What Is A Hybrid Bike?
A hybrid bike is a mix of a mountain bike, a road bike and a comfort bike. The idea behind riding a hybrid bike, is to give you the versatility of being able to ride over different types of terrain while being very comfortable. For this reason, they are commonly used for commuting.
Due to the versatility of hybrid bikes, the definition is quite blurred. At one end of the scale, there are hybrid bikes that are lightweight with thin tyres, that resemble a road bike with flat handlebars.
These are ideal for zipping along smooth tarmac roads. But, you also get hybrid bikes with fatter tyres with deeper tread, that provide higher levels of grip. You can easily ride these bikes on terrain that you would never consider riding a road bike on.
Other clues to the versatility of hybrid bikes, are some of the features that they have. For example, the flat handlebars are similar to ones found on mountain bikes, and give you an upright riding position, making them very comfortable to ride.
Some hybrid bikes feature a suspension fork, which makes the ride more comfortable. These forks tend to be quite basic, but they do make the experience a little smoother when riding over bumpy terrain.
Top 6 Hybrid Bikes On The Market for under $1000
The great thing about hybrid bikes is that you get a lot for your money. Obviously, the more you spend, the better the bike you will get. However, a budget topping off at $1000 gives you some fantastic options. You can expect lightweight aluminum frames, disc brakes, quality components from big named brands, and a lot of versatility.
Cannondale Bad Boy 3 Bike
The Cannondale Bad Boy 3 is a unique hybrid bike, thanks to its ‘lefty’ fork. The fork isn’t really a fork at all, but a single steering column, with the front wheel being held just on the left-hand side.
Bizarrely, Cannondale claims that this design provides better rigidity than a standard fork while saving weight. Not only does the ‘lefty’ fork function well, but it makes the Bad Boy 3 look cool setting it apart from other hybrid bikes on the market.
This bike doesn’t have suspension, but it does feature WTB Byway tyres on its 27.5” wheels. These have a high volume, which makes the ride more comfortable, but they also have low rolling resistance and provide plenty of grip in the corners.
In addition to the unique fork, the Bad Boy 3 benefits from a 16-speed Shimano drivetrain with an Altus rear derailleur and Tourney front derailleur. The Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes provide instant stopping power and are easy to modulate.
Hybrid bikes are commonly used for fast urban commuting, so they have to be comfortable. The Bad Boy 3 allows you to adjust your seating position to suit your preferences, either for comfort or for speed. You do this by adjusting the height of the handlebars up to 25mm.
The Shimano Easy Fire EF505 gear shifters fitted to the Bad Boy 3 compliments the 2×8 Shimano drivetrain. Together, they provide quick and easy shifting between the 16 gears using just a thumb and forefinger while leaving optimal space for the integrated brake levers.
The Cannondale Bad Boy 3 is at the higher end of this budget, but for $950, you will have a unique looking hybrid bike with quality components.
Trek FX 3
The Trek FX3 sits at the top of Trek’s range of commuter bikes. This means that it is a flat-bar hybrid with all the mounts and provisions for panniers and mudguards.
Trek has designed the FX3 for commuters or for people that want to improve their fitness while having fun. This is a great-looking bike that offers versatility, comfort, and quality components.
The frame material is lightweight aluminum, but it also has a carbon fork. A carbon fork adds a little more lightness, but it also makes the front of the bike more responsive.
The Shimano MT201 hydraulic disc brakes have 160mm rotor for extra stopping power, while the 18-speed Shimano drivetrain will help you fly up steep hills. To reduce fatigue on your hands and forearms, the FX3 comes with Bontrager Satellite Plus IsoZone handlebars, which reduce vibrations.
If you want a fast and lightweight hybrid bike for commuting, fitness, or just cruising around, the Trek FX3 is ideal at $799.99.
Roadmaster 26 Granite Peak
The Roadmaster 26 Granite Peak is an ideal hybrid bike for beginners and for people that have a tight budget. Even though this bike is lower down in this price range, it still performs well and will suit many different rider’s needs.
Its aluminum frame is super strong, as are the steel handlebars, making the 26 Granite Peak a durable bike, although this does mean that it isn’t particularly light.
Gear shifting is done with SRAM twist shifters, which give smooth and precise shifting, and are suitable for beginner riders in urban environments.
The 26” wheel size is an old mountain bike standard, which is becoming rarer. However, there are still many 26” advocates out there that love the nimble feeling and strong construction this wheel size gives you.
If you are a very inexperienced cyclist, you will find a bike with 26” wheels much easier to control. Braking comes courtesy of V-brakes, which are simple to maintain and use.
If you are looking for a simple and well priced hybrid bike that is rugged, easy to maneuver, and fun to ride, the Roadmaster 26 Granite Peak is well worth considering.
