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Best Hybrid Bikes

By: Saundra Latham on June 01, 2017

Editor's note:
Hybrids are a jack of all trades in the bike world, and we think the sturdy, precise, Specialized Sirrus is among the best offerings in this expansive category. We also recommend the Fuji Absolute 1.9 for anyone who wants reliable disc brakes, which are better in nasty weather, and the Diamondback Clarity 1 for women who would prefer more female-friendly bike geometry.

Specialized Sirrus Review
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Best hybrid bike

When riders want to graduate from a flimsy big-box store bike to something a little more sturdy, reviewers say the Specialized Sirrus is a great step up at a price that isn't too intimidating. The well-equipped aluminum frame can handle more frequent riding, and the reliable brakes and smooth, precise shifting will be welcome for anyone attempting to add some hills to their route. Upright geometry and wide tires contribute to a smooth, comfortable ride.

Schwinn Discover Review
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Best cheap hybrid bike

People who simply want a sturdy, comfortable, affordable bike will find a good candidate in the shiny black Schwinn Discover. A front suspension system makes for an enjoyable, bump-free ride, even for larger and heavier riders, and the upright geometry will help minimize any back or arm strain. Other features include wide tires and 21 gears that can help riders of any ability tackle most terrain with ease.

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Fuji Absolute 1.9 Review
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Best hybrid bike with disc brakes

Disc brakes can be a sensible upgrade over rim brakes for buyers who will be navigating their bike through rain, snow or other unfavorable conditions, and the Fuji Absolute 1.9 adds them without an inflated price tag to match. The bike's internal cable routing also provides additional protection from the elements, and the aluminum frame's slightly less upright geometry allows for a bit more speed. Other strong points include nimble handling and a sporty saddle.

Diamondback Clarity 1 Review
Best Reviewed

Best hybrid bike for women

The Diamondback Clarity 1 ticks all the boxes for women who don't want to overspend on a reliable bike that can still handle some serious fitness riding. Reviewers say it shifts smoothly, brakes well, and rides nimbly and comfortably. The bike also gets high marks for durability, with its steel fork, double-wall rims and thick, rugged tires. It's available in four sizes for women roughly 5 to 6 feet tall.

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True to its name, a hybrid bike offers something for everyone. Hybrids borrow from road bikes built for speed and endurance, and from mountain bikes that can handle trickier terrain. Some are also influenced by comfortable cruiser bikes aimed at pleasure riding. The end result is a bike that can handle a little of everything: An urban commute, a long fitness ride on a bike path, or weekend riding that even includes some dirt or gravel surfaces.

If you want a speedier bike or one that can go very long distances, check out our report on road bikes. Commuters should take a peek at our reports on folding bikes and bike locks. Any pint-size riders in the house? We also recommend some quality kids' bikes.

Best hybrid bikes

The Specialized Sirrus (Est. $500) is recommended for "fitness and fun," and reviewers say that's an apt way to describe this reliable, well-priced hybrid bike. It's not built to be particularly speedy, but it can easily handle a weekday commute and some leisurely weekend riding. It's also worth noting that discerning shoppers have lots of options with the Sirrus – there are 10 versions, ranging from the $500 base version reviewed here to a $2,500 model with a carbon frame and other higher-end components.

Cycling Weekly's Henry Robertshaw says the eight-speed Sirrus is a "no-frills offering," but notes that its aluminum frame is sturdy and well-equipped. OutsideOnline.com's Aaron Gulley finds the Sirrus' shifters and brakes reliable, though not as sharp as you might expect on a bike more expensive than the Sirrus. Robertshaw is more complimentary of the shifting, calling it "extremely reliable and precise," and saying the gearing is ample enough for riders who may want to attempt steeper terrain. 

Robertshaw notes that the Sirrus, available in four sizes, encourages a fairly upright riding position, so it's not a good pick for any aspiring racers. But that might be missing the point, as OutsideOnline.com notes that this bike's geometry "helps ease newcomers into the sport comfortably." It also has wider tires that make for a much smoother ride than other models. The handlebars and saddle also get high marks for comfort from IceBike.org.

The Sirrus has been around for long enough for some riders to comment on durability. While most reviewers at RoadBikeReview.com are happy with its performance, a few report issues with busted frames or malfunctioning gears. Specialized backs bike frames and forks with a lifetime warranty, while components get a year of coverage.

Riders will find a comparable hybrid bike in the Trek FX 2 (Est. $490), which offers an even larger degree of customization than the Specialized Sirrus. The FX line has 19 bikes ranging from $360 to $2,100, including five women's models. At the high end, a carbon frame and disc brakes are part of the package, but like the Sirrus, the FX 2 has a lightweight aluminum frame that helps keep costs down.

TheSweethome.com's Christine Ryan has high praise for how the eight-speed FX 2 handles, saying it aced testing that required tight turns and weaving between several poles. She also praises the quality of the derailleurs and cassette. Experts with IceBike.org point out that Treks have mounts for racks and mudguards – nice conveniences for commutes in less-than-ideal weather.

