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  1. #1
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    What, exactly, is a Hybrid?

    Picking nits.
    I'd always thought it meant flat bar/no suspension like my 7.3.

    But now you can have a hybrid that I would consider closer to a cross bike or a city bike.
    Is it just a catchall category meaning "not a road bike"?
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    Junior Member hpz937's Avatar
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    there is alot of variation on hybrids so I guess yeah it is kind of a catchall, they seem to be any variation in-between a road bike and a mountainbike

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    Yeah, I was told between a road bike and a mountain bike. Some are more performance oriented and some are more comfort oriented, lots of different kinds. Some are closer to road bikes, some are closer to mountain bikes and all in between. HTHS-

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    Basically it is a bike that doesn't quite fit into any category, but has features and design elements from two or more categories. Usually it is something in between a road and a mountain bike---it will never win any road races, but it will do well on the road; nor it it suitable for really technical trails, but can be ridden off-pavement. Some lean more to the mtb side, some more to the road side.

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    I think it's a category where people who had them were starting to get annoyed that their bike didn't have a name like "road bike" or "mountain bike" or recumbent or bmx or any other real defining category. I feel like the definition is really "if it looks like a normal bike but doesn't have all the specific features of a certain bike then it's a hybrid" ore of a "you know it when you see it" kind of things

  6. #6
    Sumerian Street Rider khutch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AChristie View Post
    Picking nits.
    I'd always thought it meant flat bar/no suspension like my 7.3.

    But now you can have a hybrid that I would consider closer to a cross bike or a city bike.
    Is it just a catchall category meaning "not a road bike"?
    Some hybrids have suspensions, some have drop bars. As said, a hybrid is a bike that combines features that are normally considered characteristic of two or more of the traditionally recognized bicycle types. Since they are made for a special purpose cross bikes are usually considered to be a recognized bicycle type but they really are hybrids of older types so they are hybrids too. And that is the way of things, if a certain hybrid configuration becomes recognized as particularly suited to some riding niche it eventually becomes recognized as a bicycle type instead of a hybrid. I don't think the term hybrid was used when the MTB breed was born but looking at it after the fact we can see that it really started out as a hybrid too. It's design evolution in action.

    Ken

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    Seems to me that they are really mountain bikes with some road-friendly updates (wheels, tires, solid fork option). They generally have mountain bike components which is the main thing that sets them apart from road bikes, e.g. Alivio, Deore, etc.

    That being said, the crazy expensive hybrids like the Trek 7.9 FX have road bike components so they are essentially flat-bar road bikes.

  8. #8
    Senior Member AdelaaR's Avatar
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    Cool

    There is no such thing as an exact definition of what a hybrid is.
    Most bikes are "specialized" bikes that are meant to be exceptionally good at a certain thing.
    Roadracebikes, for instance, are meant to race on roads.
    Touring bikes, for instance, are meant to be comfortable on long travels.
    Mountainbikes, for instance, are meant to ride on rocks.

    Hybrids ... are by nature "unspecialized".
    They are a compromise between many different possible riding situations and they try to be relatively suited for many things combined.

    As an example I present you my beloved trusty hybrid:



    Is it as fast as a roadracebike? No it isn't. But it comes pretty close. With the aerobar I get a nice and fast position and the tires are cyclocross tires that are more than fast enough for doing high speeds of 23mph on roads. The gearing is also both higher and lower than typical roadbikes.
    I pass most roadies I encounter and they always stare at me in amazement when being passed by what they think is a mountainbike
    Is at as capable as a mountainbike on rocks? No it isn't. But it comes pretty close. The position on the flatbar is perfect for offroading and the tires have knobs on the sides for doing dirt or loose gravel. The frame and the wheels are sturdy enough for doing rocky tracks and the suspension in both the fork and the seatpost helps a lot when riding through forests or fields.

    I hope that cleared it up
    Last edited by AdelaaR; 07-21-11 at 03:02 AM.

  9. #9
    CSG
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    I've decided my old HT MTB is now a hybrid as I've replaced the stem, added mustache bars, and a stem riser to make the riding position more upright. The grips are now a good two inches above the saddle.

    I think most hybrids are *supposed* to be dual sport type of bikes. A little road, a little trail but not excelling at either. They're probably a better choice for the majority of cyclists who are not dedicated to only one style of riding.

