BUYING a cheap hybrid bike is a good idea if you want a low-cost way to commute or if you’re looking to replace your car on shorter journeys.
In fact, they are the biggest selling variety of bicycles in the UK – and it’s easy to see why.
Hybrids are, as the name suggests, the middle ground between a road bike and a mountain bike.
They can handle both riding on the road and the slightly rougher terrain found on canal paths or bridleways, while the frame’s design leaves the rider in an upright position, making it a more comfortable ride than when hunched over on a road bike.
You don’t have to spend a lot to get a good hybrid bike either. In fact, there is a great range of cheap models available that fall under the £500 mark.
Keep reading below to see our picks for the best ones on the market for under £500.
1. Riverside 500
- Riverside 500 hybrid bike, £279.99 from Decathlon – buy here
Although the Riverside 500 might be twice the price of some of the hybrid bikes you might have seen elsewhere (such as Halford’s Apollo brand), it’s the cheapest one that we’d recommend. Pay any less and you might end up with a bike that you’ll outgrow very quickly – as they say, buy cheap, buy twice.
This shouldn’t be an issue with the Riverside 500, which Decathlon claims has been developed for regular rides of up to 30-plus miles.
When just starting out in cycling, the main thing to look for is being comfortable on the bike, and this is the Riverside 500’s focus. A suspension fork offers 60mm of travel (meaning it will smooth out most potholes and bumps in the road), while two of the main contact points between you and your bike (the saddle and handlebar grips) are ergonomically optimised.
Other highlights are a low-maintenance 9-speed gearing, mechanical disc brakes and an all-important bell.
2. Carrera Crossfire 2
- Carrera Crossfire 2 hybrid bike, £325 from Halfords – buy here
Hybrid bikes are something of a middle-ground between road bikes and mountain bikes, but some lean more heavily on one over the other.
The Halford-exclusive brand Carrera’s Crossfire line is clearly in the mountain bike camp, thanks to big chunky wheels, front suspension and relaxed frame geometry. This makes it perfect for those whose riding doesn’t stop when the asphalt ends, with it at home on the UK’s numerous networks of canal paths and gravel bridleways.
The Crossfire 2 is the middle point in the range. It’s a big step up from the Crossfire 1 considering it’s only £50 more expensive – you get disc instead of V brakes, greater travel in the suspension fork, bigger wheels, three more gears – and is a great purchase if you can’t quite stretch to the £400 Crossfire 3.
It’s also available in a women-specific version with a lowered crossbar.
3. Giant Escape 3
- Giant Escape 3 Hybrid Bike, £349 at Rutland Cycling – buy here
Although not as cheap as some bargain-basement deals you’ll find online, the Escape 3 by well-respected Taiwanese brand Giant is worth it if your budget can stretch to £350.
Not only do you get a lightweight aluminium frame and robust steel fork, but you can guarantee that everything will run smoothly thanks to the included Shimano components.
A set of comfort-boosting and puncture-resistant 38c wide tyres complete the package, and will keep you on your bike and away from your local bike shop for longer.
4. Carrera Subway 2
- Carrera Subway 2 hybrid bike, £350 from Halfords – buy here
If the Crossfire above is Carrera’s ‘mountain bike’ hybrid bike, then the Subway is definitely its road-leaning cousin.
A solid entry-level bike for commuting, you’ll soon make your money back on your investment if used instead of driving or public transport.
The bike’s base – an aluminium frame and a rigid steel fork – is on the budget end of the scale, but the components used more than make up for it.
An 18-speed gearing that uses a smattering of Shimano products will provide enough range on the flats and the hills, while hydraulic disc brakes are a real rarity at this price point.
Elsewhere, chunky Kenda tyres help to smooth out your ride and include added puncture protection to reduce unplanned mid-ride stops.
It’s also a bike for the whole family, with there a junior version too.
5. B'Twin Hoprider 500
- B'Twin Hoprider 500 Urban Hybrid Bike, £399.99 from Decathlon – buy here
The Hoprider line by Decathlon’s in-house brand B’Twin is a great introduction to hybrid bikes, and the mid-range 500 model manages to offer up great componentry for a relatively low price.
A mountain bike-inspired suspension fork helps to smooth out rough roads and dirt paths, while its 24-speed gearing should help you get up even the steepest hill.
It’s the included extras that make the Hoprider 500 stand out though. Mudguards and a double pannier rack come as standard, and a dynamo-powered front light means you’ll always be seen. It’s also available in a women-specific step-through build.
6. Triban RC120 flat bar
- Triban RC120 flat bar hybrid bike, £429.99 from Decathlon – buy here
Triban might be Decathlon’s in-house road cycling brand but it also has some cleverly converted hybrids in its stable. By switching out dropped handlebars for flat handlebars on a number of its models, its hybrids manage to remain lightning fast but come with a more upright riding position.
On the surface (aluminium frame, carbon fork, mechanical disc brakes), the RC120 belies its sub-£500 price tag.
A 16-speed Shimano gearset, tubeless ready-wheels and pannier mounts make it something you can progress with too – going from the start of your cycling journey through to commuting or touring.
7. Trek FX 2
- Trek FX 2 2020 Hybrid Bike, £450 from Evans Cycles – buy here
If you’re looking for a faster way to commute to work, then the lightweight FX 2 by Trek could be the bike for you.
The aluminium frame and componentry helps the bike’s total weight come in at a fraction over 11kg (for the large model), ensuring a speedy ride, even if going uphill.
The Shimano gearing is a slightly wider range than the one found on the B’Twin bike listed above, and its 24 gears give you enough options for most pursuits.
