Are Hybrid Bikes Electric? [‘Hybrid’ Bike Meaning Explained]

When you think of a hybrid bike, what springs to mind? 

If it’s an intricate contraption, packed to the brim with motors, throttles, and batteries, you’d be forgiven. However, you might be surprised to know that this isn’t always the case. 

The term ‘hybrid bike’ has a broad definition with a lot of variations, but they’re not as complicated as you might think. 

Let’s clear up some of the most common misconceptions about hybrid bikes, and give these all-rounders the credit they deserve. 

What is a ‘Hybrid Bike’? 

Hybrid bikes share a mix of components from mountain bikes and road bikes. The result? An attractive and durable bike that’s suitable for riding on both smooth roads and bumpy terrain. This makes hybrids a popular choice for commuters. 

Hybrid bikes are slender. The most conventional hybrid bikes feature flat handlebars, which provide riders with greater control and an upright riding posture. Their tires are usually ‘mid-size’ (around 700c), sitting somewhere between the flat tires of a road bike and the thick tires of mountain bikes. 

Hybrid bikes are diverse, and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ model. Sure, they can be a nifty ride on weekday commutes and a rugged machine on the weekends, but you’ll still need to consider the features of each model before you buy one. 

For example, some hybrids come with front suspension (although most don’t), and you’ll have to take into account the weight of the frame, the tread of the tires, and decide if you need extra accessories like mudguards, panniers, or racks. 

Are Hybrid Bikes Electric? 

Hybrid bikes are not necessarily electric. Hybrid bikes are called ‘hybrid’ because they mix components from mountain bikes and road bikes, unlike ‘hybrid’ cars which mix power sources.

Unless a hybrid bike is specifically labelled as ‘electric’ you can assume that it is ‘normal’ bicycle that is powered solely by the rider.

Electric bikes usually come with ‘peddle assist’; this is powered by batteries that the rider can switch on and off if they need some extra pedal power to keep moving. You can buy either pedal-only hybrid bikes or electric hybrid bikes. 

Electric hybrid bikes have a similar design to hybrid bikes. They still share a blend of components from mountain bikes and road bikes, except they have a battery and motor. 

Like regular e-bikes, electric hybrids have a powerful motor that gives riders that extra bit of ‘oomph’ to get from A to B. They’re a great choice for cyclists wanting to go faster for longer, or for those after a cheaper and more eco-friendly alternative to a regular vehicle. 

Hybrid Bikes ≠ Hybrid Car: Different Meanings 

Hybrid bikes and hybrid cars aren’t called ‘hybrid’ for the same reason.

Hybrid cars use two different energy sources to increase their efficiency. This is usually achieved by combining a petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor. Hybrid bikes don’t do this. 

Hybrid bikes share a mix of characteristics from other bicycles (not energy sources) to increase their efficiency. 

Why Are Hybrid Bikes Called ‘Hybrid’?

A ‘hybrid’ is something composed of multiple elements. This is exactly what a hybrid bike is. It blends characteristics from other bikes together to create a more specialized bicycle. 

It’s exactly what it says on the tin! Although they come with different subcategories, features, and functions, their unique combination of elements always stays the same. 

If you’re the sort of rider who wants to whizz through traffic one minute and tackle off-road terrain the next, a hybrid bike could be the one for you. If you want to find out more about commuter-friendly hybrids, you can take a look at our suggestions here

Bethany Morris

Bethany Morris

Bethany is a freelance content writer and avid outdoor adventurer from West Sussex, England. She travels everywhere on two wheels and writes about anything from government policy to marketing and sports. You can see more of Bethany's work here

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