Here's the scoop: I'm male, 6'4", 38 years old, in good shape, and I'm considering buying a hybrid because I ride on paved and hard pack surfaces (ie unpaved trails, but not anything rugged like a single track mountain trail). Currently I have a 15-year-old Bianchi Timberwolf, which is an entry-level mountain bike I rarely used until recently when I suddenly became a bicycling fanatic (I rode over 500 miles in August). In my opinion it knocks the socks off going to the gym and working out on an elliptical trainer for an hour. I have upgraded the Bianchi with several new components, but let's face it, it's only going to go so fast because that's not what it's designed for. I'm lucky if I can maintain 16 mph during a ride of 1-2 hours, but it takes a lot of work to achieve that, despite the smoother tires I put on it.
I ride primarily for fitness and to just get out and see the countryside, but I enjoy going fast and I'm tired of being passed by guys on traditional road bikes who aren't working any harder than I am. I ride about an hour per day, 6-7 days per week. When I get a chance I go for longer rides, up to about 2.5 hours. I would love to be able to ride 50+ miles at a time, but with my current bike that's a tall order.
My first thought was that I should get a devoted road bike, but I'm not crazy about the dropped handle bars, and it would also limit me to paved surfaces. That's when my LBS told me about hybrids. I've only tried one (an entry level Giant, which I wasn't all that impressed with frankly). I guess what I'm looking for is a bike that will go considerably faster than my Bianchi so I can cover more ground, but one that can also be used on unpaved trails and paths. If I want to really get dirty and hit the single track trails, I can always get a suspension fork for my Bianchi and use that, so I don't need a new bike that can handle that kind of riding. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.