These are the best hybrid bikes that you can buy in 2021, as rated by the expert testers at BikeRadar.
Hybrid bikes are some of the most versatile bicycles on the market, designed specifically for beginners and recreational riders. They are an ideal option for commuting and city riding, as well as leisure riding on the weekends.
If you’re wondering which kind of bike to buy then a good hybrid will help you tackle almost any terrain, allowing you to get out without any worries about whether your bike is up to the job.
Most bike brands offer hybrids (or fitness bikes) and they are available at all sorts of price points, and we’ve included a selection below from these different price categories.
Not sure a hybrid is the right bike for you? Have a read of our explainer to discover the best bike for you and your needs.
All our recommendations are based on bikes that we have tested here at BikeRadar.
If you are new to the world of bikes, we would recommend that you try and test some models to get a feel for what works for you. A good bike shop will often let you try before you buy, as well as ensure you walk away with a bike that fits you.
- Women’s bike size guide | Find the right mountain bike, hybrid and road frame size for you
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The best hybrid bikes in 2021
- Cannondale Treadwell EQ: £849
- Carrera Subway 2: £350
- Cube Travel SL: £1,699 / €1,199
- Giant Escape 1 Disc: £699
- Marin Presidio 1: £465
Cannondale Treadwell EQ
- Neat front rack will carry up to 10kg
- All-weather ready
- Quirky with a fun ride
Cannondale’s Treadwell is a particularly comfortable and practical way to get around. It’s ideal for running errands such as shopping trips thanks to its front rack, which will accept up to 10kg of payload. Should you need to carry more, there are pannier rack mounts integrated neatly into the bike’s seat clamp.
This range-topping EQ model is now last year’s bike, but the 2021 model is specced almost identically. The simple 1×9 Shimano transmission is ideal for commuter miles and the Tektro hydraulic discs are powerful. The fat 47mm wide Maxxis DTR-1 tyres keep the ride comfortable and the mudguards that surround them will keep the worst of the weather from splashing back at you.
Cannondale has integrated a sensor at the front wheel that tracks speed and distance, this can then communicate with a free app which it co-developed with Garmin. Use a compatible SP Connect case and you’ll even be able to mount your phone at the stem where it can be used as a bike computer.
It’s not one to be rushed, but the Treadwell does offer a genuinely fun riding experience.
For a little less… Cannondale Treadwell 3
The Cannondale Treadwell 3 is the most affordable bike in the range and features 7-speed Shimano gearing and mechanical disc brakes.
Carrera Subway 2
- Powerful hydraulic disc braking
- Ready to accept mudguards or a rack
- 650b wheels allow for a large tyre with lots of cushion
Sold exclusively in Halfords and Cycle Republic stores, the Carrera Subway 2 is a fantastic way to get about, particularly considering its modest price.
This particular model has recently been replaced, so you’ll have to pick one up second hand, but we’re soon to test the latest version of this bike which actually has a very similar spec and look to the bike you see here. You can read more about the latest Carrera Subway in our 2020 Carrera range overview.
It’s been on the scene for multiple years now, and that time has allowed the Subway 2 to mature into a very capable package.
The alloy frame has all the fittings you could want to attach bottles, mudguards and racks, and is equipped with 650b wheels, which have large 1.95in tyres that provide additional cushioning and comfort.
Despite the low price, the bike is fitted with hydraulic disc brakes for consistent and reliable stopping power. The remaining components, while budget, perform admirably and add up to a well-considered package that’s perfect for quick city riding.
For a little more… Carrera Subway All Weather
The Carrera Subway All Weather Edition features an aluminium frame, mudguards, heated grips, Shimano gearing and hydraulic disc brakes.
Cube Travel SL
- Ready to ride in any conditions with mudguards, dynamo lights and internal hub gear
- Maintenance-free belt drive
- Reliable hydraulic Shimano disc brakes
The Cube Travel SL is the perfect bike to get your from A to B with the minimum of fuss. It’s an unashamedly utilitarian ride designed to transport you and your things wherever they need to go.
The bike comes equipped with a rear rack, mudguards, dynamo hub and lights. A maintenance-free belt drive, internal hub gear and reliable hydraulic Shimano brakes will get you going and slow you down again.
Sorted handling means you’ll be able to just get on and ride. The Cube Travel SL is a dutiful ride that you’ll likely end up taking for granted because it’s just so well-equipped.
A cheaper alternative… Cube Hyde
Save yourself a packet over the Travel SL by looking at Cube’s simplified flat-bar hybrid, the handsome Cube Hyde.
Giant Escape 1 Disc
- Ideal for mixed surface commutes
- Tektro disc brakes for safe all-weather stopping power
- Comfortable and tough 38mm tubeless-ready tyres
The Escape 1 from Giant is a great choice for those who want to be comfortable while commuting or spend a fair amount of time off smooth roads.
That’s because beneath the impressive aluminium frame and full carbon fork of the Escape 1 is a set of tubeless-ready alloy wheels with tough 38mm urban tubeless tyres.
