Riding a bicycle is one of the best fitness activities you can practice while enjoying the nature or just commuting in the city. Cycling is also one of the best sports ever invented, period! When you think of a sport which can help you get in shape you will come up with cycling for sure. And you will have to check the most popular bicycle in the world – the hybrid bike.
But let’s dive in a little bit. What is a hybrid bike and what are the differences from the other bike types.
If you don’t have time to read more, just check our picks for the best hybrid bikes under $500 here:
- Schwinn Discover Men’s Hybrid Bike (700C Wheels) – Best Commuter Hybrid Bike under $500.
- Diamondback Bicycles Trace St Dual Sports Bike – Best Overall Hybrid Bike under $500!
- Trek FX 2 – Best Hybrid Bike from Trek
- Diamondback Insight 2 – Best Entry-Level Hybrid Bike for Everyone!
- Diamondback Clarity 2 – Best Hybrid Bike For Women
- Co-op Cycles CTY 1.1 Bike – A very good alternative hybrid bike!
- Nashbar Women’s Flat Bar Road Bike – Second Best Hybrid Bike under $500 for Women!
- Electra Loft 7D Bike – Great Urban Hybrid Bike
What is a hybrid bike?
While the best option would be to have one good mountain bike for the mountain, and one awesome road bike for the streets, many people look for a compromise between the two. Maybe you don’t want to spend too much on two different bikes, or you are are a beginner who wants to feel the joy of cycling.
In all these cases the hybrid bike comes into the scene.
Hybrid bicycles blend characteristics from road bikes, mountain bikes, and comfort bikes. The resulting hybrid is a general-purpose bicycle that can be used for different riding conditions and has many different applications.
Frame: Most hybrid bikes, that I recommend, have frames of lightweight aluminum 6061 alloy or less often steel frames. Aluminum frames are really very good, cheap enough and durable. Steel is also a very good material which is cheap and rigid but weights more. So in a conclusion, you should be looking for aluminum frames made of 6061 alloys.
Handlebars: In most cases, the handlebars on the cheapest hybrid bikes are normal mountain bike handlebars. They are wider ( 600 mm ) and allow the rider to sit in a more upright an comfortable position. These handlebars are very good for everyday use and they are perfect for commuters.
Gears: Hybrid bikes are suited for a wide range of gears which makes them great multi-taskers. The wide range of gears allows the rider to ride easily up the hills, and also on the flat roads. All the hybrid bikes which we recommend, have very good components when we talk about gear changing and stuff so nothing to worry about here.
Best Hybrid Bike Brands: Our favorite brands for hybrid bikes in the lower range are Schwinn, Diamondback, Raleigh, and Trek.
Is it difficult to find a hybrid bike under $500?
The good news is that with your limited budget of $500 you can buy some decent hybrid bikes online, and my job here is to show you the best hybrid bikes under $500. Note that in general, hybrid bikes are not very expensive so your budget is quite good. Of course, you can easily spend $1000-1500 for a hybrid bike, but I think that $500 is also a good start.
Many people came to me asking me for a hybrid or mountain bike under $200 and my answer always is this. Wait a little bit and save more money to buy something decent. Most bikes which cost so little are pure junk. This is the typical Walmart bicycle for $150 which falls apart in the middle of the summer.
That’s why I came with the $500 mark. Most decent hybrid bikes for beginners cost less or around $500 so you will be fine with your choice. Many people ask me this. Is the hybrid bike good for beginners? And my answer is always – absolutely! Prepare your $ 500, choose wisely and start shopping!
What to consider when choosing a hybrid bike for less than $500
Most people choose to start with a hybrid bike. These bikes allow you to sit comfortably upright like on a mountain bike but at the same time being much faster because of the narrower tires. The hybrid bike is practically the easiest way to enter into the world of cycling.
The first advice which I give to everybody who is looking for a hybrid is to aim for one with 700c tires. This tire size is the best compromise between comfort, speed and easy pedaling. Especially on paved roads, you will be much faster than those with fatter tires. To be honest, my everyday bike is also a 700c hybrid and you can see it in the picture below.
Apart from the tire sizes, the hybrid bikes can be divided into many different categories, depending on that if they are more like road bikes or mountain bikes. For example, some hybrids are very close to mountain bikes. They have front suspension, disk brakes, and large volume tires. The saddle is normally super comfortable and the handlebars are wider just like on a mountain bike.
