2019 Masi Giramondo

8 of the Best Touring Bikes: Tour Them Straight Out of the Bicycle Shop

It was not long ago when the best touring bikes were left for a custom-build. Touring bike manufacturers weren’t quite making anything that was stiff enough, with low climbing gears, wide tyre clearance, lots of handlebar options and Rohloff hub compatibility. I would never have considered buying a complete touring bike a decade ago…

But fast forward to 2019 and there are now so many excellent modern touring options to choose between.

The Trek 520 touring bike has been in production since 1983, using a good touring geometry and solid parts since the early-2000s. In 2004, Surly started making one of the finest, mass-produced frame options around – the Long Haul Trucker. The LHT frame was stiff, had 3x bidon mounts, had a spoke holder and used long 460mm chainstays. Slowly but surely, other manufacturers have been matching and exceeding the great features of the Long Haul Trucker; but it has taken some time.

I’ve selected the following bikes as the best examples of a modern touring bike. They are all steel which I like for the deflect tolerance, low cost and ease of modification. They all feature wide gear ranges, including low enough gears to get you up most mountains. Almost all feature cable disc brakes which have proven reliable, even in the most remote of locations. The majority fit barend shifters for no-fuss gear changes, but STI shifters are becoming more common as they tend to be reliable these days.

This is my list of the best modern touring bikes, taking into account design, geometry, price and specification. You can also check out the best touring bicycles with flat handlebars HERE.

Masi Giramondo

2019 Masi Giramondo
The 2019 Masi Giramondo touring bike.

Masi recently put together their first touring-specific steel bike, and it’s killer! It has all the low gears (18-109″), barend shifters, TRP dual-piston disc brakes and clearance for 29×2.0″ tyres. One of the best things about the bike is the price – it’s only US $1399 with Tubus front and rear steel racks (valued at US $260, these are the best in the business). When you factor in the brilliant racks it makes the Masi Giramondo touring bike the best value on the list.

Read more about the Masi HERE.

Salsa Marrakesh

2019 Salsa Marrakesh
The 2019 Salsa Marrakesh touring bike.

The Salsa Marrakesh is a well-designed bike that comes with a smart and reliable specification. The triple-butted steel tubing helps to create a stiff chassis, there are eyelets for everything from fenders to cargo cages, the dropouts are Rohloff hub compatible and the bike comes in six progressively larger sizes. The Marrakesh offers an ultra-wide gear range (21-122″), clearance for 29×2.0″ tyres, cable disc brakes and barend shifters. The price for a complete Salsa Marrakesh is US $1599 and you can get the frameset for US $799.

Read more about the Salsa HERE.

Kona Sutra

2020 Kona Sutra
The 2020 Kona Sutra Touring Bike.

The Kona Sutra touring bike has come a long way since it was introduced over a decade ago; the latest iteration getting closer to touring perfection. Kona has recently optimised the frame geometry to increase the fork rake, increase the chainstay length and lower the bottom bracket, resulting in a more stable ride. It has a smart build of cable disc brakes, 29×2.2″ tyre clearance, relatively low climbing gears (20-119″) and barend shifters. The bike comes with a touring favourite, the Brooks B17 saddle, plus fenders and a rear rack and is available for US $1499.

Read more about the Kona HERE.

Fuji Touring Disc

2018 fuji touring disc
The 2019 Fuji Touring Disc touring bike.

The Fuji Touring is finally available with cable disc brakes! The all-new steel frameset is available in seven sizes and still offers a solid spec including an ultra-wide gear range (20-119″), barend shifters, a rear rack and strong 36-spoke wheels. Get your hands on a Fuji Touring Disc for US $1199.

Read more about the Fuji HERE.

Surly Disc Trucker

2018 Surly Disc Trucker
The 2019 Surly Disc Trucker touring bike.

For a long time, Surly was the touring standard. The bike’s geometry is great and it’s the only bike that’s available with 26″ or 700C wheels. The bike comes with ample braze-ons for water and gear, an ultra-wide gear range (20-119″) and a rock-solid spec. The 700C bike will fit a 700x45C tyre and the 26″ bike a 26×2.10″. Although it’s remained relatively unchanged for quite a while now, it still ranks as one of the best and that’s why you’ll see them everywhere. You can get a Disc Trucker for US $1550.

