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Published Dec. 17, 2020

If you’re in the market for a new bike, you should consider a hybrid bike. A mashup between a road bike, a mountain bike, and a touring bike, hybrid bikes combine some of the best features of each to create a well-rounded, highly functional bike that can easily traverse different types of terrain.

Hybrid bikes make excellent commuting bikes, but they’re also suitable for riding on paved paths, smooth roads, or cruising gravel or hard-packed trails. There’s a lot that goes into choosing a properly fitted hybrid bike, as the options are widely varied. What size wheels and frame do you need? What types of components when it comes to gears, brakes, tires, and seats are the best? The following comprehensive review and buying guide will help educate you on the different options and what to look for when selecting the right bike.

The Best Hybrid Bikes

If you’re looking for the best overall combination of value, reliability, functionality, and looks, the Schwinn GTX Comfort Adult Hybrid Bike is the hands-down choice. This well-designed bike comes in three styles and multiple color options, so there’s something for everyone. A durable and rust-resistant aluminum dual sport frame supports a reliable and good-quality range of components, like the 21-speed shifter with a rear derailleur, a versatile suspension fork, and alloy V-brakes that deliver powerful and quick stopping ability. Good all-around multi-use tires provide sure traction and lots of grip on the 700c rims, which are ideal for riders in the 5 feet 4 inches to 6 feet 2 inches height range. The rims are double walled for added durability. One of the best features about this bike is that, like all Schwinn bikes, this one comes with a lifetime warranty. It has been noted that it can be difficult to assemble, but with time and patience, it’s relatively straightforward.

Key Features
  • Aluminum dual sport frame
  • 700c wheel size fits riders 5 feet 4 inches to 6 feet 2 inches
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Several colors and models to choose from
Specification
  • Brand Schwinn
  • Model GTX 2.0
  • Weight 40 pounds
PROS

A versatile, go-anywhere bike

Suitable for men or women

Good quality, reliable components

CONS

Can be tough to assemble

Tires don’t provide good traction in mud

The suspension fork can be too stiff

When it comes to an affordable, well-made, and quality hybrid bike, the Royce Union RMY Men’s 21-Speed Hybrid Comfort Bike is not to be ignored. It’s available in 17, 19, or 21-inch frame heights, all of which are constructed from super durable, rust-proof 6061 heat-treated, aircraft-grade aluminum. This bike comes 90 percent assembled to get you out on the road quickly, and it’s backed by an impressive 10-year limited warranty for added peace of mind. A full Shimano drivetrain gives you 21 speeds of versatile and easy control that will suit the needs of beginners and advanced riders alike. It’s equipped with comfortable and stable Kraton rubber grips that give you great control in even wet conditions. The alloy linear pull brakes and machined alloy rims that hold all-terrain 700c tires provide a smooth and well-tractioned ride that enables you to brake quickly and precisely.

Key Features
  • 17, 19, and 21-inch aluminum alloy frame sizes available
  • Shimano 21-speed shifter and derailleurs
  • Padded dual-spring seat and a front suspension fork
  • Alloy rims with all-terrain 700c tires go anywhere
Specification
  • Brand Royce Union
  • Model RMY 76208
  • Weight 41.75 pounds
PROS

A versatile design that can go on a wide variety of terrains

Minimal assembly required

Comfortable seat and front shock combine for a smooth ride

CONS

Not a lot of color options

Pedals could have better grip teeth

Tire walls are thinner than some other models

If you’re in the market for a hybrid bike that stands out from the typical hybrid bike, check out the NCM Prague Electric Mountain Bike. Constructed from a sturdy and super lightweight aluminum alloy frame, this innovatively designed bike comes equipped with an optimized Das-Kit 350W rear-drive motor with a 468Wh DeHawk battery and Das-Kit L6B LCD and controller that can propel you up to 60 miles on a single charge. You also have the option of deactivating the motor and riding the bike like you would a normal pedal-powered bicycle, although this bike weighs 55 pounds, so get ready for a solid leg workout if you do. The LCD lets you choose from six levels of pedal-assistance, making this a versatile, go-anywhere bike. This bike also comes equipped with a substantial front fork made by Suntour XCT that is highly adaptive to both off-road and pavement riding.

