You’re going to spend a lot of time in the saddle. You plan to go the distance on your own leg power. Bike touring is one of the most adventurous ways to travel, explore new places, enjoy well-earned cuisine, and come home with bragging rights.
But in order to make the most of your bike tour, you have to choose the best touring bike for your budget. This means there are a few things you must have.
How we chose the best touring bikes under 1000 dollars
Comfort should almost always be your number one priority.
You will probably be on your bike for several hours a day over the course of several days. A typical road bike might be good enough for some tours, but if you don’t want a sore neck or other aches and pains to put a damper on your enjoyment, it’s well worth getting the most comfortable bike you can afford.
In choosing the best touring bikes under 1000 dollars, we made comfort a top priority. After that, we took efficiency and safety into account.
What else the best touring bike should have
Bike touring takes you far from home, and if something goes wrong you might not be able to get back quickly. This is why a great touring bike should be capable of handling rough terrain and all kinds of weather. Versatility is your friend.
Mechanical disc brakes
Mechanical disc brakes, already a good thing, are especially useful on a touring bike. A fully-loaded bike is already hard to handle. Factor in the possibility of rain or snow, gravel roads and unexpected hazards. Suddenly you’re going to want the best brakes you can get.
Consider a gravel bike
The best touring bikes should also give you the possibility of going off road, or at least over rough roads. Gravel bikes are generally good for touring, assuming they are comfortable and equipped to carry panniers and gear. Many of them are well suited for this.
Depending on where you’re planning to go, a comfortable road bike may be all you need. But the best touring bikes give you plenty of options in the face of the unknown. A touring bike that gives you the option of leaving paved roads can enable you to take exciting detours and shortcuts. It will also let you keep going when the road is in worse condition than you expected.
Frame material for a touring bike
In general, we favored touring bikes that had a steel frame or aluminum frame. A carbon fork is ok, especially if your touring bike is going to double as a road bike. But carbon isn’t the best material for touring bicycles. There are many options that work better for touring and will also save you money.
Additional features of the best touring bikes
We looked to see what kinds of carrier rack or rack mounts were available on the bikes we tested. You may not have to carry heavy loads, but it’s useful to have more than one way to distribute the weight on your touring bike.
If you combine your tour with site seeing, visiting friends, or going anywhere in public, it helps not to have your jersey spattered with too much mud. This is why we favored touring bikes with front and rear fenders, or at least fender mounts that would allow the rider to attach fenders when necessary.
The best touring bikes under 1000 should have these features.
Our Top Choices for the Best Touring Bikes Under 1000 Dollars
A cheap touring bike doesn’t require that you sacrifice comfort or performance. There are many bikes under $1000 that can still give you a smooth ride, offer sufficient stopping power, and keep you in a comfortable upright position.
After weighing the pros and cons, and collecting comments from test riders and owners, we’ve come up with several suggestions. Here are our top picks for touring bikes under 1000 dollars.
1. The Only Bike You’ll Ever Need: Tommaso Forza
If you want to do some bike touring and you only have the space or budget to own one bicycle, the Tommaso Forza is the ideal solution. It’s the only bike you’ll need.
This sturdy, comfortable road bike was built for long urban rides and works well as a commuter bike or fitness bike.
However, rack mounts throughout the frame give you many options for carrying water and gear, while the sturdy aluminum alloy frame and 28 spoke Migda allow rims allow a maximum load of 285 (gear and rider.) Features like the fat 32cm tires and BB5 disc brakes make it possible to ride on gravel or push on through rough weather in a pinch.
This robustness shouldn’t come as a surprise, because “forza” means strength in Italian!
All of these features in combination make the Forza a good choice for a touring bike, in addition to using it for everyday transportation and exercise. You’ll practically never have to get off except to sleep!
As with all Tommaso bikes, Tommaso Forza comes at a low price because it is shipped directly from the factory. The company claims their bikes are 99% assembled and tuned when delivered, and that you can be on the road within 10 minutes of taking your bike out of the box.
Unfortunately, many users found this 10-minute claim wasn’t true–and that’s the only downside we can see for this versatile touring bike.
