We are reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read More...
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 — a 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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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:
Winner! Best Equipped Touring Bike
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.
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!
Bikepacker’s Dream Bike
Trek 1120 is one of the most popular bikepacking bikes you can see on and off the road all over the world. It’s an aluminum touring machine with a carbon fork made for long expeditions through unknown countries and on the roughest of terrains.
Trek 1120 has been around for a few years, so it is a pretty modern bike. The first model was made in 2018, following the rise of the bikepacking trend.
One of the things that make this bike such a popular pick among bike world travelers is the Alpha Platinum Aluminum frame. Its stable touring geometry puts your body in a comfortable position and turns loaded long-day rides into a breeze.
It comes with durable aluminum front and rear racks and numerous additional eyelets on the frame and fork for water bottle cages and other holders.
Trek 1120 is a premuim bikepacking 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 tubeless-ready SUNringle Duroc 50 SL rims built with 28 spokes coupled with puncture-resistant Bontrager tires, which means they can carry a lot of weight.
The drivetrain puts 11 gears in your hands with Shimano SLX components. The 11-46T cassette coupled with a 30T crank will get you up any mountain pass, anywhere in the world.
The saddle also matters when you ride 60+ miles every day, so Trek equipped the 1120 with a Bontrager Montrose Comp, which is a pretty comfortable choice.
Best Value Adventure Touring
If you read our reviews often, you already know we are big fans of Tommaso bikes. The reason is that they usually have much better money to value ratio than many other popular manufacturers. Tommaso Sentiero is another example of that.
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.
In Italian, “Sentiero” means “trail”, which is a pretty fitting name for this bicycle. It comes with 700x40c tires that provide plenty of grip on loose surfaces and a comfortable experience on bumpy terrain.
Tommaso Sentiero is a versatile adventure bike that’s not confined to paved roads. Instead, it loves being taken on long adventures down scenic gravel and dirt roads, and 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 Sentiero is better-suited for fast and relatively flat rides.
Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes are coupled with Shimano Claris brake levers to give riders a feeling of security and more than enough stopping power in all weather conditions.
Sentiero 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.
Best All-Terrain Model
Cannondale CAADX is a pretty well-known name in the adventure cycling circles. This bike offers a fantastic bang for the buck, especially for tourers who want to explore off the beaten track.
Cannondale CAADX 105 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 two 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 CAADX 105.
The bulk of the components are Shimano 105, which is an excellent deal at this price point. It puts 22 gears at your disposal with an 11-34T cassette and a 46/36T subcompact crank. That’s plenty of range for fast flats and long climbs.
CAADX 105 rolls on Schwalbe CX Comp, 700c x 35mm tires, which are common on Cannondale’s adventure bikes nowadays. Shimano 105 hydro disc brakes offer lots of stopping power and are easy to service on the road.
If you have a budget of under $2,000, few bikes will put a bigger smile on your face than Cannondale CAADX 105.
Best Classic Touring Bike
Masi Giramondo has everything that one of the best touring bikes should have — durable steel frame, good components, racks, plenty of eyelets, wide tires, and lots of gears.
Masi Giramondo 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 Chromoly frame coupled with a comfortable and durable Chromoly fork. These feature a classic upright touring geometry which will keep you fresh for hours.
Giramondo comes equipped with quality custom-made front and rear racks and has mounting points for three water bottles.
Masi Giramondo is a high-mid-range touring 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 Deore components, which is a good mid-range option. You’ll get 30 gears in total, which is the most you can find on bikes nowadays.
The mechanical disc brakes come with 160 mm rotors, but there’s enough room for 180 mm ones as well.
Last but not least, Masi Giramondo rides on Kenda Quick Drumlin 700x45c tires. That translates into a comfortable ride and a platform that can carry a lot of extra weight.
Best for Lightweight Touring and Bikepacking
If you are one of those people who like traveling light, ruffing it out, and bringing only the bare necessities, Giant Revolt Advanced 3 is the right pick for you.
This bike has a lightweight carbon frame and fork, so it weighs only around 22 lbs. It’s made for traveling on gravel and dirt roads thanks to knobby tires and comfortable geometry.
