Is a hybrid bike good for both trails and an escape?

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

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Cycling/biking is one of the most loved crazes of youth, all ages in fact. No? Yes? For most of us it was our first “wheeled” escape vehicle. So let’s take this a step further and learn more about biking and if perhaps a hybrid bike is a good vehicle to depend upon in times of need, as well as just fun.

Many people search the web asking ‘is a hybrid bike good for trails?’ In this article I’m going to answer this question. (You can check on the Best hybrid bike under $1,000 here.)

About Hybrid Bikes

A hybrid bike is the upgraded version of your newer bicycle designs – a combination of road bikes and mountain bikes. The advanced features of a hybrid bike easily suites it for gravel trails or light-off road trails. For this reasons it has become hugely popular with cyclists.

How to Buy the Best Hybrid Bike Under $1,000?

A hybrid bike is designed to perform well on both smooth and rocky roads. Anyone who has tried to ride a road bike on anything other than well, a road can attest to this, or a mountain bike on roads. Of course every hybrid bike has different specifications and features, so you need to consider some important things before buying the best hybrid bike to fit your needs, filtered through your budget.

Some important things about the best Hybrid Bike:

Tires:

The best hybrid bikes normally come with a 700 CC wheelbase and have tires that are between 1.4″ and 1.8″ wide. On the other hand a cross-country bike will have tires in the 1.9″ to 2.25″ width range, trail and all-mountain bike will have tires in the 2.25″ to 2.4″ width range, and downhill bikes, which are meant to withstand the abuse of drops and rock gardens, are equipped with tires ranging up to 2.5″ wide. These bikes are used by most ski resorts to attract a summer crowd to use the mountain and its lift systems for rides few roads can compete with for thrills and near-death experiences. IAC the standard hybrid tires allow you to quickly and smoothly pass over road cracks, road bumps and pavements abnormalities. These also help as to speed and climbing hills, dependent of course on how the bike is geared. They also support the weight of additional packs, equipment and gear should one of these be a part of your prepper planning.

Frame:

It is essential to consider the frame of the bike before buying. The frame is the bone of the bike as it connects the other parts to each other and provides the form, fit and function of this as a vehicle. Today most of the frames out on the market are made of aluminum or carbon composites. The price range can be substantial so do your homework.

While it may seem a little costly to buy a carbon frame, especially if you are on a limited budget, that reduced weight is a plus. Whichever you select, both of them are strong and rust-resistant.

Size:

Another important thing you should consider before buying a hybrid bike is “the fit”. We have all seen the wrong person on the wrong sized bike. It was either a gift or it is an accident in the making. You want to be comfortable, stable, and feel you can smoothly touch the ground while stopped or stopping. Also, ensure the bike seat can be adjusted to support your comfort and the pedals can be adjusted for that “right” riders position, even with added gear and packs.

Seats:

Where you meet the road. Most hybrid bicycles come with padded bike seats or saddles which are intended to help you to feel comfortable while crossing the unpaved roads, or other road hazards as well as making long stretches now wear less your important parts. While it is essential to test the bike before buying as a part of the whole thing as a road system, it is also the time to change the seat as needed to assure this is a vehicle you can both enjoy and depend upon.

Suspension:

If you want to enjoy a comfortable, non-wearing biking experience on any terrain then a front suspension fork is important. Suspension forks are shock absorbers and every shock they lessen makes for a better ride and a better you! Take this into consideration even if you don’t intend to use the vehicle to hall your gear and your life off-the-grid.

Most of the hybrid bikes come with front suspension forks, so before buying make sure what the fork tolerances are as a part of your overall research.

Brakes:

When you are going to buy a hybrid bike, you will find that most of them have linear braking system which are excellent, especially when you are not biking.

A better option is disc brakes if available. In fact I would make this a “no buy” decision personally. This type of braking system fits accurately in the center part of your wheel and ensures you much greater control of the bike when braking. Disc brakes perform in rain and mud and even in snow and ice and are not dependent on just how hard you can squeeze the brake handles. AND, no matter the two-wheeled vehicle, peddled or motorized, just you or an additional rider or loaded with gear, just hitting the front break hard will preform a helmet test you really don’t want to do.

