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Riding a bicycle in modern times is all about having options. A hilly path for the weekend wander? Your mountain bike can take the grind. But will it get you around the town too?
A workhorse that endures long rides and heavy traffic conditions? Sure, that’s what touring bicycles are for. But can it make time up a hill on Picnic Day? Not so well.
Also need the capacity to lug around your shopping bags? Yes, your road bikes and commuter bikes ought to be able to take on the extra load. The minimalist design of a mountain bike won’t allow that.
How about one single bike that incorporates a medley of all these features?
Yes, these are those fun times when a particular hybrid of bicycles is available. It combines the qualities of a touring bike and road bike with that of a tough mountain bike. You are comfortable, you reap the best pedaling efficiency, and the whole frame and apparatus are so light that you might just walk up a bend with the bike under your arm.
Sound too good to be true? Thinking oh no, this is going to cost me a bomb? Well, not quite. I mean yes there can be the more expensive options that attract you. But if you do your research, you will know exactly which feature is worth shelling out on and which one doesn’t really matter to you.
7 Best Hybrid Bikes under $300 & Reviews
This is a true unisex hybrid bike. The frame of this clever design is made from Hiland’s proprietary aluminum alloy. The handlebars and stem are made of Promax – this makes it suitable for long-standing wear and tear under punishing conditions. This combination of materials makes the hybrid from Hiland lighter than many mountain bikes, and even light for a road bike at a little over 28 pounds.
Even the die-hard fans of a bike’s functionality will pay an ode to the looks of this hybrid. With 700 c x 40 c tires from Kenda and the aforementioned light weight, this looks a lot more expensive than it really costs. The build is slender and the 600mm handlebars are modish. The finish of matte black with bold lettering proclaiming the brand give this proud bike a distinguished look.
And now for what really matters: believe it for it’s true that the entire Shimano tourney, cassette (12-32T), and grip shifters power this bike to be truly efficient. Small flicks and finger-movements can help you cruise between a choice of 24 gear. Tune-up for this bike, for this reason alone, needs some time and patience. After the tuning is in place, this hybrid works just right on each terrain. The drivetrain is particularly efficient and offers great returns for the rider’s effort.
A word of praise for the dual disc-brake system is due: powerful mechanical disc brakes with a front radius of 180mm and a rear radius of 160mm need careful installation. In return, they afford good stopping power regardless of the terrain and offer the rider a safe, controlled ride.
A true hybrid to meet all sizing requirements, it comes in three sizes and you can also opt to pay for expert assembly to get you going.
- 24-speed smooth Shimano drivetrain
- Strong after-sales customer service
- Proprietary seat from Hiland is not comfortable
- Time-consuming tune-up
Verdict: At this price-point, it is a steal of a hybrid bike suited for almost anyone including teenagers, seniors or those who have been out of touch with bicycle-riding. Familiarizing yourself with the drivetrain, shifters, and especially the assembly requires your full attention. But it’s worth it.
If every bike has one arresting factor that makes its riders fall in love with it, for the Retrospec Barron, it is the handlebars. It is made of aluminum and done up with shifters at the handle-grips. The brake levers of the linear brakes fit ergonomically into the crook of the fingers and clamp on at subtle flicks. Go over bumpy roads and loose stones effortlessly with the help of front suspension. The amount of control this handlebar lends will almost deceive you . . . You wonder if there’s a catch. Does it not go fast enough?
Not at all. Retrospec’s Barron is a 21-speed bike with a powerful Shimano tourney drivetrain. Speed up with economic pedaling by switching to the higher gears or keep more control and stability and cruise along scenic paths for the sheer enjoyment of it. The design of this bike seamlessly blends efficiency with comfort. Women riders, don’t feel left out: there is a step-through frame in the Barron line in the same price bracket. This review focuses on the step-over frame which comes in four size variants from small to X-large.
The frame of light 6061 aluminum which brings the whole bike’s weight to about 37 pounds. Tires on this model are commuter style – wide and gripping in nature with 700c x 32 specs. The grooves and ribs on the tires allow water to flow and ebb away making it safe to ride this bike on wet surfaces. Retrospec goes the extra mile in offering comfort through resin pedals which hold on to your sneaker soles and give you extra grip. The seat saddle is wide and accommodating. The boxset includes a kickstand – no need to buy accessories separately. If you feel like adding fenders though, you will get them separately.
- Smooth-shifting Shimano drivetrain
- Comfortable ride because of front suspension
- Groove on tires give extra grip
- Brake alignment needs time
- No fenders
Verdict: True to name, it’s a comfort bike that holds surprising capabilities. Detail instructions make assembly possible but time-consuming. The bike gives you many options to slow down or sit back and enjoy cruise riding. It negotiates inclines with ease.
