How To Convert A Road Bike Into A Hybrid Bike


A really common question I have heard a lot recently is how can a person convert his road bike into a hybrid bike? Having thought about this a lot, I then converted an old road bike I owned into a hybrid. I did a huge amount of research, and found out that the four simplest ways to convert a road bike into a hybrid were:

  1. Change out the tires
  2. Change the style of the handlebar
  3. Change the position of the handlebar
  4. Change your seat into a better, more comfortable one

The process is a lot easier and more possible than you might think!

In this article, I will give you a full guide on all the features of hybrid bikes, and how you can change your road bike to meet these specifications.

I will go through the basic big changes, but there are also lots of other changes you might want to consider, such as the gears.

Follow this guide, and you can have a fully up-and-running hybrid bike in no time. I’ll explain why you might want to, and how to do it.

Road bike next to a white wall

Features Of A Road Bike?

First things first – I’m going to give you a little overview of what features your road bike has because these are what you will be changing to turn it into a hybrid.

A road bike is a simple, straightforward bike that is all about speed and performance.

The most important feature of a road bike is speed, and in the race to become the fastest bike, they lose out on comfort and versatility. 

Main features include:

  1. The aerodynamic feature of the bike was created to adjust to the placement and size of the handlebars.
  2. A lightweight frame, thin tires, and gears suited for maximum speed make it fast and efficient.
  3. The aerodynamics, the placement, and the shape of the handlebars provide comfort and offer various positions during long rides (like marathons and races).

Features Of A Hybrid Bike?

A hybrid bike is, as the name implies, a hybrid between a road bike and a mountain bike.

It borrows characteristics from both bikes and creates an experience for people who want the best of both worlds!

It has the speed and agility of the road bike while having the comfort of a mountain bike.

A hybrid bike is the combination of the best characteristics of both bikes, namely:

  1. Hybrid bikes are versatile and can be ridden on smooth and rough surfaces – making them the perfect bike to take on hiking. 
  2. These bikes also provide comfort due to their wider seats with a more restful padding and an upright handlebar. 
  3. Due to an upright handlebar, the biker has more visibility and control over the track and his journey, helping him enjoy the scenery even more.
  4. The bikes are also provided with mounts which makes them able to carry heavy luggage, rendering it to be the perfect bike to take on all and any cross-border biking tours! (Source). 

How To Convert Your Road Bike Into A Hybrid Bike

There are several things you can do to convert your road bike into a hybrid bike. Here are the main upgrades you can try:

By Changing the Position and Style of the Handlebar for a Better Sitting Position

The one quality that is present in the hybrid bike is its upright sitting position due to a raised handlebar.

To convert your road bike into a hybrid bike, you will have to change the position of your handlebar. This will elevate your seat, give you an upright sitting position, and make it more comfortable for you to go on long rides and your daily commutes alike.

With an upright seating position, you get a better view, comfort, and a longer duration of rides due to great riding ease. 

By Changing Your Tires for Thicker, Sturdier Ones

Tires are the most important things to consider when you are thinking of converting your road bike into a hybrid bike.

Most road bikes are fast, agile but limited to smooth and paved roads. Whereas in hybrid bikes, the defining quality is their tires and their ability to tackle smooth and rough tracks alike.

The tires on road bikes are vulnerable; they get easily flat and punctured when exposed to rough trails. 

So another upgrade required for you to convert your road bike into a hybrid bike is to change out the tires and opt for something with a thicker width and a sturdy constitution that can be used for different types of terrains. 

Increase Your Bike’s Safety by Adding a Bell and Some Lights!

Road bikes sometimes don’t come with bells or lights!

If you are an avid rider, you are likely to take your bike out in the early morning or late at night when there are few people around.

Maybe you and your friends want to take your bikes out for a ride before sunrise. You can do so by adding some lights and a bell to your bike to ensure your and other people’s safety!

When adding a light to your bike, invest in a powerful, water-resistant light that doesn’t leave you high and dry in extreme weather conditions.

The bell must also be loud and clear, and easy to access while riding. Adding these things to your bike will make it more versatile in terms of riding at different times of the day and in harsh weather. 

By Changing your Seat into Something a Little More Comfortable

The added benefit of having a hybrid bike is the comfort missing from road bikes. The seat of a road bike is usually narrow with hard padding, which makes it extremely uncomfortable to sit on for longer periods. 

Since hybrid bikes are used for recreational purposes as well as routine commutes, you need a comfortable seat.

