If you’re looking into getting into touring bikes, it can get tough to do a grand search for all the touring bikes online to find the one that’s right for you. We’ve done the pedaling for you and located five of the best touring bikes that you can buy to hit the road as soon as possible.
Our Picks for the Best Touring Bikes
- Trek 920 Disc Touring Bike
- Masi Giramondo
- Surly Disc Trucker
- Specialized AWOL
- Cinelli Hobootleg
Bestselling Touring Bikes: How to Pick the Best Touring Bike
What Features Make for A Good Touring Bike?
You’ll want a higher bottom bracket drop on your touring bike so that you can ride on roads that aren’t completely flat without draining too much of your stamina or further damaging your bike. In the same vein, the seat tube angle of touring bikes tends to be steeper to offer more aerodynamics and speed at the cost of balance.
Triple cranksets are important for touring bikes because they offer you a huge variety of gears that you can shift through, making your riding at maximum efficiency at all times. But the triple crankset’s extra weight makes the crankset a bit heavier, which is a tradeoff for road bike touring.
Triple cranksets are super compact, though, meaning that you may gain in aerodynamic efficiency what you are losing in effort expended on weight or extra shifting.
Touring bikes often have a shorter chainstay length for better transferring of pedal power to forward momentum. However, the shorter chainstay length comes at the price of climbing traction and comfort but gets offset by the triple crankset and skilled riding.
Touring bikes will have lower wheelbases that encourage a further-forward posture from the rider. This means that they’ll be more aerodynamic by default and use the bike’s nimble characteristics more naturally. The same goes for the tube top length, which is longer on touring bikes.
Longer tube top length makes for a forward hunched position to be more natural and thus emphasizes continually high aerodynamics.
5 Bikes Compared
Let’s compare 5 of the bikes on the market to see how they shape up relative to the features we just identified as extra important for entry level road bikes.
Bottom Bracket Drop
Bottom bracket drop = the vertical distance between the wheelbase and the bottom bracket.
The clear winner here is the Surly Disc Trucker, with a BB drop of 4.7cm. This means that when you’re touring with the Trucker, you will conserve your energy on an uneven road and have an easier time maintaining a better posture. For some riders, this BB drop may be too far, though. So make sure the extra 3 cm is enough to deal with over long distances before making a purchase.
Effective Top Tube Length
Effective top tube length = the level distance from the seat to the stem.
The tube top length is the most important measurement for a bike. For real road bike touring, there shouldn’t be much difference between tube top lengths, unless you’ve made an adjustment for the second rider on a tandem bike.
The shortest top tube is the Cinelli’s, which is shorter by about two centimeters. This isn’t necessarily a fault, but rather a point of consideration for riders with differently sized torsos. Depending on size and riding style, they may find the shorter tube top length more comfortable for maintaining the aerodynamic posture over long tours.
Chainstay length = the level distance from the bottom bracket to the rear wheel.
The chainstay lengths don’t vary much among these models, with a tight distribution of lengths around 44cm. These chainstay lengths will ensure that your power gets transferred directly to your speed on the road, made possible by the cranksets that touring bikes typically have standard.
Wheelbase length = the level distance from the front to rear wheels.
The outlier is the Trek 920, which opts for a longer wheelbase for comfort while touring. The other bikes have better wheelbases, meaning they’ll have more agility and translate the rider’s skill a bit more easily at the expense of comfort.
Seat Tube Angle
Seat tube angle = the angle between the seat tube and the wheelbase .
These touring bikes have aggressive seat tube angles that force the rider to maintain a forward aerodynamic posture and make it more comfortable. Unfortunately, touring bikes aren’t known for their comfort, so there’s not a whole lot to choose from.
Depending on your torso dimensions, you may find that the Cinelli or the Trucker is more efficient or more comfortable. Otherwise, they’re largely the same as far as their touring ability goes.
Review of the Surly Disc Trucker
The Surly Disc Trucker is unique because of its disc braking, relatively comfortable saddle, 5 lb. weight, and understated yet attractive appearance. Skilled riders may scoff at the disc brakes on the Surly, but try them out, and you may learn to love them.
The Surly Disc Trucker uses a Surly 4130 CroMoly steel frame.
The exact details of what makes up Surly’s characteristic name brand alloy frame are unclear, but the frame itself is hard to beat. The frame is light, strong, and can handle the stresses of touring without a problem, though other riders may give it the side eye due to its dark coloration that’s more reminiscent of a mountain bike.
