BIKING

Best Touring Bikes: Getting The Mileage for your Dollar

Cycling on unpaved road
Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

When you’re a touring cyclist, you know that the most important tool is your bike. Without it, well, you wouldn’t be cycling. You’re not looking for a nice bike, you’re looking for a bike that’ll get you from point A to point B with the least amount of stress and maximum efficiency.

Touring bike in forest

Nowadays, people are looking simply at what’s trending, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s quality. So, if you’re interesting in dabbling long distant trips, yet, you’re not sure where you should start looking, this is your guide. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about the best touring bikes.

Factors you need to consider

Before you even think about buying a touring bike, you need to look at some important factors that’ll help you narrow down your options. Trust us, there are tons of touring bikes, however, not all of them will fulfill your needs.

Budget

If you have an endless budget, then you can go wild. But for many of us, we have a limit on the purse strings. You can find yourself a second-hand bike between $200-300, in that price range, it’s usually in good condition. You can also find high-scale touring bikes for $2000, that’s not including all the extra gear you can add on to it. However, if you want a reliable touring bike, we recommend not going lower than $200.

Trip Duration

What are you planning to use this bike for? Okay, we understand you want to tour, but where? Are these short tours or long tours.

On a touring journey

If you’re planning on doing short tours, you can use just about any bike. However, if you’re planning on longer tours, it’s best you invest in a solid touring bike, especially focusing on the wheels and a comfy saddle.

Terrain

You need to look at the terrain you’ll be biking on. This will greatly impact your bike and they type of bike you should invest in. If you’ll be off-roading, you’ll want a solid pair of wheels, suspension and extra cushion. If you’ll be on paved roads, you may not have to invest the extra dollars in your wheels.

Other modes of transport

Are you going to be taking your bike on the bus? Plane? Train? If you’ll be touring, you’ll probably encounter one of these modes of transportation. So, keep in mind that there are some touring bikes which can add extra stress to the whole situation. You can get a foldable bike which are ideal for medium distance tours.

Comfort level

Bike touring is completely different than your typical casual bike ride. You’re spending long hours attached to your saddle, so you should be directing your attention to comfort.

Comfortable even in rough terrains

Touring bikes are also designed differently, allowing the rider to sit more upright. Before taking your new bike on tour, you’ll need to break it in and take it for shorter rides. In addition, invest in a comfy saddle.

Features to consider

Now that you know what you should be taking into account when it comes to looking for a touring bike, it’s time to look at the features of the bike itself. Not all touring bikes are made the same, so it’s important that you have some idea of what you should be looking for.

  • Frame: Is it going to be aluminium  or steel?  Aluminium is lighter, however, is more expensive, while steel is heavier but cheaper. If you’re going to be touring off-road, you may want to opt for steel as it has a less likely chance of cracking.
  • Saddle: Do not get yourself a foam or plastic saddle, it’ll be torture. Instead, invest in a leather saddle. It will take a couple rides to get the leather moulded to your body, however, once that happens, it’ll be like sitting on a cloud.
  • Suspension: If you’ll be off-roading, suspension will be even more important to you. With suspension, you won’t be feeling every bump and dip on the road and you’ll also save your wrists. If your suspension does break down, you should know that it’s not the easiest to find someone to fix it, especially if you’re in undeveloped countries.
  • Tires: You need to pay attention to size and tread. These two factors are extremely important when finding tires that suit your needs. If you’re cycling in North America, Australia, Europe or New Zealand, go for 26” tires – this is a standard tire. When it comes to tread, this will be based on the terrain you’ll be cycling on. If you’re off-roading, you’ll need more tread.
  • Brakes: Like with any vehicle, you need a solid pair of brakes. If you’re cycling in undeveloped countries, opt for v-brakes because they’re easy to find replacement parts. You can use hydraulics but bring your own spare parts.
  • Water bottle holder: You’ll be needing water, this is just inevitable. So, make sure that you invest in a water bottle holder. Buy a couple extra, just in case. When you’ll need water, you’ll need it. So, make sure that it’s placed in an area that’s easily reachable.
  • Racks: You’re going to be putting your valuables on this rack, so don’t cheap out. You want to make sure your rack is solid and good quality. This means you should think about a steel rack, it’s heavier but can be easily fixed if cracked.
  • Handlebar: You’re going to be spending a long time on your bike, so might as well have a comfy place to put your hands. There are butterfly bars, straight bars, drop-down bars, they’re all great, it simply depends on what you prefer.

Reviews

Now that you know everything there is about what to look for in a bike and the features included, we found you the top touring bikes.

Happybuy Road Bicycle

Happybuy Road BicycleSpecific Features: aluminum frame, single speed, commuter

Best Used: commuter riding

If you’re not looking for all the extra gadgets and you just want a touring bike that’ll get you from point A to point B, then you certainly don’t need to invest big bucks into a bike. However, you still want a bike that’s good quality and will withstand various weather conditions.

