So you want a new bike but you’re not sure whether you want a racer or a mountain bike and you’re confused by all the choices out there. Don’t worry. I have got just what you might need in store for you. Yes, I am talking about Hybrid Bikes! First things first. Why would you even choose a hybrid bike? For me, the real question, is why would you not? Unless you’re thinking about entering the Tour de France or going down Mountain bike trails, then the answer is obvious.
But before buying a bike, you must consider what your goals are and decide exactly what you want from your bike. By doing this you’ll have a much better idea of knowing what you need when you walk into the bike shop, and you are less likely to be sold a ‘pup’ by the sales guy.
Bikes are by their nature fairly versatile little beasts but some are designed for a specific purpose. Some are even designed to go across the snow. That said, one of the most normal bike purchases is for commuting, getting about, getting a bit fitter, and just having fun.
Related: 15 Best Bikes For Heavy Riders
The Right Hybrid Bike- 12 Things To Look For
Now, how do you go about choosing one? Because not all hybrids are created equal. Here’s a quick guide to knowing what to look for when you go searching
1. Start By Setting A Budget
Set your budget, and buy the best you can for your money. A decent hybrid bike will set you back a minimum of $400+. Also, a cheap bike may work great, to begin with, but it probably won’t stay that way.
Looking for a hybrid bike that won’t break the bank? Check out our list of the best hybrid bikes under $500.
2. Get It Preassembled
Unless you really, really know what you’re doing, then a bike should be preassembled for you and you should be able to ride it out of the shop. Most people have the knowledge and ability to do simple maintenance on their bikes. But putting one together from scratch is a much more difficult affair if you don’t get it right!
3. Choose A Dedicated Bike Shop
Choose a dedicated bike shop to buy from, and use that’s staffed with people who speak plainly in the native language of that country. Don’t expect to find someone speaking perfect English in Rio de Janeiro, and don’t buy one from a shop that doesn’t speak English in Milwaukee. You need to understand what they are talking about.
4, Analyse Your Route
Where do you plan on riding and what type of riding do you see yourself doing? It’s the most important question you can ask yourself. Do you see yourself zipping through traffic while you commute, keeping up with the kids on gravel trails, or just casually pedaling down to the local shop once a day looking to feel the sun on your face as you enjoy life?
5. Select The Model
There are a lot of different types of models to choose from. Cruiser and comfort bikes won’t be all that fast and tend to be relatively heavier than some other hybrids, but they also will more likely than not have a cool vintage look and feel to them.
If you are looking to commute, say across London, or Amsterdam, then something like a full-bred city or dedicated commuter bike is more likely to be your oyster of choice.
Fully-fledged commuter hybrid bikes will more likely than not come fully loaded with some whistles and bells already fitted. Except there won’t be any whistles, just a bell you can ring ineffectively at people.
Why you would ever use a bell instead of just saying, speaking, or shouting is beyond me. And let’s face it, it’s not like anyone ever takes any notice of the guy ringing his bell anyway. Could you imagine the response you’d get in New York trying that? And yet having a bell is mandatory there; go figure.
But while there are no whistles, it will probably come with a pannier and some mud flaps on it already.
6. Consider The Tire Size
Assuming you’ve decided on a hybrid bike, which you should have done by now by the way, because everyone should own one regardless of where they want to cycle, the next thing to be considered is tires.
Take a trip from experienced riders the world over, the tires on your bike are almost as important as life itself when it comes to riding of any sort. Put simply, tires make a simple but massive difference to your bike.
Most hybrids, regardless of the rim size of the bike, will come with a 700cc wheel base and tire. Essentially 700cc tires are designed to roll across pavements, and small bumps and cracks in the road without you noticing, and make for easier acceleration and uphill traveling. Beware the sales guy trying to push a hybrid bike on you that has the big nobly mountain bike tires on it.
Want to upgrade your bike with 29-inch wheels? Check out our guide to know if you can install 29-inch wheels onto 700c bikes
7. Keep In Mind The Frame Material
Frames are the skeleton around which the rest of your bike is built. In the old days, most frames apart from elite racing bikes were made from steel. Steel was durable and tough as a bike component (check out any old BMX from the ’80s) but it was heavy.
These days almost all frames are made either from aluminum or carbon. While a carbon frame bike is considerably lighter than aluminum, it is considerably more expensive to buy. On a hybrid bike, I would say go with the aluminum frame unless you’re after the very top-of-the-range bike. Both materials are strong, rust-resistant, and offer smooth riding
8. The Size Of The Bike
Make sure you get the right size for your body. It will be uncomfortable if your bike is not your right fit. Also if your bike isn’t comfortable, you’ll find reasons not to use it. Bikes that are too big will be ungainly and wobbly whereas a small bike will be uncomfortable.
Not sure what size bike you need? Our bike size chart will help you find the perfect fit. Check it out now
9. The Seat Material
Most seats on hybrids and city bikes come with padded seats as opposed to the thin foam-covered things on racing and mountain bikes. Some come with suspension seat posts. These stop the ass shock we sometimes get when we bang up a slam vertical and don’t have time to get up in the pedals, you know the ones that travel up your spine and into your mouth.
