Bike magazines and websites tend to focus on road bikes and mountain bikes, but hybrid bikes are a just as popular in the UK bike market. Hybrid bikes aren’t as sexy as the latest carbon fibre dream machine. They are designed to be practical, efficient, low maintenance and get you from a to b reliably. If you want a bike for commuting on, or for weekend fitness rides a hybrid is often the best choice. In this guide we will run you through ten of the best hybrid bikes for 2018.
What is a hybrid bike?
Before we start on the top 10 we need to deal with what, exactly, we are defining hybrid bikes as. Hybrids are called hybrids because they take elements from road bikes, mountain bikes and traditional town bikes and mix them together. So you will often find hybrids using road bike gears, with a mountain bike inspires suspension fork and a town bike riding position. For the purposes of this guide we are counting a hybrid as a bike with a flat handlebar that is designed for use both on-road and off-road.
1.Specialized Crosstrail Disc - £450
The Crosstrail is a classic hybrid bike using road sized wheels and gears with a mountain bike inspired frame and fork. As the name suggests the Specialized Crosstrail will handle basic off-road trails like forest tracks, canal towpaths and old railway lines. With an upright riding position, larger wheels and decent size gears it will also be pretty fast on the road. This makes the Crosstrail and ideal bike for commuting or for weekend leisure rides. It is this versatility which makes it such a top-selling bike.
2.Specialized Ariel Sport - £700
The Ariel is the women’s equivalent of the Specialized Crosstrail. The Ariel range starts at £450 but we have picked out the mid-range Ariel Sport here as it’s a great looking bike with some nice extra features on it.
Like the Crosstrail the Specialized Ariel Sport will handle cycle paths, gravel roads and other light off-road use as well as tarmac. As the name suggests it is designed as a fast and sporty bike designed to be comfortable on longer rides. To make the bike as efficient as possible Specialized have tweaked the suspension fork using their ‘Brain’ technology so that the fork only moves when you really want it to and doesn’t soak up your energy.
3. Merida Crossway 15-D - £450
For exactly the same price as the Specialized Crosstrail you can get a Merida Crossway. These bikes share the same basic design ideas as well as very similar names. Like the Specialized it comes with a suspension fork, disc brakes, wide range gears and fast rolling tyres. It also comes with a suspension seatpost to give you extra cushioning from lumps and bumps on the road and an adjustable stem so you can get your riding position exactly how you want it.
Overall the Merida Crossway is a slightly more comfortable and relaxed bike whereas the Specialized Crosstrail is it’s faster, sportier cousin. The Crossway is available in both a mens and ladies version.
4.Specialized Sirrus - £425
The Specialized Sirrus has been around for years and is another of Specialized’s top selling bikes. If you ever spend any time in London you will see hundreds of these bikes zipping around the streets. Where the Crosstrail is designed to handle a variety of terrain the Sirrus is primarily a street machine. It is not specifically designed for commuting on, Specialized make it primarily as a ‘fitness bike’ designed for fast evening and weekend rides on the local roads and cycle paths. However, the speed and simplicity of the Sirrus, along with the fact it comes with all of the fittings for racks and mudguards make it very popular for commuters.
5.Trek FX 3 Disc - £650
The Trek FX 3 is based around the same concept as the Specialized Sirrus. It is intended as a ‘fitness bike’ but is equally at home being used for commuting, touring or just generally getting about. The FX3 uses wide 38c tyres for extra stability and has a relatively upright riding position to give you good visibility in traffic. The disc brakes will give you extra stopping power, especially in the wet, and the bike comes with all the fittings you need for mudguards and racks.
If you are looking for a fast and stable bike for getting about on then the Trek FX 3 is a good option.
6. Whyte Carnaby and Whyte Whitechapel - £599
Whyte are a British designed brand known for their innovative and award winning mountain bikes. As well as making some of the best mountain bikes in the world they have always had a strong line in UK inspired hybrids. The Whyte Whitechapel and Whyte Carnaby (effectively the men’s and women’s versions of the same bike) are great examples of what they do.
These bikes have been designed with UK commuters in mind. Whyte have taken their mountain bike geometry and adapted it for use on the road. This means having a longer than normal wheelbase for increased stability and then using a shorter stem for improved handling at slow speeds. They have also taken the latest trends in mountain bikes and stripped back the gearing to a single chainring at the front, meaning less maintenance and smoother gears in the long-run. The Whitechapel and Carnaby come with hydraulic disc brakes for increased stopping power and all the fittings you need for mud-guards and pannier racks. Whyte even make their own range of mudguards so you can be sure of getting a perfect fit.
7.Marin San Anselmo DS 3 and Marin San Rafael DS 3 - £600
Marin are another mountain bike brand with a long history of making hybrid bikes. Like the Whyte Carnaby and Whitechapel the Marin San Anselmo and San Rafael are the men’s and women’s versions of the same bike. The San Anselmo and San Rafael are a similar style of bike to the Specialized Crosstrail. They are designed for recreational use both on and off-road. They take a lot of their styling from mountain bikers but have road bike size wheels and skinny tyres so they are quick on the road while still providing enough grip for use on cycle paths, forest roads and the like.
The Marin San Anselmo and San Rafael are very well equipped bike for the money. Both come with hydraulic disc bikes for added stopping power and lockout forks to give you extra stiffness and speed when riding on the road.
8.Cannondale Quick CX 2 - £899
Cannondale are known for making quirky and innovative bikes and the Quick CX2 is a good example of their approach. Cyclo Cross bikes have been a popular alternative to hybrids in recent years and the latest trend for gravel bikes has made cyclo cross style bikes every more popular. Effectively road bikes that can handle light off-road use they make sense for a lot of riders. The Cannondale Quick CX is basically a flat handlebar version of these cyclo cross and gravel bikes.
Cannondale have used cyclo cross tyres, cyclo cross 1x gearing, a mountain bike inspired frame and hydraulic disc brakes to make a truly hybrid bike. Cannondale market the Quick CX as being capable of exploring dirt roads and gravel paths while still being a fast bike on the road for fitness or commuting rides. The Quick CX takes all the ingredients of bikes like the Specialized Crosstrail and then takes them to the next level.
9.Raleigh Strada 2 - £390
Raleigh do a whole range of Strada bikes. We have picked the Strada 2 which comes in a men’s and women’s version, as a good basic hybrid bike. While virtually all of the other bikes we have looked at come with a 700c road bike size wheel the Strada comes with a slightly smaller 650b wheel. This makes it better for shorter riders and will make the bike accelerate faster and be more stable at slower speeds. Ideal if you are going to be in slow moving traffic a lot. Otherwise the Strada is similar to a number of the other bikes we have looked at, coming with disc brakes, mudguard and rack mounts and general no fuss practicality.
10.Cannondale Bad Boy 2 - £1399
Whereas most hybrid bikes use elements from mountain bikes and road bikes the original Cannondale Bad Boy was basically a mountain bike with skinny tyres fitted and painted black. While Cannondale have evolved the bike over the years it still maintains it’s aesthetic of matt black mountain bike toughness.
The current Cannondale Bad Boy 2 comes with Cannondale’s trademark lefty fork adapted for street use with an integrated LED light. Cannondale have also upgraded the gearing, using element of the Shimano 105 road gears coupled to a mountain bike style single chainring at the front. If you want a stealthy, fast, urban commuting bike that will stand out from the crowd then look no further than the Cannondale Bad Boy.