When you buy a bike for commuting in the UK, you usually need to add mudguards, a pannier rack, and lights, because most are sold without them. That's not a problem when you're getting a bike through Cyclescheme as you can include these items as part of your package; you can even get an accessories-only package. Nevertheless, there are advantages in buying a hybrid (or 'trekking bike') that's fully equipped.
For one thing, you'll probably save money. Manufacturers buy in bulk at trade prices, so can purchase accessories cheaper than you can. Some of those savings are passed on to you. For another thing, you don't have spend time or money fitting the accessories to your bike, and you know that there won't be any compatibility problems.
Full-length mudguards are a no-brainer for commuting, and your feet will stay drier if the front continues below the height of the bottom bracket, either because it's long in itself or because a mudflap has been added. A rear pannier rack means you don't have to carry loads on your back. Integral lighting, with bolt-on lamps powered by a hub dynamo, means you'll never have to worry about your clip-on battery lights being out of power, lost, or stolen; you can set off in the dark with no delays. Some trekking bikes come with additional accessories, such as a chainguard, a kickstand or a frame-fitted wheel-lock.
These accessories make the bike more practical but also add weight, so a fully-equipped hybrid will feel heavier the accessory-less alternative. Unless you want to race to work – in which case, get a road bike or a flat-bar road bike – don't worry about a little extra weight. Having said that, a 14-16kg hybrid with an aluminium frame will climb hills better than a 20kg all-steel heavyweight.
Many trekking bikes are fitted with a basic, short-travel suspension fork, because they're intended for leisure use as well as urban transport. A bit of extra shock-absorbency can improve comfort and control on unsurfaced tracks. Unless your route to work is on cobbles or riddled with potholes, however, you won't need a suspension fork for commuting. Look for a lockout lever, so you can turn the suspension off when you don't need it, or consider a bike with a rigid fork.
Like the vast majority of hybrids, fully-equipped ones use 700C wheels – the same size used by road bikes (with narrow tyres) and 29er mountain bikes (with fat ones). Medium-width tyres, from about 32-45mm, are a good compromise on a trekking bike. Look for tyres that are slick or that have sipes rather than raised lugs, as they roll better on hard surfaces. It's worth spending a bit extra now to get a bike with a hub dynamo, as it provides free, reliable lighting with minimal drag, and it's much more expensive to add later; you'd need a new wheel!
Most trekking bikes are equipped with derailleur gearing, typically a 48-36-26 chainset and a wide ratio cassette, on which the number of sprockets will rise from 7-10 the more you spend. All offer a good range, however; more gears means smaller steps between gears and, as the quality improves, smoother gear shifting. Some trekking bikes use internal hub gears. If you'll be climbing hills often look for seven or eight gears rather than three or five, and consider asking your local shop to fit a bigger sprocket, such as 23-tooth one.
Hydraulic disc brakes are the most efficient stoppers fitted to fully-equipped hybrids, but the cost of the accessories means that they tend to be found on bikes costing close to £1,000. Drum brakes and roller brakes don't have the same bite but also offer all-weather braking that doesn't damage rims. Linear pull V-brakes are more common, being cheaper and still plenty powerful enough.
Here's a sample of the fully-equipped hybrids you can buy.
It's not easy to find fully-equipped hybrids at the lower price points, but this one comes from Germany where the trekking bike is king. It has excellent Busch & Müller LED lighting, powered by a Shimano DH-3N20 hub dynamo, along with a pannier rack, mudguards, a partial chainguard and a kickstand. The 24-speed gearing is a mix of Shimano Altus and Alivio, with enough range for any terrain. At 40mm, the Schwalbe Spicer tyres are a good width for comfort. The coil-spring SR Suntour NEX fork doesn't add much but might earn its keep on really bad roads. Also available with a step-through frame.
Globe Daily Deluxe 3
Rather than a budget suspension fork, Specialized's city bike uses a rigid steel one, which is a better option for road-only use. Its hub gear is a seven-speed Shimano Nexus. With the 19-tooth sprocket fitted, that's roughly equivalent to a 12-30T derailleur cassette, so gear range is fine for town use. Accessories include a Shimano DH-2N35QR hub dynamo that powers Busch & Müller and Hermanns lamps; full mudguards; a partial chainguard; a kickstand; and a rear rack. The riding position is comfortably upright, thanks to a backswept riser handlebar. Long-drop calliper brakes look stylish but aren't as powerful as V-brakes. Also available with a step-through frame.
Scott SUB Sport 10
Scott's SUB range comes in two versions: unequipped ('Speed') and equipped ('Sport' and 'Comfort'). This Sport 10 gets mudguards, a rear rack, a kickstand, and dynamo lighting powered by a Shimano LX DH-6753 hub. You can bolt a disc rotor to this hub and Scott have, specifying Shimano BR-M395 hydraulic brakes. The coil-spring fork that's fitted to its aluminium frame is a cut above those of most hybrids. It has rebound damping, so doesn't spring back too fast over bumps, and you can lock out or limit its compression. Gearing is 3×10 Shimano Deore, with a 26/36 bottom gear that will get up any hill. Also available with a step-through frame.
Cheap doesn’t have to mean nasty. Choose wisely and you can buy a decent new commuter bike for £250 or less.
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