Now that a bicycle commute is beginning to replace a car commute for many Americans, new cycling enthusiasts are finding themselves asking the big question: Which bike is right for me? For those commuters not interested in a racing bike like the ones you might see on television at the Tour de France, a cruiser-style bike with one gear and thick tires may be the way to go. But for those looking for more performance and functionality combined with comfort, a hybrid bicycle will be just the right fit.
A hybrid bicycle is half performance bicycle – like those fancy racing bikes you might see on television – and half comfort bike aimed at keeping those aches and pains out of the equation on your bicycle commute. A hybrid bicycle comes with thinner tires than a cruiser-style bike to allow for less rolling resistance. It also has a multitude of gears with an easy-to-use shifting system -- don’t worry, they usually come with a super-easy gear for those steep hills on the way to work or school – and many of the aerodynamic advantages of those racing bikes, like drop bars, or handlebars that allow you to crouch into an aerodynamic position when you feel it necessary.
Hybrid bicycles are also designed with your comfort and safety in mind. While specific features vary by brand, most companies design their hybrid bicycle with enough easy-to-use adjustments to cater to your body. For example, most feature a more upright riding position to eliminate stress on the shoulders and neck, and many hybrid bicycles will feature an adjustable stem that allows you to raise or lower your handlebars with the simple turn of an allen key.
Modeled after the comfort bike -- a less performance-based bicycle meant for leisurely outings -– many hybrids now come standard with suspension seatposts and forks to take the edge off those potholes in the road, as well as ergonomic saddles that feature a cut-out center to relieve pressure on sensitive areas. These comfort features, combined with the aerodynamics and performance options gleaned from the higher-priced racing bikes, make the hybrid bicycle perfect for the day-to-day bicycle commute, the trip to the grocery store, or simply a stroll around the block.
As with all cycling activities, riders should wear a helmet and brightly colored clothing. Many states now require both a headlight and a taillight for riding at night or dusk, and all new bicycles come stock with reflectors. Be sure to make yourself visible, ride with the flow of traffic, and most of all, enjoy the ride on your hybrid bicycle.