If you’re amazed at the sight of a heavily-loaded bicycle, then you need some ideas about a touring bicycle. Although we’ve got many bike types on the market, when it comes to luggage and long-distance rides, touring bikes take the lead. They are designed to ensure ultimate comfort and satisfaction.
Before choosing this bike, it’s necessary to figure out your expectations to make a good buy. In this buying guide, we’ll consider some of the things you’ll need to know about touring bikes and some of the top best models available on the market.
What Is a Touring Bike Exactly?
Touring bicycles have special features like a longer wheelbase and flexible frame for smooth conveying of loads. They have various types for sports, road, recumbent, among others, depending on the configuration.
The sport-touring or racing bicycles have lightweight frames, lighter wheels, and narrow tires. They’re faster and easier to maneuver or handle than regular road bikes. Since it’s having a lighter frame, it can only convey the rider and a few loads.
Road touring bikes have sturdy body frames with fenders, mounting points, and racks for stable and easy handling. Also, road touring bikes feature the 700c or 26-inch wheels, wide rims and tires making it ideal road and off-road rides.
Recumbent bicycles allow you to sit in a reclining position with the legs outstretched. The loads mount under the sit or on the racks to enhance its carrying capacity.
Tandem bicycles are designed for two-person riding. It may not accommodate many loads but you’ll manage it better with trailers. You might consider folding your bike when traveling by airplane or train. In this case, a foldable bike is what you need since it allows you to collapse its size so it can fit in a box or bag.
How Did We Pick These Products?
After spending close to 20 hours on web research we could spot 30 most popular touring bike models on the market. Then, we bought these products to test them ourselves. We sought help from some volunteers since we couldn’t work on all the products due to inadequate funding.
Also, we consulted with expert riders and dealers on touring bikes to know their views and expectations from these products. Besides, we visited different e-shops like Amazon, eBay, etc. to find out how the consumers felt after using these products. From our discoveries, we could deduce some of the things that each user wants from the bike. Therefore, we based our selection criteria on the bike type, frame, wheel size, gearing system, and brake.
Based on our personal experience and the volunteers’ feedback, we could list down the most reliable ones. Then we rated and categorized them depending on how each model fared over the other by material, durability, performance, and price. Then, we compiled our findings by putting out a comprehensive review for each of the products along with their pros and cons.
Basic Considerations for Buying Touring Bikes
Touring bicycles usually come with designs for holding loads, ensuring that you enjoy optimum comfort when riding. Since they come in different arrangements, you need to know their basic features and types before buying.
Your purpose of shopping will determine which bike type is perfect for you. So, let’s find out which group might suit your needs the most.
- Classic touring bikes – These are like most traditional bikes on sale, having steel frames, full fenders, high-speed gears, and wider rims. The rider often sits in an upright position but tilts slightly towards the handlebars making it ideal for street rides.
- Adventure bikes – These are better than classic touring bikes even though they’re similar by tires, frame, and braking system. Yet, adventure bikes have stable geometry with drop handlebars that allow for a less-stressful ride. They’re very versatile and suitable for touring, commuting, and road rides.
- Flat-bar hybrid bikes – These types are more common in European roads and features strong alloy frames, tires, and modern v-brakes for a powerful stop. Often, they’re loaded with pannier racks and mudguards to enhance its loading capacity. You don’t expect them to pull-off much on rough roads but you’ll enjoy a smoother ride on good roads and bike pavements.
- E-bikes – There is no possibility of listing touring bike types without mentioning an e-bike. Recently, they’ve become more popular among riders because of their speed and effortless riding. They have the same build as most hybrid and mountain bikes but are more expensive and need regular charging of the battery.
- Expedition touring bikes – These are the most rugged touring bike types because of their capacity to carry heavy-duty loads. They’re more efficient for riding through rough terrains without compromising on comfort. They feature huge steel frames and suspension forks. The good thing about them is the ease of availability of the parts making it easier to maintain.
Although most touring bicycles have similar handlebar design like road bikes, they’re very different in the aspect of geometry, wheelbase, and points for attachments. They have longer chainstay to accommodate panniers and also to prevent it from interfering with the rider’s feet.
Besides, the frame must be tough enough to withstand long rides under load. The mainframe material for touring bicycles includes aluminum, steel, and titanium.
Touring bikes feature high-quality wheels for handling heavy loads and difficult terrains. In most cases, these wheels have double rims with 36 or 48 spokes of 3 or 4 crosses. They use either 26-inch or 700c wheel size. However, many riders prefer the 26-inch wheel size because of their strength, durability, and availability.
While racing bikes use caliper brakes, touring bicycles function with linear-pull brakes. It’s not advisable to use caliper brakes on touring bikes because of their poor performance when the bike is heavily loaded. Some feature disc brakes since they provide better stopping under slippery roads and muddy terrain.
