Choosing a touring bicycle can be exciting and stressful, so knowing what you want before you head out to your local bike shop is very important. There are a number of special features that make touring bikes differ from road and mountain bikes. Over the next series of posts, we will look over some of these differences, hoping to equip you with the knowledge you need to decide what type of bike to take on your tour.
First things first. What are some of the major differences between road, mountain, and touring bikes? Typically, touring bikes are more similar to road bikes than they are to mountain bikes for a few key reasons.
Road Racing- fast, lightweight, typically frame made of lightweight composite materials, with wheels spaced closely to each other for optimal handling and control. The seat and handlebars are put in a position to keep the rider ‘hunched’ over in a more aerodynamic position.
Touring- strong, typically frame made of steel for its strength a repair ability in remote locations, with wheels spaced far apart in order to accommodate front and rear loads that require foot clearance (check for chainstay lengths around 18 inches or about 460mm). The seat and handlebars are put in a position that allows for greater comfort on extended rides, more upright than road racers. The key to a touring bike is its ability to haul heavy loads on it’s front/rear racks.
Mountain- strong, typically made to ride off-road, frame made of strong composite materials, with front, and now more frequently, front/rear suspension. Large, wide tires. There are four types of mountain bikes;
Fully rigid- Fixed rear with no suspension
Hardtail- Front suspension with a fixed rear
Softtail- Small amount of rear suspension with full front suspension
Dual/Full- Front and rear full suspension.
There are many other types of bikes, but since we are focusing on touring, we’ll only look at these three when choosing the right bike. It is possible to equip any of these bikes for touring and often people will turn their old bikes into a touring bike with varying degrees of success.
In our next post we will look at the specifics of touring bikes, including key measurements, components, and manufacturers.