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Best budget hybrid bikes 2022 – Do-it-all rides that don't hit you in the pocket

Best budget hybrid bikes: A lifestyle shot of a man riding a Ribble hybrid in a leafy environment
(Image credit: Ribble)

The best budget hybrid bikes are flexible friends that give cyclists the option to be versatile in their riding habits or to find a safe middle ground among the often-overwhelming – and ever-growing – number of riding styles on offer. Those who are exploring more serious cycling for the first time might choose a hybrid as a gateway bike, perhaps nervous about the dropped handlebars of road bikes or wary of picking a ride that is too specialised in one discipline. 

The joke among cyclists is the ideal number of bikes in your shed is N+1: whatever you have plus one more. And the truth is that the best bike for the type of ride you are embarking upon is always going to be one designed specifically for that discipline. If you are riding on roads, you need the best road bikes; if you are riding gravel, you need the best gravel bikes

So while a hybrid certainly offers a more versatile 'do-it-all' alternative, it is never going to 'do it all' perfectly. So it is important to consider the type of riding you will be doing – because often hybrids are designed with a focus on certain attributes – while at the same time accepting that it will not be as good as a bike designed solely for a singular purpose.

The best budget hybrid bikes will also be customisable to suit your needs, so you may also want to look at the best bike lights, the best flat road bike pedals or the best road bike tyres to get the best out of your new ride. 

We have looked at the best hybrid bikes in the past, but this guide is focused more on those making their first forays into cycling who want to put a cap on how much they spend as they dip an exploratory toe in the water. We set a budget of around £800 / $1000 and tested bikes that offer a range of different characteristics to suit those looking for a commuter ride, a fitness bike, an urban cruiser or perhaps something with scope to explore off the beaten track. 

We took them out for rides on varied routes in varied conditions, comparing them to each other and other bikes we have ridden to see how they performed in terms of comfort, stability, handling and responsiveness as well as comparing their technical specifications such as weight, gearing and frame build. 

In case you want a little more help deciding what suits your needs, we have answered a few common questions on how to choose the best budget hybrid bike for you at the end of the article.

The best budget hybrid bikes available today

A grey Ribble Hybrid Trail AL against a wooden fence

(Image credit: Benjamin Page)
Best all-terrain adventurer

Specifications

Weight: 12.9kg
Wheel size: 700c
Gearing: 1x11
Brakes: Hydraulic disc

Reasons to buy

+
Smooth ride
+
Very comfortable on gravel
+
Effortless 1x11 SRAM gearing
+
Comfortable position
+
Lightweight for bike with suspension fork

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks pace
-
No lock-out option on suspension

The Ribble Hybrid Trail AL is a bike that's not afraid to get stuck in when the going gets rough. Perfectly suitable as a commuter bike that rolls smoothly over the tarmac and has a nippy enough acceleration about town, what marks it out from some of its competitors is how comfortable it is veering off the beaten track.

Ribble offers three different versions of the Hybrid Trail AL – plus the ability to customise your own – all pairing a reasonably lightweight (1680g) 6061 aluminium frame with a suspension fork to give it more versatility.  

The middle-tier version that fell perfectly into our budget was the Enthusiast 2.0, which comes with a 1x11 SRAM NX drivetrain and 50mm-travel Suntour NEX-E25 fork, and we were immediately impressed with the smoothness of the ride. It's not quite as fast as others on this list, but it by no means has the sluggish feel of a mountain bike on the road. With the addition of Level ergonomic handlebar grips – a small detail that can make a huge difference to the comfort on a hybrid – the relaxed riding position made for supreme comfort, even on a three-hour ride. 

As we ventured further into the countryside, we had no problem riding straight over small potholes or drain covers. Emboldened, we took it on a gravelly climb that we wouldn't dream of taking a road bike on and would even consider a little risqué for our usual rigid-frame hybrid. The Hybrid Trail AL did not disappoint, even when the going got steep. Thanks to the massive 11-42T cassette and 32T chainring, we felt we were more likely to run out of grip before we ran out of gears – something that would be easily fixed with a chunkier set of tyres than the 40mm Schwalbe G-One Speed tyres it is fitted with (clearance allows for 45mm).

