So what exactly is a “Hybrid Bike” you ask.
Well, easy…it’s a bike that combines various features of a road bike and a mountain bike as well.
This nifty little thing was invented to be more of a ‘commuter-friendly’ vehicle built to be able to handle both environments well enough to accommodate most riders.
Of course it should go without saying that obviously a road bike will ride faster than a hybrid bike on pavement/asphalt, and that a mountain bike will be able to handle a wider and more ‘extreme’ range of rough terrain than a hybrid. But that’s not something that detracts away from the benefits of a hybrid bike, and that is also not something that you should really be focused on when using or thinking of buying a hybrid bike…after all, it’s not meant to be able to compete with those guys. It was, specifically, invented to be a ‘middle-ground’ of sorts between the two.
Anyway, now that we’ve gotten the introductory material out of the way let’s get to some more nitty-gritty details.
Pros of Hybrid Bikes
There are several advantages in the engineering and design of a hybrid bike that make them more ‘desirable’ or at least better-suited to their intended task.
- Heavier frames than road bikes but not excessively so.
- The ‘high bottom bracket’.
- Having wheels the size of road bikes but with wider tires like a mountain bike.
To elaborate let’s break them down one-by-one.
A heavier frame will necessarily imply that the bike itself is overall ‘sturdier’ and harder to ‘damage’ than a road bike. This makes sense given that the lightweight frame of a road bike was designed for speed and kind of assumed that the rider wouldn’t subject his bike to repeated ‘impacts’ or ‘shock’ since he’s supposed to be riding it on a pretty flat surface. Obviously, a fall or a wreck would likely ruin the bike, but that’s kind of the rider’s fault then really.
However, for a hybrid bike this heavier frame is advantageous to its rider because the rider doesn’t necessarily need the speed of a road bike, but instead could foreseeably be taking his bike into rougher terrain than a nice, smooth flat road on in a city somewhere. Too light of a frame and your bike will accrue ‘wear-and-tear damage’ too fast. A heavier frame will ensure the longer lifespan that you need.
Now onto the second part. This one is easy and simple to explain because the term ‘high bottom bracket’ is self-explanatory. It makes it easier to go over obstacles. And that’s really all there is to it.
And as for that last one?
Well that’s also pretty easy.
You see, the size of a wheel directly impacts the potential speed of a bike. It’s not all that much, but it certainly makes a difference when all is said and done. And the relationship here is that the bigger the wheel the faster the bike could go. So the first part of this ‘advantage’ would be that a hybrid can get pretty decently fast if it has to.
Now the second part of this advantage is taken from the other side of the family. The mountain bike…the actual tires of a hybrid bike are relatively wide. This one is also easy to explain. The wider the tire the more stable your bike is.
And that about wraps it up for the pros of a hybrid.
But as with all things in life, you have to take the good with the bad.
Hybrid Bike Cons
Fortunately, there’s not all that many disadvantages for a hybrid…if you are using them as intended and do not try to make unfair comparisons.
- Hybrids cannot keep up with road bikes on pavement…or roads…obviously.
- Hybrids lack the traction needed to climb up very steep hills, riding on badly uneven surfaces, or when trying to simply go through slick and/or slippery surfaces too.
As you can see, these two ‘cons’ are more-or-less the result of comparing them to their ‘parents’…which is just simply not fair to do.
Hybrids will go slower than a road bike because the width of their tires (which are wider if you remember) generate more friction and thus lead to less efficient transfer of energy when pedaling.
And for the whole ‘traction’ thing. The tires of a hybrid are not as ‘rugged’ or as wide (that width thing again) as that of a mountain bike, and thus they do not ‘catch’ as much of the ground.
So now that you have a basic understanding of what exactly a hybrid bike is, let’s get to the part where you’ll be actually using the thing.
Beginner-Friendly Outdoor VO2 Max Training Program
For our workout today we’ll be focusing on a VO2 maximizing regime that’s meant to be pretty similar to a HIIT sprinting program.
The name of the game here is that you’ll be doing rounds of high-intensity riding.
- Begin with a 10:00 minute warm-up. Ensure that heart rate is hovering around 150 beats per minute by the end. If unable to measure heart rate then use a more informal approach of seeing if you are “breaking a sweat” by the end of it.
- 3x sets of a 3:00 minute interval at your VO2 max pace/speed. Give yourself 2:00 minutes of rest in-between sets.
- End with a 10:00 cool-down. Ensure that your heart rate has sunk to around 120 beats per minute by the end of the cool-down. If unable to measure heart rate then use your intuition and judge yourself by the reverse of “breaking a sweat”…feel if you have stopped sweating already.
This routine can eventually add more of your VO2 max sets once you begin to adapt, but for now three is enough.
And, very quickly, before we head off here I’d like to go over just what exactly the term “VO2 max” means.
In our context it’s the maximum/fastest speed/pace that you can maintain on your bike for 10:00 continuous minutes.
So in order to figure out your VO2 max you would simply set a timer for 10:00 minutes, begin that timer right when you start pedaling, and then pedal as fast as you can for the next 10:00 minutes but making sure not to stop.
Slowing down, speeding up, or having fluctuating speed is not really a concern for the VO2 max test since, at the end, you’ll simply just average it all out and that’ll work.
Alright, you are now set and ready for the big world of outdoor racing/biking with your brand new and shiny hybrid.