Best women's hybrid bikes and how to choose between them

Best women's hybrid bike main image is of a women riding a bike on a path between two fields with man on a hybrid bike behind her
(Image credit: Getty Images / Westend61)

Capable of tackling tarmac or heading off piste, the best women's hybrid bikes take a influence from both road and off road bikes. They are a great option for anyone who is looking for two wheel adventures, but don't want to be committed to just one style of riding. 

Choosing a women’s specific bike is not for every female rider, and cycling brands have even flip flopped over the years in their manufacturing of them. Our guide includes genuine hand picked options that we think make ideal women's specific hybrid bikes, as well as lots of helpful hints and tips on how to find your perfect match. 

Just because a bike isn’t labelled as ‘a women’s bike’ doesn’t mean it can’t be ridden by a woman, we've even got a whole page to Is ‘women’s specific geometry’ still relevant? However, there are certainly benefits to be gained from purchasing a women’s specific bike. For starters, it could save the additional cost of changing contact points to women's specific saddles or even narrower handlebars.

s well as this, certain models will adjust the geometry of the bike so that it is more suited to the shape of the average woman. For instance, shortening the top tube, as traditionally bikes have been manufactured with long top tubes to accommodate men’s proportionally longer arms compared to their legs.

Best women's hybrid bikes 2020

best women's hybrid bikes

Trek FX 3 disc women's hybrid bike

Performance, comfort and utility can all be found in Trek’s versatile FX 3 hybrid model. It has an aluminium frame and a lightweight carbon fork that is designed to absorb vibrations, giving you a smooth, controlled ride over rougher terrain.

With a 46/30 chainset and an 11-36 cassette, the 2x9 Shimano Acera drivetrain provides more than enough gears to tackle the steepest of hills. However, with the wide range cassette you may find yourself stuck between gears at times.

The FX 3 has reliable and controllable braking power in all conditions, thanks to Shimano’s MT201 hydraulic disc brakes it’s fitted with. Complementing this, the Bontrager H2 700x32c tyres offer sufficient grip for poor conditions, without compromising rolling speed.

This model is also fitted with a women-specific design saddle which is engineered to fully support the female anatomy.

Buy now:Trek FX 3 Disc Women’s Hybrid Bike at Leisure Lakes Bikes for £700

best women's hybrid bikes

Boardman HYB 8.8 women’s hybrid bike

Coming in nearly 1 kilogram lighter than the previous Boardman HYB 8.6 model, the HYB 8.8 boasts lighter and better components to complement its reliable alloy frame and carbon forks.

The 8.8 model is fitted with Shimano Deore 1 x 10 gears to ensure quick, smooth and reliable gear shifting. With one chainring at the front and a 11-42 tooth cassette at the rear, the drivetrain is lighter with less to go wrong or to maintain. The wide range cassette means there is still ample gearing for most situations.

Boardman have tailored this ride to the needs of females by kitting the bike out with narrower bars, shorter stems and a women’s specific saddle.

Mounts for mudguards and a pannier rack are also included in this model that delivers great versatility.

best women's hybrid bikes

Carrera Subway 1 women's hybrid bike

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For £300, this is a value for money option that will give even nervous riders confidence with its predictable handling and the stopping power of its mechanical disc brakes.

The Carrera Subway 1 comes with a subtle frame geometry tweak—a dropped top tube—for the women’s specific build.

With Kenda tyres designed with an extra Kevlar layer for puncture proofness, mudguard and pannier mounts, the Subway 1 is certainly versatile. Complementing this, its 2x8 gear set up is robust and has a broad range. But it is also not as comfortable as other options, so we’d not recommend it if you’re going on long adventures.

Review score: 7/10

Read more:Carrera Subway review

best women's hybrid bikes

Pinnacle Lithium 3 women’s hybrid bike

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The Lithium 3 can handle any terrain you dare to ride, with ease, as a do it all hybrid. Pinnacle, the in-house brand at Evans Cycles, have combined a rigid 29er mountain bike with 40c tyres for ample rolling ability on tarmac. This bike provides controllability over rough terrain and speed down the streets.

With wide clearance and space for 2.2” MTB tyres, the Lithium is built with versatility in mind and can be easily adapted to explore local trails, fields and forests.

Coming in at 12.5kg, the Lithium’s alloy frame and steel fork doesn’t make for the lightest of bikes. But, equipped with Shimano Acera triple chainset (44-32-22) and a 11-32 tooth cassette, you shouldn’t struggle up the hills. The only noteworthy issue with weight comes when trying to carry the bike.

Read more:Pinnacle Lithium 4 women’s hybrid bike

best women's hybrid bikes

Ribble Hybrid AL women’s hybrid bike

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Ribble’s retro Hybrid Al Green range of comfortable and reliable bikes starts with the commuter edition at £699. With Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, you can ride with confidence whatever the terrain.

The Al green comes with colour matched, integrated handlebars and stem in British Racing Green—it is no doubt slick and stylish with its retro, but modern, look.

Fitted with Mavic’s lightweight 700c Aksium wheels, this hybrid can accommodate narrower profile tyres for more speed while cruising on the road.

With a 2x8 drivetrain and 11-32 tooth cassette the Al green comes with sufficient range of gears, low maintenance and reliability. Although the large jumps could prove irritating at times.

