What Is A Hybrid Bike? (Everything You Need To Know!)

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The hybrid bike is the “jack of all trades” type of bike.

What Is A Hybrid Bike

A hybrid bike is a mix of different types of bikes like a mountain, touring, and racing. The hybrid mashes up all the components found on various types of bikes (wheel size, suspension, gears, etc.). 

Today, I’ve researched for hours to provide you ALL the information you need, and here’s a quick preview of what you’ll learn:

  • What makes a hybrid bike?
  • Why you should use a hybrid bike.
  • Maintenance of a hybrid bike.
  • And much more!
What's In This Guide?

      History Of The Hybrid Bike

      Bikes started becoming more popular in the second half of the 19th century.

      People started wanting certain bikes for specific tasks. For example, commuting on the road required a different type of bike than going on rocky mountain terrain.

      But…

      This created a problem.  

      Not one bike was good at everything. You needed to buy a bike for a specific purpose. And if that bike didn’t work for you’re next adventure you have to buy a new bike. Most people don’t have the money to buy three or four bikes.

      This is why the hybrid bike was born.

      The hybrid bike allowed for riding on most terrains and being extremely versatile. With a hybrid, you get a mountain bike, racing bike, BMX, and road bike in one package!

      Hybrid Bikes Explained

      If you have ever seen a hybrid bike in real life, you will quickly realize that it is a mixture of many different types of bikes.

      Let’s have a look at the specific features of a hybrid bike.

      Wheel Size

      The wheel makes up a large part of a bike. In a hybrid, there are two standard wheel sizes:

      700C: This is the type of wheel found on most hybrid bikes. The “700” stands for the diameter of the tire’s outer circumference. The letter “C” stands for the width of the wheel’s tire.

      26 inch: These wheels are a bit smaller than your standard 700C ones.

      Gears

      Most bikes have a broad range of gears on them. You can find bikes with 1 gear all the way to 27 gears.

      The number of gears is usually determined by combining chainrings, cogs, and teeth on the bikes.

      If you are riding big mountains, it is best to have multiple gears on your bike.

      Hybrid bikes usually just have one gear. So people often call them “single-speed bikes”.

      But, most hybrids contain a freewheel mechanism in the rear hub that allows you to speed along the road like a standard bike.

      Bike Frame Materials

      The frames of most hybrid bikes are made out of aluminum, steel, or carbon fiber. Each material has its own pros and cons that need you to think about when choosing your bike. Below is a brief overview:

      Aluminum: This is the most common frame material on a hybrid bike. Aluminum is light, solid, and affordable. The biggest downside to aluminum is that it’s known to absorb shock poorly.

      Steel: Bikes made out of steel are more durable and offer a more comfortable ride. Steel is an older material and is very heavy.

      Carbon Fiber: This material provides the best of both worlds! It’s lighter than aluminum and stronger than steel. Carbon fiber frames are becoming more popular. These bike frames are EXPENSIVE to make.

      Handlebar Shape

      If you are in the market for a new bike, comparing the seat level to the handlebar can give you a good idea of how comfortable the bike is.

      The farther the seat is below the handlebars, the more comfortable the bike becomes.

      Many of you love to go at crazy speeds. It’s better to have the seats above the handlebars if you have a need for speed. It will put you in a better aerodynamic position and allows you to pump the pedals with more power.

      A word of caution: It is EXTREMELY uncomfortable.

      The handlebar comes in two shapes:

      Flat bar: Most hybrid bikes come with flat handlebars. These bars allow you to sit in a relaxed position and provide you with a better view of the surroundings.

      Your arms, wrists, and shoulders will feel less strained. The only downside is that flat bars are VERY heavy.

      Riser bars: A bit less common on hybrids, the riser bar extends upwards and backward towards the rider. This provides you with excellent vision and intelligent control at the cost of slight strain on your muscles.

      Bike Cargo Racks

      Most of your hybrid bikes also come with front and/or back racks. These are designed for riding through a city with all your daily “items” (laptops, books, etc.).

      You can easily add unique pannier bags to your racks to carry more items in your bag.

      Most racks are detachable. If you want speed, you can take the rack off the bike using a screwdriver.

      Advantages Of Hybrid Bikes

      There are some KEY advantages to hybrid bikes that all bike lovers should know about:

      1. Hybrid bikes can comfortably ride on most terrains.
      2. Usually, the bikes are lightweight.
      3. Most bikes are comfortable for both sexes.
      4. The hybrid bikes come with seats and suspension forks on the front wheel. This allows for more control. 

