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.
A good hybrid will help you tackle most any terrain, allowing you to get out without any worries about whether your bike is up to the job.
- What is the best bike for cycle commuting?
- Which kind of bike should I buy?
- Best road bikes: how to choose the right one for you
Most bike brands offer hybrids (or fitness bikes) and they are available at all sorts of price points. We’ve separated our best lists below into different price categories: under £500, under £1,500 and high-end.
All our recommendations are based on bikes that we have tested here at BikeRadar.
If you are new to the world of bikes, then 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.
The best hybrid bikes under £500 for 2019
Carrera Subway 2
- Powerful hydraulic disc braking
- Ready to accept mudguards or a rack
- A comfortable and surprisingly efficient ride
- 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.
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 need 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 perfect for quick city riding.
- Simple, single-ring transmission
- Comfortable, easy riding position
- Hydraulic disc brakes for decent all-weather braking
The Agwe is a capable hybrid that's clearly inspired by Voodoo's mountain bike models. That’s no bad thing, making it capable of tackling a wide range of terrain with swift and nippy handling.
The Shimano Deore drivetrain provides simple and reliable shifting with enough range to get you up the steepest hills. Tektro hydraulic disc brakes provide ample power for any eventuality.
While it doesn’t come equipped with them, you can mount mudguards (and a rack) for more inclement weather.
Best hybrid bikes under £1,500 for 2019
Cube Travel SL
- Ready to ride in any conditions with mudguards and internal hub gear
- Maintenance-free belt drive
- Fitted with dynamo and lights
- 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. The Cube Travel SL is 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 just be able to 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.
Giant FastRoad Comax 2
- Forgiving and comfortable, carbon frame and fork
- Confidence-inspiring ride
- Reliable Tiagra road gearing
You get a lot for your money with the Giant FastRoad Comax 2, but the standout feature is the carbon frame and fork. These provide a comfortable ride as well as stable and reassuring handling.
The bike is equipped with solid and reliable components, including a Shimano Tiagra drivetrain, which is a well-proven option. However, it is clear that this bike is intended for city and road use, living up to its ‘FastRoad’ name.
- Buy the Giant FastRoad Comax 2 from Pauls Cycles (was £1,399, NOW £1,119)
Cube SL Road SL
- High-end Shimano Ultegra gearing
- Ideal for getting around town quickly
- Aluminium frame that’s built for speed
The Cube SL Road SL is a no-holds-barred go-fast hybrid. If you’re looking for a bike that you can ride at speed, then you’re in the right place.
The Cube offers a competitive weight paired with high-end components — you get a Shimano Ultegra drivetrain paired with powerful Shimano Deore hydraulic brakes, along with quality DT Swiss wheels and high volume 35mm Schwalbe tyres.
That all adds up to a nippy, high-performance ride that will get you around as quickly as you want.
Giant Rapid 0
- As fast a commuter as you’ll find
- Shimano 105 drivetrain offers excellent shifting
- Powerful hydraulic disc brakes
The Giant Rapid 0 is as close as you’ll come before making the leap to a fully fledged road bike. That means it’s a commuter built for travelling around the city fast but with quick and accurate handling to match.
Despite being fitted with flat bars in a nod to commuting comfort, the Giant Rapid 0 is akin to a road bike in many ways.
For your money you get a quality alloy frame with carbon forks, a Shimano 105 road groupset and hydraulic brakes, along with speedy 28c tyres. Giant finishing kit includes wheels that are also found on its road bike range.
- Buy the Giant Rapid 0 from Rutland Cycling (was £1,099, NOW £879)
Best high-end hybrid bikes for 2019
Cannondale Quick Carbon 1
- Lively and comfortable carbon frame
- Excellent control thanks to wide bars
- Quality Shimano 105 drivetrain components
The Cannondale Quick Carbon 1 offers a stable and fun ride without any quirks or unpredictable behaviour. That's helped by the wide 66cm bars which leave you in control at all times.
The build is complemented by a reliable Shimano 105 drivetrain, which provides the perfect gearing for road use. Hydraulic disc brakes offer consistent stopping power in all conditions.
The icing on the cake is the comfort offered by the premium carbon frame. Cannondale's SAVE technology delivers a compliant ride that will let you ride quickly, in comfort and in style.
- Buy the Cannondale Quick Carbon 1 from Triton Cycles (was £1,495, NOW £1,349)
Specialized Sirrus Expert Carbon
- FACT 9r carbon frame
- Future Shock, sprung headset
- Forgiving ride characteristics
The Specialized Sirrus Expert Carbon is a fitness/commuter bike for those that demand high-end performance. Nonetheless, the carbon frame and Future Shock headset are designed to offer a comfortable ride.
The Sirrus Expert is fitted with solid components including Shimano 105 shifting, TRP hydraulic brakes and Specialized finishing kit.
It might be an expensive option, but you get what you pay for with a rider-friendly commuter that's purpose-built for performance.
Trek FX Sport 6
- Top-of-the-range fitness bike
- Carbon frame offers exceptional comfort thanks to IsoSpeed decoupler
- Shimano 105 gearing
- Tektro hydraulic disc brakes
The Trek FX Sport 6 is another high-end option that offers exceptional comfort thanks to the carbon frame with IsoSpeed technology, which protects you from the shocks of the road. That comfort is also mirrored in the choice of vibration absorbing bars, grips and saddle.
The bike leverages technology from Trek’s road bike offerings, and that inspiration creates a speedy bike which is almost too precious to be a daily commuter.
If you’re after a premium build with supreme comfort, the Trek might be an option for you, but bear in mind that it comes at quite a price.
Genesis Skyline 30
- £899 — but discounts available
- Mudguards, dynamo lights and a rack included
- Pleasant handling
Unfortunately, the Skyline has disappeared from Genesis’ lineup for 2019. But if you can find the 2018 or 2017 model it’s well worth considering, especially because you’ll likely be able to pick it up with a decent discount.
The bike comes well-equipped straight out of the box, with dynamo lighting, full-length mudguards and a pannier rack all included.
It rides incredibly well and, even at the RRP, represented great value for money.
- Buy the 2018 Genesis Skyline 30 from Tredz (was £799, NOW £559)
See the full list of BikeRadar hybrid bike reviews for more individual product information.
What is a hybrid bike?
Hybrid bikes combine the best features from both road and mountain bikes, allowing you to tackle most of the riding you’ll want to do. This makes them perfect 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 extra 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 bearers 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 sturdier tyres that are more 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 gears 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 which 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 does definitely 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 wet roads.
If mudguards/fenders 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.
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. We've put together a complete guide of what to look for with bicycle insurance, as well as some of our top recommendations.
- Everything you need to know about bicycle insurance
- The best bicycles insurance: how to find the right policy for you
Finally, if you’re thinking about anything other than a hybrid bike, then why not check out our complete guide to the best bikes for cycle commuting.
If you have any other questions about what to consider or look for in a hybrid, please feel free to ask us in the comments below.
This article was updated 4 December 2018