Hybrid bikes are a great choice for commuting and general cycling – you get most of the speed and weight benefits of a road bike, with the riding comfort of a city bike. They are great bikes for commuting and leisure riding, as well as light touring and off-roading. We have often suggested that they make a great bike for cycling in London, and many people agree with us. They offer a more upright, eyes up position than a full dropbar road bike.
Eastway is now a Wiggle own brand and we have been curious to see what the bikes are like for a while now. Wiggle got in touch with us a little while ago to ask if we were interested in borrowing a Flyback H1 (currently priced at £640) to test and see what we thought. We were under no obligation to be nice about it, and we didn’t get to keep the bike.
What is it?
Hybrid is somewhat of a catchall term though. There are some hybrids that could also be termed comfort bikes. These have a lot in common with Dutch bikes but with more gears. They are upright and relaxed, but they are heavy and slow. At the other end of the scale there are performance hybrids. These bikes are almost exactly the same in terms of geometry as a road or racing bike but they have flat bars which can make it a little easy to see in traffic.
The Flyback H1 is a pretty racy bike. It is light and had a streamline riding position. Both of these things combine to make it very quick. It shares its geometry with Eastway’s road bike, so it is definitely at the spritely end of the hybrid scale. The frame is aluminium with a carbon fork, and these work to keep the bike fast, but make it more robust for pot-holed city streets than the full carbon road bike the geometry is based on.
The bike comes equipped with hydraulic disc brakes for good stopping power regardless of the road conditions. In terms of gearing, it has the new Tiagra groupset which gives you 20 gears on some very nice Rapidfire plus shifters which make gear changing very quick and easy, especially in traffic. The tyres will also help you tackle the delightful London roads. They are Continental Ultrasport tyres in 700×28, offering a good compromise between comfort, rolling resistance and puncture protection.
At 9.75kg for the 56cm size it is of course not the lightest bike available, but for the price and the use it is pretty good. It is certainly a comfortable weight for carrying up and down stairs. I was more than able to carry the bike around and lift it onto my shoulder. The relative light weight is also obvious out on the road, translated into nimble handling and quick acceleration. It never felt like I was dragging this bike along, something I have felt sometimes with heavier bikes, hybrids included.
There are many features of this bike that you don’t seem to be able to get in a bike of this price from another brand. For example there is internal cable routing though the frame, keeping the cables protected and stopping them getting snarled up in bike racks and hallways. The presence of a carbon fork, hydraulic brakes and Tiagra gearing are also higher end than you would get for your money elsewhere.
There are reflective stripes on the bike. These are subtle grey during the day and work well as part of the general paint job. It is a nice additional touch and beneficial as a commuter and for leisure and training style rides as the sun drops.
I have owned a hybrid in the past and enjoyed riding it. It was not as performance orientated as the Flyback, but it did give me a good idea of why a hybrid might be a good city and fitness cycling bike. The Flyback is lighter, better spec’ed and therefore faster than the one I used to own.
The performance benefit of the stiffer carbon fork is really obvious – when I wanted it to, the bike accelerated well. The more aggressive riding position helped with this. With my saddle at the correct height, it was higher than the handlebars. This is a position you find on more race orientated bikes than casual or comfort orientated bikes.
As someone who normally rides a stable and steady steel touring bike, the Flyback felt so fast and nimble. Even comparing it to the other hybrid bike I have used, it is speedy. I used it for a standard 3.5 mile journey I normally take and I was a good 5 mins quicker on this bike than on my regular bike.
Therefore, this is a great quick commuter bike. It has enough clearance for mudguards so you can use full length clip-on ones, while the reflective strips are helpful for side visibility in the evenings. It was comfortable with a backpack and a messenger bag so the lack of rack compatibility is not really a problem for speedy/light commuting loads, which is what this bike is made for anyway.
If you are looking to go on training or sport rides at the weekend but prefer a flat bar rather than drops, this is absolutely the bike for you. You could happily do sportive style riding on it and enter into events.
There are trade offs for every kind of bike and this is why you often need to decide what matters most to you. With this bike it is light and responsive because it has an aluminium frame and a carbon fork. These are great features, but they make for a fairly harsh ride. Therefore, if you want a comfort ride, something that absorbs road noise and potholes, this is probably not the best choice.
Likewise, if you want to commute with a heavy loads and want a rack, this is not the greatest choice. There are no eyelets on this bike for mudguards or a rack. In terms of mudguards, there are plenty of options to put some on without the eyelets. A rack however will be a little trickier and require something like a Beam Rack and Trunk Bag. These cannot carry as much weight as a regular rack but will be good enough for essentials. They might however alter the handling on the bike and will probably slow it down a bit, taking away all the great points of this bike.
This bike is good value for its spec, with a similar bike from other brands costing around £700-£800. It is a nimble, fast bike that gives you results. It is definitely at the performance end of the hybrid spectrum. If you are a fan of the fast commute, or are looking for a bike to ride around town and on longer/faster rides at the weekend, then this is a great bike to consider.
If you want to save a little money but still benefit from most all of the features of the H1, the H2 is £80 cheaper at £560 and has the same frame, just a step down for gearing.
You can get the Flyback H1 direct from Wiggle for £640.