(Product prices are subject to changes and could be higher than the stated price range.)
I tested 12 of the top hybrid bikes out there under $500, there were a few surprises...want to know how I got on?...keep reading!
It's no secret that I like bikes.
In fact, that's an understatement, I love bikes! Mountain bikes, road, e-bikes (yes, they count too!), and now the (humble?) hybrid.
I'll cut to the chase, if you're after a low-cost hybrid bike that's going to give you good, reliable performance, then my vote goes to the Schwinn Discover
To be honest, my heart wanted to say the Schwinn Volare, it's the most roadie type on the review but the Discover offers the full package!
Saying that there's quite a lot to get through, with a huge variety so depending on your exercise routine/goal you may prefer a different style to me...so let's take a look at the rest!
Table of Contents
The Discover is as close to hybrid type as you can get. Performance and reliability are at the forefront of the design.
This city hybrid bike is comfortable too, this is largely down to the 28" tires and front suspension parts cushioning you from the bumps.
In terms of what you get for your money, it's feature-rich. You get a 21-speed drivetrain so on the top end.
What does that mean for you?
It means you'll be able to scale hills with less effort - we all like that sound of that, don't we...or is that just me?
When I first set eyes on the wheels, I was quite blown away by the size of them.
I loved them! I think they're brilliant. They provide a great deal of control and you can get over so many different trails surfaces. The traction is ace and it gives you a solid sense of stability.
A brand that is well known for releasing a strong model of bike and without issues...this is on the mark.
The alloy frame gives you a superb riding position, one which you can vary so staying comfortable is no issue...this can't be said on every bike!
The Vilano Diverse is one of those bikes that just Soldiers' on...with great comfort and durability...not to mention the fantastic price point!
I tend to find that hybrid bikes usually lean towards the more mtb side of life, that isn't how it is with the Vilano. Performance is what it's all about.
Don't get me wrong, you can still clearly see the mountain bike influence, it just feels like it has been taken up a notch in the speed stakes.
[If you can't decide between a hybrid or mtb, check out this!]
With the Diverse, you get your usual straight handlebars' setup. The tires are wide but not too wide that this bike won't perform well on the road. It's well balanced in that respect. Able to go off-road when you want but equally as capable on the road.
This hybrid bicycle comes with 24 gears. It's actually Shimano Tourney front and rear derailleur so it's well equipped.
One thing I do like is that it isn't just the derailleur that is Shimano, which is quite often the way with budget bikes. You get one part of the drivetrain that is good quality and the rest lets it down...not in this instance!
The shifters are also Shimano so they work seamlessly together.
Finished off with a disc braking system and an aluminum alloy frame, this hybrid bike is a real gem.
The name gives it away, this bike is designed for every journey, trail, and road, plus everything in between!
Sixthreezero knows what they're doing when it comes to bikes and with this model, they've opted to put the rider in an upright position. This fit keeps you relaxed and allows you to enjoy the ride - I'm a big fan of this!
The seat is adjustable so you can ensure that you're sitting comfortably.
In keeping with the mtb heritage, the EVRYjourney has 26" wide tires. These help to soak up the hills and trails.
It does mean that when you're on the road, it gets a little tougher but not to the extent that it takes away from the riding experience. It's a true hybrid in that sense!
Though this bike is largely described as a bike for a woman, there are models to cater to men.
It doesn't stop there...
You have the choice of how many gears you want.
1 speed for the brave. 2, 7, or 21-speed versions are also available.
What does that mean for you?
Well if you plan on cycling in a relatively flat area then the 1 or 3-speed version should serve you adequately.
For the riders who want a bike to go off-road on then opting for the 21-speed option would be the best bet.
If you're after something in the middle as an all-rounder then the 7 gears is a solid choice.
As a nice finishing point, the lightweight aluminum frame comes in at only 18kg!
One of the first features that stands out about this bike is the frame. It has a sporty appearance and is constructed from premium lightweight aluminum.
Not only does this hybrid bicycle look like it is going to withstand a lot of use - it actually is!
Let's move onto the tires. The tires on this bike feature a good amount of tread, giving you a decent amount of grip - ideal for when those who want to vary their riding style.
Keeping up with the sturdy theme of this bike, each rim has an extra feature in that they are double-walled so it isn't adding unnecessary extra lbs.
Want to know the best part?
