We take a look at the best urban and hybid bikes that have surprised and delighted our testers.
If you don't know what a hybrid bike is, then we explain here. Not sure what kind of bike to get, then have a read of our buying guide here. The following reviews have come from Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines as we collate the best urban rides around.
Updated August 2014
"High quality kit on a mountain bike-style frame creates a great urban bike"
- Weight: 9.65 kg
- Frame: 6061 hydroformed aluminium
- Fork: Straight bladed carbon, alloy steerer tube
- Shifters: SRAM Via GT, 10-speed
- Wheels: Maxxis
The term ‘hybrid’ can mean many things in the cycling world. It can take in anything from a super-heavyweight, bike-shaped object bought from your local supermarket to more modest, reasonably specced machines from your local bike shop and even a very well considered machine such as Whyte’s Stirling, which is probably why Whyte prefer to use the term ‘fast urban’ rather than hybrid. And fast urban certainly sums it up nicely.
"Light, fast and with great wheels – a genuine ﬂat-bar performance bike"
- Weight: 9.2 kg
- Frame: Triple butted aluminium
- Fork: Carbon
- Derailleurs: Microshift Urban 2x10-speed
- Wheels: Kenda Kwick Roller tyres, American Classic Victory wheels
British outfit Moda’s Chord has a road bike heritage. It’s pretty much a road bike with a flat bar – and none the worse for that. And Moda have taken a very unusual – but still effective – route in kitting out the Chord.
They’ve gone for V-brake stoppers, not that often seen but still very effective, requiring very little pull on the SRAM levers for quick, controlled and powerful braking. But whereas with some other city bikes the money is put into the hubs and gears, a lot of your cash buying the Chord goes into the wheels. The 28mm Kenda tyres are okay, if perhaps not living up to their Kwick Roller name, but they’re paired with a £350 set of American Classic Victory wheels.
"Comfort, quality brakes and hub gears, if a slightly slippy saddle"
- Weight: 12.08 kg
- Frame: Aluminium Ultralite Urban Triple Butted
- Fork: Aluminium Rigid Fork
- Derailleurs: Alfine SL-S700 Rapidfire-Plus, 11-Speed
- Wheels: Schwalbe tyres, Schwalbe Trekking light AV18
One-and-a-quarter grand for a hybrid? To quote Mr McEnroe: “You cannot be serious!” But Cube are, and with good reason. The Editor’s well-crafted script includes a stealthy and neatly finished matt-black frame with internal cabling, Shimano’s Alfine hydraulic disc brakes – power, control, extended rim life, minimal maintenance – and matching 11-speed hub gears, again requiring little maintenance.
Giant Escape 1 2014
"The Escape is fit for recreational road riding or daily commuting"
- Weight: 11.87kg
- Frame: 6061 aluminum
- Fork: Carbon Composite w/alloy steerer
- Shifters: Altus (Alivio US)
- Rear derailleur: Alivio 9 speed
The Escape 1 is a flat bar road bike with commuter spirit. It's lighter and faster than a full-blown commuter bike, but doesn't quite have the edge of a road race bike. It does both tasks really well and would serve you well if you're looking to get into general cycle path or recreational road riding with the possibility of a bit of commuting too.
Trek 7.4 FX
"Comfort, gearing and overall quality are all good – there's little to fault at this price point"
- Weight: 11.7 kg
- Frame: FX Alpha Gold Aluminum
- Fork: FX Alloy Disc w/tapered wall thickness, straight blades
- Derailleurs: Microshift Urban 2x10-speed
- Wheels: Bontrager tyres, Nebula Disc 32-hole disc rims
Trek’s 7.4 FX Disc is one of their big sellers, and part of the welcome trend for hydraulic brakes to appear on more hybrids. It makes much more sense than superfluous suspension forks.
The Hayes brakes don’t have the absolute stopping power of some, but they easily have enough for urban riding and masses of control. Shimano provide most of the rest of the kit, the 48/36/26 chainrings and 11-32T cassette offering a huge gear range, particularly at the bottom end. Yes, there are largish gaps between gears but their sheer range more than makes up for that.
Boardman CX Team
"Niggles aside, the Boardman offers speed and versatility at a bargain price"
- Weight: 10.5 kg
- Frame: Lightweight alloy triple butted
- Fork: Full carbon, tapered steerer 1 1/8-1½in
- Shifters: SRAM Apex 10-speed, Tektro crosstop levers
- Wheelset: Mavic XM319 on disc hubs, 32 spokes front & rear
We’ve come to expect keen pricing from Boardman, so the CX Team's modest tag comes as no surprise. Matched to a tapered full carbon fork, its triple butted alloy frame has smooth welds at the head tube and seat cluster, set off by the shiny metallic finish.
A straight seat tube contrasts with a fat, tapering down tube and a top-tube that’s rounded underneath – making shouldering this outwardly racy machine a bruising affair. The cables run along the down tube and under the BB shell though, so they’re well out of your way.
Spot Wazee City Bike
"Belt drive with internal gears is ideal for city riding - but does that justify the price?"
- Weight: 12.37 kg
- Frame: Steel
- Fork: Spot Brand Chromoloy
- Shifters: Shimano Alfine 11-speed
- Cranks: Shimano FC-S500
After enjoying niche success with the Gates Carbon Drive belt system for singlespeed mountain and cyclocross bikes, Spot is moving into high-end city bikes. With an internal 11-speed hub mated to a belt drive under a guard, the Wazee is a low-maintenance, high-performance machine for cruising the city streets — or wherever your fancy might take you.
Polygon Pave i7 urban bike
£TBC (Aus $1,000; approx £560)
"Simple and reliable design makes this perfect for daily short trips"
- Weight: 12.33 kg
- Frame: ALX Alloy 6061
- Fork: Polygon ALX Alloy Rigid Fork
- Shifters: Shimano 7 Speed trigger
- Wheelset: Rigida DP2000, Double Wall, Shimano Nexus Rear hub, stainless steel spokes
With the growing popularity of two-wheeled commuting and the increasing number of cycleways popping up around the world, urban style bikes are becoming all the rage – and Polygon's Pave i7 'utility bike' is right on this global trend.
The Pave i7 is a sleek, stealthy “utility bike” ideally suited for the urban commando, featuring a carbon-belt drive with a seven-speed internal-hub gear system, and retailing at under AU$1,000 (UK prices TBC) through a direct-buy channel – it’s priced to go.
Pinnacle Arkose Two
"A charming and unusual all-rounder that’s distinctive and appealing"
- Weight: 10.1kg
- Frame: 6061-T6 aluminium
- Fork: Full carbon, 1 1/8-1½in steerer
- Shifters: Microshift 10-speed bar end shifter
- Wheelset: Alexrims Black Dragon on disc hubs with 32 spokes front & rear
Pinnacle is an Evans Cycles house brand, and not one we normally associate with daring or outlandish designs. The Arkose Two’s bright green alloy frame is decidedly conventional with its threaded bottom bracket and slightly agricultural welds, but the build is virtually a one-off in its category, featuring TRP Hylex hydraulic disc brakes and a 10-speed, single-chainring drivetrain.
And if you want to see even more candidates for your hard-earned, check out our commuter bike group test video, below.