The FX 2 gets a lot of good feedback from its owners, who agree with Ryan about the smooth handling. Most find the bike comfortable, though a handful say it's worth considering an upgrade for the seat. There are five sizes available for the FX 2 – one better than the Sirrus – so riders should find it easy enough to buy a size that will optimize their riding position. Trek backs its bike frames with a lifetime warranty.

If your top priority for a hybrid is comfort over weight and maneuverability, the Jamis Coda Sport (Est. $530) is worth checking out. The major difference here is that the eight-speed Coda Sport has a steel frame instead of aluminum. As TheSweetHome.com's Ryan notes, that steel frame makes for a smoother ride because steel absorbs all the vibrations and discomfort of a bumpy road or rougher terrain better than aluminum. Jamis uses a higher-quality steel that makes it lighter than you might expect for a steel bike, but Ryan says it's "not quite as nimble" as some other similarly priced hybrids. The warranty coverage isn't quite as generous, either – frames and forks are backed for five years, components get one year.

If the thought of dropping $500 on a bike is too painful, one of the best budget-friendly options out there is the Schwinn Discover (Est. $285). Like our pricier picks, the Discover has an aluminum frame, but it's a good deal heavier – this bike is primarily built for comfort, not speed. It comes with a convenient rear rack that riders can use for their groceries or work bag. The Schwinn Discover Women's Hybrid (Est. $270) is a more female-friendly version with a lower crossbar.

The Discover has very upright geometry that DavesCheapBikes.com praises for minimizing back strain; the site also says the bike's front shocks help ensure that no ride is too bumpy. Riders also give it high marks for a smooth ride, praising the wider tires that can handle dirt or gravel paths just as easily as pavement. Twenty-one speeds help riders of all levels tackle a variety of terrain more comfortably. Many reviewers say this is a great bike for taller and heavier riders as well, and the understated black paint is a plus, too.

The Discover's components get mixed reviews. Although DavesCheapBikes.com praises the "bike shop level components" and says they will definitely last longer than the ones you'd find on most big-box store bikes, some owners criticize the plastic fenders, while others say the brakes are in sore need of an upgrade. Some also recommend swapping out the saddle for something a little more forgiving, too. Schwinn offers a lifetime warranty on the frame and all non-normal wear components.

Best hybrid bikes with disc brakes

Many hybrid bikes have traditional rim brakes that clamp the wheel's rim to slow the bike, but an increasing number use more-sophisticated disc brakes. Disc brakes can be either mechanical or hydraulic (the latter is more common on higher-end road bikes), but, in a nutshell, instead of applying pressure on the outer wheel to slow a bike, disc brakes have pads that push into a metal rotor at the center of the wheel. Both rim and disc brakes have their pros and cons, but disc brakes are a bit more precise, especially in wet conditions.

If disc brakes are a priority, the Fuji Absolute 1.9 (Est. $490) adds this premium feature without commanding a premium price. The aluminum-frame 1.9 is squarely in the middle of Fuji's 10-bike Absolute line, which offers choices ranging from $369 to $999, and it is the cheapest of the group to include disc brakes. It also has internal brake cable routing, which helps streamline the frame and protects cables from the elements.  

Experts with ChooseMyBicycle.com say the eight-speed Fuji's gearing is plenty good for a casual rider, with shifting that is relatively smooth. The bike's disc brakes also earn praise for giving "enough control for quick halts and especially on sharp turns," they say. The Sweethome.com's Ryan cautions that the gearing isn't quite as suited for a lot of climbing, though.

Ryan also says the Absolute 1.9 is slightly heavier and "less sprightly" than some other choices, but the bike still has slightly more aggressive riding geometry, according ChooseMyBicycle.com. Though the bike can be adjusted to facilitate a more upright, urban riding position, it might appeal to riders looking for a little more speed. Ryan praises the "firm, sporty saddle," and the bike comes in five sizes to accommodate riders of most heights. Riders who've owned bikes from the Absolute line over the past several years also say speed and handling are a strength, and while few report durability issues, some say the rims are on the weaker side. Fuji's bike frames and forks are covered by a lifetime warranty, while components get a year of coverage.

If you have a healthier budget, the Priority Continuum Onyx (Est. $950) offers disc brakes as well as a nifty belt-drive system that is more common on bikes double its price. Experts say belt drives are much lower-maintenance than chains – no need to clean or lubricate – and they make for a much smoother, quieter ride because there's no rattling metal. Those factors make this bike an ideal choice for bike commuters or committed fitness riders who would rather enjoy the ride instead of worrying about wear and tear.  

