What is a hybrid bike?
A hybrid bike is a cross between a standard road bike and a mountain bike, taking the best bits of both types of bike to create a machine that is comfortable over all terrains and surfaces.
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Where a bike sits on that scale will influence how well it copes with uneven off-road terrain or how speedy it will be on the tarmac.
Features to expect in a hybrid bike:
- Hybrid bikes have tires that are wider than those on a road bike, but narrower than mountain bike tires – 28-32c is common but could go up to 42c;
- Hybrid bikes nearly always have flat handlebars and a relaxed position that allows the rider to sit with fairly straight back;
- Expect disc brakes on a hybrid bike; these provide quicker stopping and are reliable in wet weather;
- If you plan on using your hybrid bike for commuting, look for eyelets for pannier racks and mudguards
Best urban hybrid bikes reviewed
Here’s a look at our favorite models. Because we know most shoppers are searching for the best hybrid bike for their money, we’ve included mostly value-orientated models – with one or two more premium options.
With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.
Carrera Subway hybrid bike
- Spec – RRP: £300, Material: aluminium frame, steel fork, Weight: 14kg (approx), Brakes: mechanical disc brakes, Suspension: none, Gearing: Shimano Tourney 48/38/28T chainring with 12-32t rear, Tyres: 1.95″ Pannier mount: yes, Mudguard mount: yes
- Review score: 7/10
- Pros – wide tyres good for varied terrain; disc brakes for quick stopping
- Cons – stiff frame not comfortable over longer rides
Priority Bicycles Continuum Onyx
Read more: Priority Continuum Onyx Review
- Spec – RRP: $1099, Material: aluminum frame and fork, Weight: 30.29lb/13.74kg (quoted), Brakes: hydraulic disc brakes, Suspension: none, Gearing: 50T front with a Nuvinci CVT Rear Hub, Tires: WTB 700×32 Pannier mount: yes, Mudguard mount: yes
- Review score: 9/10
- Pros – Incudes fenders and front and rear dynamo lights
- Cons – a very specialized bike
Carrera Crossfire 2
Road more: Carrera Crossfire 2 hybrid bike review
- Spec – RRP: £330, Material: aluminium frame and fork, Weight: 15kg (approx.), Brakes: mechanical disc brakes, Suspension: Yes Gearing: Shimano mix 48/38/28T chainring with 12-32t rear, Tyres: 40, Pannier mount: yes, Mudguard mount: yes
- Review score: 7/10
- Pros – wide tyres; suspension and disc brakes good for light off-road trails
- Cons – fork dulls the ride on the road
Complete with front end suspension, this is a hybrid bike designed for a rider who wants to experiment with gentle off-roading such as excursions down country bridleways.
The Suntour fork offers 75mm of travel, and can be adjusted to provide a stiffer ride on the tarmac. However, coupled with the very wide Kenda tyres, the extra spring does take some of the joy out of road riding.
Read more: Specialized Sirrus hybrid bike review
- Spec – RRP: £480, Material: Aluminum frame and steel fork, Weight: Not available, Brakes: V-brake, Suspension: none, Gearing: Shimano mix 48/38/28T chainring with 12-32t rear, Tyres: 32c, Pannier mount: yes, Mudguard mount: yes
- Review score: 7/10
- Pros – frame and tires make for fast ride on the road; practical with pannier/mudguard mounts
- Cons – A little sluggish and upright in position
Perfect for commuting, this is a road-ready hybrid that will feel light and fast on tarmac when compared with models that come with suspension or wide tires.
A triple chainset means lots of gears for the hills but the rim brakes aren’t as quick in the wet as discs would be.
The frame was let down by its very upright position, for us – but that might be a plus if you’re after a very relaxed stance on the bike.
Triban RC500 flat bar disc
Read more: Triban 520 Flat Bar review (outgoing model)
- Spec – RRP: £529.99, Material: aluminum frame and carbon fork, Weight: 9.9kg Brakes: Promax disc brakes, Suspension: none, Gearing: Shimano Sora 50/34 with 12-32 cassette, Tyres: 25c, Pannier mount: yes, Mudguard mount: yes
- Review score: 10/10
- Pros – Excellent spec for the money; wide range of gears; practical with pannier/mudguard mounts
- Cons – Brakes could be better
A speedy tarmac bike which will suit those commuting mostly on the road. The carbon fork is phenomenal value and adds an enormous amount of comfort to the ride.
