Touring Bike vs. Road Bike: Main Features, Pros and Cons

We explain the difference between these two bike types and cover the advantages and drawbacks of each
John Watson
John Watson
John is an experienced cycling enthusiast and a great asset when it comes to writing skills. He's a Bachelor of Arts and a talented journalist. John is in charge of our blog read more
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Jessica Kingston
Jessica Kingston
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Jessica is our expert consultant on all things connected to biking - gear, technique, you name it. Being a pro cyclist in the past, she knows exactly how things work in and read more
Last updated: August 20, 2023
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Sporty road bikes or touring bikes usually get a lot of attention, not least because of their innovative technology and capacity for long travels with your loads strapped on them. But the touring bike and the road bike are not designed for all users. While road bikes are designed for those who want lighter and faster bikes, tour bikes are the ideal choice for long-range travelers on all types of terrain. They are for those looking for a bike that is convincing in everyday use as well as on tours in leisure time.

In this touring bike vs road bike comparison article, we would like to introduce you to the two types of bicycles, and their features, and tell you what makes them different.

Touring BikesTouring Bike vs. Road Bike: Main Features, Pros and Cons

Touring bikes Trusted Source Touring bicycle - Wikipedia are bikes specially designed for traveling. Its characteristics vary depending on the travel conditions you have in mind. In practice. These bicycles are specially designed for long trips with saddlebags on mainly paved roads.

As the name suggests, a touring bike is a special bike that is designed to cover long distances. The touring bike has a frame with sporty geometry. But touring bike frames are additionally reinforced, have a longer rear end, and a stronger fork for travel. This increases the wheelbase (distance between the front and rear wheels), there is more space for panniers, the driver does not hit the luggage with his heels, and the smoothness increases. Even fully packed bikes can be steered easily and safely.

Touring frames are strong and have a higher load capacity. Although aluminum or titanium frames can be found, the preferred material for the manufacture of this type of bicycle is Chromoly steel, mainly for its resistance and ease of repair if necessary.


The tires on the touring bike are often 28 inches, some models still rely on the 26-inch mountain bike size for reasons of stability. The tire width varies between 1.1 and 1.4 inches. The all road touring bike usually has numerous options for mounting various types of luggage racks and bottle cages.

The luggage racks on the touring bike are particularly stable. Overall, the following load limits apply as a guide: 88-pound rear rack, 26.5-pound front lowrider, 11-pound front rack, and 5.5-pound handlebar bag.Touring Bike vs. Road Bike: Main Features, Pros and Cons

Wheels built specifically for saddlebag travel have to be strong. The best touring wheels will feature tires for touring bikes that are 700c and 26″ depending on road conditions. The 700s are good when the ride is mostly on roads. On the other hand, the 26 ″ is preferred for trips with mixed terrain since being of smaller diameter, they support the weight better on uneven terrain and it is easier to find spare parts in case they fail in some remote place.

They are generally assembled with double-walled rims and fitted with puncture-proof tires/rims. The width of the tires varies depending on the conditions of the trip.


Touring Bike vs. Road Bike: Main Features, Pros and ConsAlthough at first glance, they are similar to road or cyclocross bikes, the geometry of the best bicycles for touring allows for a more upright posture, with relaxed arms and neck, ideal for traveling hundreds of kilometers per day.

Touring bikes also tend to have slightly longer chainstays that provide more clearance between the heel and the saddlebags. Similarly, a longer wheelbase helps improve stability, especially important when the bike is loaded. Another important feature in touring frames is the multiple attachment points.

Overall, the range of touring bikes is very limited. There are trekking bikes, eBikes, gravel bikes, and backpacking bikes are some of the types of touring bikes.

Under certain circumstances, however, MTBs can also be converted, especially if only a small amount of luggage is to be transported, this can turn out to be a real alternative.


  • Incredible load capacity
  • Very good for steep terrain
  • They are very resistant and durable bikes


  • Its cost is high
  • They are heavier than other bikes
  • Not all stores sell them

Who Should Get It?

Without a doubt, a touring bike is ideal for those who have in mind to travel constantly on a trip of several months or years. They are expensive as they are made of sturdy materials and are meant for high load capacity on long distances, it is not recommended for those who go on trips occasionally.

Road Bikes

In terms of speed, style, and efficiency, a road bike is hard to beat. Road bikes Trusted Source Road bicycle - Wikipedia typically feature narrow tires and wide 700c wheels with slightly lowered handlebars.

The Eurobike 21 Speed Road Bike, which is one of the best tour bikes, has a 700C wheel 19/21/22-inch frame. Road bikes like this are lighter and faster than tour bikes and other models in other categories. This makes them an ideal choice for a variety of cycling practices.

Touring Bike vs. Road Bike: Main Features, Pros and ConsThe differences between road bike tires lie in their high puncture resistance, mileage, and dry and wet grip. But crack resistance and rolling resistance are also important purchase criteria. In addition, the individually selected rims can also have a positive effect on driving comfort and duration of use.

When choosing the rim, the different demands of the driver must also be taken into account. While bicycle rims today usually consist of an aluminum alloy, fiber composite materials are often used in the high-price segment for racing bikes. The usual number of spokes is 36, but for weight reasons and aerodynamics, fewer than 36 spokes are generally used on racing bikes.


Touring Bike vs. Road Bike: Main Features, Pros and ConsThe frame of a road bike can be made from different materials, including steel, aluminum, and carbon so we provide you with a brief comparison of these. Carbon is increasingly being used as a frame material, but materials such as steel, aluminum, and titanium are also used as frame materials. Thanks to today’s construction, the weight of a road bike is between 13 and 24 pounds, which enables speeds of up to 27 mph on a straight line, and even over 38.5 mph downhill.

