When it comes to buying a touring bicycle, most local bike shops will have only one or two models on the floor, if any. It isn’t that they don’t want to sell a high-quality touring bicycle, it is more an issue of economics and what price range the average person comes in the store to buy.
If you go into a local bike store, the price of most bicycles will start around $300 and go to over $1,500 for higher-end racing bicycles and mountain bikes. Most of the bicycles you will see will be in the $500 to $600 range. Unfortunately, a new, high-quality touring bicycle will usually have a price tag of $1,000 or more. And many of the expedition bicycles that can handle almost any touring terrain will start at $2,000 and go up from there.
When considering a new touring bicycle, I use the following selection criteria:
The following models are just a short list of high-quality bicycles available. Many more models exist. If you would like us to add another model to this list, please email us.
UPDATE: We recently wrote two great articles summarizing the best men’s road bikes and the best women’s road bikes for 2012-2013. Take a look if you want more advice.
Medium to Long Range Touring Bicycles
Cannondale Synapse Alloy 7
This is a newer model of Cannondale touring bikes. While they don’t have the reputation of elite touring bikes, like the Tour I and Tour II had, they are still ideal for touring.
They use all Shimano 105 components (including the shifters… previous Cannondale touring bikes used STI shifters, which are difficult to fix) and are made entirely of aluminum. This means you have lightweight, high quality components on a bike that is lighter than paper (it weighs in at less than 20 pounds).
They come with 700c wheels and use a FSA Gossamer BB30, 50/34 front crankset.
Learn more about the Synapse Alloy 7.
Cannondale Tour I and II
Unfortunately, you cannot buy these bikes new anymore. But if you can find one used, both the Cannondale Tour I and Tour II are excellent around touring bicycles. The compact aluminum frame and cro-moly steel fork are well made and have the basic touring braze-ons: water bottle mounts, front and rear rack mounts, and clearance for fenders and wide touring tires.
The 700c wheels have 36 holes, 14 gauge spokes (adequate for loaded touring) and cantilever brakes for stopping. The shifters are STI, which I don’t prefer for touring. STI brake/shifters are harder to get repaired while on the road, but many cyclists use them with excellent results.
The Tour I uses a 50/39/30 front crankset and 11/34 rear cassette combination for light touring in rolling hills or medium loaded touring on flat terrain. The Tour II uses a 48/36/26 front crankset and 11/34 rear cassette combination that is better for loaded touring in long distance touring. Please read my page on gearing.
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