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Old 02-27-10, 03:37 PM   #1
albanian
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Define what a "Hybrid"bike is or should be.

I see that hybrids seem to encompass many many different bikes and some of them seem to pushing the limits of what I would consider a true hybrid. What in your opinion is a hybrid and what should it be able to do.

For me, a hybrid should be able to be a decently fast road bike or a moderately tough mountain bike for unpaved roads or trails. It should have mounts for fenders and racks to make it a commuter.

I have an 07 Specialized Sirrus and it fits what I consider a true hybrid. With 23mm road tires, it is fast and easy to pedal. With 32mm off road tires, it can function as a mountain bike for reasonable trails. Right now it has 28mm city tires, reflectors, headlight, fenders and rear rack and it my commuter/exercise/dog bike.

With a simple switch of the tires and a few accessories, it seems to be able to fills many roles quite well. It is a jack of all trades.

By contrast, I don't consider a mountain bike with slicks to be a true hybrid because they don't make good road bikes when needed. It seems the Sirrus and Treks got it right with the geometry and frame. Not quite a road bike but not a mountain bike either. They are something in the middle and that is the point.
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Old 02-27-10, 03:42 PM   #2
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There are many sub-divisions of hybrids; road-biased (like yours), mountain-biased, city, comfort, and cross bike like mine

I just try not to be a hybrid-nazi.
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Old 02-27-10, 06:40 PM   #3
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We formed this Hybrid Forum to escape the roadie-nazis. We don't need them here. Many people have different definitions of what constitutes a hybrid. I'd say they are all correct. No need to get elitist over an all-around fun machine that's capable of so many different things. Enjoy them - and use them!
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Old 02-27-10, 07:39 PM   #4
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Dude, you're like the Martian Luther King of bikes and I commend you.
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Old 02-27-10, 07:40 PM   #5
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I think of a Hybrid as raw material, kind of a blank. They work fine out of the box but easily evolve into the specific needs and personality the owner requires. Anything can be a Hybrid, as soon as you start to alter it to do other things than the originally intended it then can be categorized as a hybrid. Production hybrids simply make the task that much easier to do. There is no such thing as a true hybrid, a production hybrid is manufactures recognizing that there is a market for people that want to customize the bicycles to do a variety of applications, they existed long before manufactures decided to market a hybrid.
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Old 02-27-10, 09:37 PM   #6
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A hybrid is the Jack-of-all-trades. It is outclassed to a greater or lesser degree by the more specialized road and mountain bikes, but what it loses in efficiency in one domain it gains in utility in the other. A road bike is faster on pavement, but won't handle riding off-road very well. A mountain bike handles off-roading with aplomb, but is slow and inefficient on the road.

A hybrid will likely be better at off-roading than the road bike, and faster on pavement than the mountain bike, while not being as effective as either specialist in the specialist's domain.
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Old 02-28-10, 07:46 AM   #7
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Jack-of-all-trades; yes. Always find it annoying when antihybrid snobs dismiss them with the argument "hybrids are slower than road bikes and less tough than mountain bikes." True, but it's equally true and more relevant that they're tougher than road bikes and faster than mountain bikes.
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Old 02-28-10, 08:14 AM   #8
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Jack-of-all-trades; yes. Always find it annoying when antihybrid snobs dismiss them with the argument "hybrids are slower than road bikes and less tough than mountain bikes." True, but it's equally true and more relevant that they're tougher than road bikes and faster than mountain bikes.
Well said!
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Old 02-28-10, 08:43 AM   #9
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Personally I am not too concerned with trying to put a label on my bike or building it to how others want to define what is a hybrid. I think it is cool that someone can take a mountain bike and turn it into a street scrapper that can carry what they need on a commute and hit the trails on the way home. Is the same as a lightning fast, light weight bike with roadie geometry with 23c slicks that can carry groceries? No. A hybrid is what you want it to be. My hybrids do exactly what I need them to do, no more no less.
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Old 02-28-10, 09:46 AM   #10
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I wasn't trying to put down any body's bike or tell them they couldn't ride whatever they wanted. I was just trying to pin down the term and see what it really meant.