We had to install the front wheel, handlebars, and pedals for assembly. The bike also needed a tune-up and some adjusting of the seat stem, shifters, brakes, and wheels. None of this was especially hard to do, but the bicycle certainly wasn’t ready to ride after within 10 minutes.
This video has only general assembly instructions for all Tommaso bikes, but it might help you assemble your Forza:
When you receive your Tommaso Forza, we recommend tuning the derailleurs, setting the brakes, truing the wheels and tightening bolts to torque specs. If you are unfamiliar with these tasks, they can be done relatively quickly and inexpensively at your local bike shop.
Some of our testers reported that their Forza arrived with missing parts. You can reach customer service via phone, email, or a live chat on their website. They usually respond on the same or the next business day, and missing parts are shipped from Colorado, not from Italy.
The Forza has one more possible drawback: You can get it in any color you want, as long as it’s orange. If you’re happy to ride an orange touring bike, you’re in luck. If you want another color, you’ll have to get a different bike.
Having said all of that, there’s a good chance your Tommaso will arrive complete, and there’s a good chance you’ll be able to ride it the same day–although getting up and running in 10 minutes is a stretch.
With a bit of assembly, this sturdy orange road bike offers the best value and overall versatility of any touring bike we’ve looked at. This makes the Tommaso Forza one of the best touring bikes under 1000 dollars.
Pros and cons of the Tommaso Forza
- Best all-around bike if you can only own one
- Great value
- If you’re touring Italy you’ll fit right in with the locals
- Requires more assembly and adjustment than stated
- Only available in orange
Features of the Tommaso Forza
|Frame Material:||Tommaso 6061 SLA Aluminum semi-compact road frame, Tommaso SST Steel fork with aluminum steer tube|
|Drivetrain:||Full Shimano Tourney groupset. 21 speeds (3×7)|
|Weight:||25.6 lbs (11.6 kg)|
|Wheel Size:||700c x 32c Mingda DA16 alloy rims with 28 spokes|
|Tires:||Kenda K193 700c x 32c|
|Brakes:||Avid BB5 disc brakes with Shimano Tourney brake levers|
|Other Features:||Lifetime frame warranty, multiple rack mounts|
Why we like it
This is the best all-around bike under $1,000. If you can only have one bike to serve many purposes, the Forza is the one to own.
Did you know?
Tommaso is the Italian version of “Thomas,” the name of an ordinary, average, everyday person. It’s not the name of one of the founders of the company. It’s not the name of anybody famous.
The Italian bike makers wanted to create an everyday bike for everyday people, something an experienced expert could use, but which was easy enough for a beginner. So they gave their company a normal, everyday name.
2. Best Overall: Marin Nicasio 700C Bike 2022
If this bike weren’t built for comfort, it would practically be a mountain bike. It’s probably even okay to call it that.
Most touring bikes tend to combine the necessary features for urban commuting and rough terrain on gravel or dirt roads. Most of the time you’ll have a hybrid bike designed for these two extremes, and biased towards one of them.
Marin was one of the first and best manufacturers of mountain bikes, and it’s no surprise that this one is designed for bicycle touring on dirt roads and even mountain trails. (As we said, if you want to call the Nicasio a mountain bike, nobody is going to argue with you.)
Cheap touring bikes are usually fine when you take them on smooth terrain. But adventure touring bicycles let you do a lot bit more, push the envelope, take a rough road and maybe even venture off the road for a little while.
Nicasio has proven you can still find some of these versatile bikes under 1000 dollars.
A few things indicate this might not be the best touring bicycle for a beginner. For example, most vendors ship the Nicasio without pedals, with the assumption that you already have your own system of pedals, shoes, and clips.
Also, the steel frame makes the bike feel a bit clunky. At 27.6 lbs (12.53 kg), this is not surprising.
Nevertheless, we’ve found the Marin Nicasio is one of the best touring bikes under $1000.
If you want a comfortable ride on long distance touring, enough speed and efficiency for light touring, and still retain the ability to do the work of a mountain bike, this touring bicycle might be the right choice for you.