On the way down, the Hybrid Trail AL was equally as impressive. Descending these routes on our road bike, we would always have to be extra-vigilant to pick the right line between the ruts and bursts of gravel, but the Ribble allowed us to be more relaxed, letting go a little more while the Tektro HD-M275 hydraulic disc brakes performed with great reliability when required.

Read about how I got on when I tackled my local mountain bike climb on the Ribble Hybrid AL Trail.

A red Trek FX 2 Disc Equipped pictured in front of a black door

The Trek FX 2 Disc Equipped can carry up to 136kg  (Image credit: Benjamin Page)
The most versatile budget hybrid bike

Specifications

Weight: 13.2kg (supplied)
Wheel size: 700c
Gearing: 2x9
Brakes: Hydraulic disc

Reasons to buy

+
Frame has great balance between responsiveness and comfort
+
Equipped for night riding, bikepacking or commuting
+
Can carry decent amount of weight
+
Stable ride for long distances

Reasons to avoid

-
Would need drivetrain upgrade to become a serious fitness bike
-
On the heavy side for a rigid frame

The Trek FX 2 Disc Equipped really does its best to answer all the questions asked of it in an effort to be the bike that does it all. Built around Trek's excellent Alpha Gold Aluminium frame, as the 'Equipped' name suggests, it comes fully equipped with lights, fenders, a very solid pannier rack and even a kickstand.  

Despite all these trimmings, we found the frame to be responsive when needed, but also extremely compliant in the right places, resulting in a smooth ride on bumpy road surfaces without the need to avoid small potholes and drain covers. It performed equally as well on bike paths and light gravel, all with just 32-inch tyres, and was certainly one of the more versatile frames we came across in our efforts to find the best budget hybrid bikes. 

The handling felt really reliable and the bike had a great balance to it, even when loaded up with a small bag on the pannier rack, making it comfortable for long rides. It is also very solid. The pannier rack is well built and Trek claims the bike can take weights of up to 136kg (for bike, rider and cargo combined), which fares well compared to others in this guide – for example, the max weight for the Merida Speeder is 120kg, and the more workmanlike Scott Sub Cross is 128kg.

It certainly ticks many boxes for bikepacking, commuting, long-distance rides, riding at night and – although we didn't get the chance to test in anything but the dry this summer – more inclement weather. It does come with ergonomic handlebar grips but we found them to be less comfortable than our favourites on the Ribble Hybrid AL Trail.  

While not immediately set up as a fitness bike, the FX range is in fact Trek's answer to the fitness hybrid bike. Stripped down without the rack, lights, fenders and kickstand, the FX 2 Disc weighs in at a more reasonable 11.73kg and, while that still makes it much heavier than the likes of the Boardman URB 8.9 or Merida Speeder 200, it is on a par with the Cannondale Quick 3, which is probably a much better direct comparison.

Like the Quick, its drivetrain is a mix of Shimano Acera/Altus components in a 2x9 set-up, and both bikes have integrated mounting systems in the stem to make it easier to attach computers or mobile phones – in Trek's case, the Blendr system, which requires additional mounts to be purchased. The Trek FX 2 Disc Equipped is also compatible with a DuoTrap S, which is a sensor that integrates into the chainstay and wirelessly transmits to a smartphone or computer to track cadence and other metrics. This is similar to the Cannondale Quick 3's integrated Garmin wheel sensor, which also requires an additional purchase. 

Personally, we felt the shifting on the Trek FX 2 Disc Equipped to be restrictive in terms of the performance we would like to see on a fitness bike, so if that is high on the list of priorities, it might be worth paying a little more for the superior Shimano Deore drivetrain on the FX 3 Disc (opens in new tab), which also comes with a carbon fork – and upgraded ergonomic grips. 

Unspectacular but effective, that's how I described the Trek FX 2 Disc Equipped after I spent a summer riding it. 

