Hybrid Bike versus Road Bike, which is better?

Which bike should I ride and what are the differences between a Road bike and a Hybrid bicycle?

What is the best bike for me to ride? This is a question we get a lot.

The short answer is a mix of personal taste and cycling purpose. To decide between a road bike or a hybrid can be difficult as each have their own benefits. However, a key factor should be to ride what you are comfortable with. Plus, if all your friends are choosing a certain style, it probably makes sense to all ride the same bikes (so there is no complaining that anyone has a differing advantage!)

Here are the differences and advantages between a road bike versus a hybrid bike.

Road Bikes v. Hybrid bikes - Road have a forward geometry


What is a Road Bike?

A road bike has a lightweight frame (carbon being the lightest) with dropped handlebars (racing style) and thinner tyres. It is made for smooth tarmac and hence is ridden only on the road. Today’s modern road bikes have a wide range of gearing, allowing for ease on the hills and full throttle down them. This bike is made for speed.

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Advantages of a Road Bike

  • Light – this is the key word in cycling, especially pro cycling. A lighter bike means less weight to get over those hills.

  • Fast – those thin tyres and aerodynamic design make it a delight to ride.
  • Position – with drop handlebars, your hands can try different positions, making it great for long distance riding or allowing to get off the saddle more easily on hills, or in a tucked position for descending faster.
  • Dream Inducing – if you dream of being a racing cyclist like Alberto Contador, then riding one of our lightweight Trek Emonda road bikes will complete the fantasy!
Hybrid bike versus Road Bikes, which is a better bicycle ride'

What is a Hybrid Bike?

A hybrid is a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike. It looks more like a mountain bike due to its flat handlebars but performs more like a road bike. Its frame is usually aluminium (or carbon mix), and the upright geometry allows for the rider to easily view the surrounding landscape and road ahead.

Hybrid cyclists have a more comfortable ride

Advantages of a Hybrid Bike

  • Easy & Comfortable – a more upright and relaxed geometry, brakes and gears positioned on the flat handlebars, wider tyres for stability, and the option for a gel saddle, a much more comfortable ride is on offer.

  • Versatile – the hybrid can ride most terrains from smooth tarmac to dirt trails.
  • Low Gearing – the gearing is exceptionally low, making all hills rideable if you keep spinning!
  • Bike Touring – allows the intrepid cyclist to add larger handlebars, saddlebags, racks and panniers, and generally carry more luggage.
Which is better, a road bike or a hybrid bike?

“The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind.” William Saroyan, American Playwright

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Things to Consider when choosing a Road Bike or a Hybrid Bike
  • Geometry – a road bike allows for a much more aggressive (aerodynamic) position. A hybrid bike on the other hand allows the rider to sit up with a straighter back. If you have any back / reach problems, a hybrid would probably be more suitable.

  • Handling – both bikes handle very differently. A road bike is more responsive than a hybrid (and hence takes a little more skill to ride). A hybrid is easier to ride for a less experienced rider.
  • Handlebars – a road bike has drops whereas a hybrid has a flat handlebar. This affects your position and handling, but importantly your brakes and gear changes are in different positions. Changing gears and braking is a little harder on a road bike as it is a little more awkward and takes some practice.
  • Road Surface – a road bike is made only for the roads (!) but a hybrid can handle light trails as well as the road. This is due to the tyres, with road bikes usually having a thinner / slicker tyre (23 to 25 c) than the hybrids (32 to 35 c).
Conclusion of which to choose, a road bike or hybrid bike?

As seen, each bike has its own advantages. Review each bike’s benefits and then think about the type of terrain, your comfort level with each style and what your partner or friends are riding, if in a small group. Whichever you choose, enjoy!

If you need any advice or further information on your bike selection, please get in touch.

Bike Tours in the Alentejo, Portugal
See our selection of road bikes or hybrid bikes used on our cycling tours.