Hybrids

Lately, doing organized rides as training for the MS 150, or just to ride with a group on a different route, or in the MS 150 itself, I’ve been noticing lots of people riding hybrid bikes. My mindset has mostly been that hybrids are great for tooling around the neighborhood, riding easy bike trails, and are for older folks who want a more upright riding position than they can get on a road bike.

A hybrid bike waiting to be ridden in a 29-mile group ride.

I guess I’m surprised when I see them at these events, because I don’t see hybrids riding the roads a lot in my area. Except for my wife. She’ll tackle our regular Mopac route on her 1992 Trek 700, and she’ll turn out for group rides as well. She’ll take the shorter route option, but she’ll put miles under her.

Mrs. Noob crests a hill on a summer morning ride.

At the MS 150, lots of riders rode hybrids. I assume these are people who were riding for a cause, and were willing to suffer a little in order to do their part to fight MS.

I’m also betting a lot of them are getting to be pretty good riders on their hybrids. One thing I noticed on the MS 150 was that I kept passing them. That means they got out in front of me somehow — whether it was by getting a jump at the start, or taking less time at rest stops (probably). And I’m not too proud to say that some hybrids passed me on the road during that ride. Not that many. Always ridden by athletic young women loaded with energy.

The hybrid for them might be their first bike, or their reintroduction to riding after years off. And getting good on a hybrid means they might take the next step, and buy a road bike. But I’ll bet most of them keep their hybrids, too.

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16 thoughts on “Hybrids

  1. When I started riding again, I dusted my old hybrid off. Since buying a road bike, the hybrid spends most of the time in the shed, but it still gets used from time to time.

    The hybrid is a great starter. They’re heavy and slow and more of a workout. I did my first 50km on a hybrid and I’m pleased that my first milestone was on it and not a roadbike.

    I never seriously considered getting a hybrid until I noticed that every half serious cyclist who passed me was on a roadbike. It was a rare occurrence to keep up with one. For me, when I wanted with the group, I want to stay with them – so the hybrid needed replacing.

    But I still use it to bounce around town and into work.

    And I love (repeat – love) riding behind athletic young women.

  2. Hybrid used to mean “does everything poorly.” But the idea of a bike quiver of one for people living in apartments, or who prefer a competent do anything bike to owning a road and mountain bike is a rapidly growing niche. Gary Fisher’s Dual Sport bikes fill this niche very well.

  3. My bike after the long layoff from cycling (biking?..lol) was a Schwinn Trailways very similar to the Schwinn in the pic above. It was a great bike for all-around riding and getting on that thing every morning really forced me to work. When I return to Florida I’m seriously considering turning it into a commuter.

    Here in Dallas at White Rock Lake you can see a lot of hybrids ridden by all ages of men and women.

    Mrs. Noob, well done. I shudder while my heart skips a few beats just looking at that hill.

  4. I bought a hybrid (Trek 720) in ’91 or ’92 when I was first getting back into riding a bike. I got a Cannondale touring bike a little later, and did most of my long riding (2 BRAGs, 2 centuries, lots of metrics) on it.

    Time passed. I borked my knee (not on a bike) and had ACL surgery. It took me a long time to get back on the bike because I was terrified of hurting the knee again. But lately I’ve decided it’s time to get out on the road some more and ride while I can still ride safely (I’m 57). So… I pulled out the old Trek again. I’ve been using it to get my bike legs back under me, going on little 12 mile hops and rides to the store. I walk up hills if I need to while I build my strength back up. (I’d never have done that when I was younger.) I’m hoping to be able to get back to longer distances too.

    I just got back home with two BBQ plates from a local church BBQ strapped to the back of my bike. And for the first time, my average speed was over 10 mph! w00t!! :) (Hey, it’s all relative, ya know?)

  5. I fear I’m one of those old guys. I have a couple of drop bar bikes, but I really feel at home on a hybrid or tourist. Then again, most of my miles are commute miles, and my hybrid is most suited to the panniers I carry in my panniers.