Key Features
  • 21-speed Shimano shifter and derailleurs
  • Tektro mechanical disc brakes
  • Das-Kit hub motor with a long-life lithium-ion battery
  • Customizable power settings
Specification
  • Brand NCM
  • Model Prague
  • Weight 55 pounds
PROS

Super-versatile for traveling anywhere

An innovative and sleek design

Environmentally-friendly motorized travel method

CONS

The electric components make this bike heavy

Pricey

Requires more maintenance than other hybrid bikes

If you’re looking for more of a cruiser-style hybrid, the Sixthreezero EVRYjourney Women’s 7-Speed Step-Through Hybrid Cruiser Bicycle fits the bill perfectly. It features a sleek, step-through aluminum city frame that is supported by comfortable 26-inch wheels. It’s equipped with a 7-speed Shimano shifter and external derailleur with front and rear alloy handbrakes, making it ideal for urban commuting or cruising. Matching full fenders keep mud and water off your back during wetter rides. It also features brown synthetic leather, a super comfortable and roomy saddle, and handlebar grips with classic stitching. Well-appointed two-inch semi-slick tires provide a comfortable and stable ride. The low step-through frame is easy for riders to get on or off without getting tripped up and its setup places you in an ergonomic upright, heads-up position for easy visualization of the surrounding environment

Key Features
  • Step-through lightweight aluminum frame
  • 26-inch wheels with 2-inch semi-slick tires for smooth riding
  • 7-speed Shimano shifter and derailleurs
  • Fits riders 5’-6’4” tall
Specification
  • Brand Sixthreezero
  • Model EVRYjourney
  • Weight 39.68 pounds
PROS

Super comfortable for easy and cruising

Suitable for a wide range of heights

A classic and timeless look

CONS

Women-specific

Only seven speeds to choose from

Heavy

Schwinn was one of the first manufacturers to come up with a hybrid bike design, and the Schwinn Wayfarer Hybrid Cruiser Bike is one of its most popular and well-known models. It features a rugged and slim steel retro city frame and fork that offers a comfortable ride and minimalistic look. Rust-resistant chrome fenders that protect you from splatters and a convenient rear cargo rack make this bike a great option for city riding or commuting. This bike is equipped with a Shimano seven-speed twist-shifter and derailleurs for quick and smooth gear changes. A large and well-cushioned saddle is easily height adjustable thanks to a quick-releasing post lock. Lightweight alloy rims support slender 700c tires. This particular model will fit riders in the 5 feet 4 inches to 6 feet 2 inches range. Add to this a limited lifetime warranty, and you’ve got a great deal on your hands.

Key Features
  • Retro steel frame
  • Seven-speed Shimano twist shifter and derailleurs
  • 700c tires
  • Alloy front and rear linear pull-brakes
Specification
  • Brand Schwinn
  • Model Wayfarer
  • Weight N/A
PROS

Simple, minimalistic design

Rear cargo rack for carrying your gear

Chrome fenders prevent mud splatters on your clothes

CONS

The one-piece front fork has no suspension for added cushioning

Only seven speed options

Few color option

Vilano has been manufacturing high-quality and affordable bicycles since 2008 and the Vilano Diverse 3.0 Performance Hybrid Road Bike is one of its best models yet. Both the bike frame and the fork are constructed from lightweight, super rugged hydroformed performance 6061 aluminum alloy. It features a 24-speed Shimano shifter with Shimano Tourney TX front and rear derailleur for smooth and accurate shifting on the fly. An upright handlebar configuration is ideal for comfort for those long commutes or recreational rides through the park. This bike also comes equipped with high-quality disc brakes that allow for quick and sure-stopping power. Pedals are comfortable and feature an aggressive tooth design that provides a secure and stable hold for your feet.

Key Features
  • 6061 aluminum alloy frame and fork
  • Shimano EF 51 3/8 24-speed shifter
  • Shimano Tourney TX front and rear derailleur
  • Kenda 700c x 35c tires
Specification
  • Brand Vilano
  • Model Diverse 3.0
  • Weight N/A
PROS

Aerodynamic, sleek lines

High-quality components

Comfortable handlebar setup

CONS

Can be difficult to assemble unassisted

No additional color options

Less comfortable seat than some models

Best Hybrid Bikes Buying Guide & FAQ

On a tight budget? See what our favorite inexpensive bikes are.

Now that you’ve seen some of our top choices when it comes to the various hybrid bike designs, it’s time to discuss why we chose those. What criteria or features do you look for in a high-quality, durable hybrid bike? Why would you choose a hybrid bike over a sport-specific bike, like a mountain bike, a road bike, or a beach cruiser, for example?

