hybrid vs road bike

i was wondering which bike would be better for ragbrai. the hybrid or road bike. the road bike is faster, but when coming into towns the trek fx hybrid takes over on manuverabilaty. it is a much more agile bike in town.it is much more comfortable . i will be pulling a trailer to. so i think the hybrid is a better choice.tell me whay ya’ll think. thanks

9 Replies

Cory Rood, August 8, 2017 at 6:07 am

The lines have blurred so much that’s get what you are comfortable on. I do recommend something with drop bars though. Multiple hand positions. Will help with hand fatigue


KenH, August 8, 2017 at 7:33 am

When I bought the bike that has just done its sixth RAGBRAI with me Fuji called it a “performance hybrid”. They still make a bike with the same model designation but now they call it a “flat bar road bike”. Basically it has a road bike frame geometry but it is built to take decently wide tires. I currently run 38s and it could use tires a little wider if there were any on the market I wanted to use. It has been a fine RAGBRAI bike and it is an even better fit these last three years which have included a gravel loop. I long ago ditched the flat bar in favor of a Jones Loop H Bar which gives me all the hand positions I need and a lot of leverage when riding out on the ends to handle loose/soft riding surfaces. If you are pulling a trailer then you might want to stick with a triple and I don’t know if road bikes offer those any more. My Fuji has one although it could easily be geared to suit my non-trailer riding style with a double.

If I were going to replace this bike the only thing I would even consider would be a touring bike and an adventure touring bike at that. I want a bike that is comfortable to ride for miles and miles and miles and miles. And when I get the notion to take a dirt or gravel road I want a bike that enthusiastically says “YEAH! Let’s do THAT!!”

Traditional road bikes need not apply….


Geoff Butland, August 8, 2017 at 9:30 am

I am not sure that maneuverability in town would even make my top ten list of requirements for a good RAGBRAI bike. I was walking every town so maneuverability in the saddle was not an issue in town for me. Ken’s list mirrors my own – it’s got to be comfortable over the long haul, and it needs to be able to take whatever the road dishes out.
Just to offer another alternative – I rode a recumbent, a Longbikes Slipstream.
Cons: it was slow. Very slow on hills. It was also a bit awkward pushing a bike the length of a tandem through a crowd with the steering tiller at knee height. And on the road the low height meant I sometimes wasn’t seen by the bike in front of me or to my side so I had to be careful not to spend much time in people’s “blind spot”.
Pros: man was this bike comfortable! I rode the gravel, Karras, and every other mile available, 478 in all. Every pain I ever experienced on my diamond frame bike was gone…neck, wrist, knee, leg, “nethers”….no pain. None. The worst discomfort was an occasional bout of “recumbent butt” which feels a lot like sitting on bleachers during a long ball game – your butt goes a little numb. A few minutes off the bike and all was well. I had at least one rider comment “you don’t know how good that seat looks right now”. I had to chuckle watching everyone around me standing on their pedals to relieve the pressure on their sit bones, unclipping to stretch their legs and wiggle their feet, and shaking their hands to relieve the pounding from the handlebars. Been there, not going back.
I was apprehensive about the gravel loop having never ridden this bike on that kind of surface. It performed admirably. I recorded my highest speed of the day on the gravel loop! Like any road oriented bike I needed to be on the lookout for deep gravel patches, but on the hardpack it just flew along.
As far as reliability I had no issues, not even a flat tire.
I am not willing to say a recumbent is the perfect bicycle. I do miss keeping up with the pack, and it’s no fun to maneuver the beast in tight quarters. But out on the open road this thing just eats up the miles. OK, you do end up with a weird suntan, but it’s a small price to pay.


KenH, August 8, 2017 at 12:27 pm

If you want to go faster you should look at one of those bents with the full aerodynamic fairing. That would take care of the suntan issue too!


Charlie S, August 9, 2017 at 12:41 pm

I only just completed my first RAGBRAI but I think that for distance riding, the saddle you use is much more important than the type of bike.

My bias is toward comfort and I now use a leather suspension saddle (Anatomica X) and gladly accept the weight penalty for the comfort it provides. I’d use the same – or similar – saddle if I were on a flat-bar or hybrid. I understand that everybody is built a bit differently, but in my opinion, it’s well worth checking out saddles from Anatomica, Brooks, Rivet and for those with fat wallets, Bethoud, regardless of whether you’re riding a drop, flat or hybrid. With the possible exception of Brooks, they all have some form of trial period, so you’re not risking a lot of bucks if they don’t work for you.

I’m pretty much just a casual rider, but was quite comfortable completing RAGBRAI, including the Karras loop, on my Damocles with Anatomica X. The one caveat for the Anatomica is that it has long rails that can bend more easily, so is not a good choice for aggressive MTB riders.


Barin Beard, August 10, 2017 at 2:57 am

2017 was my first RAGBRAI and I did it on a custom Coconino full rigid mountain bike (2 weeks before RAGBRAI, I had did the Downieville (CA) Downhill (a 17 mile single track with a 5000 vertical drop) on the same bike and same configuration except I used a frame pack for RAGBRAI). The only real discomfort came on Day 1; just not enough saddle time. I did the gravel loop so I was ready to get off the bike when I got to Hartley, because it was my feet that were bothering me the most. I was starting to have hotspots on the cleats. So yes, a good saddle, good shoes, a good fit on the bike, and especially time in the saddle is key. I would not worry about speed too much. My bike was certainly not one of the fast ones because my top gear was 32×11, but I was plenty comfortable from Day 3 on. Planning on 2018 already and will probably use the same bike.


Elizabeth Moreau, August 12, 2017 at 5:54 am

I just rode my first RAGBRAI on a trek 7.1 and was surprised how happy I was with it. Yes, it was slow, and no, it (and I) couldn’t quite handle the hills the last day. But the rest of the week it was a comfortable ride and handled well


Cory Rood, August 12, 2017 at 3:29 pm

[quote quote=1275968]I just rode my first RAGBRAI on a trek 7.1 and was surprised how happy I was with it. Yes, it was slow, and no, it (and I) couldn’t quite handle the hills the last day. But the rest of the week it was a comfortable ride and handled well


IIRC the 7.1 FX has a 48-38-28 front and a 14-34 Cassette. with that gearing hills are rider dependent.


sjrs88, August 13, 2017 at 8:54 am

Simply, whichever one you are most comfortable on. I have ridden several RAGBRAIs on a hybrid (2 of which were all southern routes) and several on a road bike. I think more importantly is how comfy are your seat (recommend a Brooks saddle) and your hands. You have 3 contact points with the bike–make them the most comfortable you can!


The forum ‘RAGBRAI XLV – 2017’ is closed to new topics and replies.





Gatherings & Meetings

Lost and Found


Clubs, Teams & Charters

Friends of RAGBRAI