The Surly Disc Trucker uses an Andel RSC6, 26/36/48t crankset, and a Shimano CS-HG50-10, 11-36t, 10-speed cassette . It also uses Microshift BS-M10 shifters and an Avid BB7, G2 160mm rotors front & rear brakeset . The bike also has a KMC x10 chain.
Surly has populated the groupset of this bike with highly expensive components, with the one potential exception being the Shimano cassette. Unfortunately, the Shimano cassette is a mid-line model, making it the weak point of the groupset.
The triple crankset is typical of touring bikes, and the high-quality shifters mean that you can take a long ride with maximum efficiency.
The Surly Disc Trucker uses a Continental Contact, 700c wheels (x 37mm).
These are powerfully built wheels that strike the proper balance between traction and ease of movement over the road. You won’t need to replace these wheels throughout the bike’s lifetime, though you may be a bit shocked at their width.
The wheelset’s width does make it slightly less efficient than other options, but it also adds the durability and control you’ll need.
- The Surly Disc Trucker’s groupset is hard to beat, and densely packs in a set of high quality components that can handle nearly any touring environment.
- The Surly Disc Trucker’s frame is very light, very durable, and very aesthetically pleasant.
- The Surly Disc Trucker has a more comfortable saddle than other touring bikes out of the box, so you probably won’t need to spend any extra money replacing it as you might with some of the other bikes on this list.
- The Surly Disc Trucker’s extreme BB drop may make it uncomfortable for many riders who can’t properly arch their torso to compensate for the extra distance.
- The Surly Disc Trucker uses disc brakes, which add weight, causing many bikers to dislike them despite their effectiveness in fine-tuned speed control.
- The Surly Disc Trucker’s cassette detracts from the high quality of the rest of the groupset.
The Surly Disc Trucker is a competitive touring bike. The biggest stumbling block is the low BB drop, which could make it very uncomfortable for some riders or perfect for others, so it’s hard to weigh in definitively on whether it’s the right bike for your touring needs until you’ve mounted one yourself.
“It is a long-haul trucker, that’s for sure. And it has fat tires.”-BikerDude1953
“It’s versatile; it’s strong, it’s smooth. It’s a bike you can have for many, many years.” – Vivid Life
“It’s easy to take apart and go with an even lighter setup if that’s what you want, but why would you want that unless you’re crazy like me?”- Manual Pedal
Specialized AWOL Review
The Specialized AWOL is a touring bike for a bike tour on a budget. Overall, this might be a good touring bike to buy for your first bike tour, but an experienced tourer will probably find its parts to be unreliable.
The Specialized AWOL uses a heat treated custom-butted Premium Cr-Mo tubing and specialized, 3D forged alloy stem and handlebar frame .
The Specialized AWOL’s frame is acceptable, but not about to win any awards for lightness or comfort. Instead, you can expect this frame to be heavy, durable, and difficult to modify.
The Specialized AWOL uses an FSA Omega, alloy, MegaExo BB, 50/39/30T, 130/74mm BCD spider crankset, Shimano Sora STI brake levers and shifters, a Shimano, 9-speed, 11-32t cassette, and a KMC X9EPT ECO PROTEQ, 9-speed reusable MissingLink chain.
This is a budget groupset through and through. Especially with the Shimano shifters and brake levers, you can expect this groupset to need maintenance and replacement. The chain is acceptable, but not optimal. The crankset itself is the wildcard of the groupset, as some experts swear by it and others claim that it’s prone to constant jamming.
The Specialized AWOL uses Specialized Fatboy, 60TPI, Flak Jacket protection, 700x45mm.
These are fat tires, as the name indicates. Also in the name, you can see that these wider tires are extremely durable, which is perfect for touring. Unfortunately, you’ll have a hard time taking advantage of each tire’s touring ability because of how inefficient the high surface area of wider tires is. These tires seem like they’d be more at home on a mountain bike than a sport touring bike.
- A great first touring bike because it’s relatively inexpensive and should be comfortable for the average bike tourer.
- Easy to modify on your own, which may be necessary to install upgraded parts.
- Comes with a nearly indestructible tire set, which you could use in a context other than touring if necessary.
- Heavy, and doesn’t efficiently transfer the rider’s power into forward momentum.
- Low quality groupset that will need replacements or repairs.
- You’ll have a hard time cruising at maximum efficiency while touring.
