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Why you SHOULDN'T buy a hybrid!

Hybrid Bike
Photo: Bike Forums

Here at BikeRoar we try to be unbiased and offer a very balanced viewpoint on any advice given. But today we don't care much if you disagree. It's time to speak on behalf of the masses, on behalf of the people who care too much for your feelings, and on behalf of every road cyclist and mountain biker...



Hybrid bikes are like a locust plague, both in numbers and in their use to you - which is zero, in case you didn't get the... yeah. Moving along. 

Hybrid bikes have a mixed past - we can't quite pinpoint their origin. Much like a mash up sidewalk puppy, you just don't know what you're getting. Hybrid bikes don't have a target market in the same way as road bikes or mountain bikes or even touring bikes do. Hybrids are the bikes you choose when you just don't know or care which bike you'll be riding...

To clarify, before you change screens and head back to YouTube; there is a big difference between a 'flat bar road bike' or fitness bike and a hybrid. A huge difference!

FLAT BAR ROAD BIKE: Usually a lengthy selection of bikes to choose from in each brand, flat bars offer a bike suitable for riding to work or for fitness. Almost a 'do anything' bike, these machines offer decent componentry on a slightly more upright, relaxed geometry. These bikes should not come with suspension because you should not be going off road. Sorry, is the 15cm kerb too high? C'mon, just ride the bike as it was designed. You want extreme? Go buy a Mountain Bike.


Flat bar road bike


How this bike was designed, we can't really say. Maybe it was some kind of sick joke, or there was a high speed accident between a flat bar road bike and a cheap old mountain bike. A true hybrid also never sells, speaking from firsthand experience and 10 years trying to sell them. They don't sell, and if you're dishonest enough to sell one, it won't get ridden because the bike has no true purpose; the rider doesn't know how far the bike can be pushed, or where it can be ridden.

Bike shops have a term called "J.R.A" or Just Riding Along - it suggests what a customer would say when trying to explain how something broke. Usually the term 'warranty' slips in mid-sentence because they rode their hybrid off road alongside their mountain biking buddies.

Hybrids are like flat bar road bikes with cheap suspension, useless brakes, flimsy rims, slightly textured tyres, and a suspension seatpost. The list goes to the floor, just like your cool factor.


“The list goes to the floor, just like your cool factor.”



Every bike has a purpose. No bike can truly master all styles although some are actually okay to mix styles on, as shown below:



Great for cyclocross racing, and also riding to work. These bikes are great for touring too, but not ideal for mountain bike riding. You can still ride off road on them, but you'll very soon find the limits of the bike. They are great at what they are designed for.



Bring on the trail, and absolutely anything you can throw at it. Point, shoot, and hold on for dear life! Yes, these bikes can do it all off road. The bike isn't ideal for riding on the road, but if you wanted to, change to slick tires and you have a robust city bike.



As the name suggests, you need a road and this bike. Nothing else is even slightly possible, so there's really no misconception.



A road bike with flat handlebars and slightly downgraded components. These bikes are basically purpose built for commuting or light exercise. A slightly more upright position offers added comfort for those lacking the flexibility of a seasoned cyclist. 



After all the above styles, you just couldn't narrow down your preference? Somebody does take the runt dog home, but please don't let it be you...A hybrid bike is either of two styles. It's either designed to look like a mountain bike, but as frail as a dying bird, or it's designed to look like a flat bar road bike with suspension. Suspension that would serve no purpose whatsoever on your commute to work on perfectly flat surfaces, suspension that barely works and has the same travel as a chronically rusted Pogo Stick.


NOTE:  Many people quote that they would buy a hybrid for the upright position because they suffer from a "bad back". We would say to check out a mountain bike with similar upright position and the added capability of being ridden with intent.



New Hybrid Bike
A recipe for discomfort and future knee problems. Photo: Inner Loop Adventures

To avoid buying a hybrid bike, you need to be harsh on yourself when figuring out where you'll be riding. If you're potentially riding on varied surfaces and terrains you need to find a bike that crosses between styles the best. You must know the bike will only excel at one style and be reasonably capable in others. Some bikes cannot cross-over, so choose wisely.

HARD SURFACES: If you are riding only on hard surfaces, choose between a road bike, a flat bar road bike or a touring bike. All of these are perfect for fitness riding, touring, road riding or even commuting.

OFF ROAD: If you are riding off road, determine the level of 'off road' you'll be riding. Mountain bikes are the masters of dirt, but cyclocross bikes offer a slightly less capable alternative (depending solely on where you ride!). There is NO other bike that should be on the dirt.

MIXED: If these two surfaces are mixed into one ride, you could consider either a mountain bike or a cyclocross bike - both these bikes are capable on any surface.

As you can see, a hybrid does not fit into any of the above categories. You might say "but I ride off road". To this we say "A hybrid won't cope nor last off road, and the tyres offer no grip whatsoever for gravel riding".

You might also say "But I ride to work on bumpy paths, mostly concrete or tarmac" to which we say "the cheap suspension on a hybrid bike does not have the small bump sensitivity of a high quality suspension fork. This means the suspension will do NOTHING for your small bumps en route to work".

Choose your style.

Choose your bike.

Don't buy a hybrid.




Gopr2706Author: Joey Esterhuyzen
Joey has been racing bikes since he was a kid. He never grew old because of this, and still pops up on the race cards now and again near the pointy end... Joey loves nothing more than a solo road ride in the hills, or a fast and flowing MTB trail session... "Who says you can't whip an XC hardtail?!"

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