How to Buy a Hybrid Bike

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How to Buy a Hybrid Bike
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How to Buy a Hybrid Bike

The hybrid bicycle is a fairly new kind of bike which combines the characteristics of a number of different, more specialist models to create a versatile bicycle. Hybrid bikes combine the robust capabilities of the mountain bike, the speed of the road bike and the comfort and range of the touring bicycle.

Such is the range of capabilities available that a number of sub classifications of hybrid bike have emerged, incorporating the capabilities of other bikes to varying degrees in order to satisfy the needs of different cyclists, be it for an emphasis on speed, comfort or usability over different terrain. Thanks to this, the hybrid bicycle is popular with all kinds of cyclists, and there is a wide selection of these bikes available on eBay.

Types of Hybrid

Due to the variety of different specifications available, a number of sub categories of hybrid bike have emerged. These are characterised by their emphasis on certain elements, such as comfort, over others.

Trekking Bicycle

The trekking bicycle is designed for bicycle touring, where cyclists will ride for long periods of time. A bicycle tour can last from one day to many, so comfort of the ride and reliability of the bicycle are key concerns here. A trekking bike will be designed to have a good capacity for luggage, and plenty of space for accessories such as multiple bottle cages and a pannier rack. Protection against adverse weather, such as mudguards, may also be present. This kind of bike will generally favour a more flexible material for the frame, which offers greater shock absorption and therefore more comfort, and heavy duty wheels which can sustain a heavy load.

Cross Bicycle

The cross bicycle is designed primarily for recreational use, and their design is often orientedtowards off road riding. Cross bicycles often use road bicycle frames, with flat handlebars that place the rider in a more comfortable upright position than bicycles designed for racing. Cross bikes also often have wider, more heavily treaded tyres than racing and touring bikes, which gives the bike greater capacity to deal with the potentially rough ground that may be encountered on paved and unpaved bike trails. Such bicycles are generally designed to be of a lighter weight, and often forgo extras such as lights and carrier racks.

Commuter Bicycle

The commuter bicycle is a type of bike designed specifically for use by commuters. This kind of bike often includes features which allow it to be comfortably ridden in a range of clothes, such as an enclosed chain guard which prevents the rider’s trousers from becoming caught in the bike chain. This kind of bicycle also generally offers the capacity to mount accessories such as baskets and pannier racks. Good accessories to consider include front and rear lights, for use during the dark hours a commuter may encounter in the early morning or late evening.

City Bicycle

The city bike is similar to the commuter bike, but is designed for commuting in more urban areas. The design bears some similarity to the town bicycle, though instead owes much of the basis of its design to mountain bikes. City bicycles are often built with strong, light weight frames and tyres that can withstand the potential hazards faced in urban environments, such as broken glass. With large wheels and a sturdy frame, these bikes are also designed to withstand potholes, jumping off city curbs, and other potential obstacles. City bikes may also include enclosed chain guards to enable riding in a variety of clothes, and suspension similar to that that of the mountain bike.

Comfort Bicycle

The comfort bike is another fairly new kind of bike, which owes its origins to the old roadster bike. These bikes are built for comfort, with wide, plush saddles, comfortable upright seating positions and swept back handlebars which can be easily reached by the rider. Built for leisure cycling, the weight of these bikes is less of a concern and, similar to the trekking bicycle, the comfort bike may often have plentiful space for accessories.

Frame Design

The design of the bicycle frame is important when considering purchasing a bicycle. Frame design is varied by altering the arrangement of the tubes which make up the frame, and there are two widely available designs for hybrid bicycles.

Diamond Frame

The diamond frame design is ubiquitous amongst modern bikes. This kind of frame consists of two ‘triangles’. The larger front triangle connects the seat, handlebar and front wheel. The smaller, rear triangle comprises of the seat and rear wheel. This design is often used in bicycles which require a strong, light frame, as the geometry of the tubes provides a structurally strengthening effect which means a stronger frame can be made using less material. Therefore, hybrid bikes such as the cross bike or the city bike will commonly use this sturdy frame design.

Step through Frame

The step through frame is perhaps the most common alternative to the traditional diamond frame still widely available. This kind of frame was originally designed to allow women wearing skirts to more easily mount and dismount their bicycle, which is achieved by lowering or completely removing the top tube of the bike.

The step through frame has since become popular as it allows a greater ease of use of the bike for cyclists of varying ages and physical abilities. This kind of frame can also be safer in the event of a cyclist losing balance, as they can step through the frame without risk of becoming entangled with the frame.

A drawback of this design is that, lacking the reinforcing effect of the diamond shape, more material may be required leading to a heavier frame. While this makes the step through frame less popular for bikes such as the city bike or the cross bike, which are often built to be strong and light, the frame remains a popular choice for designs where comfort is important, such as the trekking and comfort bikes.

Frame Materials

An important element of any kind of bike is the material out of which its frame is manufactured. The differing characteristics of various materials lend themselves to use in the frame of different kinds of bike, and the frame material is important to consider.

