Picking a Bike
Picking a bike is a difficult choice. And once you’ve waded through all the options on the market, and settled on a bike that might be for you, you still have more work to do! This is because each bike model comes in a wide variety of sizes. And while bike sizing might seem simple, it actually gets pretty complex. Different types of bikes require different sizing guidelines. In this article, we’re focusing on one bike’s sizing in particular – the hybrid bike.
We want you to get the best bike for your riding style, and we know that sizing may end up being the most important part of selecting a new bike. We’ll start this article with a hybrid bicycle sizing guide, and then we’ll examine whether a hybrid is the right bike for you! Let’s get started.
What is a Hybrid Bike?
If you’re unsure whether a hybrid bike suits your needs, then it helps to start with the basics. Just what is a hybrid bike?
Basically, a “hybrid” bike is just what the name implies. A hybrid combines the strengths of different types of bikes – most notably the mountain bike and the road bike. It is meant to be a bike capable of handling all sorts of terrain. Of course, the result is a bike that is great for all-around riding, but doesn’t do anything quite as well as the bikes from which it draws inspiration.
A hybrid is generally what you’d choose as a good all-purpose bike. Great for commuting and for getting around. If you like to mix up light off-road riding with some city cruising, then a hybrid might be for you.
Later in the article, we’ll dive deeper into a hybrid’s design, but first let’s check out the subject matter of this article, the hybrid bike sizing chart:
Hybrid Bike Size Chart
The following is a basic size chart for hybrid bicycles. As you can see, the chart is divided into bike sizes (from XS-XL), and corresponds to a rider’s height and inseam length. To make it easier to read, we’ve included measurements in both inches and in centimetres.
However, it is important to note one important detail. Hybrid bikes are a less “standard” type of bike. Some borrow more from mountain bike design, some borrow more from road bike design, and some land somewhere in the middle. The result is that we can’t really give you an overall sizing chart for this bike, because they differ so much. Thus, the following is a general sizing chart for hybrid bikes, and you will need to look at the specific sizing chart for each bike you are considering.
|Bike Size||Rider Height (Inches)||Rider Height (cm)||Inseam (inches)||Inseam (cm)|
|XS||4’9.9”- 5’1”||147-155||27.2”- 28.7”||69-73|
|S||5’1”- 5’5”||155-165||28.3”- 30.7”||72-78|
|M||5’5”- 5’8.9”||165-175||30.3”- 32.7”||77-83|
|L||5’8.9”- 6’1.2”||175-186||32.3”- 34.6”||82-88|
|XL||6’1.2”- 6’5.6”||186-197||34.3”- 36.6”||87-93|
Reading the Chart:
If you’re unfamiliar with reading a bike chart, let’s break down the basics.
First, in the far left column, we have bike size. Bikes tend to come in sizes ranging from XS-XL, and the size that works for you depends on height and also your inseam.
The height is pretty intuitive, and you should have yourself properly measured before you buy a bike.
The inseam is less obvious. Essentially, the inseam is the length of your legs from the floor to the inside of your crotch. To measure your inseam, you’ll need to stand against a wall, with your feet roughly 6 to 8 inches apart. Then, you want to measure from the floor, straight up to the highest point of your crotch. An easier (and more comfortable) way to do this is to actually place something between your legs to mimic a bike seat. Then, measure from the top of that object to the floor.
Why Buy the Correct Bike Size?
You can surely imagine that buying a properly sized bike is important, but you might not know just how important this requirement is.
The reasoning behind this importance is pretty intuitive. Bikes are designed to work around our body shape. The size of the frame, and the distance between the components on a bike are designed to work in conjunction with our body parts. A properly sized bike will allow the rider to sit in a comfortable position, with proper extension of their arms and legs. Their joints will flow naturally with the bike, and no movements will be forced or cramped. Basically, a properly sized bike just works.
