Touring Bike vs Hybrid – Differences & Overview Guide


Choosing between a road or touring bike and a hybrid depends on what you are looking for.

Hybrids are not suited for long distances but they are incredibly versatile, fast, and comfortable. And while touring bikes are made for long distances, they are comfortable and carry luggage very well. However, they are not as fast as other types of bikes.  

If you are also interested in learning about bikes and are wondering if a touring bike is better or a hybrid bike then this article is exactly for you! In this article I will discuss all aspects of both types of bikes and why they are different from each other. I will also discuss if hybrid bikes can be used as touring bikes and why touring bikes are special. 

Two cyclists looking at Golden Gate Bridge

Touring Bike vs. Hybrid Bikes – The Differences

While both of these are bikes, they are both created for very different reasons.

Touring bikes are for long distances which is why they have fewer gears and are more study so they can carry luggage. Hybrid bikes are supposed to be versatile and they are more of a luxury bike since they provide the rider with the comfort they always needed while riding a bike.

They focus more on recreation or fun while touring bikes mostly focus on long-distance travel.

So what is different about them? Let us discuss each part in detail!

1. The Frame 

Hybrid bikes have a narrow frame and there aren’t many places that you can add any luggage since it is clearly not designed for that.

Their body is usually constructed with high-end steel which makes them incredibly durable and some of the bodies are even made of aluminum or carbon fiber which is why they are more expensive.

The touring bikes in contrast have a longer wheelbase and the seat is in line with the handlebars. The handlebars are dropped which makes it feel more stable and is easier to ride.

The frame comes equipped with multiple attachments which can be used to hold a water bottle, secure luggage, and even a place where you can store tools and spare parts. 

The frame of the touring bike is usually made of steel but some inexpensive versions of it also have an aluminum body. The tubes that make up the frame are wide which makes them more durable and stiff. 

2. Gears 

Most touring bikes use derailleur gears which are most suited for traveling up or down steep hills and unlike other bikes, it has three chainrings which is why their speed can range from 23 to 96 gear inches.

Nowadays, even bikes that have 18 to 104 gear inches can be found.

Hybrid bikes have a lot of gear options and you can choose a bike depending on what you are planning to use it for. For a flatter road with a smooth surface, you can make it with a 7 or 8 speed.

On the other hand, you are choosing a hybrid for travel and you might have to travel down a broken, bumpy road then you might need a speed of 24 to 27. 

3. Brakes 

The most common type of brakes that are found on a hybrid bike are pull v or disk brakes.

The pull v breaks are designed to thrive on rough and unequal terrain; this is mostly found in hybrid bikes that are high-end.

The other kind of breaks, disk brakes, are usually more suited to be used on straight and smooth roads or terrains.

Touring bikes also have disk brakes which come in handy when trying to use the brake on muddy terrains.

They also separate the brakes for the rims and improve the stopping power of the break as well as rim durability, though usually touring bikes are equipped with cantilever or linear brakes. 

4. Speed 

Touring bikes are similar to road bikes but they have mounts and mudguards.

They are a little heavier than other bikes because of their tires but they are still pretty fast. 

Hybrid bikes, in contrast, are exactly a hybrid between different kinds of bikes so they are fast and easy to pedal, similar to a road bike, and they can be incredibly fast and adaptable like a mountain bike. 

5. Tires 

Hybrid bikes usually come equipped with 700c tires, which are a standard for road bikes.

These tires roll very easily on the road and are very nice for acceleration and climbing uphill. You can even customize your 700c tires to whatever terrain you are planning to traverse on. 

There is a large selection of tires for touring bikes and you simply change your tires depending on what amount of weight you are planning to carry, how far you are planning to go, and the terrain you are planning to travel on.

Is it dirt, gravel, mountain, or on-road? There are tires for all kinds of activities!

You have to keep in mind that the tires are more expensive than you would think because these are good quality tires that will definitely serve you well.

The best touring tires for bikes are the Schwalbe marathon plus tour, the Michelin Protek Cross Max, the Vittoria Adventure tech, and Kenda Alluvium.