Co-op Cycles CTY 1.1
At $549 the Co-Op Cycles 1.1 is another entry-level hybrid bike aimed at everyday casual riders and commuters. This bike is perfect for riding on tarmac, but it is also suitable for light off-road use.
It features an aluminum frame and a rigid fork and Shimano drivetrain. The Shimano Tourney and Acera front and rear derailleurs are reliable, simple to use, and easy to maintain.
This makes the CTY 1.1 attractive to beginners and people that don’t want to spend too much time tinkering with their bike. The 3×8 gearing on the CTY 1.1 gives you enough range to cope with riding on very hilly terrain.
The chunky 700x40c wheels and tires fitted to the Co-op CTY1.1 make light work of tarmac, dirt, and gravel, increasing the versatility of the bike. The Kenda K-1024 tires are tough, thanks to their protective shield, which should reduce the number of punctures you get.
Stopping power comes from Tektro 300 mechanical disc brakes, which are more effective than V-brakes, especially on wet weather days.
The CTY 1.1 has you covered when it comes to carrying weight too. It comes with all the provisions for fitting a rack for hauling loads. There are also provisions for fitting fenders to make your ride in wet weather more pleasant.
If you want a versatile hybrid bike that will get you around with minimal fuss, the Co-op CTY 1.1 is the non-nonsense bike for you.
The Tommaso Sorrento has several features that make it a comfortable, fast, easy, and safe bike to ride. Starting with comfort, Tommaso has really thought about the rider’s contact points with the bike.
It is fitted with the Selle V-street saddle, which has excellent padding and has a specially engineered frame for optimum comfort. Also, the Sorrento features Tommaso gel grips on the handlebars, which give you a balance between great feedback from the front wheel and comfort.
As a bike that is oriented more towards riding on tarmac, the Tommaso Sorrento has a lightweight 6061 aluminum frame. Its construction makes it comfortable and maneuverable around town too.
The 700c wheel size and low rolling resistance Kenda K193 tires allow you to zip along paved surfaces with ease, as well as using it for light off-road riding.
The Shimano Tourney Triple 30/39/50T crankset and the Shimano Tourney 12/28T, 7-speed cassette, gives this bike a wide range of gears. With this gearing, you will be able to ride pretty much anywhere at speed or at a more relaxed pace if you wish.
At $774.99, the Tommaso Sorrento hybrid bike is a great choice for people that want a comfortable bike for commuting quickly and safely. Another bonus of this bike is that it arrives fully assembled, so it is ready to ride straight out of the box.
Giant Cypress DX
The Giant Cypress DX is a versatile hybrid bike for riders that want a smooth and comfortable riding experience.
It features a lightweight ALUXX aluminum frame with a suspension fork. Another way that this bike ensures a smooth ride when the surface gets bumpy is with an integrated suspension seat post, that soaks up the shock before it goes into you.
The seat post is complemented with a super squishy and well-padded saddle with an elastomer to make it springy.
The upright riding position means you have an unrestricted view of the road, but you can also adjust the handlebar position up and down, or forwards and backward to get the perfect riding position for you.
The handlebars are also fitted with ergonomic grips, so your hands are comfortable while getting good feedback from the road.
As this bike is biased towards road riding, it is fitted with 700c wheels, but the Giant P-X3 multi-surface tires are also suitable for riding on dirt or light sandy surfaces. The TKB-172 mechanical disc brakes are reliable and effective.
The Shimano Altus and microSHIFT drivetrain components are reliable and give you a 3×8 gear range. But the rear cassette has an extra-large gear to make it easier to ride up steep hills.
If you want a bike to be mainly used on-road, with the occasional rough path thrown in, the Giant Cypress DX will give you one of the most comfortable rides you will ever have from $550.
Felt Verza Speed 40
Like many hybrid bikes, the Felt Verza 40 has an all-aluminum frame. But, the material is their in-house F-Lite PG aluminum with smooth til welded seams.
One of the nice features about the frame is its internal cable routing, that helps with the bike’s tidy appearance. Although internal cable routing can be awkward when you have to change a brake cable.
Braking is done via a mechanical disc system from Tektro, which works very well, especially as the front disc is 160mm.
For 2020, the drivetrain on the Felt Verza Speed 40 has been upgraded. It now has an extensive range of gears for easier climbing and speed along the flats.
Gear shifting is done with Shimano Altis M310 Rapid-fire shivers. Although these are not top of the range items, they work extremely well, are reliable and precise.
The component on this bike, along with its frame design, makes it versatile enough for improving fitness and commuting. At $599, this is a well-priced bike that will suit pretty much every occasion.
