Touring bikes can represent a good option for cycling longer distances. You can get to enjoy the open road while traveling across the country at your own pace. However, many new touring cyclists can make the mistake of packing too much equipment which can make the experience much more difficult. Although it is true that all cyclists are different, there are some tips that can apply to most people looking into buying a touring bike.
The most important acquisition is, of course, the bike itself. But the selection process is not that straightforward as you might expect. The choice will depend on the surface you are traveling on and you may also find some design options for two cyclists.
What to Consider when Buying a Touring Bike
These are the most important things to consider when choosing a touring bike:
The materials of a touring bike can influence its weight and durability. Although there are many options on the market, it seems that steel frames are most commonly used for touring bikes. Steel has been used with the first bikes and still represents one of the best methods of combining durability with cost control.
Aluminum frames are another popular option. They can help keep the total weight lower while providing the stability the bike needs to support the user. If you need a bike that can be used for the whole family, it might be worth considering a model that can handle heavier weights.
The good news is that all of the major manufacturers state this in the product information but you`ll have to consider the bike will also need to carry your bags for long distances. This is why a sturdy frame is essential and it can represent a good stepping stone with your purchase.
The materials should also be considered with the frame size. Usually, smaller cyclists will need a lighter design. Every manufacturer has a height chart that can help you establish which size is best suited for your needs. Your height will determine the frame size which is more comfortable for you.
The technology came a long way in the past few years. You can expect better quality parts such as shifters or hubs. You will need to consider that you`ll eventually have to replace some of these parts and while the bike may not be covered by the warranty anymore, you`ll have to take that cost into consideration. This is especially true with touring bikes that cover more miles than regular alternatives.
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But the good news is that if you look for quality bicycle parts, you can usually expect a longer life and better warranty coverage. Another thing to consider both when buying a bike and replacing old parts like shifters is that you would benefit from the professional fit.
This can work for fine-tuning but can also increase your safety and the durability of some bike parts. For example, you can improve your comfort by finding the right balance between the height of the handlebar and the height of the saddle.
Most bikes also offer an angled option for the saddle and this is why using real-time fit can be the best solution. Most large bike stores can offer these options and you can enjoy a comfortable ride adjusted to your needs.
But you can also experience the latest technologies in the design of the bike which can use a combination of materials to offer a lighter and more durable experience. This is not only applicable to the frame but can also work for other parts. For example, hydraulic brakes always improve on the technology and materials since they are in a high friction zone which is vital for your safety.
Types of Bikes for that can be Used for Touring
There are of course different types of bikes but not all can be used for touring. Not unless you’re a glutton for punishment. You wouldn’t, for example, use a BMX bike to ride through the Pacific Coast Highway. Below are the types of bikes that are good for touring.
As you may expect, these bikes represent the perfect balance between performance and comfort as they have to travel considerable distances. With comfortable seats and the ability to manage heavier loads, these bikes usually come with robust construction.
Inspired by the hybrid designs, these bikes offer an upright riding position and can be a good alternative for those who cycle to work. Trekking bikes are usually equipped with a basic, coil-shock suspension fork with a little amount of travel. Although it will have an aluminum frame, the overall load of a trekking bike can be high compared to other types of bikes.
Many people are wondering if these bikes can be used for touring. The simple answer is they can, as long as they can carry the load. They might be a good option while traveling abroad where the 26” wheels are much more common. These bikes also represent a solid alternative for touring off-road.
Best Touring Bikes
Schwinn Vantage RX 2 700c
As agile as a road bike yet adaptable enough to be an adventure touring bike, the 700c Schwinn vantage Rx2 is a tough road bike that is able to wear many different cycling hats.
Riders won’t lose any lateral stiffness due to the SRT inserts that let you ride harder and longer while managing an incredibly smooth ride.
There is a full 18-speed Shimano Sora drivetrain, Sora STI Shifters, and an SR sun tour SP2 compact crank.
The Rx2 has the proper gearing to displace a road bike, hybrid, and commuter all in one.
The SRAM Rival hydraulic disc brakes, carbon fork, and the wide Continental Sport contact II safety breaker flat protection tires make this bike ready for gravel trails.
You can add in rack and fender mounts with clearance up to a 44c tire, and now you have a touring bike for your next camping trip.
The bike’s 11-28T Claris cassette and Claris Triple 30/39/50T crankset, break what barriers that have been holding back road riders to the pavement for years.
