Hybrid Bike

Hybrid bike
Hybrid bike (credit:horiyan/shutterstock.com)
This sturdy mongrel of a bike-with-no-name is a mixture of the things most people find handy about other, more specialised - and less versatile - varieties of bicycle.

It follows that this general-purpose bicycle makes a pretty good starting point for any cycling beginner – and for us to describe how other bikes are different.

But first let us define the middle ground of bicycle design. The wheels are large, commonly 622 or occasionally 559 size - see Tyre Sizes for an explanation of those numbers - and shod with tyres of medium width (32 to 42mm) for easy and comfortable rolling on roads and decent tracks, without the added weight of suspension – although an increasing number of upmarket hybrids also have this feature.

Almost all configurations of pedal cycle (i.e. tandems, tricycles …) are made in this style and some of those, e.g. folding bikes, necessarily involve smaller wheels - often with suspension to provide a big-wheeled level of comfort.

Hybrids have derailleur gears – it is the most common kind of gearing after all – with three front chainrings to provide a wide range. Beginners and less energetic riders do not have the knack of pedalling rapidly, so top gear will be over 100in, whilst a bottom gear under 30in is what anyone can deal with to get up steep hills.

Some kind of flattish handlebar is the norm, positioned quite high and close to the saddle for a fairly upright body position, as befits that kind of rider, and with all the gear and brake controls at the rider’s fingertips.

This jack-of-all-trades will do most things well enough, until and unless your cycling interests broaden to require another more specialised bicycle or two. It probably won’t come with much other equipment beyond the bare bike, but the frame should nevertheless incorporate the usual threaded eyes for mudguards and a rear carrier. If you’re lucky there may also be eyes on the fork for a front low-load carrier. Lighting will also have to be added.

If you are certain to want all or some of these 'accessories', it pays to look at trekking bikes or tourers where they are part of the original specification.

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