A hybrid bike is a bicycle designed for general-purpose utility and commuting on a wide variety of surfaces, including paved and unpaved roads, paths and trails. It combines features from the road bike and the mountain bike, and includes variants such as the city bike, cross bike and commuter.
In general, hybrids use the mountain bike’s triple crank, its handlebars, giving a more upright posture than road bicycles, and its brakes such as linear pull or disc. From the road bicycle they often take the 700c (larger) wheel diameter for higher speeds, but use a wider rim and tire for increased strength.
Different variations of the hybrid bicycle exist. As a category defined more by what it is not than by what it is, the lines between the variations are ambiguous, but they can be classified by the design goals. There are hybrid bicycles optimized for commuting, for use in urban environments, or for use on a variety of paved and unpaved road surfaces. For some bicycle manufacturers, differences in hybrid type or nomenclature have more to do with marketing focus rather than design and specification, though specific features of certain hybrid bikes may suit one need better than another.
Trekking bike - A trekking bike is a hybrid with all the accessories necessary for bicycle touring – mudguards, pannier rack, lights etc.
Cross bike – So called cross bikes utilize a road bicycle frame similar to a racing or sport/touring bicycle, and are normally equipped with nearly flat handlebars to provide a more upright riding position than a racing or sport/touring bike. As a hybrid bike intended for general recreational and utility use, the cross bike differs from the cyclo-cross bicycle, which is a racing bicycle purposely designed to compete in the sport of cyclo-cross competition. Cross bikes are fitted with 700c wheels using somewhat wider semi-treaded tires (1.125 – 1.25 inches, or 28-32 mm) than those fitted to most racing or sport/touring models. The additional tire width and tread is intended to give the cross bike hybrid some ability to deal with rough or littered surfaces that might be encountered on paved or unpaved bike trails, such as gravel, leaves, hard-packed sand, and shallow mud. Most cross bikes are biased towards moderate off-pavement use and light weight, and as such are not normally fitted with fenders, lights, or carrier racks. The larger 700c wheels are a little faster on paved surfaces and can give an advantage for longer trips or for touring purposes.
Commuter – The commuter bike is a hybrid designed specifically for commuting over short or long distances. It typically features derailleur gearing, 700c wheels with fairly light 1.125-inch (28 mm) tires, a carrier rack, full fenders, and a frame with suitable mounting points for attachment of various load-carrying baskets or panniers. It sometimes, though not always has an enclosed chainguard to allow a rider to pedal the bike in long pants without entangling them in the chain. A well-equipped commuter bike typically features front and rear lights for use in the early morning or late evening hours encountered at the start or end of a business day.
City bike – Similar to the commuter bike, the city bike is optimized for the rough-and-tumble of urban commuting. The city bike differs from the familiar European city bike in its mountain bike heritage, gearing, and strong yet lightweight frame construction. It usually features mountain bike-sized (26-inch) wheels, a more upright seating position, and fairly wide 1.5 – 1.95-inch (38 – 50 mm) heavy belted tires designed to shrug off road hazards commonly found in the city, such as broken glass. Using a sturdy welded chromoly or aluminum frame derived from the mountain bike, the city bike is more capable at handling urban hazards such as deep potholes, drainage grates, and jumps off city curbs. City bikes are designed to have reasonably quick, yet solid and predictable handling, and are normally fitted with full fenders for use in all weather conditions. A few city bikes may have enclosed chainguards, while others may be equipped with suspension forks, similar to mountain bikes. City bikes may also come with front and rear lighting systems for use at night or in bad weather.
Comfort bike – Another subclass of the hybrid category is the comfort bike. Comfort bikes are essentially modern versions of the old roadster and sports roadster bicycle, though modern comfort bikes are often equipped with derailleur rather than hub gearing. They typically have a modified mountain bike frame with a tall head tube to provide an upright riding position, 26-inch wheels, and 1.75 or 1.95-inch (45 – 50 mm) smooth or semi-slick tires. Comfort bikes typically incorporate such features as front suspension forks, seat post suspension with wide plush saddles, and drop-center, angled North Road style handlebars designed for easy reach while riding in an upright position. Some comfort bikes have hub gears instead of derailleur gears.