My New Book! The 2016 Touring Bicycle Buyer’s Guide Is The Most Comprehensive Bike Guide On Earth!

I’ve got some pretty exciting news: I’m halfway through putting together what I think is the best bicycle buyer’s guide on Earth.

Update: It’s now available!!!

I’ve been writing bike tech articles on CyclingAbout.com for quite a few years now, and seem to have ended up really specialising in touring bikes, parts and technology. I’ve been in contact with so many people who talk about touring bikes – both in the industry and right down to the consumer level. In this time I’ve test ridden so many bikes and built up so much knowledge that I think it’s time to share.

Bicycle Touring Buyer's Guide

How Will The Touring Bike Buyer’s Guide Work?

In the first section I will take you through everything from the different types of touring bike, to frame materials, wheel sizing, handlebars and tyres. You’ll get a great overview of the pros and cons of different touring setups.

I’ll get you to think about how relaxed (upright) or sporty (low) you’d like your bike to be and whether you want to use it for more than just touring. I will talk you through the components that are most important for hilly riding, dirt roads and tours through 3rd world countries.

You will then find out about the different types of touring bike, and what purposes they are most suited to. I will provide examples of bike tours that suit certain types of bike, so that you can determine the touring bikes that suit your purposes best.

With all this knowledge, you’ll be able to make the most of the next section, which I am super proud to announce!

IdWorx All Rohler Travel
One of the featured bikes is this IdWorx All Rohler.

Ok, So This Part is the Game Changer!

The second section of the book features some pretty groundbreaking information for a buyer’s guide. This database of technical information will allow you to compare over 80 different touring bikes based on their key characteristics. It will incorporate:

Virtual Sizing (Stack and Reach Measurements)
Stack and reach are the best measurements we have to compare bike brands and models. This virtual sizing tool allows you to test ride one bike, and then have the ability to determine what size is best for you in another brand based on these numbers… without even swinging a leg over it! This book will give you an indication of how much longer and higher the next size up is too.

For example, if you test rode a size 54cm Trek 520, this guide can tell you that a 53cm Jamis Aurora would have the same length and height proportions.

Body Positioning Measurements
When I analysed the stack and reach, I derived a stack/reach average ratio across all sizes within each model. This ratio is a great indicator of how upright each touring bike model is.

For example, this guide will tell you the Brodie Elan offers one of the most upright positions, while the Nashbar TR1 has one of the lowest. 

A Steering Speed Comparison
I’ve used fork ‘trail’ to determine how fast the steering is on a touring bike. This is a calculation that factors in the head angle, fork rake and tyre width. Without even riding a bike, you’ll have a good idea of how the bike will feel.

For example, this guide will tell you the Salsa Marrakesh and Surly Disc Trucker steer at the same speed, while the Novara Randonee will steer a bit slower.

Gear Ratios
I’ve worked out the gear ratios for every touring bike, so that you can know how capable these bikes are for going up hills. These are measured in ‘gear inches’ – the wheel diameter x front chainring / rear cog.

For example, this guide will tell you the Surly Disc Trucker has a lower climbing gear than the Specialized AWOL.

Maximum Tyre Widths
I’ve determined what the maximum tyre widths are that are permitted by touring bike manufacturers. This will let you know if you can run a wide knobby tyre for off-road adventures (or perhaps for additional comfort).

For example, this guide will tell you that you can use 10mm wider tyres on the Specialized AWOL than the Cinelli Hobootleg.

Current Photos + Pricing
It’s not a buyer’s guide without current year model photos and prices, right?

Salsa Fargo
One of the featured bikes is this Salsa Fargo.

What About When New Bikes Come Out?

I’m going to do FREE yearly updates on this book. That’s right – once all the latest photos, geometry data and specifications are out, I will make this book fully up to date.

I’m Excited!

This book is going to be awesome for everyone from new touring bike buyers (especially if you don’t have access to a test ride), to those who want to be updated yearly with the new tech and features of the latest touring bikes. It’s a pretty amazing tool for people in the industry too, as it provides a quick snapshot comparison between the most popular touring models on the market.

Get Your Copy of The 2016 Touring Bicycle Buyer’s Guide HERE.

  1. If you pull this together, it will be an awesome guide! I think it will promote bike touring in general, and probably help more people to start to go on a tour with a bike, as most newcomers concentrate on what bike to use. I plan to buy a copy just to show my appreciation, and to support the bike touring community in general. I just bought your other book, and I liked it.

    If you are open to some new topics, or questions to cover in your book, here are some of my usual struggles. If something doesn’t resonate with you, just skip it!

    1. If a brand is specialized in bike touring/trekking, for me this would be an interesting info!
    However, somehow, on the US/UK internet blogs, Surely, Kona, Specialized are well represented, although their main profile is not bike touring, and/or they have only one model, or maybe one touring model
    and a few trekking options.
    While here in Europe there are zillion of touring and trekking bikes even in the local shops; two hours from us in Amsterdam there is a shop just for bike touring only, with brands having many-many different touring and trekking bike models.

    If I have the possibility, I would rather chose a brand that is specialized in touring bikes.

