Tag Archives: hybrid bikes

Hybrid bikes are one of the many available options for casual riding

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Trail bikes, fitness bikes, hybrid bikes, and dual sport bikes all fall into the same category of bicycle. Although these bikes all occupy the same category, they have very different uses. Read on to find out what bike will fit your needs best.

Before Buying One Of Many Hybrid Bikes, Determine Where You Want to Ride

Hybrid

Road, trail, or offroad.

Hybrid Bikes for Road Riding

Paved surfaces are more inviting to cyclists than ever before thanks to bicycle conscience city planners and influential cycling groups. Bike lanes on city roads, bike paths on retired rail lines, and dedicated cycling trails are just a few of the options open for paved riding. Because of these options, there are many bicycles available for paved riding specifically.

Hybrid Bikes for Path/Trail Riding

By far, path and trail riders are the largest segment of casual cyclists. This is due to the vast availability of riding options. Due to the fact that there are tons of options, these bikes are designed to ride comfortably and efficiently through almost anything.   

Hybrid Bikes for Off-Road Riding

A newly emerging category is casual off road riding. For this reason, many bicycle manufacturers have developed products to allow riders to enjoy trails comfortably. These bikes are similar to path/trail bikes, but usually include tires with more knobs and suspension.

How frequently do you plan on riding?

The cost of a bicycle can range from around $300 up into the tens of thousands of dollars. The most basic models use less durable materials like plastics rather than metals in the shifting components, and mild steel rather than stronger alloys for the drivetrain and cockpit. As the prices increase, stronger materials replace less durable materials, lending to a bicycle that will hold up better for frequent use. Consequently, at a certain price (different for every category of bicycle), the durability doesn’t increase. Instead, the weight begins to decrease. A lighter bicycle is easier to control and accelerate (making for a more enjoyable ride). Determining how frequently you intend to ride and weighing that against the bikes you are looking at will ensure you get the right bike for your needs.

Bike Features

Disc brakes vs. rim brakes

Hybrid

Rim brakes work by two rubber pads squeezing the aluminum rim of your wheel. They are inexpensive, functional, and lightweight. When conditions are good, they work incredibly well. Disc brakes use hardened semi-metallic pads to squeeze a hardened steel rotor. Disc brakes produce an enormous amount of friction, and that friction can overcome poor conditions. To summarize, both brakes work, but disc brakes work better in poor conditions.

Suspension vs. no suspension

Hybrid

Bikes that go off road typically use suspension forks to silence the chatter of gravel paths, dirt roads, and trails. Bikes with rigid forks tend to handle better because they are laterally stiffer and end up being lighter due to the lack of moving parts.

Wheel size

hybris

26″ x 1.75 and 700×37

In this category, you will find smaller wheels and larger ones. The smaller wheels are usually 26” in diameter and around 2 inches wide. The larger wheels are sized out at 700 c (roughly 28″ in diameter) and usually are between 28 and 42 millimeters wide.

Differences

Once you have figured out where and how often you want to ride, and you learned about some of the features, it’s time to learn about the differences in the bikes.

Hybrid Bikes

Hybrid bicycles at one point were the only bike in this category. They get their names from the fact that they were initially a hybrid of a mountain and road bike. Today, a hybrid is a great bike for fun and fitness. They usually incorporate suspension forks to smooth out the road. Most types use a tire that is 30-40 mm wide and well suited to gravel roads, rails to trails, or paved roads. If you are looking for the most comfortable ride across the largest segment of conditions, a hybrid is the right choice for you.

Fitness bikes

Fitness bikes share a lot of features with hybrids. They have similar wheel sizes, riding positions and gearing. Where they differ is that hybrids incorporate a lot of features to add comfort, while fitness bikes focus on efficiency and being light weight. If you are the type of rider who wants to get a great workout and enjoy your neighborhood or local bike path, a fitness bike is the right choice.

Dual Sport bikes

Dual sport bikes are a new and quickly growing segment of this category. The Dual sport bike is similar to the hybrid, in that it uses suspension. Where it differs from a hybrid is that they are designed for off road use. By changing the rider position, incorporating wider tires, and using disc brakes, these bikes excel on bike trails that are a bit more technical. If your adventure takes you off the beaten path, dual sport bikes are the tool of choice.

How to Choose

Paramount to buying the right bike is trying them. Start with a bike that fits you correctly. Take it for good 10-15 minute ride to see how it handles. Ride it on hills and on some path if possible. Next try some other models that use different features. Test riding will quickly highlight the benefits of disc brakes, suspension, and tire sizes. Once you feel comfortable on a few bikes, try them back to back and figure out which is the right fit for you.