This bike has been kitted out with a 21-speed shifter, so plenty of gears to take to the hills. I have to say, the gear changes are smooth and on point. The gear shifters are Schwinns' own brand. We all know that Schwinn builds some of the top quality products on the market so it won't come as a surprise that these too are quality!
So full marks there!
Something to note is that this model does not come with a suspension. At this price point, it may not be an issue but it is something to keep in mind if you will be riding on lots of uneven terrain and trails.
Sixthreezero has already featured but I couldn't possibly leave out the Pave N' Trail.
As far as reviews go, it's the most reviewed model from Sixthreezero! It's one of their best-selling hybrid bikes so it's a cracker and deserves to be on this list.
Something I love about this bike is the design of the seat. For starters, it has a beautiful vintage look to it...brown leather anyone?
Having said that, don't just buy a saddle on its appearance alone, it has to be comfortable and this one is!
It's nicely cut and has a high-density of foam, keeping you in a comfortable upright position. This will also go a good way to reducing any tailbone pain you may experience, either during or after the ride.
This bike features a 7-speed gear shifting system so it a nice in the middle range of the gears. Though it may not be ideal if you live in a particularly hilly area or are a fan of climbing.
And if that's not enough.
What you do get is a nice pair of rugged tires with a decent tread pattern on them, so trail riding is a sheer joy!
It could be said that this bike leans more towards the mtb style than a road. It features a front fork so your ability to take on rocky routes with ease is enhanced.
However, don't let put you off if you're wanting a bike for commuting, there's a reason this bike is a best seller!
This bike has all the benefits of a mountain bike whilst slotting in perfectly to the commuter lifestyle.
One of the big benefits of this bike is that unlike a lot of bikes, you don't have much assembly to do as it arrives with the majority of it already done.
Don't worry, those bits you have to do, are simple and any tools you need are included in with the bike so it really takes away the hassle.
The 6061 aluminum alloy constructed frame makes it a reasonably lightweight bike and that allows you to be able to maneuver it almost anywhere, with a nice riding position too.
It feels like whether this is your first bike or you are an experienced rider, you will get what you want from this bike.
We're not through yet!
It's ideal for those who live in hilly areas as it comes with a Shimano Altus 21-speed groupset. This means you can achieve speeds you may otherwise not be able to, thanks to the range of speeds.
To try and give you a comfortable ride, the 700c hybrid Royce comes with a front-end fork and the saddle is designed for the optimum comfort ride. The Royce is the ultimate in comfort hybrids.
Cycling with this bike should be easy as one of the extra features is slip-resistant grips (which are wonderful and soft too!). These provide a confidence boost that you have a firm grip on and are in total control.
Keeping the weight down is the use of v-brakes on this 700c hybrid, and I have to say, they work well!
The Diamondback Edgewood is different from many before it. It feels like it shouldn't be a budget bike, it should cost more money than it does and that's thanks to the performance you get from it.
Taking a ride of this bike is nothing short of a delight. Diamondback has thought about the comfort of their customers when designing this product and ensured it's a priority.
The saddle is double padded.
It doesn't stop there...
The Diamondback Edgewood also features a suspension seatpost to really ease the bumpiness. Making this a great choice for those who are wanting to take a bike on dirt trails, gravel paths, or even up a steep climb.
Don't think you could scale mountains on this?
It gives you all the tools to do it. Fitted with a 21-speed groupset, you get enough range of gearing options to put you in a good position for that climb.
What's so good about that?
It means you will not only be able to climb but you'll be able to reach speeds greater than you probably expected!
Traction can be an important factor for some riders. Commuters can be out in all weathers, you want to know that your bike is going to stay upright through all that water on the ground, right?
[Are you are commuter and cycle home - unsure what to wear? Got you covered!]
The Edgeback is fitted with 700 x 40c Kenda tires. This makes it ideal for riding places that require good grip.
In all honestly, this bike is a true hybrid. It has the frame to handle a lot of what bike trails throw at it. The wheels, however, wouldn't do so well in these areas. Favoring the roads or bike paths.
Depending on what you intend to use your bike for, the wheels could be a drawback for you. Having said that, it could be the complete opposite, if you intend to be road biking a lot...it's the ultimate comfort bicycle!
A delightful sport hybrid with geometry to boot.
Fancy a trip around town? No problem.
