What Is a Hybrid Bike? And How to Choose the Best One

What Is a Hybrid Bike? And How to Choose the Best One

Categories: Articles, Hybrid Bike
blue hybrid bike
We are reader-supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through the links on our site. Read More...

Brimming with versatility, the hybrid bike is the true workhorse of the cycling world. If you’re looking for the perfect two-wheeler that bridges city commutes and off-road adventures, then the hybrid bicycle is exactly what you need.

But what is a hybrid bike exactly?

A hybrid bike is a blend of two different types of bikes—a road bike and a mountain bike. It combines the speed and lightness of a road bike with the comfort and ruggedness of a mountain bike.

Whether you’re weaving through city traffic or conquering a rugged off-road trail, the hybrid bike handles it all with grace and efficiency.

In the blog post below, we’ll tell you more about its features, strengths, and weaknesses and help you decide whether this is the right bike type for you.

Let’s begin.


What Is a Hybrid Bike?

Trek FX hybrid bike with accessories
The Trek FX equipped with numerous accessories, pictured above, is a great example of hybrid bikes’ versatility. (Source: trekbikes.com)

Back in the day, 10-speed racing road bikes and steel touring bikes used to rule the cycling world, until mountain bikes came around in the 1980s, allowing people to ride off-road.

But riders needed something in-between that would be good on smooth tarmac, potholed city streets, and gravel side roads.

The industry’s answer was to take the mountain bike frame and geometry and fit it with narrower wheels, flat handlebars, and lots of gears to create a bike that can do it all.

Today, hybrids are characterized by having 700c or 650b wheels, disc brakes, a wide gear range, and mounting points for numerous accessories.

What Is a Fitness Hybrid Bike?

Typically, hybrid bicycles have tires that are narrower than those on mountain bikes, but wider than those on road bikes—somewhere in the range of 35-40 mm.

However, fitness hybrids have tires that are closer in width to road bike tires, typically ranging from 25-30 mm. That makes them faster than regular models and more suitable for fast fitness rides on smooth tarmac.

In addition, they also have a more forward-oriented aerodynamic geometry, with flat handlebars positioned lower than the saddle. Therefore, they are ideal for riders who love speed and use their bikes for workouts but don’t want to get a traditional road bike.


What Is a Hybrid Bike Good For?

A hybrid bicycle is a jack of trades, but a master of none, making it an excellent choice for various cycling situations. It can be the ideal choice in most situations, with two exceptions: a road race and proper mountain biking trails.

man riding a hybrid bike on city streets

It is ideal as a daily urban commuter, as it can smoothly maneuver through busy city streets, allowing you to skip past traffic and get to your destination fast.

Its efficient tires and lightweight design give it a speed close to that of a road bike, making it a solid choice for long-distance rides on paved surfaces.

But a hybrid bike isn’t limited to asphalt alone.

Thanks to its versatile geometry, wide-range gearing, front suspension and sufficiently wide tires, it can also tackle light off-road trails and gravel roads, providing you with the option to take an adventurous detour.

A hybrid bike is truly the Swiss knife of the biking world, boasting versatility for both urban commuting and off-road adventures, providing comfort and efficiency in all settings.

A hybrid is also ideal for those who crave comfort, as its upright position reduces strain on your back, shoulders, and hands during long days in the saddle.

In essence, this type shines as a bicycle of all seasons and reasons, perfect for anyone who craves versatility. It is the Swiss knife of the biking world.


Important Hybrid Bike Features

hybrid bike features

Every hybrid bicycle has some recognizable features that give it its versatility and unique characteristics.

Aluminum Frame and Flat Bars

When it comes to frame materials, most models have a high-quality aluminum frame, which is a more affordable, durable, and practical option than carbon fiber.

All models also have flat handlebars borrowed from mountain bikes. These are comfortable to ride, versatile, and have easy-to-use MTB-style controls.

They offer a more comfortable ride compared to drop bars, but are not as versatile and also provide fewer hand positions.

