Hybrid bikes do vary as some take more influence from road bikes whilst others are more akin to mountain bikes. Where a bike sits on this scale of influence will determine whether it speeds on the tarmac or delivers confidence on the dirt.
Choosing a women’s specific bike is not for every female rider, but as our presence in cycling continues to grow, more and more brands are providing options designed and built specifically with women in mind.
Just because a bike isn’t labelled as ‘a women’s bike’ doesn’t mean it can’t be ridden by a woman. However, there are certainly benefits to be gained from purchasing a women’s specific bike. For starters, it could save the additional cost of changing contact points to women’s specific saddles and narrower handlebars.
As well as this, certain models will adjust the geometry of the bike so that it is more suited to the shape of the average woman. For instance, shortening the top tube, as traditionally bikes have been manufactured with long top tubes to accommodate men’s proportionally longer arms compared to their legs.
Here is a look at some women’s hybrid bikes—from across the spectrum—that have caught our eye as the best out there.
Best women’s hybrid bikes 2020
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Trek FX 3 Disc women’s hybrid bike
Performance, comfort and utility can all be found in Trek’s versatile FX 3 hybrid model. It has an aluminium frame and a lightweight carbon fork that is designed to absorb vibrations, giving you a smooth, controlled ride over rougher terrain.
With a 46/30 chainset and an 11-36 cassette, the 2×9 Shimano Acera drivetrain provides more than enough gears to tackle the steepest of hills. However, with the wide range cassette you may find yourself stuck between gears at times.
The FX 3 has reliable and controllable braking power in all conditions, thanks to Shimano’s MT201 hydraulic disc brakes it’s fitted with. Complementing this, the Bontrager H2 700x32c tyres offer sufficient grip for poor conditions, without compromising rolling speed.
This model is also fitted with a women-specific design saddle which is engineered to fully support the female anatomy.
Boardman HYB 8.8 women’s hybrid bike
Coming in nearly 1 kilogram lighter than the previous Boardman HYB 8.6 model, the HYB 8.8 boasts lighter and better components to complement its reliable alloy frame and carbon forks.
The 8.8 model is fitted with Shimano Deore 1 x 10 gears to ensure quick, smooth and reliable gear shifting. With one chainring at the front and a 11-42 tooth cassette at the rear, the drivetrain is lighter with less to go wrong or to maintain. The wide range cassette means there is still ample gearing for most situations.
Boardman have tailored this ride to the needs of females by kitting the bike out with narrower bars, shorter stems and a women’s specific saddle.
Mounts for mudguards and a pannier rack are also included in this model that delivers great versatility.
Carrera Subway 1 women’s hybrid bike
For £300, this is a value for money option that will give even nervous riders confidence with its predictable handling and the stopping power of its mechanical disc brakes.
The Subway 1 comes with a subtle frame geometry tweak—a dropped top tube—for the women’s specific build.
With Kenda tyres designed with an extra Kevlar layer for puncture proofness, mudguard and pannier mounts, the Subway 1 is certainly versatile. Complementing this, its 2×8 gear set up is robust and has a broad range. But it is also not as comfortable as other options, so we’d not recommend it if you’re going on long adventures.
Review score: 7/10
Read more: Carrera Subway review
Carrera Crossfire 2 women’s hybrid bike
Complete with front end suspension, this hybrid bike is designed for a rider who wants to experiment with gentle off-roading such as excursions down country bridleways.
Weighing in at approximately 15kg, the Crossfire 2 is equipped with Tektro mechanical disc brakes for controlled stopping power away from the tarmac. While its 24-speed Shimano gearing is helpful for building speed on the flats and tackling climbing hills.
The Suntour fork offers 75mm of travel and can be adjusted to provide a stiffer ride on the tarmac. However, coupled with the very wide Kenda tyres, the extra cushion does take some of the joy out of road riding.
Read more: Carrera Crossfire 2 hybrid bike review
Pinnacle Lithium 3 women’s hybrid bike
The Lithium 3 can handle any terrain you dare to ride, with ease, as a do it all hybrid. Pinnacle, the in-house brand at Evans Cycles, have combined a rigid 29er mountain bike with 40c tyres for ample rolling ability on tarmac. This bike provides controllability over rough terrain and speed down the streets.
With wide clearance and space for 2.2” MTB tyres, the Lithium is built with versatility in mind and can be easily adapted to explore local trails, fields and forests.
Coming in at 12.5kg, the Lithium’s alloy frame and steel fork doesn’t make for the lightest of bikes. But, equipped with Shimano Acera triple chainset (44-32-22) and a 11-32 tooth cassette, you shouldn’t struggle up the hills. The only noteworthy issue with weight comes when trying to carry the bike.
Read more: Pinnacle Lithium 4 women’s hybrid bike
Ribble Hybrid AL women’s hybrid bike
Ribble’s retro Hybrid Al Green range of comfortable and reliable bikes starts with the commuter edition at £699. With Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, you can ride with confidence whatever the terrain.
The Al green comes with colour matched, integrated handlebars and stem in British Racing Green—it is no doubt slick and stylish with its retro, but modern, look.
Fitted with Mavic’s lightweight 700c Aksium wheels, this hybrid can accommodate narrower profile tyres for more speed while cruising on the road.
