HOW TO CHOOSE HYBRID BICYCLES – BUYERS GUIDE

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Hybrid bikes have the combined advantages of both road bikes and mountain bikes. They also go by other names – fitness bikes, city bikes, urban bikes and many many more.

Hybrid bikes use bigger wheels and slimmer tires to be faster on road. Some models come with slick tires and a rigid fork and are used predominantly on city roads, while some others come with basic, lightweight suspensions and knobby tires so that the bike can be used in the city as well as basic trails / broken roads. Hybrid bikes are available in various styles and options but all come with comfort at the heart of their design.

In short, Hybrid bikes are versatile enough to handle the rigors of the daily commute or the fun of a weekend long ride. Perfect for most of us looking to get into the sport of cycling.

What kind of riding is suitable for hybrid bike?

  • These bikes are ideal for people looking at riding their bikes on a regular basis (3 – 5 days a week) for an hour or so per session, with an aim to stay fit.
  • Riders looking at commuting to their workplace.
  • Riders interested in the occasional leisure long weekend ride coupled with one (or both) of the points above.

These bikes have a relaxed geometry and come with tire profiles ideal for city riding. Also, they may or may not come with a front suspension and are generally lighter than mountain bikes, making them ideal commuters and fitness bikes.

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

FRAME MATERIALS

A bike’s heart is it’s frame. The way it feels, rides and how comfortable it is is determined by the frame. Components are secondary – they can always be changed at a later point if you desire.

  • Aluminum: It is light, strong, stiff and affordable. It can sometimes be described as feeling harsh on rough roads, but newer construction techniques have helped improve shock absorption.
  • Steel: Steel is heavier than aluminum, but its strength and amount of flex offer a comfortable, smooth ride.
  • Carbon fiber: Known to be lighter than aluminum and stronger than steel, but it’s more expensive than both, making it a popular choice for high-end bikes. Some bikes feature carbon fiber forks and/or seat posts rather than a frame made entirely of carbon in order to keep the price down but still provide some of the benefits of the light, strong material.

GROUPSET

The Grouspet consists of all of the components that drive and stop the bike. Entry level hybrids usually have a mix of components from different groupsets or different brands altogether.

Bikes are available with a broad range of gears, from one to 27 or more. When you factor in the many combinations of multiple chainrings, cogs and the numbers of teeth on them, things can get complex.

To keep it simple, the most important things to consider are your fitness level and the terrain you’ll be riding. If you’ll be riding lots of hills and you find climbing challenging, then you’ll want to opt for more gears or more importantly a larger spread of low ratio gears.

If you’re a strong cyclist or you only ride flat terrain, you won’t need as many low gears to power up a hill so you can get away with fewer gears, which will keep your bike light.

Some hybrid bikes have only one speed, and are aptly named single-speed bikes. These bikes have a freewheel mechanism in the rear hub that allows you to coast just like you would on a standard bike with multiple gears. More on these bikes later.

SUSPENSION

Here you have two flavors to choose from – rigid forks and bikes with suspensions:

Rigid fork: Many hybrid bikes do not include any suspension at all. Suspension forks add weight and can make pedaling less efficient, so most people who ride on paved bike paths and smooth streets can afford to forego it.

Suspension: Some hybrid bikes (generally city hybrids) include front suspension forks that help absorb impacts on the front wheel to smooth out the ride on rough streets.

BRAKES

The two main braking systems you will see on hybrids these days are rim brakes and disc brakes. Disc brakes can further be divided into mechanical and hydraulic disc brakes.

Rim Brakes: Many hybrid bikes come equipped with rim brakes at an entry-level. Rim brakes feature pads that grip onto the wheel rims.

  • Advantages: Economical; easy to observe brake pad wear; easy to replace worn pads.
  • Disadvantages: Gradually wear out the wheel rim, requiring the wheel to be replaced; less stopping power in wet conditions.

Disc brakes: Here brake pads grip onto a brake rotor mounted to the wheel hub. Disc brakes come in two versions:

Mechanical: This system is not as progressive as it is cable driven. These disc brakes also need manual adjusting as the pads wear down.

Hydraulic: They offer a more progressive and stronger braking with less finger effort, and they self-adjust for brake pad wear.

TYPES OF HYBRIDS

FITNESS FOCUSED HYBRID

These hybrid bikes are ideal for fitness cycling, light weekend touring and commuting. These are designed to roll fast on good roads and yet have a relaxed geometry and flat handlebars that are practical and comfortable for city commute in traffic. Generally, these frames are built with lightweight aluminum while high-end ones come in Carbon. Wheels are typically 700C and slicker tires ensure on-street speed. MTB style V-brakes are a norm, but many models come spec’d with disc brake nowadays. Suspensions are visibility missing on these bikes.

ADVENTURE FOCUSED HYBRID

These bikes have a basic lightweight suspension and also come with slightly wider, knobbier tires compared to the fitness focussed hybrids. The suspension makes the rider extremely comfortable and allows the bike to hit some basic trails apart from offering a very comfortable city ride. Although the tires are wider and are semi-slick, they are tough enough for dirt, but sufficiently fast enough for the road. If you’re looking for a bike that can be used on any surface then this is the best choice.

FIXIE / FIXED GEAR BIKE

The beauty of retro single speed bike is its simplicity “No gears-no worry”. Single-speed bikes are closely related to track bikes with fixed gear. Fixed gear bikes also know as Fixie, because it doesn’t have a freewheel hub so while you are riding you can’t stop! To reduce speed you have to simply stop pedaling. Most popular single speed bikes provide a flip-flop hub to give you the option “fixed” or with a single speed sprocket. Swapping the wheel around switches between fixed and single speed. In short Single speed riding is cycling at its purest, just pedal to get out and ride. Simple.

Pure Cycles Original - Fixed Gear Hybrid | BUMSONTHESADDLE

FOLDING BIKE


The biggest advantage of a folding bike is its size. Folding bikes are ideal for commuting as they can be taken on trains, into cafés and carried up stairs with minimal fuss. Generally, the ride position is upright which is perfect for short distance urban commuting as you can easily see traffic and vice-versa.

WOMEN SPECIFIC HYBRID BIKES

Women have a different body geometry to men and women-specific bicycles cater to that difference. Generally, women tend to have longer legs and shorter arms and torso than men, hence women-specific bikes come with a shorter top tube to bring the handlebar closer to the saddle while still enabling full leg stretch. Some bike brands also end up having other women-specific components on their bikes – like saddles, grips/brake levers and crank arms to accommodate the difference in human physiology. A different color palette is often the biggest difference in most brands.


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