Which Hybrid Mountain Bike to Choose?

A hybrid, a combination of the best characteristics from an off roader and a road bike, first appeared in the 1990's. It’s intended to be all-rounder, capable of a number of cycling disciplines.

Hybrids have since evolved further. Sport types are used as daily commuters. They have a comfortable riding position, high handle bars, excellent visibility and the ability to quickly cover ground. Terrain hybrids are tailor-made for the slightly beaten track; both gentle off road or light trails. Casual cyclists often choose traditional hybrids for their safety and additional accessories, including panniers or rear racks. Lastly, electric ones make use of a small electrical engine to help supplement pedal power.

Giant Escape 3

The Giant Escape 3 is a budget hybrid ideal for daily use, as a weekend tourer or for light off road conditions. An upright riding position ensures fantastic visibility which is essential during commuting, especially in heavy traffic conditions. An extended wheel base together with long chainstays allow for panniers, giving the Escape 3 extra carrying capacity.

The Escape 3 features a lightweight ALUXX aluminium frame which is available in four sizes, from small to extra large.

Gearing is controlled by a 21 speed Shimano gear system, which together with Shimano M131 chainset (including a 28/38/48 crankset) is ideal for all situations and capable of tackling even the steepest of climbs. Adequate braking is provided by Tektrobrakes. Durable Giant double wall alloy rims and Giant S-X3 tires provide superb grip, both on tarmac as well as off road.

As this is a budget hybrid, many parts of the Escape 3 are plastic including brake levers, pedals and the rear derailleur. They are fairly durable but easily replaced if damaged or broken. Buyers might consider replacing the rather small seat and plastic pedals.

The Giant Escape 3 is an outstanding sports hybrid bike.

Merida Speeder 100

The stylishly designed Merida Speeder 100 is a capable commuter or recreational machine. The Speeder lives up to its name, thanks to its lightweight hyrdo-formed aluminium frame, unique tubing design and road bike style wheels offering stiff, rigid ride characteristics. The frame design is unique in that all its strength is gained from thicker tubing near frame joints. This removes the need for thick tubing in other sections and helps to lower its overall weight significantly. All cabling is internal which is not often found on bikes in this price range. This adds to the overall aesthetic appeal of the Merida. The frame comes in six sizes all with a very neutral riding position.

Smooth, positive gear selection comes from a Shimano gearing system together with a M131 chainset (including a 28/38/48 crankset). Linear mechanical disk V-brakes are more than adequate for any urban or trail cycling. The Merida Speeder's 700c rims together with Kendra K193 tyres give exceptional grip although they are fairly heavy and many cyclists swap these out immediately leading to improved overall performance.

The Merida Speeder 100 is a brilliant commuter or fitness bicycle at a very competitive price.

Specialized Sirrus

The Specialized Sirrus is a true all round hybrid. A lightweight A1 aluminium frame provides a high visibility, upright riding position, making the Sirrus a comfortable daily commuter.

With a 24 speed Shimano gear system and a Shimano Altus chainset, the Sirrus is proficient as an off roader, capableof climbing the most demanding of hills. A seating position, slightly more in front of the rear wheel than most other hybrids, ensures a less bumpy ride. Alloy V brakes are fairly effective, but not the strongest part of this hybrid. They are easily upgraded however and something to consider doing immediately.

Specialized Nimbus tyres with Flak Jacket protection are puncture resistant, helping to ensure your daily commute or weekend trial ride on the Sirrus won't come to an unexpected end.

The Sirrus allows for the addition of many accessories, including mudguards as well as panniers which can be bought separately.

Scott Sportster 50

Available in five sizes from small to XXL, the Scott Sportster, is a true all-rounder, equally at home on tow paths, in an urban environment or even family cycling adventures.

A lightweight alloy 6061 frame provides a superb high seating position. Large road bike tyres together with responsive handling help ensure a pleasant urban commute.The frame geometry of the Sportster 50 adheres itself to a comfortable riding position, a key factor when riding long distances.

Gearing through 24 speed Shimano system with a M131 chainset, (including a 28/38/48 crankset),is quick, seamless and smooth. Tektro SCH-F15 hydraulic brakes are one the Sportster's stand out features. These brakes will bring you to a stop extremely quickly, important in the heavy traffic conditions of city commuting or for when speeding downhill on a country trail.

A Suntour NEX fork (with 63mm of travel) provides some suspension for the front of the bike, helping to ease the ride while still ensuring responsive handling. Syncros X-39 rims covered by Kenda K180 hybrid tyres are outstanding for both road or off road cycling. 

The Scott Sportster 50 is a good representation of a terrain hybrid bicycle and is superb value for money.

Viking  Keswick

The Viking Keswick is a traditional hybrid in every sense, styled to look like a  mountain bike but intended to be used as a daily commuter or trekking bicycle. It can be used on light off road trails such as smooth unpaved country but should not be taken on rough trails.

The Keswick has an aluminium frame with a steel front fork but it remains relatively light while maintaining an extremely comfortable riding position, a true hallmark of a traditional hybrid.

A 21 speed Shimano gearing system with quick change levers offers smooth shifting and a range of gearing options. V type brakes deliver ample stopping power.

The Keswick comes with alloy 700c rims, standard tyres as well as numerous accessories including a side stand, pannier, mudguards and a chain guard.

The Viking Keswick is an ideal example of a traditional hybrid bicycle and a great way to explore rural country roads or for city use.

Kona Minute

A true hybrid for urban commuting or trekking, the Kona Minute comes with some unique features not found on other models including a rear rack and two panniers.

With a Kona 7005 aluminium frame, road bike styled wheels, Freedom Cruz rims and an extremely comfortable seating position, the Kona Minute will not disappoint in a daily commute, even over a fair distance.

Smooth, seamless gearing is provided by an 18 speed Shimano gearing system with a FSA Alpha Drive chainset (including a 26/36 crankset). With the ability to carry a fair amount of extra weigh in the panniers or on the rear rack, the Kona is equipped with outstanding Tektro hydraulic brakes. Freedom Cruz Disc rims and Freedom Trekking tyres provide exceptional grip and control in all situations.

The Kona Minute is a great example of a traditional hybrid bike.

Scott E-Aspect 720

A pedal assisted electric bike, the Scott E-Aspect 720 carries an electric motor capable of a range of around 100 kilometres depending on terrain and conditions. This bike is ideal for both urban commuting, trekking or off roading, even on the most difficult of terrain. The E-Aspect 720 has a 6061 alloy frame and a Rock Shox XC30 fork with 100mm of suspension travel. The fork can also be locked for urban use or hill climbing.

A 10 speed Shimano gearing system provides seamless, accurate shifting while a Bosch electric motor provides the pedal assistance. Braking comes from Shimano BR-M447 hydraulic disk brakes which are extremely efficient. The E-Aspect has Syncros X37 rims covered by Schwalbe Rocket Ron tyres which afford incredible grip on tarmac and off road paths.

The E-Aspect is a tremendous machine, but be warned it does not come cheap.