Last updated on updated-for-2023 list of best touring bikes at all price points.. Many of the cheap touring bikes listed here did not survive the pandemic, so the latest edition of this post is sadly shorter than before. For further options, you may wish to head over to the
As cycling continues to grow in popularity, many manufacturers have begun producing cheap, entry-level touring bikes aimed at cyclists and travellers on a lower budget.
For me, as a long-time evangelist for the bicycle as the best way to see the world, seeing more cheap touring bikes on the market is a welcome trend. Some aspects of cycle touring (especially those better described as bikepacking) have become marketing instruments for selling insanely expensive equipment to people with too much money.
While there is always a place for artisan products and the pursuit of excellence, there also needs to be an accessible route into this wonderful lifestyle for people with limited financial means. After all, cycle touring can also represent one of the very cheapest ways to see the world. Indeed, I’d argue that the bicycle is a key element of travelling 100% money free.
In this focused post, then, we’re going to have a specific look at some of the cheapest touring bikes that have also stood the test of time and proven themselves reliable on real-world bike trips.
Shall we get started?
New, Cheap Touring Bikes: What To Expect
When I say ‘low budget’ or ‘cheap’, don’t forget that a touring bike still needs the durability to cover a lot of miles while carrying a lot of luggage. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t meet the basic definition of a touring bike at all.
So, in this post, I have classified a cheap touring bike as a new, touring-specific bicycle with a manufacturer-suggested retail price of under £1,000 (about US$1,300 or €1,200).
The most popular touring bikes cost a lot more than this. ‘Cheap’ is a relative term.
(If this number doesn’t sound cheap to you, by the way, I empathise completely. Luckily I’ve also documented various methods of getting yourself an almost-free touring bike, though you’ll need to spend significantly more time and effort.)
For under £1,000, you can expect to get a brand new touring bike from a reputable manufacturer that will serve you well if you understand its limitations.
And if you find a good clearance deal in the low season, you could pay even less.
Some notes on the design of cheap touring bikes.
When you look through the list below, you’ll find that entry-level touring bikes are usually (but not always) designed primarily for use on good roads and bike paths, which is where most people imagine beginning their bike touring careers.
For this reason, most cheap touring bikes have classic touring geometry, road bike wheels and tyres based around the 700C wheel size, simple, cable-actuated rim brakes rather than more complex disc brakes, and drivetrain components taken from the budget end of Shimano’s mountain-biking or road component ranges.
They’ll generally be based on aluminium frames, which are cheaper to manufacture than steel, and will usually come with a basic rear rack to carry a set of touring panniers. Don’t expect a front rack (aka: lowrider) to be included as standard, as manufacturers expect newbie riders to be using a two-pannier luggage setup.
Most touring bikes are sold with basic mudguards (fenders) already fitted. Expect contact parts like saddle, pedals and grips to be extremely basic – though this is also the case with premium touring bikes, as most riders will want to fit their own preferred components.
A cheap touring bike may be a good choice if you want to give cycle touring a try but don’t want to invest too much in a high-end touring bike before you’re sure cycle touring is for you. Entry-level touring framesets are often suitable for upgrading as your ambitions grow; and if you find you just don’t get on with bicycle travel, you can sell the bike and cut your losses.
Conversely, a cheap touring bike may be a bad choice if – among other things – you have a habit of trying to save money even when you don’t really need to. If you’re serious about doing a lot of bike touring in the future, and you do have access to the necessary funds, you might be better off investing more in premium touring bike or even a custom-built expedition bike that will both serve you better in the long term and save you money on maintenance and upgrades over time.
Before we go any further, I should add that my strong advice against buying bikes online applies equally with cheap touring bikes.
Having said that, let’s take a look at some of the best-value touring bikes available today.
Adventure Flat White
While this bike has recently been discontinued by the manufacturer, I’ve kept it on this list for reference while leftover stock remains on sale.
First up from Adventure Outdoor Co (a sub-brand of Sportline, one of the UK’s biggest bicycle distributors) is the Flat White, part of their series of entry-level bikes. It’s an impressive effort to produce what is probably the cheapest off-the-peg touring bike on the market in the UK right now.
