Touring Bike Vs. Road Bike Compared- Which Is Better?

Road Bike vs. Touting Bike

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases made on our website. If you make a purchase through links from this website, we may get a small share of the sale from Amazon and other similar affiliate programs. You can read our complete legal information for more details. By using this site, you agree the information contained here is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, consult your doctor. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.

I first watched parts of the Tour de France when I was 11 years old. I remember feeling inspired by their speed and endurance and hoped I would one day get to participate! Although I have yet to partake in this prestigious trip, I’ve done my fair share of long-distance biking

Touring bikes are sturdier and more versatile for traveling than road bikes. However, they’re also heavier and can impede speed and thus inhibit road racing. Both are designed for different purposes and better for different purposes. 

What is a touring bike used for, exactly? Why would you want to get a lightweight road bike? To answer all these questions and more, continue reading!

What Are Tour Bikes and Road Bikes? 

A touring bike is designed to handle long-distance rides, occasionally over rough terrain. A road bike is designed for fast, one-day rides down paved roads either in towns or cities. Both appear very similar on the outside, but their utility is what sets them apart. 

Most tour bikes are built for long-distance biking. This is because bike touring has several distinctions from day road biking. But, the most distinctive aspect of these biking activities is their travel distance. 

Tour biking takes adventurers on a trip that lasts several days, if not more. Therefore, tour bikes must be able to withstand trips over extensive roadways and inclement weather. They must also be able to hold several pounds of extra luggage. 

Tour bikes are usually made from steel, which makes them seem old-fashioned compared to other bikes. According to, steel is preferred for several reasons, including: 

  • Comfort 
  • Versatility 
  • Replaceable 
  • Strength 
  • Shock absorption 

This makes steel the ideal material for long-distance biking. 

Road bikes are best suited for day rides. They’re similar to mountain bikes but don’t have the same aerodynamic design. 

The main focus of road bikes is their speed. Since most road bikes are used in races and agility sprints, they’re lightweight and versatile. 

Due to their lightweight nature, they’re not ideal for long sprints. The tires and frame are thinner and, therefore, weaker than other bikes and may suffer damage over long distances. 

Road bikes are often confused with mountain bikes by those who are unfamiliar with bikes. Although the trained eye will quickly spot the differences, the most obvious difference is the position of the handlebars. 

Mountain bike handlebars are aligned with the seat of the bike. This makes the ride easier for off-roading and uphill climbs. Road bikes have their handlebars higher than the seat, allowing for a more scenic ride. 

Use road bikes for city and town biking and use tour bikes for cross-country biking. 

What about gravel and touring bikes? How do they compare? We answer here: Touring Bike Vs. Gravel Bike | What’s the difference?

Road Bike Touring Bike

What Are the Main Differences Between Tour Bikes and Road Bikes? 

Weight, size, and structure are the main distinctions between a touring bike and a road bike. Tour bikes focus on endurance and strength since they’re used for cross-country biking. Road bikes focus primarily on speed and agility since they’re used for road races. 

We already gave the basic details of these two bicycle types and their use. However, a more detailed comparison of the two is essential for choosing one for yourself. 

Both are somewhat expensive if you purchase a bike worth your time. While plenty of bike brands sell bikes for well under $200.00, we don’t recommend these. These bikes are only suitable for amateurs who want an occasional cruise around town. 

Ideally, you should spend a minimum of $400.00 for your road or touring bike. However, for a perfect one that’ll last you years, you should pay upwards of $1,000.00. Check out Outside’s guide for a more detailed guide on pricing your next bike. 

Below we’ll delve deeper into how these bikes differ so you can find the one that’s right for you. 

Weight and Size

Tour bikes are significantly heavier than the average road bike. While this might seem like a negative strike against the touring bike, this isn’t the case. 

The average touring bike is between 26-35 pounds. The average road bike only weighs between 15-18 pounds. Although this doesn’t sound like much, this weight adds up fast, especially when racing. 

Touring bikes must endure more damage and wear than the average road bike. They travel an average of 40-60 miles every day and thus need to be able to endure a lot of wear.

However, they’re not ideal for road biking. Road bikes are aerodynamic and minimize the impact felt by the legs during the ride. The 10-15 pound difference between the road and touring bike means you’ll become worn out faster on a touring bike than a road bike. 

This is only true if you’re trying to race on a touring bike. They require a moderate speed of 13-16 miles per hour rather than the 20 or more miles per hour achieved by street racers.  

A heavier bike is better for long-distance while a lighter bike is better for street racing and agility sprints. 