Advantages of Hybrid Bikes:

Cyclists are a tough group, as are we preppers. To gain popularity a bike has to promote its advantages. So, what do hybrid bicycles bring to the table?

Raised Handlebars and a Relaxed Frame Geometry: The raised handlebars and Relax geometry are perfect for sitting up straight in a comfortable saddle, a natural position as opposed to making minimizing wind-resistance the most important consideration, as in racing. For a SHTF user this comfort outweighs speed and also facilitates supporting more gear. Additionally, raised, flat handlebars and the upright sitting position make it simple to watch where you are going and what is coming your way in either road hazards or two-legged ones.

Higher Gear Ratios: Higher gear ratios bikes are more comfortable for on-road, on trail biking. Yes, lower gears are better for hills, sandy soil, small brush/grass, but for a long ride, with the added weight of gear, on mostly flat pavement, high gears ratios are the right trade-off. They also facilitate smooth shifting and consistent pedaling. Things that are foreign to dedicated mountain cyclists, though they will never admit it.

Wider Tires: Wider tires are safer for lower speed, non-racing biking. Used at lower speeds they provide a better (bigger) contact patch greatly increasing stability while being somewhat more forgiving of mistakes. Now, you make the bike top-heavy by just being there riding. Add gear and the “advantage of the larger contact patch is mitigated. Physics applies equally everywhere (except in a vacuum.). In any case they provide a more comfortable ride on rough pavement, sandy roads or snowy tracks. They last way longer than road-bike tires and they help you not getting thrown by things like road cracks or train tracks you might have to cross, or cow barriers.

Superior Comfort: Again, many of hybrid bikes have suspension seats (hard springs) and forks on the back and front wheel. With this suspension system, riders feel much safer as they do help mitigate the bumps. Whenever a bump or obstacle comes, rather than the rider having to lift up off the seat, the seat counteracts to lesson the shock. Suspension forks also help when speed breaking as they provide a smoother compression in the down fork response. These are of value when you are carrying gear that is, but shouldn’t, really be bumping up against each other.

  

Loaded with Accessories: These bikes are specifically designed to carry “extra stuff” as opposed to road bikes where ever ounce is considered an abomination of nature. And, as preppers, we mostly like things with extra attachments. Even the little basket on the front of the bike can be of value, as long as it doesn’t have a flower designed into it.

Affordable Price: Knowing the advanced features and advantages, you may think it might be a pricey bike, and compared to what is sold over the counter at Walmart, you could defend that point. However, buying right the first time and buying for the true purpose intended is always smart. A road-bike carbon-composite frame, bare frame, can run you $3,500 and has but only two purposes – actual hard-core racing, or making you look like you do hard-core racing. The build-out of these frames can push the cost to 4 times the cost of that frame. I don’t judge. The hybrid is a better solution for cruising the hood or getting out of the hood should you chose this as a part of your survival planning.

Disadvantages of Hybrid bikes

With a lot of advantages, the hybrid bike has a few limitations or disadvantages too. I write them off to the designed purpose of the bike vs a road bike or mountain bike but I am providing them for your consideration:

  • Some hybrid frames won’t accept tires wide enough for the more serious mountain biker
  • The absence of a full range of lower gears makes them unattractive to, again, mountain bikers. If you live in a hilly area, you should make this a part of your buying decision as higher gear ratios are more for level or near level road riding
  • The upright frame geometry does increase your wind drag at higher speeds
  • The compliant frames and riding position are less efficient in the transfer of power from your body to the pedals to the rear-driving wheel, than a racing bike – again, physics
  • Slower than a street bike and less intense than a mountain bike, again know you intended use.

Now, it’s time to decide if a hybrid bike is good for trails or not? Reading this article, you should be able to make a smarter make choice. In this expert’s opinion, hybrid bikes are good for the smooth trail (typical or not), regular commuting, but not good for racing or dedicated mountain biking.

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