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Five of the Best Hybrid Bikes for Under $500

Updated on November 28, 2017
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Graeme is a Victoria-based web developer who worked as a bicycle mechanic for three years. He loves writing about bike-related topics.

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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 the middle ground between road and mountain bicycle styles, and they're understandably pretty popular! This article is all about finding a great hybrid bike for under $500. We'll look at the top five.

Some people have a very clear-cut riding style and can confidently choose either a mountain or road bike and have it fulfill their riding needs. However, many people prefer a multi-purpose ride: they enjoy hills and trails just as much as the morning commute to the office. A hybrid bicycle is extremely fun to ride on both types of terrain.

This article will cover five of the best hybrid bicycles and brands out there. I will review different models that I think you might enjoy.

My goal is to help you identify the features you'd most like to have on your hybrid bicycle, and which brand and style will best meet those preferences. I hope I can help!

What is a Hybrid Bicycle?

Before answer the question of which is the best hybrid bicycle for under $500, we should probably first tackle another question: what is a hybrid, or crossover, bike? Since they don't fall into one particular category or another, they can vary widely in style and features, causing confusion as to what actually constitutes a hybrid. There are a few key features that are constant among most models. I'll list them here:

  • Unisex: Most hybrids are good for men or women, being built to accommodate either gender. Just make sure the bike is appropriately sized to your body.
  • Wide, smooth tires: Most hybrid bikes under $500 will have a good set of rubber tires on them. These are usually pretty wide, ranging from a half inch to almost 2 inches wide. They won't be knobby like mountain bike 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 offroad and diminishing drag on the street.
  • Upright riding position: Hybrids attempt to give a smooth, consistent ride in most scenarios. Thus, they 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 meet the needs of most people.
  • Light suspension: Most of the best hybrid bikes around or under $500 will include light suspension. This is by no means as extensive as that on high-end mountain bikes, but it provides some cushioning and stability. The most common is a front fork suspension, also known as "shocks," but you can sometimes find rear suspension or seat post suspension, too.
  • Lots of gears: Good hybrid bicycles under $500 will include a solid range of gearing options, underlining their ability to adapt to different riding conditions. Whether you need to conquer a crazy hill or a long, flat ride to work, your hybrid bike will have the right gearing to do it.

1. Shimano Hybrid Urban Commuter

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 and is priced well under $500. It's a nice option because it has the geometry of a classic frame and a throwback look you don't often see. It's not vintage when it comes to components, though, sporting a seven-speed rear derailleur. That's a gearing range that should be plenty for most commutes.

With a strong but lightweight steel diamond frame, chrome front light, integrated rear luggage rack, and front and rear fenders, this bike's price tag is striking. While it has good tread and 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.

Critical Cycles Diamond Frame 7-Speed Shimano Hybrid Urban Commuter Road Bicycle, Cream, Small/50cm
Critical Cycles Diamond Frame 7-Speed Shimano Hybrid Urban Commuter Road Bicycle, Cream, Small/50cm

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!

 

2. Diamondback Edgewood

A Very Good All-purpose Bike

The Diamondback Edgewood LX is a great choice because it's a very 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 63 millimeters (mm) 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, complicating the frame, or adding extra weight.

Diamondback Bicycles 2016 Edgewood Complete Hybrid Bike
Diamondback Bicycles 2016 Edgewood Complete Hybrid Bike

For well under $500, this hybrid bicycle has great suspension items, a strong aluminum frame, and it's very versatile.

 

3. Schwinn Network 1.0

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.

Schwinn Network 1.0 700c Women's 16 Hybrid Bike, 16-Inch/Small, White
Schwinn Network 1.0 700c Women's 16 Hybrid Bike, 16-Inch/Small, White

Great price, great brand name. The Schwinn GTX-2 is a true hybrid bike brand that reviews really well. It's attractive too!

 

4. Diamondback Insight 1

A Great Performance Hybrid Bike

If you've read some of my other articles, 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 designed for pavement but can handle a bit of trail riding. It's relatively light, really quick, and responsive on pavement. The riding experience is one of the best among hybrid bikes for less than $500.

This bike is available in many sizing options, from small to extra large frames, making it a bonafide unisex bicycle.

