What makes a hybrid bike? In essence, a hybrid takes the best qualities of road- and mountain bikes. Those who do the majority of their riding on the road find the wide knobbly tyres and small frame of a true mountain bike hard toil. The other side of the coin is that the narrow tyres and characteristic riding position of a road bike don't suit those who want to venture onto the tracks and trails.
So how does this compromise work?
All have flat handlebars. Much better for the leisure cyclist than the drop bars fitted to road bikes. You can change hand position regularly and thick padded grips smooth out vibration.
Medium-thickness semi-slick tyres. These result in reduced rolling resistance for speed on the road, but retain enough grip on the edge for exploring the grass and gravel. The wheels are customarily road size, 700mm, instead of the 26" rims fitted to mountain bikes.
A lightweight MTB frame, or a strengthened road-style frame, depending on the designers choice. The most widely used frame material is aluminium. Top-of-the-range bikes are often of carbon fibre. Suspension forks feature on many designs. Many designs come in either men's or women's variants.
The gears are planned with low ratios for hill-climbing together with high ratios for covering the miles on the road.
However, no compromise is perfect for everybody, so there is a choice to be made depending on the style of cycling you will be doing for the most part, and also on your individual preference.Will you be predominantly an on-road rather than an off-road rider? If that's the situation, a bike that leans more towards road-bike design will probably suit you best. You would need the rather sleeker frame and narrower tyres that a road-oriented hybrid would offer. To be more comfortable with off-road riding, you would probably look for the models with suspension forks and wider tyres.So whatever you see yourself doing, the ideal option is probably out there. Hybrid bikes offer the best of all worlds for the cyclist who merely wants to get out on the road.