Perfect for commuting or all-terrain riding, or as a dedicated winter companion, the best hybrid bikes cover a wide range of cycling needs – offering a middle ground between slick, road machines and the wide-tired, heavier mountain-bike market. Hybrid bikes are meatier than road bikes and suitable for clocking serious miles over a wider range of terrains. In a saturated, and often confusing, market for a beginner, the hybrid bike offers an ideal entry point into more committed cycling too.
Any hybrid bike round-up worth reading features the Tommaso La Forma prominently. Geared more towards the commuter side of the market, the La Forma delivers excellent value for money – hitting the market at a fair price, without sacrificing on features. Durability is key, with its lightweight, aluminum frame at the heart of that.
Dressed in a full Shimano Acera drivetrain and boasting a vibration-dampening carbon fork, the Tommaso La Forma boasts a good spec for a hybrid bike and it looks dynamic too. Though it requires some assembly, tuning the La Forma to be road-ready is designed to be simple – and your local bike shop can always complete the job if you have any issues. If that is the trade-off for a good-spec, comfortable, durable machine at a great cost, then it is one worth making.
Full Review: Tommaso La Forma
Based on the iconic brand’s ‘Tokul’ mountain bike, the Raleigh Redux is a beefy commuter-focussed hybrid bike that has earned rave reviews since launching in 2019. An all-aluminum frame means a super-stiff machine, ready to tackle city riding, with the Tokul’s influence adding in MTB-inspired angles for when you head off-road.
Off-the-peg, the spec is good for its pricepoint – Tektro disc brakes and an eight-speed Shimano drivetrain included. The geometry is aggressive for off-road riding, but a steep headtube angle keeps you suitably upright for city traffic. Throw in wide, flat handlebars and some fat WTB tires and the eye-catching Raleigh Redux is dressed to impress.
Full Review: Raleigh Redux
Co-op Cycles is the in-house bike arm of REI and, as the name suggests, the CTY is their range of city-focused hybrid bikes. Starting with the entry-level CTY 1.1 – and its Step-Through equivalent – the range covers several price-points, through to the top-spec, steel-framed 3.1 and the lightweight, aluminum 1.3.
The higher the cost, the lighter the frame, while the 1.2, 1.3 and 3.1 all boast flat handlebars too. Alternatively, if its added comfort on uneven terrain you are after, the CTY 2.1 and CTY 2.2 both come equipped with a front suspension fork.
For general city riding, the 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 are your best options, depending on your budget, while the eye-catching steel 3.1, complete with oversized WTB tires, is built to make light work of gravel and hardpack too. All CTY bikes come with reflective decals as standard for an extra safety touch.
Full review: Co-op Cycles CTY
Pure Cycles’ 8-Speed Urban Commuter is a stylish urban bike with a lightweight steel frameset that could tempt you away from the hustle and bustle of the city and into the hills. A beautiful ‘Peli Blue’ color option means the Urban Commuter looks quality and matches its stylish exterior with a performance-focused build.
The 4130-chromoly steel is lighter and stronger than aluminium and helps to dampen out more of the road buzz as you take on the city and head for tougher terrain. The versatile frameset is complemented by Tektro mechanical disc brakes for top stopping power, and the dual chain guard proves that this a machine built to be pushed to its limits. It pairs an upright riding position with a more aggressive, racier geometry.
Pure Cycles’ frames come with a lifetime warranty too – this is quality you can trust.
In a market full of great riding options, the feature-packed Priority Continuum Onyx stands out thanks to its attention to detail. Smart features make it a popular option in its price bracket – in fact, some of the features are rare even as you increase your budget. These include integrated front and rear lights, which are not only more secure but so much more convenient as they are powered by the front hub – so no need for batteries or charging either.
If the front hub is smart, the rear hub is one of the Continuum Onyx’s more popular features. Paired with a carbon belt, for smooth, near-silent shifting, the NuVinci variable hub – offering a similar gearing range to an eight-speed bike, but without the clunky shifting – is a game-changer rarely seen at such an excellent-value entry point. Throw in flat bars and hydraulic disc brakes and you are onto a winner.
If you want to go even more advanced and have money to spend, we suggest to take a look at Priority’s flagship, The 600. It features Pinion gearbox for even better shifting.