The combination of the aluminum-framed Continuum's disc brakes and belt drive make it ideal for anyone who wants to ride through a nasty winter or other poor conditions. There are no exposed derailleurs or gears to break down in the elements, and gloved hands can twist the bike's grip to find the right resistance – in fact, there are no more predefined gears, notes DigitalTrends.com's Marcus Yam. Gizmodo's Michael Nunez says the Continuum also provides a fast, smooth ride and makes tackling steep hills "ridiculously comfortable" over a bike with a metal chain. Puncture-resistant tires are another bonus.

Note that there are only three sizes for this bike, so the Continuum may not accommodate very short or tall riders. It's also only sold through Priority's website, which means buyers are committing to a bike they've never ridden or even seen. Experts always recommend taking bikes purchased online to a local bike shop so they can be properly assembled and adjusted. Priority warrants its bike frames and forks for five years.

Best women's hybrid bikes

Just like other kinds of bikes, there are hybrid bikes with frames that are specifically designed for women. These bikes typically feature shorter tubes and stems that mean women won't have to stretch as far to grip the handlebars, as well as a lower center tube that makes the bike easier to stand over and mount, according to BikeRadar.com. There may even be easier-to-shift gears or cranks that can be pedaled without as much effort. Experts say women shouldn't rule out unisex models, however, especially as manufacturers have rolled out more bike sizes to accommodate all sizes of riders.

Reviewers say the Diamondback Clarity 1 (Est. $400) is a great female-friendly, aluminum-frame hybrid that packs in a lot of value at a relatively budget-friendly price. If price isn't as much of a consideration, upgrading to the Diamondback Clarity 2 (Est. $500) will get you disc brakes and a few other higher-end components.

DavesCheapBikes.com says the 21-speed Clarity is "an excellent option for the serious fitness enthusiast" that can handle both a cross-country ride or a casual jaunt with friends – either way, buyers will be happy. A high-quality shifter earns praise from experts at BikeSmarts.com, who also compliment the bike's speed and basic but reliable brakes. Real-world owners are equally happy, saying the bike provides a comfortable, quick, smooth ride. Note that the Clarity does not have a step-through frame, which is a feature more common on women's hybrids that emphasize comfort and leisure riding.

The Clarity comes in four sizes that accommodate riders from roughly 5 to 6 feet tall. Double-wall rims, a steel fork and relatively thick, road-ready tires also make the Clarity a durable choice, experts say. A few reviewers do warn that bikes they purchased online came with broken parts. Diamondback provides a lifetime warranty on the frame and a one-year warranty on several other Diamondback-branded components.

Women who are looking for something higher-end than the Diamondback Clarity 1 might want to consider the Cannondale Quick 3 (Est. $870). Like the Clarity, it has an aluminum frame, but it adds hydraulic disc brakes, a lighter carbon fork, and other higher-end components. There are also six other women's choices in the Quick line. At the bottom of the spectrum, the Quick 8 (Est. $440) has a step-through frame, a steel fork and traditional rim brakes.

The nine-speed Quick 3 earns a spot on Bicycling.com's list of top fitness and hybrid bikes, earning praise for being "light and zippy" without sacrificing the smoothness and ease of use that separates hybrids from fast, more serious road bikes. There, writer Caitlin Giddings says the ergonomic handlebars and upright riding position still keep things enjoyable for more casual riding; she also likes the anti-vibration system that helps absorb bumps. Testers with IceBike.org say Quicks are simply among the most versatile bikes out there, whether buyers want a bike for commuting, fitness or even a little off-roading. Like Diamondback, Cannondale warrants its bike frames for life and components for one year.

If comfort, price, or both are more of a consideration than speed, experts and happy riders recommend the Diamondback Vital 2 (Est. $250-400). It has a step-through aluminum frame that makes getting on the bike (or standing over it) easier, which might appeal to more casual riders.

Comfort is the name of the game with the 21-speed Vital 2. A suspension system in the fork and under the seat ensures riders won't feel a lot of jolts or vibrations, even on rougher surfaces. The bike saddle is thickly padded and "just quite comfy," according to Dave's Cheap Bikes, and the upright geometry also helps keep back or neck pain to a minimum for riders, experts say. Riders also say the smooth gears are easy to shift and versatile enough for a variety of terrain. The Vital 2 should also hold up better than its big-box counterparts, with reinforced wheels, and it's backed by Diamondback's lifetime warranty.

Expert & User Review Sources

There are a handful of expert reviews of hybrid bikes, but hybrids don't inspire the volume of feedback that higher-end mountain bikes and road bikes do. We found the most thorough, useful expert opinions on multiple bikes at Icebike.org, TheSweethome.com, CyclingWeekly.com, DavesCheapBikes.com and BikeSmarts.com. Also useful were reviews of individual bikes at OutsideOnline.com, ChooseMyBicycle.com, DigitalTrends.com, Gizmodo.com and Bicycling.com. Owner reviews were also helpful, and came from sources including Amazon.com, RoadBikeReview.com and REI.com.

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Hybrid Bikes buying guide

What every best Hybrid Bikes has:

  • A sturdy frame.
  • Upright, comfortable geometry.
  • Wider, grippier tires.

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