On the other side of the spectrum, you can find the hybrid bikes that have more similarities with the road bike. They can be just like a normal road bike, but with flat handlebars ( without bends ). The gears, tires and everything else is pretty much road bike. In many cases, these bikes are suited with carbon front fork without any suspension.
Between the two ends of the spectrum, you can find many more combinations and compromises between the two bike types. Whatever you choose, you should think a lot about your needs. If you are going to ride more on the paved roads than on the mountain you should choose a bike which is more like a road bike. Contrary, if you want to ride more on the mountain or in the park you should check a hybrid which is closer to the mountain bike.
So when I review a hybrid bike I will always give a road bike/mountain bike ratio. For example 80/20. Just to let you know on which side of the spectrum the hybrid bike is.
Best Hybrid Bikes Under $500 – Reviewed!
Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bike – The best commuter bike under $500!
road/mountain ratio: 60/40
- A high-quality bike made by the reputable manufacturer;
- Good value for money;
- Sturdy bike components;
- Perfect for commuting;
- Very comfortable ride;
- Not so good looking as other hybrid bikes;
- Fenders made of plastic;
- Not very easy to assemble;
Schwinn is definitely one of our favorite bike manufacturers in the world. They make solid and high-quality bikes for all type of riders. Schwinn Discover is a versatile bike which stays just in the middle line between a road bike and a mountain bike. It has an aluminum frame and front suspension fork for a more comfortable ride.
The shifters are SRAM grip and the rear derailleur is SHIMANO which guarantees smooth shifting. Also features linear pull brakes, upright handlebar position and a padded seat for additional comfort.
Schwinn Discover Hybrid bike surpasses any average bike in the market with its high quality and a really nice smooth ride, especially on a concrete surface. It’s important to note that this bike is one of the top-rated hybrid bikes on Amazon. Unfortunately, it’s not the best looking bike but as we know beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
But Schwinn Discover is a super functional bike. It even comes with a stylish rack for slapping a picnic basket or backpack on. The bike is designed to be as comfortable as possible. It even has a small shock absorber under the seat for extra comfort which is nice.
Unlike any cheap and low-quality competitor you can see in Walmart, for example, this bike uses high-quality components which will not let you down. Of course, the bike will cost more than these super cheap bikes but in the long term it will serve you much better and you will avoid many repairs.
The bike is suited with 700c tires which make it fast enough on paved roads. By the way, the Schwinn Discover is also available with a women’s frame making it a very good option for the women out there.
Like many other hybrid bikes, Schwinn Discover is perfect for any casual rider or for commuting in the city. If you are just entering the cycling world this is a good choice. The bike is comfortable, durable and with good enough performance and quality. Schwinn is known to produce top-notch and very loved bikes through the years. Schwinn Discover is the best commuter hybrid bike under $500.
They continually developed innovative bike features that come with the most updated technology. So in a few words, I can say that the Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bike is one of our top and favorite models.
Diamondback Bicycles Trace St Dual Sports Bike – The Best Overall Hybrid Bike under $500!
road/mountain ratio: 75/25
- Good looking bike;
- Solid front fork;
- Very good high-quality linear-pull brake;
- Good aluminum frame;
- Very solid double-walled wheels with 32 spokes;
- 700c wheels for faster riding;
- Not very good and durable Revo shifters;
- Tourney rear derailleur;
- Freewheel rear gear setup;
With this bike, Diamondback is trying to make a completely new bike category between hybrid bike and a mountain bike. In my opinion, this is a more of a sporty version of a hybrid bike though.
As Diamondback says:
“TOEING THE LINE BETWEEN COMMUTER AND MOUNTAIN BIKE”
Diamondback Trace is an excellent entry-level bike for the people who want to enter into the sport. It is built to be super durable and solid. It’s just a perfect choice for any customer who is not very sure whether they need a road bike or a mountain bike. The 700c wheels are a huge advantage. These taller wheels mean that you can travel further and faster for each pedal stroke. Of course, if you want to take it often to the mountains this bike won’t be very suitable.
The bike is durable, stable and balanced as hell. Of course, you will have to give up some of the off-road capabilities and the bike won’t be very comfortable when you are not cycling on paved roads. The solid front fork is also much more durable and cheaper to maintain than the front suspension.
