For cyclists who are looking to hit the road on extended trips, a top rated touring bicycle will be the most comfortable set of wheels for your journey. The best touring bike is built for riding long distances because it will have a tougher frame and more relaxed seated position. With panniers and mud guards, a touring road bike also helps protect you from the dirt and grime along the way.
But finding the best touring bicycle can be difficult if you aren’t familiar with the various designs or features. Our article and selection of quality products will help you choose a quality tour bike and breakdown the most important differences and features that make each model unique. With the perfect adventure bicycle guiding your way, you can travel the world with confidence.
How To Choose A Touring Bike – Buying Guide
Not all long distance touring bikes are the same style and there are actually a few different types of bikes available on the market. The most common styles are commuting, sport, light, road, and off-road touring. Each style has its own features that can help benefit you on your journey. Below, we will review each style of bike to help you determine what your riding needs and determine which model would best suit your needs and preferences.
A commuting tour bike is built for the city streets and shorter distance rides. This means that you’ll use it to get around day after day but aren’t looking to spend eight hours each day riding. Commuting tour bikes may also have a single gear or speed because you won’t be traveling on difficult terrain. Instead, riders will be going from one point to another as they commute to work or work.
Sport touring bikes are built for racers who want to go fast. These types of riders are often in it for the long haul, but they are also interested in completing a journey in the best time possible. For this reason, the best touring bicycle for sport would be a lightweight touring bike. With less weight, riders can go faster and make better time. Carbon touring bikes are also popular for sport touring because of the reduced overall weight of the bike.
A light touring bike may refer to a model that is lightweight, but also used for casual riding. This means that riders may be going long distances, but they aren’t planning on riding for months and months on end. Light touring is great for those who are just getting started with the sport and deciding how much they want to invest in the sport. This style of bike still needs to be comfortable, but it may not have as robust a durability as long distance touring bikes. It should still last you throughout multiple years though.
Road touring means that you’ll be on pavement but going long distances on highways or city streets. Most road designs will be a carbon touring bike because it is sturdy but reduces the weight. For experienced riders, the carbon material has everything they need, but eliminates the bulk. For road tours, you also need a durable frame because you could be riding for weeks or months on end. However, because the road should always be smooth and steady, these bikes may not be as heavy duty as other styles of touring bikes.
Off-road touring means that you’ll be going on unpaved trails for long distances. A touring mountain bike will be extremely robust and constructed to be heavy duty because it needs to last for multiple days and long distances on tough terrain. These bikes often have a steel frame because of its high strength and are heavier than other styles. But for off-road riders, the comfort, stability, and reliability that this style of bike provides you makes it the top choice for hardy cyclists. Off-road touring is also very popular with bikepacking cyclists.
The different styles of bikes are mostly determined by the terrain in which they’ll be ridden. The best touring bike is versatile and could potentially be used on a few different types of terrain, but ultimately, you need to match the terrain to the style of bike. Top rated touring bicycles are made for all types of terrain, so you don’t have to worry about not finding a solution to your needs.
The most common terrain riders will encounter are city streets, paved roads, unpaved road, and off-road trails. By determining where you want to ride and the type of terrain you’ll encounter, you can be better prepared for your journey. However, you may find that some styles of tour bikes will overlap with the types of terrain that they can be ridden on.
Commuting, sport, light, and road touring bikes are all suitable for use on groomed or paved trails and streets but may not have the durability needed to ride off-road. Off-road bikes can be used everywhere, whether it’s an urban or mountain setting but due to the heavier weight of the bike, it is often not preferred for use as a sport or road touring bike.
If you are struggling to determine the type of terrain that the bike is suited for, you may want to check the tires that come with the bike or read touring bike reviews. These two methods can help you determine whether the bike will perform best in paved or off-road locations. In general, skinnier tires can only be used on paved streets or roads and will be highly unstable in off-road locations. Thicker tires can be used anywhere, but they are optimal for use on touring mountain bikes.
