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If road racing bikes are like sports cars, touring bicycles are like pickup trucks. They are designed to carry your gear as you travel about on your bicycle. They have braze-on fittings that allow a rack to be added to the rear of the bike. You can attach bags (called "panniers") on the sides of this rack, and place larger items such as tent or sleeping bag on top. Most touring bikes have pre-drilled holes in the front fork. This makes it easy to attach another rack to the fork & carry a set of smaller panniers. Most people start bicycle touring with just the rear rack, but this moves the the bike's center of gravity a bit towards the rear, and the handling feels slightly odd. Adding front panniers not only allows you to carry a little more gear, it moves the center of gravity back to where it should be. When I ride fully loaded with front & rear panniers, my bike feels a bit sluggish due to the extra weight, but very stable. Touring bikes have a longer wheelbase than racing bikes so that your heels will not hit your rear panniers. This also gives them a little softer ride.
Other features to look for in a touring bike include:
Check out our Bicycle Panniers and our Bicycle Trailers pages for options in transporting your gear.
Our least expensive bike in this category is the Raleigh Solourn, which is priced at $1200. It has a Chromoly frame, and includes a rear rack & fenders. For more information & detailed specs, check out the Raleigh Sojourn Touring Bicycle page.
If you are looking for a top-notch, pure touring bike, consider the Co-Motion Americano. It uses heat-treated, tandem sized, cro-moly steel tubing for strength & light weight (frame weight is only 4 pounds). To avoid wheel failures, it has a symmetrical tandem rear wheel with a 145 mm rear axle. The chainstays are long enough to provide ample clearance between your heels & panniers. There are plenty of braze-ons, and ample clearance for wide tires and fenders. For complete deatils on the bike, visit the Co-Motion Americano page. This is a custom made, hand-built bicycle, and at $3070 it isn't cheap. If you plan on doing some serious touring and want a top-notch touring bike, this is what I would recommend. To complete the top-of-the-line touring package, add in the following:
If you travel frequently with your bicycles,
consider the American Co-Pilot.
It is the same as the Americano,
but has S & S couplings which allow it to be easily dis-assembled
and packed into airline-checkable luggage.
This feature only adds 8 ounces to the bike weight,
and $450 to the price tag.
to read John Schubert's review of the Co-Motion Americano
in the 2001 issue of Adventure Cyclist Magazine.
If you have questions, feel free to call us at Circle City Bicycles (317-786-9244) or e-mail Roy. He's always glad to talk to people who appreciate fine road bikes. If you would like to take a test ride, please come to our store at Madison & Epler on the south side of Indianapolis (those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian). Please call ahead to make sure we have one available in your size.
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