Unfortunately, there are also some downsides to this Diamondback bike. The first one is the Revo shifters which are not very reliable and they usually break down in a couple of years of use. The tourney rear derailleur is a dependable piece as long as you aren’t putting the bike to the limit. If you shift quickly a lot while riding above rocks and stones it won’t last very long.
The good news is that both the Revo shifters and the tourney rear derailleur are cheap enough to replace.
One of the biggest advantages of this bike is the double-walled wheels with 32 spokes. These wheels are super durable and suitable for heavy riders too. If you are looking for a good bike for a weight-loss the Diamondback Trace is one of the best choices. The cheapest hybrid bikes are not very good in general, but Diamondback Trace Dual Sport is really the best value for money.
Diamondback is usually a highly recommended bike manufacturer by Yes Cycling.
Trek FX 2 – The Best Hybrid Bike from Trek
road/mountain ratio: 70/30
- Famous and reputable manufacturer;
- Great steel-wrapped Wellgo platform pedals;
- High-quality aluminum front fork;
- Very durable and balanced bike;
- Not the cheapest one on our list;
- Not possible to buy on Amazon;
Another bike which is for sure one of the best hybrid bikes for less than $500 is Trek FX 2 It comes with some standard for the company components which are almost always of a high quality. In this case, the bike features metal pedals, FX alloy w/tapered wall thickness fork which absorbs better vibrations than a standard steel fork and Bontrager H2, 700×35 tires. The Trek FX 2 is a great bike for commuters and people who want to stay fit. It also has a women’s design version and disk brake model if you need it.
Trek FX 2 weights only 25.75 lbs which makes it a perfect for carrying upstairs/downstairs. The rear derailleur is Shimano Acera M360, and the shifters are Shimano EF500, 8 speed.
This bike just feels premium with all these good components and the ride is just perfect. For example, the steel-wrapped Wellgo platform pedals are not typical for bikes below USD 500 – 600 and in this case they are included which is awesome. The frame is made of FX Alpha Gold Aluminum as mentioned on the manufacturer’s website.
I have many readers who ask me this question – Diamondback vs. Trek Hybrid which is the best. And my answer is always the same. Both brands are very good and they make solid bikes. I like both manufacturers and you won’t make a mistake if you choose between the two.
Trek FX 2 is a very good hybrid bike for everyone. It looks and feels good on the road and it features some very high-quality components including the metal pedals, aluminum front fork, and good shifters. The cost of the bike is quite good for such a configuration of components and especially for the brand Trek which is definitely one of the best in the market. In general, I can definitely recommend the bike for commuters, first-time buyers or even for the enthusiast who wants a second bike for the everyday needs. Trek FX 2 is the best hybrid bike under $500 which you can’t buy on Amazon.
Diamondback Insight 2 – Best Entry-Level Hybrid Bike for Everyone!
road/mountain ratio: 80/20
- Versatile and balanced bike;
- Good Kenda tires and double-walled wheels;
- Disk brakes;
- Perfect geometry of the frame;
- Super quick on the road;
- Not good for off-road riding;
- The bigger frame sizes cost over $500;
Diamondback Insight 2 is one of my favorite hybrid bikes because it’s just phenomenally good. This bike is versatile, balanced and super comfortable. It just flies along the paved roads and it’s perfect for fitness training. Diamondback makes one of the best hybrid bikes out there and this one is not an exception. It has an aluminum alloy frame which is durable and stable.
The wheels are double-walled and the tires are high-quality Kenda tires. This bike is going to lean you forward which will make you burn even more calories. With the Diamondback Insight 2, you can even manage to complete your first Century ride ( 100 miles ) averaging 14-15 miles per hour with these 700c wheels. This model also comes equipped with Tektro Aries mechanical disc with 160mm rotors which is nice.
The braking power is quite good and you won’t have any issues related to safety. I have to note that maybe you should visit a local bike shop when you assemble the braking system though.
Diamondback Insight 2 is definitely one of the best hybrid bikes under $500. It’s very good for any commuters but even better for anyone who wants to take cycling more seriously. The bike is just perfectly balanced and quick enough to average 15 miles per hour. One of the problem though is that some of the bigger sizes frames cost a little bit over $500 and you should exceed your budget. But the money spent on the Insight 2 is definitely worth it.