Read more about the Disc Trucker HERE.

Trek 520

2019 Trek 520
The 2019 Trek 520 touring bike.

The Trek 520 has been slowly evolving into a super-capable steel touring bike. These days it offers a bombproof spec including cable disc brakes and the ability to fit 29×2.0″ tyres, plus a great frame geometry and good climbing gear of less than 20-inches. It’s US $1679 for the complete bike or US $709 for the frameset, it’s also available in grey and it comes with the Bontrager front and rear racks shown in the image.

Read more about the Trek HERE.

Marin Four Corners

2018 Marin Four Corners
The 2019 Marin Four Corners touring bike.

The Marin Four Corners has been getting better and cheaper by the year! This steel touring bike has generous tyre clearance (700x50c), cable disc brakes and braze-ons everywhere. It offers a rather high climbing gear of 25 gear inches, but with a crankset change, you can easily achieve lower climbing gears. Find the Marin Four Corners for US $1039.

Read more about the Marin HERE.

Co-Op ADV 4.2

2018 Co-Op Cycles ADV
The 2019 Co-Op Cycles ADV 4.2 touring bike.

The Co-Op may be a bit different to the other bikes in the list, but don’t overlook it. It offers an insanely low 16 gear inch climbing gear, which will effortlessly get you up any climb in the world. While it’s technically more of an off-road touring bike, it can easily be re-purposed for road and gravel use by fitting some Schwalbe Super Moto-X slick tyres. In terms of parts, it offers a Jones Loop handlebar, Shimano SLX hydraulic disc brakes, Microshift thumb shifters, front and rear racks and a Cane Creek suspension seatpost. It’s US $1999 which isn’t half bad if you consider what it comes with.

Read more about the ADV 4.2 HERE

Want To Compare These Touring Bikes With Dozens of Others?

Check out The Touring Bicycle Buyer’s Guide which compares touring bike steering, sizing, gear ratios, specification, pricing and more. The Bikepacking Bike Buyer’s Guide does the same thing, however, with a focus on lighter bikes and models with more off-road capability. Both of these guides are updated annually with the latest models at no extra cost!

Helpful Resources

All About Touring Bike Brakes
Frame Materials for Bicycle Touring
How to Select Touring Bike Gearing
Understand Bicycle Frame Geometry
What’s the Difference between Cyclocross and Touring Bikes?

Touring & Bikepacking Bike Overview

2016 Advocate Lorax
2018 All City Gorilla Monsoon
2016 Basso Ulisse
2016 Bianchi Volpe and Lupo 2016
2016 Bombtrack Beyond
2017 Bombtrack Beyond
2018 Bombtrack Beyond
2018 Bombtrack Arise Tour
2019 Bombtrack Beyond
2016 Brodie Elan Vital
2016 Cannondale Touring
2019 Cannondale Topstone
2020 Cannondale Topstone
2016 Cinelli Hobootleg Geo
2018 Co-Op ADV 4.2
2017 Curve Grovel V2
2017 Diamondback Haanjo EXP Carbon
2016 Fuji Touring
2017 Fuji Touring
2018 Fuji Touring
2018 Fuji Touring Disc
2016 Genesis Tour de Fer
2016 Giant ToughRoad
2017 Giant ToughRoad
2018 Giant ToughRoad and ToughRoad GX
2016 Jamis Aurora and Aurora Elite
2019 Jones Plus SWB
2020 KOGA WorldTraveller-S
2016 Kona Big Rove
2016 Kona Roadhouse and Sutra LTD
2016 Kona Sutra
2017 Kona Sutra
2018 Kona Sutra
2018 Kona Sutra LTD
2019 Kona Sutra and Sutra LTD
2020 Kona Sutra and Sutra LTD
2020 Kona Unit X
2016 Marin Four Corners
2017 Marin Four Corners
2018 Marin Four Corners
2016 Masi Giramondo
2018 Masi Giramondo
2016 Niner RLT9
2016 Rawland Ulv and Ravn
2016 Salsa Deadwood
2017 Salsa Fargo
2018 Salsa Fargo Ti Frameset
2018 Salsa Journeyman
2016 Salsa Marrakesh
2017 Salsa Marrakesh
2018 Salsa Marrakesh
2020 Salsa Marrakesh
2017 Salsa Vaya
2019 Salsa Warbird
2016 Specialized AWOL
2017 Specialized AWOL
2017 Specialized Diverge
2018 Specialized Diverge
2019 Specialized Diverge
2017 Specialized Sequoia
2018 Specialized Sequoia
2019 Specialized Sequoia
2018 Surly Bridge Club
2017 Surly Troll
2016 Traitor Wander
2019 Trek 520
2016 Trek 920, 720, 520 & CrossRip
2017 Trek CrossRip
2018 Trek 920
2018 Trek 1120

