What is Bicycle Touring?

Bicycle touring, sometimes known as bike-packing, is the act of traveling by bicycle. A tour can last from a few days, to months or even years! Bike travel can be done on your local trail or across the world. This article will explore a few of the different options and approaches that people take when going on a bike trip. Looking for more bicycle touring content? Go to our content page

What is a Bicycle Tour

A bicycle tour is a form of human powered travel. Some may think of it as a combination of backpacking and cycling. Luckily, you don’t have to wear the big backpack all day! Bicycle tourists often tour solo, with small groups, or on guided tours offered by touring companies.

Tours come in all shapes and sizes. Some embark on self supported expeditions where riders carry everything they might need in the more remote areas of the globe. Others may take so called credit card tours where they ride from hotel to hotel, experiencing life on the road with a bit more comfort. Still others take the middle path; ride for a week or so and camp along the way.

Can I go Bicycle Touring?

If you can ride a bike, you can go on a bicycle tour. Just as tours come in different varieties so do the people that ride them. We have met men and women, boys and girls from all over the globe. The one thing they have in common is the desire to get out on their bikes and see something new. As long as you are comfortable riding your bike for a few hours, bicycle touring is accessible and approachable for you. If you think you need some help training for a bike trip, check out the bicycle tour training guide.

Where Should I go on a Bike Tour?

Where you go on a bicycle tour is of course very personal, but we can give you a few tips to get started.

Take an established route

Look online for established bike routes that other cyclists have taken before you. Many people have written blogs about their trips that can help you plan yours. An established route will take you on roads that are usually safe and that have been traversed by many cyclists before you. Reading blogs about trips along that route will help you know where to stay, what roads may be sketchy, and which sites are not to miss. Use our handy tour planning guide to get started.

Pick what you want to see

The best way to decide where you want to ride is to simply pick a place that you want to see. Interested in beaches? Go ride along the cost. Love mountain? Go ride in the mountains. Maybe you want to go visit a friend or relative. It is a great combination of a visit and giving yourself a bit of a safety valve. The friend knows where you are and could potentially offer assistance if you were in trouble. One of our first tours was a ride up the California coast from one relative’s home to another. Where you go isn’t important as long as its something you would love to do

What kind of bike do I need?

What kind of bike you need for a bicycle tour depends on what you want to do with it. Here is an easy chart to help you decide what kind of bike you might need.

Type of BikeProsCons
Touring BikeSturdy and can support heavy loads
Range of tire widths for comfort
Attachment points for racks and gear
Relaxed geometry for comfort
Gear Ratios and setup for touring conditions
Comfortable hand positions
Can be heavy
May not handle rough terrain well
Road BikeWill be faster on the road
Great for credit card or light tours
Comfortable hand positions
May not be able to support heavy gear
Lack of rack attachment points
Can struggle off-road
Gravel BikeGreat for road and off-road conditions
Versatile tire size options
Comfortable hand positions
Cannot handle rocky terrain well
May not have attachment points
Mountain BikePerfect for classic “bikepacking”
Can handle all terrain
Suspension can make the ride more comfortable
Slow on roads
May be very heavy
One hand position can make riders sore

Published by Dave and Meredith

Two endurance junkies turned adventure travelers. Come on a trip with us!

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