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I would like to buy a touring bike soon, but in our country I cannot find any well known touring bike. I would like to buy a used one so I am going to visit some of the bicycles stores of our capital city. I am afraid I do not know hot to recognize a touring bike.

What are the differences between the touring and the speed/road bikes (e.g. eyelets on the folk)? Unfortunately I have not had enough experience to classify them based on the frame geometry but if you can tell me any tips I will thank you. :)

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1 Answer

up vote 30 down vote accepted

The distinctions are often subtle:

  1. The touring bike will of course be slightly more heavily built (generally a steel frame).
  2. The touring bike will have a longer wheelbase. You will generally notice that the space between the seat tube and the rear wheel is fairly wide. (The longer wheelbase serves 3 purposes: More stable, smoother ride, better fender clearance, and better heel clearance for rear bags.)
  3. The wheels will be more heavily built (at least 32 spokes and maybe even 40 on the rear), with wider rims and tires -- at least 28, maybe 35-38.
  4. The touring bike will have eyelets on the front and rear dropouts to support racks and fenders. (This generally means two eyelets on each side of each axle. Plus there may be braze-ons about half way up the side of the fork for a "low rider" front rack.) And at least 2, perhaps 3 sets of bottle bosses.
  5. The touring bike will have a more "relaxed" geometry -- higher bar height, a little less "reach" (shorter top tube, etc), slightly more slope and "rake" to the fork.
  6. The touring bike will have a wider gear range and a lower low gear, and usually not as high a high gear.
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Thank you! It will help. –  Gabor Meszaros Jun 21 '13 at 17:50
Touring bikes will also often have Cantilever or V-Brakes, as most (all?) caliper brakes cannot work with fenders. –  Kibbee Jun 21 '13 at 20:15
@Kibbee - Good point! –  Daniel R Hicks Jun 21 '13 at 21:33
+1 to "better heel clearance for rear bags". Having longer chainstays for this reason is a key difference in touring frame design, and is important if you plan on taking larger panniers. Also, while you mention wider tires, it's important to note that a touring bike will have a wider fork and more width by the seatstay bridge to accommodate this. Many "speed" bikes will only accommodate tires up to 25mm or so, which impedes any conversion to a touring bike. –  joseph_morris Sep 3 '13 at 21:16
Some of the newer tourers are coming with disc brakes as well (Surly Disc Trucker, Jamis Aurora/Bossanova, Salsa Vaya, etc.). You also don't normally see spoke holders on non-touring bikes, and some have provisions for things like dynamos. Some also have mounts for a full sized pump (one that extends most of the top tube, not just a mini pump which goes under a water bottle cage). Also, note a lot of older road bikes which weren't intended for touring do have more tire clearance than their modern counterparts. –  Batman Nov 26 '13 at 3:49
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