In addition, they usually have a very good price-performance ratio. Carbon not only enables a special frame shape, which has a great influence on the driving characteristics but is also characterized by its extremely lightweight. Light steel frames are rarely used nowadays because they are very complex and therefore expensive to produce. A striking feature of a steel frame is the noticeably thin tubes, as less material is required for the same strength.

Both steel frames and titanium racing bike frames are characterized by their particular durability. Titanium frames are very stiff and also relatively heavy but have excellent handling.

The disadvantage of these materials is the higher price, which is justified for such high-quality materials. Racing bikes with carbon frames are often only available for around $1500 in bike shops.


Road bike manufacturers vary their models according to the type of cycling practice and the more or less sporty and competitive approach.

Competition bikes allow the racer a lying down and plunging position. This is due to the very short head tube, a lower handlebar, and stem to allow a better aerodynamic position. The entire bike is optimized for a minimum weight and maximum performance. Likewise, the gears or speeds are optimized for competition.

Touring Bike vs. Road Bike: Main Features, Pros and ConsThe aerodynamic-type bikes have frames and a shape with very wide and thin tube sections (like a sword). These are generally bikes designed for high speed. They have a race geometry on which the pilot is leaning forward. The weight is higher than the multi-purpose bikes.

Also, the practice of cyclosport is growing in recent years. The objective is to cover long distances in the heart of a race while having a bike offering good performance compromises, but with a significant constraint of comfort. So, cyclosport or endurance bikes are often less plunging than a competition frame. The main features of a cyclosport bike are the lightweight carbon frame, the curved fork that helps absorb shocks, the low-profile aluminum or carbon wheels, and a thicker comfortable saddle.

Cyclo-cross bikes are also road bikes designed in the same way as a competition road bike with classic geometry. Some modifications are made to the wheels and the braking system, allowing greater ease of handling on soft ground.

The gravel bikes are also often categorized under road bikes. The design of a gravel bike is specific to combine two practices: road and paths! It has a geometry that allows the rider a raised position as well as a short top tube and tall head tube. A typical type of road gravel bike is the Tommaso Siena Shimano Gravel Adventure Bike. It comes with disc brakes and extra-wide tires. It’s therefore perfect for dirt or road touring.

There are also the time trial or triathlon bikes. The geometry is very plunging and the rider is heavily tilted forward. Time trial bikes have a very rigid one-piece carbon frame, right fork, high profile carbon wheels or spokes, and a very light and very thin saddle. Below you can find the pros and cons of a road bike and make a decision mindfully.

Road Bike Advantages

  • More affordable
  • Faster and more aerodynamic
  • Lighter and easy to put on a rack
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Large range to pick from

Road Bike Drawbacks

  • Not versatile
  • Not durable enough

Who Should Get It?

Road bikes are good for competition racers. The geometry of road bikes is designed to be efficient on the road; they may therefore appear strange at first compared to the raised position of mountain bikes or bicycle riders. In the high-end market, road bikes tend to be very aerodynamic or very light, or a combination of the two.

Side-by-Side Comparison

Road bikes and touring bikes are distinct types of bicycles. Here are how they compare in terms of material, weight, purpose, and price.


The frame of road bikes is usually constructed from aluminum or steel. Aluminum is relatively light, strong, and affordable. It’s the most common material used for road bikes as it ensures better aerodynamics, thanks to its lightness. Steel is comfortable and sturdy for touring bikes. But aluminum is commonly used too. However, carbon fiber touring bikes are rare. Without a doubt, bikes for touring are the strongest as they are built like horses – to carry loads and withstand tough terrains.


The road bike has the attributes of speed and lightness. While the first racing bikes were made of heavy steel, without gears, and with a rigid drive, today they are impressive not only because of their light but also their robust construction. But they are lighter than road bikes. Bicycles for touring are heavier as they include additional components for carrying loads.


Touring Bike vs. Road Bike: Main Features, Pros and ConsThe road bike was specially designed for use in bike races and is characterized by the attributes of speed and lightness. The touring bikes on the other hand are ideal for frequent travelers. It must be able to climb the steepest slope even with a load. For this reason, touring bikes have wide ranges and very low speeds. They are generally equipped with three chainrings.

It would be impossible to deploy road bikes for touring purposes. They are not designed for that and cannot withstand the slopy and rough terrains.


Touring bikes are pricier than road bikes despite the higher aerodynamics and technical sophistication of the latter. Road bikes are more affordable and can be purchased at a price lower than $500 as they are made of lighter materials and consist of fewer components. Touring bikes can cost upward of $1000.


Is touring possible on a road bike?

Touring is possible on a road bike, but it is more suited for longer distances and smoother roads compared to a touring bike that is designed for heavy loads and rough terrain. It is important to consider the weight of the gear you will be carrying and the type of roads you will be traveling on when deciding whether a road bike is suitable for your tour.

Final Thoughts

We should not be asking which is better between the road and touring bikes. As we have seen in the tour bike vs road bike comparison, they’re simply not designed for the same users and budget range. Touring bikes are for travelers who frequent normal roads to slopy and rough terrains. They are designed for those on tours with a few loads. Therefore, they are stronger and can be heavier.

Road bikes are high-speed racing bikes. Lighter and having better aerodynamics, they are for competition and endurance racers. Also, they are more affordable. Therefore, if you’re a leisure racer who just wants a bike for practicing, a road bike can be the best for you. Meanwhile, touring bikes are purposeful bikes that cannot be bought randomly. If you’re not a tourist, you have no business with a touring bike.
We hope our touring bike vs road bike comparison was useful for and that you’re ready to choose a perfect vehicle for cycling on any terrains.


Touring bicycle - Wikipedia
Road bicycle - Wikipedia

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