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Bike Touring Guide

How to Travel by Bicycle (Bike Touring Guide)

There are so many beautiful reasons to go bicycle touring. It’s simply for everybody- no matter your weight, physical condition, experience or budget, you can travel by bike!

If you’re planning to do your first bike tour but have ZERO experience, stick around cause we’ve listed all the tips you need to get you started with your ride. 

Plan

Before starting a biking tour, there are things you have to plan. Are you going on-road, off-road, or both? What bike should you use on the tour? What should you bring? How far can you ride? Where do you stay at night? Every ride is different. The more details you put into your plan, the more successful your ride will be. 

Bikepacking

Generally, bike-packing is more off-road using wide-tired mountain bikes with shocks. It’s a tour on dirt roads in secluded places. It’s also a great option if you want to go back-country hiking while enjoying the thrills of riding your mountain bike.

Touring in mountainous areas can be demanding so backpackers carry light loads during their rides. Although, carrying less means there is less stuff you need to worry about.

Cycle Touring

If you’re in love with the idea of “living life on the road, then cycle touring is for you. It can range from single to multi-day trips while traveling across towns, cities, or even countries. Cycle tours will require bringing all the gear you would need to travel around sufficiently. Backpacking, on the flip side, demands only the most essential stuff to make cycling less physically demanding.

Getting the Right Bike

On-road Ride

Touring bikes are great for on-road rides. Most touring bikes are pretty heavy because they have steel frames that absorb the cushion of the road. 

You can also go on a road bike, although most road bikes aren’t built for long-distance bike touring. A hybrid combo like gravel bikes also does well on the road. These bikes are lightweight and designed to handle a wide range of different terrain and surfaces.

Off-road Ride

Mountain bikes are still best for off-road riding because you’re gonna be able to do hills and trails that you wanna hit without damaging your bike and hurting yourself. 

When choosing a bike for off-road tours, you should optimize your bike setup by considering your load’s weight, riding surfaces, and terrain steepness.

Packing 

Preparing your bike tour list is crucial. What you should pack will depend on the length of your ride and where you’ll be. Below, we discussed how you can efficiently pack when traveling on-road or off-road. 

Panniers or Backpacking Bag?

When planning to do a bike tour, you should bring panniers for storing your stuff. These bags are spacious and built to be attached to the sides of your bike’s front and rear sacks. It can also be detached once you reach your destination. We suggest you get a waterproof pannier to protect your stuff from getting wet during rainy trips.

Panniers are best for long cycling tours where you can store all of your food, clothing, gears, and other essentials. When packing for an off-road trip, opt for a bike packing bag (or the best bike messenger bag) because it would demand lighter load set-ups than a four-pannier cycling tour set-up.

Off-road Packing List

  • Protective Gloves
  • Clothes that are not too thick and not too absorbent
  • Suitable Off-track cycling shoes
  • Rain protection
  • Cable tires
  • Water bottles
  • Tire levers
  • Bike lights
  • Safety pins
  • Food
  • Energy drinks, Pump
  • Mud protectors
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Insect Repellant
  • Battery pack
  • Camping gears

On-road Packing List

  • Saddlebags
  • Backpack
  • Bike Lock
  • Cycling shoes
  • 2-water bottles
  • Casual shoes
  • 2-nonriding and 2-riding clothes (jersey shorts, 2-compression shorts socks, long pants, long sleeves, t-shirt)
  • Sunglasses
  • Riding Gloves
  • Pump
  • Oil
  • Hex-multi tool
  • Screwdriver
  • Rear-light essential (charge-based)
  • Headlamp
  • Pocket knife
  • Flashlight/ Headlamp
  • Tire irons
  • Chapstick (optional)
  • Ziplock bags
  • Charger
  • Battery pack
  • Toiletries
  • Rain jacket
  • Bungees (patch kits)
  • Sunscreen

Choosing your Direction

In choosing your destination, consider the weather and the landscape. The weather will also tell you what you need to pack, how far you can ride, and when you should start pedaling. 

Are you craving mountainous terrain, city view, or both? When choosing a scenic spot, remember to consider going on lean seasons if you don’t want to get stuck in traffic. Or you can look for routes with a few motorists to avoid undesirable traffic jams. 

How Much Will Bike Touring Cost?

If you’re touring America and you already have all the necessary gears you need before you hit the road, you’ll pretty much need $35 to $50 per day to cover your food, camping fees, and repairs and gear replacements. But if you’re planning to tour overseas, here’s a quick breakdown by travellingtwo.com of the possible expenses per day:

  • Europe: $39.64 
  • Morocco: $40.00 
  • Syria: $23.89 
  • Iran: $17.16 
  • Turkey: $53.97 
  • Turkmenistan: $15.21 
  • Uzbekistan: $19.09 
  • Kazakhstan: $18.07
  • Kyrgyzstan: $26.58 
  • Thailand: $32.33 
  • Cambodia: $34.11 
  • Laos: $22.00
  • Malaysia: $28.59
  • Singapore: $20.70 
  • Australia: $33.01 
  • New Zealand: $34.67 
  • Canada: $30.06 

Common Mistakes in Bike Touring 

Using the Wrong Bike

It’s possible to use any bike for a bike tour, but using the right bike that’s specific to your needs will make a difference in your overall comfort and success during your trip.

Fear of Starting

Start right off! Don’t wait for years of planning before starting to go on a bike tour. Waiting until you’re too old and physically incapable will only bring you lots of regrets. 

Not Documenting Your Tour

Capture the most scenic view you’ve seen, the best experiences, and the most beautiful people you’ve met during your bike tour. It’s good to look back on the physical and emotional memories during your bike-tour. 

Not Knowing How to Do Minor Bike Repairs and Adjustments

Learn a few repair and maintenance skills before going on a bike tour. These basic things will save you time and money! Not only that, but a well-maintained bike can also ensure a smooth and safe ride.


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