Not all hybrid bikes have the same features and setups. Indeed, there is a wide variety of bike styles that fit into the hybrid category, so this buying guide will help you to narrow down what aspects are most important to you so that you can be sure you’re getting the perfect hybrid bike to suit your needs.

Do You Need a Hybrid Bike?

Hybrid bikes offer a lot of versatility to riders of all skill levels and locations. Utilizing some of the best features found on mountain bikes, road bikes, and cruising or touring bikes, hybrid bikes can traverse a wide variety of terrains easily and surely with tires that are neither too beefy for street riding with ease or too thin to traverse dirt and gravel safely.

They also take liberties with seat and handlebar design and comfort. Where professional level road bikes and mountain bikes certainly aren’t known for their comfortable seats or handlebar setups, and some cruising bikes can feel like your trying to pedal through a padded sofa with handlebars that are often set at an awkward, hard to steer angle, hybrid bikes combine these aspects to make for a comfortable seat with a more ergonomic handlebar design so you can ride as far as you want.

Shifting components and drivetrain mechanisms can be highly customizable on hybrid bikes, as can the braking system and frame configuration. This gives you the ability to select the best components to suit your needs and forego extraneous options that you won’t use. Not everyone wants 26 speed options on their bicycle.

  • Highly customizable components and set-ups allow you to get the ideal bike
  • Prices can vary from highly affordable to more expensive depending on the quality of components you choose, giving good options for every type of budget
  • Hybrid bikes are appropriate for a wide range of terrains and applications, making them one of the most versatile bikes you can buy

Learn what our favorite choices for cruiser bikes are.

Man Riding One Of The Best Hybrid Bikes
One of the best hybrid bikes in action.

Types of Hybrid Bikes

Since not all hybrid bikes are created equal, it’s time to discuss the different types available and what their purposes are so that you can decide if there’s one type that stands out to you as being the best, or if you’re open to examining a couple of different types.

Type Commuter Bike

As the name implies, this type of bike is designed for users who commute to either school or work over short or long distances. They usually feature 700c wheels with lightweight 29mm tires, derailleur gear shifting and drivetrain set-up, a carrier rack, fenders to deflect mud and water splatter, and several different frame styles, either for men, women, or unisex use. Often, this type of bike will incorporate a closed chain guard to protect your pant leg from getting caught and torn or full of grease while riding to work. This type of bike may or may not come with front or rear lights for evening or early morning riding.

Type Cross Bike

This type of hybrid bike typically uses a frame very similar to that of a road bike or a racing bicycle. Very lightweight and sleek, it also incorporates nearly flat handlebars like you would see on a mountain bike to provide a more upright riding position than you get on road bikes. They also use 700c wheels, but the tires are a little beefier than with commuter bikes and offer a bit more traction on gravel, dirt, or muddy trails, although not nearly as rugged as what you would see on a typical mountain bike. These bikes are usually intended for more general or recreational use and don’t usually come equipped with fenders or cargo racks. They will be equipped with multiple speed shifters and also incorporate either rim brakes or disc brakes, depending on the set-up.

Type City Bike

The city bike is very similar to the commuter bike in that it is more optimized for urban commuting and street riding. It usually comes equipped with mountain bike-size 26-inch wheels that hold a middleweight heavy belted tire that will successfully withstand a variety of road hazards, such as gravel, broken glass, and potholes. The frame of these bikes is also usually more like that of a mountain bike and will be made from lightweight but durable aluminum or welded chrome to give it a stable and strong ride that easily traverses potholes, sewer grates, and curbs while still delivering quick and accurate handling and response. These bikes usually come equipped with fenders, just like the commuter bike, and they may also utilize suspension forks for added impact resistance.

Comfort Bike

Comfort bikes are more reminiscent of the old school roadster bikes that were popular back in the early 20th century. They have a classic style and nostalgia that has a lot of modern upgrades. These bikes may have a single speed, but commonly they utilize a seven-speed shifter and drivetrain. The frame is more of a modified mountain bike frame with a tall head tube that promotes a very upright riding position. They’re usually equipped with 26-inch or 28-inch wheels that support a 44 or 50mm middleweight smooth or semi-slick tire. Most comfort bikes will offer front suspension forks and well-padded dual-spring loaded saddles with a drop-center, angled handlebar design that further enhances your upright riding posture. They may or may not have fenders, baskets, and cargo racks as accessories.

