How you can Select a Bike for Bike Touring

by jpc_touring-bicycle

With a motorbike that’s well-suited to bike touring, you’ll be able to journey nearly anyplace there’s a highway whereas carrying every part you want for the times, weeks or months forward. That mentioned, a number of several types of bikes can work for touring and, in reality, it’s possible you’ll have already got one at dwelling that can do exactly fantastic. So, whether or not you’re assessing the bike you personal or searching for a brand new one, this text will enable you perceive issues to contemplate as they relate to bike touring.

When selecting a touring bike, your primary purpose is to seek out consolation, stability and sturdiness.

This may increasingly require you to shift the way in which you concentrate on issues, particularly in the event you’ve beforehand shopped for a road-specific bike and prioritized mild weight and pace. Bike touring actually is concerning the lengthy haul not the dash, so that you’ll wish to make choices that align with that.


Forms of Bikes for Bike Touring

Spend a bit of time researching what folks use for bike touring and also you’ll discover that there’s nobody proper kind of motorcycle. Folks generally use highway bikes, mountain bikes and hybrid bikes. However there are the reason why bikes designed particularly for touring exist: They’re purposefully made to be sturdy, snug and steady whereas carrying a number of gear over very lengthy distances. If you happen to’re planning to tour continuously, then a touring-specific bike could also be a sensible choice for you.


A typical touring bike seems to be much like a regular highway bike; a touring bike has the identical primary form and often has dropbars. However there are delicate variations, such because the touring bike’s extra upright driving place and a geometry that helps keep stability whereas carrying a number of weight. Many touring bikes come prepared to hold entrance and rear racks for hauling gear in panniers.

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Gravel bikes are constructed to deal with rougher terrain. As an illustration, many have greater, knobbier tires for gravel roads and filth trails. Some use 650b wheels and tires much like these discovered on some mountain bikes for higher grip and bump absorption on tough roads and trails. Many gravel bikes embrace mounts for attaching racks to haul gear in panniers.

If you happen to’re fascinated by driving completely on filth roads and trails, you’ll additionally wish to learn our article, How you can Select a Bike for Bikepacking.


Key Options in Touring Bikes

The geometry of a motorbike body, the supplies used to assemble it and the elements which might be on it will possibly play an enormous half in how the bike feels, particularly while you’re hauling a heavy load and driving on variable surfaces. If you happen to’re buying a touring-specific bike, the producer incorporates these components into the design. However in the event you’re questioning if the highway bike you’ve gotten at dwelling will work, it may be useful to have a primary understanding of how these affect trip high quality. Here is a take a look at a few of the key variations between highway bikes and touring bikes. 


Body Geometry for Touring Bikes

A labeled photograph of a bike showing the wheelbase and the chainstay

Bikes meant particularly for bike touring are designed to allow them to stay snug and steady whereas carrying a heavy load. To perform this, you’ll discover that almost all touring bikes have longer wheelbases than highway bikes. (The wheelbase is the horizontal distance between the hubs of the entrance and rear wheels.) Longer wheelbases typically permit for simpler steering and higher stability whereas carrying a load. One thing else you’re prone to see on a touring bike is longer chainstays (the a part of the body that’s nearest to the chain). By extending these, body builders can create more room for rear panniers on the bike.


Body Supplies for Touring Bikes

The commonest selection for bike tourers is chromoly metal for its energy and easy trip high quality—metal is ready to soak up highway vibrations to create a much less jarring really feel in comparison with another supplies. Bike tourers additionally have a tendency to decide on metal for its sturdiness, particularly for touring lengthy distances in distant places. Metal is unlikely to interrupt, but when it does, it could be potential to restore the injury with welding.

Be taught extra about bike body supplies.


Wheels for Touring Bikes

The rear wheel of a touring bike

When contemplating wheels for touring bikes, take a look at:

Variety of spokes: With all that weight you’re hauling in your touring bike, it’s good to consider the energy of the wheels. Extra spokes usually imply stronger wheels, so a superb normal suggestion is to decide on wheels which have at the very least 32 spokes. Wheels with 36 spokes are sometimes a more sensible choice in the event you’re going to be carrying a number of weight and/or driving on tough roads. It’s additionally price listening to what number of instances the spokes cross one another. Some light-weight race wheels have spokes that don’t cross in any respect. For touring, you’ll need spokes that cross one another twice and even thrice.
Wheel measurement: When contemplating the fitting wheel measurement in your touring bike, take into consideration the surfaces you’ll be driving on and the place on this planet you intend to go. For many tourers who persist with primarily paved surfaces and received’t be heading too far off into the creating world, the usual highway wheel measurement, which is 700c, might be simply fantastic. However in the event you’re planning a long-distance tour that can take you onto filth and into distant worldwide places, then going with smaller 650b or 26-inch wheels would be the proper resolution as a result of the tires you’ll be able to placed on them typically present higher grip and bump absorption than those who go on 700c wheels. A plus for 26-inch wheels is that the suitable measurement tires, tubes and spokes could be discovered nearly anyplace on this planet.