The newest models come under the Triban name. In this case with disc brakes and a compact 50/34 chainset boasting a rear cassette replete with a wide spread of gears.
It’s a popular bike and, as a Decathlon exclusive brand, can sometimes be tricky to get hold of.
Buy now: Triban 5oo at Decathlon for £549.99
B’Twin Triban Riverside 920
Read more: B’Twin Riverside 920
- Spec – RRP: £649, Material: aluminum frame and fork, Weight: 12.9kg Brakes: hydraulic disc, Suspension: yes, Gearing: SRAM single chainring 36T with 11-42 rear, Tyres: 38c, Pannier mount: yes, Mudguard mount: yes
- Review score: 9/10
- Pros: Versatile option rides well on and off road
- Cons – Steering a little twitchy at slow speed
Designed to be a trekking bike, the Riverside is comfortable on the road, and the suspension fork coupled with wide tires means that it handles gravel and wooded paths well.
A single chainring keeps things simple, and there’s loads of range on the rear cassette. The Mavic Allroad Aksium wheels are outstanding, coming with comfortable and pretty boom-proof 38mm B’Twin TrekkingSpeed Protect+ tyres.
Giant Escape 1 Disc
Read more: Giant Escape 1 disc hybrid bike review
- Spec – RRP: £649, Material: aluminum frame, carbon fork, Weight: not available, Brakes: hydraulic disc, Suspension: none, Gearing: Shimano Atlus/Alivio 30/46 with 11-36 cassette, Tyres: 36c, Pannier mount: yes, Mudguard mount: yes
- Review score: 9/10
- Pros – internal cable routing keeps things neat; triple crankset gives lots of gears; effective brakes
- Cons – a bit heavy
A butted aluminum frame (Giant calls it ALUXX) with tons of standover clearance – an ideal bonus if you’re commuting in jeans. The tires are wide and this model can go off-road, but this is a bike designed with tarmac in mind.
Giant has gone for integrated cables, a smart move as it reduces damage over time and thus maintenance. The brakes offer super speedy stopping and there’s a huge choice of gears.
Features such as a riser stem allow for a pretty upright and comfortable position for most.
Vitus Mach 3 Disc
Road more: Vitus Mach 3 Disc hybrid bike review
- Spec – RRP: £549.99, Material: aluminum frame and fork, Weight: 11.26kg Brakes: mechanical discs, Suspension: None, Gearing: Shimano Claris 50-34T chainset 11-28 rear, Tyres: 38c, Pannier mount: yes, Mudguard mount: yes
- Review score: 8/10
- Pros: rides well; hydraulic brakes work well
- Cons – bars wide in traffic
Coming from Chain Reaction Cycle’s own brand range, the Mach 3 is made with the same materials as the brand’s ‘Razor’ road bikes. You get a quality frame and carbon fork which improves handling and reduces road buzz.
The gearing is close to what you might get on an endurance road bike, so will offer fewer small gear options for the hills but this should be plenty for anyone of moderate fitness.
Vee G-Sport 38c tires are comfortable and resilient, though in our last test we felt the bars were a bit wide for congested roads.
Cannondale Bad Boy 3
Read more: Cannondale Bad Boy hybrid bike review
- Spec – RRP: £700, Material: aluminum frame and fork, Weight: 11.6kg Brakes: mechanical disc, Suspension: Lefty OPI, Gearing: Shimano Altus 46/30T with 11-31 cassette, Tyres: 40c (65ob wheels), Pannier mount: yes, Mudguard mount: yes
- Review score: 8/10
- Pros: fast ride with good spec for the money
- Cons: bars wide in traffic
Cannondale calls this a bike that’s built for the city, but the wide tires and suspension mean this is certainly an option for someone who wants to explore off-road terrain a little.
The brand has opted for a smaller wheel (650b) with a 42c tire for 2020. The addition of a Lefty fork is something we approve of, too.
A good choice for someone who is seeking plenty of comfort, or a rider who wants to get off-road and explore a little.