With this versatility being in control is essential, so the added disc brakes (Avid BB5), offer on-demand stopping power in the rain, mud, or even snow. There is the Corsa TC-30D wheelset added to change the way you ride. Taking on dirt and gravel with the same ease as the pavement is what this wheelset was made for.
The Sterrata also comes equipped with an exclusive “UltraCompact” handlebar which enables every rider to ride more easily in the drops.
Equipped with a Columbus frame and CrMo tubing, the bike is lightweight enough for easy climbs with a hardy exterior for tough situations and long-lasting wear resistance.
With the carbon fiber Columbus fork, it’s no wonder the Cinelli Hobootleg broke the Guinness’ World Record for going around the planet by bicycle.
While you might not be looking for an adventure as great as circling the globe, no matter the destination you’ll want plenty of power to make it there.
That’s why this touring bike comes with a Shimano 9-speed drivetrain and rear derailleur, giving you reliable precision shifting so you don’t waste a single pedal rotation’s worth of energy.
One of the most important elements of a touring bike comes with the saddle. Since you will be spending more time on the bike covering longer distances, you want to ensure the saddle has good comfort and enough support to offer the best experience.
The good news is that you can change the saddle whenever you find a better alternative, but choosing a good standard bike with a quality saddle can be a good starting point. For more information on bike maintenance, you can read this post.
So what do you need to consider with a good saddle? A good starting point is to consider the cover materials. You can usually find touring bikes that offer either synthetic or leather materials for the cover design. Typically, leather is more expensive and you should look for smooth seams that need to be comfortable for longer cycling sessions.
The shell of the saddle represents the base of the seat. It supports the weight of the users and it can also absorb some shocks from the road. This is why you can find various materials for the shell design. They usually involve choosing between nylon and some carbon combinations. Premium models might offer a higher percentage of carbon in the shell design.
Recommended Touring Bike Saddle
Brooks England B17
The Brooks B17 is truly a stunning saddle.
First presented in 1898, the B17 has been in production for well over a hundred years.
Exquisite craftsmanship that is a vintage yet timeless design places it alone from other touring and other bike saddles.
The tensioned leather that evolves over time, making individual saddles a different character.
It does not, however, offer the performance and lightweight of modern designs, but it does offer the style and comfort for a casual ride.
The saddle is not cheap and requires a bit more care, that could make it last longer than many other parts on your bike.
Terry Butterfly Cromoly (Women)
One of the best values on Italian-made saddles you’ll find, the Terry Butterfly Chromoly is one of the best-selling women’s saddles in production.
Introduced in 1999, the Butterfly exemplifies the zenith of almost two decades of experimentation and improvement and is designed for ultimate performance and comfort.
This saddle is wider at the rear than standard saddles for improved bone support and it features a complete cutaway through the nose and mid-section to give it more flexibility and relieve pressure on soft tissue.
The flat-topped, low profile shape allows you to move around the saddle, and the multi-density foam grows firmer towards the back for more pedaling performance, and softer towards the front for enhanced comfort.
Made of smooth Dura-tek material with a printed accent and thin gel layer.
Brooks England Cambium
The Cambium All-Weather Saddles are made for ages of hard riding, excellent for a forward riding more sporty position.
The All-Weather Cambium is a long-lasting and comfortable saddle that is “easy to ride”, that’s thanks to a vulcanized natural rubber top for more flexible performance that require no break.
Equipped with a waterproof and weatherproof nylon cover that works flawlessly in any conditions.
The vulcanized natural rubber covers organic cotton canvas improved by a thin layer of structural textile toward added resilience.
The very flexible, maintenance-free, waterproof cover is intended to follow the rider’s movements to give immediate comfort and ease of usage.
Equipped with modernized fiberglass augmented backplate that holds loops for a saddle bag and other accessories.
Accessories can be the soul of a touring bike. With touring models, you get to experience one of the widest ranges of accessories for any bike and this is because you`ll have to take some bags with you, which need to be secured to improve safety on the road.
Depending on your needs, you will have to consider other accessories as well. Mudguards become one of the necessary acquisitions to limit the dirt from the road that gets on the bike. Lights are also very important as you`ll be tackling busy roads.
This is why choosing good front and backlights can become not only a design problem but also a safety issue that needs to be taken seriously. A bell may also be necessary when cycling through a city. Although most manufacturers don`t offer a bell with a touring bike, you may still be required to buy one separately for certain models.