Whatever you do, make sure you take a test ride and get a feel for the bike before you buy. Sure the bike may look great but you can never tell until you get up and ride it around.
Tip: If you have to raise the seat over the maximum stripe on the post, your bike is too small and dangerous to use. Just don’t do it.
10. Comfort And Suspension
How much does comfort matter to you? It’s a personal preference, but I prefer bikes with no added suspension whatsoever, but others do. One of the most common elements to aid in a comfortable ride comes with the front suspension fork. These work by compressing to take the shock and absorb the effects of bumping up and down sidewalks or mashing into potholes. They also help keep your hands on the handlebars when you bash against something.
They ensure that it’s the bike that takes the hit and not your arms and gives you a smoother, overall ride. But if you have a limited budget and aren’t thinking about spending $700 and up, then get yourself a bike without suspension. You will get a better bike overall.
Not all gears are created equal.
For instance, if you live in San Fran and will be spending your days going up and down hills, then you’re going to be looking for more gears than say if you were rolling along with Manhattan, where possibly even one gear would do you. Regardless of the number of gears, modern bikes will shift with just the slightest finger press up and down the gears like a blind mouse on a piano.
Most modern bikes come with a lot of gears, from 16 up to 30. If you want it for touring or going long distances, then it’s something you might want to look at the details of. What’s most important is that the gears are high quality and built for the purpose.
You don’t need the super low climbing gearing for climbing the Rockies if you’re mostly traveling along canals or Main Street. If this is the case, then single-gear bikes are also making a comeback.
Most hybrid bikes are perfect for urban maneuvers where all you have to do is pedal. I bought one myself the other month, and it’s perfect for heading out with the kids on a Saturday morning. But whatever you choose, make sure the bike shop guy shows you how the gears work.
12. The Brakes
It doesn’t matter how fast you go if you can’t stop quickly and safely. Like everything else with a hybrid, it depends on exactly what you’re doing. Most off-the-peg hybrid bikes come with a linear braking system (the ones that fit against the wheel, just below the tire).
These are fine for almost all situational riding, but should you be able to, do get hydraulic disc brakes or mechanical disc brakes. Unlike the rim brakes, these fit right at the center of the wheel and give more control to your bike when braking, but they also remain more effective in wet and muddy conditions. The important thing to note here is that your bike has brakes and they work.
But What Is A Hybrid Bike?
If you’re not quite up to speed with what’s going on in the biking world then you may think that hybrid bikes are supposed to be all things to all people and consequently not very good at anything, a bit like a flying car, but this is just not the case with hybrid bikes.
Don’t think of hybrids as being less than the sum of their parts. Hybrids are versatile, adaptable, and hard-wearing bikes, perfect on the road or gravel trail. In some respects, buying a hybrid is more complicated than buying either a dedicated road or mountain bike in that to get the exact type you’re after, you have to make some very conscious decisions about what you’re buying.
Why Should You Choose A Hybrid Bike?
There are many reasons for choosing a hybrid bike, but here is a detailed comparison of mountain, road, and hybrid bikes to help you understand better.
|Rough exterior, smooth interior for road and off-road
|Designed for grip on rocky trails, less suitable for roads
|Designed for speed on smooth roads, can lose grip off-road
|Less effort on roads compared to mountain bikes
|More effort on roads due to friction and tire design
|Efficient on roads, less suitable for off-road terrain
|Relaxed cycling position with flat handlebars
|Varied riding positions, often less comfortable
|Aerodynamic position for speed, less comfort for long rides
|Lighter than mountain bikes, heavier than Road Bikes
|Heavier for off-road stability
|Lighter for speed and efficiency on roads
|Can handle light off-road trails, not suitable for MTB
|Designed for off-road trails, not efficient on roads
|Not suitable for off-road, optimized for road performance
|Similar to mountain bikes but set up for road cycling
|Geared for hill and trail climbing, less suitable for roads
|Geared for quick horizontal travel on smooth roads
|Conveniently located at the ends of flat handlebars
|Varies, may require overreaching
|Varies, may require adjustments for comfort
|Equipped with rack mountings and mudguards for commuters
|Limited or no provisions for accessories
|May not have provisions for accessories
If you’re still unsure about which bike to choose, check out our detailed comparison between road bikes and hybrids.
What are hybrid bikes used for?
Hybrid bikes are used for riding over a variety of terrain.
What is a hybrid bike best for?
Hybrid bikes are best suited for urban riding.
Are hybrid bikes good for everyday use?
Yes, hybrid bikes are good for everyday use.
Are hybrid bikes good for hills?
Hybrid bikes are good for gravel riding and light mountain riding.
Hybrid bikes are the way to go if you’re new to cycling and want to go reasonably fast over various terrains and remain comfortable while doing so. They are the perfect all-around bike.
But make sure you do your homework before you buy, use the guide above, buy from a reputable dealer, and buy a known brand.