  10. #10
    Senior Member AdelaaR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by khutch View Post
    Some hybrids have suspensions, some have drop bars. As said, a hybrid is a bike that combines features that are normally considered characteristic of two or more of the traditionally recognized bicycle types. Since they are made for a special purpose cross bikes are usually considered to be a recognized bicycle type but they really are hybrids of older types so they are hybrids too. And that is the way of things, if a certain hybrid configuration becomes recognized as particularly suited to some riding niche it eventually becomes recognized as a bicycle type instead of a hybrid. I don't think the term hybrid was used when the MTB breed was born but looking at it after the fact we can see that it really started out as a hybrid too. It's design evolution in action.
    Completely true.
    Cyclocross is a hybrid sport and cyclocross bikes are hybrid bikes.
    The very first and now traditional hybrids and that's why they got a name for themselves

  11. #11
    Senior Member AdelaaR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CSG View Post
    I think most hybrids are *supposed* to be dual sport type of bikes. A little road, a little trail but not excelling at either. They're probably a better choice for the majority of cyclists who are not dedicated to only one style of riding.
    Exactly.
    But this won't happen because there is a huge sense of elitism in biking.
    People want to ride whatever their favourite TdF riders are using and on top of that people want to brag that their bike is more expensive than some other guy's bike.

    Hybrids are considered silly bikes for idiots, but don't let peer pressure make you believe other than that hybrids are in fact the best choice for allround use for everyday cyclists.

  12. #12
    Two-Wheeled Aficionado ColinL's Avatar
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    The progression seems to look like this, from road to mountain:

    TT / Aero bike, 'standard' road bike, endurance road bike, cyclocross bike, hybrid bike, hardtail MTB, full suspension MTB.

    City Bikes usually means a hybrid with comfort features (like a suspension seat and/or seatpost) and no real offroad capability beyond a flat, smooth gravel road. Dual-Sport bikes seem to be 29er MTBs that have 46 or 48T big chainrings, sometimes with deep knobs and other times with a semi-knob tire which is more street/path friendly.

    Given that road bikes, hybrids and 29ers all use a 700c wheel, tire width clearance of the frame is another differentiator:
    - Cyclocross bikes are road bikes and can rarely, if ever, use bigger than a 32mm tire and they lack suspension.
    - Most hybrids can fit up to 42mm tires (not that there are many), and sometimes they have front suspension.
    - 29ers whether marketed as MTBs or 'Dual Sport' can fit at least a 2.2" knobby, and usually their stock rim allows as skinny as 32mm. All but the cheapest have front suspension.

  13. #13
    Senior Member fairymuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdelaaR View Post
    <snip>

    Hybrids ... are by nature "unspecialized".
    <snip>
    My wife has a Specialized hybrid. A Globe Vienna to be precise...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
    The progression seems to look like this, from road to mountain:

    TT/Tri ,Aero bike, race road bike, endurance road bike, cyclocross bike, touring bike, flat-bar road bike, hybrid bike, rigid MTB, hardtail MTB, full suspension MTB, Downhill/Freeride MTB.
    Added a few, and that's without even getting into the BMX-Flatland-Dirt Jumper MTB progression and Beach Cruiser - Townie - City Bike progression. Everyone else feel free to nitpick.

    I feel like a lot of older rigid mountain bikes (early 90's Rockhoppers/Stumpjumpers) would today be classed as 26" hybrids (most can fit 700c rims with skinnier tires), especially since most of them don't even have disk brake mounts but have rack/fender mounts. I'm currently building up an older Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo with trekking bars as a commuter, and have been thinking a lot about the "proper place" for a hybrid, and have to agree with AdelaaR's assessment, especially for novice cyclists who have themselves not become "specialized" yet. Myself, I currently ride an alum/carbon road bike (position 3 on the list), and being comfortable with riding drop bars/brifters in traffic, I would most like a touring/cross bike for my next everyday ride; the person I'm building the hybrid/rigid for is simply not comfortable with drop bars, and most beginning cyclists are not either.

  15. #15
    Senior Member AdelaaR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
    The progression seems to look like this, from road to mountain:
    TT / Aero bike, 'standard' road bike, endurance road bike, cyclocross bike, hybrid bike, hardtail MTB, full suspension MTB.
    There isn't just one linear progression ... there is a whole realm of possible progressions in many directions.
    Some hybrids can have dropbars or aerobars ... the possibilities are nearly endless.
    My bike, for instance, has front suspension, flatbar, wide knobby tires and triple chainring ... that would make it a mountainbike style hybrid.
    It also has a highest gear of 52/11, oval shaped semi-aero tubing and an aerobar ... that would make it some sort of weird TT-bike.

