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Which hybrid bike for adventure racing?


I looking for a bike that would be good for adventure racing. Most of the races I have been in have been in northern Michigan. Usually there is some asphalt, but mostly gravel roads, a few trails, and some sandy areas. I've read that larger diameter tires are recommended for going over rougher terrain. 

I have been using a cheap mountain bike and I would like to upgrade to a hybrid bike. I'm 5'10" tall at 155 lbs. My wife has a Co-op mountain bike that she absolutely loves. 

Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, I cannot currently visit an REI store here in Massachusetts. I'm in Southwick, MA currently. My idea is to have a bike shipped to me, train with it for a few weeks, then take it into a store for a tuneup. 

Any advice you have for me would be greatly appreciated!


Keith Fouts

4 Replies

@Solarizer Thanks for reaching out!

We're going to tag a couple of our cycling experts who could weigh in here with some ideas. @REI-BryanV @REI-JimL have any thoughts here?

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Hi @Solarizer thanks for the question! Just to get some additional information- what are the average bike distances in the adventure races you compete in? Are they solo events, or are you potentially riding with teammates too?

At first thought, I would suggest a hardtail 29'er mountain bike. The larger diameter wheels will roll better on pavement, and you can always adjust tires to match the majority of terrain on each course. Some good examples (both are 29" wheels in the large size) are the Co-Op DRT 1.2 or Cannondale Trail 3 both of these bikes would have the ability to ride regular trails, and maintain a decent amount of efficiency on gravel/asphalt with the right tires. 

Another option could be a gravel bike, though this will require some skill to ride on actual trails, but you'll gain even more efficiency on road and gravel. Check out the Salsa Warbird or even their "Journeyman" line of bikes.

Hope this helps get you started, and please let us know if you have more questions! 


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Hi @REI-JimL,

Thanks for the quick reply. In most of the races I'll be going solo and biking 20-30 miles. I love mountain bikes, but since most of the miles are on gravel roads, I'm wondering if a hybrid bike might be better. What are some pros and cons that you can think of for this situation for these two styles of bikes? The Cannondale Trail 3 bike looks like a nice bike, but is no longer available.

Thanks for the info!


Hi @Solarizer thanks for the additional information. I can see where 30 miles on even an efficient mountain bike could be a bit long! After some consideration, here's a couple options in the hybrid category that could work. One thing I will say, hybrid's tend to put the rider in a more relaxed and upright position (even more so than a mountain bike) which will impact your efficiency and aerodynamics (i.e. you'll be putting more of your upper torso in the wind and won't be in a position to really put power to the pedals). 

Cannondale Quick series would be perfect. They have two main lines, the "CX" series has a suspension fork, the regular quicks have rigid carbon forks. I'd recommend the Quick CX 2 

Another great option could be the flat bar version of the Salsa Journeyman 

Overall, the Quick CX will have better stopping power with the hydraulic brakes and better rolling efficiency with the larger wheel diameter. The Salsa will be a bit lighter and handle better off-road with the small wider tires. Both lines do have multiple models if you want to research a bit too. 

Let us know if more questions come up! 

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.