Change out your old, hard seat and replace it with a saddle that comes with a wider base and softer padding.

You may also want to invest in a seat with adjustable height to get a better view and your desired height (Source). 

DIY Conversion

I found a fantastic youtube video, that runs through the process of converting your road bike into a hybrid. You can check it out here:

Keen on converting a road bike into a hybrid? Watch this quick video for some pro tips.

Features Of A Hybrid Bike That Make It Different From Other Bikes

Of course there are endless ways you can tinker with all sorts of things on your road bike, and turn it more and more into a hybrid.

Here are some further suggestions:

Wheel Size

A standard hybrid bike has a wheel size of approximately 700cc. These sizes are able to carry strong loads across difficult trails with ease and agility.

Some types of hybrid bikes have a 26-inch wheel size which is a little smaller than the 700cc wheels. 

Suspension of Hybrid Bikes

A bike’s suspension capabilities are determined by knowing and deciding the type of terrain you will be riding your bike on.

You can tackle smooth, easy roads and pavements with a bike that has no suspension at all. However, if the roads are rough and the terrains are hard and steep, then you must invest in a hybrid bike with front suspension. 

Front suspensions in bikes help absorb the impact of the front wheel, thus, giving you a smoother, better ride on the bumpiest surfaces. 

The Material of the Bike Frame

Regular bikes are often preferred over motorbikes and other vehicles due to their quality of being agile and lightweight.

The secret of these bikes for being lightweight is the use of light yet sturdy materials. Most often, materials like carbon fiber, aluminum, and steel are used.

Steel is comparatively heavier than the other two materials but gives the bike a longer life and a smoother ride.

Carbon fiber and aluminum make for excellent materials for the framework of the bikes. They tend to absorb vibrations which results in a more comfortable ride.

Carbon fiber is used more frequently in bikes as it is cheaper than aluminum and steel. 

Hybrid bike on a dirt track

Types of Brakes

Two types of brakes that are usually discussed when it comes to hybrid bikes are rim brakes and disc brakes.

Rim brakes have pads attached to the rims of the wheels and are commonly found in hybrid bikes. These brakes are easy to observe, cheap, and easily replaceable if anything goes wrong.

The disc brakes have pads that drip on the brake rotor and are mounted to the hub of the wheel. They are further divided into two types, hydraulic disc brakes, and mechanical disc brakes. 

The different types of brakes are fitted in the Hybrid bikes depending upon the type of terrain preferred by the rider.  

The Shape of the Handlebar

The shape of the handlebar determines the type of bike you have and also the comfort of the overall rider.

In hybrid bikes, the handlebars are placed above the level of the seat, which ensures a smooth, laidback, and comfortable ride.

This type of handlebar also provides the user with an upright position, ensuring that he has all the best views throughout the ride. 

Gears

Gears are a complicated combination of chainrings, cogs, and the number of teeth found in them.

Gears are installed in hybrid bikes by considering your fitness level and the kind of terrain you prefer to ride on.

If the terrains you chose are rough and hard, for instance, mountains and hills, your hybrid bike will require more gears for better performance. 

Advantages Of Owning A Hybrid Bike

The best qualities of the two bikes were extracted and put into a new bike which came to be known as a hybrid bike. It is arguably better than a road bike and a mountain bike.

It gives you the speed and agility of a road bike while providing you with the comfort of a mountain bike. 

Here are a few reasons why you should choose a hybrid over a road or a mountain bike:

  1. Hybrid bikes are more versatile than any other bike. They are flexible and can be ridden on smooth and rough trails alike.
  2. They save your time and money. With a hybrid bike, you can avoid traffic jams by riding your bike on the pavement, and due to the narrow shape of the bike, shorter routes can also be taken. 
  3. You can save up on fuel costs and take your bike everywhere: from work to parties and even on road trips with your friends! 

Wrapping Up

Well, there you have it. My quick guide on how to convert a road bike into a comfortable hybrid. Depending on your needs, hybrid bikes can be a fine alternative to mountain bikes or road bikes, if only based on their utility.

Conversions are also fun projects and I always learn a little more along the way, so I highly recommend it. Especially, if you have an older road bike gathering dust in the corner of your garage.

Why not rescue it and give it a new life?

A well-done road bike conversion can give you the best of both worlds. Happy riding!

Martin Williams

Martin has been tearing up all sorts of trails on a range of bikes ever since he was young. He once cycled across France, and once fell into a canal on a hybrid. He writes about everything to do with cycling on our site.

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