Tire Size 

Touring bikes usually have thick, wide-rimmed tires. These tires are essential for cross-country trips since they protect the tire from breaking. 

The thicker the rubber, the less likely it is to break or get holes from debris. Generally speaking, thick tires are better for these reasons. 

However, road bikes don’t traditionally have these thick tires. Initially, it was assumed the tire’s thickness might impede the bicycle’s speed. 

Some recent studies have demonstrated this might be false, though. It’s still a topic debated among enthusiasts. 

But touring bikers agree that thick tires are better for their journeys. Whether they’re slower or not is irrelevant in this case. The durability and strength of the tire are more important over long distances. 

Speed Capabilities 

Road bikes have reached a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour. However, the average speed of a road biker is between 18-25 miles per hour. 

A touring bike can reach up to 20-25 miles per hour. However, this is unlikely to be the average speed you achieve on your touring bike. 

A touring bike is designed to enhance comfort and allow you to travel long distances. It’s also designed to carry your supplies along with you while you travel. 

This can add 15-25 pounds. This means most people reach speeds of 13-15 miles per hour. Although, it’s important to remember that endurance is an essential factor. 

In bike touring, you’re traveling hundreds, if not thousands, of miles over several weeks or months. This means you’re traveling 8-10 hours every day. Therefore, you need to conserve more energy while bike touring than you need to preserve while road biking. 


According to NASA, aerodynamics describes how air flows around an object. An object is aerodynamic when designed to permit airflow with little resistance. This allows objects such as planes, trains, and bicycles to travel easier with less wasted energy. 

Road bikes are a feat of aerodynamic design. They feature lightweight frames and are designed to minimize friction with the wind and road. This allows riders to maximize their energy output. 

Touring bikes are a more traditional design than road bikes. Touring bikes are bulky and meant to carry bags and other luggage you bring. This makes it convenient for travel but not aerodynamic. 


Touring bikes have large, bulky handlebars. These handlebars are designed to increase comfort over prolonged periods of riding. However, they’re not ideal for mountain biking or road racing. 

Road bike handlebars are more similar to mountain bike handlebars. Although they’re not as aligned with the seat as a mountain bike, they are smaller, slimmer, and lower than touring bikes. 

This helps enhance the rider’s speed. It also decreases friction and makes riding at an angle easier. 

Road Bike Used for Touring?

Can You Use a Road Bike for Touring? 

You can use a road bike for touring, especially if it has a wide-rimmed tire. However, they’re not ideal for the long distance and intensity of the ride. This is especially true regarding the carrying capacity of a road bike compared to a touring bike. 

While on a bike tour, you must carry many supplies with you. These items include: 

  • Your tent 
  • Pots and pans for cooking 
  • Dishes 
  • Food 
  • Water
  • Clothes 
  • Blankets
  • Medications 
  • Emergency kit 

Remember, you’ll cook and sleep outside while on a bike tour. You need to bring all of your supplies along with you. 

Many people bring their supplies in backpacks, panniers, rucksacks, and other containers. While this makes traveling more manageable, it requires a sturdy frame to hold all of this luggage and you. 

While technically, you can use a road bike for touring; we don’t recommend it. The tires and frames are unsuitable for the road’s intensity, and they’re also hard to fix when in a pinch. 

We also drop some major recommendations here regarding touring and bikepacking: Bikepacking VS Touring Compared | What’s The Difference?

Can You Use a Tour Bike for Road Biking? 

You can use a touring bike for road biking. However, the weight and bulk of these bikes will make this difficult. They’re not aerodynamic and will quickly wear out the rider during agility sprints and intense road races. 

There are several distinctive features of a road bike that make substitutions difficult. These features include: 

  • Lightweight frame 
  • Aerodynamic design 
  • Slim tires 
  • Absence of nonessential features 

One way to describe road bikes is that they’re minimalistic. Since their primary purpose is to enhance the speed and performance of the rider, they lack most of the bells and whistles of other styles. 

Touring bikes have features designed to hold packs and racks that make long-distance travel easier. They have heavy frames and thick-rimmed tires. These features will work against you during a road race or agility sprint. 

Although these two bikes can be interchanged, we don’t recommend it. While touring, the bulk and weight are needed, but in road biking, they’re heavy and excessive. In this case, the touring bike will waste your energy for no reason. 

Is a Tour Bike Worth the Cost? 

Purchasing a touring bike is worth the cost. They’re sturdy and will last you decades if properly cared for and maintained. However, they are expensive, and you’ll want to be sure you want them before purchasing. 

