Is A Hybrid Bike The Best Choice For You? What Makes Them So Versatile?

What is it that makes hybrid bikes so popular? Essentially a hybrid combines those features of mountain and road bikes that most appeal to the leisure cyclist. For many, the weight and wide tyres of a full mountain bike make cycling on the road difficult. On the other hand, those who want to explore off-road a bit more find that the narrow tyres and riding position of a road bike just won't work.

So how does this compromise work?

  • All have flat handlebars. Far better for the leisure cyclist than the drop bars fitted to road bikes. Vibration is absorbed by the padded grips and you can alter your hand position regularly to avoid strain.
  • Semi-slick tyres, with a thickness somewhere between road and mountain bike tyres. These result in low rolling resistance for speed on the road, but have enough tread on the side for exploring the grass and gravel. The wheels are customarily road size, 700mm, instead of the 26" rims fitted to mountain bikes.
  • A stretched MTB-style frame, or toughened road frame. The choice of style will depend on the market the manufacturer wants to target. Frames are usually aluminium, but you can go to carbon if you have the resources. Some may be equipped with suspension forks as well. Many models come in either mens or womens versions.
  • The gears are designed with low ratios for hillclimbing together with high ratios for covering the miles on the road.

But, there is a problem because no compromise can ever be perfect. So you have to decide on what type of hybrid to go for, depending on where you will be doing most of your riding.

For people who will be off-road a lot and like a more MTB style, the Cannondale Bad Boy range could well appeal. With MTB-style frames they will love being away from the beaten track. There are disc brakes on all the 2012 models as well.

If the commute to work, combined with weekends out in the lanes is more to you taste, the Specialized Sirrus range could suit you better. These have 700mm road wheels, narrower tyres and road components. These are ideal if you want to cover serious distance on the open road.

So whatever you see yourself doing, the ideal option is probably out there. There's little doubt that a hybrid bike is the best option for those who just want to get out cycling.


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