bikes

There are three main types of hybrid bicycles.

Classic hybrid bikes

The classic hybrid is very similar to a regular bicycle with and upright riding position that is comfortable.

They can be a bit dated since they’re not built for speed. The aim is that the rider can cycle at their own pace, making it perfect for a commute to work or a ride through town.

Some features include a basket or a rack on the bike to make it more convenient when running errands such as grocery shopping, or your backpack for work. Don’t go for a classic hybrid if you want to go offroad or pick up some speed.

Cruiser bikes

Touring bikes or cruiser style bikes come under classic bikes. They are built for replacing rides, for instance down a promenade or across the beach, simply for pleasure. They’re very comfortable as they have a more upright position than other bike types, and the pedals are angled forward so that you lean back slightly when riding.

Some features include thicker tires, making them more similar to mountain bikes in this aspect. They often come in a 26in. wheel size tires or even up to 29inch which is perfect for riding on sand or other soft ground. Plus you can add extra features like pannier bags.

bike parked on the side of the building

Hybrid Sports bike

A sports bike is designed for performance and speed, on a variety of terrain.

These bikes are the most similar to race bikes and are very fast on pavement. They are powerful and as a mountain bike, can be used off-road too.

Some features of a sports bike include wider tires and a suspension fork to absorb the bumps on the road. You can take these out on rough terrain and steep hills, since they come with a range of gears too.

Anatomy of a hybrid bike

Now you know about the different categories of hybrids, you should also know what sets them apart from other bikes.

A typical hybrid bike is a good mix of a race bike such as a road bike, and a mountain bike.

One of their main features normally includes thinner tires, just like a racing bike. They are often found around 700C.

Another feature is the riding position. Unlike a racing bike, they have a more upright riding position. The seat is lower than the handlebars so you don’t have to lean over so much. That way, it’s much closer to a mountain bike. They also have a variety of wheel rims and rim brakes.

The handlebars will usually be flat without a dip in the middle or drop bars. The exception is cruiser bikes. As you can see, the features of race bikes and mountain bikes are mixed in a hybrid bike. These features can differ depending on the style, so it’s up to you to decide what you want.

You can also get electric hybrids. What is a hybrid electric bike?

gray bicycle on top grass and near road

How to choose a hybrid bike for you

If you’re unsure of how to choose a hybrid bike since there are so many different categories, you can think of them on a spectrum, with race bikes on one end and mountain bikes on the other.

What do you prefer, mostly a mountain bike but that can pick up speed on the road, or a racing bike that you can occasionally take offroad?

To select the right kind of bike for you, you need to decide what kind of riding you will do. Mountain bike or hybrid which should I buy? If it is for commuting, going out with the family, or only in town on the pavement?

The riding experience is key as well. If you need something more comfortable with an upright riding position, then a cruiser-style bike is best, although you won’t be able to pick as much speed or ride well uphill. For those looking for speed and power, then you won’t be able to get as much comfort. How much faster is a road bike than a hybrid?

What you should look for in a hybrid bike

The performance and bike fit of your hybrid bike depends on the features you decide to have. Both the geometry of the bike, and how it handles the performance and power as well as the features of race or mountain bikes.

Gears

Just like a car, hybrid bikes come with gears that allow you to add some resistance so you can put more power into moving the bike forward and go faster across the same distance.

With more gears, you’ll have a bike that doesn’t need so much power to turn the pedals, meaning you can tackle tough terrain and uphill climbs more easily. Not only that, you use the lower gears to get more speed and go faster across pavement.

The lower gears are there so you can turn the rear wheel quicker, without needing as much resistance, but you’ll have to pedal faster to cover the same ground.

If you want an effortless ride, then go for more gears. that way you can switch between the resistances and adapt the bike to the ride as well as your energy and terrain.

It’s also a good idea to have more gears if you know you’ll be using the bike on rougher terrain since you’ll be prepared to handle all types of terrain.

Some prefer fewer gears, since there is a chance that they get stuck and even the chain can come loose. Also, if you know you will be using the bike on flat surfaces, for instance in town or for your commute, you won’t really need more gears. Remember, if you’re going for speed and functionality, then less parts is better.

man and woman biking along city at daytime

Types of gears

There are a few different kinds of gears you can get, including v brakes, and rim brakes or disc brakes.

Fixed gears- these are single-speed gears so only have one setting. That means it’s the same level of resistance throughout, you can’t change it.

Hub gears- these are found in the rear hub, they are hidden and usually come in 3 speed or 8speed options.

Derailleur gears- these are the most common, they use chain rings and sprockets to switch the chain from one sprocket to another. You control them from your handlebars, moving the chain. They come in many different resistance options, and you can control the front and rear derailleur using your left and right handlebar.

