The term “hybrid” as it refers to bicycles may be a new word for many, but this new name describes a bicycle that has been designed to take advantage of the best aspects of road bikes and mountain bikes in one package.
Hybrids borrow many features from mountain bikes, such as a more upright riding position, a sturdy frame that can carry significant weight, and wider tyres for good traction on loose stone or dirt surfaces. Since road bikes are designed to go faster than mountain bikes, hybrids borrow road-style rims that are lighter than mountain bike rims, and light, road-grade components.
By combining the strength features of mountain bike rims with the lightness of road-style rims, wheel sets for hybrid bikes are able to handle wide or narrow tyres. These tyres can be run to full pressure like a road bike to reduce rolling resistance, or they can be deflated slightly to allow for better grip and traction.
The frames on hybrids are typically made of aluminum or lightweight steel. There are lighter materials available, but hybrid users are likely to want to add weight or otherwise stress the frames a bit too much for the likes of carbon fibre, which is a material commonly used for very light road racers.
The riding position on hybrids leans more toward comfort than speed. Handlebars are typically straight, rather than sharply curved like a road bike’s handlebars.
There are many drive-train choices available for hybrid bikes. The rear wheel will usually be equipped with anywhere from 7 to 9 gears, and on the front you will find 2 or 3 chain-rings. In order to determine how many speeds the bike has, simply multiply the number of gears in the back by the number of chain-rings at the front. For example, a 7 cog cassette in the rear and a triple chain-ring in the front would be considered a 21 speed. More gears will allow the rider to pedal over more difficult terrain and hills with ease.