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
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
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.
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.
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
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
thought of dropping $500 on a bike is too painful, one of the best
budget-friendly options out there is the (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 (Est. $270) is a more female-friendly version with a lower crossbar.
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.
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
Best hybrid bikes with disc brakes
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
say the (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 (Est. $500) will get you disc brakes and a few other
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.
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
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.
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.
price, or both are more of a consideration than speed, experts and happy riders
recommend the (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.
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