A metallic blue Boardman URB 8.9 hybrid bike in leafy urban environment

The Boardman URB 8.9 has a unique belt drive instead of a chain (Image credit: Benjamin Page)
The low-maintenance urban cruiser with fitness-bike potential

Specifications

Weight: 10.7kg (supplied)
Wheel size: 700c
Gearing: 1x8
Brakes: Hydraulic disc

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Sharp handling
+
Responsive
+
Low-maintenance belt drive system
+
Shimano hydraulic brakes

Reasons to avoid

-
Uncomfortable on bumpy terrain
-
Only 8 gears
-
Unfamiliar belt drive might be a turn-off

There are now a few different manufacturers making belt-driven bikes but they tend to be on the more expensive side. An affordable alternative, the Boardman URB 8.9 will appeal to those who prioritise practicality and want to spend more time pedalling, and less time tinkering. 

It is fitted with a Gates Carbon Belt Drive instead of a chain and an eight-speed Shimano Nexus internal gear hub, which Boardman claims makes the bike "almost maintenance free". Unlike a chain, the belt requires no lubrication, can be cleaned solely with water and won't rust. The system as a whole is lighter than a traditional drivetrain, which helps to keep the Boardman URB 8.9 to a claimed weight of 10.7kg, making it the second-lightest bike in this round-up after the Merida Speeder 200 featured below (10.46kg). 

Testing the bike, it was noticeable how quiet the drivetrain is – and the shifting of the internal gear hub, with Shimano Alfine Rapidfire shifters, was pretty seamless. We were worried we were going to run out of gears but were pleasantly surprised that we had enough for medium-difficulty climbs (up to about 8% gradient). It was in fact going downhill that we could have used an extra lower gear, but that is certainly preferable to being one short on the way up. It's obviously not a bike for serious climbers but I did feel it had more to offer than just being a glorified town bike. 

It doesn't quite reach the status of 'flat-bar road bike' like the Merida but when we strapped on some SPD pedals and took it up one climb that had sections over 12%, its stiff, light frame allowed us to power to the top. That certainly felt like it was pushing its limits, but we wouldn't rule the URB 8.9 out as an option for a fitness bike for largely flat or slightly lumpy terrain. 

The Shimano MT-201 hydraulic disc brakes are a step up from the mainly Tektro offerings among the other bikes in this guide, especially in terms of modulated braking, and the wheelset is surprisingly aero, with 35mm-deep rims. In fact, the URB 8.9, which has a tapered carbon fork, is perhaps the raciest-looking among the best budget hybrid bikes we came across, even more so that the Merida Speeder. 

It backs that up with its performance too. In terms of acceleration and responsiveness, it was the outright leader and even reminded us of BMC's Alpenchallenge range, which are considered some of the fastest aluminium-framed hybrids available and retail at a much higher price (the eight-speed, belt-driven Alpenchallenge 01 One (opens in new tab) with alloy frame and carbon fork costs close to twice as much). 

The downside was that the stiff frame did lack comfort at times – and this is where you see – or feel – a marked difference from the likes of the Alpenchallenge. It was fine when taken on very light gravel but we felt the vibrations from any cobbles, potholes or generally uneven road surface far more than we would have liked to. It came with 700x32mm tyres and there was room to go bigger to reduce the effect of this, but it did not seem like a bike that would ever be comfortable in the rough stuff. It does have the fixings for a pannier rack, however, boosting the URB 8.9's commuting credentials.

Want to know more? Head over to our Boardman URB 8.9 review for an even more in-depth analysis. 

A Merida hybrid bike stands in front of a grass bank

The Merida Speeder 200 has a 6066 aluminium frame and carbon fork (Image credit: Ben Page)

Merida Speeder 200

You say budget hybrid bike, we say flat-bar road bike

Specifications

Weight: 10.46kg (supplied)
Wheel size: 700c
Gearing: 2x9
Brakes: Hydraulic disc

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Good for climbing
+
Carbon fork
+
Internal cabling gives it a more expensive look

Reasons to avoid

-
Rattly off-road
-
Lack of responsiveness
-
Would live up to its sporty tag with Tiagra drivetrain

The Merida Speeder 200 is clearly designed with speed in mind but, for us, it is the weight that is its defining feature and why it is worthy of consideration among the best budget hybrid bikes. 