While it might reduce wear of the rims, disc brakes are complicated and difficult to repair in remote locations. Also, they’re heavier than cantilever brakes putting more weight on the spokes which reduce the wheel’s lifespan. So, a good touring bike might be strong and rugged but might have limited speed because of the load and braking efficiency.
Derailleur gears with wide ratios are more common with touring bikes because of their reliability when cruising steep hills. The gearing system has three chainrings like most mountain bikes while road bicycles often have two. The use of 11-34 tooth cassettes with a triple chainring setup is gaining popularity since they likely offer a gear range of 18-104 inches. The most available gearing system is the 5,7,8,11, and 14-speed ratios since their reliable and easier to maintain.
Many riders prefer trailers to panniers because they’re easier to use and also attachable to bikes with no racks. Yet, trailers with double wheels aren’t good for rugged terrains since it reduces the bike’s speed and maneuverability making single wheel trailers the better alternative.
7. Luggage and Lights
Since touring bikes are designed for heavy-duty loads and distance travel, they’re equipped with racks, panniers, and lights. Although these parts would add to its weight, the fact is, this is what makes it a touring bike.
If you’re uncomfortable with the weight, you might consider buying one with eyelets to allow you to take out the racks and mudguards at will. Again, you might get some specialized saddlebags to attach to the frames for effective weight distribution.
Touring bikes are available at different prices depending on the type and brand. The fact that the bike is cheap doesn’t mean it’s quality is poor neither does expensive translate to high-quality. However, most expensive bikes will have some advanced specs that might be lacking in the cheap types. All the bikes on this list are under 1000 and are carefully selected to ensure you enjoy what you’re paying for.
Our Top 10 Product List
Here is our list that we have prepared with so much care and dedication. We’re reviewing each of the products along with their merits and negatives for you to pass your verdict with ease.
Touring Bike Maintenance Tips
Knowing how to maintain your bike can save you from unnecessary spending on repairs and as well prolong the life of your bike. So, pay attention to the following tips.
Cleaning – It’s good to wipe dirt off your bike on a regular basis. Start by dipping a rag into a soap solution and then clean the grease or dirt from the frame and other parts. This will enhance the bike’s looks and allow you to see the components clearly when inspecting for possible faults.
Inspection – You should look at the moving parts and their components since they wear out easily. These parts include the wheel and tires, cable housing, drivetrain, and brakes.
- Wheel and tires – Check the wheels to see if they’re rolling smoothly and also inspect the spokes for firmness. Now, look at the tires for cuts and frays on the walls. If you find any fault in these parts, they should be repaired or replaced immediately.
- Cable housing – It’s important to look up for frayed parts on the cable housing and try to feel its response by pulling the twist levers. If you feel much friction when you’re engaging the levers, change the cables.
- Drivetrain – By looking at your drivetrain, you’ll know if any of the components are in shape. These parts are chain, cassette, derailleur, and crankset. Applying a few chain maintenance tricks will tell you if it’s in order. Perhaps, you might want to replace the entire components so they can wear out uniformly.
- Brakes – Surprisingly, the brake is often easier to maintain than the drivetrain. Here, you’ll consider the pad and the spring’s tension. If you notice much wear in the brake pads, then it needs a replacement. If you’re not satisfied with the spring tension even when using a new cable, it’s better to replace it.
Lubrication – Once you’re done with the cleaning and inspection processes, it’s time to add some lube to the moving parts. You may have to check with the bike’s manufacturer to know which lube to use.
When choosing your touring bike, it’s important to consider the wheel size, flexibility of handlebar, brake type, frame material, and riding position. Each of the products on this list has been selected in consideration of these parameters to ensure that you have the correct information.
If you’re still confused about the model to buy, I suggest you look at our best choice; the Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bikes. This hybrid bike boasts of a dual-density aluminum frame which is light yet strong enough to navigate the city lanes with ease. It comes with shock-absorbing front suspension fork and a rear rack for loads.
The sixthreezero EVRYjourney bicycle features as our best women’s bike because of its versatility and upright riding position. Besides, it’s equipped with a 26-inch wheelset and 1.95-inch wide tires to deliver stable ride and smooth-rolling. You’ll also like the soft saddle, matching fenders and chain cover.
You might wish to buy the Vilano R2 Commuter Aluminum Road Bike because of its affordability and dependability. This model features the Shimano 21-Speed Drivetrain for riding under all conditions. Also, it comes with dropped handlebars to limit air effect while allowing you to enjoy a smooth and comfortable ride.
Now that you’ve got enough ideas about each of these products, feel free to choose the model that meet your needs and preference.