Are the best hybrid bikes under $500 worth the buy? They are. But to make sure you don’t waste your money on the wrong one, reading this article may help. We’ll go through nine affordable hybrid bikes and a few important buying tips.
Hybrid bikes are great examples of a general-purpose bike—bearing the DNA of a road bike and a mountain bike. For that reason, they’re great for casual rides around your neighborhood, light off-road riding, and short-distance commuting on a wide range of terrains.
Since there are so many choices out there, it can be difficult to decide what to get. So, without further delay, let’s check out the best hybrid bikes for the money below.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Hybrid Bikes Under $500 Review
- 1.1 Schwinn Vantage Mens/Womens Sport Hybrid Bike
- 1.2 700c Giordano Brava Hybrid Comfort Bike
- 1.3 Tommaso La Forma Lightweight Aluminum Hybrid Bike
- 1.4 Raleigh Bikes Cadent
- 1.5 Diamondback Bicycles Trace St Dual Sport Bike
- 1.6 Schwinn Volare Adult Hybrid Road Bike
- 1.7 Hiland Hybrid Comfort Bicycle with Lock-Out Suspension Fork
- 1.8 Retrospec Barron Comfort Hybrid Bike 21-Speed
- 1.9 Raleigh Cadent 2 Urban Fitness Bike
- 2 How to Choose Good Hybrid Bikes Under $500
Best Hybrid Bikes Under $500 Review
Schwinn Vantage Mens/Womens Sport Hybrid Bike
The Schwinn Vantage F3 Mens/Womens Sport Hybrid Bike is an inexpensive hybrid bicycle for beginners and intermediate riders. The Vantage F Series is designed to efficiently take on any terrain—concrete, dirt trails, gravel, macadam, etc.—without sacrificing your comfort.
The Vantage F3 is a 21-speed hybrid bike with Shimano Tourney® gear-and-brake shifters (entry level). With these many gears to choose from, riding uphill and downhill is made easier. It has front and rear Radius® mechanical disc brakes, which should work well for the needs of any daily commuter and recreational rider.
It also features Schwinn’s Smooth Ride Technology. This suspension system uses an elastomer, which is placed in line with the seat tube and seat stays, to absorb bumps in the road and allow the chainstay to freely move up and down.
- Easy to get on and off
- Load-bearing components are made of durable metal
- Light in weight
- Impressive ride quality
- May have manufacturing flaws (e.g. wobbling front wheel and front brake rotor)
- Have issues with durability
700c Giordano Brava Hybrid Comfort Bike
The 700c Giordano Brava Hybrid Comfort Bike is one of the best bikes under 400 that’s made for adventure and cruising. It’s built on a lightweight and rust-resistant aluminum frame and 80-millimeter crown suspension fork, which offers fast and sharp handling.
One thing that’s special about the Giordano Brava is its 36-hole, double-walled rims, which are commonly found in pro-level bikes. These strong rims are great for all levels of riders, even beginners, because they provide a significant performance advantage and hold up well for most types of riding.
The Giordano Brava hybrid bike is specced with the Shimano Altus 24-speed drive train, so you can venture into trickier terrains whenever you want to. Compared to Shimano’s Acera, the Altus shifters are much better because they’re precise and light, while creating less problems.
- Assembly was relatively easy
- A handsome, well-built hybrid bike
- Effortless shifting, no “chatter”
- Comfortable to ride, regardless if you ride on paved or rough road
- Uncomfortable seat (at least at first)
- Doesn’t have a kickstand
Tommaso La Forma Lightweight Aluminum Hybrid Bike
If you’re looking for the “ultimate commuter and urban bike,” the Tommaso La Forma Lightweight Aluminum Hybrid Bike might be just what you’re looking for. It boasts of a compact, laser-measured frame that’s combined with flat handlebars to put you in a more comfortable upright position.
The La Forma has all the features you need to take on just about any terrain. The lightweight carbon fork and WTB street smart saddle reduce discomfort and make your ride more enjoyable. The 3×9 Shimano Acera groupset, includes an 11/32T cassette and 48/36/26T crankset, equips your bike with different gear combinations for tackling all road conditions.
- Light and fast
- Delivered to you already partially assembled
- Equipped with gear shifters and brakes that work flawlessly
- Comes with extra features (e.g. mounts for two water bottles)
- Problems with the chain/gears slipping
- Clicking noise coming from the bottom bracket
Raleigh Bikes Cadent
The Raleigh Bikes Cadent 2 casual bike shares a few similarities and differences with its predecessor, the Raleigh Cadent 1. Both models have one of the most comfortable seats on an entry-level hybrid bike. They also have double-walled wheels (700 x 35 millimeters) and big Vee Tire Co. Tire Co. Zilent tires, which have excellent grip on slippery roads.