You also need to select the way you change gears:

With triggers, you will have two at the front of the handles, and you wrap your fingers around to squeeze them and change gears for both the front and the back.

Thumb switches let you switch gears using your thumbs, simply by flicking them.

Grip shifts work by rotating or twisting the middle section of the bike handles so you can increase or decrease the resistance.

Hybrid Frame

When it comes to the frame, it’s not only about the geometry but also about the materials you use.

Frame Materials

Depending on the frame materials you choose, you can affect the weight and strength of the entire bike.

Aluminum is a cheap option that is also lightweight and resistant to rust and corrosion. The only thing is it is not as strong.

Steel is also cheap and very strong. The downside it will require more effort to move around since it is heavier.

Carbon fiber is an expensive material that is very strong and lightweight. it is also rust and corrosion resistant.

Titanium is also expensive but equally strong and light.

rigid bicycle under sunrays

Suspension

Suspension is like a spring, built to absorb shocks from the road to make your bike run smoother.

Suspension forks are perfect for when you ride over a stone, or a pothole, and makes it less likely that you damage the bike or tires.

If you’re looking for comfort, or an off road style hybrid bike, then the suspension is very important. Go for a 29inch bike with a suspension fork.

For those who need extra comfort, you can also get a suspension seat post to absorb more shock.

Saddle

The ergonomic and shape of the saddle can make a huge difference both in the speed and comfort of the bike.

If you’re looking for comfort above all, or you know you tend to cycle everyday or for longer hours, then a wider saddle with more padding or foam can be very beneficial.

If you prefer to keep your bike lightweight and faster, then a streamlined, thin saddle is perfect. Whatever bike you go for, the saddle is easy to change to your liking.

blue and black bicycle in tilt shift lens

Brakes

There are a few types of brakes

Linear brakes- also known as hub brakes, they are usually found on cruiser bikes or bikes for casual riding. they are better for lower speeds.

Direct pull brakes have stronger stopping power and are better for sports bikes.

Then there are many other options such as mechanical disc brakes, hydraulic disc brakes, etc. A new hybrid bike will be fitted with the correct set of brakes.

What size hybrid bike should I get?

From the many options of hybrid bikes, there also male and female bikes as well as a range of sizes. Fiding the right bike can be difficult.

Frame size

The frame size is the biggest measurement for the bike and can give a good indication if you have the right fit. You need to try the bike and be at a comfortable distance from the pedals to the handles and from the handles to the saddle.

Simply have a look at the small medium and large sections for men and women. Don’t worry about a perfect fit, since some things such as the saddle and seatpost are adjustable.

Sizes For Men

Size Small

  • Rider height 5’2″-5’6″
  • Frame size 15″-16″

Size Medium

  • Rider height 5’6″-5’10”
  • Frame size 17″-18″

Size Large

  • Rider height 5’10”-6’1″
  • Frame size 19″-20″

Size X large

  • Rider height 6’1″-6’4″
  • Frame size 21″-22″

 

These are just rough indications for hybrid bikes for men

Sizes for Women

Size Small

  • Rider height 5’3″-5’6″
  • Frame size 15″-16″

Size Medium

  • Rider height 5’6″-5’10”
  • Frame size 17″-18″

Size Large

  • Rider height 5’10”-6’1″
  • Frame size 19″-20″

Size X large

  • Rider height 6’1″-6’4″
  • Frame size 21″-22″

Size X large

  • Rider height 6’1″-6’4″
  • Frame size 21″-22″

man riding black bike on street

You might be wondering, what is the difference between men and women hybrid bikes?

Since women tend to be smaller on average, the Medium size bike for women are usually a bit smaller. The design of the frame is also different.

For example, a women bike that is used for city riding will have a top barf that is slanted downward toward the seat called a step through, to make it easier to mount. For men this bar is paralleled to the bar. The bike length is often shorter as well with a higher seat for women.

These differences are slight, in that you can pick whichever bike you prefer. However, these small changes take into account male and female anatomy and may make the bike more comfortable for you.

 

Final Thoughts

Before getting yourself a hybrid bicycle, you need to know exactly what it is. Hybrid bikes tend to provide the qualities of single-speed bikes like road bike with suspension forks, flat handlebar, bike gears, and bigger wheel size like in a Mtb.

If you love to ride the city streets as well as off road terrain, then this is the type of bike you’ll love. Whether you want flat handlebars, skinny tyres, more gears, or brake levers to control speed settings, hybrid bikes come in all shapes and sizes, including women’s bikes and carbon fiber bikes.

Most hybrids have a huge range and are perfect if you’re a beginner or just want the best of both worlds.

Is this your perfect bike?

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