Are Touring Bikes Fast? (The TRUTH)

Are touring bikes fast

There isn’t a more relaxing way to get out to the country than to hop on the touring bike. Either alone or with a company to enjoy the scenery, visit, and experience the place you haven’t seen before.

With everything you need on your frame, there’s no better feeling than the freedom these bikes provide.   

With a secure and sturdy bike, trips like these only become a matter of free time, rather than physicality. Making it accessible for almost everyone with will and enthusiasm.   

Are touring bikes fast? The Simple answer, No. Touring bikes are not fast, due to their design these bikes are quite slow and usually not made for such purpose. They are designed for all-terrain scenario which prefer the comfort and reliability of the bike over anything else.

By far the most interesting point of travel with these types of bikes is their versatility and endurance.

Because one of the larger factors for bike travels is the weather and contrary to street bikes or mountain bikes, you don’t need dry or warm weather to ride.

Touring bikes are designed in such a way that they make all-year-round trips available without much extra preparation.   

I know, it is sometimes downright gut-wrenching to see those Lycra-wearing speedy riders swiftly pass you. And with full baggage, extra tires, those liters of water and supplies of food, it’s never possible to catch up with them.   

But don’t get too upset as I have a couple of tips on how to transform even the heaviest and bulkiest touring bikes into something more competitive.  

Why Touring Bikes Are Slow?   

Well, it all comes down to their design. Most touring bikes you come by will be out of steel, aluminum, titanium, or carbon fiber, with classical and familiar geometry they could look vintage even though they are new.

With 26″ wheels and high spoke count makes it into a beefy ride.   

They are equipped with a drop bar, hydraulic, or mechanical brake systems. And depending on the bike they could carry from 30 to 50-pound weights.   

With a simple design and easy approach, these bikes are easy to fix.

Because depending on where you are on the map, during an emergency this could prove to be a crucial point.

Parts for touring bikes are easy to come by where ever you might end up.   

With the exception of carbon frames, you could get a welder in almost any place of the world for a broken rim. A spare tire can be easily folded into your baggage. Same as the spare chain.

On top of that, all of your necessary items and food could be easily stored alongside  

Sounds like it’s designed to be a reliable all-terrain machine to withstand many miles in any condition.

With all of this in place, this bike could become quite heavy and, in the process, lose its swiftness the other bikes are known for.   

With rim design like that it forces the driver to sit upright while pedaling, which not only makes but forces you to take a look around.

It is contrary to how street bikes make you sit to feel comfortable.   

Inevitably all of these in combination make it for a slow ride. But don’t get me wrong, slowly doesn’t mean worse.

Yes, touring bikes could get slow, but if speed is what you aim for when you take on the couple-day trip around the suburbs of East-Midlands, then you should look for another bike.   

But there are exceptions. Let’s say you find yourself in a situation where you really want to test the speed and feel the gusts of wind twirling your hair.

Then you are in for a luck as I have a couple of tips on how to make your touring bike a little faster.  

Is It Possible To Make It Faster?  

To make it as fast as a slick, almost weightless street bike, no, not really. But can you give it a hell of a fight?

Sure, but depends on what kind of bike you start with. Not only that but having a bike for every need could get expensive as really good and reliable bikes could cost thousands of dollars.   

So, here are a couple of tips to make your trip a little faster.  

1. Drop the flapping clothing.  

I know it could sound silly, but you would surprise how much aerodynamics can clothing give. No wonder you see these speedy drivers wearing Lycra.

That means if you get rid of flapping jackets, baggy pants, and heavy boots, it could boost you up significantly.  

2. Drop the ballast

Let’s continue the aerodynamic route and say that the item containers are anything but helping you out.

Get rid of them and see how much lighter you’ll become. Let’s face it, you don’t need all those extra gallons of water and many spare tires.  

3. Switch the handlebars

One of the other components in helping to sit upright is the touring bike’s default handlebar. One of the reasons these cyclists are faster than you are their curved and specialized handlebar.

As it begs for far more aerodynamic posture making them go so much faster. 

4. Change to better tires

It probably goes without saying, make your way to the closest bike shop, and get rid of these bulky all-terrain tires. Instead op for the same razor-thin tires that the street bikes are so known for.

It won’t make you into a competitive racer, but the bike will definitely feel much lighter and far faster.  

Indeed, it is possible to make the touring bike faster, but with the expense of a lot of commodities that come with these bikes.

But sadly in the end, the speed still won’t be anything near other competitor bikes.   

Women Touring Bike

Is it worth the trouble? All in all, these bikes are used for leisure and not so much for the sport.

It is possible to make it lighter, but in the end, I would recommend going for another bike that doesn’t have all the features that a touring bike has in the first place.  

Is It Better To Get The Street Bike Instead?  

If you are going for greater speed, definitely. But I’d say hold up, touring bikes because of how they are made will most likely outlast you.

Carbon fiber, titanium rim, makes for an almost indestructible machine.   

Wide tires and easy fixes could be much bigger positive than anything else. 

In comparison bikes, that are made for speed have many maintenance problems. Let’s say you weigh a bit above the norm for the bike to handle, that means the gear system will deteriorate faster.

Resulting in a stuck chain, which then breaks.   

Narrow tires will be afraid of any impact, with no suspension system, the bike will only be useful on asphalt and bike paths.

If you’d go on gravel, or you would not miss out on the potholes, then you would run a high risk of damaging the wheel and the bike itself.  

But with the touring bike, these problems go away immediately.

It loves the gravel, off-road scenarios, asphalt, almost anything you throw at it. Of course, it’s all at the expense of speed and agility.   

One Bike To Rule Them All  

Reading so far, you probably got a good idea about what kind of bike it is. But if you are new at this and don’t want to spend all your money, but still would like to get a bike for all purposes. Then I have a bike just for you.   

It is called Trem 520.  

This bike comes with all you expect from such a machine. It has built-in mud-guards. The handlebar for better aerodynamic posture and with the good old regular handlebars.

With built-in racks and steel frame, no wonder the Bicycling’s editors found it one of the best trek bikes to date.   

With many gears to choose from the steep incline will no longer worry you. On top of that, it makes for an amazing all-terrain bike, for any purpose.

Day to day commute, week-long treks around the country, bike-packing, and anything you could think off.   

It is worth investing in a good bike, especially a touring bike. As their design makes into a comfortable and reliable experience, with easy fixes and available modifications.

It all comes with the expense of speed and grace of other bikes.  

All in all, these bikes are slow, far slower than most bikes, but the pace is usually not a deciding factor during slow country rides. 


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John Muranko

John is Founder and Senior Bike Editor at ProBikeCorner. John is a bike and travel addict who has cycled through 17+ countries and doesn't really have any plans of stopping. He´s passionate about helping others by creating technical resources, in-depth reviews and more…

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