Many people going on a bike trip think about what a bicycle should be for a long and comfortable ride. I want to share my experience with you and give you tips on what to pay attention to when choosing a bike for traveling.
In general, you can go on a trip on any and even the cheapest bike, but then it will break down more often, cause discomfort and riding it will be disappointing.
Depending on which area you are interested in traveling, you should choose the appropriate bike.
Bicycles that are suitable for traveling
A touring bike is a bicycle specially designed for long journeys on the roads. They are reliable and ideal for cargo transportation. Compared to sports bikes, the frame of a tourist bike is elongated and has a lower center of gravity – this gives greater stability when loaded, but reduces maneuverability. The frames of good tourist bicycles are made of alloyed chromium-molybdenum steel, due to this, the frame is comfortable for a long ride, strong, and durable. A large range of gears allows you to overcome steep climbs without problems. It is possible to install rear and front trunks.
There are varieties of tourist bicycles. Some are more suitable for driving on asphalt – they have smooth tires and rim brakes. Others have the opportunity to ride on dirt roads – such bicycles have more wheel clearance, which allows you to install wider tires and increase cross-country ability, and disc brakes.
Hybrid (hybrid bike) – this bike combines the features of a mountain and road bike. From the mountain, it has a similar frame geometry, and attachments (transmission, gear switches, brakes) – this allows you to overcome difficult terrain, from the road – narrower tires and 28-inch wheels, the absence of a shock-absorbing fork, or an entry-level fork. The hybrid frame
is most often made of aluminum alloy, rigid and maneuverable. It is possible to install a rear trunk. You can go on a hybrid trip, but in my opinion, it is not as comfortable when driving for a long time and not as stable on the road as a tourist. Ideal for driving around the city and easy rough terrain, for example, for daily commuting.
A mountain bike (mountain bike) is a bicycle designed for riding and racing over rough terrain. The frame of the mountain bike is strong and rigid, the geometry is sporty – short, with an inflated ground clearance. Such a bike is characterized by the presence of a shock-absorbing fork, and in some cases, a rear suspension, which allows you to maintain grip and handling on an uneven surface. Brakes are usually hydraulic disc brakes. The transmission has a wide range of gears. The attachments of a high-quality mountain bike are characterized by increased reliability and operability in a polluted state.
On a hardtail mountain bike, you can go hiking through forests with difficult trails, through hilly terrain. On paved roads, such a bike is significantly inferior in efficiency to a hybrid and a tourist one, but a mountain bike can be turned into a hybrid if smooth tires are installed.
A fat bike is a bike with wide low-pressure tires for off-road driving. Unlike mountain bikes, there is no shock-absorbing suspension on fat bikes, because thick wheels themselves soften the blows. There are varieties of fat bikes for tourism – the geometry of their frame is elongated, contributes to a more comfortable fit, and it is possible to install luggage racks – front and rear. These bikes are ideal for traveling in the wild – on loose soil, snow, and rocks. The absence of roads is not an obstacle for them.
Folding bike – a bicycle with a folding frame. Usually, such a bike is associated with a bicycle for the city and small walks, but there are special tourist versions of folding bicycles. They have small wheels, attachments like a mountain bike, as well as a front and rear trunk. The landing is comfortable for long trips. The bike is very convenient for transportation, so it is suitable for those who do not want to ride a bike all the way and plan to use public transport, trains, and planes often.
What you should pay attention to when choosing a tourist bike
The frame is the main thing to pay attention to when choosing any bike. The tourist frame should have an elongated geometry and a comfortable fit, rigid, durable, and made of high-quality material, and at the same time be relatively light. Such frames have holes for mounting trunks and mud flaps (wings). The fork is without shock absorption because it is simple, lightweight, maintenance-free, allows you to install the front trunk, and gives a better roll.
Brakes must be powerful and reliable. In my opinion, disc mechanical brakes are best for tourism, but traditional rim brakes are also suitable. The main thing is that they are of good quality. Each option has its own advantages.
Disc mechanical brakes have a simple design and can be repaired in field conditions, they do not wear out the rims and work better in bad weather. The disadvantages are that it is possible to bend the disk during transportation, and it is difficult to straighten it. Pads for such brakes are harder to find in small towns.
Rim brakes are easy to maintain and parts for them can be found in any bike shop. The main drawback is the rapid wear of the pads, especially in bad weather, over time it wears out the rim.
The transmission on touring bikes must have a wide range of gears and withstand long-term operation. Usually there are 3 stars on the front system, and a mountain cassette on the back. The main thing is not the number of gears, but the difference in gear ratio between the minimum and maximum asterisk. In tourism, unlike cycling, there is no need to set speed records, so there is no need to install expensive lightweight equipment. There will be enough medium-level components – in terms of reliability and wear rate, they are not inferior to professional ones, but much cheaper.
The trunk is a very important part of a tourist bike. A high-quality trunk is designed in such a way that its racks evenly transfer the load to the attachment points. There should be no weak points – they will definitely break under load. The most popular luggage racks are made of aluminum and steel alloys. All other things being equal, steel trunks will be more durable than aluminum, but steel ones have more weight.