At our chosen price point, it will be hard to find a lighter bike. The frame for the Speeder 200 uses the same 6066 aluminium that the Taiwanese-German company uses in their top-end aluminium road bikes and, paired with a carbon fork, is quoted by Merida as 10.46kg (for a size S-M without pedals). 

The Speeder 200 also has internal cable routing which – combined with hydraulic disc brakes and FSA Tempo chainset – gives it a far-from-budget look.

Unsurprisingly given its weight, we found the Speeder to be most effective when climbing. It was certainly the best of the bikes in this guide on tarmac, although we found it a little rattly on anything rough and much preferred the Ribble Hybrid AL Trail for off-road climbs. The Speeder also held its own when descending, with the tapered carbon fork giving reliable, responsive handling. 

Merida redesigned the Speeder to give it a more sporty, fitness outlook a couple of years ago and we'd certainly place it in the 'flat-bar road bike' category, so this would be a great choice for someone who likes the idea of a road bike but doesn't like the idea of drop bars. 

It can fit tyres up to 37mm – a little less with fenders – so would make a decent commuter bike as well but, while it cruised along once it got up to speed, we found it lacking in responsiveness at lower speeds compared to the Boardman URB 8.9 and even the much heavier Scott Sub Cross 50, so is not necessarily any better for a fun, zippy, urban town bike alternative. For a bike at the top end of our budget, we'd also like to see it come with ergonomic handlebar grips, like the Ribble Hybrid Trail AL, a small detail that can make a big difference on longer rides in particular.

While the Sora 2x9 gearing is a decent spec for a bike at this price point, we'd be tempted to pay a little extra for the Speeder 300 that comes with Tiagra 2x10 drivetrain, which would certainly give it a more sporty feel to match its looks.

A Scott hybrid bike stands in front of a wooden fence

The Scott Sub Cross 50 has a long wheelbase, making it stable and comfortable (Image credit: Ben Page)

Scott Sub Cross 50

Stylish-yet-reliable low-cost option

Specifications

Weight: 13kg (supplied)
Wheel size: 700c
Gearing: 3x8
Brakes: Hydraulic disc

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable, stable ride
+
Responsive frame
+
Happy on light off-road

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
-
Tourney drivetrain isn't the best

Scott is a brand that exudes a bit of style and class and is certainly not associated with lower-end bikes, but the Sub Cross 50 is one of the cheapest in this round-up of the best budget hybrids and shows that you don't have to break the bank to find a decent bike.

Part of Scott's touring range, it weighs in at 13kg and comes with a steel fork and Shimano's Tourney drivetrain. None of this screams sexy on paper but when we took it out for a spin, we found it to be a really fun ride. It has a kind of urban mountain bike vibe and the frame was more responsive compared to the much lighter Merida Speeder 200 for zooming around town, through the park, up curbs (safely, of course), over drains and patches of grass or whatever else came our way.

Taking it onto unpaved roads and gravel, its long chainstay and Kenda Booster 45mm tyres gave it a great amount of comfort and stability and this is where the steel fork, although adding to its weight, offered more compliance than an aluminium alternative would. 

It has the fixings for a pannier rack and felt very solid and reliable – with hydraulic disc brakes even at such a low price point – so would make a great option for a commuter bike as long as your route into work wasn't too hilly.

A green Cannondale Quick 3 bike standing in front of a row of garages

The Cannondale Quick has a responsive frame and eye-catching paintwork (Image credit: Mildred Locke)
Responsive ride to suit fitness fanatics

Specifications

Weight: 11.5kg (supplied)
Wheel size: 700c
Gearing: 2x9
Brakes: Hydraulic disc

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight and stiff for quick acceleration
+
Lots of tyre clearance
+
SP-Connect compatible stem for easy phone mounting
+
Built-in wheel sensor
+
Beautiful paintwork

Reasons to avoid

-
Women-specific model doesn't come with women-specific contact points

We have tested the women's version of the Cannondale Quick 3 but the unisex model is not significantly different and the Quick range has a whole heap of different options to suit most requirements, including a 'Remixte' step-through frame. 

