Touring Bikes, the low-down.

Bike touring may just be the ultimate bike related adventure. There's just something so cool about the freedom of a self propelled adventure through woods and towns while breathing the fresh air of new places

Since bike touring season is upon us, we figured we'd write a little breakdown on what makes touring bikes special. Touring bikes need to be able to do a few things really well - carry all your gear, carry all your drinks, carry you in comfort over long distances. For a frame to accomplish these things it generally is different from road and cross bikes in a few ways, so I took some pictures for comparison.

First is a Surly Disc Trucker touring bike
and second is an Orbea Aqua road bike
*please note, if you click on any of these images they will enlarge so you can actually see what's going on.*

-Longer wheel base and chain stays-
These two things work to make the bike handle more smooth and stable which is good when you're carrying a lot of weight. In addition to that, the longer frame also absorbs shock better, leaving you feeling less beat up after a long day riding. Last little benefit this geometry tweak adds? The longer chain stays puts your rear pannier further back making it less likely you'll have problems with your heels hitting them aka: "heel strike". The geometry in general is also a little more relaxed and upright because that's more comfortable over long amounts of time. If you look at the above pics these things are totally visible.


 -All the water bottle bosses-
If you're going to be able to ride endlessly through the day you're going to need to keep hydrated and have a good way to carry your drinks. Because of this touring bikes generally have braze-ons for three bottle cages. Usually the third goes on the under side of the down tube (as pictures above), but it can be anywhere it will fit.

-Multiple rack/fender mounts and Reenforced Eyelets-
So many. A standard touring bike can have up to 8 sets of eyelets/mounts. You need to have options right? Also, If you look at the eyelets on a single speed urban bike versus the eyelets on a purpose built touring bike you will be totally impressed with how burly the ones on the touring bike are. This is because a lot of weight will likely be carried on a touring bike, so those eyelets need to be super strong and hold up over bumpy roads and hundreds of miles all while under load. An eyelet breaking is something no one wants, so they are designed to withstand pretty serious abuse. With these two pics, the touring bike has two eyelets as holes in part of the frame, and the road bike doesn't even have any. If you look at the larger images of the bikes up top you can see all the eyelets and water bottle braze-ons, too.

-Other things-
Touring bikes tend to be made of steel because steel is easily repairable. Many have 26" wheels because that size is a lot more common in the more remote areas of the world, making it less likely you'll be completely stranded by something as small as a flat tire. The wheels also usually have more spokes than road wheels because it makes them stronger. Lastly, they usually have a wider gear range and fatter tires which help make a larger variation in conditions comfortable. All of these things serve one basic purpose, to reduce the chances you'll get stuck somewhere because your bike failed you.

So there it is, what makes touring bikes different, special and absolutely destroy at their jobs. Clever stuff right? Show this to the next person who scoffs that you have so many bikes, maybe they'll get why people who like bikes tend to have more than one.