  6. I got strange looks after doing a long charity ride on my mountain bike (it’s all I had at the time), then I got mocked for doing a long charity ride on my folding bike (at least it was lighter than the MTB!). And now I’m a dork for riding my hybrid on a long ride? Proud to be one, I guess. It’s far more comfortable for me than a road bike ever has been or will be. And it’s not heavy. Go hybrids!

  7. Raeanne, I never meant to imply that hybrid riders are dorky – especially you. I was simply noting that a lot of people who turn out for long rides are on hybrids, and that kinda interested me.

  8. I’m not that old, yet (unless 32 is old), and I’m currently enjoying my hybrid. I got back into cycling last year. At the time I had a cheap full suspension MTB. I never got above 7mph and 10miles was my limit before needing an ambulance to carry me home.

    I never thought I’d say this but – thank god it was stolen! I now have a mid-range hybrid and average around 12mph. 30miles in one stretch is no longer a problem. While not up to racing standards I enjoy it and it keeps me fit.

    Maybe I’ll get a road bike one day, but to be honest this one needs to last me a good 2 or 3 years yet (finances and all).

    Still, I’m a glutton for punishment! I’m signed up for a 67 miler next Sunday, A 50 miler on the 16th and a century in June. Wish me luck!

  9. Well we started out with hardtail mtb’s, decided to do some more “road and touring” so we converted them for road work and to be honest, I can’t see a reason to buy a “road bike”. The touring hybrid is as good as any, Surly LHT or Kona Sutra, I’ve got lower gearing, enough attachment points for racks, ect., full fenders, trekking bars, it’s a “go anywhere and do anything machine, who need seprate bikes? LOL, I’m not interested in “touring fast” so lite weight machines are a total waste for me. I’ll smile as you pass but if we need to take a detour on a hard packed dirt road, I’ll be smiling while you are “worrying” about your “road bike” ;)

  10. My girlfriend just picked up a hybrid today. It was a diamondback (ya, I know…but they’ve actually come a LONG way.) It’s pretty nice with hydroformed aluminum and everything. For the price $400ish it’s actually pretty nice and around the 24lb mark. I was pretty impressed with how far they’ve came. I used to think of them as a crappy walmart brand but the newer Diamondbacks are pretty nice all things considered. I couldn’t talk her into a road or mountain bike just yet…I’m still working on it :-)

  11. Almost 20 years ago my first “mountain bike” was a hybrid. Within a few months the skinny road tires were replaced with big fat knobbies. The reflectors and size/warning stickers came off. Then the high rise stem & riser bar were thrown away and a flat bar & stem appeared. Next the small chain ring went from something like a 26 or 24 tooth gear to a 20 tooth. The saddle, chain & shifters went through the same process. Needless to say I managed to break the frame about 6 months later…

  12. I ride centuries on my hybrid. I’ll be doing a randonneuring 200k on my hybrid in a few weeks. I average 15-16 mph, and it works great for me. My limitations aren’t finances — I just find a hybrid the most comfortable ride for the long haul. I’ve ridden plenty of road bikes and just don’t enjoy the distance as much. My hybrid is actually a speed upgrade, though — up until this year I was riding 100 miles on a mountain bike with shocks. Actually, it wasn’t that much slower.

  13. I did a 200km brevet on a “hybrid” (It’s really more like a hardtail XC MTB with slick tires) before I got myself a roadie.

    I tend to prefer bikes with a nice rear rack, so my roadie actually has a rear rack too.

    I tend to think that a hybrid/MTB isn’t actually that much slower than a flat-bar roadie. Assuming, of course, that the bike isn’t especially heavy, the suspension (if present) isn’t flopping all over the place, and you swap the tires for skinnier slick tires. Thing is, when you are riding in a pack of cyclists close enough to draft in a hybrid, it’s almost the same air-drag as if you were riding a more aerodynamic bike. It’s just that if you get dropped off the back or try to take a pull that you suddenly have to fight with the air.

    I do like that my Hybrid/MTB has a mount for a kickstand. And I do like how low the gearing is able to go.

    Even while touring or randonneuring, it’s awfully nice to have a flat-backed position for riding into the wind. It’s just that you’ll want a different position for the hoods if you are going to do long distance, generally a bit higher up. A cyclocross or touring frame will end up sturdy enough that you can take it off-road.

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