  1. Great article, thanks. What do you think of REI’s Randonee? It gets very good reviews and the specs are excellent for the price

  2. The Randonee is another great value touring bike. It used to be the best value option, but the Masi and Fuji don’t make it look as great when you do a side-by-side comparison. I actually prefer the Mazama and Safari for three reasons: they use disc brakes, they can fit larger rubber and they’re $100 cheaper.

  3. Thanks for the list of touring bikes. It’s very helpful. I’ve been on a few tours and have ridden my own road bike (Cannondale Cadd 9) on the van supported tours, and borrowed an REI brand bike from a friend for the self-contained tours. I would like to have a touring bike of my own. Because I have to be price conscious, I am drawn toward the least expensive bikes- Masi Giramondo and Fugi Touring. But since there isn’t a huge difference in price, I’m wondering what I am scarifying by buying the least expensive. Is it components/smoothness of shifting? Stability? The life of the bike? And, other than price (because I’m only slightly bike-savvy), what are the main specifications I should be looking for? I’m 55, female, strong, weight is slightly on the heavier side, but I’m in shape & athletic. My Cannondale is a 52 cm frame. I want a good climber. Sorry if these questions force you to repeat things you may have already made clear, but hopefully you can help me with just a few thoughts. Also, what is you opinion of buying a used touring bike? And is there a site where one can find used touring bikes? Thanks very much for your help!

  4. Very good article, its nice to have all your favorite touringbikes on one page so you can scroll up and down to compare geometry and looks. When I look at sutra and marrakesh it looks as the sutra have been squeezed together – the wheelbase seem so short, marrakesh looks like it has a very long wheelbase (I like that, its like the oldschool bikes). I like the choises made in this article – proffesional!

  5. When comparing the Sutra and Marrakesh Drop Bar, the Marrakesh is ever so slightly longer in wheelbase due to the longer chainstays. It works out about 10-15mm longer. The Marrakesh Flat Bar on the other hand has a 60-70mm longer wheelbase due to the additional reach required for a flat handlebar!

  6. Ahh,, thats explain the long, beautiful wheelbase on the flat handlebar Marrakesh. I guess that allso explain the long beautiful wheelbase on my Genesis Longitude 2015 (just a magic bike that they sadly totally fucked up in the 2016 year version). /Noa

  7. They’re made in the USA using some of the best steel tubing. Plus you can customise the geometry and choose from a huge range of colours. Although expensive compared to mass produced bikes, they are a great investment because custom frames tends to be something you keep for life. If you can justify the cost, why not? 🙂

  8. I am comparing a Marin four corner base model and trek 520. I like the look of the Marin and will also use the bike as a commuter. Some concern about bar end shifter.

  9. They’re about as good as it gets (provided you can afford the US $2k premium). Ultra-stiff steel tubing, handbuilt wheels, wide gear range, no shortcuts on parts and they can be customised in terms of colour, fittings and geometry. 🙂

  10. @AleeDenham Yes I’m also curious to hear how it compares. Great article by the way!

  11. This list is awesome! Thanks so much for putting it together! I was wondering if you had thoughts on either jamis aurora elite or raleigh tamland.

  12. On paper, very similarly. The frame geometry, gear ratios and specification are certainly in-line with our options here. I haven’t heard anything from any MEC National owners however.

