How to Choose a Cycle Touring Bike?

With a cycle touring bike, you can travel virtually anywhere there is a road and carry everything you need for days, weeks or months. That said, many types of bikes can be good for cycle touring, and, in fact, you may already have one at home that is suitable for it. So, whether you are evaluating your current bike or buying a new one, this article will help you understand what to consider when choosing a suitable touring bike.

When choosing a touring bike, the main focus is on comfort, stability and durability. This may require a change in your thinking, especially if you have previously bought a road-specific bike and prioritised lightness and speed. Cyclotourism is based on long distance and not on sprinting, so it is good to make decisions according to this principle.

Types of Cycle Touring Bicycles

If you spend some time researching what is used for cycle touring, you will discover that there is no single type of bicyclePeople often use road bikes, mountain bikes, gravel bikes and hybrid bikes. But there are reasons why there are bikes designed specifically for cycle touring: they are made to be durable, comfortable and stable, and to allow you to carry a lot of equipment over long distances. Therefore, if you plan to cycle touring frequently, a touring-specific bike may be a good option for you.

A typical touring bike is similar to a normal road bike, but with substantial differences, such as a more upright riding position and geometry that helps maintain stability even when carrying a lot of weight, as well as the ability to fit wider, slightly knobby tyres for riding over all types of terrain and conditions. Many touring bikes are prepared for the mounting of pannier racks and/or bikepacking bags.

Gravel bikes are the closest to the “ultimate” touring bike: they are built to tackle the toughest terrain and are equipped with larger tyres for better grip and shock absorption on rough roads and trails. Many gravel bikes are equipped as standard with pannier racks for transporting equipment in the saddle bags.

Main characteristics of touring bicycles 

The geometry of a bicycle frame, the materials used in its construction and its components can play an important role in the perception of the bicycle, especially when carrying a heavy load and pedalling on variable surfaces. If you buy a bike specifically for touring, you can be sure that the manufacturer will have thought of all these factors in the design. But if you’re wondering whether the road bike you have at home will work, it can be helpful to have a basic understanding of how these factors affect ride quality. These are some of the main differences between road and touring bikes. 

  1. Frame geometry of touring bicycles 

Bicycles designed specifically for touring are designed to remain comfortable and stable even when carrying a heavy load. For this purpose, most touring bikes have a longer wheelbase than road bikes. (Wheelbase is the horizontal distance between the front and rear wheel hubs.) This generally allows easier steering and better stability when carrying the load, as well as providing a more comfortable rider position. Another thing you are likely to see on a touring bike is longer chainstays (the part of the frame closest to the chain). By extending them, frame builders can create more space for rear saddle bags.

  1. Frame materials for touring bicycles 

The best choice would be steel for its strength and smooth ride quality: steel is able to absorb road vibrations to create a lower impact feel than other materials. Cyclotourists also often choose steel for its durability, especially for long distances in remote locations. Steel is unlikely to break, but if it does, the damage can be repaired by welding. However, there are modern carbon or aluminium bicycles on the market that are almost on a par with steel.

  1. Wheels for touring bicycles 

When considering wheels for touring bikes, it is good to keep in mind:

  • Number of spokes with all the weight you are carrying on your touring bike, you should think about the strength of the wheels. A higher number of spokes is usually synonymous with stronger wheels, so a good general advice is to choose wheels with at least 32 spokes. Wheels with 36 spokes are usually a better choice if you have to carry a lot of weight and/or drive on difficult roads. Attention should also be paid to the frequency of lightning strikes. Some lightweight racing wheels have spokes that do not cross at all. For cycle touring, it is preferable for the spokes to cross twice or even three times.
  • Wheel size when considering the right wheel size for your touring bike, you should think about the surfaces you will be riding on and the part of the world you intend to ride in you should think about the surfaces you will be riding on and the part of the world you intend to ride in. Let’s say the 700cc wheels are perfect.
  1. Tyres for touring bicycles 

When considering tyres, you should take into account:

  • Puncture resistance When covering many kilometres on a long journey, the possibility of a puncture is very real. This is why many touring cyclists opt for tubeless tyres without inner tubes. 
  • Tread A tread pattern that provides better traction on various road surfaces tread pattern provides improved traction on a variety of road surfaces. It is better to be a little slower but have tyres that can adapt to any eventuality.
  • Tyre size Another important consideration is tyre size. Many touring cyclists choose tyres with a minimum width of 35 mm, even when riding mainly on asphalt. If you’re used to riding thin tyres on your road bike, this size may seem too wide, but the extra width will give you a safer, smoother and more comfortable ride. It will also increase the weight of the bike and may slow you down a bit, but these are compromises that most cyclists are willing to accept. If you are thinking of adding larger tyres to a bike you already have, you will need to make sure there is enough room to do so without the tyres rubbing against the frame.
  1. Gear assembly

As far as gearing is concerned, the situation becomes complex when you start counting the teeth on the sprockets and chainrings. You can simplify things by choosing a bike designed for the type of cycling you want to do: a bike designed for touring will almost certainly be equipped with the right gearing to suit your needs. For most touring cyclists, this means having a single chainring which creates fewer maintenance problems. But there are those who prefer the 2x front and a very wide cassette such as the 11-34.

  1. Brakes 

There is nothing to talk about in this respect: hydraulic disc brakes. Any other option is no longer advisable.

  1. Accessories and other components 

There are many accessories and features that can influence the performance of a bicycle during a cycling trip. Here are a handful of things to keep in mind.

  • Pedals: Quick-fitting or flat? If you want a bit more performance, the quick fitting ones are definitely better. Modern travel shoes allow for agile walking, which makes them perfect.Handlebars: Gravel handlebars are popular, comfortable and allow you to store a handlebar bag. Alternatively, classic mountain bike handlebars can work if you want to go slower and have a less aggressive style.
  • Manillar: Los manillares de gravel son populares, cómodos y permiten guardar una bolsa de manillar. Como alternativa, el manillar clásico de bicicleta de montaña puede funcionar si quieres ir más despacio y tener un estilo menos agresivo.
  • Mudguards: Many cyclists consider mudguards to be an essential accessory to prevent mud splashes and rain from soaking them while riding. It is not difficult to add them, but it is important to consider the size of the tyres and whether the bike frame allows sufficient space when the mudguards are fitted.

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