New for the 2020 model is the inclusion of Tektro road-focused hydraulic disc brakes and some snazzy colour schemes – the ‘gravel’ grey being a particular highlight.
8. Specialized Crosstrail
- Specialized Crosstrail 2020, £475 from Evans Cycles – buy here
The Crosstrail by American brand Specialized just about scrapes under the £500 barrier, and manages to combine a lot of the best bits from other bikes on this list.
A lightweight and robust aluminium frame is paired with a suspension fork, mechanical disc brakes and 38mm wide tyres to create a comfortable package that can tackle most surfaces.
Available in a subtle grey or eye-catching red, the Crosstrail is sure to turn heads wherever you take it.
9. Pinnacle Lithium 3 Women's
- Pinnacle Lithium 3 2020 women's hybrid bike, £490 from Evans Cycles – buy here
While on its surface the Lithium from Evans Cycle's in-house brand Pinnacle looks like an old-school rigid mountain bike, it's more than capable on smoother terrain too.
Its aluminimum frame and fork are lightweight and responsive while maintaining the robustness required for the daily grind, and mounting points give you somewhere to secure a pannier rack if planning on commuting or a weekend of touring.
A 24-speed Shimano drivetrain should give you enough gears to choose from, whatever the gradient you're tackling, and high volume 40c tyres will help smooth out even the worst of the UK's pothole-strewn country lanes. Hydraulic disc brakes guarantee sharp stopping even in the wet.
Finally, this is a female-specific build, which translates as a slightly modified frame design and a different saddle.
10. Cube Nature Urban Bike
- Cube Nature Urban Bike, £499.99 from Wiggle – buy here
For riders who dabble in the rougher stuff (think canal paths, gravel tracks or woodland trails), then the inclusion of some suspension can help to take the sting out of the worst of the bumps in the road.
Enter the Nature Urban Bike by German manufacturer Cube. An out-and-out hybrid bike in shape and style, it also includes a SR Suntour NEX fork – packing 63mm of travel – to provide some extra comfort when the tarmac ends.
A Shimano 24-speed drivetrain should ensure there's no walking up the hills, regardless how steep, and hydraulic disc brakes will keep you in control on the descents.
11. VooDoo Agwe
- Voodoo Agwe Hybrid Bike, £500 at Cycle Republic – buy here
This hybrid bike by VooDoo is right at the limit in terms of the £500 budget, but it’s worth stretching to if you can afford it.
Using the brand’s mountain bike heritage as a starting point (its Bizango 29er is featured in our best cheap mountain bike round-up), the Agwe has a similar profile to that of an off-road-focused bike, only with a rigid fork.
That doesn’t mean you’re in for a bumpy ride, though. The 40c Vee Rubber Speedster tyres will provide all the shock absorption you’ll need when tearing up the tarmac or exploring the rough stuff. Plus, their low profile design and file tread pattern leaves you with low rolling resistance on the road but great grip even when riding off-the-beaten track.
The most interesting aspect of the Agwe is its 1x 10-speed drivetrain. The set-up includes a smattering of Shimano Deore components (a real rarity on a sub-£500 hybrid bike) and, even though there are only 10 gears to choose from, they are sensibly spaced to provide you with options to tackle even the steepest climbs.
Tektro MTB-focused hydraulic disc brakes keep things safe when you need to stop in a hurry, while nice finishing touches include ergonomic grips and an integrated LED light in the seat post.
12. Boardman MTX 8.6
- Boardman MTX 8.6 hybrid bike, £550 from Halfords – buy here
Chris Boardman’s bike brand is available exclusively from Halfords and is something of a step up from the other manufacturers (Apollo, Carrera) stocked by the retail giant.
The MTX 8.6 is the entry-level offering in the brand’s more off-road-leaning hybrid line (the HYB range being more road-focused).
That said, there’s nothing entry-level about it. A lightweight aluminium frame and suspension fork with 63mm travel make for a comfortable ride whatever the terrain. It’s also possible to lock out the latter, turning it into a rigid fork perfect for road riding.
A variety of Shimano product lines are used for the 27-speed gearing, while its range of gears makes it a bike that will be fast on the tarmac and able to get up some steep off-road inclines.
As seen on the other bikes above that push the limit of a cheap hybrid bike, hydraulic disc brakes are included, and a set of 37c Schwalbe Tyrago tyres that feature Kevlar (the same material used in bulletproof jackets) will help you stay gripped and protected, whatever the terrain.
What is the best hybrid bike for under £500?
While the answer to this question really depends on what you’re planning on using a hybrid bike for – with some suited to, say, commuting more than others – the best you can currently buy for £500 on the dot is the VooDoo Agwe.
Read on below to see why we think it’s the best cheap hybrid bike on the market.
Should I buy a road bike or a hybrid?
If you’re new to cycling or are just after a bike for recreational riding, then a hybrid bike might be the way to go.
Although road bikes are often seen as the de facto choice for road-based riding, a hybrid can generally hold its own when commuting or in a city-centre location, while their upright position can actually make for a more comfortable experience over longer rides.
Add in the ability to handle rougher stuff too, and hybrid bikes become something of a do-it-all choice.
Are hybrid bikes worth the money?
A hybrid bike can actually be a very cost-effective way of getting a bike with high-specification components for a fraction of the cost of a road or out-and-out mountain bike.
Even if you’re looking for a cheap hybrid bike under £500, you’re still likely to get a bike from a reputable brand that includes disc brakes and components from the likes of Shimano.
Enjoyed our round-up of the best value and cheapest hybrid bikes? Check out our selection of the best hybrid bikes on the market right now. Or if you prefer heading off the beaten path for less, why not look at our picks of the best cheap mountain bikes?
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