I was over on the cycle cross forum and they seem to have a fairly solid idea of what a CX bike is and isn't. It kind of surprised me that hybrids like the Specialized Sirrus that I own are not considered CX bikes. It seems to me that a hybrid bike is exactly what is called for in a CX race. I have never done CX so maybe I am way off base.

I do think it is important to define the term. Where is the cut off between a road bike and a hybrid and a mountain bike and a hybrid? Where does a city bike or café bike start and a hybrid end? Can a fixed gear or single speed be considered a hybrid? Can a hybrid have shocks? What is the maximum width tire a hybrid can have before you consider it a mountain bike? Is my Sirrus still a hybrid if I modify it with drop handlebars, skinny road tires and road gears? There are so many different types of bikes with so many different names that it can be confusing to a novice. What space does a hybrid occupy in the bike world? That is all I am trying to get at. It is by nature a vague term but it is worth understanding and defining I think.

I tossed out my idea of what a "true" hybrid is if there is such a thing but that is just my point of view and opinion. Is there a official definition somewhere?

To me, a hybrid occupies a space that is left open somewhere between a mountain/comfort bike and full road bike. It should have gearing that is wide ranging and useful in 90% of what a mountain bike or road bike would encounter. It should have the ability to ride the roads or the trails with some simple mods like different tires and pedals. It should be a jack of all trades but it should do them well.
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Old 02-28-10, 09:47 AM   #11
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Trying to classify a hybrid? Oh, here we go again!

Hybrids are whatever a person wants them to be. Trek actually needs to be careful, their top of the line FX model is nothing but a road bike with a flat bar, not something most of us consider a TRUE hybrid. I like to think of a true hybrid being more of a mountain geometry frame, with 700c wheels, 28-35c tires, flat bar, and gearing thats between a road bike and a mountain bike. That way, you get speed, comfort, ability to climb hills without leaving your saddle, and still sleek looks

I also like that us hybrid riders may just throw on a pair of shorts or pants and sneakers and hop on our bikes. We dont always need to wear tight lycra just to ride. My sirrus is very comfy without bike shorts on, although bike shorts ARE a good thing for longer rides. To me, cycling isnt about being an elitist with all the expensive gear, its about getting off the couch and seeing nature, or even just your town, in ways you normally dont. It has always been fun for me to go on a bike ride...No flashy clothing needed.
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Old 02-28-10, 10:03 AM   #12
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Flat bar cyclocross bike?
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Old 02-28-10, 10:06 AM   #13
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Or is a cyclocross bike just a hybrid with drop bars? When I crashed my Surly crosscheck, I actually considered replacing it with a cheap hybrid and just using the frame with all the leftover bits from my Surly. I think that option would have been about the same cost as replacing the frame, plus I would have gotten a nice big box of parts to use on something else.
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Old 02-28-10, 10:13 AM   #14
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Well said on all accounts!

I look at Hybrids on three levels. Performance Hybrid, Hybrid, and Comfort Hybrid. Whether bought that way, or alterred that way.

One thing they all have in common, is that they are all a jack of all trades, master of none. In my book, a really good thing.

I love mine, and it is my ride of choice under almost all circumstances, based on how I ride.
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Old 02-28-10, 10:47 AM   #15
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Since I´m a roadie during summer the hybrid means the world to me when the weather gets harsh (and unkind to me c&v rides). So my sub-division must be whenever the roadie cant handle it. And every other situation - omnipotent I would say.
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Old 03-01-10, 07:38 AM   #16
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Or is a cyclocross bike just a hybrid with drop bars? When I crashed my Surly crosscheck, I actually considered replacing it with a cheap hybrid and just using the frame with all the leftover bits from my Surly. I think that option would have been about the same cost as replacing the frame, plus I would have gotten a nice big box of parts to use on something else.
Good point. Put flat bars on a cyclecross bike and what is the difference between it and a Sirrus with knobby tires?
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Old 03-01-10, 09:21 AM   #17
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A hybrid is anything you want it to be.

