Everyone's heard of mountain bikes and road bikes. And if you’re looking to buy a new bike, maybe you’ve been comparing the two to see which is right for you? Well what if we told you there’s no need to choose! With a hybrid bike you can have the best of both worlds.
Hybrid bikes have increased in popularity over the years, and for good reason too. They’re versatile and comfortable, making them a great all-round bike! But what does hybrid bike mean? Our guide will tell you everything you need to know about these popular bikes, and we’ll give you our pick of the top hybrid bikes for those new to cycling.
So, what is a hybrid bike?
Simply put, a hybrid bike is a mix of a mountain bike and a road bike. Hybrid bikes feature all the best bits of each to create an all-rounder that’s comfortable and suitable for riding over various types of terrain. They’re the perfect city bike which makes them most popular among commuters.
Hybrid bikes are strong and sturdy, making them great for a bit of off-roading. But they also have fairly thin tyres and a wide range of gearing so they’re speedy on the roads too. Hybrid bikes will usually come with mudguards and pannier racks for all-weather protection, and disc brakes for fast and effective braking. So unless you want a road bike or a mountain bike for a specific purpose, hybrid bikes really are the most versatile option for casual cyclists - perfect for cycling to work during the week, and ready for adventure at the weekends.
What are the benefits of a hybrid bike?
Hybrid bikes are a blend of different bikes and are suitable for different riding conditions. They’re very comfortable and versatile, and they’re quite affordable too. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of a hybrid bike in a little more detail:
- Versatility: Can be ridden on both smooth and rough surfaces: roads, gravel, dirty trails, rocky areas, and even wetlands.
- Comfort: Usually with a comfortable saddle and upright handlebars. Most also come with a suspension fork on the front wheel, which helps in keeping the rider mounted, even when going over a bump.
- Lightweight: The frame is usually made of high-quality and lightweight aluminium, and the thin tyres make the bike easier to maneuver.
- Good control and visibility: This is due to the upright riding position which is somewhere between a road bike and a mountain bike that many riders prefer, particularly for commuting.
- Health and utility: Working the lower body and increasing blood circulation to keep you fit and healthy, while easily running errands at the same time.
- Can carry extra weight: They are usually equipped with mounts or pannier racks so you can carry more luggage. There are also lots of other accessories and attachments available for hybrid bikes, including bottle holders and lights.
Hybrid bikes offer so many benefits, but one of the best parts about buying one is that they are very affordable. Even professional riders nowadays like to use hybrid bikes for their everyday use, as a single-purpose bike—such as a road bike—usually has a higher price tag due to quality and its lightweight materials and components.
What features are important on a hybrid bike?
Some hybrid bikes are more similar to mountain bikes, and others are closer to road bikes.
28 inch is the standard wheel size found on most hybrid bikes, which are considered road-style wheels. Though some are equipped with smaller 26 inch wheels which are commonly found on mountain bikes.
What features you go for on your hybrid bike depends on the type of riding you’ll be doing, though things like tyres and handlebars can be changed.
Here are some of the other features to look out for:
- Wheels and tyres: Hybrid bike tyres are often a mid-way point between thick mountain bike tyres, and the thin tyres you’ll see on road bikes. Commuters who spend most of their time in cycle lanes may choose to go for a more road-style slick tyre for performance, whereas those wanting to use their bike for touring at the weekend on grass, trails or muddy country roads would benefit from a tyre with good tread.
For more information on tyres, take a look at our guide on how to choose your hybrid bike tyres.
- Frame: A hybrid bike frame again takes elements from both mountain bikes and road bikes. Although they look slender, hybrid bike frames are usually reinforced at certain points for durability. A hybrid bike frame also tends to feature geometry designed for more relaxed riding, though the seat and handlebar post can be tweaked to increase performance when required.
- Handlebars: The handlebars are what make hybrid bikes unique. They’re flat and straight, and come with the upright seating position similar to that of a mountain bike. Although you can install any handlebar you like on your hybrid bike, so you can choose which works for you and the type of riding you’ll be doing.
- Forks and suspension: There are a few choices when it comes to forks and suspension systems on a hybrid bike. The forks hold the front wheel in place, and you can get rigid, front suspension or full suspension bikes. Suspension absorbs bumps and uneven terrain, so if you’re planning on taking your hybrid bike on more adventurous rides, you might want to consider additional suspension over a rigid fork that connects straight to the wheel axle.
