A hybrid bike is general purpose bicycle, for cycling over mixed terrain with a mixture of a road and mountain bike characteristics. Hybrid bikes will usually have flat handlebars similar to a mountain bike but with rapid rolling 700c road bike wheels.
The flat handlebars offer a more upright riding position than a dropped handlebar road bike. Combined with rapid rolling 700c wheels, this makes hybrids popular with commuters as they offer better visibility than road bikes when cycling in traffic while still being quicker and more efficient than a mountain bike.
Hybrid bikes aren’t restricted to the road though. Tyres, while not as wide as mountain bikes, are suitable for light off-roading on gravel tracks and canal towpaths. Hybrids also tend to have a wider gear range than road bikes making them easier to pedal up hill.
There are many types of hybrid bike that can be split into two main categories;
Where you plan to ride your bike is the main thing to consider when choosing which type to buy.
Aluminium frames are lightweight and robust. Steel frames are heavier than aluminium but do offer a smoother ride. More expensive, carbon fibre is both smooth and lightweight.
Most hybrids feature mountain bike style derailleur gears with a triple chainset upfront combined with a 7, 8, 9 or 10 speed rear cassette. This offers a wide range of gears with plenty of low ones for easy climbing. Some higher end hybrid sports bikes will feature road bike style derailleur gears with a compact double chainset for faster riding.
While less common, hub gears offer the advantage of very low maintenance with the ability to change gear while stopped. Hybrid classic bikes tend to have a narrower range of gears suitable for more gentle cycling on relatively flat terrain.
With a more upright riding position more of your weight will go through the saddle. For this reason, hybrid classic bikes will have wide saddles with lots of padding. Too much padding can be a disadvantage with a more forward riding position so hybrid sports bikes will have narrower saddles with less padding.
V-brakes are common and offer good stopping power in dry conditions, although they become less effective in the wet. Disc brakes are powerful in both wet and dry conditions. The best brakes are hydraulic discs as they offer easily controlled stopping power in all conditions.
A suspension fork will help to smooth out the trails but does add weight. A rigid fork is ideal for efficient road riding.
Nearly all hybrid bikes have 700c wheels but tyre width varies quite a lot.
A narrower tyre (low numbers) will be faster rolling while a wider tyre (higher numbers) will offer more comfort.
28c - 35c tyres- Fast rolling these tyres are ideal for road focused riding. 28c tyres are usually only found on higher end sports hybrids.
35c - 40c tyres - Often combined with chunky tread these tyres are found on hybrids with a suspension fork and are suitable for riding on both road and trail.
40c – 50c tyres - Offering more cushioning for a more comfortable ride these are found on hybrid classic bikes where comfort is more important than speed.
While all hybrid bikes are compatible with mudguards and racks fitting can sometimes be tricky. Fortunately many hybrids come with mudguards ready fitted and if you know you want mudguards and/or a rack when you buy this is the best option.
Nothing beats a hybrid bike for versatility. If you're after a general purpose bike for commuting, fitness training, light off-roading and for meeting up with friends - these are the bikes for you. No matter your fitness level or needs, we've got a hybrid bike for you. See our full range here.