Hybrid Bikes Buyer's Guide

Searching for a hybrid bike? You’re in the right place. These awesome all-rounders balance the best bits of a road bike and mountain bike, creating a high-performance bike that’s capable of tackling (almost) anything.

If you’re looking for a capable commuter, tourer and leisure bike that’s happy on the road and off it, then a hybrid could be perfect for you.

In our hybrid bike’s buyers guide, we talk you through what makes a hybrid bike special and walk you through the essential information you’ll need when buying one.

What is a Hybrid Bike?

Hybrid bikes feature all the best bits of a road bike and a mountain bike! Most feature relaxed frame geometry and flat handlebars, which provide a comfortable upright riding position that provides extra visibility, essential for riding through traffic. Add to that a sturdy frame, a great selection of gears and performance brakes, and it’s easy to see why hybrids are an ideal bike choice for commuters.

Hybrid bikes can be broken into two categories: urban hybrids and leisure hybrids.

Hybrid bikes are hardwearing and built for miles of enjoyment. Urban hybrids are suitable for city commuting, with an upright riding position, lightweight frames, narrow tyres and a wide selection of gears.

Leisure hybrids are more laid back, focusing on comfort rather than carrying capacity and speed.

What are the benefits of a Hybrid Bike?

Hybrid bikes offer a single solution for many riders. The upright riding position, sturdy frames and high-quality components make them highly capable commuters. When the working week is done, they’re perfect for leisure riding and even light touring.

There’s a wide range of hybrid bikes available, including hybrids that look more like road bikes and those that resemble mountain bikes. A good way to tell the difference is to check the wheel size and the forks. Hybrids with 700cc wheels and rigid forks are better suited to road riding. Those with 26” or 27.5” wheels and suspension forks can cope with some light off-roading on gravel tracks, bridleways and paths.

Even if you have a mountain bike and a road bike in the garage or shed, the benefits of a hybrid bike are so strong, it may be worth trying to find a little more room to squeeze one in.

Suspension forks vs Rigid forks

Front suspension is pretty much essential on a mountain bike but optional on a hybrid.

Hybrid forks can be made from metal, alloy or carbon, which offer some dampening from the roads, and are reliable and simple. However, there are some hybrids that come with suspension front forks that reduce vibrations from any lumps and bumps in the terrain.

If you’re going to be spending most of your time riding on the roads, go for a rigid fork. If you’re planning on riding more off-road routes (such as towpaths or shared used cycle paths, for example) a suspension fork may be more suitable.

Urban riding vs leisure riding

If you’re planning on cutting down on your car use and commuting through city streets, you’ll want a hybrid that’s up to the job. Urban hybrids come with high-quality groupsets (gearing), performance brakes and tough frames that will give years of use.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a leisure bike for short trips or light touring, you’ll want a hybrid that’s built for comfort, not a speedy commute.

Before shopping for a new hybrid bike, consider the type of riding you’ll be doing and where you’ll be doing it. These two choices will help you narrow down your search and enable you to set a realistic budget.

When you’ve made these decisions, here are the essential things you need to know before buying your new bike.

Essential hybrid bike features


Flat handlebars fitted to many hybrids make you ride in a more upright position, delivering a more comfortable ride. A more upright riding position gives you greater visibility of the road, essential when commuting.

Remember that components such as the handlebars, seat, stem and more can all be swapped out simply and quickly. So, if you prefer road bars but your bike of choice doesn’t have them, then you can replace them.

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Gears and groupset

Unless your commute is pan flat, you’ll find yourself changing gears as you’re riding. You’ll find hybrid bikes with a wide range of gears that are suitable for all types of terrain.

The gears are part of what’s called the groupset, which includes all the essential mechanical parts, including the brakes. Brand names you may come across include Shimano and SRAM.

While you get what you pay for with a groupset, even entry-level hybrid bikes at Halfords come with smooth-running gears that will quietly click into place each and every time. It’s because our bike technicians build and set up every new bike we sell for over £250, ensuring they’re ready to ride.

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Hybrid bike frames borrow elements from both road and mountain bikes. Hybrid bike frames are often made from hardwearing alloy, aluminium or even mild steel, not the lightweight carbon so popular for road bikes.

Metals and alloys can be more durable but can be heavier so factor this into your decision making.

Hybrid bikes are built for racking up the miles comfortably, not quickly so the frames feature a more relaxed geometry.

Wheels and tyres

Hybrid bike tyres are often slightly thicker than road bike tyres, and thinner than mountain bike tyres.

