With cycling becoming an increasingly practical form of commuting, many are on the hunt for a bike that is practical, comfortable and reliable. However, as the cost of living goes up and less disposable income becomes an ever-present issue, finding a good bike for a reasonable price is more important than ever.
It’s for that reason that we’ve compiled a list of what we think are the best hybrid bikes under £500. Hybrids are the epitome of the aforementioned trio of practicality, comfort and reliability, and we’ve topped the budget at £500 to ensure you are getting the best value for money whilst still getting the right bike for you.
At this price bracket, the best hybrid bikes are those where the manufacturer has remembered to do the basics well: A well-designed frame, well built wheels, with good quality and easy-to-maintain groupset and brakes are key. Each bike in our roundup of the best hybrid bikes under £500 below meets these basic requirements, and only once we’re satisfied with that did we consider features that tailor a bike to its intended use case, such as suspension, wider tires and more .
These hybrid bikes often make the best commuter bikes, and are also a great way to get more exercise into your day whilst traversing your city. A hybrid is a typically combination of larger tire clearance than a road bike, good brakes and more upright geometry, focused on comfort.
If you want the convenience of commuting by bike but are strapped for space, take a look at the best folding bikes, and for those of you who want a more racy way to get about then perhaps the best women’s road bikes and the best road bikes will be up your street.
Best hybrid bikes under £500
The Riverside 900 from Decathlon’s in-house brand B’Twin holds nothing back, offering a large range of features for its price bracket. With front suspension and 1x gearing, it will comfortably handle trails and rougher riding, whilst the Tektro hydraulic brakes offer good braking in all weather conditions. The 10-speed derailleur, as with the other components, is entry-level quality in keeping with the price but is designed to get the job done. With the suspension fork, the Riverside 900 is slightly heavier than its competitors but is a great choice for those who want a bike that will do everything in all conditions.
Available in both gloss black and copper, the Marin Kentfield 1 is a sleek urban bike all about aesthetics. With its tan wall tyres, tan grips and retro frame design, Marin has distinguished itself from the standard all-black color scheme associated with most fitness bikes. The bike offers a 1×7 gearing, wide 40mm tires and cable-operated disc brakes, sitting at the modest end of the spectrum component-wise. Also available in a step-through model, the Kentfield 1 is a great option for those who wish to ride around in style.
Known for its value for money, Vitus has introduced the Mach 1 Three into its range to provide a high quality hub gear bike with an affordable price tag. With no derailleurs to service and a wider chain, hub gears are a much lower maintenance option than bikes with external gears. The downside is that there are only three gears to choose from, limiting its performance in hillier areas or off-road terrain. However, in conjunction with the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, the Mach 1 three will be a reliable run-around for those who favor ease of use and simplicity.
Combining the step-through frame with a high range of gears, the Trek FX1 Stagger disc gives a more accessible option for a hybrid bike at this level. With 3×7 gears, the Stagger has an Altus rear derailleur which is slightly sturdier than the Tourney alternative. Trek has also fitted the bike with its DuoTrap integrated frame sensor, that can send speed and cadence data to either your bike computer or phone. Overall, the Stagger is a good option for those who want a more accessible all-rounder.
Pinnacle has been at the forefront of hybrid bikes since its innovation, and the Lithium 1 provides a slightly different take from its competitors. The only bike on this list with rim brakes, the Lithium does provide a simpler option for those who wish to do more home maintenance and replace their own brake pads. The bike also boasts up to 2.2 inches of tire clearance, with a good range of gears to get you over most terrain. If you’re looking for a hybrid that would be more comfortable with the off-road, the Lithium may be the one for you.
How to choose the best hybrid bike under £500
What is a hybrid bike?
A hybrid bike, or fitness bike as they are sometimes known, is a combination of different facets of road and mountain bikes, focusing on comfort and practicality. These bikes are often used for commuting or urban riding, although they have the capacity to handle light trails and off-roading. The main features tend to be larger tire clearances, flat handlebars and a relaxed geometry, with mounts for mudguards and pannier racks.
What brakes do I need?
There are two main benefits to disc brakes over standard v-brakes. Firstly, disc brakes usually have better stopping power than v-brakes and other rim brakes.
Secondly, as stated in the name, rim brakes make contact with the rim of the wheel to slow the bike down. This means that when the rim is worn out, the wheel either needs to be replaced or rebuilt, which are both costly options. Disc brakes made contact with a replaceable disc rotor which is fitted to your wheel hub. When this rotor wears down, it can be replaced at a fraction of the cost of the wheel.
The distinguishing factor for disc brakes is the difference between cable-actuated and hydraulic. Hydraulic disc brakes perform much better than cable disc brakes, providing better stopping and also better feel. Hydraulic brakes also self-regulate so that as the brake pads wear down, the brakes still work well and prevent the brake lever coming all the way back to the bar. Cable disc brakes are much cheaper, so more common in entry-level bikes, and will still normally perform better than rim brakes.
It is important to note that if the disc brake pads aren’t changed when worn out, the disc brake calliper itself can become damaged with extensive use and may need replacing.
What gears are best?
Different gear types are designed for different types of riding/rider. 1x gearing, where there is only one front chainring, derives from mountain-biking. The single gear at the front means all the gear changes happen in one place, the rear derailleur, reducing the likelihood of the chain falling off or getting stuck whilst shifting. It also makes for simpler shifting, as there is only one shifter to think about.
Hub gears are internal to the rear wheel hub. This means that they are not exposed to the elements like standard gears, providing more protection and helping them last longer. Unlike normal gearing, you have to stop pedalling whilst changing hub gears which can take a while to get used to. This can be good for changing to an easier gear when stopped at traffic, but is not ideal for climbing hills as you need to reduce the pressure whilst pedalling to move gears.
Previously, many hybrid bikes would come equipped with suspension forks as they were thought to offer more comfort on bumpy terrain or road surfaces. However, entry level forks typically do not have a long life span and add significant weight to the bike. Some perform well for a short period of time and some have limited performance from the outset, but ultimately it is personal preference as to whether they are a hindrance or a help.
Another thing to consider is that you will likely need to make some alterations to any bike to get it working perfectly for you. Most manufacturers aim to keep costs down by using basic quality tires which often do not have the best puncture protection. If you are looking to use your hybrid for commuting, have a look at our best commuter bike tyres, and perhaps include a set in your budget.