When it comes to riding, bicyclists tend to have a variety of needs and preferences, but some simply want to go the distance. They enjoy the pleasures of riding forever out on the open road, but it takes the right kind of bicycle to handle long-distance riding.
But the definition of the right kind of bike for distances tends to differ among riders. What follows is a breakdown of what the best bicycles are for long-distance riding and touring, along with some of the issues that can help you make the best choice.
The good news about figuring out which kind of bikes are best for long-distance touring is that there are plenty of choices. All three of the basic ones come with different benefits and tradeoffs, though, so it’s important to know what they are going in.
The three types of bicycles are great for long distances are mountain bikes, gravel bikes, and hybrid bicycles. The mountain bike excels with off-road, and trails for long distances. The gravel bike is quick, and capable of going on some off-road trails. The hybrid bike is perfect for those looking to take a leisurely, yet long bike ride.
The Mountain Bike Option
If you’re looking for versatility, a high-quality mountain bike with a well-made front suspension is the best option. That suspension provides comfort for off-road riding, and you can get these kinds of bikes with thinner tires that will give you a solid ride on paved roads.
The tradeoff with this choice is that your distance ride will be a little slower. These kinds of bicycles are heavier and slightly less efficient than pure touring bikes, so you’ll have to work a little harder to get where you’re going, and you’ll need a little more strength and stamina to handle the distance.
These compromises generally don’t matter for those who love mountain bikes, but it is something that should be factored into any buying decision.
These mountain bikes don’t have to be expensive, I personally own this one right here, and it does a great job!
What about Touring, Adventure, or Gravel Bikes?
Touring bikes, also known as gravel, adventure bikes, or cyclocross bikes have been growing steadily in popularity among long-distance riders, and there are several good reasons for that.
The first is that they’re a lot more rugged and durable than they used to be. They can even accommodate wider, off-road tires, but don’t expect the ride to be as smooth as it would be with a mountain bike when going off the beaten path.
You’ll feel the lack of a suspension, so if your long-distance tour includes an off-road section or two, you should be aware of that upfront.
But these bikes also offer another advantage if you’re planning to go the distance. They’re set up to accommodate extra mounts for things like racks and water bottles, and this will make your long-distance ride a lot easier.
They’ll also give you more speed than a mountain bike, so if that’s an important element of your tour you should factor that into your choice. If you are on the hunt for a quality, but beginner gravel bike, you should consider taking a look at this Schwinn Sporterra.
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The Hybrid Bicycle
At first glance, hybrid bikes look a lot like touring bikes, but appearances can be deceiving. For starters, they feature straight handlebars instead of the kind of drop bars you’ll typically find on touring bikes.
The reasons for this are simple—comfort and a more leisurely cycling experience. You’ll be riding mostly in an upright position unless you want to crank the effort factor up to gain speed for a given stretch, and that will save your back at the end of the day.
Interestingly, hybrid bikes are popular for European cycling tours, probably because many of them are based on some of the aforementioned considerations.
You may struggle a little bit in rougher terrain, but if you’re looking for a combination of comfort, a little speed, and versatility, it’s hard to go wrong with a hybrid bike.
If this bike sounds like something you want, I would recommend starting out with this bike! I have always had a great experience with this starter brand.
Frequently Asked Questions
While the definition of a “long-distance bicycle ride” may vary from person to person, most cyclists would agree that anything over 50 miles qualifies. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Some cyclists attempt to ride hundreds or even thousands of miles in a single trip, while others may only ride a few miles per day but do so for several weeks or months at a time. Ultimately, it’s up to each individual cyclist to decide what constitutes a long-distance ride. However, most would agree that anything over 50 miles is a pretty good starting point.
There is no such thing as an “average” speed for cycling, as it depends on too many variables, including the type of bicycle, the terrain, and the rider’s physical condition. However, if we’re talking about a general range, then a good average speed for cycling is between 10 and 12 miles per hour. Of course, experienced cyclists can go much faster than that, but for the average person, 10-12 miles per hour is a good target to aim for. And remember, it’s not just about going fast – it’s also about enjoying the ride!
Hybrid bikes are easier to ride than either type of bicycle, making them a great choice for beginners or anyone who wants a versatile bicycle that can be used for both casual and more serious. When it comes to bicycles, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The type of bicycle that is easiest to ride will vary depending on the rider’s goals and riding style. For example, a mountain bike with thick tires is great for off-road riding, but it can be difficult to pedal on pavement. A road bike, on the other hand, is designed for speed and efficiency, but it’s not as comfortable for long rides. A hybrid bicycle is a good middle-ground option that combines the best features of both mountain and road bikes.
Now that you’re familiar with the basics, what do you do with all this information? To put it simply, you ask yourself some basic questions, then base your choice on the answers you give yourself.
First and foremost, how much riding do you intend to do? Are you going to be a casual weekender, or do you plan to be out in the saddle a lot in all kinds of terrain and conditions?
The answers to those questions will tell you a lot quality-wise, and they may help you winnow down your specific needs. You also need to ask yourself how much you value versatility, or whether you prefer speed.
How much off-road riding you intend to do is another important factor, so there’s a bit of a juggling act between these three kinds of riding when it comes to making your choice.
Finally, the cost comes into play to some extent, too. Mountain bikes are generally more expensive, so make sure you’re clear about your riding goals if you decide to go that route. Hybrid prices have come down a great deal in recent years, so less experienced riders often start there until they can figure out their preferences in more detail and be sure about what’s important to them.