Road or hybrid?

17 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

Everything that I read about buying a new bike says that the choice of hybrid or road bike depends on how much you ride. But nobody ever gets specific! I am a beginner, doing 40-50 mile rides every other weekend. As I get fitter I hope to do more and longer rides. What do you all recommend?

Anonymous's picture
Gary Katz (not verified)
The amount and the type of riding are both important


Think about not only how much you ride, but how many different types of riding you will do. Which is most important to you? Which bike does that best? How will other types of riding affect the bike?

You might take a look at cyclocross bikes. Cyclocross bikes look at first glance like road bikes, since they have dropped handlebars. They usually come with somewhat knobby tires (similar to a hybrid), since cyclocross racing is done on grass/sand/mud/whatever. (look at to learn more about the sport of cyclocross.)

I have a pure road bike (racing bike) and a cyclocross bike which I use for cyclocross, touring (with a different set of tires) and bouncing around the neighborhood. In my opinion, unless you are planning to do actual road racing or very technical mountain biking, you can do just about anything with a cyclocross bike and two sets of tires. Drop handlebars take some getting used to, but you will appreciate the ability to change hand positions on long road rides.

Another interesting bike is the Specialized Sequoia. It combines road, hybrid and cyclocross features. I don't have personal experience with this bike, but my road bike is a Specialized and so far, so good. (Look at One Specialized dealer that I recommed highly is Verazzano Bicycles in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

Good luck


Anonymous's picture
Gary Katz (not verified)
Rethinking my own advice

"I started training for my first century ride in winter of 2000. At that time, I had a 10 year old Hybrid. I didn't know ""a lot"" at the time (which was a good thing). I had never heard of cyclocross and there was no such thing as the Specialized Sequoia.

I bought a Raleigh R800 which I rode for 5 years, including four road races in 2004, 9 organized rides between 100 and 300 miles, and five triathlon/biathlons.

BUY A ROAD BIKE! The rest will all fall into place.


Anonymous's picture
Rob (not verified)

"I own both.

Started with the Hybrid, commuting 25 miles a day,have done several centuries, many hills, Piermont and laps of Central Park on it. All ending with a smile on my face, well usually.

Okay, why get the Road Bike. Good question, in part for the fact that mine weighs about 10 lbs, more like 14 pouns less than the Hybrid. Narrower tires, allowing faster speed. Airodynamics and pedaling efficency makes it faster on the flats and up hills.

BUTTTT. The hybrid will and does take the city abuse a bit better. Pot holes and bumps are smoother on the larger tires plus wider seat that most have. Better traction in the rain due to the standard tires they come with, not so much as the slicks.

I have had far fewer flats on the hybrid and can pedal almost as fast as the average ""Roadie"".

That all said. The more upright position, badweather and city use make my choice towards the Hybrid.

Good Luck.

PS. When you get into it more and more. The choice of which road bike gets harder."

Anonymous's picture
roadie (not verified)

I get tired of the perception that road bikes are fragile creatures that can't take the abuse of the road. This is a load of bs. I've ridden and raced my road bike over a lot of less-than-ideal road surfaces, including loose gravel, hardpack, cobblestones, and potholes. It's come through with shining colors. Flats can happen on any road surface. All you need is a piece of glass, wire, a nail, a small rock. Usually if anything on the bike is susceptible to damage, it's the wheels. Ride sturdy wheels. Learn to use a spoke wrench, and carry it and a spare spoke or two, if you're really concerned.

Wider tires may make the ride more comfortable. However, riding with wider tires does not preclude riding a road bike. Just get a frame (and fork) that has sufficient clearance for a cross tire.

Wider seats do not necessarily make a more pleasant ride. I find them cumbersome and bulky, and they interfere with pedaling, as the seat is wider than my sitz bones.

And nobody yet has mentioned one of the main reasons road bikes are more comfortable: drop bars. You can change hand positions, which you cannot do with straight bars. Also, if you buy wider bars, you can have your chest nice and open, promoting relaxed breathing.

Buy a road bike.

Anonymous's picture
chris o (not verified)
Road bike

I am no expert, but I am pretty sure you need a road bike. Hybrids are ideal around the city, around the lake, around the park, etc. But if you are riding a bike for several hours, it has to be a road bike.

50 miles on a hybrid is probably equivalent to about 65 miles on a road bike. Wouldn't you rather go 65?! (It is true I just made up those numbers but the point remains valid.)

Anonymous's picture
Natalia Lincoln (not verified)

Road bike. I started with a hybrid, and as the rides got longer and hillier, it just became a liability. Got a road bike, thinking I'd still keep the hybrid for commuting -- but after getting a taste of biking with the road bike, I sold the hybrid and replaced it with a slightly-used touring road bike. I've never had a flat on the touring bike, despite commuting in the city with it, and my knees are still thanking me for the lighter ride.

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
Wait a minuit!

"What are you riding on those ""40-50 mile rides every other weekend""???

Why the need to change?


