Last updated: August 6, 2021

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Welcome to our big touring bike test 2021. Here we present all the touring bikes we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best touring bike for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy a touring bike.




Summary

  • Touring bikes are often confused with other types of bikes, here you can learn about touring bikes and their closest relatives, such as the trekking bike.
  • Touring bikes are suitable for people who want to use it as an urban vehicle.
  • You will read about how to determine the quality of a bicycle.

The Best Touring Bike: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a touring bike

What is a touring bike?

A touring bike, or also called a city bike, is basically a bicycle that is used for everyday use and is therefore considered a comfortable means of transport for everyone.

The name is misleading for many and it is often confused with a touring bike. However, the name stands for a bicycle that is "suitable for any tour".

The touring bike: a classic everyday bike that can be found in many cities in a wide variety of models. (Image source: unsplash.com / Duo Chen)

A touring bike is characterised by the fact that you sit upright throughout and that the saddle is padded and has suspension. A mud flap and often also a closed chain guard protect you in wet conditions.

Touring bikes usually have wide and curved handlebars. They often have hub gears, comparatively wide tyres and equipment suitable for everyday use (lights, luggage racks, etc.)

How is a touring bike constructed?

The shape of touring bikes for women and men in particular differs. Touring bikes for women usually have a curved frame and thus a low step-in, as is the case with Dutch bikes, which makes it particularly easy to get on and off.

Touring bikes are built like most other bicycles. They have the basic components (frame, handlebars, gears, wheels, etc.), and most have suspension built into the saddle, which absorbs light shocks and thus increases comfort. However, if you ride mainly on bad roads, suspension is recommended, at least on the front tyre.

If you mostly ride good roads, don't carry much and comfort is not so important to you, a light, hard touring bike with thin tyres or even a road bike would be recommended.

How much does a touring bike cost?

The prices of touring bikes vary widely, as does their quality. Cheap touring bikes start at €200 and expensive ones sell for up to €1000.

One aspect that has a particularly strong influence on the price is the frame and thus the weight; light materials and a corresponding design are more expensive.

If a new bike is too expensive for you, it is advisable to buy a used touring bike. High-quality bicycles are particularly durable and can usually be maintained for a long time with minor maintenance.

Suitable e-bikes start at 400 €. There are also high-end products that sell for up to 4000 €.

What are the alternatives to a touring bike?

There are many alternatives to touring bikes, namely all kinds of means of transport. These can be divided into motorised and non-motorised. Of course, these alternatives are not obvious to everyone, as individual ideas of what the use of a bicycle is differ greatly.

Non-motorised

Here, other types of bicycles are considered as alternatives, as well as other means of transport such as skateboards and scooters. These are particularly popular in urban areas because their handy format and size make them easy to transport and they can also be taken on public transport.

Other types of bicycles, such as mountain bikes, are also often well suited as city bikes and as bicycles for everyday use

Motorised alternatives

The motorised alternatives are particularly appealing to those who do not cycle for sport. Of course, cars and motorbikes are considered substitutes for bicycles.

These are also available as more environmentally friendly electric models, but it must be remembered that a bicycle is still much more ecological.

Furthermore, scooters and skateboards can also be equipped with electric drives.

Decision: What types of everyday and leisure bikes are there and which is right for you?

If you want to buy a touring bike, you need to prepare yourself for the fact that you will come across many different bikes during your search. The reason for this is that confusion arises due to the similarity to the English name for touring bikes.

Below you will read about the different types of bikes that may suit your needs if you are looking for a touring bike.

What are the characteristics of a city bike and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

City bike is a newer name for the classic touring bike. This term is clearer and less likely to be confused. If you are looking for a simple, comfortable bike, a city bike is a good choice.

Advantages
  • Cheap
  • Comfortable
  • Healthy posture
Disadvantages
  • Comparatively slow
  • Suspension only on the saddle
  • Not suitable for bad roads

Despite its low price, a city bike is usually fully equipped, which means it has front and rear lights, a luggage rack and often a bell as well.

If there is a tram in your city, its wider tyres are definitely advantageous, as you won't easily get caught in the tracks.

On the other hand, it is usually slower than other bikes, not suitable for longer tours and on bad roads.

What distinguishes a trekking bike and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

A trekking bike is an all-purpose bike, still called an "all-terrain bike", that is suitable for everyday use, light terrain, as well as touring and smaller bicycle trips.

Due to its versatility, it is the right bike for you if you like to cycle in your free time and a city bike is not enough for your needs.