Ribble’s customisable bike builder gives you the option of four women’s specific saddles giving you freedom for comfort. At no extra cost the hybrid bike can be fitted with the Selle Royal Vivo Trekking or Selle Royal Seta Road saddles. Or for an additional £20 you can choose the Prologo Kappa Evo DEA STN saddle, which is more suitable for longer distances.

Read more:Ribble Hybrid Al E review

best women's hybrid bikes

Cannondale Quick Disc 4 Hybrid Bike

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Staying true to its name, the Quick range are Cannondale’s machines for speed and confidence when commuting and leisure riding.

Sitting in the middle is the Quick 4, which is equipped with hydraulic disc brakes and a 9 speed drivetrain.

Fitted with a chromoly fork, this bike is designed to withstand the demands of city riding by reducing road vibrations. While the alloy frame has Cannondale’s OutFront Steering Geometry to provide added stability for sweeping your way across town.

The Quick 4, like all other Quick models, features bright 360° reflective components as an important safety measure. This model has also flat handlebars for a comfortable and stable upright riding position, that is useful when keeping an eye on traffic.

Anatomy of a women's hybrid bike

At first glance, the sheer range and variety of hybrid bikes can seem overwhelming but they do have many features in common.

Key features to expect in a hybrid bike are listed below. In the women's specific models, you'll expect a women's saddle, and narrower handlebars as well as a spread of sizes more suited to shorter riders.

>>> A guide to the women's specific bike brand Liv

Mounting points for panniers and mudguards

Carrying weight on the bike is more pleasant than on your back as it takes the weight off your shoulders. Using panniers also saves getting all sweaty from where the backpack touches your skin. However do bear in mind, backpacks are more versatile and can prove useful if your journey involves sections which are not done on the bike.

>>> Nine ways to make your commute more like the Tour de France

Mudguards are important in helping to keep you dryer when it’s raining as you won’t be flicking additional water onto yourself. But significantly, and often overlooked, they also keep you dry when it’s not raining and there’s still water on the roads.

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You will find points for mounting the panniers and mudguards by the front and rear axles, at the top of the seat stays and at the crown of the fork.

Clearance for wider tyres for comfort

As your only direct contact point with the ground, tyre choice has a large effect on the comfort of your ride and the terrain you can ride on. Wider tyres provide more grip and don’t sink into soft surfaces—like mud and gravel—to the same extent as narrower tyres. In having a greater volume of air over narrower tyres, they also are better able to absorb bumps and provide greater comfort.

A good starting point is to look for a tyre that is at least 35mm wide, although you can also get tyres that are up to 60mm. However if you choose a tyre this wide your speed will be hampered on smooth tarmac surfaces.

Upright position for comfort and better view in and around traffic

A more upright position puts less pressure on your hands as your weight is transferred to your sit bones instead. It can be more comfortable to be more upright if you have a backpack, as when you are bent over with a backpack it can be quite unstable and flop from side to side.

Another benefit of a more upright position is that it provides you with a better view of the traffic, helping you to safely navigate around the cars on your commute.

>>> How to avoid wrist pain when cycling

Flat handlebars for control, comfort and price point

With flat handlebars the shifting and braking is straightforward, which is especially useful if you are not used to a road bike set up.

There is the added benefit that the brakes and shifters are significantly cheaper for flat handlebars than the integrated brakes and shifters of road bikes. This keeps down the initial cost of these bikes and saves you money on any future repairs.

Wide range of gears

Gears are the way that your pedal strokes are converted into forward motion. Given that there is a relatively narrow range of cadences that are comfortable to ride in (70-100rpm), but the speeds that we commonly travel at can range from 10kph to 60kph, it’s important to have a large range of gears so that we can ride at our preferred cadence, whatever the speed.

>>> Are you using your bike’s gears efficiently?

But absolute range is not the only consideration. Small and even gaps between the gears help us to fine tune the gear we are riding in and prevent us from being stuck between two gears—one too big and one too small.

A triple crankset with an 8 speed cassette, for example, provides an affordable way of getting enough absolute range whilst still having acceptable jumps between the gears. While a double with a wide range 10 speed cassette is pricier, it is also lighter weight and provides a similar range with similar jumps to the 3x8.

If you are only riding on the flat and not carrying heavier loads, you will be able to do with a smaller range of gears.

Disc brakes for controlled and reliable braking

Disc brakes provide greater power than rims brakes, and the price of this increase in braking performance is dropping all the time—so we are seeing far more hybrid bikes at all price points coming with disc brakes. Where disc brakes particularly excel is stopping in the wet. This is an important aspect for a hybrid that is being used for commuting as it is likely going to be needed in all weather conditions.

>>> Disc or rim brakes for commuting: what to choose

Hydraulic disc brakes also provide better modulation and have a significantly lighter lever action, so they are far easier to use than other braking mechanisms.

Rugged tyres for fewer punctures

The last thing you want to be doing when commuting or on a leisurely cycle is to be having to change an inner tube. Although the more rugged tyres don’t roll as fast and are a little heavier, these are small trade-offs for the inconvenience of a puncture.

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High spoke count for robust wheels

If you want to carry heavy loads, a high spoke count will help with that as less tension is put through each of the spokes.