If you're planning on riding on grass, trails or just a muddy country road, then you'll need to consider the tread on your hybrid tyre. Commuters who spend most of their time in cycle lanes may wish to opt for a more road-style slick tyre for performance on the flat. Those who do a bit of light off-road riding may want an all-purpose tyre, with thicker tread for extra grip

When shopping, check the minimum and maximum tyre sizes the rim can cope with. Swapping tyres is a standard upgrade that can transform the riding experience, so save some cash in your bike budget for new tyres if you can.

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You’ll find a selection of brake types on hybrid bikes, including V-brakes and disc brakes. Which is best? It really depends on your budget.

Disc brakes are increasingly popular, providing superb stopping power with minimal maintenance. There are two types of disc brakes, hydraulic brakes and mechanical brakes. Hydraulic brakes use fluid to transfer stopping power from the lever, mechanical disc brakes use cables. Hydraulic disc brakes feel smoother and more progressive at the lever and on the road.

V-brakes are tried and tested technology that will perform well, but like all brakes, you’ll need to regularly service them to keep them working properly (something we can help with at Halfords!)

The more expensive your bike, the better the brakes with disc brakes appearing as standard on most top-of-the-range hybrids.

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Panniers and Accessories

If you're going to be using your hybrid for commuting, you’ll want to carry some essentials such as a laptop or a spare set of clothes. Sure, you can sling on a backpack, but a set of panniers makes carrying luggage safer and simpler. When selecting a hybrid, check if it’s got the mounting points required to fit a pannier rack (or buy a bike with one already in place).

Mudguards stop water, gunk and junk from the road from flying up and hitting you and anyone behind you, so they’re an ideal add-on to an urban commuter. Again, you’ll need to buy a hybrid with the fittings in place or buy a bike with mudguards already in place.

Other essential extras include a bottle cage or two, a pump and a lock. Factor these into your decision-making process and ask for help from a Halford technician if you need it.

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How do I choose the right-size hybrid bike?

Hybrid bike fit basics

Riding the correct size hybrid bike is crucial. A bike that’s too small will leave you feeling cramped while you ride. A hybrid bike that’s too large will be difficult and potentially dangerous to ride.

Bike fit on hybrid bikes, as it is on road bikes and mountain bikes, is a very personal thing and we’d always recommend you try before you buy. However, there are some shortcuts to helping you find the correct sized hybrid bike for you.

Here are three hybrid bike fit fundamentals:

  • The should be a gap of around 2 inches (approximately 5cm) of clear air when you are standing over your frame with your feet on the floor.
  • Pedalling should be comfortable, with a slight bend in your knee at the bottom of each stroke.
  • You must be able to comfortably reach both brake levers.

These rules apply to both men’s and ladies' hybrid bikes.

Hybrid bikes are sized according to the seat tube length, which is measured in inches. In some cases, it may be classified according to size (small, medium, large and extra-large), but you should know the size of the seat tube before purchasing it to ensure it’s the right size.

How do I choose the right-size hybrid bike?

To ensure you choose the correct-sized hybrid bike, you need to understand your anatomy. It’s time to start measuring!

To start, you’ll need three different measurements:

  • Your height
  • Your inside leg measurement
  • Your reach

The manufacturer of your bike will provide some basic details of which frame is suitable for your height. The system is crude, but it can help you to narrow down your search.

On the Halfords website, you’ll find size guides for both Carrera hybrid bikes and Boardman hybrid bikes which should help you to find the appropriately sized bike.

Inside leg measurement

Your inside leg measurement is used to calculate your standover height. The standover height is the distance between the top of the bike frame and your crotch. As explained above, there should be at least a 2-inch gap.

The two-inch gap gives you enough space to jump on and off the bike as required and ensures that you can handle it, whether you’re on the road or off it.


If after measuring your height and inside leg measurements, you’re stuck between two-sized bikes, then your reach can be a good deciding factor.

To get a figure we can use, we need to measure your Ape index, essentially whether your arm span is wider than your height or not.

Stretch out your arms and get someone to measure the distance between your two most extended fingers. Now, subtract that from your height. If your arm span is greater than your height, you’ve got a long reach so we’d recommend the bigger frame. If it’s less, we would advise you to choose the smaller frame.

The perfect fit

Finding the right bike is more than numbers on a sheet, but about how it feels to ride. While you may already have a good idea of the right-sized frame for you, be aware that sizing can differ across manufacturers.

When riding, you want to feel comfortable and confident. It may be that you need to make some adjustments to your bike, such as a new saddle, a replacement stem or a set of narrower handlebars.

Alongside one of the UK’s biggest ranges of hybrid bikes, you can find a massive selection of replacement hybrid bike parts for men’s and women’s hybrid bikes at Halfords. Together, we can help you find the perfect pedalling partner for the road ahead.

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