Advantages
  • Also for easy terrain
  • Faster
  • Also for longer tours
Disadvantages
  • More expensive
  • Mix of different bike types
  • Less comfort for short distances

A trekking bike is actually a mixture of road bike, touring bike and mountain bike. The frame is usually similar to that of a road bike. Tyres are usually a bit wider, but thinner than on a city bike. It also usually has suspension at the front and, like a city bike, the additional equipment of a city bike.

This mixture can be interpreted as an advantage and a disadvantage. If it is important to you to cover several applications with one bike, a trekking bike is ideal for you. However, if you want to specialise in one application, there are better options (touring bike for longer tours, road bike for sports, etc.).

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate touring bikes

If, after reading the last section, you think that a touring bike is the best fit for you, the next step is to think about what you want in a touring bike and how much it should cost.

You need to think about what you want to do with the touring bike. Will you use it as a city bike, for example for your daily commute to the nearest supermarket, or do you live in a more rural area and ride it 15 kilometres to work every day?

For a pure city bike, you don't necessarily have to buy the most expensive and lightest one, as a cheaper model is usually sufficient. As long as you can get around with it happily and comfortably. The risk of theft is lower and you save money.

For people who often cycle longer distances, whether to work or for leisure, it is advisable to buy a higher quality bike.

If you often ride on bad roads, for example, a good suspension fork is recommended, as it absorbs the shocks of potholes and does not hurt your back.

Electric bikes are also a practical option for touring bikes. If you don't feel like cycling because it's too strenuous for you and you still don't want to get into the car for every short distance, a little electric assistance is a relief.

In the following, we will show you what to look for when choosing a bike.

The most important aspects with which you can compare bicycles include the following factors:

  • Weight
  • Size and fit
  • Frame
  • Wheel size
  • Suspension fork
  • Gear system
  • Equipment (lighting, bell)

Weight

Weight is a crucial factor when buying a bike, especially if you want to ride something more sporty. Lighter bikes are significantly faster and less strenuous to ride.

When it comes to weight, the frame plays a decisive role and so does the material. You will find the advantages and disadvantages of steel and aluminium in the decision section.

Normal touring bikes usually have a weight range of 12 to 18 kilos.

Size and fit

It is ergonomically very important that your bike fits you well. The wrong size leads to a poor riding position, which can ultimately lead to various physical complaints such as back pain.

It is relatively difficult to find out whether or not you will feel comfortable on a bicycle without first testing it. There are size charts that will help you find a suitable bike without testing it. However, we still recommend that you test the bike in a traditional shop.

Frame

The total weight of a bicycle is, of course, the weight of all its components. The frame has the greatest influence here.

It can be made of different materials (e.g. steel or aluminium) and therefore has different properties.

Aluminium frame

Aluminium is usually not very elastic and bends very quickly. The strength is not particularly high. In the frame construction, shorter and thicker tubes must therefore be used, it is relatively light, but more material must be used so that it does not bend.

Advantages
  • Lightweight
  • Good acceleration
Disadvantages
  • Suspension required
  • Less stable

As the frame is not elastic and is therefore very hard and stiff, suspension is recommended, otherwise the shocks will not be absorbed and you will feel every stone on the road.

On the other hand, due to the stiff frame, these bikes accelerate very well. Heavy loads should not be transported, as aluminium is usually not characterised by its robustness.

Steel frame

Steel is a strong and also elastic material. It is heavier, but less material can be used in the construction of the frame, which means that the weight of the frame does not necessarily have to be higher.

Advantages
  • Elastic
  • Resilient
Disadvantages
  • Heavier material
  • Difficult construction

The steel frame is considered very robust and resilient. If you often want to transport heavy loads on your bike, this material is ideal. Furthermore, it is elastic, which means that suspension is not necessarily required.

In terms of construction, a steel frame is more demanding in order to make it light and stable, as only a small amount of material may be used.

Wheel size

Wheel size affects the height of the bicycle on the one hand and the stopping time and speed on the other. Wheel size is measured in inches and the standard size for touring bikes is 28 inches. 26 inch bikes are the second most popular.

However, tyre size is also a bit of a matter of faith in cycling and is often discussed very emotionally.

Bicycle fork

There are touring bikes with rigid forks and with suspension forks. Whether suspension is necessary also depends on the frame.

It is not crucial for a touring bike to have suspension, but if you want a bike that is as comfortable as possible, it is good to know.

In general, bicycles have suspension either on the saddle only, on the front tyre or on both the front and rear tyres. Full suspension bikes are almost exclusively used for mountain biking and downhill riding.