This has been hashed over and over and over on this forum. This is like the third thread on the subject.
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Old 03-01-10, 09:25 AM   #18
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Good point. Put flat bars on a cyclecross bike and what is the difference between it and a Sirrus with knobby tires?
A lot.

One thing, the Sirrus's frame doesn't have a big enough opening to shoulder comfortably. Most cyclocross bikes' top tube doesn't have nearly as much slope. Shouldering is a big part in a cyclocross race.

Geometry, most CX bikes have more agressive geometry.

There's quite a bit of a difference in components as well. CX bikes use cantis, not linear pulls like the Sirrus. CX bikes generally use double chainrings, the Sirrus has a triple.

A Sirrus can be made into a decent cyclocross bike, but I wouldn't buy a Sirrus specifically for cyclocrossing.
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Old 03-01-10, 09:30 AM   #19
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By contrast, I don't consider a mountain bike with slicks to be a true hybrid because they don't make good road bikes when needed. It seems the Sirrus and Treks got it right with the geometry and frame. Not quite a road bike but not a mountain bike either. They are something in the middle and that is the point.
With that said your bike is okay on light trails or gravel paths but would get destroyed if I were to ride it on the trails around here. That doesn't mean it is not a hybrid does it?

This is a loaded question. Depends who you ask and you would need to be more specific on the actual bike. Some have said that there bike is fast on the road, some say theirs can go off road, some can do both but not well at either. Some say it does both good. A hybrid to me is something can do do both in moderation
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Old 03-01-10, 12:06 PM   #20
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A lot.

One thing, the Sirrus's frame doesn't have a big enough opening to shoulder comfortably. Most cyclocross bikes' top tube doesn't have nearly as much slope. Shouldering is a big part in a cyclocross race.

Geometry, most CX bikes have more agressive geometry.

There's quite a bit of a difference in components as well. CX bikes use cantis, not linear pulls like the Sirrus. CX bikes generally use double chainrings, the Sirrus has a triple.

A Sirrus can be made into a decent cyclocross bike, but I wouldn't buy a Sirrus specifically for cyclocrossing.

I didn't know that. I looked at my brakes on my Sirrus and they looked the same at first glance as most CX bikes but you are right, CX bikes have cantilever brakes.
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Old 03-02-10, 01:44 PM   #21
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Prior to about 1960 many companies made bicycles they marketed as "all rounders" and since the modern mountain bike was still 25 years in the future these were based on road bikes and more specifically touring frames as these could be fitted with the widest tyres of their day, fenders, and be fitted with racks to carry more cargo.

This old Raleigh could be considered a vintage all rounder and was originally a roadster with north road bars, 26 inch wheels, chain case, and heavy steel fenders. Now it runs 700:32 tyres and although it's primary use is as a road bike (commuter / tourer) it handles the trails and gravel very nicely.





One could often fit different types of bars on these bikes and still retain nice riding and handling... the Raleigh's of the 50's often used the same brakes and levers and 3 speed shifters for road bikes and roadsters so swapping things just meant getting new bars.

After this there was a lot more specialization and in the 80's the early mountain bikes were often based on touring frames but fitted with 26 inch wheels and lower gearing to better handle off road situations... these frames make excellent platforms to build 26 inch wheeled touring bikes and road bikes.



The earliest CX bikes were stripped down touring bikes as the cantilever brakes excelled at shedding mud... and early cyclocross was ten times as hard as it is now.

The term hybrid is also a marketing term and in the last decade, as hybrids have gained in popularity, even that term has been broken down into sub categories to include comfort and performance oriented versions which really are looking a lot like road bikes.

Some modern hybrids take well to multiple configurations... many Treks do well when they are fitted with drop bars as they have a more aggressive frame geometry and when you actually compare the geometry they are very close to a bike like the Surly LHT.

