Are hybrid bikes good for long distance? Most are, and for many reasons. This is a common question beginners and cyclists in search of an alternative to road bikes often ask. But why the hybrid? Hybrids can be a great alternative to road bikes because they feature a heavier, more durable frame compared to traditional road bikes, but the frame isn’t quite as heavy as what you’ll get with a mountain bike. Hybrids are currently the hottest bikes on the market for many reasons, but the fact that they feature a frame and characteristics that make them a great choice for touring and commuting is why cyclists are switching to hybrids.
Are hybrid bikes good for long distance? Yes. Most models of hybrid bikes feature a moderately heavy frame which doesn’t make them difficult to ride uphill and also makes them a great option when it comes to riding in windy conditions. They also come equipped with grippy tires and powerful brakes, which makes them ideal for city riding, long distance commutes, and touring.
Of course, if you need a hybrid bike for touring or commuting you should choose a model with front and/or rear suspension for a more comfortable ride and disc brakes for top of the line stopping power. Because the hybrid bike is so versatile, any model can easily be upgraded for long distance riding.
Now that you know that pretty much any hybrid bike can work for touring and commuting, keep on reading to find out what specs and components to look for in your new bike and why hybrids are such a popular choice for touring.
Touring and Commuting on a Hybrid
The hybrid bike tends to have the same wheel size that most road bikes use, and a similar design to that of a cyclocross bike, however, the hybrid’s handlebars are straight instead of the traditional drop bars that you’ll find on other styles of bikes that are built for speed. Some models will have front and/or rear suspension located in the seat post, while other models will not. The hybrid isn’t designed for durability like the mountain bike, or speed like the super lightweight road bike. Instead, they’re designed with the rider’s comfort in mind and offer a less aggressive riding position, which helps to reduce back pain and tension in the upper body.
For these reasons, the hybrid can be a great choice for long distance riding and commuting to and from work.
A More Comfortable Ride
As we mentioned, the hybrid bike isn’t made to be fast or for tricking. Instead, the design allows the cyclist to ride in an upright position, for improved comfort. But not every hybrid bike is designed for touring or commuting.
One of the best things about the hybrid bike is the fact that there are so many different designs to choose from.
Some of these bikes will feature many of the same characteristics that you’ll find on the road bike, and others will have more mountain bike features.
The bike you choose should depend on where you ride the most, terrain type, and your riding style.
Of course, a touring hybrid should feature tires that can handle slick surfaces and city streets and a moderate weight that makes it easy to ride up hills but won’t be difficult to ride in windy conditions.
Why a Hybrid?
If you want a bike that’s more versatile, then go with a hybrid. With a mountain bike, you’ll have to stick to rocky terrain and gravel roads due to the large knobby tires. With a road bike, you’ll be limited to smooth pavement and may have a difficult time riding around in inclement weather. The hybrid can handle wet weather like a champ and is more versatile in terms of where you can ride. They’re also more reasonably priced than both the road bike and mountain bike, making them a perfect choice for the cyclist in need of a reliable, powerful bike for touring or commuting purposes.
What to Look for in a Bike Designed for Touring
When we use the term “touring” we’re referring to long distance riding, often, for recreational purposes. A hybrid bike allows cyclists to ride in comfort, for a longer period of time compared to road bikes and mountain bikes.
These bikes are perfect for commuting to and from work and can easily handle city streets and weaving in and out of traffic. They’re also pretty durable, unlike the road bike which can easily get damaged even from a minor crash.
The hybrid offers both the mountain bike’s durability and the road bike’s maneuverability, and comfort that’s all its own.
Bottom line, the touring hybrid should be simple and durable. Fortunately, there are many choices of hybrids these days, so you can take your time and check out the leading models, learning more about frame material, tire size and style, shifter systems, and any extras you may need when you’re on the road, such as panniers. Most models of hybrids are pretty versatile and can easily be upgraded with thicker or thinner tires, and accessories that can make them more street friendly.
One component you can expect to upgrade is the saddle. Nine times out of ten you’ll hear complaints regarding how uncomfortable a bike’s stock saddle is. Well, it’s a stock saddle. Most manufacturers will use cheap saddles and have done so for years. Fortunately, swapping out the saddle for a gel topped model is easy and affordable. It’s also probably the most common upgrade cyclists make, so take this into consideration when you’re shopping for a new bike.
With certain modifications, most hybrids can be made into the perfect touring bike.
If you’re planning on using your hybrid for training or touring, then durability is important. Many hybrids come equipped with the traditional 700c tires that you’ll find on road bikes. Of course, if you plan on off-roading, you can upgrade the tires or stick to moderately rough road conditions. But for commuting purposes, the 700c tires should be fine.