With a 2×8 drivetrain and 11-32 tooth cassette the Al green comes with sufficient range of gears, low maintenance and reliability. Although the large jumps could prove irritating at times.
Ribble’s customisable bike builder gives you the option of four women’s specific saddles giving you freedom for comfort. At no extra cost the hybrid bike can be fitted with the Selle Royal Vivo Trekking or Selle Royal Seta Road saddles. Or for an additional £20 you can choose the Prologo Kappa Evo DEA STN saddle, which is more suitable for longer distances.
Read more: Ribble Hybrid Al E review
Cannondale Quick Disc 4 2021 Hybrid Bike
Staying true to its name, the Quick range are Cannondale’s machines for speed and confidence when commuting and leisure riding.
Sitting in the middle is the Quick 4, which is equipped with hydraulic disc brakes and a 9 speed drivetrain.
Fitted with a chromoly fork, this bike is designed to withstand the demands of city riding by reducing road vibrations. While the alloy frame has Cannondale’s OutFront Steering Geometry to provide added stability for sweeping your way across town.
The Quick 4, like all other Quick models, features bright 360° reflective components as an important safety measure. This model has also flat handlebars for a comfortable and stable upright riding position, that is useful when keeping an eye on traffic.
Anatomy of a women’s hybrid bike
At first glance, the sheer range and variety of hybrid bikes can seem overwhelming but they do have many features in common.
Key features to expect in a hybrid bike are listed below. In the women’s specific models, you’ll expect a women’s saddle, and narrower handlebars as well as a spread of sizes more suited to shorter riders.
Mounting points for panniers and mudguards
Carrying weight on the bike is more pleasant than on your back as it takes the weight off your shoulders. Using panniers also saves getting all sweaty from where the backpack touches your skin. However do bear in mind, backpacks are more versatile and can prove useful if your journey involves sections which are not done on the bike.
Mudguards are important in helping to keep you dryer when it’s raining as you won’t be flicking additional water onto yourself. But significantly, and often overlooked, they also keep you dry when it’s not raining and there’s still water on the roads.
You will find points for mounting the panniers and mudguards by the front and rear axles, at the top of the seat stays and at the crown of the fork.
Clearance for wider tyres for comfort
As your only direct contact point with the ground, tyre choice has a large effect on the comfort of your ride and the terrain you can ride on. Wider tyres provide more grip and don’t sink into soft surfaces—like mud and gravel—to the same extent as narrower tyres. In having a greater volume of air over narrower tyres, they also are better able to absorb bumps and provide greater comfort.
A good starting point is to look for a tyre that is at least 35mm wide, although you can also get tyres that are up to 60mm. However if you choose a tyre this wide your speed will be hampered on smooth tarmac surfaces.
Upright position for comfort and better view in and around traffic
A more upright position puts less pressure on your hands as your weight is transferred to your sit bones instead. It can be more comfortable to be more upright if you have a backpack, as when you are bent over with a backpack it can be quite unstable and flop from side to side.
Another benefit of a more upright position is that it provides you with a better view of the traffic, helping you to safely navigate around the cars on your commute.
Flat handlebars for control, comfort and price point
With flat handlebars the shifting and braking is straightforward, which is especially useful if you are not used to a road bike set up.
There is the added benefit that the brakes and shifters are significantly cheaper for flat handlebars than the integrated brakes and shifters of road bikes. This keeps down the initial cost of these bikes and saves you money on any future repairs.
Wide range of gears
Gears are the way that your pedal strokes are converted into forward motion. Given that there is a relatively narrow range of cadences that are comfortable to ride in (70-100rpm), but the speeds that we commonly travel at can range from 10kph to 60kph, it’s important to have a large range of gears so that we can ride at our preferred cadence, whatever the speed.
But absolute range is not the only consideration. Small and even gaps between the gears help us to fine tune the gear we are riding in and prevent us from being stuck between two gears—one too big and one too small.
A triple crankset with an 8 speed cassette, for example, provides an affordable way of getting enough absolute range whilst still having acceptable jumps between the gears. While a double with a wide range 10 speed cassette is pricier, it is also lighter weight and provides a similar range with similar jumps to the 3×8.
If you are only riding on the flat and not carrying heavier loads, you will be able to do with a smaller range of gears.
Disc brakes for controlled and reliable braking
Disc brakes provide greater power than rims brakes, and the price of this increase in braking performance is dropping all the time—so we are seeing far more hybrid bikes at all price points coming with disc brakes. Where disc brakes particularly excel is stopping in the wet. This is an important aspect for a hybrid that is being used for commuting as it is likely going to be needed in all weather conditions.
Hydraulic disc brakes also provide better modulation and have a significantly lighter lever action, so they are far easier to use than other braking mechanisms.
Rugged tyres for fewer punctures
The last thing you want to be doing when commuting or on a leisurely cycle is to be having to change an inner tube. Although the more rugged tyres don’t roll as fast and are a little heavier, these are small trade-offs for the inconvenience of a puncture.
High spoke count for robust wheels
If you want to carry heavy loads, a high spoke count will help with that as less tension is put through each of the spokes.