700C/650B Wheels and Slim Tires

Nowadays, hybrids typically come with 700C wheels and narrow tires or 650B wheels and slightly wider tires.

The first option is ideal for tarmac, whereas the second option is more off-road oriented. The tires are typically 35 mm wide or more, which is the ideal width for versatile riding on different terrains.

Disc Brakes

tektro hydraulic disc brakes on a hybrid bike
Tektro hydraulic disc brakes on a Co-op Cycles CTY 2.1 hybrid bike.

Disc brakes have become part of standard components on hybrid bikes, replacing inferior rim brakes.

Depending on the price, your hybrid might come with hydraulic disc brakes or mechanical ones, the former offering more stopping power, better control, and requiring less frequent adjustment.

Upright Geometry

Another important characteristic of hybrid bikes is an upright geometry that puts the rider in a comfortable upright riding position. However, some models, such as fitness hybrids, have more aggressive geometry that offers better aerodynamics and higher speeds.

Racks and Other Accessories

Hybrid bikes are ideal for year-round city commutes as they usually come with numerous accessories, such as front and rear racks, fenders, lights, a kickstand, and so on.

If they don’t, they at least have rack mounts and other mounting points to retrofit these parts.


Priority Bicycles 600
Priority Bicycles 600 hybrid bike with a gates carbon belt drive and Pinion internal gearbox.

Most of these bikes have Shimano or SRAM components with durable hubs and wide-range gearing for traversing different terrains. Some electric models also have a rear hub motor or a mid-drive motor to help you cycle uphill with less effort.

Low-maintenance drivetrains with a belt drive and an internally geared hub are also becoming popular, such as on models from Priority Bicycles, Vvolt, and Ride1UP.

Hybrid bikes used to have as many as 27-30 gears, until 2x drivetrains became more popular recently. Nowadays, the spec list typically includes a 2×8, 2×9, or 2×10 drivetrain that offers enough gears for any terrain.

Suspension Fork

Most models come with a suspension fork that offers anywhere between 40mm and 80mm of travel. That’s less than what you get on a hardtail mountain bike, but enough to make the ride a lot more comfortable. Speed-oriented models usually come with rigid aluminum or carbon forks.


Types of Hybrid Bikes You Can Get

The CTY 1.1 hybrid bike
The Co-op Cycles CTY 1.1 is one of the best examples of the timeless hybrid bike design.

Hybrid bikes come in various subtypes, each of which tailors to different riders and riding purposes.

Most of the subtypes you can see below are similar to each other but have slight differences regarding geometry, components, tires, and accessories.

  • Commuter Bikes: Most of the best commuter bikes are hybrids with comfortable upright geometry, wide gearing, and lots of accessories like a rear rack, fenders, kickstand, and lights. This makes them practical for year-round use in urban environments.
  • City Bikes: City bikes have similar accessories as commuters, but are usually slower, heavier, and have swept-back handlebars for an even more upright riding position. They are designed for shorter urban rides and casual riding.
  • Comfort Bikes: Comfort bikes are also known as cruiser bikes and they typically come with wide balloon tires, single-speed drivetrains, steel frames, and cruiser handlebars. The best comfort bikes are slow and heavy, but extremely comfortable.
  • Fitness Bikes: Fitness bikes are high-performance hybrids built around lightweight aluminum or carbon frames with faster gearing and minimal accessories. They are intended for speedy commutes or recreational training rides for cyclists who prefer flat bars to drop bars on road bikes.
  • Touring Hybrid Bikes: This subtype is intended for long-distance cycling with comfortable upright geometries and the capacity to carry panniers for extended trips. with comfortable upright geometries and the capacity to carry panniers for extended trips
  • Electric Hybrid Bikes: These come with an electric motor and battery that assist the rider while pedaling to help them climb hills more easily and cover more distance with less strain.