Another important accessory for your touring needs comes with the bike racks. Since most models offer a single type of rack or no rack at all, you might need to consider the types of bags you need. This will determine the rack design which fits best for you. Eventually, you may even find out you need more racks to suit different bags.
Apart from these accessories and camping gear, you might need some other tools recommended for any cyclist. You can consider purchasing a small air pump. Although these pumps are not as fast as regular full-size options, they provide the space-saving option you need.
Spare tubes and chain lube can also be part of your essential accessories list. Some ingenious tools such as a bike multitool are a must-have. Together with wrenches and screwdrivers, they complete the essentials list for any serious touring cyclist.
In most situations, these accessories don`t come with the bike. This is why you will need to purchase them separately. The good news is that there are plenty of options to choose from. You can either find these accessories in dedicated shops or online, but regardless of your option, you will need to consider a small budget towards these acquisitions as well.
Recommended Touring Bike Accessories
Ibera Bike Rack
A bike rack adds to your safety and comfort for long & short-range travels.
Any rider would find this piece of gear handy on tours.
The Ibera Bike Rack is one of the best on the market due to its sleek design and the various ways you can attach your luggage.
The rack is made of tough heat-treated, TIG-welded, anodized aluminum.
The material is the same used for bicycle frames and parts, so it is as tough as your bike.
The high-quality metal and fabrication process augments it for extra strength.
Additionally, the anodized aluminum is corrosion resistant and has the ability to retain dye.
The total weight of this rack is 1.70 lbs (770 g).
Burley Nomad Cargo Trailer
If a cargo trailer is what you’re looking for, the Burley Nomad should not disappoint.
It has virtually effortless rolling characteristics and does nothing to negatively change the performance of any touring bike.
It is essentially meant to be combined into an extremely practical bicycle touring rig.
It weighs less than 15 lbs and carries up to 100 lbs.
The extremely water-resistant cover shields your gear in severe weather.
The two-wheel chassis and Burley hitch system give excellent tracking and stability.
There is a collapsible inside space divider with three large mesh pockets for securing small items.
ROCK BROS Bike Pannier
These pannier bags are made with High-density 840D Nylon and coated with TPU film which guarantees you can utilize this bag freely on a stormy day or wet weather without worrying about your things becoming wet inside the bag or damaged.
This bag’s exterior is easy to wash and can be wiped clean with a wet cloth within seconds without fear of dirt roads.
There are exterior bungee ties (rain jacket, umbrella) + Interior main section together with mesh pockets.
With 27 liter capacity, each bag can keep your variety of clothes or any essentials for the cycling adventure.
The mesh pockets inside the pannier can store any small things for simple access.
There are two adjustable buckles on the rear of the bag that help you change the bag to the best position according to your bike rack.
In the end, you should also consider your total budget. Although you can always spend more to purchase a premium bike, you should consider that you will need to invest in a list of accessories. These accessories are purchased once, but they add up to any potential camping gear and specialized clothing and you want to plan ahead to limit potential overspending.
Because modern technologies have changed the way we cycle, you might benefit from using a dedicated cycling smartphone app. These apps can open a world of new routes to the beginner cyclist. But they can also connect you to your local cycling community which might be helpful in terms of advice or even equipment exchange.
If you want to be connected to the latest news and travel bike touring ideas, you can also download blog apps where you can follow your favorite writers and their adventures on the road.
Buying a touring bike may prove to be one of the most exciting activities you perform as a cyclist. You will have to set a budget and choose between different manufacturers and their various models.
Then, you will also need to make a list of accessories you need for your chosen model. Together with the right camping gear and the right clothing, you can be ready for your first real adventure. But in the end, you will have to remember that regardless of your choice there are some basic rules you have to follow.
These rules involve, of course, safety and comfort. The first priority for a cyclist is to stay safe. With so many accidents on the road, you want to ensure you get the best brakes and the most useful lights to be able to tackle any situation. You will then have to make sure your chosen bike and equipment is comfortable to use.
Since you will be cycling for long distances you might need to consider a better saddle or a comfortable handlebar position four your needs. If you have these basics in place, you are better prepared for your first tour bike experience.
Do You Have A Touring Bike?
This article was contributed by John T Lyons
John T Lyons grew up riding the canyons of San Diego on his single speed Huffy.
After a stint working for Shelby American in automotive and then in the Aerospace industry, JT started Moment Bicycles.
He developed a “better way to buy a bike” using his engineering problem-solving skills.
Learn more at https://momentbicycles.com
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