What about a mixture of road and mountain? Yep, can do that too.
The Raleigh Cadent 2 feels like the new kid on the block. It's reliable as it features lots of top-spec components, making the ride experience superb.
Let me tell you, I'm an avid bicyclist. Road cycling is what I enjoy most. A road bike is light, it's speedy, it feels like you can achieve speeds no other bike can (maybe that's just me...). But that's exactly what this hybrid bike does.
It's not supposed to be that way?
But it doesn't stop there...
So you get a well-constructed bike that is good on the road but then it somehow takes to off-roading just as well!
As you would expect on a hybrid, the handlebars are flat and actually very comfortable, even on longer rides.
The 6061 aluminum gives it that lightweight and for the price, it feels like you're getting a bargain.
Something we haven't seen on a lot of hybrid models in this budget is disc brakes. That's no surprise as disc are still seen as a bit of a luxury.
You get them on this machine! Giving you all the stopping power you could want! A top contender in the comfort hybrids class.
A name and brand well-known and well respected within the cycling community.
It feels like you're stepping back in time, but for all the right reasons! The retro-designed frame makes this a comfort hybrid, with a good geometry - ideal for long days in the saddle.
This brand makes some of the best bikes, especially at this price point. Extra features have been thought about, including a rear bike rack so you can ride around town without the need for a backpack.
This commuter hybrid also features fenders on both the front and rear wheels. Obviously, this will avoid the inevitable splashing of dirt coming up to you and others.
When you consider that the combination of the fenders and racks, this bike seems like a good choice for cyclists on a budget.
The extra features don't stop there...
It even has a cover for the rear drivetrain, for those days when messy riding can't be avoided and you want to take your bike out.
You get rim brakes. These work well and as a product that is more leaning towards a city bike, than a mountain bike, it serves the needs of the target audience very well.
You get a decent amount of shifting options, with 7 speed. This gives you a wide range to handle paths, road surfaces, and the occasional off-the-beaten-track adventure!
For people who are after all you could want a bike perfect for city use, but with a little more in the way of style and features...you couldn't go wrong looking at this fine example, especially at the fantastic price.
If you're looking for a bike to cover long distances, then this may be the ideal touring bike for you!
Yes, I know, another bike from Schwinn but I've got to be honest, their offerings are great within this budget and this example truly offers something different.
I've covered a lot of bike models that will be well suited to take on the mountain bike trails on a weekend after pounding the road during the week. This is different.
If you're looking for a bike that you can ride from home to work and then take to the tarmac during the weekend, the Volare 1300 is great for that.
Road bikes are great for climbing and with 21 gears, you'll be able to keep up with most of them, whilst also being confident about your bike being able to hit the trails when you want...not a lot of roadies can say that!
But here's the kicker:
The huge feature of this hybrid is its weight, it's very light at 11.7kg. I'm not kidding when I say it holds its own.
Ok, maybe not against those ultralightweight ones but I'm sure you knew that anyway. It is very comparable to road bikes within this price range, just with the extra versatility of being a performance hybrid bike.
When it comes to tires, the ride on this bike is enhanced by excellent tires that are easy to maneuver - pretty much however you want - giving you a nicer ride.
Alright, I can't fail to mention the looks of this bike, it's sleek and more in keeping with a sport hybrid. The overall finish is outstanding. A superb ride.
If you're a bicycle rider and you're looking for the first bike, the Giordano Bravo could be one of the best bikes to choose from.
What makes it so good?
Let's start with frame material, you get a frame constructed from alloy.
Cool, what does that mean for you?
It's strong! It's well built and all being well it should be with you for lots of happy years. It also means that it's pretty lightweight - 18kg to be precise.
You may have discovered that some bicycles only come in one-size, that's not the case here, you have three sizes to choose from! Small, medium, and large - perfect for every rider!
Do you want a comfort hybrid? Then keep reading...
The Giordano Brava models comes with an 80mm travel fork. Those uneven conditions should present much of an issue for you, with the enhanced ride conditions.
There is a lot to like about the Brava, the range of specs are good and the ability to adjust features to every rider is a good touch.
The handlebars' height can be adjusted to make sure it matches your height.
That's not all...
The seatpost can also be adjusted to get you the nicest ride possible.
