If you want to tour, but you’re not sure which type of bike is right for you, you’re not alone. Choosing the perfect bike for your trip can be an overwhelming task. There are so many options and variables to consider. Are you looking for a gravel bike, a mountain bike, a hybrid bike, a touring bike, a trekking bike, or a road touring bike?
Read on to understand the differences and make an informed decision on how to pick the right touring bicycle for you!
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How Do You Want to Tour?
Before you start looking at bikes, you’ll want to determine how you want to tour. Do you want to ride long distances? Are you interested in more challenging climbs? Do you want to experience different terrains? Do you want to ride through cities and towns? Or do you want to ride away from main roads on unpaved or gravel roads?
Whether you’re interested in gravel biking, mountain biking, or a hybrid bike, there are specific features to look for depending on what type of bike you’re interested in, and I have tried to break down the differences as clearly as possible below:
Touring bikes are characterized by their more upright riding position, wide rims, and drop, flat, riser or butteryfly handlebars. Usually, such touring bicycles come in men's and women's specific frames. They are most often equipped with wider tires suitable for paved and unpaved roads. Many touring bikes also feature front suspension for a more comfortable ride, and all touring bikes must include mounting points for racks to carry panniers and other accessories.
Although a typical touring bike weighs around 15 kg unloaded, they usually feature a wide range of gears to make cycling on hilly and flat terrain equally accessible. Touring bikes are designed to be versatile and durable, ideally using mid-range componenents which are easy to replace anywhere in the world, which makes them ideal for long-distance touring on mostly paved roads.
Trekking bikes are essentially touring bikes, with a more off road design - and largely a marketing designation. Just like touring bikes, they are designed to provide support for heavy loads, or for riders that want a bike that will be able to handle their camping gear or other supplies.
They have a sturdy frame and wide, mixed surface or off-road tires to handle both paved and unpaved surfaces. Trekking bikes also feature racks and front or rear suspension and usually also include mudguards.
Mountain bikes are designed to ride over a variety of terrain and tackle steeper hills and mountains, thanks to generously low gears. They feature wide rims, knobby tires, and suspension, which improve handling and maneuverability off road and increase the comfort of the off road ride. Mountain bikes are commonly equipped with suspension forks and additionally rear shocks for increased control and smooth riding on uneven surfaces.
Mountain bikes are typically heavier than road or hybrid bikes, but can easily be equipped with pannier racks make great touring bicycles, for comfortable use on all types of terrain from cobbled roads to forest trails, even when fully loaded. This makes them ideal for bike tours with over 50% unpaved roads.
Gravel bikes are specifically designed to ride on unpaved and gravel trails. They are essentially road bikes, with wider, off-road tires and wider handlebars, and a slightly reinforced frame. While gravel bikes are normally slightly heavier than road bikes, they provide a bike that’s perfectly suited for a long-distance ride or for touring on and off paved roads.
Gravel bikes have a wide, low stance for increased stability and the ability to tackle all types of terrain. They feature wider rims, knobby tires, and wide handlebars to reduce vibration and provide a comfortable ride when riding over rough trails. Gravel bikes are normally equipped with more rack and accessory mounting points than road bikes, making them the right choice for riders exploring smoother unpaved roads on their bike tour.
Road Touring Bikes
Road touring bikes, also known simply as “touring bikes”, are essentially road bikes that are configured for bike touring. They often come equipped with slightly wider wheel rims to accomodate wider tires that make long distance cycling more comfortable - and allow for riding on rougher roads if needed.
Road touring bikes feature lightweight, durable frames, and faster rolling tires. They feature drop handlebars, which provide a more sporty riding position, and should also feature heavier-duty disc brakes and derailleurs to handle the rigors of riding with additional cargo on paved roads.
Hybrid bikes are a combination of mountain, road, and gravel bikes. They have a hybrid frame and components, which combine the best qualities of different types of bikes to create the perfect, light touring bike. Hybrid bikes feature a rigid frame and ridgid fork, which aim to reduce weight. They also feature wider rims and mixed surface tires.
Hybrid bikes typically offer a more comfortable upright seated position for long-distance touring, and are ideally suited to paved roads and smoother terrain. We designate our hybrid bikes as "Light touring bikes", and they are popular for their lower weight and comfortable ride.
Choosing the Right Bike for You
To make an informed decision on which bike is best for you, you’ll need to consider where you want to ride and what style of bike touring suits you best. The best way to do this is to think about what type of touring you want to do and what type of bike you think will best suit your needs.