Diamondback Bicycles Insight 1 Complete Performance Hybrid Bike
Diamondback Bicycles Insight 1 Complete Performance Hybrid Bike

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.

 

5. Schwinn Volare

A Bike Tuned for Urban Riding

The Schwinn Volare is a capable and popular hybrid bicycle best suited for urban riding. With a simple 21-speed shifting system (more than enough for most situations) and a frame designed for efficient riding and speed, this bike makes it easy to get around 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 glide along the pavement. 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 in all scenarios. 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.

Schwinn Volare 1200 Road Bike, 700c/28 inch wheel size, Grey Gray, fitness bicycle, 53cm/Medium Frame Size
Schwinn Volare 1200 Road Bike, 700c/28 inch wheel size, Grey Gray, fitness bicycle, 53cm/Medium Frame Size

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!

 

Bonus: Watseka XP

A Great Hybrid, Electric Bike for Less

I know I said five, but I wanted to include a bonus review. This is a really nice hybrid bicycle for just over $500. This ride features a high-ten steel frame, a 6-speed Shimano shifter and derailleur, and alloy cranks. Oh, and did I mention it's electric?

With this bike you get a 250-watt electric motor and 36v battery, which can carry you for about 18 miles on one charge. If the motor peters out during your ride, you can revert to standard pedaling. It's almost like having a little motorcycle with pedal power included as a second option.

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!?

Watseka XP Cargo-Electric Bicycle-26-6 speed-Adult/Young Adult-Black
Watseka XP Cargo-Electric Bicycle-26-6 speed-Adult/Young Adult-Black

Great components, strong electric engine = fantastic and affordable electric hybrid bicycle.

 

Things to Look out for Before Purchasing a Bike

The hybrid is a good compromise for anyone who likes to ride on different types of terrain. However, you should recognize that a crossover bike is, indeed, 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 before purchasing a bike.

  • Do you ride more on pavement than on gravel and trails? If so, Consider getting a bike with thin tires. The thinner the tire, the less friction you'll deal with, making riding an easier and more pleasurable experience. The inverse applies if you ride more on gravel and trails than pavement: if you spend most of your time riding trails, 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 your bike fits you or you'll never be comfortable. You should only be able to stand on the balls of your feet while standing over your bike.
  • Beware of cheap 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 with stopping power!

What do you think of hybrid bikes?

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    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      13 months ago from Yorktown NY

      What is your opinion of the vintage bike - Motorbecane 10 speed super mirage?

    • profile image

      Pavan 

      3 years ago

      Hi, Is Apollo Transfer 20 a good bike to buy..?

    • BikePro profile imageAUTHOR

      Graeme 

      3 years ago

      Hi Herb,

      I've only had great experiences with Fuji. I haven't seen the Absolute up close, but the components seem solid, and it's a beauty. It compares very nicely to the Trace. You can't go wrong with either one!

    • profile image

      Herb 

      3 years ago

      What about a Fuji Absolute 2.1... they just recently released a new model this year which I love, but I have also seen the diamondback trace dual sport bike too. I think I like the Fuji better between the two of those, but wanted to ask your advice.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      4 years ago

      Hi I am looking for a hybrid bike I am a 65 years young good physical shape I jog 10+ miles a week so I can handle the trails too. I can't find any shops to test ride a bike also I don't want gears that are cheap and grind or slip. Another question is I am 5'11" what size rims do I look for?

    • BikePro profile imageAUTHOR

      Graeme 

      4 years ago

      @anonymous: By Specialized? They are fantastic! Definitely a good choice (but pricier than what I've reviewed for sure).

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      4 years ago

      What about an Expedition Sport? Like the low entry. That's what my local shop is trying to sell me. ;)

    • BikePro profile imageAUTHOR

      Graeme 

      5 years ago

      @BikePro: Pardon me, grey and white, not blue (they recently changed the color scheme).

    • BikePro profile imageAUTHOR

      Graeme 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: The blue and white GTX-2 is definitely a great choice. The GTX-1 is a slightly different bike, and I haven't seen it up close. It looks like more of a dual sport (closer to a mountain bike). I'd definitely recommend the '2' over the '1'.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: I got te gtx2, nice bike and it looks good too!

