There has been a number of posts from people asking how they can get better performance from their hybrid. By “better performance,” they generally mean go faster and further like a road bike. While some people advise them get an actual road bike, hybrid riders prefer riding a flatbar over a dropbar and nothing makes a hybrid rider feel better than going by a road bike wannabe with skinny tires and lycra shorts. With that in mind, here are ten no-cost or low-cost tips for making your hybrid faster.
1. Shorten your handlebars. Move the shifters, brakes and grips in so that your hands are as wide as your shoulders. Cut off the excess.
2. Lower your handlebars. This will put you in a slightly more aggressive posture and slightly cut down on wind resistance.
3. Consider adding bar ends. It can give you greater hand position variety to reduce hand fatigue and better leverage when climbing hills while standing.
4. Use toe straps or clipless pedals. If you go with toe straps, make sure you have a good shoe - one with a stiff and smooth sole, pointed toe and reinforced top. If you just wear sneakers, you won’t be happy.
5. Go with narrower smooth tread tires. Your LSB will probably switch out the wider tires (32 or 35) with 28’s at time of purchase for free. If not, it’s a worthwhile investment. If you never go on dirt roads or trails, then try the 25. Inflate your tires - go with a tire with a 100 psi or higher.
6. Get a mirror. It will make you faster because you’ll ride with a lot more confidence. And it will make riding safer.
7. Pedal for cadence, not power. If you’re like me, you grew up riding heavy single-speed bikes where “heavy” pedalling meant more speed and your legs instinctively go that way. Re-train your legs to keep a quick and steady cadence - you’ll go faster.
8. Get a bike computer. Knowing how fast you’re going gives you instant feedback and that can help you develop better techniques and feed your internal reward system as your speeds increase.
9. Wear padded bike shorts and gloves. It will let you ride further. Your butt will thank you. If you’re like me, tight bike shorts are not flattering, so I wear gym shorts over the bike shorts.
10. Keep your bike clean. Clean the cassette, cranks and chain. Don’t over-lube.
Bonus Tip: Find groups to ride with. Check with your local LBS or meetups. Biking is more fun when it’s a social activity.