Buyer's Guide To Comfort And Hybrid Bikes
Ride in Comfort and Style
Looking for an easy and affordable way to enjoy the outdoors and live more Green? Wishing you could find a stress-free and more manageable approach to commuting and/or getting your everyday errands done? Want some excellent exercise, while visiting with family and friends at the same time?
All this is yours, simply by getting and riding the right Comfort or Hybrid bicycle, and this article is designed to help.
First, keep in mind that there are many categories of bikes and crossover between categories (some companies call their Hybrids and Comfort bikes Dual-Sport or Recreational bikes instead, for example).
While Comfort and Hybrid bikes handle many types of cycling and offer plenty of features to satisfy everyone, there are also City, Commuter, Town and even Cruiser bikes that offer many of these same features and benefits. And all of them are probably easier to ride and more comfortable than what you may be used to, especially if you're making due with an older bike.
Read the guidelines here to learn more and feel free to ask any questions. Even better, visit our store to see the different models, learn about the many recent improvements that make biking easier and more fun than ever, and take some for a spin to feel the wonderful rides for yourself.
Start With These Questions
Here are a few easy questions/considerations to help you select the best bike:
Is top quality a priority, or is affordability more important?
Do you consistently select high-tech gadgets or do you prefer practical, no-frills designs?
What is your budget for this purchase? (This is an easy way to narrow down the selections.)
What type of riding do you plan to do?
Which Bike Type for You?
The last question, about the type of riding you plan to do, is one of the best ways to determine which bike type, Comfort or Hybrid, is the correct choice. If you envision leisurely Sunday rides, family outings in search of the perfect picnic spot and having fun while you exercise, a Comfort bike is a great choice.
These bikes emphasize comfort over efficiency with suspension features and cushioned seats to make the bumps disappear, and wider, higher handlebars for an easy-on-the-back-and-neck upright riding position. Many are designed with frames that are easier to get on and off and even that keep your feet closer to the ground for more control when you're starting out and stopping. On a Comfort bike, you'll pedal down the road almost as comfortably as sitting at home on your couch.
But, let's say you’re looking more for an alternative to driving. And/or you plan to ride longer distances, climb hills and work a bit to get in better shape. You still want to be comfortable, but you're interested in lightness, nimble handling and even easy climbing. For these things, a Hybrid bike, a versatile jack-of-all-trades, is ideal.
Hybrids are lighter and roll and pedal more easily than Comfort bikes. Plus, some Hybrids are designed for occasional off-road use, too, so you can enjoy the best of both cycling worlds, the convenience of pavement, the solitude of backwoods routes. This is why some companies call Hybrids "Dual-Sport" bikes, or "Multi-Use," so don't be confused.
Hybrid compared to Comfort
So what else sets these regal rides apart? The easiest way to tell the two apart is by wheel and tire size, as follows:
While bicycle wheel and tire sizes are constantly evolving, comfort bikes usually still use the slightly smaller and significantly wider 26-inch standard wheel and tire size that originated with cruiser bikes and mountain bikes. These tires provide a comfortable cushion of air so you float over bumps and rough terrain. Plus, it's possible to install knobby tires should you want to ride most of the time on dirt roads.
Hybrid bikes usually (but not always) use the Road bike's 700c tire standard. These are lighter to roll more easily on pavement for easy acceleration and climbing. There are 700c tires in different widths and treads for riding on all surfaces. There are also knobby 700c tires should you want to enjoy dirt roads on your Hybrid, too.
Besides this wheel/tire size difference, there are other distinguishing characteristics to understand that we explain in the following chart:
The frame is the backbone of any bicycle and, like other bike models, Comfort and Hybrid bikes feature a variety of different frame materials. Here's how they compare:
High-Tensile SteelPROS: Strong, most affordable, nice ride; usually found on entry-level bikesCONS: Weighs more and can rust if not cared for
ChromolyPROS: An affordable steel alloy offering lightness and a great rideCONS: May rust if not cared for; more expensive than High-Tensile Steel
AluminumPROS: Light, strong, affordable, rust/corrosion resistant, great rideCONS: More expensive than High-Tensile Steel
Carbon-fiber and Carbon/aluminum compositesPROS: Lightest, strong and rust/corrosion resistant, great rideCONS: Most expensive
A common feature on today's Hybrids and Comfort bikes is a suspension fork (photo). These absorb impacts from bumps, cracks, ruts and obstacles. This insulates you from jolts for a smoother and more comfortable ride and ensures that you remain in control even over rough surfaces.
Suspension forks work their magic with various technologies inside, like air and coil springs and damping, that make the rough stuff disappear. We recommend riding different bicycles and comparing how various forks feel. If you like the handling and comfort of one over another, it's a good reason to select that model bicycle.
For example, for smoother roads, a fork that soaks up small vibrations is ideal. And, for rougher pavement and dirt roads, a suspension that can handle bigger bumps is the right choice. We can explain and show you the differences if you're not sure which is right for you.
Note, that there are also bicycles without suspension forks. These still ride nicely and may cost less and be slightly lighter than models with suspension forks. If you ride on smooth roads and trails and don't feel the need for suspension these are certainly worth considering. Plus, most of these bicycles can be run with slightly softer tire pressures for some additional cushioning.
