Double or Nothing: The 8 Best Hybrid Bikes

Hybrid is a word that gets thrown around all the time. It’s not a peanut butter cup, it’s a chocolate, butterized peanut material hybrid. You don’t have a phone, you have a computing and conversational device hybrid with data interface elements. Well, in this world of things that are many things, yet somehow just one, there is one item that is a true hybrid, combining the best of all worlds: The hybrid bike. It’s a combination of road bike, mountain bike, and touring bicycle that is quick, rugged, and slightly casual for general use under most standard conditions.

Choosing a hybrid bicycle is a challenge. Some are going to be more laid back cruiser bikes than disciples of the unpaved path. Others are going to offer you a rigid fork for more control, or give you soft suspension to cover your sins. How these things are put together, and where their disparate parts come from, will tell you whether you have a roadster, a pathway patroller, or a cute little steed that will always be kind to your tailbone. For every style of rider, we found the 8 best hybrid bikes to get you from A to B.

Takara Sugiyama Flat Bar Fixie

Takara Sugiyama Flat Bar Fixie

Pro: Flip-flop hub
Con: Takes time to master

Tough yet Suave: Hybrid bikes are normally stuffed to the gills with gears, which is why we were so surprised by the Flat Bar Fixie. Yes, it is a fixed gear bike with the option of going to full single-gear mode, but it breaks out of the mold set by these standard to feel like a truly mixed bag. Thick Kenda 700 x 32 tires and bulky pedals make it capable of handling some tougher rides in adverse conditions, giving it a wisp of touring bike DNA. The steel frame is unforgiving, as is the narrow seat, but the 32-hole alloy wheels say that this isn’t just another forgettable fixie. Take it on a few trails as well as around the city. You’ll be glad you did. [Purchase: $167]

Schwinn Discover

Schwinn Discover

Pro: High stability standing and in motion
Con: Many inexpensive parts will require replacement

Budget Model: Big and heavy, complete with long fenders, this bears many benchmarks of a cruiser bike with an urbane sense of style. Made with an aluminum city frame and loaded down with a suspension fork, light and nimble are not in the Discover’s vocabulary. Thankfully, it speaks comfort fluently. Upswept handlebars put you in an ideal riding pose that doesn’t hunch your or strain your spine in any way. Bounces are kept to a minimum thanks to the suspension seatpost and heavily padded seat. 21-speed SRAM grip shifters are equally agreeable and permit on the fly actuation. If you’re a hybrid bike virgin, this is a gentle introduction to the style. [Purchase: $275]

DiamondBack Edgewood Complete

DiamondBack Edgewood Complete

Pro: Simple trigger shifters
Con: Cheap rims

Spring Loaded: Long, tall handlebars arc artfully down into a 63mm bike suspension fork. Beneath you as you ride is a suspension seatpost that stops the bumps from ever reaching your tailbone. The high, straight, heads-up ride keeps you looking toward the horizon, allowing for scouting routes through rush hour gridlock or over hills. Huge 700c wheels roll along nicely, adding to the smoothness of the ride, but limiting your speed somewhat. DiamondBack has made the frame out of a durable 6061-T6 aluminum alloy outfitted with a Shimano 21-speed drivetrain. [Purchase: $350+]

Specialized Sirrus

Specialized Sirrus

Pro: Wide tire clearance
Con: Shifting and braking are slightly sluggish

Road Bike Clone: Often touted as a road rider, this is most certainly a hybrid bike, but it acts as a gateway for the casual rider who is looking to step up their game. The straight blade steel fork does not have kindly suspension and the seat isn’t made to cradle you during peddling sessions. Rack and fender mounts, as well as the upright handlebars show that it hasn’t jumped the shark just yet and still has its eye on the commuter, not the marathon cyclist. Off the rack, this has a long stem and flat bars which can easily be swapped out for something sportier as your road bike addiction takes hold. With a 24-speed drive train, the Sirrus can handle hills and dales. [Purchase: $520]

Kona Dew Plus

Kona Dew Plus

Pro: Bearings are guarded against the elements
Con: Terrible stock seat

Well Weathered: Field tested as part of the Cycle Alaska tour fleet, the Dew Plus is made for riders who live in rough climates where waiting 5 minutes for the weather to change will only make things worse. An internal headset rests inside the butted aluminum frame while the fork offers swift adjustment steering that isn’t so tight as to be dangerous. Tektro HDC 290 hydraulic disc brakes will stop you cold even when soaked with rain or sleet. The clearance is wide and can accommodate a 40c tire for near fat bike traction should you need a real winter warrior. Shimano drivetrain is 24 buttery smooth speeds. [Purchase: $520]

Giant City Escape

Giant City Escape

Pro: Loaded with standard accessories
Con: Aluminum frame

Friendly Fitness: Had you seen this in the days of yore, it would have been easy to classify it as a failure on all levels. Instead, it is a rousing success in this class of bicycles. At a glance, the ALUXX aluminum frame along with the wide 700c tires, fenders, and rack tell you it’s strictly a recreational ride. Then a look at the low-slung handlebars and gaunt seat tell you a tale of open highways, and the perspective shifts. Using an SRAM 3×8-speed drivetrain along with Tektro brakes slipped around the double-walled alloy rims, there’s plenty of meat on the Escape’s bones to sate the most ravenous rider without daunting weekend warriors. [Purchase: $575]

Trek 74 FX

Trek 7.4 FX

Pro: Customizable frame
Con: No front suspension

Switch Hitter: Using its lengthy 105cm wheelbase to full effect, the 7.4 FX is a dream to ride on country lanes, paved bicycle paths, and any street. With a carbon fork, you’ll probably not want to take too many unpaved trails, but jolts are kept to a minimum and your hands stay steady on the stick across broken roads. For solid stopping power, the puncture-resistant tires are surrounded by Hayes hydraulic disc brakes that work for any environment your bike might encounter. Road bike speeds are possible with city bike comfort built right in. Add fenders, a rack, panniers, or swap in skinny or cyclocross tires. [Purchase: $770]

Jamis Coda Elite

Jamis Coda Elite

Pro: Vittoria tires are standard
Con: Does not work well off of pavement

Fast Times: Tubed up with full Reynolds 520 double-butted chromoly, the Elite is a masterwork. It’s an aggressive commuter bike made for speedsters who like a little rush as they go on their merry way. You have a full 27-speed Shimano drivetrain to play with for tackling hills or getting the wind in your hair during weekend rides. Using a carbon fork you’ll get a remarkable sense of control and tight turning for weaving around traffic. Raise the stem for your work week or drop it down to dig in when it’s race time. Tektro hydraulic disc brakes stop on a dime come rain or shine. [Purchase: $959]

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