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Touring Bikes vs. Road Bikes

Touring bikes are the models of choice if you’re out to tackle a continent on a bike-camping expedition, but they’re also perfectly suited for less ambitious outings.

With a long wheelbase, low center of gravity and relaxed steering, touring bikes offer steady, stable handling and all-day comfort in the saddle whether you’re crossing the Rockies or completing a 60-mile charity fund-raising ride.

Although they share a similar look with road racing bikes, touring bikes have several important differences: Touring bikes have wider tires that support the weight of loaded touring bags, and add a bit of cushioning for extra comfort. Touring bikes also typically have a wider gear-range than road racing bikes (although some road racing bikes come with three front chainrings and stronger brakes, such as cantilever or discs). Finally, touring bikes have a more stable, less “twitchy” feel than racing bikes. To use a car analogy, touring bikes would be Cadillacs – not especially quick through the turns, but incredibly comfortable and with plenty of trunk space. Road racing bikes would be like Porsches – performance-oriented, lightning-fast through corners, but not really set up for hauling a lot of extra gear.

Road racing bikes are high-performance machines that are designed to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Although they have their roots in European racing events like the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, road bikes are also perfect for fast-paced fitness riding alone or in a group. Road racing models typically have steeper frame angles and a short wheelbase for nimble handling, and skinny tires for minimal rolling resistance.

Modern road bike frames incorporate ‘compact’ geometry. These bikes are characterized by lower, sloping top tubes and shorter back sections (chain stays and seat stays). This frame design allows for a much wider fit range and a much stiffer, more responsive ride. Many modern road bikes are available in ‘race’ (steeper, faster) geometry or in ‘recreational’ (slacker, easier steering) geometry. These frames are also available in a variety of materials such as aluminum, carbon fiber or a combination of both. See the sales staff at Cyclepath to determine the type of road bike best suited for your riding needs.

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