What is a hybrid bike?
A hybrid bike is a general-purpose bicycle, for cycling over a range of terrains with a mixture of road and mountain bike characteristics. Hybrid bikes will usually have flat handlebars similar to a mountain bike, but come with rapid rolling 700c road bike wheels.
The flat handlebars offer a more upright riding position compared to that of a dropped handlebar road bike. This makes hybrids popular with commuters as they offer better visibility than a road bike when cycling in traffic, while the fast rolling 700c wheels mean they are quicker and more efficient than a mountain bike.
Hybrid bikes aren’t restricted to the road though. While the tyres are not as wide as mountain bikes, they 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.
Are there different types of hybrid bikes?
Hybrid classic bikes
These look similar to traditional bicycles, and offer an upright, comfortable riding position. They are ideal for relaxed urban cycling as hybrid classic bikes are often supplied with chain and mudguards ready fitted.
Step through women’s bikes are very popular and may have both a basket and rack attached, making them perfect for trips to the shop or a picnic in the park.
Hybrid Sports Bikes
There are two main types of hybrid sports bikes:
With narrow tyres (compared to a rough terrain hybrid) and a rigid road bike fork these hybrids are built for riding on roads and cycle tracks. Road hybrids are more like a road bike with flat handlebars. The riding position is more upright than a road bike and the handling is nimble without being twitchy.
Road hybrids are lighter weight than equivalently priced rough terrain hybrids. This makes these bikes ideal for city cycling, cycle path commuting and fitness training.
Rough Terrain Hybrids
These bikes have wider tyres than a road hybrid with a mountain bike style suspension fork up front. This helps to take the sting out of rough roads and tracks so you can cycle comfortably on rough and smooth roads alike.
Rough terrain hybrids are great for riding through the park and along canal towpaths as well as on roads and cycle paths.
Electric Hybrid Bikes
aka Urban E Bikes
Electric hybrid bikes are on the crest of a wave right now and for good reason. With an electric pedal assist motor urban e bikes makes cycling a pleasure. These bikes flatten the hills and make it easier to get up to speed. You still have to pedal, so you still get some healthy exercise but the amount of effort you put in is up to you.
The electric motor and battery will assist you as you ride, up to speeds of 15.5mph (25km/h). If you need to get around the city quickly, without looking like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards when you arrive at your destination, then look for a hybrid with electric assistance.
There are many different types of electric hybrid bike. Read our electric bike guides for more on this exciting category of bikes.
Should I buy a hybrid bike, a mountain bike or a road bike?
Where you plan to ride your bike is the main thing to consider when choosing which type to buy.
What to look for in a hybrid bike
Aluminium frames are lightweight and robust. Steel frames are heavier than aluminium but do offer a smoother ride. Carbon fibre is more expensive but provides the combination of a light frame and compliant ride.
Most hybrids feature mountain bike style derailleur gears with a triple chainset upfront and a seven, eight, nine or 10 speed rear cassette.
This offers a wide range of gears with plenty of options at the lower end 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 lower intensity cycling on relatively flat terrain.
With an upright riding position, more of your weight will go through the saddle. For this reason, hybrid classic bikes have wide saddles with plenty of padding. Too much padding can be a disadvantage with a more aggressive riding position, so hybrid sports bikes have narrower saddles with less support.
V-brakes are common and offer good stopping power in the dry, although they become less effective in the wet. Disc brakes are powerful in both the wet and dry, but 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.
Wheels and tyres
Nearly all hybrid bikes have 700c wheels but tyre width does vary.
A narrower tyre (those with low numbers) will be faster while a wider tyre (those with higher numbers) will offer more comfort.
28c - 35c tyres- These tyres have a low rolling resistance and are ideal for road focused riding. The 28c tyres are typically found on high-end sports hybrids.
35c - 40c tyres - These are often combined with chunky tread and are found on hybrids with a suspension fork. They are suitable for riding on both road and trail surfaces.
40c – 50c tyres - Providing increased cushioning for a more comfortable ride these are found on hybrid classic bikes, where comfort is more important than speed.
Nothing beats a hybrid bike or an urban e 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.
Most Popular Hybrid Classic Bikes
Most Popular Hybrid Sports Bikes
Most Popular Hybrid E Bikes aka Urban E Bikes
Frequently Asked Questions
A hybrid bike is good for general cycling on roads, paths and cycle tracks. Blending aspects form both road and mountain bikes hybrid bikes are comfortable and efficient. The different types of hybrid bike are best for specific styles of riding
The main thing to look for in a hybrid bike is the quality of the frame. A lightweight aluminium frame will make cycling easier. A good quality drivetrain and disc brakes are helpful too. A comfortable saddle helps too. See what to look for in a hybrid bike guide for more.
Hybrid bikes are really good for general cycling as they take the efficiency of a road bike and mix it with the comfort of a road bike. Hybrid bike are a sustainable form of transport and are great way to improve your fitness.
Hybrid sports bikes are great for long distance cycling as they are both comfortable and efficient. A road bike is more efficient, but it may not be as comfortable. Classic hybrid bikes are better for more relaxed cycling.
The Specialized Sirrus and the Giant Escape are great hybrid bikes for beginners who want to cycle on roads and cycle paths. The Merida Crossway is a good beginner’s bike for cycling on roads and grave tracks.
Liv is the best brand for women’s hybrid bikes as they have a comprehensive range of lady’s specific bikes. Giant are the best brand for men’s hybrid bikes, and they are avail able in lots of different styles.
Merida make the best value hybrid bikes as they combine high-quality frames with good components. Merida are one of the few brands that actually manufacturer their own frames which is why they offer such good value.
Hybrid bikes are great for exercise as they are comfortable and efficient. Hybrid sports bikes are probably the best type of bike for exercise as they are quick but still easy to ride.
Usually a bike is slow because the tyre pressure is too low. Try pumping the tyres up a bit and see if that helps. If the bike still feels slow it may be because the bearings in the wheels or cranks are not working properly.