  16. #16
    Senior Member javal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdelaaR View Post
    Exactly.
    But this won't happen because there is a huge sense of elitism in biking.
    People want to ride whatever their favourite TdF riders are using and on top of that people want to brag that their bike is more expensive than some other guy's bike.

    Hybrids are considered silly bikes for idiots, but don't let peer pressure make you believe other than that hybrids are in fact the best choice for allround use for everyday cyclists.
    I´ve never come across such a perspective in any kind of riders group. But, discussions go high when the hybrid folks imply their bikes are just as good as roadbikes in performance. Of course any strong rider on hybrid can overtake weaker/not competetive/uninterested riders on fully spec´ed roadies. I can overtake any bike, but not any strong rider.

    Ambitious and competetive road riders will always, with exceptions here & there, chose a roadie to get the most out of their riding. And I cant see why this stirs up such a drama? I think the hybrids hold its own - no need to compare.
    the rider makes the bike - steel club member 198

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by javal View Post
    ...But, discussions go high when the hybrid folks imply their bikes are just as good as roadbikes in performance...
    I've never seen or heard that perspective expressed. What invites debate from me is the notion that a road bike with drop bars is necessary for performance riding. You have good reasons for preferring drop bars and you haven't suggested that a hybrid can't be ridden fast. When someone does express the opinion that a road bike is the only choice for fast riding, I will sometimes express a differing opinion.

    I think the discussion goes "high " when a roadie posts in the hybrid forum that hybrids are not suitable for spirited riding, not when a hybrid rider claims hybrids are as fast as road racing bikes. I don't recall seeing the latter.

    You've ridden 300k on a flat bar hybrid. Very small percentage of road bikes will ever go that far in one day. It's the indian, not the arrow.

    Competitive road riders will always chose a road bike because they will not be allowed to compete, with exceptions here and there, without one.

  18. #18
    Senior Member The Chemist's Avatar
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    I've always thought a hybrid is a 50/50 road/mountain cross, which is definitely what mine is:

    Road stuff:
    Sora rear derailleur
    Road 9 rear casette and larger than mountain front chainwheel (I think around 50 teeth)
    700 / 28 tires

    Mountain stuff:
    Deore front derailleur and shifters
    Flat bar
    V-brakes front, disc brake rear (no disc mounts on the front fork)

    Middle:
    Front fork - it IS suspension, but it's a headset style suspension fork, rather than a full mountain style suspension fork.

    For me, when I think of hybrid, I think of a bike that looks very similar to mine. Some of the 'hybrids' I've seen posted here look just like mountain bikes to my eyes.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member javal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qmsdc15 View Post
    I've never seen or heard that perspective expressed. What invites debate from me is the notion that a road bike with drop bars is necessary for performance riding. You have good reasons for preferring drop bars and you haven't suggested that a hybrid can't be ridden fast. When someone does express the opinion that a road bike is the only choice for fast riding, I will sometimes express a differing opinion.

    I think the discussion goes "high " when a roadie posts in the hybrid forum that hybrids are not suitable for spirited riding, not when a hybrid rider claims hybrids are as fast as road racing bikes. I don't recall seeing the latter.

    You've ridden 300k on a flat bar hybrid. Very small percentage of road bikes will ever go that far in one day. It's the indian, not the arrow.

    Competitive road riders will always chose a road bike because they will not be allowed to compete, with exceptions here and there, without one.
    Well, I for one have seen numerous of "when I rode faster than a roadie" in hybrid forum, and to me thats the wrong way to assess the hybrid advantages. Since I ride several bikes, have a decent amount of experience, know quite a few within the bike industry I´m convinced that the hybrid bike wasnt created to be the new substitute for hard core road riding. The constant comparison to road bikes rather underscore the notion of hybrid riders seeing themselves as something less than roadies. You dont see many comparisons in relation to MTB´s or CX´s, still hybrids are often refered to as such.

    I cant see why competetive riders couldnt go on hybrids, but they wont due to their comparetive experiences.

    And yes, i´m all about the indian - thats been my core message all the way. And thats why I do 300 km on flatbar bikes
    the rider makes the bike - steel club member 198

  20. #20
    Two-Wheeled Aficionado ColinL's Avatar
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    I have several bikes and I like to ride in the morning for exercise. I am not a pro athelete by any means. But I have a time slot in which to ride before work, and I log my workouts with an application on my smartphone. Subjectively, I know how much effort I've put in during a given 30-45 min ride, and I think we all know that we have good and bad days based on our rest, stress level, how hard we rode the previous day, etc.

