What is a Touring Bicycle?

A quick guide to defining the long-distance bicycle

Flickr/Tomas Quinones

A touring bicycle can come in many different shapes, but the general distinguishing factor is that it is modified to withstand long trips of bicycle touring.

There are many different types of touring bicycles, that will change certain aspects of the general touring bicycle slightly. The type of touring bicycle depends on the type of touring a person is doing. Some include, road touring, sport touring, expedition touring, light touring, road touring, mixed terrain touring, recumbent touring, tandem touring, and folding/collapsible touring.

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A very common attribute to the touring bicycle is that it is loaded up with luggage and necessary equipment for a longer trip. The specifications of the bike change in order to comfortably carry the cyclist and their heavy loads.

According to the Adventure Cycling Association, there are a few important things to look for in a touring bike:

  1. High Spoke Count. Conventionally-spoked wheels with a high spoke count are more forgiving and easier to repair.

  2. Frame Construction. A touring frame should be all metal with a thick top tube.

  3. Tire Clearance. Ample room for mounting fenders make rainy days more pleasant.

  4. High Handlebars. Handlebars should be level or up to two inches higher than the saddle.

  5. Longer Chainstays. Provide better weight distribution and heel clearance.

  6. Low Gearing. For long climbs you’ll want a low gear between 20 and 25 inches.

  7. Front and Rear Mounts. For racks and fenders.

The Adventure Cycling Association also notes that most bike shops don’t have a wide selection of touring bikes, so if you do want to purchase a touring bike, you probably will have to order it.

Bicycle touring is popular around the world. It gets people outside and exploring for long distances along roads, up mountains, aside rivers and generally a part of nature. Tours are organized by many different groups, clubs and charities, and are generally an absolute pleasure.


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