Funny Thing about Hybrid Bikes

Published at 21:14 on 30 April 2012

I just bought one, and was somewhat surprised to learn that once you spend more than $700, your money is pretty much wasted because the extra money goes into substituting high-end road bike parts for the mid-range mix of road and mountain bike parts that are on less pricey models. So you end up with what is essentially a road bike with a straight handlebar.

Twenty years ago, once you spent more than $700, your money was pretty much wasted because the extra money went into substituting high-end mountain bike parts for the mix of parts that was on the less pricey models. So what you ended up with was a basically mountain bike with smooth tires.

The surprise is that the price point at which it’s pointless to spend more hasn’t budged in unadjusted dollars. Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise, since the hybrid I bought twenty years ago was made in the USA. That made it something of a holdout even then (most manufacturers had offshored their manufacturing to Asia, generally Taiwan, even then). Now virtually every bike is Made in China.

Well, some of the ones which are fundamentally road bikes with straight handlebars are made in Taiwan, but I don’t want a road bike. “Road” bikes are designed for an ideal world where street departments resurface every paved surface every five years. Particularly in Seattle, a city that has raised neglect of street maintenance to a high art, that’s an unrealistic premise. I’d rather have tires with a bit of width and tread to them to cushion the shocks and enable me to better stay in control.

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