Be taught extra about wheels in our article, How you can Select Bike Wheels.


Tires for Touring Bikes

A detail shot of the traction pattern on a bike tire

When contemplating tires for touring bikes, take into consideration:

Puncture resistance: Whenever you’re logging a number of miles on a protracted tour, the potential for a flat tire may be very actual. For that reason, many bike tourers go for tires which have built-in puncture resistance. It will add to the burden of the tires however will considerably cut back the variety of flats you get. You may additionally select to make use of a sealant that can restore a small puncture and allow you to preserve rolling. Be taught extra about puncture-resistant tires, sealants and different methods to stop flat tires in our article, How you can Stop a Flat Bike Tire.
Tread: A bit of tread provides higher traction on a wide range of highway surfaces. Until you’re driving on filth and gravel, you received’t need tires with massive knobs, however a easy traction sample is mostly most well-liked over slick highway tires.
Tire measurement: One other necessary consideration is the dimensions of the tires. Many bike tourers select tires which might be at the very least 35mm extensive, even when driving totally on pavement. This may increasingly appear actually extensive in the event you’re used to working skinny tires in your highway bike, however the additional width will present a softer, extra snug trip. It is going to additionally add weight to your bike and will sluggish you down a bit, however these are compromises most bike tourers are extra keen to just accept. If you happen to’re contemplating including bigger tires to a motorbike you already personal, you’ll want to verify there’s sufficient clearance to take action with out the tires rubbing the bike body. Be taught extra about tire sizes in our article, How you can Select Bike Tires.


Gearing for Touring Bikes

A close up shot of a 3x crankset and a 9-speed cassette on a touring bike

A dialogue about gearing can get advanced while you begin counting the enamel on cogs and contemplating gear inches. If you wish to geek out on it, go proper forward, however you’ll be able to preserve issues easy by selecting a motorbike that’s designed for the kind of driving you wish to do; one which’s meant for bike touring will virtually actually be outfitted with the suitable gearing to fulfill your wants. For many bike tourers, this implies having a 3x crankset with a 9- or 10-speed cassette. (Learn extra about bike gears and shifting fundamentals.)

Listed here are some issues to remember about bike gears for touring bikes:

Select easier gears than arduous gears: When it’s essential to pedal your loaded bike up a steep mountain go, you’ll respect having very easy gears. So, it’s a good suggestion to outfit your touring bike with one or two gears which might be simpler than something you’d usually use when not touring. If you happen to’re aware of the idea of drugs inches, you wish to search for a lowest gear of about 20 gear inches.
Be sure you have reliable, sturdy elements: Pedaling a whole bunch or 1000’s of miles on a tour can take its toll on elements, so it’s sensible to decide on elements that can arise over the lengthy haul. This typically means avoiding the latest or lightest factor to hit the market and choosing a barely heavier, more-durable possibility.
Less complicated gearing is commonly higher: A drivetrain that includes high-end, specialised elements could supply benefits corresponding to smoother shifting and a wider gear vary. However it may also be fussy to take care of and troublesome to repair if one thing goes mistaken throughout your trip. With a less complicated setup, you’re extra prone to have the instruments and abilities to carry out primary repairs by yourself, and in the event you can’t, you’re extra doubtless to have the ability to discover a mechanic on the town who can get you again on the highway. That mentioned, some tourers swear by advanced inner geared hubs as a result of they require virtually zero upkeep and supply extremely easy shifting. Regardless that inner hubs have confirmed themselves to be very dependable, if one thing does go mistaken, there’s no fixing it your self—you’ll should ship the hub again to the producer for service. For that reason, many bike tourers go for a less complicated, more-traditional derailleur setup. Added bonus: Less complicated elements are sometimes cheaper, which is actually the case right here.


Brakes for Touring Bikes

Whenever you’re speaking about strapping upwards of 30 or 40 kilos on a motorbike and setting out on a long-distance tour, it’s sensible to contemplate simply the way you’ll decelerate and cease when you could. The 2 primary methods of doing so are by way of rim brakes and disc brakes.


