The Pedalshift Project 292: Touring Bike Essentials

The Pedalshift Project 292: Touring Bike Essentials

I ride three different bikes for touring, and each one has plusses and minuses depending on what kind of ride I’m looking for. But if you’re new to bike touring or looking for another bike, what should you be thinking about? On this episode, the things I look for in a touring bike!

The Pedalshift Project 292: Touring Bike Essentials

Hey it’s the direct download link for  The Pedalshift Project 292: Touring Bike Essentials (mp3).

Subscribe/Follow The Pedalshift Project:
RSSiTunes – Overcast – Android – Google Podcasts – StitcherTuneIn – IHeartRadio – Spotify

Reach out to the show via email, Twitter and Instagram. Don’t forget to join the newsletter too.

Have some bike touring or overnight stories to share? Send your pics, audio or a quick tweet – all welcome. Email the show at or call the lightly-used Pedalshift voicemail line at (202) 930-1109


Haven’t been on the bike because I’m playing caregiver at home, but a fun tour on the horizon
Will announce that tour in a few weeks on the next Pedalshift LIVE
  • Sunday Sept 11 at 8pm ET
  • Celebrating 1 million downloads of the show – what has the show meant to you?
  • AMA
  • Summer to Fall tour preview

Touring Bike Essentials

Prime directive

There is no such thing as a touring bike (in a way). Sure there are things that make some bikes better at it, but you do not need all or even some of these things. This is less true for bikepacking where you do need to have some things to be able to handle non-pavement riding.

Longer wheel base

The longer the distance between the hubs of your two tires, the better your bike will be at handling loads.
More important for “fully loaded” touring
Less important for bikepacking


I’m a steel is real kind of guy.
It’s strong
It has some flex to handle road vibration and the occasional jarring bumps
Does that mean aluminum and carbon are out? Not necessarily, but most of the time we roll with steel.


The more spokes, the better particularly in the back
I have had unusually great luck with stock tires
Most don’t
If you have a great wheel builder at your LBS, it might be worth the bucks to get a 36 spoke wheel set if you ride heavy
32 spokes is often enough

Wheel Size

I’m agnostic on this. I have 700c, 26″ and Brompton clown bike sized tires
Some say 26″ is better for global expedition touring because the tires are easier to find
There are more exotic sizes particularly for gravel bikes… check out Path Less Pedaled for more on those


I’m all in on Schwalbe Marathon Plus guy for puncture resistance
Be sure to examine said tires before every tour, because when they wear they are not bulletproof anymore!
I’m a tube guy, but I’m not opposed to tubeless… study up on those if you’re interested.


Check out episodes 015 and 049
gear inch calculators are your friend
More climby, less speed… truuuust me.
I like:
44/32/22 crank set
11-34 cassette
BUT tech changes all the time and I would probably not get a triple next time


Agnostic… most bikes do disc over rims.
I’ve never had issues with rims but likely will get discs on the next bike


I’m a flats guy but clip-ins and strap folks, you do you


I strongly prefer multiple hand positions or very ergonomic grips
Upright vs. drops


I’m a stock saddle guy, but many people need something special
Talk to your LBS and if they are enlightened like Gladys Bikes in PDX, check out the saddle library!
Fittings here are a decent idea


Lots of brazons to attach things
Fenders I think are really really helpful if not musts
Racks or bags? If I were starting now I might be doing a bikepacking setup… but don’t dismiss traditional pannier and rack touring.

As always we like to close out the show with a special shoutout to the Pedalshift Society! Because of support from listeners like you, Pedalshift is a weekly bicycle touring podcast with a global community, expanding into live shows and covering new tours like this summer’s upcoming bike tour! If you like what you hear, you can support the show for 5 bucks, 2 bucks or even a buck a month. And there’s one-shot and annual options if you’re not into the small monthly thing. Check it all out at

Kimberly Wilson
Caleb Jenkinson
Cameron Lien
Andrew MacGregor
Michael Hart
Keith Nagel
Brock Dittus
Thomas Skadow
Marco Lo
Terrance Manson
Harry Telgadas
Chris Barron
Mark Van Raam
Brad Hipwell
Mr. T
Nathan Poulton
Stephen Dickerson
Vince LoGreco
Cody Floerchinger
Tom Benenati
Greg Braithwaite
Sandy Pizzio
Jeff Muster
Seth Pollack
Joseph Quinn
Drue Porter
Byron Paterson
Joachim Raber
Ray Jackson
Jeff Frey
Kenny Mikey
Lisa Hart
John Denkler
Steve Hankel
Miguel Quinones
Alejandro Avilés-Reyes
Keith Spangler
Greg Towner
Dan Gebhart, RIP
Jody Dzuranin
Lucas Barwick
Michael Baker
Brian Bechtol
Reinhart Bigl
Greg Middlemis
Connie Moore
William Gothmann
Brian Benton
Joan Churchill
Mike Bender
Rick Weinberg
Billy Crafton
Gary Matushak
Greg L’Etoile-Lopes
James Sloan
Jonathan Dillard
John Funk
Tom Bilcze
Ronald Piroli
Dave Roll
Brian Hafner
Misha LeBlanc
Ari Messinger
David Gratke
Todd Groesbeck
Wally Estrella
Sue Reinert
John Leko
Stephen Granata
Phillip Mueller
Robert Lackey
Dominic Carol
Jacqi McCulloch
John Hickman
Carl Presseault
David Neves
Patty Louise
Terry Fitzgerald
Peter Steinmetz
Timothy Fitzpatrick
Michael Liszewski
Hank O’Donnell
David Zanoni
David Weil
Matthew Sponseller
Chad Reno
Spartan Dale
Carolyn Ferguson
Peggy Littlefield
Lauren Allansmith
Eric Burns
Thomas Pearl
Darrin McKibben
Richard Stewart
Dave Fletcher
Jack Smith
Luke Parkinson
Ryan Patterson
Cyrus Farivar


You’ve been hearing about Jason Kent and his music for many fine episodes. Jason has a new track available NOW, and a new album dropping very soon AND Jason’s first solo album is now streaming on Spotify, including America, the Pedalshift theme. Go listen!