Full Review: Priority Continuum Onyx
Vilano’s entry-level hybrid bike range is topped by the Diverse 3.0 – a 24-speed performance-oriented machine to enhance your commute or weekend ride. Vilano offer the bike in just two frame sizes – 53cm and 57cm – which is how they pack a performance punch at an entry-level price-point, but if you fit the bike, you get a build that could command a much higher budget.
The most obvious feature in that regard is the inclusion of Shimano disc brakes, alongside a lightweight 6160-aluminium frame and fork. The arched top tube looks good but will not be everybody’s cup of tea, while narrower tires limit the surfaces the off-the-peg Diverse 3.0 is built to tackle, but if it is a road-ready commuter you are after, you could pay a lot more for similar-specced bikes.
Cannondale are giants of the cycling world, and the all-encompassing Quick range of hybrid bikes typifies the iconic American brand’s innovation and quality. The Quick range includes Kid-specific builds and a Women’s sub-range with all bikes built around an aluminum frame. The models start from the entry-level Quick 6 – which even at the lower end of the range features internal cable-routing and SAVE micro-suspension.
Climb through the range and you move into hydraulic disc brakes, flat bars, lower-weight aluminum framesets and even a CX sub-range which ramps up the shock absorbency with a front suspension built for tackling dirt or gravel. The showpiece is the 22-speed Quick 1 – available in Men’s and Women’s builds – which also adds in smart features like an integrated wheel sensor for tracking and recording your ride, and a built-in mount for a bike computer.
Full Review: Cannondale Quick
Schwinn’s GTX Comfort range pairs a racy look with a front suspension fork and a 21-speed Shimano drivetrain in a range that comes in three reasonably-priced models. As the name suggests, the bike looks like a comfort-focused build, with the in-house suspension fork the most striking example of that. Present in all three builds, from the entry-level GTX 1.0, through the GTX 2.0 to the GTX Elite, the fork dampens road vibrations well.
Paired with an aluminum dual sport frame, the GTX is also built for durability, while performance ramps up significantly as you climb through the range – disc brakes are standard on the GTX 2.0 and GTX Elite for enhanced stopping power. Schwinn complete the build with their own in-house wheels and tires too – the multi-use build adding to the GTX’s versatility but also keeping costs down.
Like its former stable partners Raleigh, Diamondback has a long-held reputation in the bike industry and the Trace ST Dual Sport hybrid bike is befitting of that. Built around a 6061-T6 aluminum frameset and steel fork, the Trace ST is built for strength and durability, while the dual-sport name reflects the fact it is a versatile machine too.
A Shimano 3×7 speed drivetrain offers 21 gearing combinations to ensure it is ready to tackle challenging commuting terrains, while it is disc-brake-ready in case you want to push it further; the standard build comes with linear V-brakes.
There are lighter bikes on the market, and this one certainly trades increased strength with increased weight, while disc-equipped models are ready off-the-peg for more rigorous riding, including top stopping power on wet roads. But the Diamondback Trace ST Dual Sport is versatile, durable and affordable.
Another of Schwinn’s racier hybrid bikes, the Discover also comes complete with a suspension fork – in this case, the SR Suntour, with accompanying alloy cranks – the Discover is one of Schwinn’s highest-rated hybrids.
Both the men’s and women’s versions rate highly, with the bikes pairing a clear commuter focus – such as its relaxed geometry, shock-absorbing seat and beefy integrated rack – with 21-speed SRAM shifters for speed and versatility.
A high-quality aluminum frameset forms the heart of both builds, keeping weight down and adding to its racy feel while ensuring solidity that earns the Discover its durable reputation. Lightweight and nippy for the city, but built to withstand and absorb tougher terrain, it is easy to see why it has been placed near the top of the Schwinn class.
With a retro-styled steel frame and accompanying fenders and rack as standard, the Schwinn Wayfarer evokes images of vintage village riding and comes in at a price that will not break the bank either. Schwinn’s entry-level offering – which comes in either men or women’s frames – the bike boasts Schwinn’s in-house derailleur and alloy brakes, as well as their spring seat for added comfort.
With 125 years in the business behind them, and specializing in entry-level, city or family rides, the Wayfarer typifies the Schwinn brand. The stylish, vintage looks and stunning paint jobs are a bonus on a bike built for adequate comfort at a budget-friendly price point.