I can't begin to tell you how important it is to have a bike that fits correctly and the difference it makes. A local bike shop will offer a bike fit and I can't recommend them enough.
I personally had a bike fit before choosing my new bikes and I'm so glad I did. My bikes and I feel like one. I know that sounds cliche and it kind of is but seriously, the fit is excellent. I look forward to going out on my bikes and I know I'm going to be comfortable. 100% worth the price.
The price tag may be entry-level but the components certainly aren't!
You get a 24-speed Altus drivetrain so top-notch for all aspects of riding, with a good gear range and it rides well as a result.
The tires are 700c x 40mm. This is going to give you a nice ride, they're big, chunky, and able to take on terrain others can't, whilst still giving you a ride full of comfort and joy.
Something the rider will benefit from is the double-wall rims - giving you a great degree of strength. Which in turn, will give you confidence that this bike can take on rides you've never experienced before.
I thought so too.
You should know by now that I like to throw a few curveballs here and there and this fixie is certainly an example of that!
I have to start with the style of this bike, it's beautifully simple. It's different and I'm a big fan.
It's lightweight, you can almost tell that by looking at it. The weight has a range, depending on the size of the frame you opt for, so it's difficult to give you an exact figure but trust me, it's light!
Not only is it light...
It's strong too! The components are welded, the down tube and the top tube group together with a nice join. It feels smooth to the touch. It feels elegant and that's what really stands out about this bicycle. You feel good when you're on it.
The shape of this bicycle is quite different, I suspect it may not appeal to everybody but it should attract looks either way!
There's more too...
The specs of the 6KU fixie mean that you have a variety of riding styles - who doesn't like that?
You get a rear hub that is designed to allow you to have a fixed gearing style of riding or engage freewheel.
Navigating streets or tricky trails is easy too as control is solid, thanks to the riser handlebar.
I touched upon the fact that it's lightweight, and that it's a strong men's hybrid, did I mention that it can hold 250lbs?
But is it any good?
It feels like every aspect of this touring bike has been thought about and there's always something new to learn. The rims are deep and they're double-walled.
You get standard Kenda tires so there could be an opportunity to upgrade there but that isn't to say that it takes away from the quality hybrid that this hybrid bike most certainly is...because it doesn't!
The Kenda tires are a good option and for a hybrid bike under $500, they're a gem!
For this price tag, it's hard to argue that this isn't a fantastic option for those looking for a men's hybrid bike.
As a fixie, it's a bicycle where you won't have the gearing and shifters to get used to, so that's a plus.
In a way, sport hybrids like this one are best suited to individuals new to cycling but it wouldn't be true to say that. The reason being, it's a bike for so many different individuals...it's a good hybrid, with a good performance.
It gives you that attractive, comfy upright riding position that makes city cycling so easy.
Putting the 6KU together is straight forward so it won't be long before you're out enjoying your new ride!
So that's the list of the best hybrid bikes for less than $500. What do you think?
Do you want to know more about what to look for when buying a bike?
Let's dive right in!
You have three choices when it comes to the frame, carbon fiber, steel, and aluminum.
Titanium frames are also available but that comes at a hefty price tag so let's pretend it doesn't exist.
Steel frames are going to be the more affordable purchase and a lot of frames are still made out of it. It's a good choice! It's a strong material and stands up well against force and moisture.
Carbon is at the other end of the scale, it tends to the quite pricey but lightweight.
Alloy sits somewhere in the middle of those two.
Lighter than a steel frame but not as durable. Though more durable than carbon but heavier.
A lot of traditional hybrid bikes don't come with a suspension fork.
It adds weight and makes pedaling less efficient.
However, more hybrids are coming out that do have some form of suspension system.
Would it be any good on a bike under $500?
Honestly, that depends on where you ride and how you like riding. If you will be spending your time on the road, which is smooth, then no. It's not going to be a good investment for you.
When you compare a bike designed for the road to a hybrid, you will notice that the hybrids' tires pressure is much lower. This is good news!
[Unsure of the differences between Road vs hybrid? Let me fix that for you]
Lower pressure means that those bumps you experience on the road, are absorbed more, giving you a more comfortable, smooth ride. This removes the need for a suspension when riding.
What you will find is that some bicycles have fork shocks that can be locked out. These can be great for people who like to go off the beaten track onto more uneven trails.
