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Best Touring Bikes

Dusan

Best Touring Bikes For 2020

If you’re planning to start traveling by bike for days, months, or even years on end and carry all of your most valuable possessions with you, then you need the right tool for the job — the best touring bike.

However, the selection of adventure and touring bikes on the market is quite bewildering at the moment. If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, you can easily become overwhelmed or make the wrong choice.

For that reason, we’ve created a list of our 10 favorite touring bicycles below, that you can use to complete your short or long tours and adventures, traverse on paved and unpaved roads and travel lightly or with all of your possessions.

Check them out below!

 


 

1. Co-op Cycles ADV 1.1

Winner! Best Equipped Touring Bike

the best touring bike available Co-op Cycles ADV 1.1

MSRP $1,399

Co-op Cycles ADV 1.1 is our top pick for a variety of reasons. This is a high-quality, yet affordable touring bike with a classic burly touring frame, plenty of added accessories, and reliable components.

Its price and the list of specs make it suitable both for occasional multi-day weekend adventurers and for hardcore bike travelers who spend months on the road.

  • Frame material: Chromoly steel
  • Groupset: Shimano Deore LX
  • Tire dimension: 700 x 38c
  • Brake type: Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Number of gears: 30

Our review of the ADV series

The number of touring bikes you can choose from on the market is huge. However, not many of them come with builds that are ready for traveling out of the box.

Co-op Cycles ADV 1.1 comes with lightweight aluminum front and rear racks already fitted on the frame, so all you need to do is attach the panniers and hit the road.

The frame and fork are made from double-butted Chromoly steel which is strong under heavy loads and comfortable on long rides — travelers’ favorite!

If you plan to tackle mountain passes, you’ll be happy to have 30 gears at your disposal operated by Shimano Deore LX front and rear derailleurs. Once you’re finished with taking photos at the top and begin that sweet descent, you can control your speed with heavy-duty TRP HY/RD hydraulic disc brakes.

To top it all off, Co-op Cycles ADV 1.1 comes with the best of the best Schwalbe Marathon 700×38 mm tires with puncture protection. All bike world travelers swear by these tires!

Get From REI

 

2. Salsa Stormchaser

Bikepacker’s Dream Single-Speed Bike

Salsa Stormchaser

MSRP $1,699

Salsa Stormchaser is one of the most popular single-speed bikepacking rigs you can see on and off the road. It’s an aluminum touring machine with a carbon fork made for long expeditions through unknown countries and on the roughest of terrains.

Related: How To Prepare For a Bike Trip

Even though this bike comes with a single-speed drivetrain (with 17T and 18T cogs), its alternator flat-mount dropouts are compatible with 1x drivetrains as well, so you can upgrade it in the future.

  • Frame material: Aluminum/Carbon
  • Groupset: None
  • Tire dimension: 700C x 42mm
  • Brake type: Mechanical disc brakes
  • Number of gears: Single-speed

 

One of the things that make this bike such a popular pick among bike world travelers is the 6066-T6 Aluminum frame with Class 5 Vibration Reduction System (VRS). Its stable touring geometry puts your body in a comfortable position and turns loaded long-day rides into a breeze.

It also comes with mounts for a front rack and numerous additional eyelets on the frame and fork for water bottle cages and other holders.

Salsa Stormchaser is a premuim bikepacking or touring bike that is ready to go on an adventure from the moment you take it out of the box and assemble it.

This bike also comes with WTB ST i23 TCS rims coupled with Teravail Rutland 42mm tires with a durable casing, which means they can carry a lot of weight.

The drivetrain consists of a 38T crankset and 17T and 18T rear cogs, which makes for a nice and versatile gear combination for flat roads and light climbs. You also get TRP Spyre-C mechanical disc brakes that lend all the stopping power you need.

For more Salsa bikes, see our full review of the brand

So if you’re planning on doing some adventures in flat areas, a geared bike could be overkill. Instead, save some weight and get Salsa Stormchaser.

Get From REI

 

3. Tommaso Imola

Best for Light Road Touring

Tommaso Imola

MSRP $975

If you read our reviews often, you already know we are big fans of Tommaso bikes. The reason is that they usually have a much better money-to-value ratio than many other popular manufacturers. Tommaso Imola is another example of that.