    Long story short -- whoops, too late for that -- it is very, very easy to see that for a given amount of time and a similar (not same!) amount of effort I go faster and farther on a road bike than my hybrid and my hybrid is faster than my MTB. Tire width, tread and bicycle weight is a massive factor. My MTB has 26x2.2 Speed King tires and they are slow and noisy on the road. My hybrid has 700x35 Cyclocross and they are much better on the road, but not nearly as good in serious dirt. My road bike has 700x23 slicks and they are a different world... plus the bike weighs less than half what the MTB weighs.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by javal View Post
    Well, I for one have seen numerous of "when I rode faster than a roadie" in hybrid forum...
    I don't think those posts are about hybrids being faster than road bikes. I think they are about hybrid riders being faster than road bike riders despite our inferior machines.

    Quote Originally Posted by javal View Post
    The constant comparison to road bikes rather underscore the notion of hybrid riders seeing themselves as something less than roadies.
    Quite the opposite in fact.

    Quote Originally Posted by javal View Post
    ...know quite a few within the bike industry...
    This may have something to do with your problem recognizing the superiority of hybrid bike riders. This fact is the last thing the bike industry wants you to know.

    Quote Originally Posted by javal View Post
    And yes, i´m all about the indian - thats been my core message all the way. And thats why I do 300 km on flatbar bikes
    Also because you can. You are strong like hybrid rider and don't need no stinking road bike to complete a 186 mile ride in one day!

    Quote Originally Posted by javal View Post
    I cant see why competetive riders couldnt go on hybrids...
    It is against the rules to ride flat bar bikes in road races.
    Last edited by qmsdc15; 07-21-11 at 12:42 PM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member javal's Avatar
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    qmsdc15: 1) In Sweden you may ride hybrids participating in sportives (non-elitist race). 2) Since I´m mainly a C & V rider I never have to be a blind follower of the industry standard, including hybrids, but that doesnt make me ignorant to other obvious conclusions (I also enjoy my hybrid all year round so I´m pretty content with my own conclusions). 3) I would do long and hard sportives on folding bikes if I considered it wise - but I dont. I´m a clever apache! 4) "Stinking road bike"? Yeah, I do them too. More people should. Including skilled riders like yourself. Its about riding. The rider makes the bike.
    the rider makes the bike - steel club member 198

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    If you look @ the 7.5 fx or the Jamis Allegro I think you could make the case that the gap between roadies and hybrids is closing - meanwhile most hybrids are more off-road ready than the original steel forked MTB's.

    Road bikes make the case that they are basically ready to be raced right out of the box, but from what I've heard racer organizations restrict the components allowed anyways.

    I agree with Adlar up above (again). Its a kind of eliteism....why else do companies make drop-bar bikes and flat bar bikes but not the components to easily swap between the two? Why wouldn't a cyclocross leauge allow people to compete on cheaper 'mountainbike' rigs?

    A hybrid basically means some sort of bike you don't intend to compete on. Whether that be a $2000 off-weather 'trainer', or a modestly priced commuter, depends on where you started from.

    If you bike out to some of the trails near me you'll see mostly hybrids & hard-tails on the canal path, roadies on the parell road 60ft away, and mtb's on the trails. Big Bicycle wants all of us owning 2 or 3 different bikes, but the hybrid is no less "specialized". Its just specialized at doing it all. If there were true multi-terrean races 'performance hybrids' would be much more expensive but not very much different. In my mind, at least.

  24. #24
    Ha ha ha ha ha giantcfr1's Avatar
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    MY bike's a hybrid (I think) although it's marketed as an Urban Bike .
    It can't be an MTB because it has 700c rims not 29ers and I was told the frame is 2-and-a-half cm longer than your "standard" MTB if that's possible.
    It can't be a cyclecross bike because it doesn't have drops (although here in Japan cyclecross events allow all bikes to enter)
    Most definelty not a road (race) bike!!
    It must be a hybrid.
    BUT by swapping the wheels easily to 26" (discs) it can be used on single track.

    All in all, it's a fantastic bike to ride for me, no matter what it's called.

    edit.
    Oh Oh...photo chance....

    Last edited by giantcfr1; 07-23-11 at 02:04 AM.

  25. #25
    Senior Member AdelaaR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by giantcfr1 View Post
    All in all, it's a fantastic bike to ride for me, no matter what it's called.
    That's the spirit.
    Ride what you need and want to ride ... regardless of what anyone calls it or thinks about it.

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