Touring bikes - a helpful guide

Words by Aaron Scott

on 29/08/2013 19:47:00

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Tour de force.

Touring bikes: what are they like to ride?

Designed to travel long distances with minimum hassle and maximum comfort, touring bikes have mudguards, spaces for racks, fatter tyres (usually 28 or 32mm), a low centre of gravity and the gear systems and stability needed to transport heavy loads. Coincidentally, that means they're also excellent for navigating nastily steep hills.

They have wide gear ratios and an upright sitting position on a padded saddle, which eases pressure on your back and allows you to enjoy the view. Touring bike frames are usually simply made, often from steel. This makes them heavier, but reliable, built to go for miles without problems. And if something does go wrong when you're far from home, they're easier to get fixed than a hi-tech carbon fibre frame.

Audax bikes

Often called �fast tourers,� the audax bike falls somewhere between a road bike and a touring bike. They're usually fitted with a narrower tyre (23 or 25mm) and, like road bikes, tend to have dropped handlebars. Just like a standard tourer, an audax bike generally comes fitted with mudguards, rear rack, triple chainset and cantilever brakes (to fit over the wider tyres). It may even come with lights, for overnight audax events.

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Technical stuff

  • Touring bikes are built for comfort, not speed, and intended for long days on the road.
  • Touring bikes favour an upright sitting position for comfort throughout a long day's ride
  • They can have either flat or dropped handlebars
  • They have a wide gear ratio for tackling tough hills and easy riding on the straights
The Kona Sutra touring road bike

Suitable for:

Anyone from complete beginner to seasoned cyclist.

Best for:

  • Long-distance riding
  • Light touring on roads
  • Someone who wants a speedy road bike for the fitness and fun of riding fast on tarmac, but isn't sure if they'll get into racing or touring

Avoid if:

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Touring hybrid bike - Scott Venture 30 Solution
The Scott Venture 30 Solution women's touring hybrid bike, with flat handlebars.

Still want more advice?

We've produced lots more guides to help you find out more about bikes, cycling and cycle gear. These include sizing guides for bikes and clothing, and handy guides to cycle clothing, bike accessories, commuting with a bike, and more. Browse our full range of guides here.

And if these guides don't answer your questions, we're here to help - just give our friendly customer service team a call on 01572 737 624. Lines are open Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm UK time.