All that rubber means you’ll make light work of towpaths and gravelly bike routes but will pay for it in outright speed when on the road.
Its geometry places you in such a way that you’re very aware of the traffic around you, but it’s not upright enough to detract from the occasional sprinting effort.
Its mix and match Shimano gearing will give you every ratio you require and stopping power is handled by well-modulated Tektro hydraulic disc brakes.
For a little less… Giant Escape 3
If you like the look of the Escape but fancy a much simpler down-specced version, the v-braked, steel forked Escape 3 is worth a look.
Marin Presidio 1
- Smart looks, particularly for the price
- Hydraulic disc brakes
- Simple 1×8 drivetrain
The Marin Presidio 1 is a commuter that looks good, rides well and offers exceptional value.
The finish of the aluminium frame is excellent for the price, and you’ll have no problems with fitting a rack or proper mudguards should you choose to.
Marin has even managed to spec hydraulic disc brakes, so stopping power and control is impressive.
The fairly upright ride position combined with a short stem makes the Marin a sharp steer and an entertaining bike to ride.
The gears are smooth and especially simple to operate thanks to the single chainring at the front, which is paired with an 8-speed (11-34) cassette.
The tough wheelset and 32mm tyres favour durability over outright speed but also provide a lot of comfort.
If you have more to spend… Marin Presidio 3
The top spec Marin Presidio uses a Shimano Nexus 8-speed internal hub gear and belt drive for a quiet, smooth and largely maintenance-free transmission.
These bikes didn’t quite make the 4-star rating that qualifies them for our best lists, but they’re still a good choice that might suit your needs.
Genesis Croix de Fer 10 Flat Bar
- Robust yet characterful frame and fork
- Impressive versatility
- Great ride feel
The Genesis Croix de Fer was one of the first road bikes to be designed to go beyond the tarmac, so it’s actually surprising that Genesis took so long to bring out this flat handlebar version.
It’s a great bike to ride and is particularly versatile but the steel frame does make it heavier than most of its competitors.
The upside of the Genesis’ butted steel chassis is the flat bar Croix de Fer has a lively feel, especially when riding on rough terrain.
Change the stock tyres for some fast road slicks this Genesis would make a fine urban commuter.
Orbea Carpe 40
- Fun, fixie-inspired geometry
- Sharp looks
- Hydraulic disc brakes
The Carpe 40 is almost the ideal commuter, but it’s one that is hampered slightly by some of its component choices.
The frame features a short wheelbase and aggressive angles similar to that used on many fixies, making it especially fun to ride. It stops well too, thanks to Shimano hydraulic discs.
The single chainring and 7-speed rear cassette offer ideal gearing for shorter commutes, but the flexy Orbea branded chainset is disappointing.
The standard fit 38mm Kenda tyres are weighty, with unforgivingly stiff sidewalls and steel beads. Swapping these for some quality 35c rubber transformed this bike into what it was supposed to be.
For a little less… Orbea Katu 40
Practical, stylish and something totally different, the Katu is a true wildcard thanks to its tiny 20in wheels.
- Mudguards and rack as standard
- Fun handling
- Smart looks
It’s difficult to find bikes at this price that arrive equipped with full mudguards, a rear rack and a full Shimano drivetrain. To make that happen, Ridgeback has left its Speed with v-brakes rather than discs – they’re fine, but won’t match the performance of hydraulic discs, particularly in the wet.
As smooth as it is, the triple chainring at the front and seven gears at the cassette can be considered overkill for what this bike is likely to be used for, and it’s also something of a noisy setup too.
The 42mm Vee tyres roll surprisingly well but their heft can be felt on the hills and they run close enough to occasionally rub on the mudguards. You’ll need a spanner with you should you need to repair a puncture, but bolted axles are considerably more secure than quick-release items.
This is still a fun bike to ride though, and it looks good to boot.
For a little less… Ridgeback Comet
If you want a no-frills commuter bike from a brand you can trust then the aluminium framed, steel forked, 7-speed Ridgeback Comet could be the bike for you.
See our full list of BikeRadar hybrid bike reviews for more individual product information.
What is a hybrid bike?
Hybrid bikes combine the best features from road and mountain bikes, allowing you to tackle most of the riding you’ll want to do.
This makes them ideal for beginners looking to get into riding or recreational riders wanting one bike to do it all with the minimum of fuss.
In general, hybrids are fitted with high volume tyres to improve comfort and traction on varied surfaces. This also helps if you want to tackle rougher terrain such as canal paths and gravel tracks.
Mounts for mudguards, racks and other accessories mean you can prepare your hybrid for any eventuality, whether you plan to carry lots of luggage or ride whatever the weather.
Like a road bike, hybrids will allow you to get around quickly. However, they are typically fitted with durable components that are tough enough for city riding and the wear and tear of daily use.
Like a mountain bike, hybrids will have more relaxed geometry and flat handlebars, putting you in a comfortable and upright position on the bike. This can be particularly helpful for riding in traffic, affording you a good overview of what is going on around you.
