Mountain bike versus hybrid: What’s the difference?


Wondering what the difference is between a hybrid bike and a mountain bike and which is best for you? We’ll take you through both these styles of bike.

On the face of it, hybrid bikes and mountain bikes can look quite similar. Both have flat handlebars, wide tyres, disc brakes – and many hybrid bikes also come with front suspension.

Although hardtail mountain bikes (those without rear suspension) bear some resemblance to hybrid bikes, the riding that they are suited to is a lot closer to that of full suspension mountain bikes than hybrid bikes.

Mountain bikes are designed for tackling steep descents and technical climbs. Roots, berms (steeply banked corners) and sheer drop-offs of around one meter can all be dispatched on a hardtail. This kind of riding can be found in trail centres across the country, but many local woods are also home to this kind of terrain.


Hybrid bikes are best suited for riding in the city and along canal towpaths or disused railways lines. They are designed to be comfortable and efficient for cycling along broken roads and light trails. Many commuters also opt for this style of bike because of the robust components and ability to mount mudguards and panniers.

If you can only have one bike but want to hit the trails as well as commuting, there’s nothing stopping you from using a mountain for multiple purposes. But a hybrid bike will perform better at the type of riding it is designed for.