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Thread: Hybrid Bikes

  1. #1
    Member BettWalker's Avatar
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    Hybrid Bikes

    What exactly is a Hybrid Bike? :confused: Mine is a Giant Comfort (Sedona) Bike. In looking thru the Giant catalog, I don't see a bike that is called a Hybrid and yet I hear the word a lot...just wondering.
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    A Heart Needs a Home Rich Clark's Avatar
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    The word came into common use to indicate a combination of features from mountain bikes and road (particularly touring) bikes. A hybrid would have 700c wheels and perhaps touring tires, but it would have lower gearing (using MTB drivetrain components) and it would have flat or riser handlebars. (The original hybrids were, of course, modifications to existing bikes made by riders, just as the original MTB's were.)

    The frame would have a relaxed, touring-type geometry and usually rack and fender mounts.

    "Hybrid" was a term rarely used by marketing departments, probably because it's not descriptive enough to the non-hobbyists they were being marketed to. They were "city bikes" or "cross-terrain bikes" (makes no sense, I know).

    When it became clear who was buying these bikes -- older riders, returning to cycling after a hiatus and riding for recreation and fitness -- more and more "comfort" features started to appear on them. Some manufacturers just went ahead and created lines of "comfort bikes." Sometimes the only difference between a hybrid and a comfort bike was the wheel size.

    In the last couple of years we're starting to see the bikes with 700c wheels become more pavement specific (labeled "fitness bikes" or "flat-bar road bikes") and the ones with 26" wheels very clearly targeted to the "comfort" market.

    Some of these newer "fitness bikes" look almost exactly like the original hybrids from 15 years ago.

    RichC
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    I think they call them 'comfort bike' now. 'Hybrid', 'Cross bike', 'comfort bike' are kind of interchangeable terms. They usually refer to bikes that are more oriented to bike paths than trails.

  4. #4
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    Originally posted by steveK
    I think they call them 'comfort bike' now. 'Hybrid', 'Cross bike', 'comfort bike' are kind of interchangeable terms. They usually refer to bikes that are more oriented to bike paths than trails.
    Well, I think we're starting to see a solidification of the terminology although it's by no means complete so please don't take the following descriptions as canonical.

    In general, I'm seeing hybrids as 700c wheel bikes with possibly a suspension fork or seatpost, relaxed geometry and a flatbar. Rider position is generally more upright with a flat bar. Components tend to be a mix between lighter offroad and entry to mid-level road. The frames may sometimes use more advanced materials and often have nice utility features such as rack eyelets.

    Cross bikes are generally 700c bikes with close to road-racer like geometry, drop handlebars and brake mounts capable of handling discs or V/canti MTB-style brakes for more mud clearance. Gearing tends to be closer to road chainrings and MTB rear cassette with appropriate derrailleurs. Tyres tend to be wider with more aggressive tread patterns than a roadbike. Frame construction tends to be beefier than roadbikes but not as beefy as pure MTBs. However, frame material will most likely be as advanced as high-end roadbikes and MTBs. Most will have a rigid steel or carbon fork.

    Comfort bikes tend to be a mix between a cruiser and a light-duty MTB. They generally come with 26" wheels, maybe a suspension fork but sometimes just with a steel rigid fork, suspension seatpost and very wide, low and course (big jumps) gearing. Some may have limited-travel suspension forks and some may even be full suspension. Seating position is very upright with a bigger wider or sometimes sprung saddle and of course flat or slightly curved cruiser like handlebars. Tyres will have a semi-aggressive tread pattern but not as aggressive as MTB or cross bikes and generally fall in the 1.5" to 1.9" wide range. The frame will have a really relaxed geometry and be heavier than most other categories of bikes with less emphasis placed on advanced materials or weight-savings but will have nice features such as rack eyelets.

    A new crop of bikes called 700c wheelsize fitness/comfort roadbikes tend to have geometries much closer to roadbikes than hybrids. They sometimes exhibit many of the same features found in the classic touring bikes (including geometry) such as rack eyelets but don't usually have as beefy a frame. Some come with flat bars and others with modified ergo dropbars. Many will have adjustable stems. They usually use pure roadbike components. Most of these bikes will have rigid roadbike forks of varying material although some might have limited-travel front suspension.
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  5. #5
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    Just to add... I see the intended targets generally as follows:

    Hybrids, Flatbar roadbikes - Fitness, Commuting
    Fitness/comfort roadbikes - Fitness, Light-duty touring
    Comfort - Cruising, Entry-level fitness, Commuting
    Cross - Racing, Fitness, Commuting, Touring
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  6. #6
    road siklista dexmax's Avatar
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    Originally posted by khuon
    Just to add... I see the intended targets generally as follows:

    Hybrids, Flatbar roadbikes - Fitness, Commuting
    Fitness/comfort roadbikes - Fitness, Light-duty touring
    Comfort - Cruising, Entry-level fitness, Commuting
    Cross - Racing, Fitness, Commuting, Touring
    I agree...

  7. #7
    A Heart Needs a Home Rich Clark's Avatar
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    Then you have Raleigh, which insists on calling their 700c hybrids "Cross" bikes. Probably because they don't make an actual cyclocross bike.

    RichC
    Training: 2002 Fuji Roubaix Pro (105 triple)
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    In the UK there is a breed of bike called a Dirbyh. Its like a hybrid, only they take the good parts of an MTB and combine them with the good parts of a road/touring bike. This is unlike a hybrid, where they take the worst elements of each.
    Dirbyhs have 26" wheels with fast slick tyres, curly drop handlebars, the bottom bracket is set low for stability, and the handling is quite light and agile.

  9. #9
    A Heart Needs a Home Rich Clark's Avatar
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    Originally posted by MichaelW
    In the UK there is a breed of bike called a Dirbyh. Its like a hybrid, only they take the good parts of an MTB and combine them with the good parts of a road/touring bike. This is unlike a hybrid, where they take the worst elements of each.
    Dirbyhs have 26" wheels with fast slick tyres, curly drop handlebars, the bottom bracket is set low for stability, and the handling is quite light and agile.
    Huh. Is there something called a "Trofmoc bike?"

    Rich
    Training: 2002 Fuji Roubaix Pro (105 triple)
    Commuting/Daytripping: 2001 Airborne Carpe Diem (Ultegra/XTR, touring wheels)
    Commuting/Touring: 2000 Novara Randonee (Sora/Tiagra/LX, fenders, lights)

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