Hybrid Bike vs Mountain Bike vs Road Bike

road bike vs mountain bike vs hybrid bike

The three main contenders in the cycling world are road bikes, mountain bikes, and hybrid bikes. Each comes with its unique set of strengths and weaknesses, so here’s a quick breakdown of each type to help you choose the right one for yourself.

Road Bikes

The best road bikes out there, with their lightweight framesets and narrow, high-pressure tires, are designed for long-distance riding on smooth paved roads.

The drop handlebars allow for an aerodynamic riding position and multiple hand positions, reducing strain on long days.

Unfortunately, their lack of shock absorption and thin tires make them unsuitable for off-road adventures.

It’s worth mentioning the gravel bike here as well, as it blends road bike features with mountain bike tires to create a fast, off-road capable machine.

Mountain Bikes

Mountain bikes are the true kings of off-road terrain and trails. They are the hardy all-terrain vehicles of the cycling world.

With wide knobby tires, heavy-duty frames, and superior suspension, a mountain bike can handle most off-road trails and obstacles.

However, these features make them heavy and slow on smooth pavement, so you can’t use them for longer rides or commutes without getting tired and worn down.

Hybrid Bikes

Enter the hybrid bike that borrows the best from both worlds and that can do it all.

Its frame is lighter than a mountain bike and sturdier than a road bike, its tires are medium-width, and its geometry prioritizes comfort without neglecting speed completely.

However, while hybrids can handle both pavement and light off-road trails, they may not match the speed of a pure road bike or the off-road capability of a dedicated mountain bike.

In sum, your choice depends on where and how you want to ride.

For speed on pavement, go with a road bike; for rugged off-road trails, go with a mountain bike; and for city commutes and all-around cycling, the hybrid bike stands out as an ideal choice.


Is a Hybrid Good for Long Distance Cycling?

Depending on its geometry and features, a hybrid bike can be a great choice for long-distance cycling. It is a common choice among bicycle tourists who choose it for its versatility and heavy-duty build.

black hybrid bicycle leaning against a concrete wall
(Source: statebicycle.com)

To be the right candidate for long-distance cycling, a hybrid needs to be light, have narrow tires, comfortable upright geometry, and wide-range gearing.

This set of characteristics would allow you to spend long hours in the saddle without pains and aches while using your pedaling power efficiently.

With its balance of comfort and speed, a hybrid bike stands as a prime choice for long-distance cycling, offering efficient pedaling and enduring comfort for lengthy rides, be they for leisure or commuting.

While it might not be as swift as a dedicated road bike due to its slightly heavier build, the hybrid provides a balance of comfort and speed, making it well-suited for covering long distances, whether for leisure or long commutes.


Popular Hybrid Bike Brands

When it comes to choosing a hybrid bike, selecting the right brand is crucial for quality, budget, and riding style.

Luckily, there are dozens of great brands out there and below we’ll help you choose by listing some of the best ones in our opinion.

1. Cannondale

Cannondale is known for its innovative designs and high-quality hybrid bikes at affordable prices.

Some of the top models you should consider include:

See the Selection on REI

2. Specialized

Specialized is known for performance-oriented fitness hybrid bicycles, but they also make high-quality recreational hybrid bikes and commuters.

Their bikes are slightly more expensive than the competition, but they deliver high value. These are the top models:

  • Sirrus
  • Roll
  • Crossroads
  • Turbo Como
  • Turbo Vado

See the Selection on Specialized.com

3. Giant

Giant is the world’s biggest cycling brand that offers a wide range of hybrid bicycles, suitable for various riding styles and preferences.

Discover their top models below:

  • Escape and Escape Disc
  • Cypress
  • FastRoad

See the Selection on MikesBikes.com

4. Trek

Trek has a reputation for producing modern, durable, and high-value hybrid bikes in a variety of categories.

Our favorite models include:

  • FX
  • Verve
  • Dual Sport
  • District

See the Selection on TrekBikes.com

5. Co-op Cycles

Co-op Cycles is a cycling brand designed by REI that offers affordable hybrid bikes that cater to different needs, from city commuting to off-road adventures.

