What is a Touring Bike How to Choose

What is a Touring Bike? How to Choose?

A touring bicycle is a bicycle designed or modified to handle bicycle touring. Special features may include a long wheelbase, frame materials that favor flexibility over rigidity, heavy duty wheels, and multiple mounting points. These features help make the bikes sufficiently robust, comfortable, and capable of carrying heavy loads.

For more information, continue reading.

What Makes a Touring Bike?

Frame Material

Steel is the best material for this type of bike, though you can tour on a frame made of any material. It is sturdy, capable of supporting large loads, and has a large number of mounting points.

In remote locations, it’s also simple to fix and get replacement parts for. For the same reason, the fork and frame are frequently made of steel.

When Laura Bingham’s steel Genesis tourer was struck by a car while she was cycling the length of South America in 2016, a local welder repaired it, allowing her to continue in a few days. That would have likely been the end of the game on a bike made of any other material.

Even though you may not be planning to travel as far, the durability is great for smaller excursions because the last thing you want is a broken frame to ruin your trip.

Durable Components

The same reasoning holds true for components: robust parts are more crucial than sparing a few grams.

In light of this, wheels will typically be extremely robust with high spoke counts, well-sealed hubs, and sturdy double- or triple-wall alloy rims.

A wise tourer will make sure they have spare tubes, a tyre boot, and a puncture repair kit in addition to tubeless running, which improves ride comfort.

Dynamo Power

Even if you don’t intend to ride at night, it’s still a good idea to have lights on your bike. Additionally, you’ll need to keep your GPS computer fully charged unless you intend to stick with paper maps.

Some touring bicycles are equipped with front hub dynamos, which provide a reliable source of power independent of the mains. In order to keep the dynamo cable out of harm’s way, it may run through the inside of the fork leg.


For a touring bike, mudguards are essential. Jack Luke / Immediate Media

A touring bike will have mounting points for full mudguards because you won’t be able to control the weather while on a multi-day tour. On rainy days, these assist in keeping you cleaner and more comfortable.

Disc Vs Rim Brakes

On touring bikes, mechanical and even hydraulic disc brakes are becoming more frequent. Paul Components

Today’s touring bikes typically have disc brakes instead of the v-brake or cantilever of the past.

On a loaded machine, discs provide much stronger braking and better all-weather consistency.

Traditional rim brakes still have a small place in the market because disc brake spare parts are still less widely available than those for these. That said, even for hydraulic disc brakes, reliability has significantly increased recently.


For comfort, riding upright is preferred on touring bikes. Stanforth Bikes

The geometry of a touring bike will also encourage stability. It will typically have slack frame angles, long wheelbases, and chainstays.

Additionally, because of the longer wheelbase, it is less likely that your pedal stroke will be impeded by a front mudguard or piece of luggage.

For comfort during long days in the saddle, a short-ish reach, frequently paired with a riser stem, will provide a fairly upright riding position.

Although some touring bikes have flat bars, drop bars will allow you to change your hand position as you ride and lower your frontal profile on a day with a persistent headwind. Also available are trekking bars, also known as butterfly bars.

Touring Bike Gearing

You can climb hills on a heavily loaded tourer with the aid of a wide gear range that drops to 1:1 or lower.

Even so, having the top-end gearing is convenient for maintaining a rapid pace on flat terrain. I once rode for a full day down the Moselle valley, which included about 100 miles of easy descent at a speed of 20 mph or more. Having a large top gear in this situation was fantastic.

Even though contemporary double-ring groupsets will provide you with the same range, some tourers still come with triple chainsets.

What is a Touring Bike How to Choose
What is a Touring Bike? How to Choose?

Accessories and Other Features for Bike Touring

Numerous features and accessories can affect how well a bike performs on a bike tour. Here are a handful of things to consider:


You might need to buy pedals separately because not all bikes come with them. Platform pedals, pedal toe clips and straps, and clipless pedals are your three main options when selecting pedals.