A front shock is more than enough for a lot of people, especially in the hybrid category. You and your body weight provide the bike with a good degree of control.
We all like being able to brake when we're biking, right?
What you will find is that rim brakes (V-brakes) and mechanical disc brakes are used a lot with bikes.
Both have their strong points so let's look at what they are!
One thing you do get with hybrids is a good choice of gears.
In fact, the choice can be so great, it can be difficult to know how many you should choose.
I've got news for you.
It's not all about having the highest number of gears. It's about finding what works for you.
You will need to consider what type of terrain you'll be on - will it be road riding, dirt roads, and mountains?
It's also worth thinking about your health and fitness levels generally. If you're not super fit, then having a few more gears to give you a helping hand is always good.
Some beginner bikes will be single-speed, by that it means they only have 1 speed. A family who only intended to ride their hybrid bicycle on a flat, smooth road, will suit them perfectly. The lack of gears means that the bike is lighter as it's not being weighed down by gears.
Reasons to go for a single-speed:
More challenging terrains and rides will require more gears (unless you really want a challenge!). If the terrain varies then you might be better going for a bike with 7 or 8 gears. This will make going up and downhills easier and will require less effort!
A hybrid bicycle with a selection of gears gives you a good degree of versatility. It allows you to venture where mountain bikes go when you want to and tackle the odd climb here and there.
If you do live somewhere that is quite hilly, then the amount of gears your next bike has is worth considering!
I probably don't need to tell you this but handlebars are pretty vital!
They play a large part in the handling, stability, and comfort of your bike. So getting the right ones, is quite crucial to the enjoyment of your rides.
Generally, on hybrids, the handlebars tend to be pretty wide - around 56 to 70cms.
The benefit of wide handlebars is that you get greater handling capabilities and it gives you the chance to be more comfortable.
If you're not used to wide handlebars, it can take some getting used to. I found it took me a while when I hired one on holiday. After a while, I got used to it and found it a joy!
When it comes to bikes less than 500 bucks, a lot of handlebars are going to be constructed from alloy.
It's now becoming increasingly popular to find carbon handlebars on top-of-the-range bikes.
Choosing the right handlebar comes down to personal choice. What's good for you, might not be good for me and vice versa.
There are a few things you can ask yourself though...
The standard wheel sizes for a hybrid is around 20", though 26" isn't uncommon.
If you are planning on doing a lot of commuting or riding on the road then wheel size does need to be factored in.
You may hear people talk about rolling resistance and you need it to be good when you're on the road (well, at all times to be honest) as this will make you more efficient and have more energy for when you get to your destination!
However, if you want to hurtle down a descent at speed on your ride, then you might want to consider smaller wheel sizes as they tend to be lighter and you get better control.
Wider tires and a solid tread pattern are good for more off-the-beaten trek riding, rather than roads.
It depends on what type of rides you do.
Helpfully I reviewed 12 bikes, of various types with you in mind!
Take a read above and think about your needs and everything you want from a bike - don't forget your budget!
Sneak preview...I rated the Schwinn Discover to be the best!
Again, that's a tricky kind of question!
What are you looking for in a bike? What is your budget and what sort of performance are you hoping to get?
You want one that has the right amount of gears for you. If tricky trails are your thing, take that into account, some can handle anything you throw at them. This can affect the material of the frame, the style of tires you want, and the brand. Everything basically!
You absolutely can.
A lot of this will depend on your fitness levels. Though a hybrid is capable of covering those miles.
If you can do it...your hybrid will do -almost- anything you ask of it!
So there we have it, my thoughts on hybrids.
Though you didn't ask...I'll tell you my favorite!
For me, it has to be the Schwinn Discover.
For the cost you get a whole load of benefits and some good specs - it's an impressive bike, not only on paper!
For beginners, it's a great entry bike - from a fantastic brand. Steering is easy and it feels like it can take on anything.
Thanks to the combination of front shocks and a nice riding feel you can feel comfortable riding covering lots of ground on the trails.
It gets better...
Shifting through the gears on this bike is smooth as silk and having plenty of options when it comes to gears is nice and reassuring.
The list goes on!
For the money, it feels like you can't go wrong if you're in the market for a new bike to cycle away on!
If you're seriously wanting to treat yourself and maybe splash the bucks a bit more, do check out our reviews of bikes under 1000 bucks for inspiration...you know you want to!