6 Best Touring Bikes For Your Bikepacking Adventure

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There’s no other feeling quite like setting off into the sunset with a loaded-up touring bike beneath you, free to go wherever you please.

However, to make the most out of any bikepacking experience, whether it be a short trip or a marathon adventure, you need a reliable machine beneath you that can withstand whichever sort of terrain you’re planning on throwing at it.

To help you pick the right one for you, we’ve compiled six of the best touring bikes around to help get you started on your bikepacking adventure.

We’ll be covering:

  • What To Look For In A Touring Bike
  • What Are The Different Types Of Touring Bikes?
  • The 6 Best Touring Bikes For Bikepacking

Let’s dive in!

Best Touring Bikes: Title Image

What to Look for in a touring bike

Though most bikes can be converted to be used on a bikepacking adventure, if you want something reliable and optimized for the job, there are certain things you should look out for.

Tough and Durable

Perhaps most importantly, a good touring bike should be durable and tough – it needs to be capable of withstanding very long distances whilst carrying very heavy loads.

This means that touring bikes will tend to have heavier tubing than the average bike in order to increase frame strength. The frames are commonly made of steel, which is heavier than most other bike frame materials, but stronger.

Furthermore, a steel frame is easily repairable with welding equipment. If you find yourself in the middle of nowhere with a frame that needs repairing, chances are you won’t be able to find anywhere that can fix an aluminum frame, but a steel one – no problem.

Most of the bikes on our list have Chromoly steel frames – a chrome-alloy steel that is lighter and stronger.

Despite this, a steel or Chromoly frame is by no means an absolute necessity.

Some of the bikes on our list have a butted frame. A butted frame means that some of the unnecessary metal on the inside of the frame has been thinned out, reducing weight.

The frame is kept at its standard thickness in joint areas and points of high stress, meaning that the bike is lighter, without sacrificing any significant strength.

A cyclist adjusts the wheel on his touring bike.


When choosing a touring bike, you also may want to look for a long stable wheelbase to ensure stability whilst carrying such heavy loads.

Furthermore, as they are designed for long-distance riding, touring bikes tend to have a relatively short top tube and higher handlebars in order to maximize comfort.

Groupset and Gearing

A good touring bike should have a relatively wide range of gears, meaning that you’re still able to pedal up any steep inclines you might encounter, even when carrying additional weight.

A triple chainset is often a good idea to give you access to gears that will keep you spinning up the steepest hills.


Finally – do you want a bike that comes fully accessorized (i.e. pannier racks, bottle mounts, and mudguards are included), or, would you rather have a blank canvas on which to buy your own accessories?

Of course, you will likely want lots of mounting points across the frame of your touring bike so you can mount water bottles wherever your heart desires.

It is worth noting that if you purchase a bike and you are unhappy with the gearing, mountings, or any other aspect besides the frame itself – don’t be afraid to upgrade certain parts.

A bikepacker admires a mountainous view from his touring bike.

What Are The Different Types Of Touring Bikes?

Classic Touring Bikes

The classic design. Strong frame, thick tubing, durable wheels, and the ability to carry (a lot).

Light Touring Bikes

Light touring bikes are more similar in geometry to road bikes. They are lighter than classic touring bikes, have slicker and thinner tires, and often have a narrower gear range.

Whilst they are still able to hold panniers and carry reasonably heavy loads, they’ll struggle if you start to do any serious off-roading.

Trekking Bikes

Similar in many ways to a hybrid bike, these bikes usually have an aluminum frame, light front suspension, and similar gear ratios to light touring bikes.

They can be nearly as fast as light touring bikes on the roads, yet their suspension means they are more capable of more off-roading, and a more upright frame means increased comfort.

The 6 Best Touring Bikes

Genesis Tour de Fer 30

Genesis Tour de Fer: Manufacturer Image
Credit: Genesis

Frame: Reynolds 725 Heat-Treated Chromoly

Gearing: 50/39/30 crankset, 11-32 ten-speed cassette

Brakes: TRP Spyre mechanical disc

Wheel Size: 700c

Tires: 700 x 35c Schwalbe Marathon

The Genesis Tour De Fer 30 comes fully set up, meaning no additional accessories to buy.

A solid and well-built Reynolds Chromoly frame creates a comfortable yet durable bike that can take you anywhere.

The mechanical disc brakes provide adequate braking, especially in wet conditions. They are not quite as powerful as hydraulic brakes, but are arguably easier to maintain, an important factor to consider during a remote tour.

Whilst the gear range isn’t quite as wide as some of the other bikes on this list, by no means does that stop this bike from being one of the top touring bikes currently on the market.

