The Bike

There are three basic things you need, your bicycle has to be comfortable, it has to be light and it has to be durable.

If you are new to bicycle touring this is not as simple as it sounds.

Your first decision is on the style of bike.  There are three basic choices, a road bike, a mountain bike, or one of the sit-up-and-beg style of bike.

The term “road bike” is usually applied to a bike that looks like a racing bike, but will have a slightly larger frame and a lot of detail differences.  Road bikes are lighter and have very low rolling resistance, but the thin tyres and unforgiving frame mean that the ride comfort may not be as good as on the other styles of bikes.  The head-down position is very good for wind resistance, but can become uncomfortable and restricts your view somewhat.  The wheels with their thin tyres will not be as inherently durable as mountain bike wheels and tyres, particularly over cobble stones and unsealed roads.

We choose to use mountain bikes.  The riding position suites us better, being more upright than on a road bike but not as upright as a hybrid or European touring bike.  Ours are fitted with front suspension, but not rear suspension.  Rear suspension means that fitting panniers is more of an issue, and we have never come across a road where we needed it.

These bikes are inherently strong.  Ours are aluminum, and fitted with lugs for mounting panniers.  The wheels are laced with 2mm spokes, which we have found give extra resistance to buckling.

We have seen a lot of Europeans touring on the more upright style of bicycle, but we are happy with the compromise.  These upright style bikes tend to be a little heavier, and have a much more open and larger frame.  The people we have met who are using them tend to ride less distance in a day than we long-distance roads, do not forget to take drugs with you and also an antibiotic .