Every ride can be an adventure, but some bikes are just built with adventure in their soul.
Touring by bicycle can be a trip that takes days, weeks, months, even years and brings an enormous sense of freedom and independence as you travel under your own power across landscapes and countries with your home in your panniers (or trailer!).
- Go where you want, when you want, no timetables or set itineraries to follow!
- A bike is much easier to hide than a car, so stealth camping is much more possible.
- You’ll be free from taking too much junk with you. Packing your life into a few panniers is very liberating and refreshing, a great way to focus the mind and concentrate on the journey rather than the ‘stuff’.
- you’ll never be as fit
- you can eat as much as you want!
- you decide day by day how much pedalling you do
- when cycle-touring, you can really be part of your environment (like when you’re hiking), instead of being a spectator (like when you’re sitting in a car or a bus).
- breathe deep! You can smell your environment – the seaweed on that beach track, and the horses in that field…
- you’re much more likely to interact with other people you will meet, connecting you to the human web around you, opening up possibilities: locals are much more likely to invite you for a cuppa or even an overnight stay.
- going by bike means you’re not using another, usually more polluting form of transport. Cycling is also a discreet mode of transport, so you blend in more.
- you’re much less likely to leave any rubbish behind. First, you won’t be carrying anything that can be rubbish, as every gram is counted, and second, you’re more in tune with your environment, so it is unlikely you’ll be trashing it.
- huge adventures can be had close to home, without the need to hop on an airplane
When you’re out on tour, you’re bound to come across other cycle-tourers. You might exchange tips, maybe share mechanic skills, food, water and tales from the saddle. They will become your mates and maybe even lifetime friends. This kind of bond rarely happens between car-travellers!
Types of Adventure Bikes
The archetypical touring bike is the double triangle framed workhorse bike seen from the Karakoram Highway to the Carretera Austral. Based on the standard road bike frame but with the addition of multiple ‘braze-ons‘ for attaching racks, mudguards, lights and extra water bottles, and usually made from dependable welded steel, these bikes will take you round the world as many times as you can handle it.
This type of tourer is usually loaded up with a rack and panniers – the more traditional approach to packing luggage on a bike – which allows for riding with large loads of gear, often necessary for the remote trips in difficult terrain or simply allowing for packing more comfort on longer tours.
Fine examples: Surly Disc Trucker
All Terrain Tourer
These bikes excel at adventures where the terrain can range from smooth asphalt through desert to singletrack. Based loosely around mountain bike geometry but with the plenty of ‘braze-ons‘ for attaching gear, they are normally built heavier than a mountain bike with lower bottom bracket height for better loaded stability. However, these bikes will be well behaved on rugged trails and are fun and responsive to ride.
These bikes are often seen loaded with framebags. Rather than the traditional approach of panniers and racks, framebags allow the rider to pack less and keep the load closely fitted to the bike which keeps the ride nimble and light. Framebags have become popular for bikepacking, akin to backpacking but on a bike, where the aim is to travel light and fast without the encumbrance of panniers and big loads.
Renowned for being the luxurious way to tour. A plush seat supports the spine, doing away with aching backs, sore necks and numb hands.
They have several other benefits too – their low profile is a headwind beater and their unusual position means potential thieves are likely to be too perplexed to try and steal it!
They are fairly expensive and heavy however, and more difficult to pack for flying if you are doing an overseas trip. Bear in mind too that you will likely be a tourist attraction in some places you travel on your unusual transport!
Fine Examples: ICE Bikes Adventure
Fatbikes are bicycles with oversized tyres and extra wide rims, originally designed for riding on unstable surfaces like snow and sand. They have specially modified frame geometry to cope with running wide wheels with regular components.
The first fatbikes emerged as a response to the extreme conditions of the Iditabike race in Fairbanks Alaska. Riders originally rigged homebuilt wheels and tyres on modified bike frames. These have been refined over time into production bikes, the first and perhaps most iconic being the Surly Pugsley.
Fatbikes make a great platform for an all out adventure rig. Add framebags or panniers and you’ve got a fantastic valley basher for camping and fishing forays into the wilds.
Have you checked out our fatbike page?