Fitness Bikes

Fitness Bikes: Commute Bikes

Also known as hybrid bikes, fitness bikes are the quintessential mode of transport for the modern, forward-thinking, city-based individual. They are used for short/medium commutes within and around the city due to their focus on comfort, simplicity, and stability. Fitness bikes have become increasingly popular among the younger, tech-savvy, working-class.

If you’ve ever come across people cycling to and from work, their coat-tails fluttering in the wind as they weave in and out of city traffic, then chances are you’ve probably seen a hybrid bike.

Health Benefits of Cycling

Our generation is pretty obsessed with staying in shape, and bikes make for a fantastic low-intensity workout instrument.

Did you know cycling for only 2 to 4 hours a week has proven health benefits, including improved joint mobility, improved blood circulation, reduced stress levels, improved cardiovascular health, and more?

With that in mind, it’s pretty easy to see the allure hybrid bikes hold. Not only are they super comfy and easy to ride around town, but they give you the option to work out and get your cardio in check on your commute to school, work, or the coffee shop down the block!

No wonder fitness bikes have steadily risen in popularity to hold rank as the number one best-selling bike in several countries worldwide, including the UK!

What is a Fitness/Hybrid Bike?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines the word hybrid (also hybrid bike) as:

“a bicycle that has a mixture of features of different specialized bicycles, so that it works well in a range of conditions”.

By borrowing certain aspects of a mountain bike, mimicking a few features of a road bike, and mix them together – result is a surprisingly versatile general-purpose hybrid (or fitness)bike.

Features of a Fitness Bike

Now let’s look at other features you are likely to find on a fitness/hybrid bike.

Fitness Bikes Handlebars

The signature flat & straight handlebars on fitness bikes are similar to the handlebars found on a mountain bike. This kind of handlebar gives the rider a comfortable and easily maneuverable grip that makes tight bends and steering adjustments easier to navigate.

Their unique straight as an arrow handlebar design – instead of the drop-down handles present on other types of road bikes is why they’re also known as flat-bar road bikes.

Seating Position

Fitness bikes incorporate a tall head tube for an intuitive and comfortable upright seating position, similar to what you might find on a mountain bike.

Brakes

Hybrid bikes make use of brake technology borrowed from mountain bikes – disc brakes and V-brakes. Both have more than enough stopping power, although bike reviews report disc brakes to work better in wet/rainy conditions.

Fitness Bikes Frame

Fitness bikes are generally lighter and faster than other bikes, thanks to a super lightweight frame similar to what you may find on a road bike.

While most fitness bikes have frames crafted out of aluminum, there is a market among the urbane for steel frames and even carbon-fiber frames – if you can afford it, that is.

Tires

Hybrid bikes tend to use different size tires depending on their target terrain.

Fitness bikes designed for use on paved roads within the city will have skinny tires(700mm/28inches) for speed and easy maneuvering, zooming in and around urban streets.

On the other hand, you will find fitness bikes designed for city use but with thicker tires. The extra grip offered by these chunkier tires gives you the freedom to take the bike off-road – along forest roads and trails where thinner tires would have you slipping and sliding all over.

Gears

Derailleur-type gears tend to be the standard on fitness/hybrid bikes. You will locate the gear switch controls on the flat handlebars within easy reach adjacent to the brake levers. The derailleur gears employ a system that adjusts the bike’s chain and sprockets on the cranks and rear wheel.

This system has its pros and cons; respectively, it is lightweight and straightforward to maintain, but at the same time, its open design is vulnerable to damage.

Most hybrid bikes have a range of 8 gears, although the more expensive models can come with 11 gears.

What are Fitness Bikes Used For?

Fitness bikes take up the niche category right between mountain bikes and road bikes – you’ll commonly see them zipping back and forth around crowded city centers.

At home on the city’s paved roads, speeding in and out of traffic on weekdays, yet still able to hold its own should you decide to hit the hiking trail over the weekend.

Bike enthusiasts generally regard fitness bikes as fast, comfortable, and reliable, helping you fight off calories and also rush hour traffic at the same time.

Most of these bikes are fitted with railings or mounts for cargo baskets and similar accessories for ease of use and practicality as a daily do-it-all commuter.

Recommended for beginner cyclists or people that need a comfortable bike to get from point a to b, fitness bikes are essentially bikes optimized for urban road use, sacrificing most performance features to give the rider an optimal and comfortable riding experience. Honestly, what more could you want out of a bike!

Fitness Bikes Price Range

As expected, for a bike that’s quickly risen to one of the best-selling bikes of the 2020s, affordability is crucial.

Fitness bikes range in price – on the lower end of the spectrum, you can pick one up for $200 brand new, fresh out of the store.

As the price goes up, you start to see better features on the bike. Hydraulic disk brakes make an appearance at the $400 mark and up. Anything lower than this will most likely come with rim-style V-brakes.

Marin Fairfax 1

  • An aluminum frame built with accessory mounts for future addons.
  • Wheel size: 700cc
  • Brakes: Disc brakes.
  • Gears: Derailleur
  • Price: $499.00
Marin Fairfax 1 fitness bikes
Photo from Marin Bikes

Trek Marlin 7 

  • Price: $899.99
  • Frame: Aluminium
  • Gears: Derailleur
  • Brakes: Disc brakes
  • Tires: 700c

If you want the ultimate hybrid bike, be prepared to set aside at least $1600 for an entry-level bike in this class.

Trek Marlin 7
Photo from Trek Bikes

Ribble Hybrid AL

  • An electric bike (e-bike) with an aluminum alloy frame.
  • Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes.
  • Gear: Hub gears.
  • Price: $1999.00
Ribble Hybrid AL
Screenshot from Ribble Cycles

Priority Bike – Continuum Onyx

  • Price: $1299.00
  • Frame: Aluminium
  • Brakes: Hydraulic dual-piston disc brakes
  • Gears: Hub gear

These will come with superior features such as belt drives (instead of chains), carbon forks, and internally geared hubs (replacing the derailleur on cheaper models). Some bikes in this bracket can retail as high as $4000.

Priority Bike - Continuum Onyx
Photo from Priority Bicycles

Sub-Types of Fitness Bikes

Now that you have a some understanding of fitness bikes let’s look at the different types available.

Classic Fitness Bikes

These are those bikes that look like traditional bikes due to their old-fashioned aesthetic. Usually, with a basket attached at the front for carrying your groceries, these bikes aren’t meant for speed. Instead, classic hybrids are used for a leisurely ride around town or going to the store. Some classic bikes come with a step-through unisex frame – enhancing its leisurely and traditional, easy aesthetic.

Cruiser/Touring Hybrid Bikes

Cruiser hybrids are unique in that you lean back when riding – giving a comfortable and easy kind of vibe. They are best suited for slow rides along the beach/boardwalk, relaxed rides around the park, or a summer jaunt down to the ice-cream shop.

Hybrid Sports Bikes

This kind of hybrid is more of a speed demon than its peers, the classic and cruiser hybrids. Fitness sports bikes emphasize speed and performance on numerous types of terrain. Able to handle its own on gravel, hiking trails, and unpaved roads. Hybrid sports bikes are the most common of all fitness bikes.

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