Can I Use a Hybrid Bike for Touring?

Hybrid Bike

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Bike touring, a recreational and adventurous pursuit combining bike riding, traveling, and camping over a few days or more, is a hobby practiced across all corners of the globe. 

Since the bicycle’s invention, bike tours have been a popular way to spend an extra few days enjoying the great outdoors, up close and personal, one scenic view at a time.

This begs the question, can I use my hybrid bike as a touring bike? The answer is yes, but there are numerous things you need to know to make your riding experience more pleasurable.

Let’s dive in!

Suitability for touring

But what bikes are suitable for touring? From mountain bikes, gravel bikes, designated touring bikes, and all the hybrids, there is no shortage of choices for the beginner biking enthusiast as to what they should peddle out onto their next multi-day adventure.

We go way deeper into the differences between gravel and touring bikes here.

Can hybrid bikes be used for touring?

In short, the answer is yes; a Hybrid bike could quite easily lend itself to touring uses. This is due to the bike’s versatility on various terrain, level of comfort, and capability to add components to help store your gear.

Plus, its speed can also help in the long-distance traveling a bike tour creates.

What is a hybrid bike?

A hybrid is a road bike, a touring bike, and a mountain bike rolled into one. This is a convenient scenario, which creates a best-of-both-worlds opportunity between comfort and the ability to handle off-road terrains and attain fast speeds on paved roads.

Essentially, this creates levels of versatility that almost any style of cyclist could appreciate.

What makes an excellent touring bike?

The best touring bikes are designed to be comfortable and durable for long multi-day rides, as well as provide ample storage in the form of front or rear racks and no shortage of Paniers.

Bikes specifically made for touring tend to cater towards less rugged paved road style.

This is where an exciting benefit could be found for the hybrid bike against the traditional touring bike.

Touring and Hybrid Bikes

Hybrid bikes Touring & Terrain:

The problem with some dedicated touring bikes can be their lack of off-road ability; many dedicated touring bikes could find trouble in increasingly rugged terrain the touring bike simply is not built for.

This is where touring on a hybrid can come in handy; the hybrid bike, as mentioned earlier, combines features from varying cycles, from road bikes to mountain bikes. Luckily for us, many hybrids commonly lean more toward the off-road faction.

If you prefer bike tours with long stretches of off-road and various rugged terrains, a hybrid bike geared up with extra storage could be a better bet as your main touring bike.

Different types of hybrid bikes:

Hybrid bikes come in a wide array of shapes and sizes, meaning that no matter what style of bike touring you prefer, there will be a hybrid bike that will suit your needs. For simplicity, I will split it into two sides, Off-road hybrids and on-road hybrids.

Best Hybrid bikes for off-road touring:

As said on Bike radar, an excellent way to tell a hybrid bike is geared towards the off-road style is to look at the wheel sizes.

Hybrids using a 26-inch format commonly found on mountain bikes tend to be more off-road biased.

Best Hybrid bikes for paved terrain:

The other sector of hybrid bikes is the ones that lean more towards the influences of road bike styles as opposed to more mountain bike resembling styles. These hybrids generally can be identified by bikes with 700c road-style wheels, which will perform much better if you are looking to do more paved or flat off-road touring.

Are Hybrid Bikes comfortable enough?

In short, yes, the hybrid bike draws influence from many other bikes. Unlike a mountain bike, the Hybrid is not designed to be excessively durable.

Unlike some speed-based road bikes, the Hybrid is not designed to be super lightweight but instead finds a happy medium, prioritizing rider comfort. This is a factor that will be very much appreciated during extended tours.

Hybrid Riding Position

The Hybrid offers a less aggressive riding position, which helps reduce tension to the rider’s shoulders, back, and wrists.

It differs from the road bike significantly, with a lower seat and flat handlebars, as opposed to the road bikes’ drop handlebars and more crouched aerodynamic-focused riding position.

This helps to make the Hybrid a good choice for touring, with a seating position that reduces stress to the back over long rides, prioritizes rider comfort, and encourages you to sit up and look around at the scenic views surrounding your travels.

Can a hybrid store all my gear for the tour?

This is also a yes. Many hybrid bikes come complete with a front or rear rack, or both, and the ability to attach additional panniers for your possessions. You may have to buy some additional accessories depending on your level of touring minimalism.

Still, with a few extra paniers and racks, there is no reason you cannot haul any touring supplies you may need.

Hybrid bikes over long distances

Hybrid bikes generally will do good for the long-distance rides touring requires. These bikes are built to be durable, comfortable, and above all, versatile. This means designing for comfort across most terrains.

And speaking of long distances, chances are you are going to want to include camping in your touring equation, so we wrote all about how to do it right when bikepacking.

Hybrid bike seating

As a style of bike that prides itself on its versatility and ability to be useful for almost any cyclist, regardless of their designated terrain or style, they are one of the fastest bikes to upgrade.

With relative ease, one can add accessories and switch out tires, seats, and peddles to create a bike ideal for their individual needs.

One of the most common changes one may wish to make on a new hybrid bike bought with the intention of touring is to switch out the stock seat. This can improve its long-distance riding comfort by leagues.

Manufacturers tend to use seats that lean towards being cheaper, though luckily, it is relatively quick and inexpensive to switch it out with a more comfortable newer gel-topped model.

Hybrid bikes for speed

A benefit of hybrid bikes, in comparison with dedicated touring bikes, as well as others, is their ability for speed.

According to Bicycle2work, the average speed of a hybrid is between 11 to 18MPH, with the potential being higher for professional bikers.

The speed component adds an additional edge to the hybrid bike for touring: not only can you come upon an off-road stretch and handle it hassle-free, but also, like its road bike counterpart, the Hybrid will get you there faster than the traditional designated touring bike. Having additional speed capabilities on your bike is never a bad thing.

Hybrid Bike for Speed

In conclusion

Hybrid bikes can make great touring companions, though there is a spectrum ranging from designed more like road bikes for mostly paved rides or designed more like mountain bikes for off-road adventures and everything in-between.

So pick your hybrid touring bike with your desired end goal and most common terrain in mind.

The great thing about hybrids is their versatility and ability with light additions and modifications to become the bike for whatever purpose you need. They are also pretty comfortable from the get-go, though, for extended rides, you may want to replace the seat with something gel based.

So pick a hybrid bike that matches your riding style, get geared up with any additional panniers you need for storage, and at your discretion, you could switch the stock seat for additional comfort.

With minimal effort, you will have found an excellent touring machine to deliver you through your next touring adventure trustfully.

Check out these helpful resources:

  1. Bikepacking Weight Distribution Guide
  2. Bike Touring Packing List (Printable PDF)

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