The AWOL isn’t the optimal touring bike, but it’s a decent choice for a first touring bike. Veteran bikers will be frustrated by the AWOL’s groupset and heavyweight but may enjoy its ability to take abuse and maintain momentum due to its weight.
“You put a tiny bit of power on the pedal, and wow, it goes, it gives it a bit of gas-it’s not too bad.” – Durianrider Cycling Tips
“The combination of the brakes and rotors works really well together.”- Gijs Loning
“It comes with a lot of little extras that you immediately appreciate, like saddlebags, extra mounts, and extra hardware.”- Social Cyclist
Cinelli Hobootleg Review
The Cinelli Hobootleg is a typical touring bike that can seamlessly detour onto gravel roads. Most riders won’t be surprised to find that the Cinelli is hyper-reliable if a bit heavy. What is suprising is the price. Cinelli has many inexpensive components that don’t hold back its performance in touring.
The Cinelli Hobootleg uses a Columbus Cr-Mo Steel 1-1/8 frame.
This frame is heavy and can take a lot of abuse. You may have difficulty dragging this steel touring bike around with one hand, as it weighs nearly 13 kgs. At that size, it’s much larger than most cycle touring models.
The Cinelli Hobootleg uses a Microshift BS-T09 Bar End – Index-Friction shifters, in addition to a Shimano CS-HG400 11/34T cassette . It also uses an FSA Alpha Drive Trekking 26/36/48T 170/175 mm crankset.
The Microshift shifters make up for the Shimano cassette, so there shouldn’t be any problem there. However, the Alpha Drive crankset is a hit or miss. Depending on who you ask, ithe crankset should meet your bicycle touring needs, but it probably won’t be the perfectly efficient crankset for multifunctional use.
If you plan on taking your touring bike onto gravel roads, this groupset won’t let you down. But on a city street, this gravel bike could do better.
The Cinelli Hobootleg uses a Vittoria Randonneur Trail 700 x 38 mm wheelset.
This wheelset is one of the strongest features of the Cinelli, and it’s the defining trait of the bike. You’ll be able to keep on touring for decades using the same wheelset, provided that you don’t abuse them too much.
This is a relatively uncommon wheelset to encounter on bikes in the US, so you may have trouble finding exact replacements at arbitrary bike shops.
- Has the potential to be a bargain touring bike, given that it contains both expensive and inexpensive components and tends to fluctuate in price frequently.
- Comes in various friendly and attention-grabbing colors that you wouldn’t usually find on a touring bike.
- One of the few bikes that can claim to have broken the Guinness World Record for crossing the world by bicycle, providing a testament to its durability.
- It’s a mishmash of great parts like the wheelbase and mediocre parts like the Shimano cassette, so it’s tough to predict what will break and when.
- buying a brand new Cinelli is likely overpaying for it, given the quality of the groupset.
- Handlebars may be over-responsive for novice bikers.
There are a few issues with the Cinelli, but it’s hard not to recommend it as a good mid-level sport touring bike. Users seem to love their Cinellis, and feats of durability like winning Guinness World Records prove that there’s more to this bike than the sum of its parts.
“Nearly all of the components can be replaced or repaired on the road, which is a huge boon to those of us who tend to abuse our bikes and break down while touring.” – Advanced Cycling Association
“When I was with my Hobootleg in Africa during the Tour d’Afrique 2013, I had a vision that I was going to climb this one dune with my bike, and I did it, and it was awesome. We did it.” – Lucas Brunelle
“Apart from the bike’s beautiful painting, it’s coated with a substance that prevents erosion from the dust that gets kicked up on the road. I like to ride the Atacama, so little features like that matter a lot to me.” – Revista Cletofilia
Trek 920 Disc Touring Bike Review
The Trek 920 Disc Touring Bike is a clear option for our best touring bikes list because it is an adventure bike built for backpackers who also tour. This bike has many points to add on cargo capacity and other extra features that you’re sure to appreciate under the right conditions.
The Trek 920 Disc Touring Bike uses an Alpha Platinum Aluminum, Boost148, Midstay Frame. It also has an E2 tapered head tube, internal derailleur & dropper post routing, PF92, Stranglehold dropouts, G2 Geometry, and proprietary rack mounts.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: this frame is 31 lbs. That doesn’t make it worse than any of the other frames on this list, but it is the heaviest by far.