Pros and Cons of the Marin Nicasio
- You can truly take it off-road like a mountain bike
- Comfortable ride in an upright riding position
- A true hybrid bike
- Heavy steel frame–you’ll wish you had an aluminum frame
- Pedals are not included, and they probably aren’t included in the weight, either
- Not a good touring bicycle for a total beginner
Features of the Marin Nicasio
|Frame Material:||Double butted CrMo steel frame and fork|
|Drivetrain:||Shimano Claris front derailleur, rear derailleur, and shifters|
|Weight:||27.6 lbs (12.53 kg)|
|Wheel Size:||700 x 30c Marin aluminum double wall rims|
|Tires:||700 x 30c, can fit up to 700 x 40c|
|Brakes:||Promax Render R Road mechanical disc brakes|
Why we like it
The Nicasio is the best bike to take with you into the unknown. If you have to ride on dirt or gravel, this bike can take it.
Did you know?
The founder of Marin Bikes, Bob Buckley, began mountain biking when his doctor recommended the sport. The doctor urged him to get more exercise, and was smart enough to know how much better it is to get your exercise by doing something fun.
Bob Buckley quickly fell in love with mountain biking, and founded Marin to create world-class bikes at affordable prices.
3. Best Budget: Schwinn Vantage
Two of the things we like best about this touring bicycle are the comfort and how easy it is to handle.
In fact, these two qualities are the most significant reason the Schwinn Vantage made it to our list of best touring bikes under $1000.
In many ways, the Schwinn Vantage could be said to fall into the category of “budget touring bikes” or even “cheap touring bikes.” However, the mechanical disc brakes let you stop almost immediately on a second’s notice, and the gearing makes almost any hill a doable climb.
Just take a five-minute ride and you will understand that this bike is special.
The Vantage has one particular feature which we wouldn’t have expected at this price point. The elastomer soft tail suspension gives a huge boost to the comfort level, and allows 15mm of travel between the seat stays and seat tube. This is enough to substantially reduce road vibrations, and it’s enough to easily handle the occasional small rock or shallow pothole.
The gears are well set up for steep climbs, another big benefit of owning this bike.
Like almost all touring bikes, the Vantage requires some assembly out of the box. Unfortunately, assembling the Schwinn Vantage is more complicated than usual. For example, we had trouble installing the front wheel so that it aligned properly with the disc brakes.
Getting the pedals in place was also a challenge. One of our testers lost a pedal after putting less than 50 miles on the bike. Another owner recommended wrapping Teflon tape around the pedal threads before attaching them.
Our advice: Unless you are a veteran bike mechanic, take your Vantage to your local bicycle shop and get a professional to assemble it for you.
Another issue is the rear tire, which feels flimsy compared to the front. Some of our riders chose to swap out the rear tire for one of better quality. This is not difficult to do, so go right ahead if it makes sense for you.
This bike has rack and fender mounts, but some of our testers found that if you install a rear fender, there’s not always room for a rear rack as well.
The aluminum bike frame helps keep this bike light and maneuverable, but it does create a “red zone” beyond 250 pounds, where you may not want to load it too heavily.
If you’re planning an extended bicycle tour, especially unsupported, then the Vantage may not be your best bet. If you expect to spend some time going through rough terrain, a gravel adventure bike might work better for you.
However, for the light tourer in hilly terrain, this is one of the best touring bikes under 1000. The Vantage offers great value, keeps you in an upright position, and generally makes bicycle touring fun and comfortable.
Pros and cons of the Schwinn Vantage
- A very comfortable ride
- Disc brakes provide exceptional stopping power
- Aluminum frame with elastomere suspension provides a smooth ride on paved roads
- Can be fitted with narrow tires for bicycle touring on paved roads
- Assembly is complicated and easy to get wrong
- You may not be able to carry as much gear as you could on some of the other touring bikes on the market
Features of the Schwinn Vantage
|Drivetrain:||trigger shifters, 21 speeds (3 rings on the front derailleur and 7 on the rear derailleur)|
|Weight:||28.62 lbs (13 kg) pedal weight not included|
|Wheel Size:||700c x 25c Alex DC 26 rims (can fit up to 35c tires)|
|Tires:||Schwinn 35c hybrid tires|
|Brakes:||Disc brakes with all metal levers|
Why we like it
The Vantage is a surprisingly comfortable bike for this price point, and it climbs hills without wearing you out. If you want your bike tour to feel less like an “adventure” and more like a vacation, the Schwinn Vantage will keep you comfortable so you can enjoy the trip.