  • Platform pedals are basic flat pedals. They are becoming more and more common among bike tourists because they work with almost any kind of footwear.
  • Pedal toe clips and straps attach to some platform pedals and will allow you to pull up with your foot during the pedal stroke as well as push down.
  • Clipless pedals require specific bike shoes that attach to the pedals when you’re riding. These have high pedaling efficiency and are popular with many riders. But as was already mentioned, they call for specific bike shoes, so you’ll need to think about how your shoes will work with your pedals, and you might need to bring some non-bike shoes for when you’re not riding. However, there are casual bike shoes and sandals that are reasonably comfortable for walking.


A bike made for bike touring will have many braze-ons, which are threaded fittings that accept bolts and allow you to easily attach racks, water bottle cages, and accessories. They typically hang from the fork, seat tube, or down tube. If the bike you’re using lacks braze-ons where you need them, there are accessories and workarounds that will still allow you to attach things; you’ll just have to put in a little more effort to figure it out.


For long-distance bike tourers, front and back racks are standard equipment. Panniers and additional gear can be strapped on thanks to them. While some bicycle touring models include racks, others require you to purchase and install racks separately.


The majority of touring bicycles have dropbar handlebars. A dropbar handlebar is great for the variety of grip positions it offers; when on a long bike tour, it’s convenient to be able to adjust your body position to rest certain muscles. A flat handlebar, more akin to what you’d find on a mountain bike, is preferred by some bike tourists. The multiple grip positions are absent, but this generally enables a comfortable upright riding position. A flat handlebar-like option that allows you to put your hands in multiple places has recently become available.


For preventing mud and rain from sopping them while riding, most bike tourers view fenders as a necessary accessory. They aren’t particularly challenging to add, but you should think about the size of your tires and whether your bike frame has enough room for the fenders when they are installed.

The Difference Between a Gravel Bike and Touring Bike

There was a maximum width for older touring bikes due to the relatively tight tyre clearance.

Newer touring bikes, like the Genesis Tour de Fer, which accept tyres up to 38 mm wide, and the Dawes Galaxy, which ships with 32 mm rubber as standard, have changed that. When desired, both can accommodate larger tires.

Wide tires, comfort, and secure handling may sound like characteristics of a gravel bike, but a gravel bike is made for off-road riding, while the majority of conventional touring bikes are made with tarmac in mind.

A touring bike will typically have road-going tires, though you could add knobbly tires or ride on non-metallic surfaces. Additionally, clearance to handle mud buildup might not be as generous as on a gravel bike.

The gearing on a touring bike will also be adjusted for tarmac, frequently with a wide range so you can push yourself when riding flat terrain and conquer climbs when carrying loads.

Having said all of that, some touring bikes, like the Kona Rove, conflate the two categories. This bike has the option of 47mm WTB tires on 650b wheels in its traditional steel frameset.

Panniers and mudguards are options on many gravel bikes, so these shouldn’t be automatically disregarded.

How to Choose?

Both road bikes and touring bikes are made for long road trips, but one is built for speed and the other for comfort. Road bicycles are designed to accelerate rapidly in a straight line, quickly around turns, and rapidly up hills. They have limited room for accessories and are lightweight and aerodynamic. While some road bikes aren’t the most comfortable to ride for long periods of time, they are the fastest and most capable bikes for road racing and club rides.

For all-day rides, bikepacking excursions, and casual bike tours, touring bikes are ideal. They can withstand a wide range of difficult terrain thanks to their sturdy steel frames and thick tyres. You won’t need to tow a trailer for your overnight trip because they have lots of space for accessories and luggage. Touring bikes are ideal for longer journeys in inclement weather, but they may be a little too heavy for quick commutes or city riding. They won’t climb as quickly as a road bike, but they’ll carry your gear, guard you against flat tires, and give you a stable, upright riding position from sunup to sundown.

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