    2. When books/magazines write high gear, low gear, and talk about gear inches, I have difficulty to understand what is high and low. These expressions are probably self-explanatory for a native English person, but for me, an ESL learner, I always have to look up what is “high gear”. Are these: the gears that I use when going uphill, the higher numbers on my shifter, or bigger chain rings on a derailleur? Maybe a one or two minute video explaining these notions, together with the bike sizes to accompany the book, would make these easy to understand.

    3. Inches and Meters – please offer both metric and imperial measurements for size/distance/weight etc. It would save me the constant calculation from one unit to the other in google searches.

    4. Which brands are easier choice in certain regions? One of my difficulty is availability of the different brands. I followed your journey when you toured with a Tandem, and I know you love Co-Motion, and you recommended it a lot. However, here in Europe, is hardly accessible, while I’m sure that from the several available Tandem brands, that have a similar quality, are available.

    Or, if I chose a Kona based on the (English) forum recommendations, I can only buy it in a local “Kona shop”, who is a dealer here, where they are probably experts in downhill, road bikes, and have maybe some city bikes, but for sure not experts in touring. While, I just been in a shop to try the Bullit cargo bike in Leuven, and I was surprised to see almost the whole range of Idworx both on display and to try, a wide selection of panniers, almost all Brooks models, 3-4 different types of trailers. So clearly, Idworx is easier accessible here than a Kona, although I can hardly find popular English blogs about Idworx.

    5. Beside the technical aspects, I would be a lot interested in personal experiences. You know a lot of tourers, who ride different brands and bikes, maybe you could include a section where they tell how this or that brand feels to them, have 3 key advice, and so on. What is the experience of tourers who rode different brands? Like how did it feel to tour in a Koga, a Co-Motion, Tout Terrain? Or links to blogs where people tour on these brands?

    6. I live in X country, is there a specialist shop here for touring? A small list of touring specific shops per country would be so helpful. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive.

    7. What typical upgrades/changes can I expect for my new bike? How much shall I budget for this? To avoid the mistake that I have for example 1000 USD, I buy a bike for 1000 USD, and then I discover that I have to add this and that.

    8. For the frame geometry, my usual problem was that there was not enough space for the panniers behind my leg. So when buying a touring bike, I always check how long the chainstay is. I think this is really a touring specific requirement.

    9. How can I narrow down my choices for only a couple of options? Simply there is too many things to consider, and the possibilities are almost endless. I’ve seen more and more research about decision fatigue, that the wider selection actually makes it more difficult. So if you present about 80-100 different models, I would welcome some help on how to narrow down it for myself. Clustering, a decision making tree, or anything similar that would help me to cut through this super wide choice.

    10. After trying several e-bikes now, I’m sure my next bike will be an e-bike. Shall I consider e-bikes for touring or not? I’m reading thins book in German, which covers e-bike tours in the Alps.

    So these are some of my thoughts/worries when looking for a touring bike. Hope you find some useful ideas for your book! And if you look for volunteers to give feedback on the draft, I’d be happy to! I look forward to the final book a lot! 🙂

  2. Hi Olee

    Thanks so much for your detailed feedback – I’ll be able to integrate quite a bit of this into the new book, including the explanations, metric/imperial conversions, common upgrades, chainstay lengths, the bikes available in certain regions and the ‘decision making’ flow chart!

    There’s a few things that I will struggle with:

    Firstly, it’s the shop listings (specialist shops etc). Unfortunately not many shops around the world consistently sell bikes suitable for touring. This is purely because bicycle touring is such a niche genre of cycling. One of my biggest aims with this book is to design it so that you can confidently be sized up by a bike shop that doesn’t even stock touring bikes, and place an order for one without even seeing it. The salesperson doesn’t need to know about niche touring bike models, and you can have confidence in test riding a bike of a similar size. The data I’ve collected will equip you with the most important information about the most common touring bikes in the world.

    Secondly, finding 100+ people that have experience with brands and models will be difficult. Not impossible, but I don’t think I’d even get a third of the way at this stage. Maybe something I can work on for future editions.

    It’s important to note that this book won’t be able to answer all questions. For really specific information about brands and models it’s always going to be best for people to do their own research. Most importantly though, this book will definitely give you the framework to find you a great touring bike.


  3. Hi Alee,
    If you could include those in your book, it would we really helpful! Thanks for considering it!
    I see what you mean, collecting people with experiences about the brands would be quite tiresome. And, I agree there are not many shops that are specialized in touring bikes, me too, the only shop I know near me is the http://www.vakantiefietser.nl/en/the-holiday-biker/.

    Do you plan to charge only once, so future updates are free (like updates of a software), or you would like to charge for future editions separately? If updates are free, I would be happy to buy an earlier edition, too, which doesn’t have all the features you plan.

    I look forward to your book a lot!

  4. I had Seven Cycles build a Vacanza touring bike for me it was delivered months after my son was born. I had a bike seat on the rear rack for his first 3 5 borough bike rides (about 50 miles each) then he went to a “tag-A-Long” attached to the seatpost where at 8 years old we did the Twin Lights Bike Ride. Our first Century ride that way. we have ridden 1,000’s of mile together on that baby. Touring frames are the best. Thanks for your great site!

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