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It can be a tough task, trying to find the right bicycle for commuting, there’s just so much out there on the market! However, here we shall explore the practicality of having a hybrid for commuting and what the subsequent pros and cons may be in doing so.
What is a Hybrid Bike?
A hybrid is a bicycle that is a mix between both a road bike and an off-road bike. They have the benefits of both without being as specialist. They have a comfortable upright riding position, which is thanks to the shorter top tube; this geometry feature is similar to a mountain bike.
Hybrids, much like road bikes, will more often than not run 700cc sized wheels which are faster rolling than a smaller sized wheel and therefore will run well on the road, bike paths, gravel roads as well as on tame off road trails.
Hybrids also come as standard with a wider tyre than an out and out road bike. This larger surface area produces a ride quality that is far more comfortable, plus also increasing the bikes handling ability on off-road terrains such as gravel or mud.
What Are Hybrid Bikes Good For?
Hybrid bicycles are good for both road riding and off road riding, most specifically commuting and leisure riding. It wouldn’t be recommended to take a hybrid along any challenging road or off-road rides, however they are very good at doing both on a smaller scale while still offering comfort and value.
They can also be great for people who are just getting into cycling and are unsure as to what type of cycling that they may enjoy the most. This is because they are a versatile style of bicycle: more places are accessible to ride on a hybrid.
History of Hybrid Bikes
The history of hybrid bikes is not as clear cut as the more specialised bikes. It could be argued that the first ever bicycle like invention (the swiftwalker) in 1817 was similar to the all round versatile hybrid, this is because back then they would not have had roads and bike paths like we do today, therefore the swiftwalker would have had to of been able to ride over all terrain, much like the hybrid bike of recent times.
More recently, the hybrid bike has been a very popular go to for people across the world. The hybrid is very similar to a roadster style bike which has been popular since the early 1900’s and is still today one of the best selling bikes in the world.
However, as the mountain bike was not invented until the late 1970’s, it could be argued that the hybrid as we know it has only been available on the market from around the same time, but technology will always change and adapt bicycles across the board.
Hybrid Bikes Specs
Hybrid specs will change depending on the budget. They will also usually come in two types: one that is more off road orientated and the other that is more road orientated. The way to spot these differences will usually be in the forks used on the bikes: the off road hybrid will have suspension forks (not usually with much travel unlike a mountain bike) and the road based hybrids will have a rigid fork.
Similarly, at the cheaper end of the market you’ll find that hybrid bicycles will come as standard with a low end groupset, coupled usually with cheaper and / or less components, for example some cheaper hybrids do not come with mudguards as standard. Additionally, the material used to create the bikes is usually aluminium.
However at the higher end of the market you can also buy carbon fiber hybrids which resemble a road bike a lot more than an off-road bike. Carbon hybrids are very expensive, but the ride quality will be similar to that of a road bike without having the uncomfortable position often associated with the road bike geometry.
There will also be tyre differences visible with the two different types of hybrid. The difference being the off road hybrid having wider and deep tread tyres in comparison to the road hybrid which will be more slick though will still have some tread.
Can You Commute on a Hybrid Bike?
Hybrid bikes are excellent bikes to commute on as they are far more comfortable to ride on and will often be able to handle a lot more than a road bike.
For example, if you find that your normal route to work by bike incorporates both the road and gravel style bike paths then you’d be a lot better off riding a hybrid than a road bike. This is because the hybrid will be equipped with more robust and hard wearing tyres that have better thread for grip as well as being less prone to punctures.
Hybrids will also come with pannier racks / the bolts to attach luggage racks which makes carrying your things for work (or popping to the shops during your working day) no issue, whereas a lot of bikes don’t come with luggage mounts as standard. It also helps distribute the weight of your things evenly as carrying a backpack can hurt your back, not to mention can be pretty uncomfortable!
But, if you were still unsure as to whether or not the hybrid will be most suited to your commuting needs then our useful guide regarding the best bike for cycling to work should hopefully narrow down your search.
Are Hybrid Bikes Easy to Ride?
Hybrids are very easy to ride because they have a nice upright position and also come in a step through option which makes mounting onto and dismounting off of the bike a lot easier, making the riding experience feel a lot safer and more comfortable.
Hybrids are also lightweight, in comparison to an outright off-road bike, which makes manoeuvring them a lot easier, therefore improving the riders ability to ride in total comfort and confidence. The lightweight nature of a hybrid will also benefit the rider when ascending which is an important factor to consider with regards to how easy the bike feels to ride.
The wider tyres that come as standard on all types of hybrid bikes will also make riding easy as the wider tyres offer more grip and better traction when riding both on and off road, especially over loose ground.
Are Hybrid Bikes Good for Beginners?
Hybrid bikes would be a great bike for beginners due to their easy maneuverability as well as being lightweight. This will improve the riders confidence: which is absolutely key for anyone who is learning how to ride or new into cycling.
Another great aspect of a hybrid that will benefit beginners is that the wide flat bars that come as standard on hybrid bicycles are very comfortable, give excellent control and don’t feel twitchy as dropped bars can on a road or gravel bike, therefore making it a great choice for a beginner.
They are also straightforward to maintain so beginners won’t have to worry about anything going wildly wrong. They are also very affordable to maintain so beginners won’t have to pay much to maintain it.
Hybrid Bikes PROS + CONS
Although hybrids are great all round bikes and very popular they are not without their downfalls. The list below examines the pros and cons of owning and using a hybrid bike, especially regarding commuting.
However, if you were looking for more of a road style bicycle to ride to work on then be sure to have a read through our pros and cons analysis of whether or not road bikes are good for commuting.
|Hybrid Bikes Pros||Hybrid Bikes Cons|
|Best of both road and off road||Not suitable for demanding road|
|Light weight||Not suitable for demanding off road|
|Easy to ride||Can be limiting|
|Great for beginners||Slower than a road bike|
|Great for commuting (often has pannier racks)||Less aerodynamic|
Why Are Hybrid Bikes So Popular?
It’s understandable that hybrid bikes are so popular, they are often the best priced bikes on the market: making them far more accessible to people who may not have a lot to spend on a bike, in comparison to more specialist bikes such as gravel or mountain bikes that more often than not, carry a heavy price tag.
Additionally, customers really like them because they are just such a versatile bike: they can also be used for pretty much any style of riding, therefore instead of having lots of different types of bikes, with a hybrid you can just swap the tyres (or have a spare pair of wheels with alternative tyres) and head out on a different terrain.
Equally, as a hybrid can be used for so many different types of riding, having the one bike takes up far less space than having two or three bikes for a few different types of cycling, making them a great choice for those who have limited storage space but want the freedom of riding where they want.
Hybrids are also popular because the parts for them are easily attained online or in a local bike shop. The parts are also far cheaper to buy than specialist parts for bikes that can be expensive and hard to source.
After reading through this piece, if you are dead set on a hybrid bicycle being the one for your commuting needs, then we would highly recommend redirecting your attention to our guide on the best hybrid bikes for commuting so that you can have that special new bike day feeling soon