Anonymous's picture
Hopeless newbie (not verified)

I'm riding an ancient 10 speed. It constantly gets flats, does not have quick release wheels, and doesn't fit me properly. Other than that it's fantastic!

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
Definitely a ROAD bike then!

"An ""ancient 10 speed"" is probably still a lot closer to a road bike than to a hybrid. So you'll likely be disappointed by a hybrid.

The main reason is the tires. Smooth, narrow tires makes a world of difference on the 50+ miles of pavement! That said, the narrower tires of road bikes ARE going to be more flat prone than the heavy tires that comes with hybrids. But, as everyone will tell you, it's the frame that defines the bike. Pick the right frame that fits you. You can experiment with different tires to find one that's fast but not too fragile for the area you're riding.

Other things that road bikes does better (your 10 speed included): better aero position, more hand position, lighter weight...

Instead of buying a do-nothing-too-well NEW hybrid, you're better off buying a pair of bomb-proof (but heavier) new tires for your existing 10-speed. The newer and heavier tires WILL solve your flat problems for sure. In essense, you're turning IT into a bomb-proof, ride-around-the-block hybrid! And your new ROAD bike will let you fly on the logner distance rides outside the debri-littered city streets!

Anonymous's picture
Ira Fogel (not verified)

The more you ride, the more you will appreciate a road bike. I started out with a hybrid and rode with my friends. First 30 mile rides, then longer ones. I sort of kept up with them (they actually stopped and waited for me a lot). And I really struggled up the big hills in northern NJ riding that Trek hybrid.

Then I got my first rode bike... A revelation... I could ride faster, longer and more comfortably than ever before. I easily kept up with my friends and while I still struggle up those hills I no longer think about getting off my bike to walk them.

Good luck with your decision and enjoy the ride.

Anonymous's picture
Bob Shay (not verified)

I have owned and ridden a road bike, pure mountain bike, and a hybrid. Around the city, park, and other short distances - 10 to 15 miles - nothing beats a hybrid. Dependable, sturdy, comfortable, and very affordable. If you plan of doing most of your riding off road, a mountain bike is best. If you plan on doing more than 30 miles at a time on the road, a road bike is best - it is much more comfortable and easier on you body when you hit the 30 mile mark. I have never ridden cyclocross so I can't comment on that.

Good luck,


Anonymous's picture
Steven (not verified)

Get the best Road Bike you can afford. Hybrids are a waste of money and do a disservice to biking. Hybrids are lousy for long distance riding and are not designed to take the beating of a real mountain bike. If you do decide to get a Hybrid you’ll either be exhausted after riding 30 miles then selling your hybrid for half the price on e-bay like I did.

Anonymous's picture
ben (not verified)
road or hybrid?

"""Hybrids are a waste of money and do a disservice to biking. ""

I prefer to state it a little more nicely: A hybrid suffers from being a ""Jack of all trades, yet master of none"".

It's a little strong to say that they do a disservice to biking. They are affordable and plenty durable for mom & pop riding around the cottage. Face it, 90% of cyclists don't need a rugged mountain bike and they don't need a sleek road bike. Hybrids are perfect. How is this a disservice to cycling?"

Anonymous's picture
Steven (not verified)

It's a deservice because Hybrids give the false feeling that hills are so difficult to climb and rides of 30 or more miles are so damn tiring. Road bikes make biking fun. Hybrids don't.

Good road bikes can be affordable and can be ridden around the cottage more than once.

Hope I've answered your question.

Anonymous's picture
Neile (not verified)
Hybrids are good for Urban Adventue Rides.

But keep a spare set of knobbies handy. :)

Anonymous's picture
LynnB (not verified)
Just for the joy

"Don't disregard one important aspect of getting a road bike after a mountain/ hybrid for longer (over 40 miles)distances:

Fun, fun, fun.

Lighter, faster, ""fun""ner.


Anonymous's picture
me (not verified)
Specialized, Trek, or Lemond

"I agree with everyone that people should get road bikes with drop handlebars. Thankfully, the industry has finally learned that hybrids are not for everyone and some people just want a more comfortable road bike. It seems like the bikes of today are ""new designs"" but just look at a road bike from the 70s and they almost all have rack/fender mounts, room for large tires, and older threaded/quill stems that let you get the bars up really high in a comfortable position.

700x28 tires or at least 700x25 - more comfortable than the standard 700x23 race tires but not as large as most hybrid 700x35 tires. You will get comfort without loosing speed.

Handlebars that are set higher than the saddle via a stem with rise or a top tube that slopes upward - more comfortable than racing type frames with handlebars set below the saddle. Unless you race you do not need to be bent over on your bike like Lance.

Fender and rack mounts. If you do day trips or bicycle in bad weather the trip will be much nicer if you have fenders to protect you and a rack to hold an extra layer of clothing or a whole bunch of PBJ sandwiches. Maybe even a book to read at a rest stop.

One of the best articles on options for the ""avearge"" rider:

Article about raising handlebars:

Article about fit:"

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