  • Frame material: Aluminum/Steel
  • Groupset: Shimano Claris
  • Tire dimension: 700 x 25c
  • Brake Type: Brake calipers
  • Number of gears: 24

 

Tommaso has chosen to make this bike with an aluminum frame and a steel fork with an aluminum steer tube. This setup results in a good balance between lightweight performance and strength and durability for heavy loads.

This is a road bike, but as you’ll see in a bit, it’s a good choice for light road touring. It comes with 700x25c tires that provide plenty of grip on paved surfaces and guarantee a high average speed.

Tommaso Imola is a versatile adventure road bike that loves being taken on long adventures down scenic roads, packed with additional weight.

The groupset is Shimano Claris, offering 24 gears on a 3×8 drivetrain. The cassette has a range of 11-28 teeth, so Imola is better-suited for fast and relatively flat rides.

Shimano Claris brake calipers are coupled with Shimano Claris brake levers to give riders a feeling of security and more than enough stopping power in all weather conditions.

Imola is compatible with a rear rack and can also be outfitted with fenders, lights, and two water bottle cages. That makes it a good choice for multi-day adventures.

Get From REI

 

4. Cannondale Topstone 2 Women’s

Best All-Terrain Model

Cannondale Topstone 2

MSRP $1,750

Cannondale Topstone is a pretty well-known name in the adventure cycling circles. This bike offers a fantastic bang for the buck, especially for women who want to explore off the beaten track.

  • Frame material: Aluminum/Carbon
  • Groupset: Shimano GRX 400
  • Tire dimension: 700 x 37c
  • Brake type: Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Number of gears: 20

 

Cannondale Topstone 2 is an introductory aluminum adventure bike that doubles as a capable commuter and traveler thanks to dependable components and excellent geometry.

This bike is built around a lightweight aluminum frame and features a light and stiff carbon fork. The frame comes with eyelets that let you fit a rear rack and up to three water bottles for long rides.

If you’re looking for a combination of a lightweight frame, carbon fork, great looks, decent components, and a reasonable price, there are few options that top Cannondale Topstone 2.

The bulk of the components are Shimano GRX 400, which is an excellent deal at this price point. It puts 20 gears at your disposal with an 11-34T cassette and a 46/30T subcompact crank. That’s plenty of range for fast flats and long climbs.

Topstone 2 rolls on WTB Riddler TCS Light, 700c x 37mm tires, which are common on Cannondale’s adventure bikes nowadays. Shimano GRX 400 hydro disc brakes offer lots of stopping power and are easy to service on the road.

If you’re a female adventure rider with a budget of under $2,000, few bikes will put a bigger smile on your face than Cannondale Topstone 2.

Get From REI

 

5. Co-op Cycles ADV 2.2

Best Gravel Adventure Bike

Co-op Cycles ADV 2.2

MSRP $1,599

Co-op Cycles ADV 2.2 has everything that one of the best touring bikes should have — durable aluminum frame, good components, plenty of eyelets, wide tires, and lots of gears.

  • Frame material: Aluminum/Carbon
  • Groupset: Shimano GRX 400
  • Tire dimension: 700 x 40mm
  • Brake type: Mechanical disc brakes
  • Number of gears: 20

 

ADV 2.2 is one of our favorite touring bikes out there due to the amount of thought that obviously went into its making.

It’s made with a strong aluminum frame coupled with a comfortable and light carbon fork. These feature a classic upright endurance geometry that will keep you fresh for hours.

ADV 2.2 comes equipped with numerous mounting points for two water bottles, a rear rack, and fenders. You can equip it for long trips in any kind of weather.

Co-op Cycles ADV 2.2 is a mid-range adventure bike with a pretty affordable price tag considering all you get in the package. It’s ready for month-long and even year-long tours in the most extreme parts of the world.

This traveler is fitted with Shimano GRX 400 components, which is a good mid-range option. You’ll get 20 gears in total, which is the most you can find on bikes nowadays.

The mechanical disc brakes come with 160 mm rotors that brake well even when you’re fully loaded. The frame and the fork have thru-axles, which means riding feels stable and handling is predictable.

Last but not least, ADV 2.2 rides on WTB Nano Comp 700c x 40mm tires. That translates into a comfortable ride and a platform that can carry a lot of extra weight.

Get it if you’re planning an adventure on gravel roads or mixed surfaces.

Get From REI

 

6. Devinci Hatchet A G Sora

Best for Lightweight Touring and Bikepacking

Devinci Hatchet A G Sora

MSRP $1,399

If you are one of those people who like traveling light, ruffing it out, and bringing only the bare necessities, Devinci Hatchet is the right pick for you.