Trek 520

Trek 520: Manufacturer Image
Credit: Trek

Frame: Trek Butted Chromoly

Gearing: 48/36/26 crankset, 11–36 nine-speed cassette

Brakes: TRP Spyre mechanical disc

Wheel Size: 700c

Tires: 700 x 38c Bontrager H1 Hard-case Ultimate (frame capable of 29 x 2.00″ clearance without mudguards)

This high-end touring bike is one of Trek’s longest-running models. The butted Chromoly frame design is the result of years of optimization and testing, culminating in a top-of-the-line frame perfectly designed for bike touring.

The bike comes with front and rear racks, 27-speed gears, and the same all-weather mechanical disc brakes as the Tour De Fer.

Interestingly, the Trek 520 comes with tubeless tires. This means they are more puncture resistant and can enable you to ride with low pressure for high traction on unstable terrain without running the risk of pinch flats.

Given the 520 is such an iconic and long-standing model, it’s possible to find great deals on second-hand options.

This can be a great way to find a bargain if you’re on a budget, but bear in mind that you’ll miss out on some more modern features such as disc brakes.

Kona Sutra

Kona Sutra: Manufacturer Image
Credit: Kona

Frame: Kona Butted Chromoly

Gearing: 46/30 crankset, 11–36 ten-speed cassette

Brakes: TRP HY Road mechanical/hydraulic disc

Wheel Size: 700c

Tires: 700 x 40c Schwalbe Marathon Mondial

With this beautiful-looking touring bike, you have the choice of either the Standard or SE model.

The SE is more of a classic style touring bike, whilst the Standard is more suited to faster road riding, with road-focussed gearing.

Fenders and a rear rack come included with the Standard model, as well as more forgiving gearing. It also comes included with a stylish and comfortable Brooks leather saddle.

The Sutra has a slightly smaller gear range than the other bikes on this list, but by no means does that stop it from being capable.

Surly Disc Trucker

Surly Disc Trucker: Manufacturer Image
Credit: Surly

Frame: Surly 4130 Chromoly steel

Gearing: 48/36/26 crankset, 11–34 nine-speed cassette

Brakes: TRP Spyre mechanical disc

Wheel Size: 700c or 26 inch

Tires: 700 x 41c Surely ExtraTerrestrial (frame capable of 700c x 47mm clearance)

This bike is the successor to the Surly Long Haul Trucker, perhaps the most iconic touring bike of recent times, and used by countless bikepackers.

The Disc Trucker has everything that was good about the Long Haul Trucker, except it is able to handle heavier loads whilst maintaining better stability.

Shorter chain stays give it better maneuverability, and a high front end means a comfortable and upright riding position. Surly has also upgraded the bike to disc brakes, improving braking power massively.

The one disadvantage is that the Disc Trucker doesn’t come equipped with mudguards or pannier racks – so you’ll have to purchase these options yourself.

Overall, the Disc Trucker is more suited to touring on roads, but that doesn’t mean it can’t hold its own over a bit of off-roading.

Ridgeback Panorama

Ridgeback Panorama: Manufacturer Image
Credit: Ridgeback

Frame: Steel

Gearing: 48/36/26 crankset, 11-34 nine-speed cassette

Brakes: TRP Spyre Mechanical Disc

Wheel Size: 700c

Tires: Schwalbe Marathon GG 700 x 35c, (frame capable of 700 x 42 clearance) 

Ridgeback are well known for their highly capable touring bikes, and as their top-of-the-line touring bike model, the Panorama is the cream of the crop.

Similar to three of the other bikes on this list, Ridgeback have opted for the reliable Spyre mechanical disc brakes.

The bike also comes with three bottle cages, a rear rack, and mudguards included.

Cube Touring Pro 2022

Cube Touring Pro: Manufacturer Image
Credit: Cube

Frame: Aluminium

Gearing: 48/36/26 crankset, 12-32 nine-speed cassette

Brakes: Shimano BR-MT200 Hydraulic Disc

Wheel Size: 700c

Tires: 700 x 47c Schwalbe Range Cruiser

Whilst this bike is suitable for those on a budget, by no means does that stop it from being a highly capable touring bike.

The Touring Pro 2022 is more similar in style to a hybrid bike than the others on this list, meaning grippier tires and front suspension.

The inclusion of front suspension adds some weight, but makes it a lot more comfortable to ride over gravel and light off-road surfaces. The hydraulic disc brakes mean that the bike has powerful braking capabilities.

Thankfully, for those who are on a budget, this bike also comes equipped with a rear rack, mudguards, and lights.

Found this guide to the best touring bikes helpful? Check out more from the BikeTips experts below!

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Hailing from Brighton, UK, Felix is a lover of running, cycling, and all things active. When he's not exploring a remote corner of the globe on a bike-packing trip, Felix enjoys meditating, making music, and running as far as his legs will let him!

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