Hybrid Bike Buyers Guide
In today’s fast paced world where our lifestyles permit us very little time for time for ourselves, biking is a great way to both commute and de-stress. For some, it is a great exercise option especially when it is not easy to take time out to visit the gym. Using bikes to commute to work is a practical solution for such people, which saves them the much needed time and lets them work out as well. For some others, biking is a hobby that they passionately pursue. These people love spending time grooming and upgrading their bikes and are excited about long bike rides –both on the roads and the terrains. Whatever be the reason behind the love for biking, a hybrid bike is the best option for anybody looking to purchase a casual multi-purpose bike. Hybrid bikes, as the name suggests, are a combination of road bikes and mountain bikes and are hence both comfortable and practical.
Mountain bikes are sturdy and have an upright seating position that aids comfortable riding for longer duration. They have good shock absorbers like the shock absorbing fork and rear suspension to enable riding on rugged roads. They also have disc braking system to get a greater control on the biking while riding in mud and wet. All these features make them much heavier than the road bikes. Road bikes on the other hand are designed for rides on well-maintained road and are hence light weight with narrow tyres to enable smoother movement.The narrow tyres have much lower rolling resistance and hence add speed to the road bike. Hybrid bikes combine these features and are light weight, have slightly broad tyres that have a thickness between that of road bikes and mountain bikes and have gears similar to mountain bikes, though they are much smoother to operate.
What to look for when buying a hybrid bike
There are a number of features in a hybrid bike that make one model different from the other. Based on the expected usage, certain features are more important to one model while the others might be more important to another. Hence while purchasing a hybrid bike, it is best to understand the purpose the bike is expected to serve. Is it regular commute to office and within the city or is it adventurous long rides outside the city? Understanding this purpose helps assess the kind of roads on which the bike will be used and the kind of features that become more crucial to the decision making. It will also help assess the duration for which the bike will be used, which makes it essential to check the posture the bike offers to the rider. While some of the hybrid bikes offer an upright seating posture like the mountain bike, some other hybrid bikes also offer a slightly forward bent posture to provide more support to legs for pedalling. An excessively stooped posture for long could stress the muscles of the back and neck. Hence one must look at the posture offered by the hybrid bike and check the comfort level of the posture before deciding to purchase a hybrid bike.
Study the frame
First thing to do when choosing a hybrid bike is studying the frame of the bike. Look for sturdiness and light weight. The best hybrid bike has frames of superior quality materials. While titanium is considered the best material for frame, very few bikes actually use it due to its high costs. Similarly carbonfibre and steel frames are also considered very sturdy. However, they are also expensive and make the overall bike cost go up. Aluminium frames on the other hand are strong and not very expensive. They are light weight too and hence most commonly used in hybrid bikes. It is good to look for frames that are seamless and are thicker at the joints to provide strength. Also, hybrid bike sizes come in different sizes of small, medium or large or 15”, 17.5” and 20”. Depending on height and comfort, it is essential to choose a bike that makes riding convenient and gives the right posture to the body. Look for the right size that can give the right kind of bend to legs and a comfortable posture while choosing the best hybrid bike.
Look at the tyres
Since the purpose of hybrid bikes is that they should be able to support riding on both well maintained smooth roads and rugged pathways that might not have any features of a road at all, their tyres play a crucial role in understanding their value. Generally the tyres of a hybrid bike are thicker than the road bikes but narrower than the mountain bikes. Hence the thickness of hybrid bike tyres range from 32 to 45mm. Mostly hybrid bikes use the road bike’s 700c tyre standard.There are two kinds of resistance that a biker faces while biking. One is the resistance of the wind and the second is the rolling resistance of the tyre. While thicker tyres provide stability, they also provide high rolling resistance and are are not very suitable for high speed rides. Narrow tyres on the other hand reduce the rolling resistance greatly and hence are helpful in high speed biking. Hence it is important to choose the thickness of the tyre based on the where the bike is to be used and at what speed. Similar to mountain bikes, hybrid bike tyres come with different treads to provide grip on uneven grounds. Look for tyres with a good combination of width and tread if planning to get adventurous with the hybrid bike.