As you consider your options, keep in mind that not all bikes are made for every type of bicycle touring. For example, if you’re interested in riding through cities, you may prefer a road bike or a hybrid, light touring bike. If you’re looking for a bike that’s best for long-distance touring off the beaten track, however, you want to look at mountain or suspension touring bikes instead.
If you're still not sure what bike is best for you, don't worry, we are here to help, so just reach out below!
If you're looking for an unforgettable experience, self guided bike tours are just the thing. Self-guided bike tours are a great way to explore the world around you because you have greater opportunity to interact with your environment.
You can also take time to stop and explore an area that otherwise might not have captured your attention.
It might sound intimidating, but don't worry! This beginner’s guide will give you all the information you need to go on a self-guided bike tour. From what route is best for beginners, to what you need for safety, this guide has it all!
The basics of self-guided bike tours
Self-guided bike tours are a great way to explore the world around you because you have greater opportunity to interact with your environment. You can also take time to stop and explore an area that otherwise might not have captured your attention.
You don't need a lot of experience to embark on a self-guided bike tour! In fact, if you're new to biking, this is a great way to start out.
The first thing you'll want to do is read up on how to use your bike properly. It's important that you know how it should feel to ride it with some luggage and on different terrain.
There's a difference between the feel of a road or mountain bike, so make sure you understand which type of bike will suit your route, before departure.
Once you have an understanding of the appropriate bicycle for your type of bike tour, find the perfect route for beginners.
A good beginner's self guided bike tour should have you cycling between three to five hours hours a day, with a straightforward route and with easy turns and limited hill climbing.
Aim to avoid busy roads and areas where cars may come from different directions unexpectedly.
What route is best for beginners?
When you're preparing for a self-guided bike tour, one of the most important decisions you'll have to make is what route to take. There are many factors that will go into this decision including how much time you have, your fitness level, and your preference.
If you're just getting started with bike tours, then it's often best to start out with a loop ride route. Loop routes provide a great introductory experience because they typically have a low amount of elevation gains and can be completed in about four hours.
Loop ride tours are great for beginners because they simplify arrival and departure logistics considerably and therefore may not require as much time commitment – so, if you need to stop riding halfway through because it's too difficult or you tire out before reaching the end then there's no pressure!
Loop ride bike tours also come with an opportunity for exploration. If there's something along the way that catches your eye (like a scenic viewpoint), then you can take some time to explore it. This gives beginners the chance to gain experience without feeling like they're abandoning their original plan.
What to wear
No matter your destination, you're going to want to pack for an adventure!
When it comes to clothing, it's important to dress in layers. You never know what the weather will be like or how active you'll get while on your bike.
It may sound obvious, but do pack cycling clothes that are appropriate for biking, but also pack after riding clothes that can get dirty or that are easy to wash and dry.
You'll also want to wear light colors so you don't get overheated while cycling in the sun. And if you plan on riding at night, make sure that your clothes are reflective and easy-to-see.
Pack the right gear
Before you start your tour, make sure you've got the right gear:
When you're planning what to pack, think about what items might be essential based on where you're going.
For example, if you'll be in a hot climate, sunscreen is an absolute must! If you're going somewhere with snow and ice, bring appropriate clothing and traction devices. You can find a detailed bike tour packing list here.
Safety on a bike tour
Safety should always be your number one priority and nothing should ever deter you from taking the necessary precautions. It's important to wear a helmet, follow traffic laws, and make sure you can be seen on or off the bike. I recommend wearing a bright colored jersey, wind breaker or helmet.
If you follow the rules of the road and use some common sense, bike tours are very safe if you just take these few small precautions.
Self-guided bike tours are a great way to explore the world's most beautiful destinations. Here are 3 broad and simple tips for beginner cyclists to make their first self-guided bike tour a success:
1) Start with an easy and travel friendly destination, you can find some of our favourite and recommended bicycle tour routes in Spain and Portugal here.
2) Look for routes that avoid major roads and highways, to avoid traffic hazards, but that lead you to interesting destinations so you never feel too far from civilization or that all you do is pedal!
3) Consider Points of Interest, distance and elevation gain. What is there to see? How far do you want to cycle each day? How much do you want to climb each day? Also think about terrain (paved or unpaved), time available, and weather conditions.
You need to be sure you are fit enough to cycle the full distance of the tour, while taking into account that the challenge level is not just the distance cycled, but also the elevation gain for the days ride.
I also recommend allowing sufficient time to actually enjoy the rides and also your overnight destinations - and points of interest along the way!
