Mountain bikes aren’t ideal on the road, and road bikes aren’t suitable for rough terrain. Enter the hybrid bike – a perfect mix of road and mountain bikes, which is comfortable over most surfaces and terrains.
Of course, some hybrid bikes lean over to the road type, while others are more mountain-oriented. Naturally, price is also a hugely important part of the equation. Finding a good, reliable bike that’s not too expensive can be quite daunting.
To help you out, we’ve rounded up a list of the best hybrid bikes under 500 dollars, as well as a buyer’s guide that will teach you what to pay attention to before you make your choice.
Best Hybrid Bikes Under 500
1. Schwinn Discover
This is not a $100 bicycle, but it’s a budget hybrid model. Although we’ll be talking about the men’s version of the Schwinn Discover here, the majority of the features applies to the women’s models, as well.
At first glance, the Schwinn Discover doesn’t look too comfortable – it doesn’t offer a fancy modern appearance and apparent high-tech features. However, you’ll be happy to learn that the front suspension will diminish the impact of even the sharpest bumps and cracks on the road. This is what makes this hybrid model work so great on rough terrain.
The rear wheel cargo rack may not seem like much here, but you’ll probably want to be able to bring some stuff along with you. If it’s bothering you, don’t worry, it’s removable.
Thanks to the 17” frame, this bike can support people of height 5’6” through 5’10”. This is not a very impressive range, but it should account for people of average height. The Schwinn Discover can support 250lbs of weight, which should be enough for the rider and the cargo.
The padded seat, soft grips, and comfy handlebars add to the comfort department.
But what truly makes this bike a great hybrid model is the 21-speed system with 14-28T rear cogs. It may not pull off extremely steep hills but does an excellent job in most mountain biking situations.
Pros of the Schwinn Discover
Cons of the Schwinn Discover
2. Sixthreezero Reach Your Destination
A bike’s frame is its most important part. It needs to be capable of withstanding weight while remaining lightweight for ease of riding. The Sixthreezero Reach Your Destination features an aluminum frame with a low-step profile for ease of mounting and dismounting.
The beach cruiser handlebars are ergonomic, meaning that the rider can retain comfort while in the upright position. The tapered saddle supports the rider’s back and hips, making this Sixthreezero model phenomenal for long rides.
The 7-speed drivetrain, unfortunately, isn’t the Reach Your Destination’s proudest badge of honor. While this is more than enough for paved roads and light hills, don’t expect to be doing any serious mountain biking with this model. The Sixthreezero Reach Your Destination is a hybrid bike that leans toward the road bike category.
Still, the tires are robust, and it grips fantastically, as long as the conditions are dry. Again, this bike is not made for heavy off-roading, but taking a turn off the road every once in a while won’t damage it in the least.
The 18” aluminum frame is diamond-shaped and has guaranteed comfort for people that are 5’6” through 5’10” tall. Still, many taller people have reported a stable, comfortable ride. At 300lbs, its load capacity is more than decent, especially when you consider the Sixthreezero’s weighs in at a mere 33lbs.
Pros of the Sixthreezero Reach Your Destination
Cons of the Sixthreezero Reach Your Destination
3. Kent Northowoods Springdale
The Springdale model from Kent Northwoods literally blends the appearance of a mountain and a road bike. Its aluminum frame, drivetrain, and wheels boast a mountain bike’s appearance, while its comfy seat and wheel resemble a typical road model.
Thanks to the lightweight aluminum frame, expect a decent weight capacity and resilience. The bike can support about 250lbs, which is not the best capacity on the market, but it’s still more than enough.
Although the front shocks have been placed with absorbing road imperfections in mind, we are happy to say that the suspension accounts for most light off-road riding, as well. Don’t expect to climb a mountain with this one, but it will certainly take on an off-road hill or two.
If you think that 21 speeds are too much for a road bike, you are correct. But this is a hybrid, not a road model. Thanks to its fantastic drivetrain, the Springdale can confidently tackle an adventure or two. The tires provide excellent grip and traction on roads and trails. The fenders make sure that you remain clean, regardless of the terrain you’re riding on.
As a bike that’s been designed for city commuting, recreational use, and trail riding, this is one of the best hybrid bikes under 500 dollars.
Pros of the Kent Northowoods Springdale
Cons of the Kent Northowoods Springdale
4. Schwinn Wayfarer
The Schwinn Wayfarer is not what one would call a “lightweight bike.” At 43lbs, it’s heavier than most models. This is the result of its stainless steel fork and frame, which offer ideal shock-absorption qualities. As a hybrid, the Wayfarer is a model that leans toward the road biking side, however, all thanks to its 7-speed drivetrain.
You won’t be climbing endless off-road hills with this model, but if you’re looking to do some light off-roading, the Wayfarer will satisfy your needs.
Where this model truly shines is on paved roads. It handles all the bumps and imperfections perfectly, without making the ride uncomfortable for you. This is all owing to the high-quality stainless steel fork and frame features.
Yes, like on any bike, the frame plays an essential role here. But the comfort is also owed to the wide saddle with padding and springs. Plus, the backsweep handlebars ensure comfort when riding in an upright position.