Review the Gears and handlebar
Hybrid bikes mostly with flat bars and sometimes with riser handle bars, similar to mountain bikes are the best hybrid bikes. Handle bars with bar ends provided additional support which is important for long rides. If they are not present in a hybrid bike, they can be purchased and added separately. Along with the handle bars, hybrid bikes also mimic the gears of a mountain bike.The gear system is the most technologically advanced part of a bike and is the core of a hybrid bike. Gears play an important role if the bike is to be used on even grounds but their value is best realized when one has to use the bike on uneven or mountainous grounds. These gears make the ride smooth and efficient uphill and prevent the rider from getting exhausted easily.Changing the gears can be done just by the push of a button and a display is available that shows the gear in which the bike is at all times. Look for bikes with higher number of gears if the bike is to be used in a hilly terrain or at varying speeds within the city.
Check the Suspension
Suspensions in the bike help absorb the shock and compress the impact of bumps from obstacles. One common feature that is generally available in all bikes including hybrid bikes is the suspension fork. Present at the upwards of junction of the tyre to the frame, the suspension fork helps reduce the jerks and make the ride smoother. Suspension seatposts are another great feature to check for in hybrid bikes. These are suspension present right below the seat and help reduce the jerks and bounces faced by the rider that might affect his back and shoulders.A good hybrid bike ideally has these suspensions in place, but if not, it is advisable to buy them separately and get them fixed to the bike. The downside to suspension is that cheap suspension forks can wobble a lot if the bike is being used on hilly terrain. While such suspensions could be locked out, it is good to check them and invest in good quality ones as they can be a great support to hands, shoulders and back while riding.
Test the brakes
Braking system varies from model to model in hybrid bikes. The most commonly used braking system is the linear or direct pull braking system that are present near the front and rear wheels. These brakes are used for regular riding when brakes need to applied on an even ground. They are simplistic, low maintenance and durable. However, the braking system has advanced a lot and there are more hi-tech braking systems available than linear braking. Mechanical and hydraulic disc brakes are the more advanced braking systems available in hybrid bikes. They feature callipers and rotors at the centre of the wheel that help control braking in rigorous conditions. These brakes help control the speed of the bike and stop it when riding downhill. They are also more effective when using the bike on muddy and wet roads. The type of braking system for a bike also depends on the rim of wheel as the braking system works on the rim of the wheel to stop the bike. It is best to evaluate the conditions under which the bike is to be used to know which braking system would fit the requirement best. It is also recommended to test ride a bike before making a purchase decision and test its brakes to feel the difference.
Adjust the seat
Checking the adjustability of the seats of the hybrid bike is the most obvious thing to look out for while deciding to buy a hybrid bike. The saddle needs to be ergonomically designed and should have the right kind of cushioning material to make a comfortable seating. Gel padding, cushioning springs or sometimes even both are present in the saddle to provide support to the soft tissues and prevent pain and numbness. However, depending on the seating posture, the right saddle to be used varies. In an upright posture where the entire weight of the body is on the saddle, it is best to use a wider seat to support the entire body weight comfortably. As the forward bend increases, it is better to opt for narrower saddles with lesser cushioning as compared to upright position saddle, to anatomically align with and support the sit bones. The height of the seat should also be adjustable so that the right riding posture can be achieved. Most of the hybrids already take care of this, but it is best to check it out before purchasing. Also, the best way to test a saddle is by sitting on it and riding the bike. Hence test ride is advisable even to finalize upon the right bike. The good part with saddles is that they can be swapped. Hence if there is a bike which suits all requirement but does not have a comfortable saddle, a new saddle can easily be fit on the bike.
Check out the affordability
Lastly, the biggest factor that plays a role in making a purchase decision is the affordability of the hybrid bike. The costs can sometimes also overplay the other factors already discussed while making a decision. It is however recommended to make a decision that keeps other expenses at bay for longer. Cheaper parts can wear out easily and need replacements over and over. Another suggestion that can help make a hybrid bike more affordable is making an online purchase. E-commerce has revolutionized costs across most consumer good and bikes are not untouched by this revolution. Great deals are available online on some of the best hybrid bikes. Since arriving at the final hybrid bike to be purchased might require a few test rides, different hybrid bikes can be tested at local stores nearby and once a final decision has been made, the bike can be ordered online for a lesser cost. 100% genuine and branded products can be found online at ReInventingTheBikeShed.com and these online purchases come with the same product warranties as a store purchase. Hence a convenient, worry-free, discounted, warrantied purchase of the hybrid bike can be made at ReInventingTheBikeShed.com
Last But Not Least
Other additional features like bell, front and rear lights, mudguards and locking system can be chosen and assembled once a hybrid bike has been purchased. It is highly recommended to keep a helmet at the top of the list to make sure the bike ride is safe and fun.