There are several types of bikes in the market that require you to be keen to settle for the right one that meets your needs. One of the common bike types in the streets and in the market are the hybrid bikes. But what is a hybrid bike?
Just as the name suggests, a hybrid bike is a classic bike with a combination of a mountain bike and road bike features. The bikes are made for general purpose riding and are sturdy enough to tolerate most unfavorable road conditions. Riders usually prefer these bikes for commuting.
So, if you’re planning to buy a hybrid bike, this guide got your back as we’ll discuss its features, uses, and who it best suits in detail.
History Of Hybrid Bike
Unlike the other types of bikes, hybrid bikes are a new entrant in the market. Its invention came way after mountain and road bikes in the late 19th century. Its design is a mixture of a road bike and mountain bike as its manufacturers took specific best features of each of the bikes to create it.
Hybrid bike features make it the best choice for casual cyclists and commuters who like low-maintenance bikes that suit different environments.
The hybrid bike has more roadster features, a durable messenger bicycle. The roadster bikes were used in the first and second world wars because they were durable and required less maintenance.
Because of their heavyweight, cyclists longed for a lightweight bike that could give them a new riding style. This saw the birth of the hybrid bikes. They were made of aluminum, lightweight, and offered new riding styles.
But the manufacturers of this bike made it have a jack of all trades design suitable for use in different types of cycling environments.
Since the entrance of the hybrid bikes into the market in the 1980s, there have been immense changes on it. The bike’s popularity has increased, and the manufacturers have developed different subtypes of the bike.
The hybrid bike subtypes are commuter, city, trekking, comfort, and cross bikes. Currently, hybrid bikes are the most popular bicycle models in Britain.
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Features Of Hybrid Bike
You need to know the features of the hybrid bike you’re about to buy to get the best that meets your expectations. The features you need to look into include;
The frames of hybrid bikes are strong and durable, enabling you to use them in off-road riding. It resembles the road bike frame and is made using different materials. Each of the materials makes these bikes stand out.
The aluminum frame is lightweight, strong, and affordable. The hybrid bike frame has incorporated newer construction techniques that make it absorb shock on rough roads. However, the steel frame is heavier but stronger, flexible, and comfortable, allowing you to have a smooth ride.
The hybrid bikes also have carbon fiber frames which are lighter than aluminum and much stronger than steel. This frame is more expensive than the rest, making it a high-end bike.
Note that the frame styles differ. For example, the women’s hybrid bike frames have a lower top tube that doesn’t require users to lift their legs higher to get into the bike.
Most hybrid bike wheels are size 700 cc, the same as road bikes. These wheels enable you to ride faster and are easy to handle. However, there are medium-sized wheels of 26 inches which are thinner than those of mountain bikes and are smoother. What makes the tires of these bikes stand out is their unique design which enables them to cruise rough, bumpy roads. But the hybrid bike tires are bigger than road bikes, making them stronger but slower.
Hybrid bikes have a rigid front fork that makes them stronger for off-roading and easier to climb hills, enabling you to feel the surface you’re cycling in. Some hybrid bikes for off-roading have a front fork with suspension, allowing you to move on such roads with less challenges. It’s best to use a hybrid bike with a rigid fork if you like to commute.
The hybrid bike has rim brakes with pads that hold on to the wheel rims. The rim brakes are economical, easy to replace, and allow you to see any pad wear faster. However, they damage the wheel rim requiring you to replace the wheel as well. Rim brakes have less stopping power and don’t work well on wet and muddy roads, making you strain your fingers to have the bike stop.
However, some hybrid bikes also have disc brakes mounted to the wheel hub. Your hybrid bike could have hydraulic disc brakes that are good at progressive and strong braking without much finger effort. The hydraulic brakes self-adjust for brake pad wear.
But your hybrid bike can also have a mechanical disc brake which requires you to adjust it as the pad wears manually.
What makes the disc brakes a better choice for hybrid bikes is their consistent braking in any condition. These brakes are cheaper to replace as you only fix the worn-out rotor instead of the whole wheel. In addition to that, it does perform better on steep, wet trails preventing your fingers from straining.
However, you’ll have challenges inspecting the pad wear or replacing the pads. This makes it expensive to repair the hydraulic brakes.
