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  1. #1
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    What was the first hybrid?

    I believe chain driven tricycles predate chain driven bicycles so all bicycles in general use today are hybrids combining elements of tricycles (chain drive) and elements of ordinary bicycles (two wheels). Is the ordinary a hybrid also, combining elements of the Draisine with technology from some other invention, or was the safety bike the first true hybrid bike? Was the Draisine itself a hybrid?

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    Most new inventions use the technology of the time in some respects and incorporate them in a new combination. Does that make them hybrids? Currently as applied to bicycles it normally means a combination of road and MTB features and concepts.

    The Draisine (?) was apparently an original concept in overall layout but used wheel technology from carriages of the era. Same for the first front drive pedal equipped bikes of about 1868. They were a Draisine with pedals added to the front wheel.

    Some technology developments were originally first widely applied to the bicycle. Examples are tension spoked wheels, ball bearings, seamless tubing and butted tubing. Also the pneumatic tire though it had an earlier precedent used on a few carriages.

    The original MTBs were hybrids which combined cruiser and road technologies as they were cruisers with derailleurs. It is from the old Schwinn cruisers that the tire size of standard MTB tires is taken. Even there they were taken from 1930's European heavy duty bikes. The MTB triple crankset was taken from European touring and randonneuring bikes. Many of the first MTBs used TA triple cranksets.

    If borrowing of components or concepts is the criteria for a hybrid then every bike, and trike, ever made is a hybrid in some respect. So are virtually all vehicles as there has been a lot of cross fertilization of ideas in 150+ years.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member TheCappucinoKid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qmsdc15 View Post
    I believe chain driven tricycles predate chain driven bicycles so all bicycles in general use today are hybrids combining elements of tricycles (chain drive) and elements of ordinary bicycles (two wheels). Is the ordinary a hybrid also, combining elements of the Draisine with technology from some other invention, or was the safety bike the first true hybrid bike? Was the Draisine itself a hybrid?
    I read the first modern hybrid (as we know the term today, though the definition seems to be much disputed) was a Bianchi Advantage. I'm guessing around 86.

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    tatfriend, so because motor vehicles use technology first developed for bicycles, cars are hybrid bikes, too? Haha, just kidding.

    The addition of chain drive allowed the use of a smaller front wheel, the low safety was a big change from the Penny-farthing with it's huge front wheel. Definitely a hybrid of the existing bicycle and something.

    I don't know much about history, but my limited research seems to indicate trikes featured chain drive in the 1860s, while safety bikes came out in the 1870s. Bicycles already had wheels, cranks, frame, fork, headset, handlebar, saddle. The only thing added was a chain, but it resulted in a machine that was different enough to be a new variety of human powered transport, in my opinion.

    So, I think of it as a hybrid. Penny-farthing riders held a similar opinion of safetys that roadies have of hybrids today. Good for those with physical limitations that would prevent them from riding an ordinary bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCappucinoKid View Post
    I read the first modern hybrid (as we know the term today, though the definition seems to be much disputed) was a Bianchi Advantage. I'm guessing around 86.
    I read that too, in another thread, probably posted by you. Someone replied that Bianchi Volpe was out before that. When the Volpe came out, I thought it was a new kind of beast, but I didn't know then that cyclo-cross bikes had been around for years with similar components.

    My statement that all bikes are hybrids is kind of a cop-out, because I can't figure out where else to draw the line. Haha. As far as I know, Bianchi Advantage might be the first one that would meet many people's definition of hybrid.

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    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    the Volpe was and is a very interesting bike. but yes Bianchi created the modern hybrid as we know it. they also have something similar back in the early '80s. also this may suprise everyone they alos offered compact cranksets! they were not called that but they did have road bikes with smaller chain rings and also 'racing triples' WOW all of that in the early '80s OH yes intergrated headsets were on Bianchis (and others) in the '50s
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    I Love My Dream
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    These were the first hybrids IMO...

    http://clunkers.net/
    It's none of my business what other people think of me.

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    Certainly a reasonable opinion, Saddle up. Great link, thanks. I'd love to buy one of his hybrids if I had $4200 to spare.

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    The old city bike lightweights AKA Raleigh Sports were the first hybrids. The modern hybrid emerged out of a marriage between the MTB and the old city bike.

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    How does this bike differ significantly from a turn of the century safety? Is it the multiple gearing that makes it a hybrid?

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    Quote Originally Posted by qmsdc15 View Post
    How does this bike differ significantly from a turn of the century safety? Is it the multiple gearing that makes it a hybrid?
    The multiple gearing was available as early as 1902 or 03 with the introduction of the Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub. Evcept possibly for wheel size virtually all of the European multi gear utility and transportation bikes made in the last 100 years would be considered Hybrids at a glance by most American riders today.
    Gear Hubs Owned: Rohloff disc brake, SRAM iM9 disc brake, SRAM P5 freewheel, Sachs Torpedo 3 speed freewheel, NuVinci CVT, Shimano Alfine SG S-501, Sturmey Archer S5-2 Alloy. Other: 83 Colnago Super Record, Univega Via De Oro

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  12. #12
    tcs
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    You'll have to provide a generally accepted definition of "hybrid bicycle" before you can hope to get a meaningful answer to the thread title question.

    Here's what Sheldon Brown sez about hybrids, but I'm not sure everyone on this list would accept his definition.

    Perhaps someone will start a "What is a hybrid bicycle?" thread.