Suspension seatposts (photo) are another excellent feature found on many Comfort bikes and Hybrids. Like suspension forks, they absorb shocks but more from the rear of the bike.
You’ll love how they smooth rough terrain and pothole-covered roads absorbing vibrations and impacts to the rear wheel that would otherwise be transmitted to your seat and lower back. They're also light and simple so as not to require much maintenance.
Keep in mind that, should you find a bike you love that doesn't have a suspension seatpost, it's usually possible to add one, too (sold separately).
Some of the greatest advances in bicycle technology have been in gearing. On modern bikes it's easier than ever to change gears and this means it's easier to ride than ever, too. You can also get Comfort and Hybrid bikes with the right gearing to handle even challenging terrain with ease
This is one of the reasons why we recommend thinking about where you plan to ride your new bike. If where you ride is pretty flat or you want to do neighborhood rides or bike lane riding, you can get by on a bike with fewer gears than if you plan to ride rolling or hilly terrain. These bikes often have gears built into the rear wheel hub (photo). They're so simple to shift that you can even change gears while stopped at a streetlight.
If you plan to ride longer distances, or you want to pull a trailer and hit some hills, though, you'll do better with more gears so that you have enough low/easy ones, which helps greatly with the extra effort of climbing and pulling a trailer or carrying gear. For this, a derailleur drivetrain (photo) is a great choice because of the additional gears that ensure you can always pedal comfortably in any terrain/conditions.
Regardless of which gearing you choose, modern bikes shift with a simple lever, or by twisting the shifter. And, you no longer have to feel for gears, either. You just click the bike into gear and it's almost immediately easier or harder to pedal.
You'll love it and it ends all the worries about shifting. In fact, most Comfort and Hybrid bikes even show you exactly what gear you’re in.
You'll also love the advanced braking on Comfort and Hybrid bicycles.
You'll be able to control your speed and be able to stop fast with very little hand effort. If it's been a while since you've ridden, you'll be impressed with the new systems, which rival power brakes in automobiles.
Most Comfort bikes and Hybrids are equipped with rim brakes called linear- or direct-pull brakes (photo) or hub brakes, which are integral to the front and/or rear wheel hubs.
You'll also see some featuring disc brakes, the newest bicycle brake type, which sport calipers and rotors at the center of the wheels, car-style.
In general, any given bicycle will have brakes suited to the riding use it was designed for. For example, linear-pulls are powerful stoppers and excellent for all-round riding, from casual neighborhood rambles to commuting every workday, even in nasty weather.
Hub brakes are usually found on bicycles designed for less rigorous riding and are more designed for durability and low maintenance than extreme-conditions stopping power.
Disc brakes are ideal for all-weather and all-terrain riding and provide some of the most powerful braking, too.
Keep in mind that there's nothing like a test ride to feel the difference in brakes and see what you like best. We can also make recommendation based on the riding you plan to do.
While you may not be able to tell at first glance, one of the things most improved on modern bicycles is the seat. Engineers and designers have pulled out all the stops to provide ergonomics, materials and features to make them ultra comfy and supportive.
You'll find anatomical shapes, cutouts to eliminate pressure (which prevents numbness and pain), flexible frames, gel padding and cushioning springs. Sometimes, all of these things in the same seat, even.
Still, the most important thing is making sure that the seat on the bike is the right one for you. Everyone's different so you should sit on the seats and try them out to make sure that they're right for you (we can easily swap seats, too). And, even on a great seat, it takes a few rides to get your body used to riding, so be sure to pedal for a few days before judging your new throne.
We’ll Make It Fit Like A Glove
Perhaps our most important job in helping you get the right Comfort or Hybrid bicycle is ensuring that it's the right size, and then fine-tuning it to fit you properly.
While our inventory might not include Armani, Versace, or Prada, we are expert tailors when it comes to fitting bicycles. And, we'll take a careful look at you on the various bicycles you're considering to see that the one you choose fits perfectly.
And, once you pick out a bike, we'll adjust it to fit perfectly. This will guarantee that it's as comfortable and as easy to ride as possible. What's more, if you have any questions about operating the new machine, we can explain and demonstrate proper shifting and braking, wheel removal and anything else you need to know to fully enjoy your new bike.
We recommend planning on spending a portion of your cycling budget on some important cycling accessories to go with that new bike. For example, if you don't already have a good one, you'll want to purchase a helmet. New models are safer, more affordable, lighter and more comfortable than ever. (And, helmets weaken with age so, for your own safety, you shouldn't ride in an old, worn-out one.) To protect your purchase, you'll also want a good lock.
And, as you take on other adventures on your great new bicycle, we have plenty of other goodies to enhance your cycling, such as cycling shorts (spandex not required), cycling shoes that boost your pedal power, stylish and protective cycling eyewear, padded gloves, tasty and healthy energy foods and drinks and a lot more.
We look forward to showing you our selection of Comfort and Hybrid bicycles. Come on in, let us demonstrate all the new features, then test ride some different models and you'll be on your way to bicycling bliss!