Trekking Bike

This type of bike is one of the most popular types of hybrid bikes. It incorporates a frame modeled after the mountain bike with a front suspension fork, a flat handlebar, and a moderately padded seat with an easily adjustable quick-release mechanism on the seat post. These bikes also feature a large gear range and slightly wider tires than on the city or commuter bike, making them a good option for traveling outside of town. These type of bikes do pull from some of the great features of the city and commuter bike, by including fenders, a chain guard, and a rear cargo rack in their set-up.

Check out our top picks for commuter bikes.

What to Consider When Buying Hybrid Bike

When choosing the hybrid bike that will be most appropriate for you, consider firstly what type of environment you’ll be primarily using it in. Are you buying it to use as a commuter bike to get to and from work or school? Is your job or school located in a city or outside of town? If you’re going to be mainly doing city or town riding, you’ll probably lean toward either the commuter bike or the city bike type.

If you’re planning on using mostly on weekends or for the occasional ride through the park or paved bike trails, maybe the comfort bike or the trekking bike will be a better choice. 

If you plan on doing a mix of commuter riding and weekend exploring, then the trekking bike is likely most ideally suited to you, since it tries very hard to effectively incorporate all the best and most versatile features of the other types of hybrid bikes. The best way to decide is to test drive as many different types of hybrid bikes as you can to get a feel for each one.

The Most Important Features of Hybrid Bikes

When you’re weeding through the varied and numerous options of hybrid bikes on the market, there are a few universal features that you should look for no matter what type of hybrid bike you’re considering. Checking these boxes will help to guarantee that you’re not only getting the best bang for your buck but a bike that is also safe and reliable and will last you a long time with proper care and maintenance.

Precision Drivetrain Set-Up And Construction

With a wide range of available gear options that go from 0 to 27 or more, it’s not so important to worry about the number of gears your hybrid bike is equipped with as it is to consider how precise and well-made the drivetrain itself is. That being said, keep in mind that the more gears you have, the more sprockets and cogs you have to maintain and worry about things getting caught in.

Look for a drivetrain set-up that is manufactured by a reputable and trusted company. Shimano is a well-known maker of gear set-ups with a wide variety of products and price ranges to suit many different needs and budgets. Sunlite, Campagnolo, and Interloc are also well-reputed brands of gear manufacturers. Be careful to avoid knock-off brands that employ substandard construction materials and methods that will break down sooner.

Bike Frame Materials

While most hybrid bikes are made from lightweight and durable aluminum alloy frames, you can also choose from carbon fiber or steel as well. Each of these materials has its own set of pros and cons, to be sure. 

Aluminum is not only lightweight, strong, and very rust-resistant, it’s also highly affordable. Its drawback is that it can sometimes be rigid and make for a rougher ride with less shock absorption than some other materials.

Steel offers a super strong and durable frame construction that can provide you with a comfortable, flexible, and smooth ride, but it is significantly heavier than aluminum and carbon fiber.

Carbon fiber is the most lightweight of the three materials and it is stronger than steel, but it’s also much more expensive if you have an entire frame made out of it. That’s why many bikes will feature carbon fiber components, like forks and seat posts to keep prices more reasonable. Your decision on frame material is usually based not only on personal preference but on budget considerations as well. 

Brake Type

There are several different types of brakes to consider when choosing a hybrid bike, and like frame material, each has its pros and cons.

Rim brakes are very common on hybrid bikes and feature pads that grip the wheel rim to stop. They’re a very economical choice and they allow you to easily observe and gauge the amount of wear by simply checking the brake pads. Worn pads are simple and inexpensive to replace. The downside is that they’re less effective than some other types in wet or muddy conditions and that they can cause wear and tear on your wheel rims over time.

Disc brakes use pads that grip onto a brake rotor that is mounted on the wheel hub. There are two versions of disc brakes: hydraulic and mechanical. Hydraulic brakes provide a stronger, more aggressive braking with less finger effort and they self-adjust to make up for brake pad wear. Mechanical disc brakes need to be manually adjusted to compensate for brake pad wear. Disc brakes provide more consistent and stronger braking than rim brakes and offer superior performance in wet or steep conditions. They are harder to observe for wear and change the pads than rim brakes, however. 

Handlebar Shape

Hybrid bikes offer several different options for handlebar shape which will promote different riding postures in relation to seat height and distance from the handlebars themselves. Typically, the farther above the handlebars are from the seat, the more comfortable and upright your posture will be during the ride. 

There are four basic styles of handlebars available for hybrid bikes.