    Commercially successful...

    Quote Originally Posted by tatfiend View Post
    ...multiple gearing was available as early as...
    ...1896 or 1898 with British "The Hub" two speed IGH. Along with a whole bunch of companies and designs that weren't commercially successful, Sturmey followed in 1903 and Sachs (now SRAM) in 1904.

    tcs

    PS - In his book "The Birth of Dirt", Frank Berto talks for a long time about what a mountain bike is before he tries to answer the question about who made the first one. Interesting stuff.
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

  13. #13
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    Good posts, tat and tcs. Despite the lack of a generally accepted definition, I think we are getting some interesting, perhaps even meaningful answers.

    Definition of a modern hybrid might be the use of 700c wheels with a 135mm hub, which is a dumb idea. I'm glad the new "flat bar road bikes" come with road wheels (and road gears). But I guess they are road bikes and not hybrids then.

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    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    A "hybrid" is just a touring bike with flat handle bars and a 1980's marketing spin. Even if you narrow the definition down to require cantilever brakes, people were riding bikes a long time ago.

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    I think it sprang from putting beefy touring wheels & tires on a mountain-bike. Then someone put together this idea of a bike with a looooong wheelbase, and touring wheels. Instead of the 26" wheels found on most mountain-bikes of the 1980's. This could somewhat define a 'hybrid' to someone who hasn't seen one, but is familiar with bicycles. You can, at least, visualize the concept from this description. But variation is the spice of life - so these "rules" can be modified at any time.

    In my opinion, the Hybrid-Bicycles is a truly distinct form that is neither a mountain or road bike. It is a Hybrid.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

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    Hybrids have been around longer than most people think they have.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    Check out this little nugget:

    http://ibikedb.net/bikes/types/hybrid

    At very least - it legitimizes 'Hybrids' as a distinctly recognized type of bicycle.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

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    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
    A "hybrid" is just a touring bike with flat handle bars and a 1980's marketing spin. Even if you narrow the definition down to require cantilever brakes, people were riding bikes a long time ago.
    Don't some of the Cannondale Bad Boys sport caliper brakes with suspension forks? If those bikes aren't hybrids, nothing is.

    Bikes sold as hybrids tend to be more of a mountain bike frame, with 135 rear dropout spacing, high bb and slack angles. My "flat bar road bike" is actually much more of a flat bar touring bike, with slack angles and long chainstays but also lower bottom bracket than mtb and 130mm rear spacing, fits closer to what you describe as a "hybrid" than most bikes sold as hybrids do. Some of the flat bar road bikes have tight wheelbase and steep seat tube/head tube like a crit bike. With flat bars and vee-brakes, it's a new style, but as you know, nothing is new in bicycles, they tried everything imaginable over a hundred years ago in the golden age of bicycling.
    Last edited by qmsdc15; 09-04-09 at 03:26 PM.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panthers007 View Post
    I think it sprang from putting beefy touring wheels & tires on a mountain-bike. Then someone put together this idea of a bike with a looooong wheelbase, and touring wheels. Instead of the 26" wheels found on most mountain-bikes of the 1980's. This could somewhat define a 'hybrid' to someone who hasn't seen one, but is familiar with bicycles. You can, at least, visualize the concept from this description. But variation is the spice of life - so these "rules" can be modified at any time.

    In my opinion, the Hybrid-Bicycles is a truly distinct form that is neither a mountain or road bike. It is a Hybrid.
    Good stuff. Was the idea to put beefy wheels on a mountain bike frame a good idea, or was it just an idea to sell more bikes? Long chain stays are nice for panniers, but who needs the high BB? Why did we need to go through that phase (I owned several), when we can now drive away from the showroom floor on a flat bar crit bike or cyclocross racer? I guess the hybrid category will continue for people like me who can't afford the nicer types of bikes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by daveizdum View Post
    Hybrids have been around longer than most people think they have.
    Great photo. Thanks for posting. I'm saving a copy of that.

  21. #21
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    Cyclocross bikes have been around for awhile. They take attributes from different kinds of bikes. In recent times they have evolved even further taking cues from modern mountain bikes. Especially brake systems from mountain bikes, discs, v-type brakes, even hydraulic rim brakes. A second set of brake levers mounted on the bar tops so you can brake on the tops.

    Photo for those who might not have seen them



    A cyclocross bike is definately a "hybrid."

    Photo of my cyclocross "hybrid."

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    Sweet Yeti, but I was asking about the first hybrid, not your first hybrid.

    Please post that picture in "post picture of your hybrid" thread. You'll be winning.

  23. #23
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    That is what I am saying. Cyclocross race bikes were some of the first hybrids. Designed to handle on road and off road use.

    Yeah, it's a sweet machine for sure.

  24. #24
    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by LesMcLuffAlot View Post
    In recent times they have evolved even further taking cues from modern mountain bikes...A second set of brake levers mounted on the bar tops so you can brake on the tops.
    Revolutionary!

    tcs
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by LesMcLuffAlot View Post
    That is what I am saying. Cyclocross race bikes were some of the first hybrids. Designed to handle on road and off road use.

    Yeah, it's a sweet machine for sure.
    Right on, surely meets the definition often expressed here of hybrid as a bike with on and off road capabilities. It's hard for me to tell for certain, but your stays appear to be made from one piece of bent tubing, a design Yeti borrowed from BMX I think, another bit of hybridization.

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