Fast and versatile, the Hiland Aluminium Hybrid Fitness looks sleek, packs a punch and is built around a durable aluminum frame. It is well-specced, with disc brakes as standard, a 24-speed Shimano drivetrain, and beefy Kenda 700x40c tires. Unlike some of the above, it is lightweight too – weighing in at just 28lb.
Built for urban commuting, that low weight and range of gearing options, combined with its race-ready looks, means this is a true hybrid – pairing road speed with the versatility you need from a commuter bike. All the eyelets to add racks, guards and lights are included, on a bike finished with a sleek, matte black paint job.
FX from Trek is one of the most common and popular series of fitness hybrids on the market. The lineup offers a total of seven bikes ranging from truly budget models to expensive full-carbon machines.
What we like about this specific family of bikes is the abundance of choice. You have women-specific versions available and an option to pick the step-through frame – Trek adds a ‘Stagger’ naming to those.
The manufacturer’s pick of components is adequate for each of the bikes within the series with Shimano groupsets ranging from basic Tourney to more advanced 105 and GRX.
Full Review: Trek FX
Sitting slap bang in the middle of the pedal-powered, two-wheeled spectrum, the hybrid bikes are a halfway house between road and mountain bikes. Beefier than a road bike and with a more upright, casual riding position, the hybrid blends that with lighter frames and fast-rolling wheels.
Often flat-barred, the hybrid bike is particularly adept for urban commuting. It offers speed on the tarmac, but with a riding position better suited to watching the road before you. A hybrid, which could also be said to sit between a flat-bar road bike and a dual-sport bike, trades aerodynamics for comfort.
The hybrid bikes will feature more luggage mounts, pointing to their commuting purpose, but they also offer all-terrain riding or serve as a rugged winter companion.
A bike built to blend the best bits of road cycling and mountain biking naturally opts for the middle ground when it comes to frame material too. Hybrids are more commonly built around aluminum frames. Alloy frames offer the perfect balance of strength and weight, while also serving up good value.
An aluminum frame is the ideal choice for a hybrid bike because it is hard-wearing and suited to off-road or winter riding. But, at the same time, it is not as heavy as steel – allowing speed across the tarmac on the urban commute.
Steel is less common on a hybrid bike, though some high-end handmade bikes still specialize in steelwork. At the other end of the scale, premium carbon fiber framed hybrids are available but again at a more exclusive price point.
Just like with road bikes, carbon frames appear on upper mid-range or premium hybrids. These offer stiffness comparable to aluminum and steel, but with a much lower weight. If that’s the priority, be ready to spend a good amount extra. Otherwise, aluminum is the way to go.
The geometry is perhaps the key feature of the hybrid bikes. They differ sharply from the aggressive, bent forward set-up of the fastest road bikes with a much more relaxed riding position. To ensure speed, despite the loss of the more aerodynamic position, the frame tends to be slender looking – especially when compared to a mountain bike.
Instead, it is reinforced in key load-bearing areas for added strength where it is needed. The hybrid is a hardy companion, which is why they fill a gap in the winter bike market too. At the same time, they are still lighter and more nimble than mountain bikes.
The best options in the hybrid category will feature an easily adjustable cockpit set-up, however. Where versatility is key, the ability to raise your seat or drop your bars will stand you in good stead if you want to switch up to something racier. That said, such as the niche the hybrid bike fills, they will serve a purpose in your cycling armory even if you already boast a road bike and an MTB.
Another thing to consider when purchasing a hybrid is what you ultimately need it for. Hybrid bikes with a step-through frame are available, while other women’s solutions include a female-specific geometry (i.e. a shorter headtube). Likewise, bikes for commuting or long-distance touring need more rack mounts and bottle cages. Hybrids are often well equipped with space for pannier racks and frame bags, as well as rear fenders.
Though the majority of hybrid bikes use the standard chain to drive power from the pedals into forward motion, the belt drive offers an alternative. Depending on the type of riding you intend doing on your hybrid bike – especially if you are leaning more towards the commuter side of the market – it could be the best option for you.
Chains are by far the most popular, and the near-ubiquitous option that is cheap to obtain and easy to replace. As well as being kind on your wallet, they are kind on your legs too. Chains are more efficient than belt drives, while if you want to use a derailleur gearing set-up, chains are the only option.
With that said, the gearing hubs used in hybrids offer a decent choice of gearing. Take the example of the Priority Continuum Onyx above; paired with a Nu Vinci rear hub, it offers a range of gears akin to an eight-speed bike.
