Editor’s Note: Going to get a new bike that can be used both for daily commuting and light traveling? And you’re confused about which one to buy? Touring Bike or Road Bike? Here is the guide.
One of the healthiest and most fun activities that one can take up is biking. Not only is biking super fun, but it can also help you stay in shape. One of the best memories that I have as a child is finding my bike under the Christmas tree. It was fantastic. Princess themed, all pink, with sparklers on the sides, a huge basket, and training wheels. I was the envy of all other 6-year-old girls in my school.
My bike has evolved since then. The training wheels and the sparklers have come off. However, it is still just as fun as it was when I was 6.
Today, biking has become a huge hobby. More and more people are becoming obsessed with the sport and are even going professional. With an increase in bike enthusiasts and health consciousness, the biking industry has started to boom. There is now a huge variety of different bikes to choose from, as well as cool accessories and gadgets to go with them.
With so many options to choose from, it could be very confusing to know which one is right for you. Between touring bikes to road bikes and everything in between, how can a novice cyclist know which one to choose? If you’re a novice and in search of a road bike, here are some options for you.
Touring Bike vs Road Bike: Difference
It can be difficult to know the difference between some types of bikes, especially since some of them look exactly the same!
However, there are slight differences in them that help them perform different tasks. Each of them is designed with a specific purpose in mind and are better used in those scenarios.
The main difference between road bikes and touring bikes is their weight. Road bikes are designed for day-to-day use on paved roads. They can easily help you get from point A to point B. There are the most common types of bikes that you will see on the road. They have smaller wheel sizes compared to other bikes. Also, they are normally made of aluminum which makes them more affordable to customers. You can also find more expensive, higher-end bikes that are made of carbon fiber.
Touring bikes are intended for long excursions on roads. They are usually heavier, which helps the rider to better control the bike at high speeds. Their wheels are wider, and they are usually made of a more durable material such as steel. Although you can still use touring bikes to commute, they tend to be more expensive than road bikes. They are also very customizable, allowing you to carry a lot more than road bikes.
Below is a summary of the main differences between road bikes and touring bikes:
Why choose a touring bike?
Let’s say you are an avid cyclist and you are looking to up your biking game. You have been biking for some time and you are loving it. Or, you are thinking of joining a biking group or going solo on a bike excursion around the city. Or, you are planning a long tour. Even, you have been practicing and saving the money for a new bike that will take you to the end of the road. And you understand the value of a good bicycle. You also recognize that a broken-down bike will be no good in the middle of nowhere. If this sounds like you, then a touring bike is the best option.
Touring bikes are ideal for serious long-term cyclists. They require an initial investment, but you will be paying for quality. The bike will last you for years if properly taken care of. Overall, they are a lot more comfortable for long trips than the road bike. You can customize them to carry as much as you need. This includes additional baggage, extra water bottles, mirrors, bells, etc. You can modify it depending on how long of an excursion you are going for. Regardless, it is ideal for long trips. If you can handle the initial cost, then this is one type of bike that will return your investment.
What features should I consider when buying a touring bike?
Because touring has become such a popular sport, there are many options available for touring bikes in the market. Many cyclists believe that if a bike is expensive, it must be good. However, this is not always the case. Choosing a touring bike is a lot more complex than simply looking at the name and price tag. There are several fundamental things to take into consideration.
Before you even start looking at bikes, consider your budget. Touring bikes can go anywhere from $300 for a second-hand bike, to upwards of $5,000. Make a budget for yourself and start from there.
Next, consider the following features when looking for a touring bike within your budget:
This is possibly the most important feature to consider when choosing a bike. Imagine starting a long excursion, and 10 minutes in your bum starts to hurt. No fun, right? Take into consideration the feel of the seat, as well as the height of the handlebars. Lastly, ensure that the pedals are reachable or adjustable.
Being able to customize your touring bike is a big plus. On long trips, you may require extra luggage, a change of clothes, and extra water bottles. Take into consideration how easy it is to adjust pedals and handlebars to your liking.
