Hybrid Bikes Buyers Guide

It's likely that you'll have heard the term hybrid bike before, but you may not be aware of all the features and benefits that come with owning these popular crossover bikes. Our guide will get you up to scratch on all things hybrid, so you'll be able to choose a bike that potentially outperforms a road bike or mountain bike that you may have looked at first!

What is a hybrid bike?

Hybrid bikes feature all the best bits of a road bike and a mountain bike! They’re rugged and hardwearing, making them great for a bit of off-road and gravel riding, but have relatively thin all-terrain tyres and a wide range of gearing which make them speedy on the roads.

Hybrid bikes are incredibly popular among commuters who recognise that they're the perfect city bike. Most hybrid bikes come with mudguards and pannier racks for all-weather protection, and disc brakes for some serious stopping power. Hybrids are comfortable enough to rack up a high-mileage too, with many riders preferring the more relaxed riding position of a hybrid to a road bike.

Basically, a hybrid bike can be what you want it to be. A nippy commuter in the week and a touring machine at the weekends.

What are the benefits of a hybrid bike?

Hybrid bikes take the best elements of mountain bikes and road bikes and mix them together. They’re hardwearing and built for a life on the road, with metal frames and weather protection such as mudguards. Hybrid bikes have a comfortable upright riding position, somewhere between a road bike and a mountain bike that many riders prefer, particularly for commuting.

Hybrid bikes perform well on and off the road, with the all-terrain tyres fitted to most giving a comfortable ride on all terrains which makes them perfect for touring and commuting. Plus, many come with pannier racks ready installed, which means you just need to add luggage before heading out for an adventure!

Even if you have a mountain bike and a road bike in the garage or shed, the benefits of a hybrid bike are so strong, it may be worth trying to find a little more room to squeeze one in.

What's the difference between hybrid and electric bikes?

A hybrid bike describes a specific type of bike that is a mixture of the best parts of a road bike and a mountain bike. Electric bikes are fitted with batteries that the rider can switch on when needed to add some extra power to a pedal stroke or to completely take over if needed.

You can buy pedal-only hybrid bikes and electric hybrid bikes.

Is front suspension necessary on a hybrid bike?

While front suspension is popular on mountain bikes, most hybrid bikes come with rigid forks. Hybrid bikes are built for all-terrain cycling, but they’re not suitable for hardcore off-road riding which is why you won’t see many hybrids with front suspension. Most hybrids come fitted with metal or carbon forks, which offer some dampening from the roads, are reliable and simple.

Which features are important on a hybrid bike?


Whereas road bike handlebars are designed for speed, body positioning and gear changes, flat mountain bike handlebars make for a more comfortable position if you're sitting upright (most common on cross-country rides and commutes).

Many hybrid bikes will feature the more comfortable flat handlebar style, but remember that if you fancy switching to a curved style for road riding then you can always swap your flat handlebars out!

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This one is key for hybrid bikes, as they'll likely borrow elements from both road and mountain bikes. Despite looking slender, hybrid bike frames are often reinforced in certain places or can even be made from mild steel as opposed to the aluminium and carbon fibre you'll see on road bikes. You'll need to consider the different weight of these materials depending on how much you'll be cycling on and off the road, with aluminium and carbon lighter, but sometimes a bit more expensive.

The other aspect of hybrid bike frames is comfort. Most of the time, hybrid bikes feature geometry that is designed for more relaxed riding, but with seat and handlebar posts that can be tweaked to increase performance on certain rides.

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Wheels and tyres

Hybrid bike tyres are often a halfway-point between thin road tyres and the thicker tyres you'll see on mountain bikes. If you're planning on riding on grass, trails or just a muddy country road, then you'll need to consider the tread on your hybrid tyre. Commuters who spend most of their time in cycle lanes however may wish to opt for a more road-style slick tyre for performance on the flat.

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Road bikes often use V-brakes that sit on the frame of the wheels, squeezing the wheel itself to provide stopping power, but mountain bikes may have disc brakes for optimal stopping performance on hillsides and tight turns. Your hybrid bike can have either of the two, or even more complex brakes like fluid-based SRAM systems, so think about how much stopping power you'll need on different kinds of ride. If you're going to be commuting or taking it easy on country rides at the weekend, then standard V-brakes will be more than sufficient.

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Forks and suspension

There are a few choices when it comes to forks (the part of the frame that holds the front wheels) and suspension systems (rigid, front suspension or full suspension). Suspension absorbs bumps and uneven terrain, so if you're planning on taking your hybrid on more adventurous rides, then it may be worth opting for additional suspension rather than a rigid front fork that connects straight to the wheel axle.