      Disadvantages Of Hybrid Bikes

      The hybrid bike is often considered the “jack of all trades but master of none”. There are a few inherent disadvantages with the hybrid:

      1. The tires are usually designed for the road and do not work very well off-road.
      2. Hybrid bikes are sometimes un-upgradable due to their frame structure.

      Why You Should Ride A Hybrid Bike

      Biking has FANTASTIC health benefits.

      Going to work with your hybrid bike is a smart option. The hybrid GUARANTEES that you can ride over any terrain without problems.  

      Biking to work and other places will save you money that would have gone to fill up your gas tank.

      Hybrid bikes are comfortable, allow you to bypass pesky traffic, and are pretty cheap to buy. 

      Should You Ride A Hybrid Bike In Bad Weather

      Biking in bad weather with your hybrid bike is not a problem.

      BUT make sure to be careful.

      The rain makes the surfaces of the road slippery. Add in some cold weather, and controlling the hybrid bike on the road can be pretty tricky.

      At higher speeds, the raindrops feel like needles that are hitting your skin.

      Are Hybrid Bikes Good For Long Distance Biking

      Hybrid bikes are GREAT for long-distance biking.

      Most models of hybrid bikes come with a frame that allows you to ride uphill without too much trouble.

      The hybrids also come with grippy tires and powerful brakes that are PERFECT for long-distance or city rides.

      What Are The Different Types Of Hybrid Bikes

      Five types of hybrid bikes can be found at your local bike shop:

      Trekking Hybrid Bikes

      These types of hybrids are sort of like the younger brother of mountain bikes. The trekking bikes can go well on paved surfaces. However, riding through very uneven surfaces is not a good option.

      Cross Hybrid Bikes

      These types of bikes come with reinforced brakes, tires, and lighter frames. The cross hybrid bike can be used for most purposes.

      Commuter bike

      These hybrid bikes are designed for long-distance commute with full fenders, carrier rakes, and sturdy frames. The commuter bike can tackle all surfaces that may come up while riding to your destination.

      City bike

      Hybrid city bikes are designed for short-distance trips that may vary in terrain. It is designed like a mountain bike and has more comfort and proper visual identifications (lights, reflective surfaces, etc.).

      Comfort bikes

      The simplest of hybrids, a comfort bike is used for very small distance trips. They are PERFECT for traveling small distances (supermarkets, restaurants, etc.)

      How Do You Do Maintenance On A Hybrid Bike

      The maintenance of your hybrid bike is a life-long process.

      Some maintenance tasks should be done before every ride. In contrast, others can be done over a while.

      Before each ride

      Right before getting on your hybrid bike, make sure to check for the following:

      1. Your tires are inflated according to the suggested pressure for the bike model.
      2. Make sure that your wheels are correctly fastened to the axles.
      3. Your brakes are working right. NEVER ride without brakes. 

      Every Month

      After about every month, set an hour or two aside to check the following:

      • If the brake pads on your hybrid bike are in working condition. Worn out brake pads are ineffective and highly dangerous. The disc brake pad should not be less than 1mm.
      • Lubricate all parts of your bike to GUARANTEE a smooth performance.
      • All your bolts and screws should be re-tightened if they feel loose.
      • If there are any gear or brake cable stretches. A worn-out gear cable can cause switching gears to become harder. 

      Every 6 Months

      Once every 6 months, make sure to check your bike for:

      • Any greased parts such as the wheel bearings. Having a lot of grease on your cycle can cause it to not run smoothly.-
      • Inspect all the components of your bike in detail. If anything looks worn out, replace it at your local bike store.
      • If you use your bike daily for half a year, your brakes may likely have become rustic. Replacing them could be a good idea. 

      What Type Of Races Can You Compete In With A Hybrid Bike

      No races

      Many people often think that a hybrid bike can perform at the top level for any occasion.

      This is wrong.

      Yes, a hybrid bike will allow you to experience all forms of a situation without trouble. BUT you can’t expect it to perform competitively in any category.

      If you like to compete in a specific category make sure to get the bike that’s made for that race.

      The Bottom Line: What Is A Hybrid Bike

      A hybrid is a mix of mountain, road, touring, and other types of bikes. It allows you to ride across all terrains without trouble.

      Photo of author
      AUTHOR
      Bryan Ray is the Co-Founder of The Biking Apex. He's a cyclist and a trainer who loves fitness and loves to teach people how to ride and maintain their bikes and bike accessories.

      The Biking Apex
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