Gearstick

The gears often provide information about the general quality of a bicycle. Bikes without gears are usually only suitable for short distances.

Bicycles with derailleur gears have more gears and can therefore be used more widely, but they are also more susceptible and require more frequent maintenance. If they are of good quality, they have around 27 gears and are therefore ideal for steep terrain.

The gears are an essential part of every bicycle and should therefore be carefully examined when buying. (Image source: unsplash.com / Wayne Bishop)

Bicycles with hub gears are more robust, but they have fewer gears. They are therefore more durable and require less maintenance, but are only suitable for mountainous terrain if they are of high quality.

Standard versions are available as 8- and 11-speed versions, there are also special versions such as the Rohloff 14-speed, which is also suitable for mountainous terrain.

Equipment

When buying a bike, you should also consider what equipment is included in the purchase price. Especially if you are thinking of buying a sportier bike, you should make sure that it has sufficient equipment, such as lighting.

Facts worth knowing about touring bikes

How do I adjust my touring bike correctly?

Adjusting these three aspects is very easy if you know how to do it and have a suitable screwdriver (5 mm Allen key) for the saddle and handlebars and an air pump for the tyres.

Tyre pressure

The tyre pressure for a touring bike with 28 inch tyres is between 3.5 and 6 bar. The optimal pressure is influenced by your weight.

Handlebar

The handlebars must of course be adjusted straight. On a touring bike, the handlebars should be adjusted so that you adopt a comfortable, straight riding position.

Saddle

When adjusting the saddle you must follow these rules:

  1. Saddle parallel to the ground
  2. Feet should be extended at the lowest point of the pedal stroke

The saddle should be adjusted parallel to the ground, so it is as straight as possible. You should be able to stretch your foot when pedalling, otherwise the power transmission is less efficient and poor posture can cause knee problems.

Is a touring bike recommended as an e-bike?

Especially in recent years, the development of electric bikes has been rapid. Today there are touring/trekking bikes, mountain bikes and also other types of bikes that are equipped with an eclectic drive.

Advantages
  • High speed
  • Climb slopes easily
  • Comfortable and long range
Disadvantages
  • Charging
  • High weight
  • Expensive

Due to the support of the motor, you can reach constantly high speeds. In Europe, these bicycles are allowed to travel at a maximum of 25 km/h. At higher speeds, the drive does not assist.

Gradients in particular can be overcome easily and, if desired, without much effort. In recent years, electronic bicycles in particular have been characterised by the fact that they already have a very long range.

On the other hand, e-bikes are very heavy and very difficult to operate without electricity. If you buy an e-bike, you should think about where you can charge it at home.

Can I build a touring bike by converting a road bike?

Yes! Road bikes can be converted so that they can be used in everyday life! To do this, you need to take care of the following aspects when converting your bike

Make roadworthy

Especially for a city bike, it is important that it meets the legal requirements as well as keeping the risk of injury in road traffic as low as possible.

Road bikes do not necessarily have to have lighting. The first step is therefore to provide basic lighting. You need a front and rear light and reflectors on both pedals and spokes.

Replace parts with care

You can change parts, but only with care. For example, the width of the previous saddle should not be changed.

Be willing to compromise

Before you start the conversion, you must be aware that you will never sit as comfortably on a road bike as on a touring or trekking bike. Therefore, it is of course also an option to sell your road bike, save yourself the conversion and buy a touring or trekking bike.

Travel: Crossing the most famous and beautiful Alpine passes by bike

This point is more interesting for people who like to travel, of course, but also see cycling as an interesting leisure activity and have a bike that is suitable for longer tours, such as a trekking bike or a high quality touring bike.

The Aplen regions in particular offer popular routes for cyclists with impressive scenery. (Image source: unsplash.com / Samuel Zeller)

The classic among cycling tours is the crossing of the Alps, the most popular being the Transalp touring bike route Munich to Venice.

On a total of 560 kilometres, you can travel through three countries and cross scenically impressive mountain passes in the Tyrolean Alps and the Italian Dolomites. The majority of the route is on cycle paths or roads with little traffic.

As the entire route involves a total of over 3000 metres of altitude gain, you should have a bicycle with derailleur gears and be in good physical condition. The complete tour is planned for at least seven days.

If you are put off by the length of the trip and the distance, you can of course limit yourself to individual sections or skip sections, such as the climb from Innsbruck to the Brenner Pass (1000 m ascent). The beautiful landscape can be observed just as well from the train on this route.

It is also possible to complete this tour with an e-bike, as there are plenty of charging options along the route.

Image source: pixabay.com / Pexels

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