A bike is one of the most versatile forms of transport today. It can take you wherever you want to go, and doesn’t discriminate on topography. Whether you are riding through the hills, on dirt roads, down mountains or avoiding traffic congestion in the city, a bicycle will come handy.
It doesn’t require a lot of parking space either. In a lot of ways, riding a bike beats walking and driving. It is the ultimate form of transportation as it gets you where you’re going on time, saves money on fuel and burns calories.
There are many types of bikes, and our main focus today is the hybrid bicycle. It is incredibly popular among commuters, and understandably so. Hybrid bikes come in different styles and types, each with its own features. But before we get carried away, what is a hybrid bike?
A hybrid bike is a crossbreed of mountain and road bikes. It combines the best features of both bikes, thus offering commuters the ultimate biking experience. Most people are aware of the difference between the two but for purposes of clarification, a road bike is primarily designed for use on paved surfaces. These may include roads, asphalt and sidewalks. Road bikes have narrow tires, and horizontal riding positions. Their design helps minimize resistance, making it easier to move faster on paved roads. On the other hand, mountain bikes are for navigating off-road trails. This is why they have wide tires and a more gears.
A hybrid bike is the best option for someone who can’t decide if they want a mountain or road bike. It comes with thin tires for riding on paved surfaces and a higher number of gears for tackling rough roads. It also has an upright position, which is more comfortable when riding on dirt roads. Like mountain bikes, the handlebars of a hybrid bike are flat. Here’s a list of top brands available on the market.
Gears: Hybrid bikes use derailleur gears that move the chain around the sprockets. While lightweight, these gears are vulnerable to damage. Most manufacturers combat this issue by incorporating fully enclosed hub gears. Some hybrids use a single gear for added simplicity. Gear controls are generally located next to the brake levers for easy access. Most hybrids have 7-8 gears, but more expensive models like Shimano have more than 10 gears. Three sprockets are often incorporated, making it easier to race downhill.
Wheels & tires: Most hybrids use size 700c wheels, which is an equivalent of 28 inches. A few models use 26” tires, which are tougher and smoother. There is a wide variety of wheel and tire sizes used for hybrid bikes, ranging from large chunky-treaded tires for dirt roads to narrow tires for smooth roads.
Brakes: Hybrids use either disc brakes or V-brakes. The former feature a dedicated braking surface on the wheel and are mounted on the hub. V-brakes use a brake cable to pull the top of the arms and put the pads against the rim. Both perform incredibly well, but disc brakes are the better choice for wet environments.
Frame & fork: Hybrids sometimes have a suspension fork, although most manufacturers don’t like it because it adds too much weight and not enough functionality. Most hybrids come with an aluminum frame, a material is both lightweight and strong. Models with a steel frame are popular among urban riders. Some manufacturers including Shimano offer hybrid bikes with carbon fiber frames. While pricier than most, carbon fiber is lighter and more durable compared to other materials.
While generally similar, the features of hybrid bikes vary greatly depending on the type. The most common types include hybrid classic bikes and hybrid sports bikes.
Hybrid classic bikes: These resemble traditional bikes in that they have an upright riding position. They are old-fashioned and not built for speed. Hybrid classic bikes are ideal for those who like riding at a leisurely pace to work or around the neighborhood. Because the pedals are angled forward, you can lean back while riding. Examples of hybrid classic bikes include cruisers and touring bikes.
Hybrid sports bikes: They are more performance oriented compared to hybrid classic bikes. Hybrid sports bikes are specially designed to be more powerful and faster on different terrains. They look more like mountain and racing bikes, and are available in multiple variations. Some models have a suspension fork and wide tires. They are great for steep and rough terrains or surfaces that have a tendency to become loose.
The unique benefits of mountain and road bikes are obvious, but what about hybrid bikes? Why should you consider purchasing one? The most unique advantage of a hybrid bike is that it does it all. By combining the best of mountain and road bikes, it offers more versatility. Users are able to accelerate on different terrains without getting tired. They are more comfortable than road bikes, and feature mounts for carrying backpacks.
Hybrid bikes are also a great choice for those who are just starting out. Whether using them as commuter bike or beach cruiser, riding them is easy. You can use them for virtually anything including weekend bike trips, commutes to work and more.