- Brakes: Mountain bikes often have disc brakes, which provide optimal stopping performance on hillsides and tight turns. Road bikes use rim caliper brakes that sit on the frame, squeezing the rim to provide stopping power. Hybrid bikes can have either of the two, or even more complex brakes using hydraulic fluid - so think about the type of riding you’ll be doing when making your decision.
- Gears: Bikes can have a broad range of gears: 1, 3, 18, 21, 24, 27, or 30 speeds. To keep it simple, the most important things to consider are the terrain you’ll be riding on and your fitness levels. If you’re going to be doing a lot of uphill riding, then you’ll want to opt for more gears. These bikes have a freewheel mechanism in the rear hub that allows you to coast just like you would on a standard bike with multiple gears.
- Panniers and accessories: There are lots of accessories available, depending on what you’re going to be using your bike for. If you’re using your hybrid for commuting during the week, then panniers and racks will make it easier to carry your bags. You may also consider adding things like a water bottle cage and a pump holder onto your bike for weekend rides. Just beware that anything extra on your frame will make the bike heavier.
What are the different types of hybrid bikes?
Hybrid bikes are some of the most versatile bicycles on the market, designed specifically for beginners and recreational riders. They are an ideal option for commuting and city riding, as well as leisure riding on the weekends. Hybrid bikes can be split into two main groups:
Hybrid ‘classic’ bikes, and sport/leisure bikes.
Classic hybrid bikes
These hybrid bikes have traditionally styled frames that are instantly recognisable, and offer a comfortable, upright riding position. They’re ideal for short trips and relaxed urban cycling, as hybrid classic bikes are often fitted with chain and mudguards. And they’ll sometimes come with a basket and a rack to carry your belongings - perfect for a trip to the shops, or a picnic in the park. Although, they don’t offer the handling and speed that some other hybrid bikes do.
This bike is designed for journeys of around 10km and over, ideal for your weekly commute! This fully-equipped, versatile bike has 24-speeds to take on those hills, and its aluminium frame makes the bike lighter. The suspension fork dampens impacts on uneven ground, and it comes with B’Twin’s lifetime warranty on the bike frame, stem, and handlebar.
You’ll find the full Decathlon hybrid bike range here.
Sport or leisure hybrid bikes
Sport or leisure hybrid bikes can be split into two main types: Road, and mixed terrain hybrids.
Road hybrids have narrower tyres (compared to a mixed terrain hybrid) and a rigid road fork, making these hybrids perfect for riding on roads and cycle tracks. Road hybrids are similar to flat-bar road bikes, though the riding position is more upright, with more nimble handling. Road hybrids are lighter in weight than equivalently priced mixed terrain hybrids, making them ideal for city cycling, cycle path commuting, and fitness training.
Mixed terrain hybrids have wider tyres, with a mountain bike style front suspension fork. This allows you to cycle comfortably on both smooth and rough terrain. Mixed terrain hybrids are great for weekend rides through parks and along canal towpaths, as well as on roads and cycle paths.
This flat handlebar road bike is perfect for regular cyclists. It’s our most comfortable road bike, and comes with disc brakes, a special road geometry frame, and Shimano Sora groupset. The new ErgoFit saddle guarantees long-lasting comfort, and it has inserts for a pannier rack and mudguards. This bike also comes with B’Twin’s lifetime warranty on the bike frame, stem, and handlebar for peace of mind.
Whether it's for sport or recreation, hybrid bikes are great for both earthy tracks and tarmac. Check out our tips to help choose the best hybrid bike for you.
What is a hybrid electric bike?
There is another option when it comes to hybrid bikes, and that’s a pedelec or ebike. Hybrid e-bikes are fitted with batteries that can be switched on and off when needed to add some extra power to a pedal stroke. These bikes flatten the hills and make it easier to get up to speed. Hybrid electric bikes can get up to speeds of around 15 mph, perfect for getting around the city quickly. These bikes really do offer the best of both worlds: you get to your final destination a little more quickly, while still burning some calories. And they needn’t be expensive.
This electric bike has been designed to give your rides a little extra oomph! Ideal for regular rides on roads and trails, the electrical assist has a range of up to 90km! It comes with puncture-resistant tyres, an 8-speed shifter so you can easily change speeds, and hydraulic disc brakes for clean, precise braking.
Hybrid bikes make the perfect companion for beginner and recreational riders. If you’re looking for a general purpose bike for commuting, fitness training or light off-roading - these are the bikes for you. Sure, a road bike will be faster. And a mountain bike will be better off-road. But nothing beats the comfort and the versatility of a hybrid bike.