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I am wondering why would someone choose a touring bike which is twice as much as a hybrid bike, after evaluating this.

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An aluminum frame hybrid bike is capable of carrying more weight than a steel frame touring bike. Apart from the geometry and steel (for flexibility) what is the rational for choosing a touring bike? Even with same drive train components touring bike costs less. Could someone shed some light on this? What am I missing to appreciate between the two?

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    There are many more differences between those two bikes than only their frame material. It’s also conceivable that the wheels (or other components) are the limiting factor when it comes to weight, not the frame. Or maybe they test/recommend differently for a tourer because the reliability requirements there are higher.
    – Michael
    Mar 6 at 7:56
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    Note that the FX1 is a bit of an exception in term of max allowed weight. A 120kg weight limit is much more common for hybrids.
    – Renaud
    Mar 6 at 7:58
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    125kg isn't that much for a touring bike. E.g. the surly bikes do 136kg and the VSF TX-400 does 170kg. That said, super high capacity isn't that useful anyways, since carrying that much weight will cost a lot of energy.
    – Erlkoenig
    Mar 6 at 8:53
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    I used to do loaded touring on an aluminium hybrid bike. The main problem was the significant sideways frame flex when e.g. pedaling hard on ascents, which felt pretty worrisome. Now I'm riding a steel-frame Kona Sutra tourer which has zero noticeable flex in all conditions. Mar 7 at 12:05
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    @VladimirF it is. The average pro racer might be 68kg, but I reckon the average male touring cyclist is a bit heavier. With my latest luggage I could probably hit 45kg, but even 35kg looked like this
    – Chris H
    Mar 8 at 10:22

4 Answers 4

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Other points - you've assumed that from this pair, all steel bikes have lower load limits than aluminium ones.

a. This is a sample of two, and we can't be confident that either represents the "average" of those frame styles.

b. Components. Its not stated in the example, but "N-speed disk brake" could include cable-braked Tiagra, or hydraulic brakes on GRX or any number of other combinations from SRAM or Microshift or other suppliers. So the component choice can make a large difference to the price.

c. As pictured, one bike has front and rear racks, (worth several hundred dollars by themselves) and therefore has hard points to mount them. A bike where the racks are wrapped around stays and brake bolts might be lighter, but are not as robust.

d. Tyre clearances - noone wants to ride for days on a pizza cutter tyre. The wider tyre will be more comfortable, as long as it fits in the frame. Either frame material can have clearances, but that may be relevant in one's choice.


Last point is a little cynical. If a bike maker can sell you another bike, then they make more money. Whether you need a road, CX, gravel, hybrid, and touring road bike, or a dozen different MTBs for various disciplines, that's irrelevant. What matters is if they can convince you to buy another bike.

You can totally ride a commuter on a tour, or commute on your racy road bike, or take that road bike on some singletrack. Will it be "best" ? No, but it'll be fun.

Noone has a bottomless wallet, so we do have to make fiscally-responsible choices, like choosing 105 instead of Duraace. Some people have to choose Tourney because the alternative is no-bike. Rather than agonise over choice, go with the choice you personally find most comfortable.

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    About the components price: brifters are more expensive than what people think. Purchased separately, the Sora brifters cost 220€ while Alivio shifters + brake levers (the equivalent MTB product) would cost 90€. The FX1 uses lesser components that being said.
    – Renaud
    Mar 6 at 7:21
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    +1 "pizza cutter tyre"
    – David D
    Apr 8 at 13:17
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I have both a steel tourer and an aluminium hybrid, of the trekking subtype. The hybrid has mounting points for front and rear racks, and I've run with both. Taking into account inflation they were a similar price (hybrid: £700 in 2010, tourer: £900 in 2017) but because the tourer is newer it's got 27 instead of 24 gears, and disc brakes. They're a similar weight and run similar tyres (32-35mm, puncture protected).

Touring with short days would be perfectly possible on the hybrid, and I've done some 70km commutes on it. But it's nowhere near as good for multiple long days in the saddle because:

  • even with ergo grips and bar ends on flat bars, the hand/wrist comfort is far better with the variety of positions on drop bars (it would be a struggle to get aerobars on those particular flat bars)
  • the steel frame/fork of the tourer is much less harsh on rough roads (and there are always rough roads on my trips, or even gravel)
  • the tourer is faster, especially if there's a headwind, because its a little more aero. The benefit is reduced with panniers, but it's still noticeable.
  • laden handling is acceptable on the hybrid (I've had a baby seat + front panniers, for example) but easy on the tourer (4 panniers, 35kg luggage and 16% climbs certainly test your ability to hold a line)
  • the tourer also handles better at speed, e.g. descending, when laden
  • the tourer has 3 bottle cage positions and I can add another 2 on the forks more easily than the hybrid
  • the hybrid would need a better saddle for long days
  • I've got a better dynamo setup on the tourer (I built both dynamo wheels, but used better parts on the tourer)