Did you know?
When Schwinn sold out to Pacific Cycle in 2001, many thought it would be the end of the high end road bikes, mountain bikes, and hybrid bikes that made Schwinn a leading brand for almost a century.
It’s true that most Schwinn bicycles built today are mass produced for big box stores such as Walmart. However, the company continues to make a line of higher-quality bikes as a part of their Signature Series.
Some of the best touring bikes under 1000 dollars are made by Schwinn, and the Vantage is one of our top picks. Many touring bikes are still high enough in quality to be worthy of the Schwinn name.
4. Best Value: Raleigh Cadent
Although touring bicycles aren’t Raleigh’s specialty, the Raleigh Cadent is one of the best touring bikes under 1000. Although designed as a hybrid bike or a road bike, it handles well and you can mount a rack, which makes it a good choice for touring.
One of our test riders bought the Cadent to replace a Fuji touring bike and said he’ll “never look back.”
One serious drawback is that this bike doesn’t include hydraulic disc brakes. The old school rim brakes make you want to switch out for something better, and you probably will switch out some of the components if you keep this bike long enough.
Touring bikes under 1000 often make trade-offs, investing in quality features in one area while cutting costs in another. In this case, Raleigh invested in an aluminum frame and steel fork. This provides the balance between lightweight and durability that you expect in good touring bikes.
The tradeoff comes in rim brakes and a less-than-stellar front and rear derailleur. It would have been nice to have features such as bar end shifters or an extended head tube, but this is a good touring bike for the price.
The frame is really the “secret sauce” for this bike. It’s a high quality frame for this price, making it worth upgrading some of the other components. Value-hunters will buy this bike for the frame, and then upgrade the other components as desired.
Touring bike wheels can take on many different forms. The Cadent has double-walled rims, which give the wheels extra strength. There is also the ability to add tires up to 35c thick, which practically let you turn this road bike into a mountain bike.
As with most touring bikes under 1000 dollars, the Cadent requires a bit of assembly. The directions from the manufacturer come in multiple booklets and they will seem vague if you are not experienced with assembling touring bikes.
This video and others like it are more helpful than the instructions:
Some of our testers needed a full hour to assemble a Raleigh road bike similar to the Cadent. Expect to spend 10-15 minutes if you have a lot of experience assembling road bikes, gravel bikes, or touring bikes.
A complete newbie will need a full hour in addition to the time spent watching videos. If you already have some experience, plan on spending 20-55 minutes putting together your Raleigh Cadent.
Pros and cons of the Raleigh Cadent
- Comfortable riding position
- Good combination of light weight and durability for a road bike
- Average, acceptable components
- Rim brakes
- Assembly can be a challenge for anyone inexperienced with touring bikes
Features of the Raleigh Cadent
|Frame Material:||Aluminum frame with steel fork|
|Drivetrain:||Shimano EZ fire shifters, 21 speeds|
|Weight:||26.43 lbs (12 kg)|
|Wheel Size:||700c x 35c|
|Tires:||Bigger Vie Tire Co. Silent 700x35mm tires|
|Brakes:||Tetra 837 linear pull V-brakes|
Why we like it
The quality of the frame makes it likely that you will keep this bicycle for a long time. The Cadent is both light and durable, making it a very efficient choice for touring.
Did you know?
Raleigh was founded in the Sherwood Forest in Nottingham, the fabled realm of Robin Hood. It’s one of the oldest bicycle companies in the world.
In 1887, entrepreneur Frank Bowden bought a Raleigh road bike and used it on extensive touring through England, France, and Italy. He was so impressed with the bike that he bought a third of the company and began pushing for rapid innovation and expansion. Over the next 25 years, Raleigh became the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world–all because one person liked their touring bikes.
Buyer’s Guide for Touring Bikes Under 1000
There are a few touring and trekking bikes we deliberately didn’t include in this guide.