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The Handlebars Shape
Before buying a hybrid bike, it’s advisable to look at the level of the seat in comparison to the handlebars. If the seat is far and below the handlebars, you’ll be comfortable while riding. The hybrid handlebars and seat are exactly this fit, ensuring you stay comfortable while cruising different roads. It enables you to ride in an upright posture and reduces pressure on your shoulders, wrists, and hands.
The handlebars of this bike are wider than that of the road bike and measure about 450-600mm, which allows you to have better control of the steering. However, there are some hybrid bikes with raised handlebars that increase comfortability.
Hybrid bikes have different types of gear. Some have about eight gears, while most have about 18 to 24 adjustable gears on the crankset. Most hybrid bikes have derailleur gear that you can change by a derailleur attached at the end of the frame.
The rear derailleur changes gears on the sprockets on the rear wheel. But the front derailleur shifts gears on the bike’s cranks. It’s best to look at the terrain you’re to ride on and your fitness level to know the best gear to go for.
There are hybrid bikes with hub gears that enable users to change gears while the bike is stationary. Such gears best suit commuter users who stop and start their bike severally when on the go.
Additionally, the hybrid bike pedals can be customized according to the user’s preference. If you like to drive faster, go for pedals with cleats. But the flat and wide pedals suit a rider looking for comfortability and stability when riding.
The saddle of the hybrid bike resembles that of a road bike and mountain bike. They’re padded to cushion your back and hips when riding on bumpy roads. The saddle is also not too big or large, comfortably fitting any user. But you can customize the saddle to your preferred style and size depending on your riding style.
The women’s hybrid bikes have bigger saddles to support their weight as they cycle and help them maintain an upright posture while cycling.
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Uses Of Hybrid Bikes
A hybrid bike suits various uses because of its outstanding features, enabling you to ride it in different environments and trails.
- You can ride this bike on paved roads, smooth trails, and a city environment for fun.
- This bike can also allow you to access areas with bad, rough roads as it can withstand off-road riding. However, if you want your hybrid bike to last longer, it’s best to use it on gentle and smooth trails with little or no bumps. This is because these bikes don’t have suspensions that can handle the rocks and jumps off roads.
- It’s also a good pick for a commuter user who prefers cycling to work during the week and then join friends and family for a weekend ride.
- A hybrid bike is also a good bike to use when you want to learn how to cycle. It will enable you to master different riding styles on different roads comfortably as it is comfortable to use on both roads.
Does The Hybrid Bike Limit the People Who Can Use It?
Even though a hybrid bike is versatile or multipurpose, it’s not for everyone. The features of this bike, which are both for road and mountain bikes, can be a challenge for some people. This bike also performs better on certain roads, while it will be a real challenge to ride them on others.
So, if you’re used to riding a road bike that moves faster and is more aerodynamic than a hybrid bike, you’ll have some problems. On the other hand, if you like mountain bikes with better suspension and stronger frames, it will be a struggle when you opt for a hybrid bike for off-road riding.
It’s best to stick to certain bikes if you want to perform better and have a good riding experience. But you can learn to use a hybrid bike to be more versatile and conversant with different riding styles, saving you in certain situations.
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Can You Use Hybrid Bikes in Competitive Cycling?
The hybrid bikes don’t suit any competitive cycling race and have never featured in professional riding competitions like the Olympic level. The bike’s features make it a better choice for casual or fun riding in certain environments.
However, some competitions, such as the road races and triathlons, allow their use, although they don’t perform any better than the other types of bikes. One of the hybrid bikes subtypes that’s popular and is used for the cyclocross competition is the cyclocross bike. The other types of hybrid bikes are not common in everyday competitions.
Advantages Of Cycling a Hybrid Bike
The hybrid bike has many benefits for the riders who constantly use it.
- First, it’s comfortable to ride as it allows you to maintain an upright posture while riding.
- You will also be more stable when riding upright on bumpy and long distances.
- Hybrid bikes are also affordable, making them a good choice for those on a tight budget.
- What’s more, its features make it a multipurpose bike which is a good choice for one who wants a bike with both the road bike and mountain bike characteristics.
