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How to choose an adventure road bike

Looking to buy an adventure road bike? Exciting, but be careful: There are lots of different bikes on the market, and in truth, there’s not just one type of adventure road bike. With so many options out there, it can be hard to know where to start. If you’re on the hunt for your first adventure bike, use our handy guide to help you make the right choice!

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First things first: What is an adventure road bike?

Effectively, an adventure road bike is one that can handle all sorts of conditions, both on- and off-road. There are distinctive styles within the category, but most share a few common features. Let’s look at some of the more important things to watch out for below.

  • Crucially, adventure road bikes have a thicker tyre than normal bikes, allowing the rider the requisite grip and control to better navigate difficult cycling conditions. 28 millimetres is the starting point for tyre thickness, and it can go up from there.
  • A good adventure road bike will have ample capacity to carry equipment, so a solid rack is virtually mandatory. Adventure cyclers might want to carry anything from a water bottle to a tent or other camping equipment, and the bike needs to be able to handle that.
  • Strong brakes are a must-have, enabling good stopping power across the unpredictable terrain that adventure cyclists gravitate towards. Disc brakes are a particularly beneficial feature to protect the bike in especially hard conditions.

Those boxes ticked? Great, now let’s look at some of the most popular models on the adventure biking market.

Types of adventure road bike

Broadly speaking, there are three major styles of adventure road bike. Each has its strong points, so it’s good to know in advance which type you’re looking for.

  1. Gravel bikes are intended for cycling on stony gravel, as opposed to flat and homogenous tarmac. Naturally, this type of bike demands an especially thick tyre, ranging from 28 millimetres right up to around 45 millimetres. A good gravel bike will suit adventure cyclists that like rocky and steep terrain, such as up rough hilly land.
  2. Touring bikes, also known as audax bikes, are intended for long-haul cycling over relatively flat terrain, such as tarmac. Their tyres are wide and they can carry heavy equipment and other loads, though they don’t have the off-terrain capability of gravel bikes.
  3. Cyclo-cross bikes are intended for racing, with narrower tyres and greater agility than other types. Whether cyclo-cross models strictly qualify as adventure road bikes is a matter of some debate, though many consider them to fit the bill.

Where to buy an adventure road bike

So you understand the category a little better, and you have an idea what sort of bike will work best for you. What next? Here are three options for where to buy the perfect adventure road bike:

  1. General sports stores are fine, and big box stores can often offer discounts. One key downside is that staff at these stores may lack in-depth knowledge on adventure road bikes, which brings us to option two.
  2. Specialist bike stores are better, as you will deal with a passionate expert and will probably have greater choice between adventure road bikes than you’ll find in a bigger store.
  3. Finally, buying online is a good option. Good websites will offer both choice and the availability of good, accurate information. Shop around between sites and you’re likely to get a nice price, too!

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