Road Bike vs. Hybrid—What Should You Ride?

The age-old question for new bike buyers is always “what type of bike is best for me?” If you’re trying to decide between a road vs. hybrid bike, it can be a difficult decision. Each bike comes with its own inherent benefits and performance. The hybrid bike offers more versatility and comfort, the road bike offers greater efficiency and speed. Your priorities should be defined by the type of riding you expect you’ll be doing the most.

Because selecting the right bike is an important decision, it’s worth taking the time to think through the following three questions before choosing a road bike or hybrid.

  1.  What type of riding will you be doing? Long-distance fitness rides and tours, short-ride commutes, rides on mixed-surface roads and trails (dirt and paved) or strictly road riding?
  2.  What style of bike do you currently ride or have you enjoyed riding in the past?
  3.  What style of bike will your companions, if applicable, be riding?
    With your answers to these three riding considerations, it’s time to dive deeper into the pros and cons of a road bike vs. hybrid option.
Road Bike vs. Hybrid—What Should You Ride?
Road Bikes vs. Hybrids: Which is the Right Bike for You?

There are unique advantages to road bikes and hybrid bikes and not a lot of overlap. To help you make the right bike decision for your needs and preferences, we’ve pulled together a list of advantages for both road and hybrid bikes. Take a look and determine what features matter most to you and your style of riding.

Hybrid Bikes
  • Versatile—Can be ridden on both smooth and moderately rough surfaces
  • Comfortable—Usually outfitted with a comfortable saddle and upright handlebar
  • Great Visibility and Control—Due to the upright riding position
  • Able to Carry Extra Weight—Usually equipped with mounts for carrying more luggage on the bike
Road Bikes
  • Aerodynamic—Due to the “over the handlebar” position of the rider
  • Efficient—Due to lighter weight frames, thin tires and gears suited to maximum speeds
  • Great for Long-Distance Rides—Aerodynamics and drop handlebars allow you more comfort and power while going the distance
  • Multiple Riding and Hand Positions—Great for adapting to the terrain and preventing your hands from going sore and numb
Bike Touring and Holidays

If an upcoming bike tour with Backroads or another active travel company has sparked your road bike vs. hybrid debate, fear not! The bike you’ll be riding on your Backroads tour will be a top-of-the-line finely crafted bicycle that will be appropriate for the type of terrain you’ll be riding on your trip – whether it be the winding country roads of Tuscany or the dirt roads of South Africa.  

Backroads Pro Tip

Try a few bikes out from friends that cycle, or from your local bike shop. Trying a couple of styles is a great way to find what is right for you.


For a look at Backroads’s bike fleet and specs, visit our bikes and equipment page.

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