The frame weight limits aren't an issue in either case. I can't recall them but both are plenty for me and all my kit in practice (I've probably exceeded the limit on the hybrid, meaning a new back wheel after only 5 years - but accelerated wear isn't a big deal). Only the lightest bikes sold as tourers will have a lower weight limit than many hybrids, but there are some rock-solid hybrids as this style is popular including with heavier riders

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Lots of reasons - Start with a couple-

Material - Steel is reparable by any competent engineer with a welder is probably the biggest advantage in this case. Aluminum has a fatigue life steel does no suffer from, so a steel frame can last forever. Throw in the lack of reparability of Aluminum, and steel is a superiors choice for people wanting a bike that lasts and head into the far corners of the world.

Geometry - while the geometry might be similar, tourers are build for hours on the road with heavy loads, hybrids tend to be aimed at commuters and weekend warriors. Simple things like slightly longer chain stays so heels clear panniers make big diffrence.

Fixing points Tourers are designed for lots of racks of various configuration's. They usually have multiple fixing points so weight distribution can be optimized. Hybrids, if they have fixing points, tend to have one position for everything.

Wheels Tourer's wheels are usually more robust. Weight rating is one thing, but carrying maximum weight for thousands of kilometers without need to truing is far more important of a tourer than a hybrid.

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    With proper fitment of panniers, loading and carrying cargo should not be an issue. Although water bottles can be an issue. However, they can be managed. While the frame material and geometry is certainly important, I am not entirely convinced just with them. Then the wheels thing: What if we can use the same wheels as in the touring set up. It still would cost less but with even more weight carrying capacity, at least, theoretically speaking. I trying to understand the rational behind, be it, either business aspect or technical aspect.
    – Bussller
    Mar 6 at 4:43
  • Agree - the money saved on the bike may be able to be put towards things that make the tour more successful - better panniers, lighter gear etc. If you have spent all your money on the bike, and have to put on cheap and nasty panniers, carry heavy gear and have a rain coat that is hardly water proof, then it was the wrong bike.
    – mattnz
    Mar 6 at 8:36
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    Fixing points: many hybrids are designed for mudguards or racks, but not both at once. That can be dealt with but is a hassle. @Bussller the rear wheel on my hybrid is a 36-spoke touring wheel for similar reasons (see my answer) and 36-spoke wheels stay true even with a broken spoke much better than 32-spoke. @ mattnz but of course some of the best panniers are heavy (Ortlieb). I've got some cheap copies of those which are pretty decent on my rare heavy trips
    – Chris H
    Mar 6 at 13:11
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One word, drop bar. It's comfortable, offers lots of hand positions, and most positions are very aerodynamic with a drop bar. A flat bar has only one hand position and it's very unnatural, unconfortable and unaerodynamic.

Even if I was offered a non-drop-bar bike for free, I wouldn't take it. I don't want to store such crap in my limited storage areas.

It is very unfortuate that drop bar bikes are rather expensive today, especially if considering "reasonable" bikes, bikes that can take kickstand, fenders, lights, wide tires, pannier racks, and can carry cargo and don't have the handlebar 20 centimeters below the saddle. I don't think there's any technical reason for that. Drop bar shifters are somewhat more expensive but some money can be saved by choosing bar-end shifters as opposed to STI shifters. There's some labor and material needed for wrapping the handlebar with bar tape. Also manufacturing a drop bar is probably more expensive than manufacturing a flat bar as the bar needs to be curved, but even given that, 30 euros is enough to buy a quality drop bar. So I don't see how the manufacturing difficulties would increase the price more than 100 - 200 euros.

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    Two words. I'm a pedant.
    – JoeK
    Mar 6 at 11:13
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    Flat bars have at least three usable hand positions: normally by the grips, by the ends of the grips (as if there were bar ends, but it also works without), and in the middle on the blank metal of the bars. In addition, more controversially, there's the possibilities of grabbing the stem between both hands, or the forks by their crowns, or laying the elbows over the bars as you would with aero bars. Those are actually pretty aero, though obviously not as safe and comfortable as the various options you have with drop bars. Mar 6 at 16:08
  • @leftaroundabout I quite like holding the brake/shifter housings on the flat bars of my hybrid, for a narrower position with a different wrist angle to the grips - not so good on my MTB. But dropbars allow you to cover the brakes from drops or hoods, or sit up and use the tops; the positions are more varied regardless of count. Aero bars can be fitted to many bars. I'm likely to borrow mine from my tourer for the MTB at some point over summer because I want to ride several of the local trails in one ride and by "local" I mean some are 20km in one direction while others are 40km the other way.
    – Chris H
    Mar 7 at 13:04

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