- What is a Hybrid? Is it the right choice for me?
- Types Of Hybrid Bikes For Men
- Proper Sizing Is Based On Height
- The 2015 Diamondback Fitness Hybrid
- My Second Pick For A Fitness Hybrid Bike: The Diamondback Trace
- The Best Budget Fitness Hybrid
- The Best Comfort Bike: The Schwinn Discover
- The Best 26″ Comfort Bike
- Is A Hybrid Bike Right For You?
What is a Hybrid? Is it the right choice for me?
Bicycle riding has got to be one of the best sports ever invented. If you are looking for a fun outdoor sport that lets you get in shape almost effortlessly, then you’ve got to check out the most popular bicycle in the sport.
It’s one of those bikes that you can hop on and feel at home with … no matter how many decades it has been since the last time you rode.
As you easily pedal down the road with the wind in your hair, I think you will immediately agree.
All day long, I would see curious customers stop by the shop, take one out on a test drive, and come back 15 minutes later, out of breath and in love.
Plus you can enjoy the sport by yourself or with friends — whichever you prefer!
Click here to go to our reviews of the top hybrid bikes for women. The all-around best value comfort (definition) award goes to the Diamondback Wildwood and our best value fitness (definition) pick goes to the Vilano 2.0
Decades ago, there was two options for bicycles: the 10-speed road bike (you know – the “ram’s horns”) and the banana cruiser.
We all have fond memories of getting around on one of the machines. (They were great for running those paper routes.) However, as the body gets older, the thought of teetering atop skinny tires is less appealing.
Most people choose to go with a hybrid bicycle. These are, as the name suggests, a blend between other bike styles — mostly the road and the mountain. They allow you to sit comfortably upright like a mountain bike does, but have the slightly narrower tires that enable you to travel faster and are more comfortable on the road.
This more upright position can help alleviate back pain and makes riding this bike an overall more comfortable and enjoyable experience.
As we discuss below, there are several types available on the market.
- The more “fitness oriented” tend to lean the rider slightly more forward.
- The more “comfort oriented” models tend to sit the rider more upright and may also have more shocks to smooth out the road.
Types Of Hybrid Bikes For Men
700c Vs. 26-inch
For starters, I typically recommend that you buy one with 700c tires. This tire size is the optimal height to allow you to pedal easily along, and I find it to be the most satisfying to ride on pavement and fine gravel paths.
However, if you are going to be riding on a lot of gravel roads, you would be better suited with a 26″ tire that is wider and slightly more puncture-resistant. (Also if you are under 5’4″, you will probably prefer the 26″ tires, as they are closer to the ground.)
Fitness Vs. Comfort Vs. Cruiser
Fitness hybrids are excellent choices for someone who is pretty serious about riding their bike. These sacrifice a little bit of comfort in order to save weight and deliver more speed. They also lean you forward a little bit to allow you to use not only your quadriceps but also the full power of your glutes.
If you don’t struggle with back, shoulder or wrist pain, and want to really get a great fat burn in, this is an excellent choice. In my experience, these bicycles are favored by runners and bodybuilders who want to add some low-impact cardio to their routine. They are also a top pick for commuters.
Comfort Bicycles are designed to sit you as upright as possible. This helps take pressure off of your hands and lets the core of your body support its own weight. These bikes often incorporate shocks to help lessen the jarring of the road, and, quite simply, are a lot of fun to ride. If you are interested in mixing up your workout with a regular ride but are not looking to train for something insane — like complete a triathlon or do a century ride — this bicycle is just the ticket. (Although I have seen people do their first triathlon on these bikes, and have seen plenty of people ride 50+ miles on them in a single day — it’s just not the most efficient setup.)
Cruiser Bikes This is another model that needs to be on the list. These are the more “classic” models with the balloon tires. We often refer to them as “beach cruisers”. These bikes are inherently heavy and slow and are typically best for riding on flat ground.