While hybrids fitted with suspension forks (front) are available, we would generally shy away from them on cheaper models. The suspension tends to be low-end and add significant weight, without major performance improvements.
An increasing number of hybrids are now fitted with disc brakes, which provide consistent stopping power in all conditions.
Hybrids are capable machines with various concessions to practicality and comfort that make them a fuss-free bike to live with.
What types of hybrid bike are available?
Hybrids all sit on a sliding scale between road and mountain bike. Where a certain model sits on that scale will define how well it copes with uneven off-road terrain and how fast you can travel on tarmac in the city.
If you will be riding on rougher terrain, then you will want to look for an option with larger tyres to provide additional cushioning. On higher-end models, you might even want to consider a suspension fork for that extra bit of comfort.
Hybrids designed for city riding will usually be fitted with slick road tyres and components that are much closer to a road bike, allowing you to get around quickly and efficiently.
Will my tyres puncture?
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but however puncture-resistance your tyres may claim to be, they will never be completely immune.
That said, hybrid bikes will generally be fitted with sturdy tyres that are pretty puncture-resistant. They are designed to reliably get you from A to B, day-in-day-out. So the likelihood is that you won’t have to worry about punctures at all.
What gears does my hybrid have?
The vast majority of hybrid bikes use derailleur gears. A derailleur shifts your chain across the cogs at the rear wheel (cassette) and the chainrings on the cranks, providing you with a large gear range to choose from.
However, such an external system is relatively exposed to the elements and potential damage.
Internal gear hubs are an alternative. The rear hub contains an internal gearbox providing anything from three to 14 gears, depending on the model.
Despite the expense, there are some definite advantages. The enclosed system is protected from dirt, mud and crud, so hub gears tend to require very little maintenance.
Belt drives are sometimes used instead of a chain for gear hubs. Unlike a chain, which requires regular cleaning and lubrication in order to work at its best, a belt drive uses a toothed belt that doesn’t require much maintenance.
Crucially, you can avoid the greasy marks on your trousers that are a hazard of the traditional chain.
Will the saddle be comfortable?
Hybrids are created with comfort in mind, so chances are you will get on with the saddle that is fitted on your hybrid. However, bear in mind that saddles are a very personal choice and one size definitely does not fit all.
Contrary to what you might think, lots of padding isn’t necessarily the best thing.
Ideally, when on the bike you should be supported by your sit bones. Excess padding can put pressure on your soft tissue, impeding blood supply and causing numbness – that’s particularly the case the longer you are riding.
The best thing to do is ask for expert advice in your local bike shop. You’ll often be able to try out some different saddles on your bike too, you just need to ask.
Should my hybrid be steel, aluminium or carbon?
The vast majority of hybrid bike frames will be constructed from aluminium. This is an excellent choice, combining a competitive weight with relatively low cost.
Aluminium frames can be made to ride very well at a fraction of the cost of higher-end options and are often paired with a carbon fork for improving vibration absorption at the front.
The most expensive hybrids may come with a carbon frame, which can add further refinements to the ride with increased comfort at a lighter weight.
However, carbon fibre is expensive and does have to be treated with care. Unless you’re sure that you can lock up your bike in a safe and secure location, we’d generally recommend against carbon for an everyday bike that will be used and abused.
Steel frames are not widespread. While the material has many advantages, being incredibly durable (and some might say aesthetically pleasing), it is also comparatively heavy.
Accessories for hybrid bikes
The versatility of hybrids extends to the number of accessories that are either designed specifically to go with them or that can be added.
A large percentage of hybrid bikes come pre-fitted with mudguards, particularly those aimed at commuters or urban cyclists who are likely to be using them in all weather conditions, including on wet roads.
If mudguards don’t come as standard, any good hybrid will feature mounting points on the frame that allow you to fit them.
There should also be eyelets for fitting racks, allowing you to carry your luggage in panniers rather than using a heavy backpack. Should you prefer to keep things on your back, there are many quality commuter-specific backpacks to choose from.
Bike lights are a must for anyone riding after dark. We’d even recommend having lights throughout the day too for extra visibility.
Some hybrid bikes will arrive with lights already fitted. These are normally powered by a dynamo, which draws power from the bike’s riding effort as opposed to batteries.
Bike computers are also handy. The simplest ones are great for keeping track of the miles you’ve covered and how long your journey has taken.
More advanced options with GPS, such as those by Garmin, will also let you map and track your route.
Secure your bike
Of course, wherever you park your bike, you’ll need a quality lock to deter thieves.
We tested 24 of the most popular bike locks to destruction, so you can secure your bike with the best protection available.
It might also be worth insuring your bike so that you are covered if the worst happens and your ride gets stolen. Thankfully we’ve put together a complete guide of what to look for when buying bicycle insurance.
Finally, if you’re thinking about anything other than a hybrid bike, why not check out our complete guide to the best bikes for cycle commuting.