For example, we love the Pure Cycles Gravel Adventure Bike (ASIN B07GDHXLYN), but at the time of writing we couldn’t find this bike available anywhere. Ridgeback Tour is another brand that is hard to find in the post-Covid world.
A Fuji touring road bike would also be great option, and so would a Marin Four Corners touring bike, but the prices are a little too high for this article. For example, a Fuji touring bike will usually cost a bit more than $1,000. We had to draw the line somewhere.
The Most Important Features of a Touring Bicycle
Road bikes are often assumed to be the same as touring bikes, but this is a mistake. Touring typically means a long ride every day for several days in a row. Comfort and efficiency quickly become critical.
When you’re touring, you don’t always know what kind of terrain or weather you will encounter, which makes it important to have a bike that works well under different circumstances. Road bikes are sketchy if you’re fully loaded and you have to cross a stretch of gravel.
Likewise, you may not have access to all the tools and facilities you need to repair your bike while touring. This is where durability and low-maintenance come into play. Stainless steel spokes are a plus when touring.
When it comes to tire size touring bikes are usually able to handle wider tires. Fender mounts, fork material and other details can determine how useful and reliable your bike will be on tour.
The Frame vs. Components
Of course, we can’t talk about touring road bikes without talking about the frame. The aluminum Superlite Trekking Comfort frame, or any frame of comparable quality, will give you a comfortable and easy ride, day after day.
When choosing the bike you’re going to use in a tour, the components are also critical. Many bikes come with brand name components, such as Giant Urban Fitness shifters, or Shimano.
These components can vary in quality and relevance. When Shimano developed flat mount disc brakes in 2017, everybody wanted them. I wanted them. But they aren’t appropriate for every bike.
If you’re riding a Macwheel electric bike, you probably won’t be as concerned about the gearing as you would for a bike you’re going to ride up steep hills unassisted. If you’re considering a Fuji touring road bike, narrow tires lose their attractiveness no matter how high the quality.
At the end of the day, components are easy to replace and upgrade. Don’t rule out a good bike just because some of the components need improvement.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which bike is best for touring?
If you’re traveling light and staying on paved roads, we recommend the Schwinn Vantage. If you’re planning to go off-road or at least want the option of doing so, the Marin Nicasio is your best option
What’s the best bike for long distance riding?
The Raleigh Cadent has a lightweight frame with a geometry that balances speed and comfort. We find this makes it the best bike for long distance riding.
What are touring bikes good for?
Touring bikes are good for traveling long distances for multiple days, while carrying gear such as a tent or a camping stove. The best ones let you ride in comfort for hours, and leave you enough energy to get up and do it again the next day. They have durable frames, wheels, and spokes to handle extra weight.
What is the most comfortable touring bike?
The Schwinn Vantage is the most comfortable among touring bikes under 1,000 dollars.
Know the trade-offs the manufacturer has made. We have discussed this at length already, but it’s one of the most important ways to understand the value you’re getting.
For example, if a bike has cheap components in the drive train, were the savings reinvested in disc brakes or a better frame? Or did the manufacturer simply cut corners to gain more profit?
Once you understand where the manufacturer made their tradeoffs, you can compare that to what you want most in your bike. If you want excellent brakes and a bike provides these, you’ve found your match.
There are many qualities in a bike that you need to weigh and consider: Comfort, speed, efficiency, durability, the ability to ride in different kinds of terrain, and how well your bike can handle rain or other weather conditions.
These different qualities compete with each other in the design of every new bike, and when you improve upon some you have to sacrifice others. The biggest tip we can give you is to be clear on what you want and need the most.
And that’s all there is to it. Bicycle touring can be an amazing, memorable experience. When you start with a solid, affordable bike that’s right for you, the hardest part of your journey is already done.
Did you know?
The physical benefits of bicycling are obvious. But did you know that biking, especially bike touring, can make you smarter, too?
Long bike rides can stimulate the growth and repair of brain cells in the hippocampus, which is associated with better memory.
In addition, a study by the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging found that a sense of novelty, such as you experience when exploring new places on a bike, can trigger the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and other chemicals that make you more creative, resilient, and alert.
Enjoy your next tour! Both your heart and brain will thank you.
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