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Cycling shoes can help you ride longer, faster and in greater comfort.

Cycling Shoes: What Are The Differences and How To Make Sure They Fit

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Cycling shoes can help you ride longer, faster and in greater comfort but only if you get ones that fit well. Read on to see what makes cycling shoes unique and how to find the right ones for you.

Benefits of Cycling Shoes, Clipless or Not

Cycling shoes have a very stiff sole to disperse pedaling pressures along the entire length of your foot. In contrast, normal sneakers have flexible soles that centralize most of your pedaling efforts onto the sesamoid bones, causing a lot of discomfort. Therefore, a cycling shoe is also a great option for riders who don’t plan to use a clipless pedal. Once you add the benefits of a clipless pedal, cycling shoes will make riding easier and more comfortable.

Types of Soles for Cycling Shoes

What makes a cycling shoe stiff is the materials used in the sole. The most common materials are nylon and carbon fiber. Nylon is a great choice for cycling shoes because it is strong, relatively light, very durable and highly resistant to cracking. Additionally, nylon is inexpensive, so it can be used to make low cost cycling shoes. The downside of nylon is in its stiffness over time. In my experience, Nylon will generate a flex point over time, making the shoes more flexible through the years. Carbon is very similar to Nylon in that it is strong, and light. Where carbon differs is that it is far stiffer than nylon, never generates flex, and is very expensive to produce. Carbon soles are only found on high cost shoes, but offer a much longer lifespan.

Types of Cycling Shoes

Cycling shoes can help you ride longer, faster and in greater comfort and there is a large selection to choose from.

Cycling shoes can help you ride longer, faster and in greater comfort and there is a large selection to choose from.

Cycling shoes can most easily be categorized into three categories – Road, Mountain, Recreation.

Road Cycling Shoes

Road shoes are easy to spot because the sole is almost entirely smooth with only a small bit of tread on the heel. They are the only shoes capable of accepting a large road cleat, and are typically highly ventilated.  Thanks to the lack of tread, it is easy to see what the sole material is.

Mountain Cycling Shoes

A Mountain shoe will look like a road shoe above the sole. Often time the closures, ventilation and appearance are the same as it’s road sibling. Where these shoes differ is the sole design. Mountain shoes have deep treads built into the sole to offer traction in loose and steep conditions. Because the sole is covered in rubber treads it is more difficult to conclude if it is made of carbon or nylon.

Recreation Cycling Shoes

Not everyone needs a road specific shoe or the aggressive treads that come with a mountain shoe. For that reason, most companies make a recreational cycling shoe. These shoes use a soft rubber for the tread that offers tons of grip when used on a flat pedal, they also use a nylon sole for stiffness and clipless compatibility. Mostly, these shoes look like a casual sneaker even though they hide cycling specific benefits inside. Some even use a hinged sole that can flex upward when you walk, but will not flex under pedaling forces.

Insoles in Cycling Shoes

Your foot is designed to work like a leaf spring when walking or running. Your arch collapses to absorb impact and rebounds to help you propel forward. Although, when cycling, having your arches collapse can cause alignment issues in your knees, ankles, and hips. To combat arch collapse, most cycling shoes use insoles designed to support your arch. If your shoes don’t offer insoles with enough support, there are plenty of options available for custom insoles.

Trying them on

Now that you understand what you’re looking at, let’s talk about how to try the shoes on. First thing to remember about cycling shoes is that they are nothing like sneakers. Cycling shoes are often sized in European sizing and while most brands offer a conversion chart, only use it as a starting point.

When you try a Cycling shoe on for the first time, it should fit tighter than a sneaker. You want a tight fit because your foot is attempting to pull out of the shoe during a pedal stroke. In contrast, while running your foot is being slammed into the shoe so sneakers need to be more roomy. Additionally, most cycling shoes are made of synthetic materials that stretch and conform to your foot over time. Therefore, a shoe will be far more snug when you try it on than a year later. If the shoe is snug all the way around, that is good fit even if you can feather your toe off the front of the shoe. If you feel any specific point of contact, that usually is an indicator that the shoe is the wrong fit.

Installing Cleats in Cycling Shoes

If you go to your local bike shop to get your shoes, they will typically install the cleat for you. If you are doing it on your own, try to position the cleat just behind the ball of your foot and straight on the shoe. I find it helpful to grease the threads of the cleat bolts before installation.

Hopefully, you feel comfortable going to try cycling shoes on after reading this. If you do have any more questions, either leave them in the comments, or visit your local bike shop.