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Hybrids: How to Choose Your First Hybrid Bicycle

Hybrids combine the fast-rolling speed of a racy road bike with the upright comfort and practicality of a mountain bike. They’re perfect for town and city use, especially if you want to save money and time travelling to work – and get fit at the same time. Leisure, exploring, commuting, fitness, fun, saving money or saving the planet – hybrids do it all, and there’s a perfect model for you out there.

They’re ideal for everything from quick shopping trips to weekend adventures in the hills – while the name ‘hybrid’ might suggest a compromise between two worlds, the result is actually a very pure version of cycling. They offer fun and function in equal measures. They just work!

There are a range of styles within the general ‘hybrid’ bracket to consider, and Hargroves Cycles are here to help work that out. It centres around what kind of riding you mostly do. Some bikes are closer to mountain bikes than road bikes – featuring suspension forks, more gears and wider, more deeply treaded tyres – while others favour the opposite features and strengths. Obviously, the more towpath, bridleway or singletrack riding you do, the more you should favour the mountain bike end of the hybrid family.

On the tarmac-orientated side you find stripped-down, super-fast machines built tough and simple; great for rapid urban transport and longer weekend road rides. Suspension isn’t really necessary on the road, where its motion can soak up some of your effort, plus it’s heavier and more expensive to start with. Strong hydraulic disc brakes and just the right spread of gears – perhaps a simple, secure and light 1×11 drivetrain – are factors worth considering on your personal check-list.

Expect smooth, fast-rolling tyres, with stronger sidewalls and carcasses compared to ‘high performance’ or full-on racer tyres to guard against punctures on the UK’s dodgy city street surfaces. And remember that, while quick release (QR) axles are great if you do get a flat, they’re more of a security risk for theft, compared to bolts.

A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING

Somewhere in between you find the hybrid all-rounders. These offer strength, reliability and everything you need to mount racks, panniers, mudguards and more. They may also have maintenance-reducing things such as gearing that’s sealed in the rear hub, away from dirt, rain and crash damage. Handy if you ride in all conditions. Ride these hybrids to the shops, ride them to another continent…they won’t mind.

What about wheel size? You’ll see many 29ers and still more 700c bikes, and they are in reality, effectively the same wheel diameter. One name comes from road riding (700c) and the other from mountain biking, that’s all. And unless you’re looking for a small frame, where the smaller 27.5in/650b wheels are a better fit, the easy-rolling stability of these very popular big wheels is perfect for most hybrid bikes and most hybrid riders.

At Hargroves we have the full range of hybrid options, and few are such good value as the Specialized Crosstrail Disc (£550). A true all-rounder with mechanical disc brakes and a suspension fork, it also features all necessary mounts for luggage racks and full-length mudguards, plus comfy 38mm tyres that are fast along the centreline and aggressive for cornering grip on the edges. The fork can be locked out for maximum efficiency on the road.

Specialized Crosstrail Disc

Go a little more city-oriented and you find classic designs such as the Sirrus Sport (£725), also from Specialized. It’s a fully-rigid alloy machine that’s ideal for commuting. Reflective walls on the fast, surefooted 32mm tyres and powerful disc brakes keep you safe in traffic all year round.

Specialized Sirrus Sport.

Looking for a little more style and a little less maintenance? Then you’ll love the Cube Hyde Pro (£849) as much as we do. A rigid aluminium bike so smooth it could be mistaken for carbon, the Hyde Pro has sealed-away hub gears that rarely need maintenance and a belt drive that never needs lubrication – and it won’t get your trousers dirty, either! Big, high-volume 29in tyres steamroller the roughest streets, while Shimano hydraulic brakes keep the whole stealth-black plot under full control. Seriously, what’s not to love?

Cube Hyde Pro

Make sure to check out our full range of Hybrid Bikes here.

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