One of the differences between the two models is the brakes. The previous model was equipped with the Tektro 837 alloy V-brake, while its successor has powerful Tektro M280 mechanical disc brakes.
Another improved feature of the Cadent 2 is the frame. The frame of the Raleigh Cadent 1 is made from aluminum alloy, while the Cadent 2 has a Custom Formed AL-6061 Heat Treated Aluminum frame, which is extremely durable and light.
- Has good-quality disc brakes
- Smooth gear transition
- Balanced and lightweight
- Clean and simple appearance
- Unhelpful owner’s manual (lacks step-by-step instructions)
- Bicycle chain rubs against nearby components
Diamondback Bicycles Trace St Dual Sport Bike
The Diamondback Bicycles Trace St Dual Sport Bike is one of those good cheap bikes. It doesn’t disappoint if you’re just going to use it for a fun ride around your area or commuting to and from anywhere.
With a 21-speed bike like the Diamondback Bicycles Trace St Dual Sport Bike, you’ll feel more confident ascending and descending those steep roads. Finding the right gear combination is easy—with just a simple twist of its Shimano Revo grip shifter.
The aluminum alloy frame is butted to increase its strength in the right places. It’s able to accommodate riders who weigh up to 300 pounds and 6 feet tall. It’s paired with a straight-blade, which isn’t exactly the best type of fork to dampen road vibrations.
- Smooth gear transition
- A great entry-level hybrid bike for beginners and casual riders
- Light as a feather
- Comes with the tools needed for assembly
- Relatively uncomfortable seat since it’s a little on the hard side
- Difficult to assemble
Schwinn Volare Adult Hybrid Road Bike
If you’re in the market for the best value hybrid bike—minus the hefty price tag—then check out the Schwinn Volare 1200 Adult Hybrid Road Bike. Its performance, fit, and finish are almost equal to hybrid bikes that cost five times its retail price.
The Volare 1200 is built around an aluminum frame with a high-quality finish. It’s paired with a rigid fork, which isn’t exactly good at damping trail vibrations. However, it does provide a truer and more predictable steering feedback.
It’s equipped with a 21-speed drivetrain and Shimano shifters. The multiple gears allow you to ride under any condition with ease and confidence. And with alloy linear pull brakes installed on the front and the back of the bike, stopping on the dime won’t be an issue.
Another noticeable feature of the Volare 1200 is its high-profile rims. They’re light and slightly aerodynamic, so you can reach slightly higher speeds for the same power output.
- Has good brakes, which easily lock at any speed with minimal to moderate pressure
- Thin but great-performing tires and wheels
- Has a good paint job, with minimal stickers
- Precise and smooth gear shifters
- Has low-quality components, such as the freewheel, handlebar grips, and seat
- Needs a softer and more comfortable seat
Hiland Hybrid Comfort Bicycle with Lock-Out Suspension Fork
So far in this list of affordable bicycles, the Hiland Hybrid Comfort Bicycle is the only one with a lock-out suspension fork. You won’t really need this suspension system if you’re mostly riding on paved or relatively smooth roads. But when you ride on rough terrains or downhill, it’ll come in handy.
The Hiland Hybrid has high-profile, double-walled rims and skinny hybrid tires (Kenda Kourier) with a barely-there tread. These tires are perfect for the urban roads. It has multiple gears and Shimano M310 shifters and rear derailleur, which can drastically improve the performance of the Hiland hybrid bike.
- Solid construction with attractive appearance
- Easy to put together, with minimal adjustments
- Stylish and great paint color
- Narrow but comfortable seat
- Has low-quality handlebar grips
- Confusing owner’s manual
Retrospec Barron Comfort Hybrid Bike 21-Speed
The Barron isn’t an elite hybrid bike. However, if you want an affordable and reliable hybrid bike for daily city riding, it’s a great option for you.
The Retrospec Barron Comfort Hybrid Bike is equipped with a Shimano Tourney 21-speed drivetrain for riding on steep inclines and flat roads. It comes with grip-twist shifters that allow you to easily change gears, without taking your hands off the handlebars. Its Zoom suspension fork is decent, but it’s not considered the best in its category.
Depending on your personal taste, the Barron is a good-looking hybrid bike. It’s available in two beautiful colors: Blue Fog and Graphite. Unlike other hybrid bikes in this list, it comes with a kickstand (placed behind the pedals) to allow you to leave it almost anywhere.
The aluminum alloy frame is paired with flat handlebars, allowing you to assume comfortable upright and sprinting positions. The seat needs a few adjustments to prevent it from shifting, but overall, it’s comfortable.
