The hybrid bicycle is a relatively new type of bike and is sometimes called a ‘Trekking’ bike. First appearing in the late eighties/early nineties they have only really caught on in recent years. They are a combination or ‘hybrid’ of, mountain bikes, touring bikes and road bikes. Hybrids came about out when mountain bikes started to re-popularize cycling in general. At the time there were precious few practical, user friendly, robust cycles on the market and mountain bikes seemed to fit the bill. Unfortunately most people found early mountain bikes too cumbersome, heavy and slow for the average rider so the designers took the best bits from the mountain, road and touring bike and created the hybrid.
- Classic hybrids have a fairly upright/relaxed position, 700c wheels (road bike diameter) and usually come fitted with racks and mudguards as standard.
- Sport hybrids again come with 700c wheels but tend to have a slightly sportier riding position and will often come with suspension forks.
- Urban bikes are closer to mountain bikes in their geometries (riding position) and tend to have 26” wheels.
Hybrid bikes, whether with 26-inch or 700c wheels are fitted with tyres between 28-40mm wide. These tyres are either multi-condition with a smooth centre line for fast rolling on tarmac and knobbles on the outer edges for better traction on looser or rougher ground or almost totally slick like a road bike tyre.
Coming with flat or slightly upswept handlebars they tend to use the similar gearing systems (21 to 27 speeds) mountain bikes but with larger top gears to achieve higher speeds when on the flat, whilst retaining the same low gears for easy hill climbing. Many are now coming with the new generation of internal hub gears (3-14 speed) that offer great benefits in terms of maintenance but with the exception of the (very expensive) 14 speed versions they do not offer the wide range of gearing as more traditional derailleur systems making them less suitable for very hilly areas.
Biycle brakes in general have improved greatly in recent years with ‘V’ brakes being the norm. Disc brakes (mechanical or hydraulic) also make an appearance on some sport hybrids and urban bikes. ‘Hub’ or ‘roller’ brakes are being equipped on some models (usually in conjunction with hub gears) that offer the same maintenance benefits as hub gears but they weigh more than other types of brakes so are rarely fitted to sport hybrids.
These are hugely popular bikes with commuters and leisure cyclists in general as they are efficient, comfortable and readily accept the fitting of many accessories (full mudguards, carry racks, child seats etc.) making them hugely practical bikes for use as viable forms of day to day transport, touring bikes and light off-road trail use.
Other features that hybrids come with may include: suspension seatposts; multi-adjustable stems; chain guards and dynamo light sets which all help to add comfort and increase practicality.
It’s worth remembering that if you do want something that can handle a serious off-road mountain trails or you’re planning to ride next years Tour de France then you will need a different bike but for everything else a hybrid makes a lot of sense.
Prices start from around £190 up to around £2500
April 13, 2012 Bike Guides