Although most people prefer spring and summer for the better weather conditions, we have many experienced cyclists who prefer cycling in autumn and winter, and risking a little rain so they can avoid crowds.
Cycling Rentals has been designing and operating bike tours for nearly 20 years, and we can help you choose or plan your perfect self guided bike tour - get in touch. In the mean time, click below for some inspiration!
Cycling is one of the best ways to get around for short distances, and it's also a great way to stay fit. But what's the point if you're not comfortable?
There are plenty of choices in cycling clothes these days, but the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. Here are 6 simple tips to help choosing clothes that will make cycling even more enjoyable.
The Importance of Comfort
Comfort is extremely important when it comes to cycling clothes. If you're not comfortable, you won't want to keep riding your bike!
Many cyclists will tell you that breathable fabrics are a must, which is true for summer months. But don't forget about the rest of the year. For winter cycling, synthetic fibers and wool clothing will keep you warm and dry.
And if you have sensitive skin, you'll need to find clothing made from soft materials like cotton or synthetics.
But what about your feet? Cycling can sometimes be uncomfortable on your feet because it puts pressure on the balls of your feet.
To avoid this, wear shoes with grippy soles (like sneakers) or invest in cycling-specific shoes
The Right Type of Material
The material you choose for your cycling clothes is going to make a huge difference in how comfortable you feel on the bike.
Most of your clothes should be made out of a stretchy, breathable fabric that will not restrict any motion or sweating.
When picking a cycling shirt, look for materials that are fitted and have short sleeves to avoid discomfort from riding with long sleeves. You also want to avoid fabrics that are too heavy, as they'll hang around you and cause chaffing.
For pants, try out different types of materials like denim, polyester, and lycra. Ditch the jeans and go for synthetic pants that will wick sweat away from your body and keep you dry on those hot days!
Choosing the Right Cycling Shorts
Choosing the right cycling shorts begins with your bicycle. If you're riding a bike with a narrow saddle, then you'll want to wear bike shorts that are more form-fitting than loose-fitting.
But what about comfort? There are so many factors to consider when choosing clothes for cycling.
First, make sure the waistband of your shorts isn't too tight. It should be snug enough to stay in place without cutting into your skin or feeling too tight on your stomach.
You also want to make sure there's enough room around the crotch area - if it feels like you're sitting on the seam of the shorts, they're probably not comfortable enough for cycling!
If you're looking for style, there are plenty of options available on the market today. Cycling clothing designers offer different cuts and lengths to try and accommodate different body types and tastes.
Choosing the Right Cycling Jersey
Cycling jerseys are one of the most important pieces of clothing you can wear. This is because they're designed to be tight-fitting, so they won't ride up when you're cycling and cause discomfort.
There are a few different types of cycling jerseys available on the market, from long-sleeved tops to short-sleeved tops with a variety of colors and designs. But don't worry about choosing a jersey based on what's in fashion. Choose your jersey based on what will work best for you and your body type!
Short sleeves might be more comfortable in hot weather, but if you have larger arms or broad shoulders, long sleeves might be better for you. Try out different types of cycling jerseys to find out which one works best for you.
Choosing the Right Cycling Jacket
Jacket breathability is essential for comfortable cycling. If your jacket doesn't breathe well, you'll end up feeling like a sweaty mess. That's why it pays to choose a material that will wick away sweat and keep you cool.
Plus, there are plenty of other features that can make a cycling jacket more comfortable. Zippered pockets are a great idea if you plan on carrying anything with you while cycling, and they also allow you to store your belongings without fear of them falling out.
Elastic waistbands help cover your stomach and back from the wind, which is especially important on colder and windier days.
Whatever jacket you decide to buy, make sure it's made from a breathable material with pockets and an elastic waistband!
Choosing the Right Eyewear and Gloves
If you'll be cycling in generally clear weather, sunglasses are a great idea. They keep the sun out of your eyes and make it easier for you to see traffic. They can also save you from insects and debris flying into your eyes.
I recommend choosing glasses with polarized lenses as they work well in changing light conditions and with the added benefit that you can often spy fish swiming under the shimmering sea if you are cycling by the sea!
Gloves are also a must-have for cycling. If you're going to ride any significant distance, it's worth investing in gloves with gel padding and breathable fabric.
This will help protect your hands from wind and cold and reduce hand fatigue as well as making your hands more comfortable on the handlebars.
Extra Tip: Don't forget your Helmet!
You might not think of your helmet as an accessory, but it's an essential part of cycling safety. To find the perfect helmet, you'll need to find one that fits comfortably. It should sit level on your head without tilting forward or back.
