If I am on a "normal" paved by trail, hills, and straights, not mountains, sunny weather, and I have two bikes, a comfort bike and a hybrid. Is one harder to ride than the other? The distance will be about 10 miles, paved, mostly flat trail.

One reason I ask is that if two people ride together and one is on a comfort, the other on a hybrid, if the comfort is hard to pedal, ride, etc., I would never be able to stay together (I would have the hybrid.)

For the sake of argument, both are higher quality bikes, not big box. Is there some reason a comfort bike is inherently harder to pedal?

This is an example of what I saw:




"Beach Cruiser" was also a term used.

  • 4
    If you could find a photo of your bikes (or something similar) it will help. The definitions of both kinds of bike varies around the world, where some locations can call a front-suspension hard tail a "comfort" bike, but for me its a crank-forward bike.
    – Criggie
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 4:12
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    Tyres and air pressure in the tubes is also a significant factor, as is bike fit to the rider.
    – Criggie
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 4:13
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    I like that they actually have something called a comfort bike, insinuating that regular hybrids, road bikes, or mountain bikes are somehow uncomfortable. When I Googled comfort bike to try to find a good example, Google actually showed the wikipedia entry for Hybrid bicycle on the right hand side. They are kind of synonymous. Things that might make you slower on one model over another are things like how upright you are, the size of the tires, the gear ratios (a lot of hybrid bike are easy to top out on) and how far in front of the seat the pedals are, which can affect power delivery.
    – Kibbee
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 13:09
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    One thing I've found with so called comfort bikes is big fat saddles that are like a chair for half an hour then chafe horribly. Also swept back bars.
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 13:31
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    @ChrisH true - plus curved tubes for added absorption, hand grips well higher than the saddle, and a saddle height allowing most or all the foot on the ground (for reassurance)
    – Criggie
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 1:43

3 Answers 3


Yes a comfort or beach cruiser bike is harder to ride at the same speed as a hybrid/commuter bike.

The hybrid bike will have larger rims (29"/700c) but narrower tyres (25-35mm) where the comfort bike could be anything from 20" to 26" and with a tyre width of 30-50mm.

The comfort bike will have roughly zero body weight on the hands - almost all the rider's weight will be on the saddle and a very small amount on the forward pedal. The hybrid will have more weight on the hands, allowing more pedal pressure and therefore more power.

So the hybrid will be faster than the comfort bike for the same effort.

That said, sometimes its not about the speed, its about the fun and "smoothness" of the ride. We have some shared bikes are work that are almost comfort bike shaped, and while they don't go fast they are smooth and swoopy. I'd be tempted to call the ride "plush" and unhurried. I might only be putting in 50 watts, but I don't care cos its a nice ride.

Struggling uphill on a comfort bikes, or through a long loose gravel path would be hard work and not much fun.


'Comfort' and 'hybrid' are not particually specific terms. Let's assume:

Comfort bike means a bike with an upright riding position - the rider's back is nearly vertical. Handlebars are high and relatively close to the rider.

Hybrid means a cross between a road and mountain bike rider's back 45-30 degrees from vertical. Bars far enough forward so that riders arms are nearly straight.

(Almost) all other things equal: wheel diameter, mass, tire width and pressure, the more upright riding position of the comfort bike makes it harder for the rider to apply power to the crank, hence it will be harder to ride at the same pace as the hybrid. The comfort bike will likely have a lower gear ratio range to accommodate the lower possible power.

  • So is that why on a road bike the rider is always leaned way over? I always wondered why they rode like that.
    – johnny
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 15:02
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    It's a mixture of ability to apply power and aerodynamics. Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 15:10

A hybrid bike will generally take less energy to move along a paved surface for the following reasons.

  1. Frontal area/wind resistance as a result of rider position and tyre cross section is likely to be lower on a hybrid. Effort increases at the square of the wind speed, so the faster you go, the bigger the difference will be.
  2. Weight over the pedals will make applying power less fatiguing over 10 miles.
  3. Assuming the cruiser is heavier, it will make cycling uphill easier on the hybrid.
  4. The hybrid is likely to have more gears available to suit a variety of speeds. Not so important for a short trip to the shop, but a factor when cycling ten miles.

Opinion warning: Cruisers are made to look cool - not to make it easy to get from A to B.

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