Things To Consider When Buying A Hybrid Bike
The easiest way to determine what a hybrid bike is designed for is to look at the wheel sizes. A road-oriented hybrid bike will have the larger 700c wheel size.
700c is the modern standard size for road bike wheels, and it has a couple of advantages. This larger size of wheel creates a smoother ride than wheels with smaller diameters, as it rolls over bumps in the road easier.
They do take a little more effort to get going, but once you have momentum, they will roll faster.
Hybrid bikes with a bias towards varied terrain have smaller 27.5” wheels. 27.5” is a mountain bike wheel standard, and has its own benefits.
The main advantage of a 27.5″ wheeled bike, is that it gives the bike a more nimble feeling and is easier to turn. They also accelerate quicker than the 700c wheels, even though you will need to put in more pedal strokes.
This wheel size gives you more grip too, thanks to their ability to take multi-terrain tires and to run lower tire pressures. Lower tire pressures increase the contact patch with the ground, increasing traction.
If you are riding mainly road and tarmac, you may want to consider choosing a bike with a rigid fork. A rigid fork has several advantages, even though you do forgo some shock absorption.
For example, rigid forks require no servicing or maintenance, which reduces the cost of ownership over time. Bikes with rigid forks have a geometry that never changes, which means that they have a more predictable feeling to them, as they never compress under load.
However, suspension forks make the riding experience more comfortable and pleasurable when you are on dirt or gravel trails, as it smooths out the bumps.
You will notice that suspension increases the weight of the bike but not enough to make riding too challenging when you stray off the paved surfaces.
Also a bike with suspension is easier to handle and control on the rough stuff. Many hybrid bikes feature front suspension, so if you find a bike that you really like that has it, but are not sure if it is necessary, go for that bike anyway, as you will see its benefits the more you ride.
The options for braking on hybrid bikes at this price range are varied. At the lower end of the budget, you will be able to get a bike with V-brakes. V-brakes work by pinching two brake blocks on either side of the wheel to slow it down.
You would be forgiven for thinking that V-brakes are old fashioned and not particularly effective. This may be the case if you are riding in areas with lots of steep hills, but a well set up V-brake can still give you plenty of stopping power in the right environment.
V-brakes are very simple and easy to maintain, and you don’t need to fit special brake pads to them when they wear out, as you can fit pretty much any pad you want. But, in the long term, you will likely to need to replace your wheels or rebuild them,
You also have the option of choosing a hybrid bike with disc brakes. Disc brakes offer more control over your braking, as they are easy to modulate.
But, they are also more powerful and work consistently in all weather conditions, which makes them safer. You will need to buy specific pads for disc brakes, but they don’t wear out as quickly as V-brakes.
There are two types of disc brake mechanical and hydraulic. Mechanical disc brakes use a cable pull system, similar to V-brakes, while hydraulic brakes use fluid to transfer the force from the lever to the caliper.
Mechanical disc brakes are better than v-brakes, but they are not as effective as their hydraulic counterparts. Hydraulic brakes are more efficient and more powerful, allowing you to brake with just one finger, giving you better grip on your handlebars.
Their closed-system makes hydraulic brakes low maintenance and will need bleeding from time to time, which you can do yourself or take it to a bike shop.
The gearing on your new hybrid bike is a serious consideration. But, to help you decide which type of gearing you want, you need to think about what you are using your bike for.
For example, are you wanting a bike for fitness, commuting, or casual use? There are three different types of gearing found on a hybrid bike:
This is the simplest gearing option and is ideal for casual riding on flat paths. You cannot change gears with a single-speed setup, but the gears can be set to be either easier or faster.
Hub gears offer the most reliable drivetrain performance, so they are ideal for people that want to do as little maintenance as possible.
They are not as efficient as traditional derailleur gears, but they have the advantage of allowing you to change gear while being stationary.
You will find this helpful when riding around town, as you don’t need to remember to brake and change gear when you stop at traffic lights.
The limitation with hub gears is that there isn’t a wide range of gears, making them more suited to relatively flat terrain.
Most hybrid bikes use a derailleur to change through the gears. This is because, if you are using your hybrid bike as a commuter, for fitness, to cover some distance, or for hilly terrain, you will need more gears.
A derailleur allows you to change into a gear that suits the terrain you are riding on. Derailleur systems require more attention and care than the internal systems do, but gives you a more versatile and useful bike.
You need to remember that a hybrid bike is suited to someone that rides a mix of different types of terrain.
A road bike will be faster, and a mountain bike will be better off-road, but a hybrid will give you a little more versatility and comfort.
See also: Best Hybrid Bikes Under $500
Tom Fortune has been reviewing cycling products for several years from his home in the French Alps. As the owner of mtb-threads.com, he mainly reviews mountain bike products but also reviews road cycling products independently.