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.
- Check out the full Cube Touring range on the Cube website.
- Find your local dealer in Cube’s online directories of stockists in the UK and Europe, the USA, and Canada.
- Don’t buy this bike online. Support your local bike shop (UK list)!
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!
39 replies on “The Best Cheap (Sub-£1,000) Touring Bikes for Low-Budget Adventures”
Hi I’m in the UK at the moment and planning to tour with a bike from Liverpool through France to Italy for 3months. I’m totally a bigger. Please help me for choosing a bike the best for a woman 167cm. And my budget is around £600 with all gears. I’ve searched Trek dual sport 2 for woman so far. So complicated to decide to buy..
I have two months for practicing and preparing before leaving the UK.
I’d suggest you visit the nearest branch of Decathlon and try their Riverside Touring bike. Their staff should be able to advise on the correct frame size for you, and let you test ride it too. It’s slightly over your budget, but you won’t find any new touring bikes that cheap any more…
Thanks Tom for all the pain and hardwork you take to collect all the available information on touring or world traveller bikes and present us in simplified way which helps in finding right bike for every one dreaming of touring the earth surface. All this information is so inspiring for adventure tourers. I am one of the dreamers and hope one day of bike touring the world. Thanks and respect from India.
Thanks for the many interesting write-ups. I would appreciate a little article on the Marine Four Corners. tq
I wouldn’t be able to write a dedicated article without riding one for a good amount of time. Having looked at the spec, the lack of racks and the road groupset (among other things) mean it doesn’t really fit the mould of a classic off-the-peg touring bike – more a gravel bike you might occasionally use with light bikepacking luggage.
Hi Tom, I love your website and have learned so much from it, so many thanks. Just a thought on your list of budget touring bikes. I seems to me that most bikes sold for “touring”, in the UK at least, are less than ideal in two principal respects. Firstly, they mostly have drop handlebars. To be honest, hardly anyone tours with drop these days, except (mainly English) traditionalists of mature years! Why can’t manufacturers get up to date and offer flat bars with decent bar ends? Secondly, and this is related to the type of bars, the gearing on most “touring” bikes is not really low enough for grinding up long steep hills with loaded panniers. In my respectful opinion a sensible touring bike will have more or less MTB gearing which is easier to achieve with flat bars. For what it’s worth, I am 69 years old and have been cycle touring for only about 5 years. I have learned from experience and experimentation. I bought a bike to help recover from two hip replacements, and became quite hooked! The problem was I bought a Boardman hybrid which wasn’t really suitable for cycle touring but over the years I have experimented with various handlebar set-ups and have changed from a double to a triple chainset combined with a big cassette, which gives very low gearing. It’s a bit of a compromise but does ok for simple UK touring such a the English Coast to Coast and a recent trip across Scotland.
Thanks again and keep up the good work
Hello Tom, have you come across the Kalkhof range? I’ve only just come across it — I’m on a quest to find a bike for modest length trails (20 — 40 miles at the moment). My current bike is a Dutch-style McKenzie with all of 3 gears. I’ve just found a Kalkhof Voyager 21 2018 step-through Hybrid bike. I like the upright position and 3 years in Germany biases me towards German design but I know nothing about bikes beyond how to ride one. Any thoughts?
Hi Tom, A bit of a wild card, but people looking for a budget “euro-tourer” as opposed to a “world-tourer” would probably like the Decathlon “Hop-rider 500” priced at £400. 700c, 38c, triple shimano and hub dynamo to boot. lightly loaded this would make a fine short to medium distance machine. Could be easily upgraded as things wear. Although I use a dropped barred tourer, I would definitely consider this for relaxed trips up the Danube, Canals of Holland etc, etc. Also available in ladies frame.
Very interesting reviews of budget touring bikes. I’m very taken with the Flat White but the site doesn’t seem active? I’d like to find out how to purchase one of these as they seem outstanding value.
Enjoying your blogs
The site seems to work for me:
A few stores seem to be waiting on new stock, so perhaps it’s just a temporary shortage…
Hi Tom, Yes the link does sort of work but no way to purchase on the site or a list of stockists. I believe they come under the group Madison and have emailed them for some help on this.
Freewheel.co.uk seems to have the Flat White in stock at £440.
Thanks for the heads-up!
Hey Tom, this is Quentin Silvand. You most probably don’t remember me. We met years ago at a Horizon Unlimited meet in the Uk. I was on a motorbike at the time. For the last 2 years switched to cycling europe and not looking back. Still got your DVD and using it as inspiration documentary for wannabe travelers. Got a new gf and plan to go rtw and by accident saw your article on cheap touring bikes. And I think I found the bike we will buy for the trip. The ridgeback tour 2017. Cheap and cheerful I feel. Anyhow, just to say hi and thanks again for the inspiration. Regards, Q
Hey Quentin! Well done on making the switch! 😉 Good luck to you and your girlfriend on the RTW ride – when do you leave?
we will leave probably in July. I am gutted, we bought x2 fuji Touring 2017 bikes from a german website which turned out to be a scam and we lost all the money. went to the police and all but money is gone. now looking again at cheap options. on your list though it seems quite a few are now hard to find. the Adventure flat white is just out of stock everywhere. Edinburgh coop seem to have less bikes these days. really stuck as what to get now.
That’s a terrible story! Did you pay by credit card? You might be covered by fraud insurance if so…
Do you mind telling us which website it was? I live in Germany and will likely buy from something nearby!