This bike has a lightweight aluminum frame and carbon fork, so it doesn’t weigh much. It’s made for traveling on gravel and dirt roads thanks to knobby tires and comfortable geometry.

  • Frame material: Aluminum/Carbon
  • Groupset: Shimano Sora
  • Tire dimension: 700 x 45c
  • Brake type: Mechanical disc brakes
  • Number of gears: 18

 

Aluminum was and is still considered to be the go-to frame material for most world travelers. However, carbon has its benefits as well. It weighs little, offers a comfortable ride, and efficiently transfers power from your legs to the pedals.

Devinci Hatchet’s frame has eyelets for a rear rack, so you can equip it with panniers or go for a bikepacking saddlebag. The fork can be fitted with a front rack, so you can balance the weight between the front and the rear of the bike.

Devinci Hatchet is one of the best touring bikes for bikepacking and light adventure traveling.

When it comes to the components, this bike touts Shimano Sora front and rear derailleurs with 18 gears. Sora is a high-quality entry-level option that will serve you well for thousands of miles.

One of the highlights is the Tektro mechanical disc brakes, which are easier to service when you’re in the middle of nowhere compared to hydraulic disc brakes.

If you end up buying this bike, you should be content with the Kenda Piedmont tires that are 45 mm wide. That’s wide enough to hit dirt and gravel roads even when fully loaded with food and camping gear.

For more bikes, see our full overview of the brand

Get Devinci Hatchet if you want an affordable gravel adventure bike with dependable components and endurance geometry.

Get From EVO

 

7. Niner RLT RDO R7000

Best for Off-Road Travelers

Niner RLT RDO R7000

MSRP $4,500

If you like traveling off-road, we completely understand. The views are better, there’s less traffic around you, and the tempo is more laid-back. If you still don’t have the right bike to support you on such trips, you should give the Niner RLT RDO R7000 a try.

This bike craves rough gravel and dirt roads and absolutely loathes long stretches of pavement. It can climb, descend, and bring everything you’ll ever need on a long excursion into the wild.

  • Frame material: RDO Carbon
  • Groupset: Shimano Ultegra/105
  • Tire dimension: 700 x 40c
  • Brake type: Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Number of gears: 22

Read more: Why Gravel Is The Hottest Trend In Cycling World

Niner RLT RDO is made with the best possible materials. It sports a strong and lightweight frame and fork made from Niner’s flagship RDO carbon. This material is super lightweight and renowned for stiffness and comfort, so you can expect to get plenty of all the good stuff.

Niner RLT RDO R7000 is a capable and versatile bike that’s perfect for bike tourers who plan to stick to the Road Less Traveled.

This bike is fitted with a combination of Shimano Ultegra and 105 components with a 2×11 drivetrain. That’s an excellent setup for day-long rides on challenging terrain, singletracks, fire roads, ascents, and descents.

Kenda Alluvium Pro GCT, 700 x 40c tires are difficult to top in the off-road game, so you’ll have plenty of grip, even if you don’t balance the weight perfectly well on both ends of the bike.

Another positive aspect of Niner RLT RDO R7000 are its Shimano R7020 hydraulic disc brakes that translate into lots of ample braking power for confidence on downhills.

Get this bike if you want to travel light and fast, covering hundreds of miles in a week.

Get From JensonUSA

 

8. Salsa Cutthroat Apex 1

Best Drop-Bar Adventure Mountain Bike

Salsa Cutthroat Apex 1

MSRP $2,899

Salsa Cutthroat is one of the best adventure mountain bikes out there. If you’re adventurous, love riding on rough unpaved roads, and you’re an enthusiast when it comes to bikepacking, this bike will check all of your boxes.

  • Frame material: Carbon
  • Groupset: SRAM Apex 1
  • Tire dimension: 29 x 2.2″
  • Brake type: Mechanical disc brakes
  • Number of gears: 11

 

Cutthroat is Salsa’s (successful) attempt at making a practical and versatile bikepacking and adventure bike. They built it around a lightweight and stiff carbon frame with good-looking straight tubing and plenty of eyelets on the frame and the fork.

The bicycle’s weight limit is 300 lbs., so you can pack it quite heavy. Interestingly, the fork is rigid, but you can replace it with a 100mm suspension fork if you want more advanced trail riding capabilities.