It is very much a fitness-oriented bike and one of the highlights of the Cannondale range of hybrids is their fitness-related perks. The Quick 3 comes with a built-in wheel sensor that allows you to connect to the Cannondale app and track your ride data, and an Intellimount stem that can hold any SP-Connect compatible phone cases and allow you to create a dashboard. It's a really great option for someone whose main motivation for riding is fitness and who wants to track metrics such as speed and mileage. 

We found the aluminium frame, paired with a carbon fork, to be stiff but comfortable allowing for easy acceleration when needed, while the handling was extremely responsive. Whether we were pootling around town or taking on longer, more testing rides, we found the Cannondale Quick 3 to be fun and functional, which is arguably what most people will be looking for in the best budget hybrid bikes. The combined Shimano Acera and Altus groupset did a good enough job and Tektro hydraulic disc brakes offered powerful and well modulated stopping.

While not as light as the Merida Speeder, the Quick is still a decent weight for this price range and its more responsive frame will likely make it a better option for urban riding. Unlike the Speeder, it can be fitted with a rear rack, so offers a bit more versatility as well. The metallic emerald green paintwork with reflective accents is also quite striking, giving it a point of difference from many of its rivals. 

Check out our Cannondale Quick 3 review for a deep dive into why it's on this list. 

Specialized Sirrus 2.0

The Specialized Sirrus 2.0 has a comfortable geometry and contoured handlebar grips (Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized Sirrus 2.0

Best for comfort without losing fitness focus

Specifications

Weight: 12.5kg (estimate)
Wheel size: 700c
Gearing: 2x8
Brakes: Hydraulic disc

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable geometry
+
Contoured handlebar grips
+
Many different versions on offer

Reasons to avoid

-
Drivetrain options may not impress
-
Heavy steel fork

The Specialized Sirrus is one of the most popular fitness hybrids out there and comes in a range of different options including a full-carbon version, step-through frames, and a seven-speed offering with V-brakes for less than £500. We've looked at the Sirrus 2.0 for this guide, which is still well within our budget but comes with hydraulic disc brakes and an eight-speed Shimano drivetrain. 

Without really wowing in any particular area stats-wise, it has been put together with comfort in mind – which will be high on many people's priorities for the best budget hybrid bikes, and that's not necessarily to the detriment of performance. While not the fastest or lightest ride in this list, it doesn't fall down hugely on any of those metrics. We've found the Sirrus to be a responsive, smooth-rolling ride that will climb when it needs to, within reason. That it arguably performs beyond the level its stats suggest is largely to do with that comfort focus. 

As well as the upright frame geometry, Specialized puts great stock in its 'body-geometry-tested touchpoints' which in this case largely come down to a focus on the interaction with the rider and saddle, but also extends to fitting the bike with contoured grips that reduce hand numbness and fatigue. We found these grips to be among the best and the higher-end models also include integrated bar-ends to assist with climbing. Grips are a reasonably cheap retrofit but it's nice to have them considered alongside the design of the bike and, with fewer hand positions available to the rider on a flat-barred hybrid compared with a road bike, are an important element often overlooked.

A steel fork adds to the overall weight of the Sirrus 2.0 but also adds to the comfort and the dropped chainstays at the rear promote a bit of flex at the seat cluster to take the edge off of square hits, while there is room to fit tyres up to 42mm to absorb even more shock.

The drivetrain options on the Sirrus 2.0 aren't the most impressive. The version we looked at has a mixture of Shimano Acera, Altus and Tourney, while there is also a Microshift option. If that is a turn-off, it might be worth looking at the Sirrus X 3.0 (opens in new tab), a more gravel-focused hybrid that comes with the impressive 10-speed Shimano Deore groupset in a single-chainring setup.

How to choose the best budget hybrid bike for you

What hybrid bike is best for me?

Hybrids, by their nature, tend to be quite versatile but you can still think about the type of riding you will be doing and use that as a basis for the bikes you take a look at. 

If you know you will be riding exclusively on roads, you should look at rigid-frame hybrids (which don't have suspension) that take 700c wheels. If you think you are going to be riding up hills, you should look at hybrids that are lighter in weight, perhaps with a carbon fork. However, if you are planning to carry heavy loads on your bike, want to fit panniers for carrying luggage, or have a bike seat for a child, then you might want to prioritise a sturdier frame (which is likely to mean a heavier bike). 