The Trek 920 Disc Touring Bike uses a Race Face Aeffect, 30T Direct Mount Narrow Wide Crank, Shimano SLX M7000 11 speed shifters, a Shimano SLX M7000, 11-46, 11-speed cassette, and a Shimano HG-601 chain.
There are a few interesting design choices in this groupset, to be sure. The use of a Shimano chain is a bit of an oddity, although presumably, it’ll work in harmony with the Shimano shifters and cassette. The crankset itself should be highly reliable if a bit heavy for what it can do.
Most importantly, this bike doesn’t come standard with any particular pedal set, so you’ll have to purchase your own.
The Trek 920 Disc Touring Bike uses a Bontrager Chupacabra, Tubeless Ready, Inner Strength sidewalls, aramid bead, 29×3.00 wheelset.
This wheelset will be right at home in the wilderness, but a bit over-engineered for your typical touring course. You’ll also find that this wheelset is difficult to repair in the field, and extremely expensive to replace-but extremely functional in places that bicycle touring doesn’t go.
- Built to perform and handle like a mountain bike rather than a touring bike, which means that it’s ultra-reliable for touring.
- Can accommodate many additional cargo and a wide variety of rider body shapes.
- Can easily handle rough terrain without fear of malfunction.
- Inefficient for touring or city riding due to its heaviness, crankset, and wheelset.
- Extremely expensive, especially for a bike that won’t be efficient in normal touring conditions.
- May be hard to handle for newer riders due to its combination of bulk and crankset.
In short, The Trek 920 Disc Touring Bike is for those taking a long ride to operate in extreme environments and are willing to pay the price for it. The Trek 920 Disc Touring Bike might be the right bike for people who like to go touring with lots of gear and don’t mind maintaining a slow pace.
“It is nice to be able to transition between dirt to pavement and dirt to pavement.” – Trek Bicycle
“It’s so good when you’re fully loaded up. Everything is mounted cleanly, easy to balance, and easy to take with you.” – KernowMan
“It’s the smoothest bike that I’ve ever ridden by far.” – Wild Outdoor Living
Masi Giramondo Review
The Masi Giramondo is a heavy handling beast of a touring bicycle with a few top-of-the-line features for a reasonable price. So if you’ve got a strong arm, the Defy 5 might be the right entry level bike for you.
The Masi Giramondo uses a Masi double butted tig welded chromoly disc frame . It also has rack & fender mounts, five bottle mounting locations, extra spoke holder, integrated headtube & integrated seat clamp.
It can also work as an excellent gravel bike. The frame of the Masi will give you a little bit of fatigue relief because of the flex points that it has, which can be nice if you’re making frequent transitions from road to gravel.
The Masi Giramondo has a Shimano Deore T611 crankset, 44/32/24t with sealed Shimano BB , and Shimano Deore 10spd front and rear derailleurs w/ Microshift barend shifters . It also has a Shimano 11-34t, 10-speed cassette and a KMC X10 chain .
The Masi Giramondo’s heavy reliance on Shimano’s midscale parts means that the groupset is where the bike’s price is being kept affordable. You shouldn’t have any problems with this groupset, so don’t expect to repair or replace any parts.
The Masi Giramondo uses Kenda Slant-Six 27.5 x 2.10 tires and ProMax DSK-300R disc brakes .
This wheelset is rather rare, but it’s typically quite reliable. The rim brakes and wheels work in perfect unison, allowing even beginning riders to control the bike’s gradual deceleration.
- Offers a very comfortable ride when it comes to braking and gear shifting.
- Fatigue-relieving features, which most of the bikes we’ve discussed in this article don’t have.
- Quite affordable, and aside from a few of the items in the crankset, is a great value at the sticker price.
- Shimano shifters mean that shifting won’t always feel smooth and may require some fixing.
- Rim brakes are an amazing disc brake setup, but it adds lots of weight and width to the bike.
- The Masi Giramondo will delight new bicycle tour riders but has a few issues which will likely frustrate more experienced bikers.
The Masi Giramondo is a heavy but affordable bike which might be a good choice as an entry level touring bike. However, more experienced users will probably want to steer clear and find a better-suited vehicle for their bicycle tour.
This is a cool bike with good grips and slightly thicker tires-I’m a big fan of this machine.” – Full Cycle Ottawa
“You can pretty much use this bike for anything-the disc brakes just plain work better, they’re unreal.” -Philip Tintsman
“The only things I’ve had to change on the bicycle is the saddle. Everything else is more than adequate, and it’s not bad for the money.” – John Thomas