Tag Archives: trail 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


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 segments 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 to 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 a 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


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


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


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.


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 a 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 lightweight. 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 a 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 a 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.

Check out the latest styles for 2021

Thanks to the latest reviews from 29 experts at BikeRide.com, see 46 of the best hybrid bikes to consider when buying your next bike.

About John Brown the author

As a lifelong cyclist and consummate tinkerer, John operates Browns Bicycle in Richfield, MN. It all started for him in grade school when the bike bug bit and that particular fever is still there. Now, and over the past thirty years, he has worked at every level in the bike industry. Starting, like most, sweeping floors and learning anything he could about bikes. He eventually graduated to a service manager and then store manager.  Through the years, he has spent extensive time designing and sourcing bicycles and parts for some of the largest bike companies in the world. All the while focusing on helping as many people as possible enjoy the love of riding a bike. In that pursuit, he has taught classes (both scheduled and impromptu) on all things bikes. John also believes in helping each and every rider attain their optimal fit on the bike of their dreams. Please feel free to stop in any time and talk about bikes, fit, parts, or just share your latest ride. You can also see more of John’s tricks and tips on the Brown Bicycle Facebook Page.
Mountain Bikes (MTB) may all look similar, however there are substantial differences between them. First lets take a look at the "It looks like a mountain bike" version, then we will look at a true mountain bike.

Mountain Bikes: What is best for you and the terrain you will ride

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Mountain Bikes (MTB) may all look similar, however if you are planning on purchasing a new one there are some substantial differences between them. First lets take a look at the “It looks like a mountain bike” version, then we will look at a true mountain bike.

Trail/Path bicycles that look like mountain bikes

There are some Trail/Path cycles that will look like Mountain Bikes, but aren’t designed for off road use. These Trail/Path bikes are popular because riders like the stability, traction, control, and upright riding position of a Mountain Bike but don’t need the features geared toward off road use.

Mountain Bikes in name

Trail/Path “Mountain Bikes” have higher bars, narrower tires, and less suspension travel.

Mountain Bikes True to Their Name

A true Mountain Bike is designed to be ridden off road over loose and rocky terrain. These actual all terrain bicycles offer suspension designed for control rather than comfort, are equipped with low gearing designed to navigate steep, loose terrain, and are built using more durable components to hold up to the constant impacts of riding off road.

Mountain bikes Yeti

True Mountain Bikes have more suspension, and larger tires.

Mountain Bike Suspension

A key feature of a true mountain bike is the suspension that allows the wheels to move up and down over objects giving the rider better traction and more control. The amount the wheel can move is called travel. Therefore, a suspension fork that has 100mm of travel can move up and down 100mm (roughly 4″).

Mountain Bikes Suspension

What Kind of Mountain Bikes are Available?

Mountain bikes get grouped by their intended riding conditions. As an example, Cross country bikes (XC) are designed to move quickly both uphill and downhill. For example, XC bikes are light and the suspension is most often limited to 100mm of travel.

Trail bikes are like cross country bikes, but rather than being concerned with maximum speed uphill, they focus a bit more on the downhill. Trail bikes have suspension ranges between 100mm and 140mm of travel.

Mountain Bikes Trail

All-mountain (or Enduro) bicycles take the idea of a trail bike a step further. Therefore, they offer more travel and are focused on offering the most amount of control and speed while descending, while still being capable of riding back to the top of the hill.

Within each of those categories hardtails (front suspension only) and full suspension (front and rear suspension) are available as well as electric assist versions (using a battery and powered motor)

What is the Deal with wheel size       


Unlike road or city/path bikes, Mountain bikes come in many different wheel sizes. The first mountain bikes were built in Marin County California 40 years ago. Notably, the only tires available were old 26″ balloon tires from the 1950’s which is why 26″ wheels were used. As technology progressed, the benefits of larger and wider tires became apparent. Initially, 26” tires were made wider for more traction (up to 3” wide). Then a few small builders tried the idea of a larger diameter wheel (29”). The benefits of a larger wheels are that objects are smaller in relation the them, offering a smoother ride, and the amount of rubber on the path is greater (better traction). Now there are a half dozen wheel sizes available, that all have their own benefits and drawbacks.

What type of Mountain Bike is best for me?

To start, think about what you want out of your ride. Someone who wants to burn through a loop of their local park as fast as possible, or likes to push themselves on the climbs as much as they do the descent would probably be a good candidate for a cross country bicycle. It’s light weight frame and efficiency will help that rider get more enjoyment/speed out of their ride.

Another rider might like to make good time on the climbs, but push a bit more on the downhill. They ride quickly (trying to beat their friends maybe) but aren’t looking to enter a competitive race. In this case a trail bike helps this rider have more fun.

Finally, another rider might totally live for speeding downhill. Getting back to the top of the hill is only an inconvenience for this person. therefore, they are willing to push a heavier bike up the hill if that weight equates into more traction and more control at high speeds. This rider would love the benefits an all mountain (or Enduro) bike gives them.

Are there any other kinds of Mountain Bikes?

Yes. There are Fatbikes, Downhill bikes, Trials bikes, dirt jumping bikes……The list goes on and on. To delve into all the subdivisions of bicycles, head into your local bike shop. Seeing and test riding the nuances of different bicycles will give you a quick education.