    • BikePro profile imageAUTHOR

      Graeme 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: If they're available nearby, I'd give them both a test ride and see which one you prefer. The Volare is definitely more suited to road conditions, but the GTX-2 would be more forgiving on the bumps.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      I've narrowed my choice down to the Schwinn Volare or GTX-2, which would you recommend between the two? I'll be doing mostly road riding, both are available in my area for abou the same price-$299 (good article, & thank you)

    • profile image

      GameHelp 

      5 years ago

      Interesting, I love your reviews. Great lens!

    • profile image

      diligentwheel lm 

      5 years ago

      Great review!

    • BikePro profile imageAUTHOR

      Graeme 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Hani, it's impossible to say unless you can mention the specific bicycle models by Trek and Giant that you are considering. Generally speaking, you can't go wrong with either brand.

    • jemacb profile image

      jemacb 

      5 years ago

      Nice Choices.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      @Michelllle: What brand and how much did you spend? (Sorry, I'm really looking to buy a hybrid. I have a scantante road bike but I really didn't enjoy it they way that I thought that I would. Now that my daughter is 6 we want to do sme family riding, but I want enjoy it this time!)

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      @BikePro: Yes but which one is faster, lighter and more durable??

    • BikePro profile imageAUTHOR

      Graeme 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Jim. Mechanical (cable powered) disc brakes don't have much advantage over linear pull (V) brakes. The conversation changes if we're talking about hydraulic disc brakes, but they up the price tag quite a bit. The Giant Roam 2 is a good example of a hybrid with hydraulic discs, and it's around $650, maybe that would be a good one to check out! :)

    • BikePro profile imageAUTHOR

      Graeme 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: They're both good brands, about on par for build quality. I'd go with whichever bike you like the look of best. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      which is a better brand for hybrid bikes, norco bikes vs trek bikes? Please advise and tell me which one and why?

      Thnx

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      What hybrid bike would you recommend with disc brakes? I have a Diamondback Edgewood 6 or 7 year's old with 2000 miles on it.

    • BikePro profile imageAUTHOR

      Graeme 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: I'm not directly familiar with the Astral, but K2 is usually middle of the road in terms of quality.

      I wouldn't say the Astral is great for triathlons though, too relaxed, I'd go for a road bike with a more aggressive riding position. There's a drop bar version of the Volare pictured above that might work.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      Thank you so much. I was lost before this site. I think I am definitely getting a Diamondback after this and plan to order it tomorrow. You don't know how much you helped me - I really appreciate it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      Do you have an opinion about the K2 Astral bikes? I am looking for my 12yr old who is just starting to ride a bit more and wants to try triathlons. Their 1.0 seems like a decent buy, for a starter.

    • BikePro profile imageAUTHOR

      Graeme 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you, that's a great compliment! Diamondback is awesome, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

    • Michelllle profile image

      Michelllle 

      5 years ago

      Love my hybrid bike.

    • BikePro profile imageAUTHOR

      Graeme 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks for the comment. Yeah I'm a fan of GT bikes too. I've never seen a Torker hybrid bike before... just unicycles (really good unicycles for that matter).

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      I own a Bicycle Store in Ohio. The best and most sold bikes are the 700C wheel Hybrid Bikes. For most people over 40 years old that want to ride for fun or health do great with a Hybrid bike. Schwinn, Torker, and GT bikes seem to sell the best. Over all you can't go wrong with a Hybrid ! Great for bike paths and fund raiser rides.

    • BikePro profile imageAUTHOR

      Graeme 

      5 years ago

      @Erick V: Hi Erick_V, thanks! I actually liked your lens already, a few months back. It's a great article, I'm sure you'll get to 20.

    • Erick V profile image

      Erick V 

      5 years ago

      Thanks for the information. Please check/like my lens, "city-cycling". I'm trying to get to the magic 20 likes number.

    • DeborahDian profile image

      Deborah Carr 

      5 years ago from Orange County, California

      Hybrid bikes are new to me. They sound like they are perfect for many serious riders.

    • thegrayrabbit profile image

      thegrayrabbit 

      5 years ago

      I didn't know a lot about hybrid bikes before now. Thanks for the education

    • fotos4web lm profile image

      fotos4web lm 

      5 years ago

      I love hybrid bikes - they're fun and unbeatable value

    • CoolFool83 profile image

      CoolFool83 

      5 years ago

      These are awesome looking hybrid bikes.

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