Happybuy Road Bicycle is inexpensive, trendy and good quality. It’s specifically for commuting/touring, not ideal for off-road biking. It’s a single speed bike with back and front brakes and a lightweight aluminum frame. It’s a single speed for simplicity and style.

The seat is padded, so you don’t have to worry about getting sore and the seat is adjustable to give you a perfect fit. If you need a cruising bike, well, then this is a great option and will last.

Related: Another good option for a commuter/cruising bike is the Vilano road bike commuter. It’s built with an aluminum frame, Shimano thumb shifters, and 21-speeds. You can only place a rear rack on the back for your valuables.

Windsor Wellington 2.0

Windsor Wellington 2.0Weight: 24 lbs / 10 kg

Specific Features: aluminum frame, lightweight, high-performance aero shape

Best Used: touring bike

Windsor is known for designing great affordable bikes, and this is no exception. It’s actually the lightest road bike in its class, so, if you’re looking for a bike that’s easy to transport, then this one is perfect.

It has an integrated headset and a Shimano drivetrain with handlebar mounted shifters. Basically, it’s fully equipped with everything you need in a road bike. It’s also built with higher performance aero shape so that you get the most power and speed out of pedaling.

Windsor Wellington 2.0 comes with a comfortable saddle and highly durable wheels. You can assemble this bike on your own, however, it may be better to have this bike professionally assembled.

Related: Windsor also has some other options if you’re a fan of this brand. The Windsor Clockwork Plus is made with a steel frame, so it is slightly heavier, however, it’s very trendy. Another option is the Windsor Dover 2.0 which is made of lightweight aluminum frame and designed to give you upright riding posture

Motobecane Elite Trail

Motobecane Elite TrailWeight: 30 lbs / 13 kg

Specific Features: aluminum frame, superior disc brakes, Suntour suspension fork

Best Used: multi-use

The Elite Trail bike is designed as a road bike, however, comes with trail capable tries, flat handlebars and high-rise stems. So, if you feel like venturing off the beaten path, you won’t have to worry about damaging your bike. It’s made with a 6061 alloy aluminum frame and lock out front suspension fork – giving you a durable and high-quality ride.

The Superior disc brakes will ensure your safety while behind the wheel. The tires are slightly wider than your typical road bike, which is what allows you to ride off-road without any hesitation. Overall, for the price, which is fair, it’s a great buy, especially if you’re not 100% sure you’ll only be using it for the road.

Related: The Mirage S is built with a kinesis aluminum frame with a carbon fiber fork, making this bike extremely lightweight. It also comes with Weinmann lightweight wheels and a Shimano 14-speed drivetrain. If you’re goal is a lightweight bike that you can easily transport, well, this is the one.

Tommaso Sterrata

Tommaso Sterrata bikeWeight: 30 lbs / 15 kg

Dimensions: x-small (5”2 – 5”6) to x-large (6”2-6”5)

Specific Features: Aerodynamic Tommaso Corsa, Shimano Claris Triple Crankset

Best Used: multi-use

Tommaso designed this bike for riders who love to explore however are hindered by their bikes. Many riders want a bike that’s versatile and will be able to handle a range of terrains without having to worry. Well, in answer to that, Tommaso came out with the Sterrate.

The frame of the Tommaso Sterrata bike uses geometry that allows you a smooth ride and transfers the power from the rider into the bike.  If you’re worried about breaking barriers, this bike is fully equipped with a Claris cassette and Claris Triple crankset.

You’ll be able to power through snow, mud and rain. The wheels are also well-equipped to take on any dirt or gravel that comes its way, keeping you safe on the streets.

Related: Tommaso is a great brand, so any bike you choose from them is an exceptional option. The Tommaso Imola Compact road bike is lightweight, durable and built for speed and comfort

Roadmaster Adventure

Roadmaster Adventure BikeSpecific Features: 7-speed, steel frame, three-piece cranks

Best Used: casual or touring

Now, if you want a cheap bike, but will support you while riding, this is the bike. It’s cheaper than a second-hand bike and comes with the essentials.

Basically, for the price, the Roadmaster Adventure Bike is a steal. It’s made of a steel frame, so it is heavier than aluminum, however, if you happen to damage it, it’s easier to repair. It comes with 7-speed twist shifter and derailleurs with a three-piece crank.

You’ll be able to climb up hill and sail down hill smoothly. Of course, this brake also comes with front and back wheel brakes. It comes with a standard trim athletic seat, however, if you need more cushion, you can always change it. This bike is ideal for pavement and light path rides, if you’re wanting to go off-road, you may need to change the tires.

Related: Now, if you’re looking for another inexpensive bike, there aren’t too many options out there that are made with quality. However, the Vilano Diverse is an exception. It won’t break the bank and comes with 21 speeds, aluminum frame flat bar handlebars.