The straps should form a Y shape under your ears, and it should be snug but not tight. When you shake your head, the helmet shouldn't move.
The best time to wear your helmet is before you get on the bike, not after! We do offer high quality, fully adjustable, EU certified helmets for rent in 2 sizes, if you would rather save space in your luggage!
The more comfortable your cycling clothes are, the more likely you are to enjoy your ride for longer.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to be comfortable while riding. From the right type of material to the right type of cycling shorts, there are plenty of things you can do to feel even better while cycling.
I hope this article helped, now get out there and ride!!
Cycling is both a challenging and rewarding activity. A great pair of shoes can make the difference between a good and bad time on the bike. On the other hand, wearing uncomfortable or poorly-fitting shoes can result in pain and frustration with your ride. Choosing the best cycling shoes for you is an important part of your cycling experience.
Check out this guide to learn how to find the best cycling shoes for your needs, what to look for when buying, and how to take care of them!
What To Look For When Buying Cycling Shoes
Cycling shoes are a specialized type of footwear made specifically for cycling. They differ from other types of athletic shoes due to the rigors and requirements of riding a bike.
For instance, cycling shoes have a stiff sole that's designed to pedal with efficiency. They also have a more rigid upper that keeps your foot in place to prevent foot slippage- especially if you're pedaling hard or going uphill.
In order to find the best cycling shoe for your needs, you'll need to evaluate the different features each shoe has and make sure it aligns with your needs as a cyclist.
For example, if you're looking for a pair of shoes for short rides on paved roads, you might want a lighter shoe without too many bells and whistles. On the other hand, if you plan on doing intense mountain biking or racing, then look into a shoe that is sturdy and supportive, with a sticky sole and reinforced toe cap.
Upper material and design
When choosing a cycling shoe, it's important that you consider the upper material and design. Cycling shoes typically have uppers made from materials like synthetic leather, mesh, or textile. In general, textile can be less durable than leather but more breathable and also more water resistant.
Designs vary as well. Some cyclists prefer shoes designed for mountain bike cycling with a rugged tread pattern on the soles to assist climbing. If you don't plan on participating in any off road activities, you can opt for sleek street style cycling shoes with rubber soles designed for higher speeds on pavement.
There are so many great options out there! It can be hard to choose which one is right for you. Take your time shopping around until you find the perfect pair of cycling shoes that will work best for your needs and style!
Fit and support
The first thing to consider when selecting a cycling shoe is the fit. Shoes that don't have enough room in the toe box, or that pinch your toes, can lead to numbness and pain on your ride.
Along with a good fit, there are a couple of other aspects of a cycling shoe you should pay close attention to:
Material and design
The first thing to consider when looking for cycling shoes is the material. Cycling shoes are made from a variety of materials including leather, nylon, mesh, and synthetic fabrics.
Depending on your needs, you may be better suited to one type of shoe over another. For example, if you're prone to foot pain or have sensitive feet, synthetic fabrics can make more sense since they they can mold to your foot faster than natural other materials.
The design also matters- some cyclists may prefer a clipless pedal while others will want a toe clip or strap. You'll need to decide what suits your needs best before buying cycling shoes!
How to Care for Your Cycling Shoes
Cycling shoes are a necessity for any cyclist. These high-performance shoes help you pedal with ease and comfort, so it's important to take care of them.
When you're not cycling, shoes should be stored in a dry place. It's best to keep them off the floor and propped up on a shoe tree or a pair of sneakers. This will keep the insides from becoming dirty and smelly.
If your shoes do become wet from rain or sweat, towel dry them before storing them to ensure they don't mold from sitting in dampness.
The best way to clean your cycling shoes is by wiping them down with a damp cloth after each ride. You can also use a spray cleaner if you prefer, but make sure it doesn't contain alcohol because it could damage your materials.
To remove excess dirt or mud, use some saddle soap on the outside of the shoe while avoiding contact with the inside, which can cause damage due to its abrasive properties.
After cleaning, rinse thoroughly and wipe dry again with a soft towel to prevent water spots on the leather surface of your shoes.
For persistent stains on parts that can't be removed with saddle soap, try using some baking soda on that area followed by an application
Choosing the right cycling shoes is critical to your comfort and performance. It’s important to only buy the best shoes for cycling to be comfortable, perform well, and last a long time. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide to help you out.
Now that you know what to look for when buying cycling shoes, you can find the best ones for your needs with confidence.
Keep these tips in mind when searching for your new cycling shoes and you’ll be on your way to finding the best pair. If you found these tips useful, do share them with a friend!