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Panniers and accessories

If you're going to be using your hybrid for commuting through the week then thrashing around a field at the weekend, you'll want to consider how many add-ons to add to your frame. Things like panniers and racks are ideal for the trip to work, with things like laptops and your change of clothes stored out of the rain, but they'll weigh you down on Sunday morning's hill climb.

You'll also need to factor in things like water bottle cages and pump holders, which are essentials on the weekend ride but just another thing to worry about when your bike is parked up outside the office. If you're buying a blank bike with the idea of adding on or taking off accessories depending on your ride style, check how many eyelets are available on the frame for things like racks, mudguards and baskets.

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The best hybrid bikes

Voodoo Marasa

  • Lightweight 7005 alloy frame
  • 27 speed shimano Altus gears
  • Tektro HD-M285 hydraulic disc brakes
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If you're thinking of a hybrid bike that is closer to a mountain bike for those muddy thrashes around the countryside, then you can't go wrong with a Voodoo hybrid bike. Voodoo are known for creating top-end mountain bikes, so their hybrid range incorporates a lot of the features that make their MTB range so popular. The Agwe and Marasa models are great hybrids from Voodoo.

Carrera Crossfire 2

  • Lightweight aluminium frame
  • 24 speed shimano gears
  • Tektro mechanical disc brakes
  • Aluminium Suntour suspension fork
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If you're planning on commuting to work on your new hybrid bike, then Carrera hybrid bikes are a great starting point. Designed to offer the best of both worlds while remaining lightweight and efficient, Carrera hybrids also offer a lot of value for money so you don't need to break the bank to get a solid hybrid bike. Check out the Parva and Crossfire models.

Boardman HYB 8.6

  • Lightweight 7005 alloy frame
  • Carbon bladed forks
  • 18 speed shimano Acera gears
  • Tektro hydraulic brakes
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For the best of the best when it comes to hybrids that are closer to road bikes, then Boardman hybrid bikes are definitely worth checking out. Taking cues from the performance road bikes that Boardman are famous for creating, you can expect lightweight frames, comfortable handlebars and the quality hardware like brakes and gear sets you'd expect on a road bike

Pendleton Somerby

  • Alloy step-through frame
  • 7 speed shimano Acera gears
  • Alloy V-brakes
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If you're looking for a woman's bike that not only bring the best elements from road and mountain bikes together, but also adds some true style, then check out Pendleton hybrid bikes. These classics have all been given 21st century updates, including performance brakes and gear sets, as well as suspension seats and plenty of space for panniers, mudguards or baskets, some of which are included as standard. The Somerby is one of our best sellers.

Which size bike do I need?

Getting the right sized bike will keep you both comfortable and cycling safely and efficiently. Before you start shopping, it's definitely worth checking out our online size guide. All you'll need is your height and we'll be able to give you an instant estimate on the frame size that's right for you.

What if I’m in-between frame sizes?

You might find that the results you’re getting from bike sizing charts or our bike size calculator seem a little inconclusive and you’re being offered two different frame sizes. What this means is that you’re effectively between sizes, and both the larger and smaller frames would be suitable.

So how do you narrow it down to find the best sized frame for you? Well, the key measurement is ‘reach’. This is basically how long the bike feels when you’re in the riding position. Your reach is influenced by your upper body length (also known as your ‘trunk length or sitting height).

If your trunk length is longer than average, then we’d recommend the larger of the two sizes that you’ve been given. If your trunk length is shorter than average, then go for the smaller of the two sizes instead.

If you’re still unsure what size bike frame is right for you, or need a helping hand, then nothing beats actually trying the bike out in person. Simply pop into your local Halfords store and we’ll be happy to help find you the right size bike for your next journey!

What is an electric hybrid bike?

An electric hybrid bike is a hybrid with all of the great features of an e-bike. Electric hybrids feature an additional battery and motor that kicks in when more strain is put on the pedals, i.e. when you're cycling uphill or trying to go faster in a higher gear. It won't propel you along, but will give you a power boost to make things easier when you're working hard - great if you don't fancy turning up to the office soaked in sweat!

How much should I spend on a hybrid bike?

This one comes down to how much you care about the additional features and build materials of your bike. If you want a carbon frame, performance disc brakes and a gear set that will make your ride feel very smooth, then splash the cash. If you want a bike that will get you to work without the frills, then pay a few hundred quid and you'll be well catered for.

With these tips for buying the best hybrid bike, you should now be armed with the information needed to get the best hybrid bike for you!

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Don’t forget that all bikes bought from Halfords worth over £250 get a full bike build and safety check completely free of charge. For any bike under £250, one of our expert technicians will fully build and safety check the bike for only £10!

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