Steel 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.
The frame on Revolt Advanced 3 does not have eyelets for a rear rack, but you can fit the bike with 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.
Giant Revolt Advanced 3 is one of the best touring bikes for bikepacking and light adventure traveling.
When it comes to the components, this bike touts Shimano Tiagra front and rear derailleurs with 20 gears. Tiagra is a high-quality mid-range option that will serve you well for thousands of miles.
One of the highlights is the Shimano Tiagra hydraulic disc brakes, which are a pretty pleasant surprise at this price point.
If you end up buying this bike, you should be content with the Giant Crosscut AT 1 tires that are 38 mm wide. The Giant S-X2 Disc is a tubeless system, so you can expect much fewer flats than usual as well.
Best for Off-Road Travelers
If you like traveling off-road, we completely understand you. 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 9 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.
Niner RLT 9 is made with an interesting combination of materials. It sports a strong and durable Reynolds steel frame paired with a lightweight carbon fork. Both materials are renowned for stiffness and comfort, so you can expect to get plenty of both.
Niner RLT 9 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 mid-of-the-line SRAM Rival 1 groupset with a 1×11 drivetrain. That’s an excellent setup for day-long rides on challenging terrain, singletracks, fire roads, ascents, and descents.
Schwalbe G-One All Around 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 9 are its SRAM Rival 1 hydraulic disc brakes that translate into lots of ample braking power for confidence on downhills.
Best All-Road Touring Bike
Salsa Journeyman 700C is one of the best high-entry-level adventure touring bikes out there. If you’re adventurous, love riding both on paved and unpaved roads, and you’re an enthusiast when it comes to bicycle touring, this bike will check all of your boxes.
Journeyman 700C is Salsa’s (successful) attempt at making an affordable and practical versatile touring and adventure bike. They built it around a lightweight and versatile aluminum frame with good-looking curved tubing and plenty of eyelets on the frame and the fork.
The fork is made of light and stiff aluminum that can carry plenty of weight.
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 Journeyman made it on our list because it has a reasonable price, a decent list of components, and pretty versatile intended use.
The Shimano Claris drivetrain has 16 gears in total, which is an adaptable and lightweight setup. The Promax 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 both on- and off-road, you can do it both with WTB Riddler Comp, 700c x 37mm 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 pretty good performance from Salsa Journeyman Claris 700C.
Best for the Environment
This Bjorn is Jenson USA’s exclusive build made to travel the world and be good for the environment. Its frame is produced from 60% recycled stainless steel, whereas the fork is produced from 70% recycled aluminum. Nothing goes to waste.
Bjorn’s frame can accommodate a rear fender, 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 SRAM Rival 1 groupset which is commonly seen in this price range. It comes with a massive 11-42T cassette and a 42T crank which gives you an insane gear range. No hill is a match for this drivetrain.
This Bjorn bike is a gravel crusher that is perfectly suited for multi-day excursions into areas with absolutely no phone service.
The Kenda Flintridge Pro tires are 40 mm wide and have leather-colored sidewalls that perfectly match the handlebar tape and create a nice contrast to the metallic paint job.
When the time comes to take a break and head on a long descent, the SRAM Rival Hydraulic 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, this Bjorn will not disappoint you.
Best Cheap Touring Bike We Recommend
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, Giant Escape 3 is the best bike for touring that you can get for less than $500. Its list of entry-level specs will not impress anyone, but it will get the job done easily.
Escape 3 combines Giant’s renowned ALUXX aluminum frame with a strong steel 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 Giant has 21 gears on a Shimano Tourney-powered drivetrain. That’s the lowest you can get down Shimano’s hierarchy, so if you plan to upgrade this bike, Alivio or Deore would really increase its value.
Giant Escape 3 is an entry-level bicycle with basic components. It is intended for beginner riders who are just getting into the cycle touring world and don’t plan to cover too many miles every day.
One of the highpoints of Escape 3 is its mechanical disc brakes which will confidently stop the bike even under heavy load.
Unlike other touring bikes on our list, this one comes with flat bars instead of drops, which are a good enough choice for short tours. With the addition of bar ends, you’ll have enough grip variations to choose from.