Raleigh Redux 1

Raleigh Redux 1Dimensions: small (15”) to x-large (21”)

Specific Features: Lightweight alloy frame, 9 speeds, Raleigh Redux Saddle

Best Used: multi-use

If you’re looking for a bike that has an off-road style, however, is ridable in the city, than this is a great option. Many people aren’t fans of city bikes due to their thin frame and wobbly look. However, you can still get that mountain bike look without the weight and bulk.

The frame and fork are made of lightweight aluminum, meaning that you can whip around corners quickly and sharply just like a mountain bike. You’ll be easily able to gear up and down on your 9-speed, while your Tektro disc brakes are highly supportive. The Raleigh Redux 1 is slightly more expensive than a second-hand bike, however, it comes with everything you need in a touring bike.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Raleigh brand, they do have a couple other bikes which are just as good, however, won’t break the bank. The Raleigh Cadent 1 Urban Fitness bike and Raleigh Talus 1 Recreational Mountain bike. The latter is not a touring bike, however, if you’re not looking for specifically a touring bike, this is a good bike and fairly priced.

HaiBike Xduro Trekking Pro

HaiBike Xduro Trekking ProWeight: 80 lbs / 36 kg

Specific Features: Aluminum frame, Bosch Intuvia LCD display, Racktime rear rack

Best Used: multi-use

This is really the mother of touring bikes. Though, yes, it is a touring bike, it’s also a hybrid e-bike. So, this may cost you a decent chunk of cash, however, if you’re looking for the cream of the crop, this is certainly up there. It’s built with an aluminum frame, so it’s extremely lightweight.

The motor can reach up to 20 mph: 25-35 miles with pedaling – certainly faster than your regular touring bike. It comes with a Bosch multi function display that allows you to control the boost modes and speed. It also features all the specialities that you wouldn’t normally get in a touring bike. Features such as remote lockout brakes, Racktime rear rack for your valuables, hydraulic shifters, Trelock Taillight and Superbright headlight.

Once you take a seat on this bike, you really have no reason to get off it. In addition, comes with a limited warranty, however, it doesn’t cover normal wear and tear.

Related: If you’re looking for something with all the bells and whistles  and quality like the HaiBike, well, you probably won’t find one in a cheaper price range. However, there are other touring bikes such as the Montague Paratrooper Pro MTB which is just a good, but is half the cost. It’s also a folding bike, so if you’ll be doing long distance traveling, this is a good option.

Conclusion

Now that you know what road bikes are used for, the things you should consider in a road bike and the features you need to look out for, now you can go try out these bikes. Make sure that you know what you need in a road bike and that the bike you’re looking at has those features.

Time for a biking tour

It’s also a good idea to try one out to see if it fits to your height and if it feels comfortable to ride. So, try out the road bikes we reviewed above and let us know in the comment section below what you think!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Mueller
Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.

  • Alexander Bianco

    If you are looking for something of quality and are willing to invest some money but not break the bank, there is a sweet spot in the market from roughly $350-$550 that you’re going to want to aim for. That’s a price point that you should be able to save up for in a modern fashion, and the best part is that within that price point there are tons and tons of options that give you the freedom to find most of what really works for you.

  • Jerry Mueller

    The price of touring bikes are reasonable and the option is yours if you want to an expensive one or within a minimum price range. When shopping for a bike, you’ll soon realize that it’s really the quality of the bike that you’re purchasing so more people are opting for higher-priced ones. Take the case of the Montague Paratrooper Pro MTB, a little less than a thousand dollars, this bike is quite popular with those who want a folding bike but has the capability for off-road bikers to get a stellar experience.

  • Adam White

    I am so glad you mentioned comfortability. I love riding bikes, absolutely love it. It is great exercise, the cool breeze-I absolutely can’t get enough. But that seat! I cannot stand sitting not those uncomfortable seats for very long. I need to know, have you found a bike seat that is comfortable to sit on for a few hours?

  • Michelle Greer

    I’d really like to be able to ride a bike to work. It’s quite a bit of a ride, though, and there’s not always a biking trail. My main question, though, as my other concerns can be easily address, is riding with a pack of some kind. Does this throw off the balance? I feel like it would make me feel lopsided or burdened down. Any advice?

  • Jerry Mueller

    You can put bike bags or panniers on your bikes – isn’t that cool?
    This useful link by Daniel will encourage you to go get a bike since you won’t worry with added load: http://myoutdoorslife.com/gear/biking/best-bike-panniers.html

    You can also try racks, or even a backpack you can wear for easy riding. Riding a bike is fun and good for our health!

  • Jerry Mueller

    Maybe what you need Adam is a bike seat cushion that has more padding to make sitting more comfortable. Here’s a run down on the best seat cushion if you think you need it:
    http://myoutdoorslife.com/gear/biking/best-bike-seat-cushion.html

    But if you think you need to replace the ENTIRE seat, my post here will help you:
    http://myoutdoorslife.com/gear/biking/the-best-bike-seat.html

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