Trek 7500 drop bar conversion... a very capable all rounder with touring / road wheels and drop bars but an mtb drive to give it a better climbing and towing capability.

Bar choice has a lot to do with the individual... for me a more aggressive position relieves a lot of back pain while sitting upright will limit my riding to a few kilometers.

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Old 03-09-10, 11:55 PM   #22
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A Hybrid Bike to me is whatever way you choose to modify your bicycle. As for mine I have made some changes to include a Hope Stem, Custom Seat, Cut Seat Post, Cut Bars, and Racing Slicks. Future plans are rigid forks, shimano XTR running gear and more anodized parts.....
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Old 03-10-10, 08:32 AM   #23
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I wonder how essential is a front suspension for a hybrid. What about the seat suspension?
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Old 03-10-10, 09:56 AM   #24
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I wonder how essential is a front suspension for a hybrid. What about the seat suspension?
I'm new here, first post btw, but for your stated purpose of a 2 mile city commute it is unlikely to be essential. If you look at the pictures of hybrids posted here you will see many that have no suspension. I just bought a Fuji Absolute 1.0 last night and other than a carbon front fork it has no suspension. My purpose is to ride it on the bike trails in the Chicago region. Mostly they are rails to trails affairs, sometimes paved, sometimes gravel. Experienced local riders are all of one voice that suspension is not needed. Urban commuters who like to do a lot of curb hopping or who have to deal with frequent potholes will often like to have suspension. Other urban rides find it unnecessary. You say the local pavement is uneven, how uneven is it? It has to be pretty uneven to require suspension and only you are in a position to judge that.

Many people seem to be happy with suspension seatposts. Since they can easily be added or replaced at low cost after you buy the bike I would not give a suspension seatpost much weight in the decision.

The suspension forks offered on most hybrids do not get much respect from experienced cyclists. There are several reasons for this and I suppose they are all valid to an extent although for light duty bump riding like urban commuting they may be adequate and even desirable if your road conditions are bad enough. They are all a little sloppy mechanically and wear quicker than the more highly regarded forks. The very cheapest ones are just springs or what my LBS owner calls pogo sticks. They bounce around a lot even from pedaling on smooth roads and that robs energy. If all you want is exercise from your bike that is not necessarily a bad thing. On longer recreational rides it becomes an issue since the ride itself is exercise enough and you'd rather either be able to go longer or arrive fresher. So the next step up is forks that are still just springs but which have a mechanical "lock out". This essentially lets you turn the fork into a rigid fork when you are riding on smooth pavement and eliminates the lost energy. I would at least look for a fork that has this feature. The next step up from that is a fork that has a shock absorber in addition to springs. This will control the rebound after you hit a bump and eliminate the pogo stick ride. Again you would want a lockout control for efficiency on smooth roads. In addition all forks are rated according to the amount of travel they allow and the rougher your ride the more you want. They typically start at 50mm and the expensive mountain bike forks have considerably more. The ones I have noticed on hybrids are generally in the 50-80mm range and that is probably enough for most urban riding although you might want 80mm as a minimum if you plan to do a lot of curb hopping. All suspension forks are heavy compared to rigid forks. All that said, there are plenty of folks who are happy with the cheapest pogo stick forks out there so if you really want one you might be happy with it. If you are looking to save money or to at least get the best bike possible within your budget you probably want to give hybrid quality suspension forks a pass.

Ken
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Old 03-10-10, 10:31 AM   #25
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Thank you so much Ken. I really appreciate your very informative post. I think I am indeed giving it a pass. You're right. The pavement is broken (I live in New Haven, Connecticut); however, from what you described, I am thinking that a seat suspension might do the job if any suspension would be necessary.

Re

"all forks are rated according to the amount of travel they allow and the rougher your ride the more you want"

Would you please explain this a little further? What do you mean when you say forks are rated according to the amount of travel they allow? What does "mm" stand at the end of the numbers you cited? Miles? Millimeters?

Appreciatively.
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