This is also why a bike’s sizing chart is measured in terms of height and inseam. This helps to consider not only your body’s length overall, but also the length of your legs, which is particularly important in ensuring that you properly reach the pedals. A proper inseam length will allow you to extend your legs properly as you pedal, which will take the stress off your knees, and allow you to operate the bike with maximum efficiency.
Of course, it helps to look at the upsides of a properly sized bike, but what’s even more convincing is to check out the potential downsides of an improperly sized bike:
Potential Issues of Improper Bike Sizing
You really want to avoid buying an improperly sized bike. Here are the primary reasons why:
Joint Problems: First up, we have the big problem, and that’s joint pain. The result of an improperly sized bike is that your legs and arms don’t extent to the pedals and the handlebars correctly. Because of this, you aren’t riding the bike properly, and the bike doesn’t work with the natural extension of your legs and arms. A proper bike works with your body’s natural movements. So if this doesn’t happen, you have to strain and bend your joints in an unnatural way to operate the bike.
The result is pain, which can even lead to injury and to joint problems or swelling. If you’re uncomfortable riding your bike, the reason may be improper sizing!
Back Problems: Similar to the issue above, but deserving of its own section, is back problems! Depending on the type of bike, it is meant to be ridden in a more upright position, or a more bent-forward position. Either way, your back is meant to be straight and natural as you ride your bike. An improperly sized bike can result in your back having to “bend” to fit yourself onto the bike. This can cause real back problems over time, as your body strains to ride your bike. This is another issue you definitely want to avoid!
Poor/Inefficient Riding: A poorly fitted bike simply results in a less efficient bike ride! If you have to strain yourself to ride your bike, you aren’t getting the most out of your bike’s capabilities. You won’t take advantage of all that your bike has to offer, and you won’t benefit from any high-end components of its design.
Additionally, you’ll get tired faster! Because you have to put more effort into coordinating every pedal, the result is a bike ride that is much less efficient overall, and will tire you out quicker. This is a pretty big deal considering that the primary purpose of a bike is to cover a great distance with minimal exertion!
Do I Need a Hybrid Bike?
Now that we’ve covered hybrid sizing requirements, we’re going to address a question that’s equally important – do you actually need a hybrid bike at all? Picking a bike is no easy choice with all the options available on the market. Therefore, your top priority should be picking the bike that is right for you. In this section, we’re going to evaluate the special features of a hybrid bike’s design, and then examine how you should choose between all the options available.
Hybrid Bike Design Features
Before we look at the components of a hybrid bike design, it’s important to note that hybrid bikes might have very different designs. The concept of a hybrid bike is that it is meant to mix the specific capabilities of different types of bikes (most notably road and mountain bikes). The following is a general guide as to what you can expect from most hybrid bikes, but you need to keep in mind that some designs will sway further in either direction.
A hybrid bike frame is meant to be lightweight and durable. It falls somewhere in between the hyper-lightweight nature of a road bike, and the strong capabilities of a mountain bike. Typically, hybrid bikes have lightweight aluminum frames, although there are also options with carbon fiber frames (which is even more lightweight). Lower quality hybrid bikes might have steel frames, which are quite a bit heavier.
As for frame design, the frame is meant to position the rider for an upright ride, slightly leaned forward. This is considered one of the most comfortable ways to ride a bike, which is why it is so preferred for transportation and commuting purposes.
Most hybrid bikes position the handlebars so that the rider can sit mostly upright. This is done by positioning the handlebars above the seat. This way, the rider needs to sit facing upright to properly grip the handlebars.
Most of the time, the handlebars will be a flat bar or riser bar design. Both of these designs typically allow a rider to sit upright. Occasionally, there will be a drop bar, which allows you to bend further forward for increased aerodynamics.
The wheels on a hybrid tend to be a mix between road and mountain bike tires. The standard wheel size is 700c. The wheels themselves have traction, but not as much as you would find on a mountain bike tire. They are not as slim and high-pressure as road bike tires. Of course, different hybrids have different tire and wheel combinations.