Diamondback Clarity 2 – The Best Hybrid Bike For Women
road/mountain ratio: 80/20
Diamondback Clarity 2 is practically the women’s version of the Insight 2. Which means that everything is absolutely the same except the frame which is made for women. Normally it costs around $350 but often it is on sale for less than $300. If you are a woman looking for a good, reliable hybrid bike then you should shortlist the Clarity 2.
All these pros of the bike make this bicycle the best hybrid bike for women.
Co-op Cycles CTY 1.1 Bike – A very good alternative hybrid bike!
road/mountain ratio: 85/15
- Great stopping power due to the disc brakes;
- Quick 700c tires;
- High-quality components;
- Not the most good looking bike;
Co-op Cycles CTY 1.1 is a hybrid bike which I like a lot. One of the reasons I like it so much is the combination of comfort and speed which this bike delivers because of the quick 700c tires, quality drivetrain, and good frame geometry. When we speak about the frame I have to mention that as usual this one is made of 6061 aluminum.
The front fork of the bike is without any suspension and it’s made of 6061 aluminum as well. This makes the bike very durable and rigid enough for long use. Another great thing about it is the use of high-quality components in the drivetrain. Just to mention here that the crankset is Shimano TY-301 48/38/28, the front derailleur is Shimano Tourney, and the rear derailleur is Shimano Acera.
All these things combined with the Shimano Altus 8 trigger shifters make the Co-op Cycles CTY 1.1 a perfect hybrid bike for urban commuters. The bike itself weighs 27.8 pounds which makes it quite good to carry around.
Another great feature which I have to note is that the hybrid bike is fitted with Puncture-resistant 700 x 40mm tires which is not very common for this class.
Co-op Cycles CTY 1.1 is a very good alternative hybrid bike which usually costs around $500 and you should shortlist for sure. It’s perfect for uphill cycling, urban commutes, and general training.
Nashbar Women’s Flat Bar Road Bike – Second Best Hybrid Bike under $500 for Women
road/mountain ratio: 80/20
- Extremely cheap;
- Step-through frame design – perfect for women;
- Fast Kenda Kwest 700×32 tires;
- Not the most reliable brand;
- No customer reviews yet;
OK let’s start with one clarification. Despite the fact that the manufacturer thinks that this is a road bike, in reality, it’s a normal women’s frame hybrid bike. To be a road bike it has to be fitter with drop-bar handlebars typical for road bikes.
But this is not an issue for us, because Nashbar made a very good hybrid bike for women. The frame and the front fork are made of aluminum for comfort and durability, and drivetrain totally made of Shimano components. You’ve got 21 gears for hill climbing. Because of these components, I have to admit that this bike change gears really smoothly.
The breaks are linear pull brakes just like on a road bike. The tires are Kenda Kwest 700×32 tires which roll very well. The ride is very comfortable and the bike is quite fast. All these things are important but the main reason I choose this bike is the price. Nashbar makes some of the cheapest bikes on the market and this one is not an exception. This model cost below $300 which is very good and you can even invest the other $200 for some accessories.
If you are a woman looking for a hybrid bike below $500 you should definitely consider the Nashbar Women’s Flat Bar Road BIke. It’s a versatile, balanced, quick bike for commutes and weight loss.
Electra Loft 7D Bike – Great Urban Hybrid Bike
road/mountain ratio: 70/30
- Awesome city bike;
- Great retro-look;
- Fenders included;
- Only 7 speeds;
- Revo shifters;
Electra Loft 7D is a very interesting hybrid bike whic has a retro-look. This one is either you like it a lot or you hate it. You can continue reading if you like it of course. It’s a bike made for those who live in big cities like New York or Chicago for example. The frame is made of 6061-T6 aluminum, and the front fork is made of high-tensile steel.
It has 7 gears which is perfect for the city , but not good if you live in a city like San Francisco with a lot of hills. Electra Loft 7D weight 31 pounds which is an average weight for such hybrid bike. The tires are Mixed Tread, 700 x 35 which are fast and good for paved roads.
One thing that I don’t like about this bike is that it’s fitted with Revo shifters which I don’t like. But this is compensated by the fenders which are included making it a perfect bike for rainy days. Also the brakes are standard linear brakes and the stopping power is quite good.
In a conlusion, Electra Loft 7D is an awesome hybrid bike with a retro look which you can buy for less than $500 on Rei.com. If you commute a lot to work or to college then you should consider this model.