Canyon Urban Sport 5.0
- Spec – RRP: £999, Material: aluminum frame and fork, Weight: 10.8kg Brakes: hydraulic dics, Suspension: none, Gearing: Shimano Nexus 8s hub, Tyres: 35c, Pannier mount: yes, Mudguard mount: yes
- Review score: 9/10
- Pros – excellent value with top components; hub gear for practicality
- Cons – twitchy handling; not cheap
It’s different to what German-based manufacturers Canyon usually produce, but they’ve transferred their expertise in making race-ready road machines into an impressive hybrid.
Dubbing their range ‘Urban’, with this model you get a neat belt drive to cut down on maintenance and potential mess, plus eight hub gears.
A good choice for someone after a low maintenance machine for flat city rides. If you want top spec, models go up to £1749.
Best Women’s Hybrids
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 aluminum 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 2×9 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.
Shimano’s MT201 hydraulic disc brakes provide reliable and controllable braking power in all conditions. Complementing this, the Bontrager H2 700x32c tires offer sufficient grip for poorer environments, without compromising rolling speed.
This model is also fitted with a women-specific design saddle which is engineered to fully support the female anatomy.
Boardman HYB 8.8 women’s hybrid bike
Coming in nearly one 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.
Carrera Subway 1 women’s hybrid bike
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 Subway 1 comes with a subtle frame geometry tweak – a dropped top tube – for the women’s specific build.
With Kenda tires designed with an extra Kevlar layer for additional puncture protection, mudguard and pannier mounts, the Subway 1 is certainly versatile. Supplementing this, its 2×8 gear set up is robust and has a broad range.
Despite its pluses, 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
Carrera Crossfire 2 women’s hybrid bike
Complete with front end suspension, this hybrid bike is designed for a rider who wants to experiment with gentle off-roading such as excursions down country bridleways.
Weighing in at approximately 15kg, the Crossfire 2 is equipped with Tektro mechanical disc brakes for controlled stopping power away from the tarmac. While its 24-speed Shimano gearing is helpful for building speed on the flats and tackling climbing hills.
The Suntour fork offers 75mm of travel and can be adjusted to provide a stiffer ride on the tarmac. However, coupled with the very wide Kenda tires, the extra cushion does take some of the joy out of road riding.
Read more: Carrera Crossfire 2 hybrid bike review
Ribble Hybrid AL women’s hybrid bike
Read more: Ribble Hybrid Al E review
Cannondale Quick Disc 4 Hybrid Bike
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, quipped 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, useful when keeping an eye on traffic.
Are there different types of hybrid bike?
The best hybrid bike for someone else might not be the best hybrid bike for you. Think about the sort of riding you’re going to be doing. Would you be better suited buying a hybrid bike that is more similar to a road bike, or one that is more similar to a mountain bike.
If you’re doing most of your riding on roads and cycles paths, then the best option is to go for a more road-orientated hybrid bike. Quite often, these bikes will feature the same frame and fork as found on the manufacturer’s sportive road bike, but with a flat bar handlebar for a more upright position. The tires will also be slick, and not super wide, allowing you to ride fast and keep up with traffic.
Watch: Buyer’s guide to road bikes under £500
This type of hybrid bike will normally also come with gearing that reflects its road origins, mainly designed for relatively fast riding over flat roads. At its bottom end, the gearing should also be easy enough to tackle some pretty fierce hills. But, if you’re carrying extra pounds in your panniers (or on your belly), then you may struggle a little.
However, if you are going to be riding your hybrid bike on rough cycle paths and bridleways, then it’s better to go for one that will be able to cope with a terrain.
The main difference with this type of hybrid bike is that it will come with a suspension fork, which will improve comfort when riding over rough, rutted surfaces. These bikes will also come with slightly wider tyres, usually with a bit of tread on too to give a little more grip.
With regards to gearing, this type of hybrid bike will generally have slightly easier gearing than its more road-orientated brethren.
although you won’t be able to hit quite the same top speeds, having a big sprocket at the back and a tiny ring at the front, you should be able to get over that steep climb at the end of your commute with ease, even on a Friday evening at the end of a long, tiring week.
Compared to road bikes, all of the best hybrid bikes will come with wider tires. The width will vary, but it will generally be something between 28c and 42c. Not only will this help to improve comfort, ironing out any rough surfaces, but will also add to the level of grip when the roads are wet
The more varied the terrain you plan to ride on is, the wider you’ll want your tires. If you’re sticking mainly to the road, opt for the lower volume end.