This is one of the perfect commuter bikes that let you get errands done. There is even a cargo rack at the rear to accommodate your satchel or groceries. Where do the mountain-bike-like capabilities come in?
It’s in the suspension fork at the front that accommodates a travel of 60mm – almost as much as an entry-level mountain bike.
Kent 700c Springdale stresses the road bike features as much as any road bike. Steel fenders sit on the 700 c tires. If you want a bottle clip or a basket, you have to purchase and add them. But the rear cargo rack is included. The suspension snaps in to cushion bumpy rides when you decide to go off the road. The rear derailleur is a Shimano Tourney and offers plenty of smooth shifting to suit each kind of terrain.
Even though no instructions are included by Kent, the assembly is rather obvious. Out of the box, you will notice that the bike is 80-85% road-ready. You have to put rear cargo rack, seat, front wheel, pedals, and the steel fenders in. A basic kit with a few allen wrenches, a Phillips screwdriver, and combination write will do it. The one complaint users come up with is that there is the quick-release spring on the seat clamp doesn’t measure up. This can be an extra swap you need to buy. For this price point, the biggest admiration one has is for the light weight of the bike at 32 pounds.
- Light body
- Straightforward assembling
- Faulty springs in seat post
- Too many stickers
Verdict: Strong body and alloy rims make the bike solid from inside. The innovative aluminum frame, linear pull brakes with light alloy levers, and steel rims add solidity without making the bike heavy. The price advantage followed by the lightness of the bike make it a clear winner.
It’s no surprise that Schwinn has plenty of choices among the list of economical hybrid bikes. They lead on the comfort factor – they are light and have a stylish vibe about them that’s great for beginners in biking. There are several variants within Schwinn’s range at this lower end of the price bracket.
This version of Schwinn is made of a steel frame with upturned handlebars and a comfy seat – emphasizing the comfort that eases beginners into the joys of biking. Ergonomic handle grips are another feature in the favor of comfort-centered riders.
At the core of this bike’s mechanism is a simple 7-speed Shimano drivetrain. It switches speeds as the rider uses the smooth micro-shifters. It can build up a decent speed at a running weight of about 38 pounds. That said, you are more at home on paved trails and streets than on rugged hilly terrain. The suspension in the front fork is present, but not the best in the business. It cushions minor bumps. Also, not everyone might light the memory foam seat of the Schwinn’s proprietary saddle. Most riders show evidence that it flattens out after continuous use.
Schwinn stresses lightness – they use light alloy rims in the wheels and linear pull brakes that do not add weight to the body. The rear derailleur and front suspension fork control the comfort and finesse in the overall ride experience.
Given that Schwinn emphasizes rider comfort and the bike is yellow-orange in color with a white seat, more women than men might prefer it. The frame size of the bike also suits the inseam length of shorter riders.
You should expect to assemble the pedals, seat fixings, and make minor adjustments to the derailleur upon delivery.
- Raised handlebars allow upright riding
- Economical pricing
- Light yet solid body
- Memory foam seat is not long-lasting
- Low suspension
Verdict: Good bike for short riders. Not many choices in frame size and color. It best suited for beginners.
Did someone say Schwinn bikes are all too expensive? Well, here’s one that won’t break the bank. But it does offer the comfort that translates to roads as well as to mild trail paths that you’d like to ride on holidays.
To enhance this comfort factor, Schwinn offers a choice between a step-over frame and a step-through frame. The age-old German bicycle-maker uses their own name brand suspension fork in a hybrid aluminum frame. It is really a bicycle that combines the best of both worlds from road bikes to mountain bikes. The seat is ample and comfortable with enough padding so you don’t get sore muscles. The tires are thick enough to grip the road and the 700 c clearance offers a light bearing to the frame. Supported by alloy rims, they are tensile from within but nimble in their treat. Ridges offer the tire just enough gripping.
On the whole, the Schwinn Siro comes up to 47 pounds, pretty much the same you’d find a hardcore mountain bike weigh. Out of the box, expect to do some minor assembly such as putting into place the handlebars, pedals, seat, and front tire. Schwinn also expects you to know your way around the derailleurs and brake wires – it would help you to get to know your bicycle well by fitting it yourself out of the box. To help you get started with it, Schwinn offers you a quick-release front wheel, adjustable handlebar, and a spring seat post. Set up instructions are included in the box.
It is the usual 21-speed Shimano drivetrain you’d see on a road/commuter bike. But you will see that it’s an entry-level Shimano component that you’d get at this price-point. Most users add a gel seat cover or swap out some parts with better ones. The frame is solid and durable and can take on a good number of rides.
- Adjustable handlebars
- Shifters and shock work well
- Comfort factor is highlighted
- Assembly is cumbersome
Verdict: It is an absolute winner at this price point – it offers many features that introduce one to the joys of biking. It is durable and works well once you get used to the shifting pattern. Schwinn, at this price bracket, pays heed to convenience and comfort over the quality of components.