The alloy linear brakes might not do a perfect job in wet weather, but as long as it’s dry outside, they will give you more than enough stopping power.
Although the company has stated that this model’s height limit is 5’7” to 5’9”, we can safely say that the Wayfarer will be a comfy fit for significantly taller people.
Pros of the Schwinn Wayfarer
Cons of the Schwinn Wayfarer
5. Schwinn GTX 2
Here’s a prime example of a women’s hybrid bike that scores more points in the mountain bike category than that off the road.
The GTX 2 might not be the lightest model, at 38.8”, but it’s certainly far from “heavy.” This is all thanks to the aluminum frame that provides sturdiness and resilience, but not at the cost of extra added weight.
The frame size is 17”, which may not seem like a lot, but it can accommodate riders of varied heights (5’4” to 6’2”). The weight limit isn’t the best in the world, but 250lbs is more than enough to keep most mountain/road bikers happy.
A hybrid bike without 21-speed shifters doesn’t handle well in off-road conditions. Thankfully, the GTX 2 boasts a 21-gear drivetrain that works wonders over various hills and rough terrains.
This doesn’t mean that Schwinn GTX 2 can’t take on road rides, though. Its seat is more than comfortable, and the front suspension can deal with every pothole and bump.
Another thing that makes this model unique is its mechanical disc brakes, which provide a lot of stopping power in dry, wet, and snow conditions. Of course, the brakes are installed on both wheels.
We’re talking about a women’s bike here, but there is a men’s version, too.
Pros of the Schwinn GTX 2
Cons of the Schwinn GTX 2
We are certain that each of the mentioned hybrid bikes from the list will find its perfect owner. However, understanding the basics of hybrid bikes and their parts can help you make an educated choice and find the ideal model for you. This is why we’ve outlined a buyer’s guide that’ll hopefully help you make the right choice.
A bike’s frame is easily its most important part. Why? Well, if push comes to shove, you can replace every part of the bike, and the bike will still be the same. Change the frame, and it becomes a completely different vehicle.
Bike frames are made of aluminum, steel, or carbon fiber. Steel is the heaviest option, which doesn’t fare well in all conditions. It does offer a lot of strength and flex, though, ensuring a smooth ride.
Aluminum is far more preferable for hybrid bikes, as it’s strong, stiff, and light. It may get a bit harsh on rough terrain, but it’s a great choice for hybrid bikes. This is why the majority of models from the list above boast aluminum frames.
The best option, when it comes to frame materials, is carbon fiber. It’s even lighter than aluminum and stronger than steel. But this material is found on high-end bikes.
If you’re looking for an under-$500 hybrid bike, don’t expect carbon fiber for the frame. Aluminum is a much more likely option.
Gearing and Drivetrain Setup
You can find bikes out there with a single gear, and models that boast 27 and more. The more gears you have for the road usage, the more complicated things become, which is why you’ll want as few gears as possible while on the paved surface. However, for harsh off-roading and steep inclines, you’ll want a lot of gears.
Given that hybrid bikes are made to be right in the middle between road and mountain bikes, you should be aiming at a 21-gear ballpark. If you’re expecting minimal off-roading for your hybrid bike, seven gears will do.
Of course, if you want to truly challenge yourself, you can go with a one-speed bike for hybrid riding. With that said, we assumed that this is not something that you are aiming at, so we didn’t include any one-gear hybrid models.
There are two brake types that are most popular in hybrid bikes: rim brakes and disc brakes. Most hybrids feature rim brakes, which simply grip onto the wheel rims and stop the wheel from turning.
The biggest advantage with rim brakes is that they are more affordable than their disc counterparts. They are also easy to replace. But they wear out relatively quickly and, more importantly, they offer significantly less stopping power.
Mechanical brakes, on the other hand, work differently. A brake rotor is mounted onto the wheel, and the pads are applied to it to stop the bike.
Hydraulic disc brakes are a modern and more effective solution, but these are found on high-end hybrids, definitely not on below-$500 models. Mechanical disc brakes are a cheaper solution here.
The advantages of disc brakes compared to rim brakes? They allow more consistent braking in literally all weather conditions and don’t cause wear on your wheels. So, the only thing that you need to replace with mechanical disc brakes is the braking rotor.
Tire and Wheel Size
700c is the standard wheel size for hybrid bikes. Some models have smaller wheels that range from 26” to 29”. Every model on the list above is equipped with a 700c wheel size.
Don’t think too much about your hybrid bike’s wheel size and focus on whether the model in question fits your riding style.
On a $500 budget, every bike on this list will find its ideal owner. However, Schwinn GTX 2 has come out on top here. At 21 speeds, it’s right in the golden middle. It has an aluminum build, brings riding comfort, and works brilliantly on the road and during heavier off-roading.
Additionally, it supports various heights, ensuring maximum comfort for everyone, and features mechanical disc brakes that are great for all conditions. The GTX 2 is our recommendation when it comes to the best hybrid bikes under 500 dollars.
Nathan Is a Semi- Professional Cyclist & Founder of Mybikexl. He own 2 bike shops and a full time passionate rider. When he is not in his shop fixing stuff, you will find him in the road or mountains enjoying himself with his bike.
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