- Fits tall people (taller than 6 feet) well
- Easy to put together by most people
- Offers smooth rides and can handle many types of trails well
- A well-designed hybrid bike for the price
- Would be nice if it has higher quality tires
- A bit tricky to mount and dismount
Raleigh Cadent 2 Urban Fitness Bike
Fast, fun, and reliable—these are just some of the words that best describe the 24-speed Raleigh Cadent 2 Urban Fitness Bike. Like any full-blooded hybrid bike, it’s great for trips around your town or city, or any places with paved trails.
The sporty geometry of the aluminum frame and flat handlebars give way to stable and comfortable rides. The 35c slick tires are designed for grip and speed. And to provide good stopping power in wet or dry roads, Retrospec fitted the Cadent 2 with the Tektro Novela mechanical disc brakes.
- Perfect for commuting to work and trips around the town (on paved roads)
- Dependable and built well
- Fast and fun to ride
- Has enough gears to climb steep slopes
- Needs to be tuned by a professional before using it on the road
- Horrible instructions for assembly
How to Choose Good Hybrid Bikes Under $500
So, now that you know some of the best hybrid bicycles under $500 on the market, you might also want to take the time to think about some of the important considerations for buying a hybrid bike. Start by asking yourself these questions:
- What’s your purpose of getting one (commuting, exercising, recreation, etc.)?
- What types of terrains do you expect to encounter in your area?
- How much exactly are you willing to pay for it?
Answering these questions will help you know what specific features to look for on a hybrid bike to fit your needs, without going over your budget.
Speaking of features, let’s talk about them in greater detail below.
Choosing the right tires for your hybrid bike will depend on several factors, including its primary use, your riding style, and where you’ll ride most of the time. The tread pattern and size of your tires play crucial roles in determining the efficiency of your hybrid bike in different road conditions.
When it comes to the tread pattern, you have to think about your:
- Road type of usual route: asphalt, concrete, dirt, gravel, mud, and mixed
- Riding style: Do you like to ride a bike fast? Do you go light off-road riding once in a while?
- Primary use: short-distance commuting, taking a relaxing ride around your area, doing errands, etc.
General types of tread patterns on tires:
- Slick – Hybrid tires with a slick design have a smooth center for speed and aggressive treads on the sides for better corner traction. They’re made mostly for riding on smooth, firm surfaces (e.g. asphalt, concrete, tarmac, and hardpack trail), not for riding off road or on soft surfaces.
- Knobby – Not all knobby tread designs are used for the same trail situations. For instance, tires with tall and widely-spaced knobs are suitable for hardpack and loose trails. Meanwhile, tires with smaller and closely-spaced knobs are suitable for dry and smooth trails.
Common tire sizes for hybrid bikes:
- 700c tires – The modern standard tire size for most hybrid bikes is 700c. They’re available in different tread patterns and widths for different types of road conditions. Good-quality 700c tires and wheels roll faster and maintain speed better.
- 26 inches – In some hybrid bike tires, they have 26-inch tires and wheels. If you’re on the shorter side, this would be a good size to consider. These smaller and wider tires are good at keeping your rides comfortable by absorbing the bumps and vibrations of the road.
Many traditional hybrid bikes don’t normally have any suspension because it only adds weight and interferes with efficient pedaling. However, there are newer models that have a suspension system in place.
So, is a suspension on hybrid bikes under 500 good?
It depends on the terrain you’ll usually ride on. If you’ll be riding on smooth, paved roads all the time, you simply don’t need it. Compared to road bikes, hybrid bikes have wider tires with lesser air pressure. This provides better shock absorption, so you can enjoy comfortable rides, even without a suspension.
Some hybrid bikes, such as the Hiland Hybrid Comfort Bicycle with Lock-Out Suspension Fork, include a front suspension. If you always or sometimes navigate rugged and uneven trails, having a good suspension system is a blessing. It offers comfort to your back and bottom and gives you better control of your hybrid bike.
Many hybrid bikes on the market use two types of brakes: V-brakes (or rim brakes) and disc brakes. The main difference between the two is the position and mechanism for applying the braking force. In V-brakes, the brake pads are thrust on the wheel rims. In disc brakes, the brake pads push against the rotor instead of the wheel rims.
Let’s explore some of the advantages of disc brakes and V-brakes.
- Don’t cause overheating of the wheel rims, which can lead to tire blowouts
- Work better in muddy terrain and wet weather because the rotors stay clean
- Provide great stopping power, which makes a difference on long descents
- Lessen the chances of a wheel lockup (happens when brakes stop the wheel while the bike is still moving) because of more accurate braking
- More affordable than disc brakes
- Easier to monitor brake pad wear
- Can easily replace worn pads
- Easy to find spare brakes and replacement for components
- Don’t put extra pressure on the hubs and spokes, which could lead to a cracked rim (if the spokes are too tight)
- A good choice if you’re going to use your hybrid bike mostly for commuting or leisure riding
The frame serves as the backbone of a hybrid bike and provides points of attachment for its important parts. Thus, it’s only natural for you to take your time in choosing the best frame material. Now, the best material will depend on many things: your budget, your weight, your riding style, etc.
