As one of the most popular styles of bicycle for leisure and commuter cyclists, the hybrid bike has been a staple of cycling for many years. The reason for this popularity is due to the fact that hybrid bikes offer versatility and simplicity at an affordable price. But what exactly is a hybrid bicycle and what can you expect from them? We will discuss this and, also, some of the common questions such as how hybrid bikes compare to road bikes, mountain bikes and gravel bikes and also, if there are male and female options.
Quickly jump to
- Hybrid bike features
- Are there different hybrids for men and women?
- Specialized Sizing
- Liv SIzing
- Giant SIzing
- Whyte Sizing
- Merida Sizing
- The difference between a road bike and a Hybrid bike
- The difference between mountain bikes and hybrid bikes
- The difference between gravel bikes and hybrid bikes
- Electric Hybrid Bikes
Hybrid Bike features
Most hybrid bikes are flat handlebar bikes that can handle a mixture of on-road and light off-road cycling such as gravel paths, off road paths, cycle paths and forest tracks. Hybrid bikes can come in various different shapes and specifications as, for example, some hybrid bikes come with a more upright riding position for leisure riding around cities and tracks. Some come with a front suspension fork for those who are mostly on rougher tracks (or for a smooth ride on UK roads) and the ones with a rigid fork are designed to be lightweight and efficient but you will feel more of the road or surface you are riding on. The hybrid bike can also be called a commuter bike as they are perfect for getting you to and from work. Which you choose would depend on the type of riding you are planning to do. Hybrid bikes will come with mounts and clearance for rear and sometimes front pannier racks and mudguards for your commute or to make your bike into more of a touring bike.
Are there different hybrids for men and women?
Well, yes and no - and we know that is a frustrating answer but let us explain… and for this, it is worth diving into a few of the brands who manufacture the best hybrid bikes to describe their particular take on the sizing question.
A number of years ago, Specialized opted for a unisex sizing system with their smaller sizes coming with a wider saddle and narrower bars as these are assumed to be for women. If you get taller women or shorter men, you can easily change the saddle or bars to accommodate. We would recommend a test ride to see that they feel right and we can offer advice on how to change the position if required.
Liv are the sister company of Giant and produce women’s bikes which tend to have a higher front end and are not as long in reach as the men’s equivalent. This is due to the differences between male and female body proportions, i.e men mostly have longer torsos for their height and women have longer legs. It should always be said though, that not everyone is the same and now you get a lot of men who want a higher front end and less reach and equally, you find a lot of women who want lower and longer bikes. The attitude is - if it feels right to you, it is right.
Following on from Liv, above, Giant Hybrid Bikes are designed for men but many women ride these bikes either due to personal preference or different bodily proportions.
For the vast majority of Whyte’s range, they have a compact version and a non-compact version. The difference here is that the compact version is shorter in reach and higher at the handlebars catering for people with longer legs for their height or just people who prefer a higher front end and less reach. What we like about Whyte’s sizing is that they do not differentiate by ‘male’ or ‘female’ but by personal preference.
Merida are a bit of both. Certain models, such as the Crossway have the option of a classic diamond frame or a half step through but the hybrid bike frames geometries are the same, so this comes to the preference of step-through or classic diamond. Other models such as the Merida Speeder comes as a unisex model with adjustments of saddle and stem possible to ensure the correct fit.
The difference between a road bike and a Hybrid bike
Road bikes are designed for tarmac riding only and, instead of flat handlebars, will have dropped handlebars (drop bar) for maximum pedalling and aerodynamic efficiency. A hybrid bike will never be as efficient on the road as a road bike but that’s the trade-off of being able to ride a bit of off-road. Flat bar road bikes stray a little bit away from the hybrid bike as they are designed to be ridden on tarmac due to the thin tyres and rigid forks. As a road bike is designed to be as efficient as possible, they are not designed with the ability to take a pannier rack or mudguards. Hybrid bikes feature mounts for rack and guards making them even more versatile.
The difference between mountain bikes and hybrid bikes
As with road bikes, mountain bikes are designed for a specific purpose – riding off-road on loose surfaces, mud, tree roots etc. Again, hybrid bikes will not be as forgiving as mountain bikes on the real rough stuff. But that’s down to being relatively efficient on roads.
The difference between gravel bikes and hybrid bikes
This is a common one because technically hybrids are gravel bikes but what we mean when we say ‘gravel bike’ is a drop handlebar bike similar to a road bike but with wider, more off-road tyres and more clearance for mudguards and rack. The main difference here is the position you are in and the price.
Electric hybrid bikes?
All of the principles discussed above hold true for electric hybrid bikes and brands such as Kalkhoff, Gazelle and Riese & Muller have unisex sizing and it is rare to have to change any components as these bikes have a comfortable upright riding position and have adjustable geometry to suit many different riders.
Thanks for joining us for this celebration of the unsung hero of cycling - the hybrid bike. We hope this has made your decision making easier if you are thinking about a new hybrid bike or you just enjoyed the read.