Hybrid cycles, which fall in between mountain bikes and road cycles, are quite popular. Observe individuals biking to work or pootling about off-road riding areas, and you’ll notice a slew of hybrid bikes. However, what classifies a flat-bar bike as a hybrid, and why are they the most popular bike type in the United Kingdom?
A hybrid bike would be referred to as a bike in a rational universe, while all the specialty bike kinds would have their distinct designations. However, the popularity of various bike kinds is determined by fashion trends. Before the late ’80s and early ’90s mountain bike boom, ’10-speed racers’ and touring bikes ruled the roost.
Then the mountain bike arrived, reminding riders that a bike with strong brakes and an upright riding posture was enjoyable to ride and quite practical on potholed city streets.
However, the thick tires and robust frame of a mountain bike are overkill for most UK riding. A bike with the flat handlebars and easy-to-use controls of a mountain bike but the lighter frame and larger, faster wheels of a road cycle quickly emerged: the hybrid bike.
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What is Hybrid Cycle
That wide definition of a hybrid bicycle allows a great deal of room for interpretation. At one end of the spectrum are flat-bar road bikes, which, as the name implies, feature ultra-thin tires and a lightweight, close-coupled frame similar to a road cycle but with a flat bar. Perfect for zipping through the sun-drenched Tuscan countryside, but less so on dreary, pothole-ridden British metropolis streets.
However, wider tires with deeper grooves are more popular, as they often offer the traction and cushioning necessary for hybrid bikes to be flexible. You can easily ride a hybrid in locations where you would be hesitant to ride a road bike, or riding with extremely thin tires requires a high degree of expertise and care. On a hybrid bike, you can reach canal towpaths, forest roads, and simpler single-track routes.
This adaptability is mirrored in the qualities that a hybrid often includes. Hybrid bikes nearly always include mounts for mudguards on the frame and fork, mounting for a rack to carry pannier bags on the frame, and two mounts for water bottles. Additionally, you may discover mounting for a front rack on the fork and frame mounts for a lock near the back wheel.
A few hybrid motorcycles have all of this and more as standard equipment, particularly if they are also intended for sale in Europe, where consumers want their bikes to be ready to roll as practical transportation straight from the showroom.
A ‘fully equipped’ hybrid bike will have a pannier rack and mudguards, dynamo lights, an integrated lock, and even that most hated of additions, a kickstand for parking ease.