A detail shot of rim brakes on a bike

Rim brakes: Bike touring bikes have historically come outfitted with rim brakes. Rim brakes characteristic pads that grip on the edges of the wheels. Listed here are a few of the benefits and downsides when put next with disc brakes:

Benefits: Comparatively cheap; straightforward to look at brake pad put on; straightforward to interchange worn pads; suitable elements could be discovered virtually anyplace on this planet.
Disadvantages: Progressively put on out the wheel rim, requiring the wheel to finally get replaced; much less stopping energy; much less efficient in moist or muddy situations; require extra effort to cease a loaded touring bike.


A bike wheel with disc brakes

Disc brakes: Disc brakes characteristic brake pads that grip onto a brake rotor mounted on the wheel hub. Disc brakes are available two variations:

Hydraulic disc brakes supply extra progressive and stronger braking with much less effort. They’re very dependable, however ought to one thing go mistaken with the hydraulics, you’ll doubtless want to go to a motorbike store to get issues sorted out.
Mechanical disc brakes require extra effort to brake than hydraulics and the pads require handbook adjusting because the pads put on.

In contrast with rim brakes, disc brakes have a number of benefits and downsides:

Benefits: Extra dependable braking in all situations; higher efficiency on steep terrain with a loaded bike; cheaper to interchange a worn rotor than a wheel worn out by rim brakes.
Disadvantages: Tougher to look at pad put on and exchange pads; doubtlessly tougher to seek out substitute elements throughout a tour; tougher to service within the area; hydraulic disc brakes are costlier to service.


When deciding between rim and disc brakes, it could be useful to consider the place you’re prone to trip and what your priorities are. If you happen to’re going to be driving mountainous routes in all varieties of climate, then disc brakes could also be a more sensible choice, as they’ll present higher stopping energy. However in the event you plan to journey the globe and worth ease of upkeep over elevated stopping energy, then rim brakes could also be greatest for you.


Equipment and Different Options for Bike Touring

There are many equipment and options that may affect how nicely a motorbike will carry out on a motorbike tour. Listed here are a handful of issues to contemplate:



Not all bikes include pedals, so you’ll have to buy them individually. When selecting pedals, you’ve gotten three main choices: platform pedals, pedal toe clips and straps, and clipless pedals.

An illustration of three types of bike pedals: platform, pedal toe clips, and clipless

Platform pedals are primary flat pedals. They’re more and more well-liked amongst bike tourers as a result of they can be utilized with nearly any kind of footwear.
Pedal toe clips and straps connect to some platform pedals and can assist you to pull up along with your foot throughout the pedal stroke in addition to push down.
Clipless pedals require particular bike sneakers that connect to the pedals while you’re driving. These present wonderful pedaling effectivity and are most well-liked by a number of riders. However, as talked about, they require particular bike sneakers, so that you’ll want to contemplate the compatibility of pedals and sneakers, and it’s possible you’ll must convey off-bike sneakers alongside for while you’re not driving. That mentioned, there are informal fashion bike sneakers and sandals which might be pretty snug for strolling. Be taught extra in our articles, How you can Select Bike Pedals and How you can Select Bike Sneakers. 

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A detail shot of braze-ons on a bike frame

Braze-ons are threaded fittings that settle for bolts; a motorbike designed for bike touring may have a number of them, so you’ll be able to simply connect racks, water bottle cages and equipment. They’re typically situated on the fork, seat tube and/or down tube. If the bike you’re utilizing doesn’t have braze-ons the place you want them, there are equipment and workarounds in an effort to nonetheless connect issues, you’ll simply should work a bit of tougher to determine it out.


Entrance and rear racks are customary gear for long-distance bike tourers. They assist you to connect panniers and strap on additional gear. Some bike touring bikes will include racks, others would require you to purchase racks individually and set up them. Be taught extra in our articles, How you can Select Bike Racks and Baggage and How you can Pack for Bike Touring.

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Drop handlebars on a touring bike

Most touring bikes include a dropbar handlebar. A dropbar handlebar is nice for the numerous totally different grip positions it offers—throughout a long-distance bike tour, it’s good to have the ability to change your physique place to offer sure muscle groups a break. However some bike tourers like a flat handlebar, extra like what you’d discover on a mountain bike. This typically permits a snug upright driving place however lacks the a number of grip positions. Extra lately, choices have come out which might be modeled after a flat handlebar however assist you to put your arms in a number of locations.

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Most bike tourers think about fenders a vital accent for blocking splattered mud and rain from soaking them whereas driving. They’re not too troublesome so as to add, however you have to to contemplate the dimensions of your tires and whether or not your bike body permits sufficient clearance when the fenders are in place.

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