It goes without saying why brakes are an important part of a bike. The brakes that are most common on a hybrid bike are either rim brakes or disc brakes. Rim brakes work to grip the rim of the tires to slow the bike’s momentum, while disc brakes grip onto a broke rotor on the wheel hub.
Typically speaking, disc brakes are the more premium option. They simply work better, and provide faster and more consistent braking. Disc brakes are found on higher-end hybrid bikes.
Hybrid bikes may or may not have suspension. If a hybrid has suspension, it will be front-suspension. Front suspension is located on the front fork that supports the bike’s front tire. Suspension acts to absorb any impact that rider may encounter while riding the bike. Suspension absorbs the impact and “bounces” the rider back into position. The result is a smoother ride overall.
You can find hybrid bikes with or without front suspension. Although suspension offers an easier, smoother ride, it also tends to slow you down. While the added absorbency smooths the ride, the extra motion also makes it more difficult for the bike to generate speed. It really comes down to a matter of preference, and it depends how often you will be taking the bike off-road.
Gears are another important component of hybrid bike design. Gears allow the rider to adjust resistance, and set different “speeds” which allow you to generate more RPMs. Typically speaking, higher gears offer more power but also make pedalling more difficult, while the reverse is true for lower gears.
Hybrid bikes tend to have gears, but the amount of gears will differ. Generally, it’s between 8 and 21 gears. This is also largely a matter of preference. While more gears allow more choice, it also complicates the ride, especially when you only tend to use a few different gears anyways.
Hybrid Bike Advantages
Let’s put it all together, what are the specific advantages offered by a hybrid bike? Let’s check out the top reasons that people settle on a hybrid. There are numerous benefits touted by this type of bike, but the most important consideration is whether the bike is right for you. Take some time to think about how you are going to use your bike, and see if it matches any of these factors:
Great For Varied Riding
Perhaps the most appealing thing about a hybrid bike is that it is great for all sorts of different bike riding. There are so many different types of bikes for so many different purposes. Off-road, city riding, road riding, gravel riding, and more! Sometimes, you just want a bike that can do it all! So if you don’t have the specific needs required of a certain discipline of riding, then perhaps you just want a basic hybrid bike.
A hybrid bike isn’t for any competitive purposes, and it’s not what you want if you’re particularly interested in a specific discipline of biking, but it is a good bike if you want to do a little bit of everything. If your primary concern is just using your bike for transportation, and you don’t know exactly where that transportation will take you, then you probably want a hybrid bike.
Because these bikes tend to not tout super high-end bike technology, they also tend to be more affordable than other types of bikes. Of course, this is a general statement, and the actual price of different hybrid bikes can vary quite a bit. But generally speaking, a hybrid is much more affordable than certain specialized bike disciplines (such as mountain and road bikes).
This isn’t to say that they’re cheap, as hybrids can still get pretty expensive, but you’re more looking in the range of thousands, as opposed to tens of thousands that might accompany a top-of-the-line road bike. There are many options available when it comes to a hybrid bike, and you’ll just have to pick the option that’s best for you.
Hybrid bikes are highly customizable. What we mean by this is that, whatever your riding needs, you can probably find a hybrid bike to match. There are hybrids with or without suspension, with various gear-sets, with various handlebars, and with various frame designs. It’s an interesting area of bike design, and careful research will secure you a bike that is just in line with your tastes!
Making the Proper Choice
Thanks so much for reading our guide to hybrid bicycle sizing! We hope we have convinced you of the importance of getting a properly sized bike. We also stressed the importance of getting the right type of bike for your riding needs. Picking a bike is all about matching your riding preferences to the choices available on the market, and then ensuring that your bike fits you perfectly.
If you take one thing from this article, we hope it’s the importance of picking a bike that is the perfect size. Also keep in mind that there are different sizing requirements for almost every different type of bike. So make sure to get yourself properly fitted before making this kind of investment!
Last Updated on May 29, 2023 by Danijel Cakalic