Marked clearly as a retro bike, this one will remind you of the unisex bicycles you’ve seen as a kid. Everything from the rack at the rear to the chrome fenders and splash-guards creates nostalgia.
At the core of the hybrid bike is a steel frame. Standard 700 c x 35 tires adorn the wheel rims. Linear pull brakes are likewise straightforward and stop the 35-pound bike at a moment’s notice. The twisted grip shifters offer 7 speeds, and all 7 speeds work faithfully whether you drive on an incline or on a black-topped path.
If you were to consider lugging this bike a part of the way, it helps to know that the rear end is heavier than the front because of the drivetrain and rack. You also feel the weight of the drivetrain when you pedal uphill.
This version of Vilano’s hybrid stresses on value for money – a kickstand and set of pedals are included. Vilano states straightaway that installing the pedals takes some patience. There’s a helpful instruction video available for rookie bikers.
This is a great bike to have if you’re looking to get in some exercise. It is not great for uphill rides but serves well as a commuter bike that also looks good. A good amount of expert tuning will make the bike considerably smoother over time. All the things that matter are in place.
- Smooth shifting
- Pedals, kickstand, rear cargo rack included
- Brakes need tuning
- Heavy rear end
Verdict: For the price, it is a decent bike to own and get fit riding. The fixing of the brakes might require you to make a trip to the bike shop. But once it’s in working order, you can expect it to last.
Firmstrong’s hybrid, Mila, is our final pick for a hybrid. It passes over inclines decently, but the plane road is the strong point of this model. It gives tolerable performance uphill and downhill because of the 7-speed drivetrain fashioned by Shimano.
This model is essentially a women’s hybrid with the dropped bar allowing women and girls to step through. Firmstrong intends this bike to serve the multiple purposes of getting some exercise, running errands, and also enjoying the ride. This is why a considerable amount of attention goes to keeping up the comfort factor – the seat is wide and soft. The upturned handlebars allow the rider to sit upright and grip the bars without stooping forward. A cargo rack at the rear allows you to hang on a satchel or shopping bags with ease.
In the looks department, Mila hybrid fares well. Available in powder blue and sporting an airy retro vibe for its 700c tires and 17-inch frame size is slender and light. The overall weight of the piece comes to 32 pounds. Women riders would find the light tread and smooth drivetrain give a relaxing ride on urban roads. The performance off the road is decent. The bike can accelerate to 20 mph.
Controlling the speed and shifting through different terrains is admirable. It has the usual caliper brakes that grip well to the slim tires and help in controlling momentum downhill. The petite frame and compact size of this hybrid make it just right for women and girls.
- Upright riding comfort
- Smooth shifting and braking
- No suspension
Verdict: This is a bike that gets the job done if your idea is to get by with decent performance on hills. You get more out of the commuter features of this hybrid.
Considerations for a Hybrid Bike
We’ve already touched upon what a hybrid bike is – it offers the capabilities of a road bike and a mountain bike in one, stylized, good-looking bike.
A hybrid bike is for those who want to scale the hills and also enjoy speedy biking when the roads beckon. The trails call out to them as much as the plane paths of man-made roads.
There are some characteristics that hybrid bikes pick from each type – the road bikes, commuter bikes, and mountain bikes.
Manufacturers differ in the characteristics and features they choose to offer. This is where the differentiation comes in. While one maker might choose to add in a suspension fork and travel, another would focus on tires, rims, and high-quality spokes which give the bike durability, stability and performance on the track.
Check out the qualities to look for in a good hybrid bike:
Weight – most hybrid bikes are heavier than road bikes, but still on the lighter side. Expect to be able to carry them under the arm.
Tires – there will be slim tires. Most will be between 28c to 35c, with a few exceptions.
Handlebars – most will encourage you to ride upright. Stooping over a hybrid almost never happens because they tend to prioritize your comfort.
Brakes – you will mostly see disc braking – the mechanical kind in the less expensive versions. They suffice to stop the light bike.
Hybrid bikes are perfect for beginners. They help you get things done and learn a lot about biking in the process.
If you wish to start bicycling on a hybrid bike, the Hiland and Retrospec offer models that will make you fall in love with the joy of biking. You will see that there’s so much on offer. In fact, it’d be a great way to start biking because it’ll show you which feature you’d rather have – the grippy mountain tires or the slim tires of a road bike.
You will start with a crash course on how biking ought to be done with a hybrid bike. In this effort, the Schwinn and Vilano offer you different strengths. They help develop your awareness. You will, quite likely, veer towards buying a full-fledged mountain bike or a road bike several years down the line.
That said, you will never fall out of love and fascination for your hybrid bike.