  1. Drop bar: These are a lightweight and aerodynamic option that allow you to have several hand and riding positions. They tend to put your body into a more aerodynamic and hunched position and are not as popular as some other handlebar set-ups.
  2. Flat bar: This is a very common handlebar for hybrid bikes, as they allow you to sit in a more relaxed position that reduces strain on shoulders, wrists, and hands, allowing you to ride further.
  3. Riser bar: Also very commonly used, this type of handlebar extends slightly up and back toward the seat, giving you the luxury of sitting more upright and farther back from the front stem of your bike so that you can see better and more efficiently.
  4. Moustache bar: This is similar to the drop bar but less dramatic. It allows you a variety of hand positions while still giving you the luxury of sitting upright.

Again, the choice of handlebars is usually based on personal preference and will vary from person to person.

A Person Riding One Of The Best Hybrid Bikes
The best hybrid bikes can do it all.

Care and Maintenance for Hybrid Bikes

Taking proper care of and maintaining your hybrid bike will help ensure its continued longevity and reliability. If you invest time and a good chunk of money into choosing just the right hybrid bike, you’re also going to want to protect that investment and keep it looking and functioning like new as long as possible. 

Your bike’s drivetrain is one of the most critical and expensive components to your bike, so be sure to regularly clean and lubricate it to keep it functioning at top-notch levels for as long as possible. It will also help stop rattling and squeaking coming from the chain and sprockets during your ride, which is always a little embarrassing. The more often you clean and lube the drivetrain, the less time it takes each time to do it.

Regularly inspect your tire walls and tread and keep your tires properly inflated. Over time, the integrity of your tire walls and the depth of the tread will wear down as a consequence of regular use. Monitoring this and changing out your tires when they break down will help to avoid a dangerous and untimely blowout. Keeping your tires properly inflated will help you to be able to ride as efficiently as possible while limiting the strain on the tire walls.

  • Make sure to regularly check and adjust brake pads.
  • Keep your bike’s nuts and bolts tight, but not too tight.
  • Learn how to change a flat tube before you’re stuck on the side of the road with one.

Best Hybrid Bikes FAQ:

As we are nearing the end of our comprehensive buying guide, you may still have some questions surrounding proper bike selection. Here, we take some of the most commonly asked questions found on the internet and give you our best, most comprehensive answers.

Q: Can I ride a hybrid bike on trails?

Hybrid bikes are a great option for light trail riding. Groomed trails that are either paved, gravel, or packed dirt will be very enjoyable on your hybrid bike, especially if you have a trekking bike that has slightly beefier tires than some other types of hybrid bike. That being said, more aggressive wooded and technical trails are best tackled with a proper mountain bike.

Q: What is the difference between a hybrid bicycle and a road bicycle?

There are several differences between a hybrid bicycle and a road bicycle, one being that the handlebars are usually configured very differently on the two bikes. Road bikes usually have curved handlebars that necessitate a very forward-leaning, aerodynamic position that reduces drag during riding, whereas the handlebars on your hybrid bike will promote a more upright, relaxed posture that lets you get a better view of your surroundings. Another main difference is that the tires on a hybrid bike are usually wider and have more tread that can tackle varied terrains, compared to road bike tires, which are very thin and built to promote speed on flat, even surfaces. 

Q: Is a hybrid bike faster than a mountain bike?

Thanks to a slimmer and sleeker tire composition, hybrid bikes are usually faster to pedal than a mountain bike. With rugged and aggressive treads, mountain bike tires are designed to grip the road and provide traction and stability, which naturally slows them down and makes them harder to pedal. Read up on our top recommendations for flat mountain bike pedals.

Our Top Pick

While our list of hybrid bikes has several great options, if you’re looking for the best overall combination of value, reliability, functionality, and looks, the popular and reliable Schwinn GTX Comfort Adult Hybrid Bike is the ideal choice. This well-designed bike offers something for everyone. A durable and rust-resistant aluminum dual sport frame, a Shimano 21-speed shifter with a rear derailleur, a versatile suspension fork, and alloy V-brakes that deliver powerful and quick stopping ability. Let’s not forget the lifetime warranty.

Final Thoughts

After learning all about the benefits and selling features of hybrid bikes, we hope you’re ready to confidently select the bike that’s right for you, whether it’s the Schwinn GTX Comfort Adult Hybrid Bike, the Vilano Diverse 3.0 Performance Hybrid Road Bike, or one of our other top recommendations. Do you have a hybrid bike that you’re fiercely loyal to that didn’t make our list? Let us know what it is and why you love it in the comments down below.

Sources:

  1. Hybrid Bicycle – Wikipedia

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