If you want to explore away from the tarmac, on less well-maintained roads, gravel or rutted farm tracks, there are hybrid bikes that come with suitable gearing, bigger tyres or front suspension that will make these types of journeys more enjoyable. However, if your main goal is to be riding off-road, you may also want to look at bikes that are designed specifically for this purpose, such as the best entry-level gravel bikes or mountain bikes.

Is a hybrid bike good for exercise?

Many people choose a hybrid bike for exercise, and for many different reasons. While, say, a road bike is likely to give better performance for purely road cycling, a hybrid might offer a more comfortable riding position or more versatility in terms of the conditions it can be ridden in. 

Many of the big bike manufacturers have a specific range of hybrid bikes that are dedicated to fitness and have features to support this, such as sensors for tracking metrics or mounts for cycling computers or phones. Fitness hybrids tend to come with 700c wheels, thinner tyres and lighter frames with rigid forks. Just like a road bike, as your riding develops, you will be able to customise your hybrid to improve its performance by upgrading to the best road bike wheels or the best road bike pedals and best cycling shoes

Is a hybrid bike good for long distance?

While a road bike will provide a more efficient platform for long distance riding with a more aerodynamic position and better power transfer, a hybrid bike can still be a great option for covering long distances, especially if comfort is more of a priority than speed. 

Hybrids are usually designed with more upright riding positions that, while typically slower, are also less physically taxing when in the saddle for a long time. 

Hybrid designs also take into account riding in a range of different conditions and will often have fittings for fenders to protect you from the rain, and better fixing points for lights and reflectors for when riding in low light. Many hybrids come with - or can be fitted with - pannier racks to allow for bags to be attached to the bike, which is ideal for bringing food, layers and waterproof clothing for longer journeys.

Can I ride a hybrid bike on trails?

Many hybrid bikes will be suitable for some trail riding but it depends on the particular focus of the bike. Some hybrids are very road-oriented, with stiff frames and thin tyres, and are better described as 'flat-bar road bikes', and will be no more suited to trails than a regular road bike. 

But the majority will be designed to take wider tyres and have more compliant frames to help to soak up the bumps and vibrations that come with straying off the road. Some, such as the Ribble Hybrid Trail AL in this guide, come with front suspension and a gearing range that makes them ideally suited to trails. There's a balance to strike though; the more suited a bike is for trails, the less well it will perform on the road. 

Also, if you are looking to regularly ride more aggressive, technical trails, you would be much better off looking at a bike specific to the discipline, such as the best entry-level gravel bikes or mountain bikes.

Is a hybrid bike good for beginners?

Hybrid bikes are a great option for beginners who are making their first forays into cycling. If you want to cycle mainly on the road, the dropped bars of a road bike might seem a bit intimidating – especially if you grew up riding bikes with flat bars. 

Hybrids also tend to offer a more relaxed, upright riding position, so while you might not get as much performance out of a road-orientated hybrid, it can be safer and would be a more gradual introduction to the discipline of road cycling. 

The versatility of hybrids also means that you could buy a bike that gives you the opportunity to venture off-road, while still being more suitable for the tarmac than, say, a mountain bike. If you are not sure what type of cycling discipline you are going to end up enjoying more, it gives you an opportunity to experiment without having to buy a specialist bike straight away.  

Ben has been a sports journalist for 16 years, covering everything from park football to the Olympic Games. As well as cycling, his passions include podcasts, tennis and speaking enough Italian to get by on his snowboarding trips to the Dolomites. A DIY rider who is almost as happy in the toolbox as he is in the saddle, he is still trying to emulate the feelings he experienced as a nine-year-old on his first Peugeot racer – he couldn’t fathom the down-tube friction shifters then and he’s still wrestling with groupsets now. When he isn’t making a beeline for the nearest Chiltern hill, he is probably tinkering or teaching his kids how to clean a bike properly. He rides a heavily modified 1980 Peugeot PVN10 Super Competition (steel is real) when the road is smooth and dry, and a BMC Alpenchallenge when it’s not.