  13. Jamis: Not quite as low gearing as I’d like, hydro disc brakes can be a pain to ‘bleed’ on a tour, a little pricer than similar models.
    Raleigh: It’s a ‘light touring’ bike compared to these so it won’t be able to take similar loads.

  14. Alee….i would like to know the exactly amount in kilos These bikes can hold on each front and back rear racks…specially the fuji touring bike which has a 700×32 tires compared to the other ones that have 700×40….is it possible to load this bikes with 30kg on the front and 30kg on the back….i am Going to be cycling a few years and I need a bike where i can put all these amount of kg beacuse i will be selling things to support my trip….i itried to Find this info about kg limits but i couldnt Find anything….does anyone know about it?….
    Thanks a Lot……

  15. You don’t want to put that much weight on the front because it greatly affects the bike’s handling. I generally don’t recommend more than 15kg.

    With regards to handling 30kg+ on the rear, I’d suggest that all frames will be fine with that load. What may not be fine is the rear wheel and the rack. I’d suggest custom building a rear wheel using a Ryde Andra rim (https://www.cyclingabout.com/the-best-rims-for-bicycle-touring/) and using a Tubus Logo or Cargo 28 rear rack which has a 40kg weight rating (https://www.cyclingabout.com/all-about-rear-pannier-racks/).

    I think your best option for carrying 60kg in total will be by distributing your load onto a trailer. Here are some options: https://www.cyclingabout.com/best-bike-trailers-bicycle-touring/

  16. Thanks a Lot Alee…very good advices…to be honest i really like the fuji touring but i Dont know if its possible to put bigger tires…fuji comes with 700×32…i would like to put 700×40 or bigger ones which i dont know if this change is possible or not on this bike…if i can do this then with the change of the rims to ryde andra i have a real touring bike that can really handle a really good load with no worries about it…..do you think the fuji touring fork allows to change to bigger tires than 700×32?
    Thanks Again for Being that helpful…….

  17. Hi. Which one has the strongest frame? Which one has the best geometry? If you have one option for buying which one will you choose for yourself?
    I think masi and specialized are more for offroad than others? They also have shorter seat tube lenght.why?
    I live in Iran. I have read a lot about these 8 but still i am confused to choose which one of them. I wanna have a long trip around the world and i am from iran and i dont know how can i buy them here.

  18. – I don’t know which one is the strongest, but I’d suggest they’re all within the same ballpark.
    – I’d pick a bike that has 2.0″ tyre capability with fender, and as low gear ratios as possible (18-20″ preferably).
    – These bikes will all perform similarly well on-road and off-road with the same tyres.
    – The short seat tube lengths allow your seatpost to flex more, providing additional comfort over a long seat tube. From a design perspective this is preferable, but most people like the traditional aesthetic of a long seat tube and horizontal top tube.

  19. Thanks for your answer alee. So the only one of this list that has 2.0 tyre capacity with fenders is masi giramondo. Right?
    Is it possible to make all of this 8 bike gear ration 18-20?
    So as you said these 8 frame with a same stack and reach, the one has a shorter seat tube lenght is more comfortable? Did i understand right?

  20. Is specialized awol a bikepacking bike or is it a right bike for having a long trip around the world?

  21. In this list, in fuji, trek and surlys fork is kind of bend but others fork is more straight. Why? Is the straight one more strong?maybe in off road

  22. – Fitting 2.0″ tyres and fenders will depend on the individual tyre and fender combination. The Surly, Trek and Fuji are the ones that probably won’t.
    – You can modify any drivetrain to achieve lower gears. It just depends on your budget.
    – Yes, more exposed seatpost provides more seatpost flex. But comfort more than this of course, it’s a function of bike fit, tyre width and your seat/handlebar/bartape too.

  23. The quality of the wheel build, that is, the evenness of spoke tension is probably more important than the spoke number when comparing these bikes. Get any of these wheels checked regularly by a mechanic and they should be fine.

  24. Thanks for your answer. They were so helpful. They told me its easier to find a 26 tube and tyre in the middle of nowhere or asia but its hard to find 700 somewhere. Is it right? If yes im going to get surly 26 disc trucker. Do you suggest surly 26 disc trucker for a long trip around the world? Is it comfort?

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