Five of the Best Hybrid Bikes Under $500: My 2017 Picks
Which is the best reviewed hybrid bike under $500?
In the early days of cycling, you didn't have much of a choice when choosing a bicycle. Then came the mountain bike, which turned the bicycle world on its head, and suddenly made trails and off-road riding a possibility. Hybrid bicycles are a middle point between road and mountain styles, and they're understandably pretty popular! This article is all about finding great hybrid bikes for under $500, and we'll get a chance to look at some good ones.
Some people have a very clear cut riding style and they can happily choose either a mountain or a road bike and have it fulfill all their riding needs. However, many people prefer a more mixed ride. They enjoy hills and trails just as much as the morning commute to the office. A hybrid bicycle will work well on both types of terrain, and they are also typically pretty fun to ride as well.
This lens will talk about five of the best hybrid bicycles and brands out there, reviewing different models that I think you might enjoy. I've featured bikes that are predominantly available online, because I find it's one of the least expensive way to buy one. If you're hoping to find an amazing ride for a decent price, finding a good online retailer is probably your best bet. That said, if you prefer supporting your local bike shop, just jot down the name and style and see if they can order it in.
I'll also offer some hybrid bike brand reviews, and offer riding tips. My goal is to help you identify the features you'd most like to have on your hybrid bicycle, and identify them in different brands and models. I hope this helps!
What is a Hybrid Bicycle? Good Features and Attributes for Riding
So before we get into answering the question of what is the best hybrid bicycle for under $500, we should probably first tackle another question: what IS a hybrid bike in the first place? Since they don't fall into one particular category or another, they can vary widely in style and features, and I think there's some confusion as to what actually constitutes a hybrid. However, there are a few key features that run true to most models out there. I'll list them here.
- Unisex: Most hybrids are good for men or women, and they're built to accommodate either gender. You can find female specific frames if you want to, but they're usually fine for either gender to ride. Just make sure it's sized appropriately for your body.
- Wide but smooth tires: Most decent hybrid bikes under $500 will have a good set of rubber on them. These tires are usually pretty wide, ranging from a half inch to almost 2 inches wide. They won't be knobby like mountain tires, but they will have some groove in them for rain riding, and a bit of grip. These wider tires allow for a range of riding, giving stability off-road, and diminishing drag on the street.
- Upright Riding Position: Hybrids attempt to give a smooth, consistent ride in most scenarios. They therefore usually offer an upright riding position, with a comfortable seat and riser bars to keep you from hunching. They aren't entirely dedicated to comfort, but they aim to be good for most people.
- Some Suspension Parts: Most of the best hybrid bikes around or under $500 will include light suspension. This is by no means as extensive as that found on high end mountain bikes, but it provides some cushioning and stability from bumps. The most common is a front fork suspension (shocks), but you can sometimes find rear suspension or a seat post suspension too.
- Lots of Gears: Good hybrid bicycles for less than $500 will include a solid range of gearing options, reflecting their ability to adapt to different riding conditions. Whether you have crazy hills or a nice, long flat ride to work, your hybrid bike will have the right gearing for it.
I know it says it's a men's bike, but this one would be perfectly comfortable for a lady too. Nice wide tires will keep you stable, and no chain to worry about coming loose!
Critical Cycles: One of the best hybrid bikes for women or men
Do you want a commuter hybrid bike that has a bit more character? You could go for a vintage ride, or you could opt for a new bike that has that classic look!
Critical Cycles' seven speed model is a great hybrid bike, well under $500. It's a nice change because it has a classic frame geometry and a throwback look that you don't often see. It's not vintage in components, however, as it comes with a seven speed rear derailleur. That's a gearing range that should be fine for most commutes.
With a strong yet light diamond steel frame, included front chrome light, integrated rear luggage rack and front and rear fenders, this one has an amazing price tag. While it does have good tread and it could handle a gentle trail ride, this is more of an urban, commuter hybrid bike. For far below $500, it's hard to ignore this wonderful bicycle by Critical Cycles.
For well under $500, this hybrid bicycle has great suspension items, a strong aluminum frame, and it's very versatile.
Diamondback Edgewood: A very good all-purpose hybrid bicycle below $500
The Diamondback Edgewood LX is a strong choice because it's a really versatile bike. Though Amazon lists it as a men's bike, it's actually unisex, and it's got some great features. A true hybrid bike, this one has a butted aluminum frame with 6061 aluminum construction, meaning that it's strong and lightweight.
The front spring shock system has 63mm of clearance, and the wheels are 700c and double walled for extra strength. This bike will perform great on trails and pavement.