Steel

  • Steel has been used in bike frame construction for some time. Due to the ease with which steel can be worked, and its wide availability, steel frames are often some of the most affordable available.
  • Steel frames are strong and also flexible, which can enhance the comfort of the ride.
  • However, steel is also among the densest of available frame materials, which means that steel frames are often heavier than others. This makes steel frames a popular choice for where speed and weight are less of an issue, such as comfort bikes, or commuter bikes.
  • Another drawback of steel is the metals susceptibility to corrosion and rust, though as long as the metal is protected by anti corrosion treatments, or paint, steel frames can last a long time.

Aluminium

  • With developments in welding techniques which made aluminium easier to work, aluminium frames rapidly came to replace steel as the most commonly used frame material in many kinds of modern bike.
  • Aluminium has a greater strength to weight ratio than steel, meaning aluminium frames are often lighter. This kind of frame is also generally more rigid, which can mean less comfort as the frame absorbs less shock. However, some cyclists prefer the rigid feel of an aluminium frame.
  • Aluminium frames are also resistant to corrosion as they are not vulnerable to rust. While this kind of frame may suffer from fatigue faster than other frame materials, aluminium frames are still generally expected to last between five and ten years. 
  • The low cost, light weight and good strength make aluminium frames popular with a range of bicycles, and many kinds of hybrid bike are available with aluminium frames.

Carbon Fibre

  • Carbon fibre is an unusual, though increasingly popular, frame material. Carbon fibre is both very strong and very light, making the material a popular choice for a wide range of bikes which require a lightweight, strong frame, such as cross bikes and mountain bikes.
  • Carbon fibre can also be find tuned for the needs of different parts of the frame, for example, stronger in some areas to withstand pedalling force, and more flexible in other areas to improve rider comfort.
  • Carbon fibre is also resistant to corrosion. However, carbon fibre frames are at risk of cracking from fatigue after a long period of use, and for this reason such frames are often designed to bend. Carbon fibre components on frames made of other materials, such as aluminium, are becoming increasingly common.
  • This can offer the benefits of carbon fibre for certain parts of the frame, such as the front wheel fork, while avoiding the drawbacks and high expense that would come with a fully carbon frame.

Titanium

  • Titanium is the most expensive material commonly used in frame construction, and combines a variety of desirable characteristics.
  • Titanium frames are exceptionally light whilst maintaining a great deal of strength, making titanium a good choice for bicycles which benefit particularly from light weight and good strength, such as cross and city bikes.
  • Titanium is also highly resistant to corrosion and frames built with it are generally long lasting. The primary drawback of titanium frames is the expense, which puts them out of the price range of many cyclists.

Sizing the Bicycle

Correctly sizing a bike is important to both the comfort and safety of the cyclist. The rider faces an increased risk of crashing or losing balance when trying to ride a bike that is too big or small.

The measurement used to fit a rider to a correctly sized bicycle is the ‘bicycling inseam’. This is a shorter measurement than the trouser inseam, and is measured from the bottom of the rider’s crotch to the floor.

This measurement should be compared to the seat tube length of the bike, which is generally available on the item’s entry. A 54cm size bike, for example, means that the tube measures 54cm from where the pedals will be installed to the top, where the seat will be fitted.  Generally, there should be a few inches space between the top of the frame and the rider’s crotch; more if the frame is intended for use over rough ground. Components like the seat can be adjusted to suit a rider’s height more comfortably. Sometimes manufacturers measure their frames in differing ways, so it can also be a good idea to refer to the item’s entry, or the manufacturer’s web page for further information regarding sizing.

Finding a Hybrid Bike on eBay

eBay offers  wide range of hybrid bikes of various designs and materials.

The listing of available hybrid bikes can be found by first navigating to the Sporting Goods portal, and then the Cycling Section. Hybrid Bikes can be found under Bikes. Here it is possible to arrange the listing of available hybrid bikes by brand, condition, frame size, colour, price and more.

Key information about an item, such as the sub category of hybrid bike a particular bicycle falls under, are generally prominently displayed on the item listing. This makes it possible to see at a glance whether or not a particular bike meets and specific requirements.

Further information will also be available on the items page, along with feedback about the seller and item reviews, allowing a purchase to be made with confidence. On this page it is also possible to ask the seller a question about the item.

To find a specific kind of hybrid bike, it may be easier and more effective to use the search function available at the top of every page. The Search Tips page offers further information on effectively using eBay’s search function.

Pay using PayPal to improve the payment process and offer more protection and ensure that you have included postage fees in your total if local pick up is not an option.

Conclusion

Hybrid bicycles offer a combination of desirable traits from various different kinds of bike, and can meet a range of needs. Hybrid bikes exist for casual leisure rides, lengthy bicycle tours and commuting to work, and come in a range of designs and materials. Finding the right hybrid bicycle is easy with the wide range offered by eBay.

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