The cromoly steel frame in particular will attract a lot of interest, and it looks to be well thought out in terms of eyelets and braze-ons. The 2×7sp Tourney drivetrain isn’t going to impress anyone, but there’s no particular reason it wouldn’t take you a couple of thousand miles before needing attention – and spares for this range are abundant and cheap.
- Click here to read my detailed review, and scroll down for some helpful comments from owners of the bike who’ve taken it on longer trips.
- Click here for a list of UK and international stockists of Adventure Outdoor Co bikes.
Dawes, too, sadly discontinued the Galaxy line in 2021, citing several years of declining in sales. Again, I’ve kept it on this list for reference while leftover stock remains on sale.
Long known as the archetypical British road touring bike, the Galaxy is the entry-level model in Dawes’ current range. For the money, you get a remarkably accomplished machine with one of the longest-running British bike manufacturers’ names behind it.
Very close on paper to the Ridgeback Tour (see below), the Galaxy is fitted with Schwalbe Marathon tyres, which will get you across a continent or two before needing replacement. Gearing is definitely road-oriented, with a low ratio of 28×32.
- The Dawes Galaxy was one of the most widely available touring bikes in UK high street bike stores, so you may still find a few older models for sale.
List Price: £800 / €730 / US$760 / CA$1,090
The entry-level touring bike from major German bike maker Cube is the affordable and simply-named Cube Touring. The standard model in this range is currently one of the cheapest off-the-peg touring bikes on the market, and is widely distributed across Europe and North America.
If you’re used to the appearance of British or American designed tourers, you’ll notice some big differences, such as the flat handlebars and adjustable stem, the resulting upright riding posture, and the front suspension fork, as well as other details like a kickstand, a hub dynamo, and LED lights as standard. These are all fairly typical features of touring bikes from German and Dutch makers, where utility and comfort take priority over provenance.
In an effort to cater for a diverse customer base, the Cube Touring range comes in several frame variations and sizes, including the classic diamond frame (5 sizes), women’s specific with a sloping top-tube (3 sizes) and a step-through frame for riders with impaired mobility (3 sizes), all in a choice of two colour schemes.
The ‘semi-integrated’ rear rack, which is held in position by the mudguard/fender, is unorthodox, and the seat stays and front fork don’t have standard mounting points, complicating any modifications to the bike’s luggage-carrying capabilities. Riders looking for an entry-level touring bike that can be upgraded in the future may also decide to pass on the Cube Touring for these reasons.
The rest of the specification is impressive at this price point. The entry-level Shimano V‑brakes and drivetrain components are sensible. As with any bike, you’ll want to fit your own preferred saddle, but the inclusion of ergonomic grips, lights, fenders and a kick-stand makes the Touring more or less ready to hit the road right out of the box.
Decathlon Riverside Touring 520
Availability: UK & Europe
List Price: £800 / €800
There’s no denying the success of Decathlon’s no-frills approach to designing, manufacturing and selling sports and outdoor gear. The Riverside Touring is the entry-level model in Decathlon’s new foray into touring bikes, and for many riders will be a welcome addition to the sparse options at this lower-budget end of the market.
The Riverside Touring 520 is based on an aluminium frame, whose geometry sits somewhere between the old-school rigid mountain bike and today’s trendy gravel/hybrid rides. The frameset sports a big range of mounting points for more or less any luggage configuration you might imagine, including a front lowrider or fork cages, a traditional rear carrier rack should the semi-integrated stock rack not be to your tastes, and no less than five bottle cages.
The riding position of the Riverside Touring leans towards relaxed and upright, with the sloping top-tube helping with mounting and dismounting, and flat bars with so-called ergonomic grips and bar-ends atop a stack of head-tube spacers, all pointing to a bike designed with the casual or newcomer rider in mind. Comfortably wide 1.75″ tyres will be equally content on asphalt and gravel at the 700C (28″) wheel diameter.
Looking at component choice, Decathlon have specified a 1×11 drivetrain (ie: a single front chainring driving an 11-sprocket rear cassette); unusual on a tourer where riders tend to benefit from a wide and fine-grained range of gear ratios. The hydraulic disc brakes are also an unorthodox choice for a touring bike. Both will have traditionalists up in arms, citing increased chain wear rates, a reduced choice of gear ratios, and the near-impossibility of repairing hydraulics on the roadside.