If you want a hybrid built to go the distance, then make sure you buy one that’s equipped with a rigid suspension fork. Despite the fact that the hybrid bike is supposed to be a combination of a road bike and a mountain bike, not all hybrids will come with front or rear suspension, which can make your commute uncomfortable.
If you end up with a lower-priced hybrid that comes with a cheap, low-end suspension fork, you can always upgrade to a carbon fork later down the line.
Earlier, we briefly touched on the importance of the right frame weight for a better cycling experience.
When you’re riding longer distances, a bike frame that’s the perfect weight can have a major impact on the quality of your ride. A bike that’s too heavy will tire you out quickly. A frame that’s too light can make it difficult to ride in windy conditions. These lighter bikes are also not anywhere near as durable as a mountain bike. If you plan on riding the bike daily to and from work, then you need a frame that offers a higher level of durability than what you’ll get from a road bike.
The average hybrid will weigh around twenty-eight pounds, however, there are models that can weigh up to thirty-two pounds. This is all dependent on the frame design and the material used. To learn how to pick out the right hybrid bike frame and how the bike’s weight can impact your ride, click here to read our article on how much do hybrid bikes weigh?
Brakes Made to Go the Distance
Some hybrids will come equipped with rim brakes, which aren’t the best option if you need a bike that you can ride in rush hour traffic or a bike that can pick up serious speed. Higher end models will come with disc brakes. These brakes are more reliable, predictable, and more powerful overall. Regardless of the weather conditions, these brakes still offer top-notch stopping power.
If you end up with a hybrid bike that doesn’t have disc brakes, keep in mind that hybrid bikes are very upgradable.
Why You Should Read Hybrid Bike Reviews
Not sure if the hybrid you’re interested in is as comfortable as it looks? Finding the perfect hybrid, one that will meet your specific needs isn’t easy and it’s a decision that’s made even harder thanks to the boom in popularity that these bikes have experienced in recent years. So, if you’re not certain how a specific model performs or whether it’s comfortable and durable enough for a longer ride, read hybrid bike reviews.
These reviews will give you the inside scoop regarding how these bikes really perform and what to expect in terms of stopping power, comfort, durability, and overall quality.
Most Hybrid Bikes are Touring Ready
Right out of the box, most models of hybrid bikes come touring ready. This means the bike is equipped with all of the components you need to take your bike for a long ride. The only exception here is if the stock saddle is uncomfortable. However, these days, many manufacturers now use a gel-topped stock saddle for improved comfort.
Another issue is rain. If you plan on riding in wet weather conditions, the hybrid’s tires will be able to handle the slick surfaces, but you may want to purchase some mud flaps in order to stay dry.
What’s a Hybrid Bike Good For?
Hybrids can be used for light to moderate off-road riding, touring, commuting, and recreational use. Because the hybrid isn’t quite as light as a road bike, we don’t recommend using one for racing, however, they can be used for training purposes if you need to put your speed to the test.
Is a Hybrid a Better Choice than a Beach Cruiser for Commuting?
For long distances, yes. The cruiser bike is too heavy for long distance riding. However, modern beach cruisers have experienced a variety of upgrades in design compared to models of the past. These bikes can be perfect for recreational use, commuting short distances, running errands and more.
To learn more about cruiser bikes, click here to read our buyer’s guide.
Is a Road Bike Better than a Hybrid?
This depends on where you’re riding and why. Do you need a lightweight bike for your next competition, or for training? Then yes, the road bike would be a better choice. Road bikes are popular for their lightweight frames and thin tires, both of which help to make these bikes much faster than the hybrid. However, you wouldn’t want to use a road bike for commuting or touring. Road bikes aren’t exactly durable and don’t have the type of tires or frame design that’s needed for a safe, comfortable long distance ride.
To learn more about hybrid bikes and what they have to offer, click here to read our hybrid bike buyer’s guide.
What Type of Terrain Can a Hybrid Handle?
Road bikes can handle pavement and the mountain bike can handle dirt trails and rocky terrain. The hybrid bike doesn’t have the same type of tires that mountain bikes do, simply because that would be overkill. Instead, they’re often equipped with 700c tires, which work well on pavement, slick surfaces, dirt paths, and moderately rocky terrain. If your hybrid bike features front and rear suspension, you can upgrade the tires and take it for a spin off-road.
So, are hybrid bikes good for long distance riding? They definitely are. Just make sure you choose a model that’s designed with touring and commuting in mind. While most hybrid bikes do come touring ready, there are some models on the market that need a few upgrades. If you’re buying a hybrid bike for long distance rides, make sure the bike has 700c tires, disc brakes, a comfortable saddle, and a moderately heavy frame. Additionally, since most hybrid bikes are very versatile, making minor upgrades to make the bike more touring friendly is easy and affordable.