As we discussed previously, purchasing a touring bike is a bit of an investment. They can cost more than a thousand dollars and require regular maintenance. However, this maintenance is easily performed, and the lifespan of this bike justifies the price if used regularly. 

The biggest question you’ll want to answer before buying your bike is whether you see yourself bike touring. Touring bikes are the best option for touring, but if you only see yourself going on day trips, they’re most likely not worth it. 

Since they’re heavy and somewhat bulky, they’re not the best to use for road or mountain biking. However, as points out these bikes are sometimes called the “pack mules” of the bike world. 

They can carry more than almost any other model. They won’t break easily, and parts are readily available when they do.

Which is Better for Long Distance?

Touring bikes are better for long-distance biking. They’re durable and carry a lot of weight without bending or breaking. Although their weight makes it difficult for people to race, so they’re not the best for day sprints. 

Some bikers like to see how far they can go at top speeds. This challenges them to push themselves for dozens of miles at the highest speed they can achieve. 

In these circumstances, road bikes are a better option for long distances. 

However, road bikes aren’t preferred if you’re looking to do cross-country biking. Touring bikes are a better choice for long trips across large expanses of land. 

Which is Better for Off-Roading? 

Neither a touring bike nor a road bike is preferred for off-road biking. Of the two, a touring bike is better suited for rough terrain. But neither is the best choice, and you’d be better off choosing a mountain bike. 

Mountain bikes are a good combination of touring and road bikes. They’re sturdier than a road bike but not nearly as bulky and heavy as a touring bike. 

However, touring bikes have thicker tires than road bikes and are more comfortable over rough terrain. Road bike shocks aren’t as good as touring bikes since they aren’t meant to be ridden for days. 

However, the downside of a touring bike is its weight. Their heavy, bulky nature will quickly make a rider wear out when off-roading. 

The better of the two is a touring bike, but mountain bikes are definitely the best choice.  What do you know about hybrid bikes? They are an option to consider as well.

Road Biking With Friends


Touring bikes and road bikes both have their pros and cons. While touring bikes are sturdier and can endure more, road bikes are an engineering marvel. 

Both bikes are designed for such different purposes that neither is really better than the other. The question should be, what kind of biking do you want to experience? 

Touring bikes are perfect for cross-country road trips, bikepacking, and camping but excessively heavy for road biking. We recommend looking within and figuring out what biking trips you see yourself going on. Once you decide, find the bike designed best for your goals! 


Tour de France 

Bike Radar: What is a touring bike? Steel appeal: find out why bike makers and riders still love steel bikes

Bike Radar: What is a road bike? The basics explained

Merriam Webster: Mountain Bike

Outside: How Much Should You Spend for a Good Road Bike?

Bicycle Touring Pro: How Much Should Your Touring Bicycle Weigh? 

Bicycle Warehouse: How Much Does A Bicycle Weigh?

Bicycle Touring Pro: Bike Tour Planning: How Far Should You Plan To Cycle Each Day?

Bike Radar: Are wider tyres faster? 26mm vs 30mm road tyres tested

Bike to Work Day: How Fast Can You Go on a Bike? (Maximum Speed Possible)

NASA: What Is Aerodynamics? Explore and more – 4 reasons why your next bike should be a touring bike

Latest Posts

  • The Top 4 Best Beach Clubs in Cartagena

    The Top 4 Best Beach Clubs in Cartagena

    If a beach getaway is what you are after, Cartagena, Colombia, has got you covered. Aside from its incredible history and architectural beauty, Cartagena also offers great beach club options for all kinds of visitors. In this article, we will learn which are the top beach clubs in Cartagena, where you can soak up the…

    Read More

  • Can You Flush Toilet Paper In Bogota?

    Can You Flush Toilet Paper In Bogota?

    I remember first encountering the “no flush” rule of Latin America while visiting Peru. In Cusco, I saw a small sign above the toilet that said, “Please don’t flush; throw away.” I didn’t understand and thought it meant sanitary napkins, not toilet paper. But I soon learned that I was wrong.  You are advised not…

    Read More

  • Can You Use Uber In Bogota?

    Can You Use Uber In Bogota?

    If you’ve ever traveled overseas, knowing how you’ll get around the country can be challenging. It’s foreign; maybe you don’t speak the language and don’t want to get lost on your travels. Of course, most Americans are used to calling an Uber, but can you use Uber in Bogota, Colombia?  I recently found that Uber…

    Read More