This bike does not come with any accessories, but you can easily equip it with front and rear racks, fenders, lights, and several water bottle cages. Therefore, if you have the legs to do it, you can complete multi-day trips with it.

Salsa Cutthroat made it on our list because it has a reasonable price, a decent list of components, and pretty versatile intended use.

The SRAM Apex 1 drivetrain has 11 gears in total, which is an adaptable and lightweight setup. The TRP Spyre-C mechanical disc brakes are basic but perform well enough when it comes to stopping the bike and your cargo on a dime.

If you plan to ride on the toughest dirt roads you can find, you can easily do it thanks to Teravail Sparwood 29 x 2.2 in. tires. If you want to do gravel riding or spend more time off-road, this is the perfect setup.

All in all, with the price in mind, you can expect a pretty good performance from Salsa Cutthroat Apex 1.

Get From REI

 

9. Cannondale Synapse 105

Best for Long Days in the Saddle

cannondale synapse 105

MSRP $1,900

Cannondale Synapse is a popular endurance bike made to navigate paved and unpaved roads equally well. Its frame is made from lightweight aluminum, whereas the fork is made from BallisTec carbon.

  • Frame material: Aluminum/Carbon
  • Groupset: Shimano 105
  • Tire dimension: 700 x 30c
  • Brake type: Mechanical disc brakes
  • Number of gears: 22

 

Cannondale Synapse’s frame can accommodate a rear rack, two water bottles, and front and rear mudguards. If you don’t want to bring panniers, you can outfit it with large frame bags thanks to a traditional diamond touring frame design.

This bike is outfitted with a Shimano 105 groupset which is commonly seen in this price range. It comes with a wide 11-34T cassette and a compact crank which gives you a very practical gear range. No hill is a match for this drivetrain.

Cannondale Synapse is a gravel crusher that is perfectly suited for multi-day excursions into areas with absolutely no phone service.

The Vittoria Zaffiro, 700c x 30 mm tires have low-profile knobs that will not slow you down on paved roads but will provide you with loads of grip when you hit a gravel or dirt detour.

When the time comes to take a break and head on a long descent, the TRP Spyre-C mechanical disc brakes will help you stay in control at all times.

If you want a bike that you can rely on in any part of the world and on year-long adventures, Cannondale Synapse will not disappoint you.

Get From REI

 

10. Marin Olema 1

Best Cheap Touring Bike We Recommend

Best cheap touring bike - Marin Olema 1

 

MSRP $799

If your idea of bike travel is completing two-to-three-day weekend cycling adventures, then you don’t really need to spend too much money on a bicycle.

In our opinion, Marin Olema 1 is the best bike for touring that you can get for less than $1,000. Its list of entry-level specs will not leave anyone out of breath, but it will get the job done easily.

  • Frame material: Aluminum
  • Groupset: Shimano Claris
  • Tire dimension: 650B x 47mm
  • Brake type: Mechanical disc brakes
  • Number of gears: 16

Full overview of the brand

Marin Olema 1 combines an aluminum frame with a strong aluminum fork to offer a comfortable and stable ride on all types of terrain. Both the frame and the fork have mount points, so the bike is ready for front and rear racks and panniers.

In total, this Marin has 16 gears on a Shimano Claris-powered drivetrain. That’s the lowest you can get down Shimano’s road hierarchy, so if you plan to upgrade this bike, Sora or Tiagra would really increase its value.

Marin Olema 1 is an entry-level bicycle with beginner-friendly components. It is intended for new riders who are just getting into the cycle touring world and don’t plan to cover too many miles every day.

One of the high points of Olema 1 is its mechanical disc brakes which will confidently stop the bike even under heavy load.

If you still don’t know if traveling by bicycle is for you or you just want an affordable and comfortable bike for commuting, we believe Marin Olema 1 is a safe pick.

Get From JensonUSA

 


What Else To Know? Low Gear Ratios!

All touring bikes need some serious granny gears. No matter how strong and fit you are, your legs will be put on a test when you have to cycle a +10% gradient with a fully-loaded bike, hauling 40+ lbs.Lower Gear ratios

Bike tourers often carry a lot of gear, food, and water, so low gears are a must. Ideally, a proper touring bicycle should have 27 or 30 gears. This gives you a wide gear ratio without big jumps in-between gears.