I bought an Malvern Star Oppy S1 for $850 Aus 3 months ago for touring here in Australia. It was fitted to me but I would prefer a slightly more upright ride position. I have just finished a 1200 klm tour of NSW and Qld, my second large tour and found it virtually perfect for me. Its a 16 speed Claris with mech disc brakes, STI’s and even though I predominetly rode in the Dividing range fully loaded with front and rear panniers I never once got into the lowest gear., In all hills I train in 3rd or 4th gears only as if I am carrying weight. Their is an Oppy S2 with 105’s and Hydraulic disc, it is slightly better spec’ed then mine but it is $400- $600 dearer and I didn’t want hydraulics. I find it an excellent lower priced cromoly steel bike for the touring I do, sure many people want triples, but the way I ride, I don’t need them.
I have owned a 2016 Fuji Touring bike for the past year. I have done several 3–4 day light tours on it in New Zealand where live. I ve toured on tar seal and gravel roads and a mixture or road gravel and dirt. I also use it as my commuter in the city and for city rides for leisure. In all circumstances the bike has been an absolute pleasure to ride. I have changed to a Brooks saddle, and I did put Schwalbe marathon tyres on it. Also I put mudguards on it. Overall it has been a great purchase and when I compare it to other touring bikes I think it’s fantastic value for money. If your looking for a light tourer that you can use as a commuter when your not touring, The Fuji touring has my full recommendation.
Good to hear your experience with this bike. I am in NZ now, and considering to purchase a Fuji Touring bike as well. I was wondering where you bought it? I’ve got some troubles finding it… :/
Thanks for the guide Tom. After touring for some years on hybrid bikes, we need to replace one of our bikes and are looking at some budget options to upgrade to a proper touring bike. As I have access to the cycle to work scheme, I may have to go mainstream so leaning towards the Dawes Galaxy however, Chain Reaction has a good deal on the Fuji Touring at the moment.
So, with a 25% discount, at £636, the Fuji has CrMo frame, and Deore and Alivio components all for the same price as the Galaxy. It feels like a better deal. Would love to find a comparison of both bikes to help my decision.
Hey Carlos – if the bike looks comparable on paper, the only way to decide from this point on is to test-ride it! Perhaps you could find an LBS that stocks it?
Yes, that’s what I’ve been trying to do but the combination of Halfords cycle2work vouchers, it’s a touring bike and it’s a Fuji, which seem to have a limited distribution network in the UK, is making it very hard to find a LBS which has one to test… and I live in London.
My LBS suggests the Ridgeback Tour or Voyage over the the Dawes Galaxy, which they believe is overpriced. But the 2018 Tour is £750 and the Voyage £850. Will continue searching.
I wouldn’t be surprised if those are all the exact same frame with different branding. Not that there is anything wrong with that. They just all look identical.
My brother and I recently did a 1000km tour from Newcastle to Brisbane (Australia). It was on a mixture of tar and dirt roads. It rained half the days. At one stage we road several kms over a flooded swamp like road; we also road several kms over a gibber road and many of the dirt roads were muddy because of the rain. We carried camping gear.
My brother purchased a Fuji Touring bicycle to do the trip. The touring bicycle market in Australia isn’t big and the Fuji is at the entry level of what is available. The cost was around 1100 AUD which current is about 509 GBP at current exchange rates. (The Oz dollar has been on a roller coaster recently so not sure how useful this comparison is.)
He rode the bicycle as purchased except for swapping the pedals out for his preferred clip-ins.
The bicycle worked perfectly with no problems what so ever other than needing to use the barrel adjust on the rear derailer cable to tighten it about half way into the tour.
I’ve been touring for many years and I thought the bicycle was very well spec-ed for the price.
Chrome-molly steel frame. It’s a welded frame the finish look quite good to me. Low rider mounts Includes a spoke holder!
9spd Deore drivetrain. Comes with a triple so the gearing is fine for touring.
Tektro, linear pull, alloy
Comes with a OK rack for light touring. No mudguards.
We looked at a number of entry level bicycles and this was the best. I’d certainly recommend it if you are getting started.
road -> rode
Tektro, linear pull, alloy -> Tektro, linear pull, alloy brakes
Hi Tom, noob and a big fan here. I bought a 2014 fuji touring bike for 55k here in India.
What is your opinion on that bike?
Your opinion is probably more valid than mine, seeing as you own one! 🙂 Have you taken it touring yet?
Hi Ram, also looking to get the fuji touring bike. How’s it keeping up?
Hey ram where in india do u get touring bikes? Did u buy ur fuji online
Hi Ilona, I can tell you it’s a really, really comfortable bike to get around on — I haven’t taken it on a long trip yet, but I have ridden it with a pretty heavy load front and back to test it and it’s worked really well for me.
Thanks for the article. This is very helpful, especially tips at the end. I am just thinking about getting a new touring bike and I had in mind Trek 520. What is your opinion on that one, comparing those above?
It used to be a classic, but I’m not sure how today’s version compares. At £900 I’m afraid it wouldn’t fit this list.
Hi Tom, maybe have a look at the Trek520 — I’m very far from an expert, but the guy at the bike shop who’s done lots of touring pointed out all the features to me (steel frame, disc brakes, good gearing) and said it’s punching above it’s weight when it comes to quality vs price. It’s AUD $1399 so that’s in about the same price range as those above.
It’s always been considered a classic touring bike, but definitely not at the low-budget end of things – £900 RRP in the UK.
Ouch! Looks like I got a bargain — I paid about 645 at the current exchange rate, and that was getting it here (through a dealer) from the USA.
Hi Sandra who was your dealer in the US?
Surly LHT’s are available for a grand these days — active sport i think doing 33% off. same with the Surly Cross also a cracking tourer without the nobblies. The 700 wheels are better than 26 imo, as they are more flexible for all round usage particularly if wanting to use it as your only bike. Otherwise, if you’re hauling mega lots on the racks, then there’s no better than the 26 LHT imo