Touring Bike Vs. Road Bike

Touring Bike Vs. Road Bike

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If you've been looking to get a new bike for the road that will offer a combination of both day riding and possibly light touring, you might be interested in either a road bike or a touring bike.

It can be quite challenging to differentiate the two because both of these models look quite similar.

However, there's a slight difference between the two in that they perform different tasks and are designed for specific purposes.

In the comparison article below, we’re going to explore the differences between these two bikes models.

But before then, let’s define each of the models, and see what each is best suited for.

Touring Bike

touring bike

Touring bikes are built for comfort and stability.

Ideally, touring bikes are designed for the long, multi-day excursions.

Design-wise, they look similar to the road bikes, only that they’re tougher and offer a more relaxed position.

Regarding weight, touring bikes are quite bulky, but the weight compromise is made up for by their rugged durability.

Though you might come across touring bikes constructed from various materials, steel is quite a commonplace among this class of bikes.

In a nutshell, touring bikes are ideal for those looking to:

  • Join a biking group
  • Purchase a bike that will take them to the end of the road

Road Bike

road bike

Road bikes are built primarily for lightness and stiffness.

Also known as racing bikes, the road bikes will offer the fastest way to commute to work or run your household errands.

However, racing bikes are not the most comfortable bikes. Rather, these bikes are built for efficiency and speed on tarmac.

Typical road bikes are built from aluminum, rendering them light and aerodynamic, but unforgiving on the rough roads.

Road bikes are quite popular and ideal for daily use.

Road bikes are relatively affordable than touring bikes, and this makes them more accessible to people.

Road bikes are ideal for:

  • Novice cyclists
  • Those looking to ride on short commutes
  • Those looking for fast commutes

Differences between Touring Bikes and Road Bicycles


Touring Bike

Road Bike







Wheel size

28mm or bigger






Linear brakes

Disc/Rim brakes


Long excursions

Light daily commutes




Let’s get into the details of the differences between the two.


Road bikes are constructed from aluminum/carbon, which renders them lightweight.

Unlike touring bikes, road bikes are not meant to support any extra weight save for that of the rider, and maybe their water bottles.

Though some of the road bikes have been drilled to fit racks, they’re cannot and are not meant to take on heavy loads.

Touring bikes, on the other hand, are designed from rugged steel for durability and sturdiness. As such, they’re quite bulky.

The benefit of the bulkiness on these bikes is that they will allow you to have better control of the bike at high speed. More importantly, it will allow you to carry heavy luggage for your excursion.

Wheel Size

Road bikes are built for speed.

To decrease the rolling resistance, most of these bikes come with smaller and narrow wheel sizes. The narrow wheel sizes with high pressure are smooth, and will easily “cut” through the air, allowing you to achieve greater speeds.

Touring bikes, on the other hand, are designed for comfort and performance.

They usually come with wide, heavy-duty tires that will stand up to the ruggedness o the rough terrains.

The large wheels are ideal for supporting the massive loads the touring bikes carry. Additionally, they help at enhancing the comfortability of the rider.

Material Construction

Typically, road bikes are constructed from aluminum or carbon fiber. Both of these materials are lightweight, durable, and corrosion resistance.

They’re also relatively affordable and consequently, the road bikes too.

Touring bikes, on the other hand, are constructed from steel. While steel is more rugged and durable than aluminum, it’s expensive to purchase.


The gearing ratio on touring bikes is dependent on various factors such as the terrain, your experience, and how much gear you put.

Touring bikes have a low gearing ratio compared to road bikes.


The general geometry of the road bikes, handlebars, in particular, facilitates an aerodynamic posture.

The handlebars, for instance, are "bent" allowing you to lean yourself forward and downward. This aerodynamic posture will reduce the air resistance on the forward cross-sectional are of the bike and allow you to achieve greater speeds with minimal resistance.

Touring bikes are quite versatile. Since they’re designed for long distances, comfort is of the essence.

Unlike the road bikes, touring bikes come with three different handlebars; drop bars, flat bars or butterfly bars.

These handlebars work well by providing different hand positioning, different body posture, and different frame sizing for the ultimate comfort.


Touring bikes come with linear-pull brakes. These types of brakes are suitable for providing incredible stopping power even on wet and muddy conditions.

On the flip side, linear-pull brakes are challenging to repair since they're more complex and weigh more than the disc brakes/rim brakes on road bikes.

Converting a Road Bike into a Touring Bike

If you have a one-time excursion, you may not want to spend money on purchasing a new touring bike.

If you’ve a road bike, you can easily turn it into a touring bike.

However, understand that features such as size and tires are not easy to change.

In any case, our definition of change is simply customizing the road bike to it your needs on a long road trip.

The most important customization to make is to fit your road bike with a full-size rack in the back of your bike. The rack will be sued or holding luggage and storing the necessary equipment such as the first aid kit, water, sunscreen, and maybe snacks.

While it's possible to carry all the essentials on a luggage backpack, it would be uncomfortable, and not to mention it will add undue pressure on your back.

The second customization to make is by switching out the pedals with double-sided one. The double-sided pedals will increase the comfort of your legs and offer better control.

All in all, customization should only be a temporary solution. We recommend that you purchase a road bike that is specifically designed for touring.

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