All adventure touring bikes need a good set of brakes to keep you safe and in control of your ride. The most common style of brake that is used on the best touring bicycles are disc brakes. These types of brakes function like a clamp on your wheels, as they grip either side of the wheel to cause friction, which makes you stop. Reliable disc brakes are the best way to stop quickly, which is very important when you are riding.
Disc brakes are also extremely durable, and their high strength helps you stop, even with the weight of a touring pannier added to your bike. However, disc brakes can wear down over time, so it is important that you test your brakes before each ride. When your brakes do wear down, it means that the brake pad will need to be replaced.
The best touring bike will have wheels available in different sizes to suit various riders. The most common wheel size is 27.5 inches in diameter. But 29 inches are another popular size of wheels. Ultimately, the diameter of the wheel will determine how well the bike will fit you and whether you can comfortably ride the bicycle for long distances.
Wheel size is also important for the type of terrain you’ll be riding on because larger wheels are often used on touring mountain bikes because of the increased tread. A touring road bike may have a smaller wheel size because it uses a smoother and narrower tire.
The tires of adventure bicycles are often related to the type of terrain you’ll be riding on for the duration of your journey. Just like all types of bicycles, there are different types of tires from road to mountain and hybrid designs. Road tires are the narrowest and with little traction because you’ll be constantly riding on smooth surfaces. However, mountain touring requires wider tires with a thicker tread, which is similar to that of standard mountain bike tires. A hybrid tire is great for commuters because it gives the rider more durability but isn’t too heavy or bulky.
Q: Are Touring Bikes Fast?
Yes, they can be. But the speed will mostly be left up to the style of the bike and the type of tires used on the wheels. Sport or touring road bikes will be the fastest because they will have the lightest frame and narrowest tire. A light touring bike will always be faster than heavier bikes, which can increase your speed. However, touring mountain bikes will be slightly slower because they have wider tires and a heavier frame.
Q: Why Are Touring Bikes So Heavy?
Touring bikes have a heavier frame to balance the weight of your gear. When you go on tour, you are likely traveling long distances and for hundreds or thousands of miles. This means that you need to pack your gear with you. Most riders will use a pannier, which attaches to the front or rear of their bike. The weight of the gear can make it more difficult to ride, but with a heavier frame, the weight of your added gear is better balanced.
Q: Are Gravel Bikes Good For Touring?
Yes, because gravel bikes are made to be ridden on rough surfaces, so they can be a great choice for commuter touring bicyclists. With a little bit more robust build than the lightest touring bikes for roads or pavement, these bikes can be used on a variety of terrain conditions and are still comfortable for long distance riding.
Q: How Many Gears Should A Touring Bike Have?
The best tour bike will have a variety of gears with up to 30 different choices, but there is no one number that a bike should have. Instead, the preference of the rider will need to be considered. Some riders want more speeds for more gears. In general, long distance touring bikes are available as single speed or 7, 8, 9, or 10 speeds.
Q: What Is The Difference Between A Touring Bike And A Hybrid?
Touring and hybrid bikes are very similar, but they are not quite the same. Technically, a hybrid bike is actually the combination of a touring and beginner mountain bike. The idea is that riders have the versatility to go on or off-road with the same bicycle. But hybrid bikes may or may not have the features of a touring bike like the more comfortable handlebar and pannier. Touring bikes will always be comfortable to ride and have a place to attach a pannier.
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When you’re looking to go the distance, comfort and reliability are essential for all riders. A top rated touring bicycle will provide you with those essentials and will be built to function for a long time. The extra durability of a touring bike guarantees that you can go for days on end and travel the world using the power of your own two feet and legs. Our article is designed to answer all your questions and pair you with the best touring bike that will help you become a true adventurer.
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Do you own one of the long distance touring bikes that made it onto our list? Let us know which tour bike your favorite is in the comments section below.