Difference Between Road Bikes and Touring Bikes: Which One to Choose and Why?

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It can be challenging to differentiate between the two types of bikes primarily because they appear similar. However, there might be a slight difference between them in that they perform different tasks and were designed for specific purpose.

The difference between road bikes and touring bikes is their weight. However, road bikes were designed for day to day biking along paved roads/paths while touring bikes were modified for long trips on roads.

Let’s summarize the main difference between road bikes and touring bikes, which to choose and why.


Road bikes are light in weight and are designed to carry the rider and his/her water bottles and not much although some are drilled to fit racks, they cannot take heavy loads.

Touring bikes, on the other hand, are usually bulky and this helps the rider to take better control of the bike at high speed. This makes the bike more suitable for carrying heavy luggage.

Wheel size 

Road bikes have smaller wheel size compared to other bicycles. The tires are narrow with high pressure and are smooth to decrease rolling resistance.

Touring bikes usually fitted with heavy duty wide wheels that cannot break due to heavy luggage on rough roads or terrains. Also, the large wheels enhance the comfortability of the rider and support for the massive loads they carry. Touring bikes tires comes in varies depending on the terrain you are going to tackle.


Road bikes are made of aluminum or carbon fiber which is very durable and corrosion resistance. This makes it more affordable to purchase since aluminum is cheap and provides the stiffness of the ride.

Touring bikes, however, are made of steel which makes them more durable but expensive to purchase.


Touring bikes gear ratio depending on some factors such as; where to travel, the terrain of the area, how much gear you are going to put and your experience as a rider. Therefore, touring bikes have low gearing ratio compared to road bikes. Gearing may be a little smaller, but will undoubtedly be more extensive on a touring bike but okay especially when ascending with a fully loaded on your bike.

Road bikes usually use derailleur gears to enable the rider to maintain a comfortable pedaling speed regardless of the terrain. Gearing will be the highest and narrowest on road bikes compared to other bikes.


Road bikes have bent handlebars that allow the biker position to be leaned forward and downward while biking. This reduces the air resistance on the forward cross-sectional area of the bike.

Touring bikes, on the other hand, have three different handlebars; drop bars, flat bars or butterfly bars. These handlebars work well by offering proper hand positioning, body posture, and frame sizing.


Touring bikes have linear pull brakes suitable for biking around wet and muddy conditions thus avoiding wear of the outer rims. However, if the brakes wear out, repairing them on remote locations might be difficult since they weigh more than cantilever brakes of a road bike.

Road bikes on the other hands usually use disc brakes or rim brakes which focuses force on the smaller brake situated towards the center of a wheel.

Touring bikes are ideal for long-term bikers and more comfortable for long journeys, unlike road bikes. However, these bikes come at a cost due to maintenance and the quality of the bike. Choosing a touring bike is a complex task since several considerations must be met to fit your budget.

If you want to convert your road bike to a touring bike, you should consider the expenses involved since you are transforming it to fit your needs for a long term. The most customization that you will need is a full-size rack to carry your luggage. However this a temporary thing is, and it’s advisable that you purchase a touring bike than converting the road bike to suit your needs.


Road bikes, however, are the most popular bicycles you will find on roads. They are ideal for day to day ride since they are typically affordable than touring bikes. If you are looking for a commuter bike for your daily use, a road bike is your best option. People believe that the more expensive the bicycle is, the better it is but that’s far from the truth because costly bikes are expensive.

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