Proper Sizing Is Based On Height
A good-quality bicycle will come in different frame sizes. Typically the frame height is going to be measured from where the pedal crankshaft enters the bike up to where the seat post is. The different frame sizes ensure that no matter how tall you are, you will be able to correctly:
- Reach the Pedals with the optimal leg length for power
- Allow the upper body to be comfortable for long rides
When you are shopping try using this sizing guide as a rule of thumb for choosing your bike:
How To Size Your Bicycle
- 4’11” – 5’3″ = 13 to 15 inches
- 5’3″ – 5’7″ = 15 to 17 inches
- 5’7″ – 5’11” = 17 to 19 inches
- 6’0″ – 6’2″ = 19 to 21 inches
- 6’2″ – 6’4″ = 21 to 23 inches
- 6’4″ and taller = 23 inches
Ideally, when you are seated on your bike, with the pedal in the lowest position, the saddle should be raised so that your knee only has a 30-degree angle in it.
The 2015 Diamondback Fitness Hybrid
This bike is absolutely phenomenal. I’m not only going to say that it is the best fitness hybrid but that it may qualify as the best bike on the market.
This bicycle is so versatile. It flies when on the pavement, and can handle chat and gravel roads. I’ve had some clients train with these bikes every day, while others used them to commute to work. I’ve even seen many riders use them to successfully complete their first century.
In a word, the Diamondback is impressive.
Here’s what I really appreciate about this bike.
Quality: Diamondback has been making bikes for a long time, and they continue to make some of the most durable mountain and bmx bikes on the market. They know how to create a bicycle that can take a beating, and they don’t cut corners. The frames are welded aluminum, the wheels have TWO LAYERS (double-walled) of aluminum, and they use durable Shimano components. Not all Shimano components are created equal, but Diamondback uses the good ones.
Light: Borrowing from the road bicycle design, they have used a lighter frame and wheel design to keep you trucking along with no effort. At the same time, you’ll be able to ride this bike — even if you are 300 pounds. (see the above section again). There are no heavy shocks or cheap, heavy welds to slow you down.
Fast: This bicycle is going to lean you forward, so you will ride on it just like you were on a mountain bike. This not only makes you a little more aerodynamic, it also enables you to use both your glute muscles and your quads, letting you burn more calories and deliver more power.
In my experience, most of the century riders who have used one of these bicycles will complete their century ride averaging about 13-16 miles per hour with one of these bikes.
My Second Pick For A Fitness Hybrid Bike: The Diamondback Trace
For the city rider that needs to have the ability to navigate curbs and stop on a dime, you are going to appreciate some of the durability features that Diamondback has woven into this version of their performance hybrid.
Disc Brakes – To begin with, you get the disc brakes. While disc brakes are not essential, they sure are nice. And you can stop on a dime. Or inches away from that car that cut you off. Whatever is important to you. They also give you added control in wet weather — always a plus.
Double-Walled Rims – I realize the Diamondback Insight above also has double-walled rims. The rims that come with the Trace are just a little bit stronger. It helps for those moments when you catch a little more air than you should.
On Road or Off Road – If you find yourself doing some gravel roads and dirt trails, I’d advise that you go with the Diamondback Trace. While not a full-on mountain setup, it does have that little extra that makes it a good fit for these scenarios.
The Best Budget Fitness Hybrid
But if you are looking for an affordable performance bike, this is an excellent option.
Vilano is a relatively new player to the market, but I am really impressed with the quality that they are bringing to the table. Their frame quality is top-notch, and they use all bike-shop-quality parts, so you aren’t ending up with some sort of Walmart knock-off.
In a lot of ways, this machine is similar to its Diamondback cousins. Basically, Vilano uses a little bit lighter-duty wheelset (still uses double wall rims), and steps down a level on the quality of gears. The gears should last about as long as the Diamondback’s setup, but won’t shift quite as smoothly nor will take the abuse that the nicer rides can handle.
