With its sturdy rear rack and mudguards, the entry-level Tour is commuter ready. Like most tourers, there’s an emphasis on reliability: the wheels have 36 spokes each, making them stronger; and the bottom bracket is a square taper unit that should last years. The aluminium frame and steel fork are designed for a more relaxed riding position than a racer, and there’s plenty of clearance for those 32mm tyres. Gearing is 3x8, using Shimano Claris integrated shifters/brake levers. The range could usefully be a bit lower for heavily loaded touring; for commuting, it’s fine. Cantilever brakes keep the price down.
Cyclescheme Price: £499.99*
Dawes Galaxy Cross AL
Most touring bikes use drops but a flat handlebar can work fine, especially when, as here, bar-ends are added to provide an alternative grip. Hydraulic disc brakes are cheaper for flat bar bikes, so it’s no surprise to see Shimano M396 discs fitted to the Galaxy Cross. It’s easier to run lower gears too and, while Dawes haven’t done so, you (or your shop) could fit a bigger cassette. Flat bar aside, the Galaxy Cross ticks the usual budget touring bike boxes: aluminium frame; steel fork; 36-spoke wheels; 32mm tyres; mudguards; rack. There’s also a kickstand.
Cyclescheme Price: £524.99*
Genesis Tour de Fer 10
Spending more on a drop-bar tourer gets you 3x9 Shimano Sora gearing instead of 3x8 Claris, and cable-operated disc brakes rather than cantilevers. Discs are better bad weather stoppers and they don’t wear away the wheel rim. These wheels are shod with 35mm Schwalbe Marathon tyres, which will cope with bad roads and good tracks. The chrome-moly steel frame and fork are equipped with mudguards and a quality Tubus rear rack. With a 50-39-30 road triple chainset, the gearing is better suited to commuting and lightly-laden touring than camping loads.
Cyclescheme Price: £749.99*
Trek 520 Disc
Like most US-designed tourers, the chrome-moly steel Trek doesn’t come with mudguards so you’ll need to add them. It does come with a rear rack. The 3x9 gearing is somewhat unusual in employing bar-end shifters. They’re not as ergonomic as integrated shifters but will work with suitable mountain bike derailleurs front and rear, making lower gears possible. Trek have fitted a 48-36-26 triple, and a smaller one is possible. The disc brake wheels have tubeless ready rims, so you could upgrade from innertubes to liquid latex for better rolling performance and improved puncture resistance.
Cyclescheme Price: £750*
Surly Long Haul Trucker 9-speed
The Long Haul Trucker (LHT) is unusual in that it comes with either 26in or 700C wheels. The wheels are not interchangeable; the frames for each are different. It’s also available with 10-speed gearing and with disc brakes. All LHTs have a strong, stiff chrome-moly steel frame and fork that – once you’ve added a rack or two – will cope with any load. Frame clearances are generous, so you can fit wider tyres those supplied: 700x37C, 26x1.5in, or 26x1.75in, depending on the model. Like Trek, Surly use bar-end shifters, although here the front derailleur is a road one; the gear range is reasonable.
Cyclescheme Price: £799*
*=based on minimum savings of 25% inc End of Hire - many save more. Check your personal savings here.
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