Forum home Road cycling forum Tours, routes, audaxes & organised rides Tour & expedition

Which touring bike to buy for new tourer!

biker_benbiker_ben Posts: 22
edited April 2012 in Tour & expedition

This summer I am spending 3 months touring round the western side of Canada and America carrying my own equipment (tent, sleeping bag etc.). It will be my first time touring and so I unfortunately don't own a touring bike, nor have much clue about them! I have been a road racer for a number of years so I am unsure whether there is a specific of touring bike which will suit me more?? I am looking at only carrying rear panniers for the trip.

Could you please recommend a bike for a budget of up to £700, also any advice on whether to go for road wheels or 26" wheels would be helpful.

Thanks very much in advance, all responses will be appreciated!


  • MichaelWMichaelW Posts: 2,164
    Touring bikes come in light, medium and expedition grades.
    The classic English touring bike, the Dawes Galaxy is a medium touring bike, typical of Cyclist Touring Club riders and good for everyday commuting, weekend rides, 2 week Euro tours but capable of expedition riding. They have either MTB transmission or road triples. For heavy loads you will need MTB gearing.
    Expedition touring bikes are usually heavier duty with more tyre clearance and either MTB transmission or Rohloff hubs and sometimes disc brakes. You get them in 26 and 700c but the 700c run wider tyres than Dawes style. Good examples are Surly LHT and Thorn Sherpa
    All of these are above your budget but you may be able to find something used.
    You can get budget medium tourers from Dawes, Ridgeback and they should be more than OK
    With drop bars, integrated levers like Shimano STI have "issues": they dont pull enough cable for cantilever brakes and the cable run interfres with bar-bag positing. They also have no friction over-ride for when you trash your rear mech and install a "foreign" one. Very cheap and very expensive drop bar tourers use bar-end shifters and long-pull brake levers. They lack the ease of use but are more tour-worthy. I use sti but carry a downtube friction lever as a spare.

    An good alternative within budget is a suitable MTB with trekking/butterfly style bars.

    I have used a med tourer for 3 month tours, mostly on road but with a fair amount of logging and farm tracks. I like 700c for rolling along roads. I prefer wider tyres (38mm+) for tracks and trails but cope with 32mm. For mixed riding, 26" is just as good but the major advantage is global availability of tyres.

    Your luggage rack system is important when carrying lots of stores ie when shops are sparse. The classic set is Tubus Cargo and Tara. Full camping loads can overload the rear and make the bike feel light and tippy so front panniers are used to balance the load. Long chainstays help keep the load within the wheelbase rather than hanging off the rear.
  • dilemnadilemna Posts: 2,187
    Good FREE advice above.

    Just go and test ride a few bikes. Being a cyclist already you will instinctively know what feels right for you.
    Life is like a roll of toilet paper; long and useful, but always ends at the wrong moment. Anon.
    Think how stupid the average person is.......
    half of them are even more stupid than you first thought.
  • culverwoodculverwood Posts: 256
    As Michael W says a hardtail MTB with suitable bars makes a good budget 26" tourer. Possibly a size larger than if you were going to use it as a MTB. It will have all the gears necessary for lugging loads over mountains but you need to check it has all the fixing points for the racks, mudguards and bottle cages you need.
  • al_yrpalal_yrpal Posts: 102
    One inexpensive solution. Only the British ride 700c drop handlebar bikes for touring ... 88#p525788

  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    culverwood wrote:
    As Michael W says a hardtail MTB with suitable bars makes a good budget 26" tourer. Possibly a size larger than if you were going to use it as a MTB.

    Some MTBs have quite long toptubes so it's worth looking at the geometry of the frame you are thinking about. (Traditionally bike frame sizes are quoted in terms of the length of the seat tube, but with modern frame designs the top tube length can be more critical).
  • bigjimbigjim Posts: 780
    One inexpensive solution.
    Inexpensive is a relative term. I have an as new unused 90s steel MTB that will require a minimum spend to make it into a very capable tourer. It cost me £16 on e-bay.
    Only the British ride 700c drop handlebar bikes for touring
    There are a lot of Americans touring on Dropped bar tourers. The Europeans have a large utility bicycling culture that has always been flat barred hybrid bikes and it is an easy crossover to tour on them. Does not mean that it is the only or correct way to go.
  • rjh299rjh299 Posts: 721
    I know you only wanted rear rack but I'm selling this now. This would be classed as a full expedition tourer I think.
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