There are a lot of adventure touring bikes, or bikes designed for bikepacking, off-road touring and the like. But what is the difference between one of these and a standard mountain bike. E.g. what is the difference between the Salsa Fargo frame and something like the Kona Explosif. Or what is the difference between the Thorn Nomad or Raven and an Orange P7. I understand that the touring frames are more likely to have rack eyelets, but what are the other differences in design?

  • possible duplicate of Can I use a mountain bike to go bike touring?
    – Batman
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 12:39
  • You have a couple questions about bike A versus bike B which is fine. If you have some specific needs then why not post that as a question and ask what type of bike is best suited.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 13:55

2 Answers 2


At a glance, comparing the Salsa Fargo and Kona Explosif, the Salsa's bottom bracket is lower than the Konas. The Salsa's BB position is more like a road bike. Thus if I were to hazard a guess, the Kona is purpose designed for severe off roading to clear rocks, logs and all. The Salsa on the other hand doesn't need to worry about such severity and can offer better high speed handling by lowering your centre of gravity and allowing easier directional changes with shifts in your body

Thats not saying that the Salsa can't go off road.. It just can't do the extreme terrain very well.

Oh to add to that... The Salsa's chain stay is longer. Probably better for touring handling and probably better for carrying panniers.


Aside from touring specific braze-ons (rackss, fenders, spokes, pump, etc), the short answer is that adventure touring bikes are going to be more well suited as an all around machine where as an MTB has a narrower performance mark.

The long answer is frame geometry. Briefly looking at the geometry of some of the bikes you listed shows the Kona having shorter chainstays and a higher bottom bracket. In theory giving the bike better pedal clearance a shorter more responsive wheelbase. The Orange on the other hand has a lower BB and longer chainstays for increased stability and better heal clearance for rear panniers.

Frame geometry, however, is extremely subjective. Builders take a lot of things into account when making decisions. A lower bottom bracket for example decreases frame clearance but increases stability at higher speeds by lowering your center of gravity. One frame builder may value this decision higher than the other.

  • Why would lower centre of gravity increase stability? It's easier to balance a broomstick than a pencil on your finger, since something with a higher centre of gravity takes longer to fall over.
    – bdsl
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 20:24
  • @bdsl it's exactly contrariwise. The Pizan tower is not falling aside just because it's gravity center is at pretty low point, and it's above the foundation. If it's gravity center was for instance at the highest point, it was falling long ago, as the gravity center was going aside of the base.
    – Alexander
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 21:36
  • The tower of Pizza is very different because it doesn't have active stabilisation. Any push bike with no active stabilisation will fall sideways rather quickly, unless it has a kick stand or is propped up on something. Bikes stay upright because of the combination of the bike and the rider moving to correct any fall before it gets too severe, and I would think you'd have more time to do that with a higher centre of gravity.
    – bdsl
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 23:40
  • We are talking about the stability of a moving object (bicycle) and that is significantly different than that of a stationary object (building). The lower you can get the weight on a bicycle the more stabile it is as it relates to handling. This is why sports cars want to be so low, and ideally wide, to the ground. On a bicycle you want your weight low so that the bike has more predictable handling characteristics. This is because when the weight is low it has a shorter distance to travel imparting less change in forces when you are say cornering or descending an uneven or bumpy surface. Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 16:11

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