They have one lineup of hybrid bicycles called the CTY, which you can purchase through REI.

See the Selection on REI.com

6. Priority Bicycles

Priority Bicycles manufactures high-quality commuter and urban hybrid bikes with belt drives and internal gear hubs.

They are ideal for riders who are looking for extremely durable and low-maintenance options. Consider these models:

  • Classic Plus
  • Continuum Onyx
  • 600
  • Ace
  • Turi

See the Selection on PriorityBicycles.com

7. Public Bikes

Public Bikes is a brand that focuses on affordable hybrid and city bikes, ideal for beginners and light commuters.

Their models blend style with form and the best ones you should consider include:

  • D8i
  • V7i
  • R18
  • V9

See the Selection on PublicBikes.com

8. State Bicycle Company

State Bicycle Company offers a range of affordable and stylish hybrid bicycles that suit urban and recreational riders.

They have a large number of models to choose from, in various categories, some of which include:

  • Core-Line
  • 4130
  • City Bikes
  • Klunker
  • Black Label

See the Selection on StateBicycle.com

Electric Hybrid Bike Brands

For those looking for electric hybrid bikes, these are the best brands you should consider right now.

9. Aventon

Aventon specializes in affordably priced electric hybrid bikes with rear hub motors and large batteries.

The selection includes commuters, fat bikes, foldable bikes, and cargo bikes.

See All Models

10. Ride1UP

Ride1UP’s models  are designed for efficiency and reliability and are priced very affordably.

The selection includes high-power models with rear hub motors, chain or belt drives, and large batteries.

See All Models

11. Rad Power Bikes

Rad Power Bikes is a prominent name in the electric hybrid bike sector, known for its powerful and affordable e-bikes.

This is one of the best-selling brands in the USA when it comes to this type of bikes.

See All Models

12. Juiced Bikes

Juiced Bikes offers a range of electric hybrid bikes with impressive power and features.

Most of its models have 1000W+ motors and top speeds of 30+ mph.

See All Models

13. Lectric Bikes

Lectric Bikes is a brand that focuses on providing high-quality, yet budget-friendly electric hybrid bikes.

Their lineup mainly includes foldable bikes and electric hybrid commuters.

See All Models

We also recommend checking out the online retailers below as a good starting point to find great hybrid bicycles:


Frequently Asked Questions

A hybrid bike can be pretty fast, but not as fast as a road bike. A good average speed on a hybrid bike is around 13-16 mph, though this depends on a lot of factors. Fitness hybrid bikes can maintain an even higher average speed, whereas off-road-focused models with 650B wheels will be a bit slower.

Almost all big-name brands in the cycling world offer several models of hybrid bikes, including Giant, Trek, Specialized, and Cannondale. There are also numerous smaller brands that sell high-quality hybrid bikes, such as Co-op Cycles, Priority Bikes, State Bicycle Co., and many more.


Final Thoughts

The hybrid bike is truly the jack-of-all-trades in the cycling world. It’s a combination of speed and durability, made to handle different types of terrain. It’s perfect for the city commute, long-distance journeys, and even a bit of off-road fun.

man and woman riding hybrid bikes
(Source: cannondale.com)

They provide an incredible balance of performance and comfort, making them a go-to choice for many riders. As your trusty two-wheeled companion, the hybrid bike doesn’t discriminate whether your path takes you through buzzing city streets, peaceful park trails, or challenging gravel routes.

Hybrid bikes offer speed, comfort, and versatility, making them ideal for city rides, long journeys, and even off-road trails to suit various riders’ needs.

Whether you’re a city rider or an off-road adventurer, the hybrid bicycle offers a great balance of speed, comfort, and versatility. Remember, the best bike for you is the one that fits your needs and riding style.

Read Next

Best Hybrid Bikes for Men & Women

Best Hybrid Bikes for Women

Top 10 Best Entry-Level Hybrid Bikes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *