Torn between the heavy, rugged mountain bikes and the light, swift road bikes? If you’re looking for a ride that fills this wide gap between the two, a good hybrid bike might be best for you. With the optimal combination of different road and mountain bike features, you can find a hybrid to fill just about any slot in this gap. It’s a ride considered to be the Swiss knife of cycling.
Hybrid bikes usually have frames that are lighter compared to those of a mountain bike’s but heavier than a road bike’s. Like mountain bikes, its handlebars are typically flat and the rider sits in a more upright position than when on a road bike. Hybrids have larger wheels, like road bikes, only heavier and more solidly constructed than race wheels. Tires are a compromise between the smooth, narrow, high-pressure tire of a road bike and the fat, wide, markedly knobbed tire of a mountain bike.
The “Typical” Hybrid
There’s really no “typical” hybrid bike characterization. This type of ride runs the entire range from the pure mountain to the pure road bike.
At the mountain bike end of the scale, a hybrid can be made to be up to the task of riding on well-maintained gravel paths and beginning-level, non-technical trails.
At the opposite road bike end of the continuum, a hybrid may be suitable for medium-length fitness and endurance rides on paved roads.
However, just because the bikes are called “hybrids” does not mean they could do both ends equally well. Road-oriented hybrids will be ideal for road-style riding and not for cross-country style and vice versa; mountain-oriented hybrids will not do well over long distances on a paved surface.
The Hybrid Pros
Cost: Good entry-level hybrids won’t cost you much. It’s usually the least expensive entry point of the road, mountain, and hybrid bike.
Versatility: A middle-of-the-road hybrid can be taken on undemanding, unpaved surfaces better than a pure road bike; it can also be ridden for fairly short periods of time on paved surfaces better than a pure mountain bike.
For light recreational riding, a zip down to the store or a ride through the neighborhood with kids, hybrids will be a ride that would be good to fit your needs. It’s a good bike for a new rider to pedal so he can discover for himself what cyclist he wants to be. Once you get to know and enjoy specific cycling aspects, you can then move on to a mountain or road bike as your interest and fitness levels increase. It definitely is a good first bike for most.
Choosing the right bike at the beginning will open a whole new world that will give you years of enjoyment. Choosing the wrong one might mean buying an expensive ornament for your garage.
Come visit a Track & Trail shop near you. Feel free to test different frame set-ups and see what’s best for you and your style of riding.
Track & Trail is brought to you by TI cycles, a name synonymous with bicycling in the country, thanks to brands like BSA and Hercules.