Touring bike

 

What is a touring bike?

A touring bike is a bike designed for all-day riding carrying cycle luggage on a variety of surfaces and gradients. The touring bike can be specified at a wide range of price points, from entry level to high end. Light weight touring frames are almost as efficient as road bikes.

A relatively long wheelbase means the touring bike has plenty of space at the rear for carrying large panniers. The touring bike frame has clearance for wide tyres meaning that relatively wide tyres can be fitted which add comfort and some off-road capability. Rear wheel hubs on modern touring bikes are extra wide (135mm), to make them stronger and more able to carry heavy loads. Touring bikes come with powerful brakes to cope with braking while loaded with luggage. A wide range of gears, from low to moderately high, makes it easier to climb and descend hills at a comfortable pace.

The standard handlebar for the touring bike is the drop bar, making hills easier to climb (as the rider can reach further forward). Drop bars can also add comfort due to the variety of riding postures possible and the option to change position while riding. Flat bar touring bikes are also available.

In summary, the touring bike is versatile, well equipped, capable and efficient.

Other names for touring bikes

Touring bikes are also known as tourers. A small number of manufacturers refer to them as adventure bikes.

Different types of touring bike

Touring bikes can be designed for flat handlebars or drop handlebars. Touring frames designed for flat bars have a longer top tube, to compensate for the bar’s shorter reach. Touring bikes are most commonly designed for 700c wheels, which make for a comfortable ride, although frames for shorter cyclists may be designed for 26” wheels.

What kind of journey is a touring bike suited to?

The touring bike is highly versatile. It is suitable for all-day riding but of course it can be used for shorter journeys too. The wide tyres and powerful brakes mean the touring bike is suitable for occasional use on off-road paths, gravel tracks, such as tow paths or green lanes, as well as roads, though it is not designed for rougher off-road terrain.

Typical components

Frame: steel, long wheelbase Read about wheelbase
Wheels: 700c with aluminium rims Read about wheel size
Tyres: medium width
Handlebar: drop Read about drop handlebars
Brakes: vee Read about vee brakes
Gears: derailleur Read about derailleur gears
Mudguards: factory fitted Read about mudguards
Chainguard: not included Read about chainguards
Lights: not included
Rack: factory fitted Read about racks
Lock: not included

 

Advantages

  • A good do-it-all bike
  • Comfortable for all day cycling and suitable for long journeys
  • Designed for carrying large amounts of cycle luggage including large panniers
  • Relatively efficient
  • Can cope with steep hills
  • Mudguards are fitted as standard
  • Replacement parts for brakes and gears are readily available (because mountain bike parts can be used)

Disadvantages

  • Replacement rear wheels in the standard 700c size with 135mm hub can be expensive

Examples

Here are some examples of recent touring bikes priced below £1000.

A comprehensive list of touring bike manufacturers can be found here.
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Other types of bike