Disadvantages Of Hybrid Bike
Despite this bike having great features, some things make it not a good choice.
- A hybrid bike doesn’t suit cycling on certain roads. For example, you can’t ride it on a trail where a mountain bike does without experiencing challenges.
- These bikes also cannot do better on off-roading rides because they’re not much stronger or more durable.
- If you ride a hybrid bike on a trail with obstacles and bumps, your chances of getting accidents increase, unlike when you’re riding a mountain bike.
- It limits the kind of cycling discipline you can engage in. For example, you can’t use it for Olympics competitions.
Do Hybrid Bikes Have Any Positive Environmental Impacts?
Hybrid bikes are a good choice for riders who want sustainable and eco-friendly bikes. This bike can allow you to cycle on the roads with potholes and other obstacles within the town. Hybrid bikes are also a better way to reduce the number of cars in town, reducing traffic and human congestion. It will also help you reduce your carbon footprint as it doesn’t require fueling to operate.
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What To Do to Have Your Hybrid Functioning for Long
If you buy a hybrid bike, you’ll enjoy using it for a long time without doing much maintenance. However, to have it run for long, you need to avoid using it on certain roads. Don’t ride it in areas with a lot of off-roading environments. Instead, use them on roads with less bumps and smoother terrain.
Also, clean your hybrid bike regularly to prevent crucial parts from avoidable destruction. Plus, do repairs when the need arises to have your bike serve you for long. You can take it to a hybrid bike shop for checkups if you’re unsure what to do but want to have it with you for years.
The Best Areas to Ride a Hybrid Bike
Hybrid bikes are multipurpose bikes that you can ride in almost all areas that a road or mountain bike can pass through. However, because they don’t have suspensions, it’s best to use them on dirty roads, gravel, or pavements. These bikes also don’t require you to ride them on man-made trails. So, you can ride them on moderate mountainous terrains. But avoid rocky or steep roads to have your bike serve you longer.
Can You Add Accessories to Your Hybrid Bike?
Yes. Hybrid bikes give their owners a chance to customize them according to their preferences. You can add any accessory to make your bike better, giving you the best riding experience. Some of the recommended accessories to add are to promote your safety while cycling. You can fix bike lights to improve visibility on dark days. Add reflective accessories, especially if you ride on busy streets at night.
You can also introduce a bike lock to prevent your hybrid bike from being stolen. But don’t forget to add mudguards or pannier racks when you’re from a muddy area or intend to ride on such roads. The mudguards will protect your clothes from getting dirty, while the racks will help you carry your belongings as you cycle.
What To Wear While Riding a Hybrid Bike
The types of clothes you’ll wear while riding a hybrid bike will depend on the nature of the terrain and the riding challenge you want to participate in. If you’re going out for a casual or recreational ride, wear your comfortable biking shorts, loose jackets, or athletic clothes.
However, if you’re going to an aerodynamic racing environment, ensure you wear tight-fitting clothes. But don’t forget to put on your helmets any time you’re cycling, regardless of the terrain, to protect your head.
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What’s The Difference Between Hybrid Bikes, Mountain Bikes, and Road bikes?
Unlike the road bike, which have drop-bar handlebars, the mountain and hybrid bikes have flat handlebars. This shows that you’ll find the same shifting and braking components on both the mountain bike and hybrid bike, allowing you to control them in the same way. But the road bikes will require you to use the STI-styled brakes and shift levers which can be challenging.
The hybrid bikes are comfortable to ride as they allow you to ride upright, just like mountain bikes. But the road bike’s design is more aggressive and aerodynamic, which requires you to bend while cycling.
Road bikes best suit fast and easy pedaling on the pavements, while mountain bikes are ideal for off-roading. On the other hand, hybrid bikes are versatile but don’t perform well on off-roading rides.
Road bikes are much more expensive than the other types of bicycles. So, if you’re on a tight budget and want to experience both bikes choose a hybrid bike.
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Hybrid bikes have outstanding features and components which should make you buy them. It’s budget-friendly and doesn’t require regular maintenance. However, it works best on certain roads which are not bumpy or steep. Also, it’s not ideal for professional competitions like the Olympics. But it’s a comfortable bike to ride in an upright posture that’s good for recreational cyclists or beginners.