There is a certain amount of validity to such criticisms, but a quick scan of the many customer reviews of this bike suggest that these concerns may be more theoretic. In the regions of the world this bike is likely to be used, spares and repairs for this bike will be abundant. And if you want to take it further afield, you can always fit cable disc brakes and/or a regular drivetrain.
Certainly one of this bike’s great strengths is how widely available it is for test-riding, Decathlon having hundreds of locations across Europe and increasingly further afield. Indeed, I can easily imagine a first-time tourer with a reasonable gear budget walking out of the store with not just the bike but a full set of luggage and maybe some camping gear too.
There are only four frame size options, however. Taken together with the wheel size, this may prevent those with short body lengths from finding a good match with the Riverside Touring 520.
In summary, while Decathlon have leaned pretty far into the crossover between classic touring and the gravel bike trend, there’s little to find fault with at this price – and there’s considerably more scope for upgrades here than other entry-level touring bikes in this list.
- Buy the Riverside Touring 520 in the UK from Decathlon.
- The bike is also available from Decathlon branches across Europe and beyond.
List Price: £850
While this bike has recently been discontinued by the manufacturer, I’ve kept it on this list for reference while leftover stock remains on sale.
Ridgeback’s touring bike series has gone from strength to strength in the last few years, with an increasing number of long-distance riders using the Panorama, and a move into 26-inch wheel territory with the Expedition. The Tour is their entry-level offering, and for the price, you’ll find an impressively well-specified aluminium-framed touring bike.
The 3×8sp mountain-bike drivetrain with an Acera rear derailleur and an 11–32t cassette gives the Tour a good range of gear ratios, and the Continental Contact tyres are above average: expect to get a good few thousand miles out of these.
Other plus points include 36-spoke wheels, toe clips, a sturdy rear rack, and a range of 5 frame sizes. Ridgeback are well distributed; it shouldn’t be hard to find a dealer in your area.
Pro Tip #1: How To Get A Cheap Touring Bike Even Cheaper
Whether online or in store, getting discounts on touring bikes is all about timing.
New season models start rolling out towards the end of the calendar year, but sales decline at this time too. This is when most stores will start clearing old stock to make space for new season bikes. Discounts are generally around 25–35%, but can be more.
Late spring and summer is peak bike-buying season, making it the worst time to get a good deal on a bike.
Pro Tip #2: How To Avoid Buying The Wrong Bike
As I’ve mentioned many times elsewhere, the best way to avoid getting the wrong bike is to test ride it first.
You’ll also benefit from getting the bike set up by an expert bike fitter for your unique size, shape and comfort preferences.
Read this touring bike FAQ post for more on why this is such a critical stage of choosing a bicycle, be it a cheap touring bike from the list above or top-end expedition bike to take you round the world.
Related to this, if you’re having a hard time choosing between a small number of models on your shortlist, it’s probably because the one to choose will be the one that feels right when you test-ride it – and you haven’t test-ridden them yet.
(If you’re UK-based, this list of specialist touring bike shops might help here.)
Pro Tip #3: Some Advice On Upgrading Cheap Touring Bikes
As mentioned earlier, many of these bikes – particularly those with steel frames – are prime for upgrading if you decide to make touring a more regular thing, or you have something more adventurous in mind.
Among the best places to start are with the wheels (changing the stock wheels for a hand-built pair), the tyres (upgrading to a more durable set such as the Marathon Plus or Mondial), and the racks (Tubus’ cromoly racks are second to none).
You might also consider getting the basic headset switched out for a more durable cartridge-bearing unit.
Upgrading these parts will make your bike a much more capable long-haul touring machine, as they’re critical structural parts that you’ll want to make as fail-safe as possible.
Drivetrains, pedal bearings, gear and brake cables and the like will wear out, of course, but that’s true of bikes twice the price – and in any case, these are things you can easily replace when you’re on the road.
You might also consider building your own touring bike if you have access to plenty of cheap or free components.
Are there any other cheap yet reliable touring bikes I’ve missed from this list? Do you have first-hand touring experience with any of the bikes above? Feel free to share your opinions in the comments below!