A nice feature is that it has a spring shock seat too. This adds some extra suspension and cushioning without dampening the ride or complicating the frame (or adding extra weight!)
Great price, great brand name. The Schwinn GTX-2 is a true hybrid bike brand that reviews really well. It's attractive too!
Schwinn Network: A good, trail-ready hybrid bike for beginners
The Schwinn Network 1.0 is a good hybrid bike for less than $500 that is very nicely suited to trails due to its generous tire tread, sturdy aluminum city frame tubing, and beefy front suspension. However, it will do just fine on pavement too, and it is almost as good as a road bike for pavement riding.
Front shocks and a strong and light aluminum frame accompany a Suntour crankset and Shimano gears linked to an SRAM twist shifter on the handlebars. The Euro style 700c alloy wheels are light and the attached tires have a good amount of width, more than enough to tackle those moderate trail rides you love. It's certainly not an off-road bicycle by any means, but it can handle some gravel and dirt roads with no issues. I highly recommend Schwinn bikes in general, but the Network is an especially good choice.
This model is 18", which is 'medium' by bicycle standards, and it has an adjustable seatpost which allows it to fit a wide array of riders. Other frame sizes do exist. Also, there is a step through women's frame version of this bicycle that's a bit smaller, in blue.
Aluminum frame, great Shimano components, high quality Kenda tires, riser bars and comfort grips and seat. It's also a gorgeous bike with a stunning arc frame.
Diamondback Insight 1: A great performance hybrid bike under $500
If you've read some of my other lenses, you'll know that I'm a big fan of Diamondback bicycles. Why? Because everyone I know who buys one still has it to this day. They last forever! This beautiful bike has a swooping aluminum frame, 21 speeds with Shimano shifters, and nice Kenda 32c tires that are good for mostly pavement but can handle a bit of trail riding. It's pretty light, and really quick and responsive on pavement, the ride experience is one of the best among hybrid bikes below $500.
It's available in a lot of sizing options, from small to extra large frames, and for that reason it's really a unisex bicycle.
There is a men's and women's version of this bike, but the men's will comfortably fit a female if they prefer it!
Schwinn Volare: An urban tuned hybrid bike, well below $500
The Schwinn Volare is a capable and popular hybrid bicycle best suited for riding that's more on the urban side. With a simple 21 speed shifting system (more than enough for most situations) and a frame designed for efficient riding and good speed, you can get around anywhere quickly and comfortably. The 6061 aluminum frame and flat riser bars are optimized for an upright riding position, while the high performance 700c wheels will spin forever. It even comes with rapid fire shifters to make changing gears a breeze.
This is one of the better hybrid bicycles below $500 because it's fast, light and capable. I recommend this for the city commuter or neighbourhood rider, though it's not the best choice for trails. The frame is 18" with an adjustable seat post, so it will suit most riders between 5'8 and 6'1 tall.
Great components, strong electric engine = fantastic and affordable electric hybrid bicycle.
Watseka XP: A great hybrid electric bike, low price
I know I said five, but I want to include a bonus review. This is a really nice hybrid bicycle for just over $500. A high-ten steel frame, a 6-speed Shimano shifter and derailleur, and alloy cranks. Oh did I mention it's electric?
You get a 250-watt electric motor and 36v battery, which can carry you for about 18 miles, all for a bit over $500. If the motor peters out during your ride, you can revert to standard pedalling in a pinch. It's almost like having a little motorcycle with pedal power attached.
The Watseka XP is a cheap hybrid bicycle that's occasionally under $500 (when it goes on sale) that just happens to have a motor attached to it! What's not to like?
Things To Watch Out For:
The hybrid is a good compromise for anyone who likes to ride on many terrains. However, you should recognize that it is just that, a compromise. Even the best hybrid bikes under $500 will be somewhat lacking in certain areas. That's not a bad thing if you can recognize your preferred riding style. Check out this list of things to watch for.
- Do you ride more on pavement than on gravel or trails? Consider getting a thinner tire bike. The thinner the tire, the less friction you'll deal with, making riding easier. The same thing applies vice versa, so if you like riding trails more often than not, choose a wider tire with deeper grooves.
- Make sure you get a bike that fits you. Even though they're meant to accommodate a wide range of riders, it's still important that it fits you, or it'll never be comfortable. You should just be able to stand on the balls of your feet while standing over the bike.
- Beware of cheaper disc brakes. Really inexpensive hybrid bikes will sometimes come with disc brakes that are no good. I don't recommend anything too cheap. Spend a little extra and get something that will stop!