However, you should also consider how low your lowest gears go. An 11-34T cassette (at least) should be a must, combined with 2 or 3 subcompact rings in the front. The most common touring crankset is a 48/36/24T.

 

Gear Inches

The best way to compare gear ratios across different bikes and different wheel sizes is by using gear inches.

Gear inches refers to the diameter of the wheel, multiplied by the size of the front chainring, and divided by the size of the rear cog.

A good low result for touring is between 18 and 20, whereas a good high result is 110 to 115. You can use this gear inches calculator to find the results easily and figure out whether a certain bike has the correct gears for you.

 

Touring Bike Geometry

At first glance, touring bikes look very similar to road bikes. However, there are some very crucial differences. Simply speaking, most road bikes are made to go fast, whereas touring bikes are made for long and sustained efforts. Touring bike geometry

Touring geometry is more upright, putting the rider in a comfortable and relaxed position that allows them to spend hours in the saddle, day after day.

To achieve this upright geometry, the top tube is usually shorter and the headtube is longer than on road bikes. Therefore, the reach is shorter whereas the stack is longer.

The wheelbase and the chainstays are longer as well. This makes the bike more stable and creates more room for carrying front and rear panniers.

Touring bikes also have lower bottom brackets, which improves balance and stability, which is important when carrying a lot of weight that is not always balanced well on the bike.

 

Setting a Budget

Setting a budget when buying a touring bike is a big challenge. On the one hand, you want to spend as little as possible and save as much money as you can to stay longer on the road.

On the other hand, you want to get the best possible bike that you’ll be able to use for years and feel comfortable traveling on and going far away from home.

That said, you don’t really need to spend thousands of dollars on a shiny new bike with high-end components. However, you shouldn’t get the cheapest bike either.

A mid-range option should satisfy most bike travelers. Mid-range builds have the best money to value ratio, are very reliable and durable, and add just a little bit of weight.

Of course, if you have the money and you want the best of the best, that’s even better. You’ll probably get tens of thousands of miles out of it, while spending minimum amounts on maintenance and upkeep.

Getting a used bike is also a good option if you know what you’re doing. You don’t want to get a beat-up dead horse that will only cause you trouble on the road.

 

Correct Tire Size

Tires are incredibly important on any bike, but even more so on touring bikes. Most bike travelers are not looking to go very fast, so they can get away with wider tires. In return, wide tires make riding more comfortable and let you carry more weight.Adventure bike tire size

Typically, touring tires should be at least 32 mm wide. However, 35mm, 38mm, or 40mm are the most common choices. If you’re sticking to paved roads, go for slick tires, or choose treaded tires if you’re planning to go off-road.

It’s a good idea to go for proper touring tires, such as Schwalbe Marathon, as they come with puncture protection and are made from durable rubber compound that lasts for 15,000+ kilometers.

Nowadays, touring wheels come in different diameters: 26″, 650b, and 700c. The 26″ and 700c are the most popular choices, but 650b are gaining momentum as well. If you’re traveling to remote parts of the world, it’s best to go with 26″ tires as it’s easy to find a replacement even in undeveloped countries.

 

Essential Gear

Touring bikes should come with some essential accessories and gear that you don’t always see on other types of bikes. These pieces of gear should make your rides safer, more comfortable, and more enjoyable.

Here are a few that are an absolute must:

  • Fenders: Quality full-length front and rear fenders will not add a lot of weight to your bike but will protect you from getting wet and dirty if it starts raining. Avoid going on a multi-day trip without these.
  • Kickstand: A kickstand seems like a trivial accessory, but it will make your life so much easier. Instead of looking for a place to lean your bike every time you take a break, invest in a quality aluminum kickstand that will last for years.
  • Lights: Front and rear lights on touring bikes are not to be negotiated. Bike touring is unpredictable, so you can easily find yourself riding past daylight, even if you didn’t plan to do so. Today, many touring bicycles have dynamo-powered lights, which means you don’t have to worry about batteries.
  • Racks: Racks are a necessity on touring bikes. Some models have only rear, some only front, and many have both front and rear racks. They let you carry panniers, camping gear, food, and water, so make sure you get ones that are decent quality and won’t crack under load.

 

Are you traveling with kids or cargo? Check out the best bike trailers

 

1 Comment

  • Chris says:

    Hi Dusan, Nice guide for all. Last summer I bought Giant Escape 3 and it is amazing. Smooth ride with smooth pedal. I really loved my tour on this bike.

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