Are hybrid bikes good for commuting? Hybrid bikes are quite simply the best bike for commuting. Hybrids are designed to be a safe and practical form of bicycle to buy for getting to and from work.
The main two components that make them great for commuters is their upright riding position and the gearing that comes on hybrids. The upright position makes it easy for drivers to see you, and for you to see the world around you.
Are You Sitting Comfortably?
The other benefits of an upright position are that it is comfortable. You don’t want to be arriving at work with a niggle in your lower back. The less strain you can put on your body on the way to work the better, no one wants to arrive a sweaty, sore mess.
The upright riding position, unlike a road bike position, places more of your weight on your ass. It also puts you in a position where your lower back is not being strained. You need to make sure your saddle here is comfortable as it will make every ride torturous if it is not.
The next specific feature found on hybrid bikes is their gearing. A hybrid bike’s gearing sits between that of a road bike and a mountain bike. By doing this, you have a range that allows you to ride to and from work quickly while having a nice low gear for getting over hills. You will not need to develop the leg muscles of a road racer to power your bike along.
Hybrid bikes will generally come with what is called a triple chainset. A triple chainset is when your bike comes with three front chainrings, the rings near your pedals and not on the back wheel. The triple allows a high gear for speed and a super low gear for a fully loaded slog up a big hill. In cycling parlance, we call the small gear the granny ring. It might not be PC, but it does create a lovely image.
The speed you can keep on your hybrid will mean that within cities you will often be faster using a hybrid bike than driving a car. To help keep your speed up but add comfort to your ride, you will find that manufacturers have thought long and hard about tires.
Another Tired Old Pun
The tires that come on your hybrid bike will depend on one feature of the bike. You will find some hybrid bikes with a suspension fork, and some will have a rigid fork. The rigid forked bikes will have a smooth tire. The tires on the bikes with suspension forks will generally have some small knobs on the side of the tire in case you go off-road.
The rest of the tread will look closer to the tread found on the bikes with rigid forks. The smoother area of the tire is ensuring that there is no excess rubber hampering your progress along the road. You don’t want to be pedaling along and have rubber knobs slowing down your progress.
Your tires will go up to a much higher pressure than those used on mountain bikes. The high pressure is to help with rolling resistance. It will mean that you only use the central part of your tires. Your contact patch with the road will then be small, keeping you rolling for less effort.
Your hybrid will also come with various bolt holes drilled into the frame and fork. These holes are designed to allow you to fit fenders and pannier racks. Fitting fenders is almost essential, as they will not only stop you from getting soaked with water on the road, but they will also save your bike’s bearings from being soaked.
Wet bearings are a great way to shorten their life and lower your bank balance. So fit some fenders. The other bolt holes are to allow you to fit pannier racks. The ability to fit panniers is why a hybrid should be your number one way to commute by bikes.
Pannier racks allow you to fit special bags to your bike, pannier bags. Fitting pannier bags means you do not have to carry a backpack with your work stuff. Backpacks can be a nightmare on a bike. They are adding weight that is pushing down on your contact points. Do you want extra weight pushing down on your wrists?
Backpacks can also obstruct your view when looking over your shoulders. As you can imagine, this makes it difficult to see if cars are coming towards you if you are turning — a lack of visibility that can make every junction a life or death decision. For your safety, go with pannier bags.
Pack It In
Pannier bags come in a variety of styles depending on what you want to carry. You can get cheap fabric ones up to fully waterproof bags. Waterproof bags are a particularly great choice if you are taking a laptop to work, especially as many pannier bags also come with a laptop sleeve.
Along with a rear pannier rack, you may also see that your hybrid can take a front rack. Front racks can be a better place to carry bags than at the back of a bike. There are physics involved here, but it is easier to push things up a hill rather than drag them up a hill. Some front racks will make carrying your shopping bags home pretty easy.
Hybrid bikes also come with parts that are picked to withstand the rigors of commuting. Road bikes will feature parts that favor being lightweight over reliability. Mountain bikes will have components designed to withstand cliff drops over pedaling to work. That is why a hybrid is great.
Reliability is precisely what you want on wet and cold commutes. You do not want to be standing at the side of the road with numb fingers trying to fix your bike. Knowing that you have avoided those moments by using tires that way a few more grams, have heavier spokes, and double-walled rims can give you peace of mind. Weight does not always need to be a priority when choosing a bike.
The hybrid might seem the jack of all trades and master of none, but it is indeed the master of the ride to work. You get a smidge of road bike speed and the comfort of a mountain bike all wrapped up in one reliable package.