For any cycle tourist choosing a bike is always a personal choice that change based on distance, terrain, route, and expected conditions. Riders often ask on which bike type to pick for their tour; and if they do hold an hybrid bike its obvious to ask; are hybrid bikes good for long distance?
Hybrid bikes are great for a mix of on-road off-road cycling and are becoming more and more popular among fellow cyclist for short and medium distance.
Their comfortable seats, upright handlebars, front suspensions, and mounts for racks/bottles makes them perfect for touring. But are hybrid bikes good enough to ride a 100 miles or how far can I ride a hybrid bike?
Yes, hybrid bikes can go really long distances. Being a good mix of mountain and road bike; it’s a great option to ride under varying conditions ( mix of On-road, off-road ride ).
These are modestly heavy, have an upright riding position, straight handlebars, comfortable seats and are equipped with grippy tires providing total protection and control on most hilly terrains. Designed for comfort and leisure these are quick, comfortable, and easy to ride; with extra space to carry water bottles.
On the downside, it has wider tires than a typical road bike and thus requires a little more effort. That might be a deciding factor if you only have to ride on paved tracks/roads.
Factors that Influence Your Choice for Bike Touring
Perhaps terrain is the first thing to consider when choosing between different bike types for touring. A road bike might be more stylish, lightweight, or aesthetically pleasing; but are meant only for paved roads or tracks. Their slim tires are good for speed but could not handle even the lightest gravel paths.
Not just you increase the risks of punctures or lack of control but may also be enough to damage your wheels. Mountain bikes, as the name suggests are great for hills, off-road biking, and tracks filled with gravels, dust, and soil ( build for anything but tarmac surface ).
Hybrid bikes being suitable for both conditions to have the best of two worlds; fast speed, wide tires for superior grip, comfortable riding position, and durable frame. It’s more like the jack of all trades but master of none; works great on hills as well as a paved road but not the best in any condition.
The other big thing after terrain which greatly affects one decision of bike to pick for his or her tour. A cyclist with reasonable fitness can easily cover 100 miles comfortably on a hybrid bike. At much shorter distances it’s even better to carry a comfortable hybrid.
But it’s after those 100 miles you really need to choose between the two evils; at such long-distance road bikes frequently breaks down ( less durability ); while mountain bikes have less speed and efficiency. Even with hybrids, you will start to have issues like Hand numbness or wrist pain.
It is so because while hybrid has everything; comfortable seats, durable construction, front suspension, good brakes, and grippy tires; they lack in bar ends that offer more positions to hold. But there is always a choice to replace your flat bard with a bar end or add alternative bars with better grips.
3. Total Load
If you are carrying too much load along with yourself for the tour; better you did not pick your road bike whatever the condition maybe. Multiple equipment, essentials and other accessories add to a lot of weight; one thing any road bike can not hold for long.
It is another thing to ride long distances on road bikes and carrying too much weight. As long as it’s light ( up to 5 kg ) you are good to go; otherwise, you are left with just hybrids or mountain bikes as your options. These bikes are durable and strong and an easy take on some heavyweight.
In my personal experience for anything above 10kg, one should always go for an electric bike; it will really save you much effort.There are a variety of handlebars and mounts available for road / hybrid bike; that is easy to attach and did not negatively affects bike aesthetics.
4. Riding Style And Position
Going for a tour is very different than long-distance travel or racing. When cycle touring our objectives are to observe and see the beauty of the scenery passing by and discover interesting things. With that in mind, we sometimes stop unexpected or go a little off course to our plans.
Going for long-distance travel or racing our objective is to maintain speed and efficiency; reducing the time required to reach from point A to point B. Thus many experienced riders prefer a road bike on the paved road as it gives you the speed and efficiency needed.
On the downside with a road bike you always bend a little forward; making is quite hard to fully observe the beauty of the scenery. Further riding a road bike is more aesthetically pleasing than hybrids; but its the versatility, comfort, and ease of use that makes it an expected choice for long-distance travel.
Why Hybrid Bikes So Popular Among Beginners For Touring And Commuting
A hybrid has a similar design of the cyclocross bike; much similar durability and feel of a mountain bike and a wheel of a road bike.
This makes them more fast and efficient than mountain bikes; more durable than a road bike with added comfort. Unlike traditional drop bars, it includes a simple but effective flat bar design.
With slim tires and drop bars, it takes some time to get acclimated to road bikes. But with hybrid bikes its more natural with the upright sitting position and flat bars; you just jump on and go.
Sitting upright gives you more flexibility and reduces stress on your body; this allows a rider to relax as he/she is cycling without the need for a stop for refreshment. Further, there is only much one can see by sticking with a plan that includes just paved roads.
If you are looking for adventure and loves to discover new things. You have to go off-road now and then on a tour; something that hybrids are made for.
That’s the beauty of riding a hybrid; you are neither limited to just smooth pavement ( as with road bikes ) or rocky terrain/gravel roads ( as with mountain bike ).
How Far Can You Ride A Hybrid Bike?
On a regular hybrid bike without any further modifications; one can go in between 80 to 120 miles with ease and comfort. It is then you would need a superior grip bar with enough hand position options. I personally use butterfly bars whenever the need to go beyond 100 miles for added comfort.
Once you have replaced your default flat bars with a butterfly or bar ends; there is hardly anything that can stop you from taking hybrid bikes to any distance.
I have seen many experts who gave hybrid’s a hard time on bicycle forums when it comes to long tours. While a hybrid would never let you down; there are a few things that makes it hard for experts not to criticize. Its quite heavy than a road bike which are quite slick and light.
Then there is the extra grip which might be an advantage on gravels, sand or mountains; its a liability on paved roads as it slows you down.
Not to mention the issues like hand numbness, aches, and wrist pain after a 100-120 miles ride; if you go with the standard flat bars. On top there is always an added pressure to catch up with road bikes ( they are just too fast on smooth road ).
Remember buying a road bike does not mean you buy the best bike; they are costly, unstable in slow traffic ( extremely hard to maneuver at slow speed ), and not much comfortable.
What’s a Hybrid Bike Good For?
Hybrid bikes are used mostly for short and moderate rides such as your daily commute, short/moderate planned tours and recreational use. Right out of the box these bikes are tour ready and are very comfortable to ride both on roads and unpaved terrains.
What kind of commuters are hybrids and road bikes good for?
Hybrid bikes are good for starters and adults who need a ready to go bike at a low cost. They shine on short recreational tours and are built with comfort and durability in mind. These bikes have a similar design of the cyclocross bike; durability and feel of a mountain bike and a wheel of a road bike.
Is a Road Bike Better than a Hybrid?
Yes and No. Both road and hybrid bikes have their advantages and disadvantages that attracts different types of riders. Most beginner riders prefer a hybrid bike to take for touring while experts prefer a road bike because of their higher speed, lightweight design, and efficiency.
Conclusion – Are Hybrid Bikes Good For Long Distance?
This is a great piece of equipment for a short commute or distant rides; if you are serious about your fitness or simply want to enjoy the natures beauty. They are particularly useful for those who like to go far distance in the summer months and cycle the roads.