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Hybrid bikes, as the name suggests, share features from different types of bikes – imagine a road bike and mountain bike combined. Hybrids are popular thanks to their versatility, they can be ridden on road with better efficiency compared to a mountain bike and they’re also usable for (light) off-road riding. They are good for commuting, touring and general leisure cycling on mixed terrain (roads, dirt tracks, cycle paths).
Features that generally define a hybrid bike are: flat handlebars, 700c diameter wheels with tyres around 32 to 34mm wide (32-42c), a vast range of gears (usually 21 to 30 speed) and ‘upright’ geometry for a comfortable riding position. This type of bike is not designed for technical off-road riding, but the medium width tyres provide sufficient grip and comfort on cycle paths, smooth forest tracks and road use. Hybrids are a great choice of bike for someone who wants one bike that can take them anywhere, a bike that isn’t too specialised for a given genre of cycling.
Hybrid bikes offer a gear range that is typically wider than that found on road bikes or mountain bikes. A feature worth noting is that you’ll be able to pedal at higher speeds on a hybrid bike compared to a mountain bike, but you will ‘spin out’ at speeds lower than what you would on a road bike
Hybrid bikes are available with or without suspension forks, whether you need one or not will depend on where you plan on riding.
If you’re looking to be adventurous and ride on forest roads and bridleways, a suspension fork will help to smooth out the bumps along the way. Suspension forks on hybrid bikes do not offer as much travel as mountain bikes, usually around 60-80mm, this is just enough to handle small bumps and reduce vibrations through your hands and arms.
If you’re going to stick to the road and cycle paths then a suspension fork is not entirely necessary and you’ll be better off going with a rigid fork bike. Suspension forks will add about 2lbs to the weight of the bike and also increases the number of moving parts that may require maintenance.
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