Touring bikes come in a variety of tire sizes. The type of tire you choose depends on the terrain you are looking to tackle. If you will be mostly on the paved road, then a skinny tire will do the job just fine. However, if you will be going through rougher terrain, then try to pick a fatter tire that can handle the road.
Pick a frame that fits you well, and keeps you at the center of gravity. When sitting on the bike, make sure that there is no weight on the hands. Also look for steel frames, as they will be more durable than others.
Why choose a road bike?
Let’s say that you are a novice biker. Perhaps you have never ridden a bike before. Maybe the last bike you had was pink and had training wheels. Or you could also be an experienced cyclist who is just looking for a bike to commute around the city. Short trips will be common, and your budget is under $200.
Road bikes are the most popular type of bike that you will see outside. They are ideal for day to day use and can take you from point A to point B easily. These bikes are typically more affordable than touring bikes which makes them more accessible to people.
➥ Read more: Can Road Bikes Go Off-Road?
One would choose a road bike if you are a beginner, or are looking to ride on short commutes. If you are a novice cyclist, or you are looking for a commuting bike, then this is the best option for you!
➥ Here is our ultimate guideline for buying bicycles for beginners.
What features should I consider when buying a road bike?
Because this is the most common bike, there is a huge number of road bikes available in the market. It can be very overwhelming to choose your first bike, especially if you are a beginner.
Just like with touring bikes, consider your budget before starting your search. Think about how much you would like to spend on a road bike, and go from there. Always take into consideration that the most expensive bikes are not always the best. It all depends on what your needs are. However, if you go for the very cheap stuff, you will more often than not get what you paid for.
Once you have a budget in mind, and you start looking at your options, take the following main features into consideration.
Most road bikes will be made of aluminum. This is the more common and most affordable type of material. If you are concerned about the budget, then this type should be good enough for you. If you are more concerned with durability and quality rather than price, then look for steel or carbon fiber. These materials will be more expensive than aluminum, but will ultimately last a lot longer.
Size goes hand in hand with comfort. Being able to comfortably reach your pedals and handlebars is fundamental is choosing a new bike. Paying attention to size will also improve performance. If you are unsure of what size bike is best for you, consult with the shop attendant. They can usually assess your size and make a recommendation on a bike.
Just like with touring bikes, make sure that the bicycle feels right. None of the other features will matter if the bicycle is uncomfortable. Make sure that the seat feels good on the bum. Reach out to the handlebars and check that the weight stays on the seat and does not get transferred to your hands. This is the most important.
➥ Read more: Factors to Consider Before Picking up a Road Bike.
Turning your road bike into a touring bike
If you are thinking of doing a one-time bike excursion, you may not want to spend the money on a touring bike. If this is the case, many cyclists have been known to turn road bikes into touring bikes.
The features of the road bike, such as size and tires, are not easy to change. Therefore, converting it into a touring bike is a matter of customizing it to fit your needs on a long-term trip.
The most important customization will be to fit a full-size rack in the back of the bike to hold luggage. This is necessary to store things such as a first aid kit, repair kits, extra snacks, sunscreen, and lots of water. On a long trip, this baggage would be very hard to keep in a backpack. Moreover, it could become uncomfortable and add unnecessary pressure on your back. Make sure that the rack is fitted nicely, and bolted securely to the bike.
Another tip is to switch out our pedals to double-sided ones. This will increase the comfort of your legs, and provide you with better control.
Remember that this is only a temporary solution for one time excursions. Otherwise, it is highly recommended to purchase a bike that is made for touring. Not only is it safer, but it can also save you money in the long run.
People might think that the more expensive the bike is better. This is far from the truth. In some cases, expensive bikes are just that expensive. When choosing a new bike, there are more things to consider than just the budget.
Take into account what you would like to do with the bike. What are your biking goals? Is it a long-term project? Are you an experienced biker?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you will be able to narrow down your options. All things considered, the main thing to keep in mind is that you feel comfortable on the bicycle.