Majority of hybrid bike frames are made from these materials:
Aluminum has a lower density than steel. This explains why aluminum frames are usually lighter than those made from steel.
Aluminum bike frames can be butted to increase their strength. Butting means increasing the wall thickness near the joints, while keeping the other parts of the frame tube thinner to keep the weight low.
One of the downsides of an aluminum frame is it’s stiff. This could result in a harsher ride. If you’re going to use your hybrid bike for running errands around the city, it’s not the best choice. However, that stiffness would really come in handy when road racing.
Steel bike frames are very durable. If you take good care of them, they can last many years. If they do get scratches or dents, they’re easy to repair. But they’re not corrosion-proof—unless they’re well maintained.
Compared to aluminum frames, the thinner steel tubes naturally flex more to absorb road vibrations. This results in a more comfortable ride, which is a big advantage if you use your bike for traveling long distances.
Traditional steel bike frames are heavy. Although many of the steel bike frames today are made from high-quality tubes that are both durable and light.
Carbon fiber is commonly used for manufacturing high-end bikes. It’s also the top frame material in the racing world because it’s the lightest and stiffest of all bike frame materials.
Because of its lower density, it does a great job of absorbing the bumps and hits that go along with riding over unpaved and imperfect roads. This would naturally mean you can enjoy a more comfortable ride.
Carbon fiber bike frames cost a lot of money, though. Also, this material can’t compete with the durability of steel. It’s prone to forming cracks, fissures, and dings, especially if you don’t take care of it properly or always riding your bike so hard.
Hybrid bikes are equipped with a wide range of gears, from one to 21 or more. So, how many gears should your hybrid have? It depends. Here are two factors to consider:
- The type of terrain you’re going to ride on
- Your health and fitness level
Some entry level hybrid bikes are single-speed bikes. As what the name hints, they only have one speed. If you’re mostly going to ride on flat, paved roads, you can’t go wrong with a single-speed hybrid bike.
Advantages of a single-speed:
- You can focus more on enjoying the ride instead on worrying about changing gears.
- You don’t need to worry about maintenance, so you’ll save money in the long run. It doesn’t have shifters and derailleurs that are the usual culprits for bike malfunctions.
- It’s a dependable mode of transportation, especially when you’re commuting year-round.
If you usually ride on varying terrain, a 7-speed or 8-speed hybrid bike is a better option. The higher gears make it easier to move downhill, while the lower gears let you pedal with less effort.
A hybrid bike with multiple gears is extremely versatile. The multiple gears give you more freedom to ride on varying terrain at different speeds. If you live somewhere with lots of hills, then you’ll want to get a hybrid bike with more gears.
Handlebars play a crucial role in the handling and stability of your bike. Needless to say, it’s important to take your time to choose the right type, shape, and size for your riding style.
Handlebars for hybrids are usually wide (56 to 70 centimeters). Wide handlebars give you more control and allow you to assume a comfortable position for better balance.
The handlebars of affordable bikes are commonly made of aluminum. Although carbon fiber handlebars are becoming increasingly common on more expensive hybrid bikes.
The right handlebars will boil down to personal preference. However, it pays to think about the following questions before you make up your mind:
- Can you use them for different styles of riding?
- Do they keep your hands and body comfortable?
- Will it allow you to decrease air resistance (aerodynamics)?
- How much steering control does it give you?
- How much energy do you need to spend to turn the pedals?
The challenge of buying online is you’re only relying on the frame size chart of a particular brand, which can be a hit-or-miss matter. Once you get your bike, make sure to perform basic adjustments for the following parts to ensure proper fit:
Feel free to experiment to determine the most comfortable and efficient position for you. If you’re a casual rider, the usual recommendation is to adjust the height of your handlebars until they’re aligned or above your saddle to allow you to ride upright. Also, your elbows should be slightly bent.
The last thing you want is to be hunched over your bike or stretching your arms too far to reach the handlebars. That could lead to neck pain and other types of injuries. The correct handlebar reach will keep your upper arms flexed in a 90-degree angle in relation to your torso.
The height of your seat is important to consider because it could affect your ability to pedal efficiently and the prevention of cycling-linked injuries. Aside from calculating your inseam, another way of knowing if the seat height is correct is when you’re able to fully extend your legs at the bottom of the pedal stroke, without your heels leaving the pedals.
That’s it for this review of the best hybrid bikes under 500. We hope our tips would help you make a more educated buying decision.
Investing on higher end hybrid bikes isn’t a bad idea, especially if you have the money to spare. However, if you want to save money without short changing yourself, then any of these hybrid bikes under 500 are definitely worth the consideration.