A line of parked up hybrid bikes

Hybrid Bikes Vs Touring Bikes – A Full Guide + Tips

Hybrid Bikes Overview

Hybrid bikes have become incredibly common in the market simply because these bikes can be referred to as jack of all trades.

They are similar to road and mountain bikes and they feature a reasonably heavy frame which makes it pretty easy to ride uphill and is great even in areas with extreme wind.

They have tires that are able to get a complete grasp on the ground and they also have pretty powerful brakes.

There is no argument about the versatility of a hybrid bike.

If you want a hybrid bike that is suited for touring then you should choose a model that has rear or front suspension and the best disk breaks to improve the stopping power of the bike. 

Most hybrid bikes are the same sized bikes as road bikes but they have a straight handlebar instead of a drop handle. They are not created so that they could be durable; rather they are created to be comfortable to ride.

The seat and handlebar placement create a gentle position for the body and can significantly reduce the back pain caused by long rides. This is why hybrids can be considered a great option for long-distance riding, especially if you are traveling on a paved road.

There are a lot of designs for a hybrid bike, which is what makes it so great.

These bikes either have features that are found on other bikes or these bikes can be easily modified to fit your needs.

When you choose a mountain bike or a road bike, you are limited to areas you can utilize them while hybrid bikes can be utilized in all sorts of weathers and situations.

It proves to you the durability of a mountain bike and the maneuverability of a road bike.

The one thing a hybrid bike lacks is a comfortable saddle but this is a problem with most types of bikes and is easily solvable if you simply change the seat to a more comfortable one designed to suit you and your needs.

Most saddles are uncomfortable because they have to be formulated to fit an average person. Plus, sometimes the company is trying to cut the cost of the bike itself to make it more affordable for people.

Touring Bikes Overview

Just like hybrid bikes, touring bikes also have their advantages.

The first and the most obvious one is the fact that they are actually made for travel.

If you want to travel with luggage and you plan to use the bike a lot, then there is no other bike better suited than a touring bike. 

They are fast and comfortable, which is much needed when you are going to be traveling super long distances.

You can the touring bike to get groceries which will be a great idea with the multiple places you can attach luggage to. It has a really comfy riding position and they can be found in a large variety of prices since the body of the bike can be constructed using a large array of different metals. 

The tires of the touring bikes usually happen to be super wide since it provides more balanced positions which help in carrying the large amounts of weight it is expected to carry.

While touring bikes are incredibly safe, they do sustain more damage when they get into accidents as compared to mountain bikes so maybe they might not be best for mountainous terrain. (source)

Is Buying A Bicycle Worth It?

Well deciding if something is worth it or not truly depends on you and what you are buying the bike for. Are you buying just to see if you want to make it a hobby or are you actually serious about incorporating it into your everyday life?

When you find the answer to these questions only then you will be able to figure out if buying a bike is worth it for you or not.

For me, buying a bike is definitely worth it.

Not only is buying cars or other automobiles very expensive, but they also constantly cost money in fuel, repairs, and other things.

 I am not saying that these will not be needed in a bike but it will not cost you as much as it will with a car.

Secondly, you reduce your carbon footprint to about 60 percent which is a lot considering you are contributing to saving the planet.

Lastly, it is great for your body because it keeps you healthy and fit. 

Conclusion

I would like to sum this up by saying that both hybrid bikes and touring bikes are great in their own respect.

Choosing which one is better truly depends on what you want out of the bike.

For me, a hybrid is better suited if you want a bike that is an all-rounder.

Touring bikes are specially made for long travels, so I only take mine out when I make plans to travel alone or with friends. I feel at ease traveling on it, knowing that I don’t have to carry the luggage on my back and I can safely strap it in with the bike!

Martin Williams

Martin has been tearing up all sorts of trails on a range of bikes ever since he was young. He once cycled across France, and once fell into a canal on a hybrid. He writes about everything to do with cycling on our site.

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