Advantage: Hybrid


I'm enjoying my hybrid bike much more than I thought I would when I bought it last August. It was intended to be a winter bike but it's now a summer bike as well. I can appreciate the roadie's satisfaction in riding skinny tyres on a good surface – the efficiency and speed of a fast machine – but the purist approach means staying on-road and that can be limiting.

The photo was taken a few days ago on Healey Nab near Chorley in Lancashire. For mountain bikers Healey Nab contains a red route (difficult) and a black route (severe). I've never actually seen these routes as I don't go mountain biking. The track I cycle along passes by on the other side of the hill and avoids a stretch of urban road through the top side of Chorley, which is why I often go this way as part of my local loops.

This track, like several others in the area, has a gravelly surface that can easily be ridden with 32c tyres, although I've fitted 40c to my Giant hybrid. If I was limited to only one bicycle and was forced to choose between the hybrid and my Ridgeback tourer it would be this one – the Giant. Fully-inflated 32c cyclo-cross tyres perform well enough on tarmac and even the 40c are really not too bad. The suspension fork (fitted extra) is fairly light and has a useful lockout switch on the handlebars.

The hybrid bike is an excellent all-round package and having the off-road option opens up a different world, not to go mountain biking through mud and rocks but to enjoy gorgeous countryside that would otherwise be inaccessible and is empty of traffic except for the occasional horse. Some research (and trial and error) is involved in finding quiet tracks that aren't too bumpy or with too many stiles but I already know most of the ones on my patch from the 25 years before I bought a road bike in 2008.

5 comments on “Advantage: Hybrid”

  1. Mike wrote:

    Hi Patrick

    I love my hybrid, and over the last three years I've clocked up thousands of miles training for, and riding, charity challenges like the Macmillan London to Paris and the Prostate Cancer Tour of Britain stage.

    It's plenty smooth enough on the road, and fast too, if you make the effort (I've clocked 52mph downhill with a following wind!), and handy for those dodgy off-road cycle paths beloved of rural 'town' planners (forgive the oxymoron – town and planners should never really appear in the same sentence).

    Although I sometimes lust after a skinny-tyred road bike, that is more to do with the weight than anything else.

    Long live hybrids!!

  2. Kern wrote:

    When we first took up cycling (2004) we got Marin hybrids and used them for our first four tours. I still use my Marin for commuting if the weather is rotten, but my rear derailleur needs some serious attention.

    Hybrids have the combined advantages and disadvantages of both road bikes and hybrids. These days if someone asks for an opinion I will generally steer them towards a road bike. A properly fitted road bike is more comfortable and efficient than a hybrid. I think in the long term road bikes give more satisfaction to the majority of riders.

  3. Alan wrote:

    Pleased the hybrid is working well for you, Patrick.

    Hybrid versus racer: sort like Land Rover versus sports car. Both good at what they do. Happily bikes are smaller and cheaper than cars so we can have the best of both worlds.

  4. Ian wrote:

    Whilst accepting that a tyre for all surfaces is probably mythical I've found the Schwalbe Hurricane to be one that performs quite well on both road and off-road surfaces. Granted its not ideal for either; a little too much drag for the road and not enough traction for bridleways (particularly wet, muddy ones) but as a compromise tyre it works well. On prepared cycle tracks and others that are 'gritty' I can ride with confidence knowing that I am not going to slip off into the soft verges etc. I bought mine from High on Bikes but they are widely available including from here:

  5. Patrick wrote:

    Thanks Ian. Good value. I might try those next time.

    Mine are currently Schwalbe Smart Sam 700 x 40c inflated to 60 psi. A bit more expensive. They are almost silent on roads – I assume that means they don't drag too much. Another hybrid tyre I like a lot is Vittoria Cross XN Pro 700 x 32c, now on my touring bike. They have a non-slip file-pattern tread.

Leave a comment

Add a Smiley Smiley »