So, why would you consider a belt drive? Ease of use is perhaps the most obvious answer. If you are riding to work, removing chain lube and the risk of an oil-printed outline of your chainring on the inner leg could come in handy. A belt drive is essentially plug and play – set it up and away you go.
Not only that, but it should go further than a chain too – they are more durable and are known to not degrade. Unless it snaps – which it is only likely to do after nearly twice as miles as a chain – it is yours for keeps. The biggest drawback is the limited gear ratios, particularly if you plan to push your ride to the more extreme limits.
With hybrid bikes more commonly featuring flat handlebars, braking and shifting components tend to be more akin to the mountain bike market. Where STI levers are almost ubiquitous on a road bike, the hybrid bike does not follow suit.
The full shifting set-up often depends on the bike’s purpose. Urban commuters could feature, as above, belt drives or even hub gears or single-speed set-ups. Clearly, bikes with wider purposes need something more versatile and the set-ups tend to feature a wider range of ratios.
The most common groupsets for hybrid bikes mirror the mountain bike range as a result. A hybrid bike needs mid-range gearing, compared to the low gear ratios reserved for the toughest, muddiest, MTB ascents. Taking the Shimano hierarchy as an example, many hybrid bikes are equipped with components from their entry-level gruppos.
These start with the basic Shimano Tourney (usually 3×7), moving up to the more robust Shimano Altus (3×7 or 3×8). Nine-speed Shimano Acera completes the entry-level groupsets and is common on performance-focused hybrids.
For stopping power on your hybrid bike, the main choice is between disc brakes and v-brakes. For leisure-focussed bikes, you are more likely to find V-brake discs on the best hybrid bikes, but as you raise the performance stakes, stopping power improves too.
Disc brakes feature on the more advanced models, boasting more reliable stopping power – especially in wet conditions. It is a question of economy – V-brakes are cheaper to install and cheaper to maintain.
Overall, when it comes to hybrids, the type of brakes you choose is not critical. They won’t go as fast as road bikes or from a steep decline as MTB’s. Since they will most likely be used in the city, properly maintained V-brakes (let alone the disc ones) will provide more than adequate stopping performance.
Upfront, the blend between road bikes and mountain bikes, means there is also the question of the front-end of the bike – suspension or rigid fork? Some hybrid bikes make use of suspension forks, but these tend to sway more into dual-sport bike territory – nearer to the mountain bike end of the spectrum. The fork range will, however, be less than on MTBs – typically 63mm on dual-sport compared to 100mm and more on mountain bikes.
As ever, it is a question of your goals for your bike. If you have opted for a hybrid, it is likely you are after some level of versatility. A suspension fork dampens vibrations more efficiently but they are unnecessary if road riding is your main goal. Again, those equipped with suspension forks are less hybrid bikes and more dual sport bikes – a point on the spectrum that merits its own sub-category.
Keep in mind that some hybrids feature carbon forks. In our opinion, this is an optimal solution for dampening road inconsistencies for this type of bike. However, unless on sale, these models will cost more than $1k.
Last but not least when it comes to the key considerations of buying a hybrid bike, and the final nod to what your bike’s true purpose will be, is the rolling stock. Wheel size is the best indicator of where your bike will flourish most. Hybrids rolling out on 26in wheels have more in common with the mountain bike market, while the larger, slimmer 700c hoops are aimed at road riding.
From there, the main difference between the respective ends of the two-wheeled scale comes in the tires. Slimmer than the thicker MTB tires but much chunkier than the waif-thin road tires, tires are generally somewhere between the two. Generally, they sit anywhere between 28c and 42c rubber – adding grip, without impacting too much on that fast-rolling speed. For more road riding, 28c is the best choice. Go fatter if you want to vary your riding more.
The answer to what a hybrid bike is, is fairly straightforward. It sits between a road bike and a mountain bike in the cycling market. It offers a blend of both worlds, with gearing more common on a mountain bike but thinner, slicker tires.
For the best hybrid bike for you, however, you need to assess your needs. The options, even within the subcategory, are plentiful. V-brakes or disc brakes? Wider or thinner tires? Aluminum, steel or carbon fiber? Rigid or suspension fork, or maybe a carbon one?
Urban commuters can afford to opt for a more simple set-up, with less maintenance. Road riders should look for 700c wheels and those looking to go off-road will want something more versatile.