Cycling has become a popular mode of transport not just for commuting purposes but for adventurous activities as well. Bike tours have emerged over recent years as a fun way to explore and appreciate nature. However, if you are considering embarking on a bike tour then you’ll need to pick the right bike to maximize your comfort and safety.
1. Know What Kind of Tour You’re Planning
Before selecting a bike for your tour, it is necessary to consider the type of tour you’re going on. For a multi-day tour, you’ll need a reliable and comfortable bike that can accommodate your luggage while keeping you comfortable. The terrain that the tour involves is also an important factor. If the route is hilly, then it would be beneficial to choose a bike with lower gears that can tackle the incline with ease.
1.1 Check out the Route Beforehand
Get a feel for the terrain of the route you’ll be taking by scouting out the trail. Plot out the route on a map and see if the majority of the route consists of off-road trails or tarmac. Knowing the route would determine the type of bike that is suited to the tour. If the tour is mostly on-road, then you can choose a lightweight touring bike. Off-road trails would usually necessitate a sturdy mountain bike with off-road tires.
1.2 Difficulty of the Route
If the tour is mostly on-road then a hybrid bike would be sufficient. However, if the tour consists of a mixture of on and off-road trails, then it is worth investing in a bike that is designed for a blend of surfaces. This would reduce the risk of mechanical problems due to unsuitable terrain conditions.
2. Assess the Suspension of the Bike
For touring, it is preferable to have a bike with suspension as it reduces impact due to uneven terrain, resulting in a smoother and more comfortable ride. Suspension also improves the handling of the bike, allowing you to tackle any terrain confidently. The type of suspension you should choose depends on the terrain you’re undertaking. If the tour is mostly on-road then front suspension would be adequate, while off-road trails are better tackled with fully suspended bikes.
2.1 Types of Suspension
When choosing a suspension system for your bike, it is important to consider the type and frequency of your rides. The common types of suspension used on touring bikes are front suspension and full-suspension. A front suspension usually features a spring in the fork of the bike, while a full-suspension might have a more robust suspension system featuring several parts. Both these are usually adjustable to increase the comfort and safety of your ride.
2.2 Test the Suspension
When test riding the bike, the suspension should feel smooth and responsive. You should experience minimal body vibrations when riding on rough terrain. Test out the various adjustments to the suspension to get a better feel for the bike. If possible, take the bike out on the kind of terrain you’ll be encountering on the tour, to get a true feel of the bike’s capabilities.
3. Consider the Gears
Having a good set of gears is important for tackling hillier terrain as well as for a comfortable ride. The number of gears to choose from depends on a few factors such as the terrain you’re touring and the type of bike. A standard mountain bike would have 10 or more gears, which would be sufficient for most routes. But if you’re expecting to tackle much steeper terrain, then you could consider a bike with up to 25 gears.
3.1 Types of Gears
The most popular types of gears used in touring bikes are external rear derailleur and hub gears. External gears are attached to the bike frame and can be easily adjusted, while hub gears are located inside the rear hub and require minimal maintenance. Additionally, some bikes come with an electric motor-assist feature, making them ideal for hillier terrain.
3.2 Test the Gears
When test riding the bike, it is important to assess how smoothly the gears operate. As you test the gears, the transition between shifting gears should be smooth with no jerky movements, a sign of a well made gear system. Check for ‘ghost shifting’ which is when the chain shifts itself without the rider changing gears.
4. Select Appropriate Accessories
Bike accessories are essential items to further enhance the quality of your tour. When choosing accessories, consider those that are suited to your tour. Pannier racks are a must for carrying luggage, while mudguards help protect your bike from dirt and grit. If you’re expecting to ride in dark conditions or wet weather, it is important to invest in bike lights and reflectors to ensure your safety.
4.1 Essential Bike Accessories
When cycling long distances, comfort is an important factor. Invest in an adjustable and comfortable saddle, handlebar grips and pedals and wear the appropriate cycling wear too. Additionally, carry a bike repair kit, tire levers, a spare inner tube, some basic tools and a pump.
4.2 Consider Buying a Bicycle Trailer
One of the best investments for multi-day tours is a bicycle trailer. Usually equipped with a pull-out handlebar, a trailer allows for extra storage for your touring gear without having to overload your bike. Make sure to get a trailer with a sturdy frame, adjustable suspension, quick-release wheels and handles that fold flat for easy storage.
People Also Ask
What is the best bike for bike touring?
The best bike for bike touring is one that is suitable for the terrain and type of tour, with adjustable suspension and a good range of gears.
What size bike do I need for touring?
The ideal bike size for touring depends heavily on the rider’s height and preferences. Generally, a bike with a larger frame is best suited for long distance touring.
Do I need a special bike for bike touring?
Yes, a touring bike is best suited for bike touring due to its durability, comfort and robust build. But you can also use a hybrid, mountain or electric bike for touring.
Are full suspension bikes good for touring?
Full suspension bikes are more suitable for rough terrains but can be a bit on the heavy side. A front suspension would be enough for most touring routes.
What accessories do I need for bike touring?
Essential accessories for bike touring include mudguards, comfort gear such as handlebar grips and a comfortable saddle, pannier racks, reflectors, bike lights, a bike repair kit and other everyday items such as a mobile phone, snacks and water bottles.
Choosing the right bike for bike touring is essential for an enjoyable and safe ride. Consider the terrain, gears and accessories carefully to maximize the adventure. Tests ride the bike to ensure it is comfortable and well suited to the tour. With the right bike, you can look forward to a fantastic bike tour.