When you start shopping for a bicycle, you may go into it thinking you have two choices–a mountain bike or a road bike. A road bike is intended for long road trips on flat terrain with few obstacles. A mountain bike is made for riding rugged trails. This makes your choice obvious if you’re planning to ride back-county trails or to participate in cross-country races. But what if you want a bicycle for commuting to work or school? What if your route is on the road and speed is important to you, but the frequent stops for traffic signals and many obstacles share more characteristics of trail riding? That’s where a hybrid bicycle comes in.
A hybrid bicycle is a combination of the best features of both road and mountain bikes. Typically, a hybrid bike has the more upright frame, wider wheels and ability to bear more weight that you’d find in a mountain bike, along with the lightweight frame and faster riding of a road bike. This combination is a great option for people who do a lot of in-town riding. You can speed through your daily commute while still having the ability to rough out potholes and heavier traffic. You’ll also have more ability to carry cargo on a hybrid bike than you would on a traditional road bike–the sturdier frame makes it possible to attach a cargo carrier for books, a briefcase or whatever else you need for your day. The handlebars on a hybrid bicycle are usually more like what you’d find on a mountain bike–straight and wide, which allows the rider to sit up more than he would over a road bike’s handlebars. This helps in heavy traffic.
The wheels you typically find on a hybrid bike are hybrids in themselves, combining characteristics of both mountain bike wheels and road bike wheels. They have the width and stability of mountain bike tires with the higher air pressure of road bike tires. The higher air pressure allows you to go faster, while the wide tires help keep you upright as you ride around obstacles.
If you want to buy a hybrid bicycle for frequent riding, you should go to your local bicycle shop to make the purchase. A large store that doesn’t specialize in bicycles isn’t likely to have as good a selection nor such knowledgeable salespeople. At a smaller bicycle shop, you can tell the clerk how you intend to use your bike, and he’ll be able to help you determine which model should best suit you.
If possible, you should try a bike out before you buy it. See if you can find someone who’ll let you borrow the type of bicycle you’re considering buying. Take it for a longish ride to make sure you’ll be happy with it before you spend your money. Buying a bicycle is not the time to skimp on cost. Your hybrid bike will be a heavily-used piece of machinery, and if you buy cheap, you’re likely to be disappointed before long. Buy the bike that seems to be the best match for you, not necessarily the one with the lower price tag.
The salesperson at your bicycle shop should be able to help you decide which size bike to get. Bicycles are measured in frame size inches, and the size to get is determined by how tall you are. In general, hybrid bikes tend to be shorter than road bikes. Be sure to buy a bicycle that’s a comfortable fit for you. This is another reason to try before you buy.
For most bicycle commuters, a hybrid bicycle is a great choice, a way to combine the best of both worlds. No matter what bicycle you buy, happy riding!