Watch: Electric bike buyer’s guide
Hybrid bike geometry
The frame of a hybrid bike will generally have a fairly relaxed geometry. This means a short top tube and tall head tube to give a relaxed and upright riding position that should be nice and comfortable, not placing any strain on your neck and shoulders.
Many hybrid bikes also feature a top tube that is sloped downwards from the front of the bike towards the back, which should make it a little bit easier to get on and off whatever you are wearing.
Another feature common to all of the best hybrid bikes is that they come with flat handlebars. This is in contrast to the dropped bars found on normal road bikes.
Does it matter what material the bike is made from?
There are also quite a few hybrid bikes on the market that combine an aluminum frame with a carbon fork. This helps to keep the cost down through the use of aluminum for the frame, while the carbon fork will do a better job of soaking up judder from rough roads.
What components should I expect?
It might be a bit of a cliché, but you will generally get what you pay por when it comes to gearing. Pay more and the best hybrid bikes will come with higher quality groupsets. You’ll gain better quality shifting and less effort needed to shift between gears.
Depending on your use gearing range might be more important than shift quality. If you live in a hilly area, then it’s worth looking for a bike with a 32-tooth sprocket at the back. A big sprocket paired with a small front chainring will let you winch your way up steep gradients.
Rim brakes are the cheaper option and have been the preferred method of braking on road bikes since time immemorial. They’re also lighter than disc brakes, and are really easy to adjust and maintain, just requiring you to slide in a new pair of brake pads every few months or so.
Although disc brakes have been used on mountain bikes for years, they have only recently made their way onto the road, and although traditional roadies have yet to fully embrace them, they’re a perfect match for hybrid bikes.
Another thing to keep an eye on is the saddle that comes with the bike. Check that it suits the sort of riding that you’re going to be doing. Also consider the clothing that you’re going to be doing it in.
If you’re riding more than a couple of miles then a pair of padded cycling shorts are a shrewd investment and will vastly improve your comfort in the saddle.
And once you’ve got a pair, then you shouldn’t be put off by skinny-looking road saddles, which despite they’re lack of padding will be more comfortable on your backside.
But if you’re buying a hybrid bike only for short, infrequent, rides a more padded saddle might be a better option. It will be more comfortable and provide better support for an upright riding position.
Watch: How to fit and remove pedals
As is the case with most bikes, you’re likely to have your hybrid bike sold either without pedals. In some cases, you might find plasticky black flat pedals included. If it’s the latter, the first thing you should do to your new hybrid bike is take these off and throw them in the bin. Seriously. Invest in a more suitable pair.
The best options for commuting and urban riding are off-road pedals such as Shimano’s SPD system. These are easy, even for beginners, to get in and out of. The recessed cleat makes walking easy and since it’s an off-road design it’s less susceptible to mud.
Are there any other features that I should look for?
If you’re having to carry large or heavy items into work, then it can be uncomfortable to carry a backpack. A better option is to invest in a pair of panniers. Panniers will move the weight from you to the bike.
All of the best hybrid bikes should come with eyelets in the frame for pannier racks. It is possible to buy adaptor clips that will let you use a pannier rack without having the eyelets. The problem is these won’t hold the rack quite as securely as if the frame is specifically designed for the purpose.
Look for a hybrid bike that has plenty of clearance between the frame and the tire. The clearance will be important for fitting mudguards. Even better will be a frame with eyelets so you can fit ones with better coverage, rather than flimsy clip on ones.
It might seem a shame to spoil the look of your new bike in such a way, but you’ll certainly appreciate it when cycling on wet roads.
Where to buy a hybrid bike
The vast majority of major bike manufacturers create hybrid bikes. Specialized, Trek, Giant and Boardman are all examples of brands who offer flat bar multi terrain hybrid bikes within their collections.
You can buy bikes online, but it might not be the best choice. As a result of being new to the cycling world you might be unfamiliar with the right ft for you. A good shop will make sure you leave the shop with the perfect fit.
Look for a retailer that will fit the bike for you and allow test rides. Some also offer money back guarantees after 30 days, in case you change your mind.