The touring bicycle, as the name suggests, is used by cyclists who want to ride from place to place on their bike carrying change of clothes, food etc. These bicycles have racks mounted on the front and rear of the frame for carrying the extra gear. They have a large wheelbase, mudguard mounting points, triple water bottle mounts and a suitable frameset for wider tires.
The three most popular touring bicycles in use today are the road, recumbent and tandem bikes. Each of these bikes has its own advantages and disadvantages, and should be bought according to an individual’s requirements.
A classic road-touring bicycle has a 700C wheel, whose diameter is the same as that of a racing bike wheel but which has wider rims and better frame clearance. In recent years, manufacturers have been modifying the 26” mountain bike tires as they provide better resistance and greater strength.
The recumbent touring bicycles look different on account of the seat position. In these bicycles, the rider sits on a reclined seat with his legs in front of the seat. Steering is positioned above or below the seat level.
Tandems are essentially meant to carry two riders, and are popular among couples who want to travel long distances economically. However, these bikes can’t carry any extra weight and the riders often have to hitch a trailer.
The modern touring bikes are usually equipped with front and rear luggage racks, road handlebars and saddles for long distance comfort. They are supplemented by rugged hubs, heavy-duty rims and 36-spoke wheels. These increase their reliability and stability. Sometimes easy detachable trailers are towed behind for carrying gear, which is preferable since it provides a low center of gravity.
Touring bicycles have a long wheelbase and a stable steering arrangement. They have various attachment points for keeping luggage, fixing fenders and most importantly storing water bottles. Spare parts can also be kept in few cases. There is a provision of longer chain stay to ensure that the rider can ride without experiencing any discomfort.
The entire bike is made of sturdy and long lasting material which can handle fast ascents and descents even when loaded. The normal caliper brakes used in racing bikes are replaced by cantilever or lever-pulled brakes. Disc brakes have been tried on a few touring bikes because of their excellent braking power.
The touring bicycles compromise on speed but provide extra utility and ruggedness. This combination of features has made them popular among low budget, young tourists.