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The Best Hybrid Bicycles

by
author image Erica Leigh
Erica Leigh has been writing and editing professionally since 2005, contributing to a technology and education nonprofit, renewable energy companies and various websites. Leigh holds bachelor's degrees in anthropology and linguistics from the University of Washington.
The Best Hybrid Bicycles
The best hybrid bikes feature straight handlebars and slick road tires. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Overview

Hybrid bicycles -- part road bike and part mountain -- are ideal for commuting, recreational riding, errands and touring. The design emphasizes comfort, ease of use and upright riding posture. Whether you pick an old or new hybrid bike, the best ones will be adjustable to fit you and come with a strong and lightweight frame, a low bottom bracket, mountain-bike-style handlebars, and road wheels and tires.

Frame

The highest grade bikes have a chro-moly or Reynolds steel frame. He states that aluminum, carbon and titanium bikes, the lightweight materials, are the equivalent of the better steel bikes, which are heavier. Name brand hybrids will be of higher quality. The tubes of the main triangle of the frame should be thicker where they join together; the tubes themselves should be seamless.

Handlebars and Levers

Hybrid bicycles should include the flat or straight handlebars typical of mountain bikes, though you may want to choose handlebars with a slight rise to encourage a more upright riding position. The levers controlling the gears and brakes will also be styled after mountain bikes. If you plan to use your bike for touring or long distance riding, you may want to add bar ends to the bike to give you a wider range of hand positions.

Tires

Hybrid bicycle wheels should feature tires wider than typically used for touring or road riding, adding a bit of comfort and traction to your ride. Avoid knobby mountain-bike-style tires, as they perform poorly on turns and slow you down. Buy slick tires designed for road riding, or semi-slicks, which feature a slight knobby surface only on the tire’s sides that enables better turning on gravelly roads.

Bottom Bracket

Look for a hybrid bike with a low bottom bracket. Bottom brackets go in the lowest part of the frame and control the rotation of the chain rings and pedals. Many hybrid bikes are styled like mountain bikes, with bottom brackets high above the ground for clearing off-road obstacles like logs and rocks. Hybrid bikes aren’t designed for rough off-road use, though they are suitable for hard-packed trails. A high bottom bracket makes frequent mounting and dismounting, common to urban cycling, much more difficult.

Fit and Sizing

Though you’ll consider many factors in finding a hybrid bicycle that’s right for you, make sure you have 1 to 2 inches of clearance between the top of your inner leg and the top tube of the frame when standing astride the bike. Ensure that the saddle position and handlebars are adjusted to fit you, and that your leg is only slightly bent when in its most extended position while pedaling. A good way to find a quality bike is to go to a bike shop that will assist you in the fitting process.

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