Think of a mountain bike, a road bike, a touring bike, all rolled into one. Hybrid bikes put together the key aspects of all these types of bikes to give you a range of feature-combinations to choose from. Hybrids cater to almost every type of usage. Combinations of long distance and trail riding or city riding with off-roading, hybrids give you the option to explore more than one type of terrain and style of riding.
When choosing a hybrid, first identify what your agenda is. Decide on what you want to most use your bicycle for. With that knowledge, there are two broad points to consider. One, the features and components on the hybrid cater to your agenda and two, the frame and type of bike should fit your structure and riding style.
To start off, a bulk of hybrid bikes come with 700c wheel size. This is adaptable to most terrains and riding styles and is considered as the average for hybrid bikes. Things get a little complicated when it comes to the gears. If you are looking at long distances or city riding, you don’t need many gears. In fact, your riding isn’t dependent on gears for the most part. However, if you plan on off-roading or trail riding, then you need gears. The more uneven the terrain and the more inclines you have to ride through, the higher your dependency on gears!
Most hybrids don’t have heavy suspension. Especially the hybrids made for city riding or long-distance riding on flat surfaces. This is because suspension systems increase the weight and bulkiness of a bike, thereby requiring more strength and pedalling effort from the ride. This should be avoided if you are looking at casual riding, speed riding or distance riding. However, for trails and uneven terrains, some hybrids have suspension to ease the ride. In case you are looking at trail blazing on a mountain side, your only go-to is a MTB. Hybrids are not built for hardcore trails.
Broadly, there are two types of brakes – rim brakes and disc brakes (further down to hydraulic brakes and mechanical brakes). Rim brakes are basic pads that grip the rims to slow down the bike. These are easy to maintain and replace when worn, however they are inefficient in wet and muddy conditions. Disc brakes on the other hand have brakes pads that grip a brake motor on the wheel hub. Hydraulic brakes are the most efficient brake systems that need minima effort from the rider and also auto adjust to wear and tear on the brake pads. Mechanical disc brakes require manual maintenance when the brake pads start wearing. Again, if you are looking at city riding or casual riding, then rim brakes or mechanical brakes will do. But for performance riding, hydraulic disc brakes are recommended.
As for the frame, your options are aluminium, steel and carbon fibre. Aluminium is light, strong and affordable. Due to the lightness of the metal, the weight of the bike is relatively low compared to other materials. This could affect the suspension and the roll back of the terrain to the rider. However, with improvements in technology and suspension systems, aluminium bikes are becoming more efficient. If you are looking at casual city-riding then aluminium bikes are good to go. Steel is much heavier, but the weight helps with shock absorption! Then there is carbon fiber, lighter than aluminium and stronger than steel. The use of carbon fibre immediately bumps up the cost of the bike. So, for low-end bikes, manufacturers tend to make the bikes partly in carbon fiber and partly in aluminium to reduce the price!
At the end of it all, it boils down to your comfort and perfect fit. The frame should fit right and the features should broadly cater to your agenda. Make sure you test ride a hybrid before buying it thought! Your ride is an investment. Keep riding. And share your views with us!
Check out some of the Firefox Hybrids here