That said, I really don’t like the rear wheel. In order to make it extremely affordable, Vilano makes a big step down in the hub to a freewheel design. Now, I don’t want to get too technical, but, basically, this design moves the bearings from the outside of the axle where it can really support your weight, to the inside of the hub. In addition, I do frequently see freewheels fail after a couple of years of hard riding. (On the upside, they’re under $20 to replace).
At the end of the day, I’m positive that the Vilano Performance is going to treat you right. If you are looking for a cheap bike, then go for this one. By the time you wear it out (IF you wear it out) you should be in the best shape of your life.
The Best Comfort Bike: The Schwinn Discover
I love how stylish this one is. And functional. I mean, heck, it comes with a stylish rack for slapping a picnic basket or backpack on.
Designed For Comfort. The difference between this bike and the one that we looked at earlier is that this one is designed to let you be extremely comfortable as you ride. It sits upright so that your back doesn’t strain as you pedal. Plus, it has a shock on the front wheel to absorb bumps from the road. It also has a little shock under the seat to absorb those back-jarring bumps. And, the saddle is nice and comfortable.
Addictive Weight Loss: This ride is perfect for everything from riding around the neighborhood to taking with you on vacation. In fact, in Chicago, they rent bicycles very similar to these for seeing sites in the city. These machines are fun. As an added bonus, they burn crazy calories, too.
Durable: Unlike the competitor knock-offs you see at Walmart, this one uses bike shop level components. When you realize that all of those gears, and shifters and brakes and even the chain are just repairs waiting to happen, it is reassuring to know that you are going to be doing more riding than repairing.
By using high-quality parts, you increase the cost slightly, but it gives you a ride that is both long-lasting and low maintenance. So get a lot more use out of it than you do out of the competition’s offering, in my opinion.
In addition, the swept-back handlebars and adjustable handlebar stem means that you can adjust the handlebar to let you sit upright or lean slightly forward — whatever position is most comfortable to you. This feature is especially handy if you are trying to work on an old back, arm or shoulder injuries and need a more customized fit.
On this model, you have the 700c tires which make it a great option for people who do a lot of paved and packed gravel riding.
It is offered in both men’s and women’s designs.
The Best 26″ Comfort Bike
Ok, so I am a fan of 700c Tires. The reason is that they are a little bit bigger, so, given the same gear combinations and the same number of pedal strokes, you are going to go faster on a 700c bike.
That said, there are several nice advantages to having a shorter, 26″ wheel.
Easier to get on the bike. To begin with, because the tires are shorter, these are closer to the ground. So if you are a shorter person — or someone who has a hard time lifting your leg over a bike — it makes it easier to get on and off it.
More Comfortable Ride. Traditionally, 26″ tires are a little bit wider. This gives you more air and more cushion. So those bumps and cracks in the road are much less likely to throw you.
More Stability. Because the tires are so much wider, the machine is much more stable and gives you that confidence you need when pedaling on gravel and loose dirt.
All of that said, I think it is smart to offer you a quality bike with 26-inch tires. And that would have to be the Diamondback Citi.
There are several things that I really like about the Citi. To begin with, you are getting the optimal setup for comfort. So it has a front shock and a rear seat shock to get rid of all of those bumps. Sure, the design is “no frills”, but that means that you can get quality without paying for a lot of uselessness.
It also offers easy pedaling with a set of super-low gears for climbing any hills you find.
Bottom line, if you are going to mostly be riding on gravel, or would feel more comfortable sitting closer to the ground than this is the one we want to get you on.
Just like the Schwinn, the Diamondback Citi comes in both a Men’s and Ladies’ style.
Is A Hybrid Bike Right For You?
Other Buying Guides You Might Like:
- Best Hybrid Bikes For Women
- Can You Do A Triathlon On A Hybrid?
- Diamondback Trace Review
- Best Bikes For Bad Backs
- Commuter Bikes
Top image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net