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Road Bike vs City Bike vs Tour Bike | Which bike should I get?

The American love for biking can be best described as “on and off,” and the biggest biking boom came in the 1970s when for the first time, bikes outsold cars. But this bike-crazed era didn’t last long, and soon people swapped their two wheels for four wheels.

However, with the resurgence of biking across America, it’s important to know the different types of bikes!

A road bike is designed for riding at high speeds and mostly on paved pathways. City bikes are designed for moderate rides over short distances, such as on city streets. A touring bike is a more robust type designed to carry heavier loads on long journeys, often lasting days!

Do you want to learn more about road bikes, city bikes, and tour bikes and how to tell them apart? Read on, and let’s review the pros and cons of each to help you choose the right one!

Road Bikes vs City Bike vs Touring Bike: Overview

What Is a Road Bike?

Road bikes are the race cars of the bicycle world. They are designed with performance and incredible speeds in mind, allowing you to go as fast as you can realistically pedal.

Of all types of bikes, road bikes are the most beginner-friendly. Appearance-wise, they feature narrow tubes, drop-down handlebars, and a distinctive silhouette.

Although the basic frame has not changed much over the years, road bikes have evolved along with technology. Modern road bikes are now made of carbon fibers and feature a 24-speed drivetrain. These high-speed bikes are also a lot skinnier with narrower tires and fewer spokes, reducing their weight.

Key Features of a Road Bike

Lightweight

Road bikes are lightweight and relatively easy to carry or transport. A road bike weighs between 18-22lbs (8.2-10kgs) on average. At that weight, you can easily carry it on your shoulders if you pop a tire or need to walk.

Their lightweight nature also makes them go faster with minimum effort when pedaling. However, their weight can make road bikes harder to balance at lower speeds.

Speed

Road bikes can go much faster than the city and a touring bike, thanks to their narrow tires and lightweight body. You can go as fast as 25mph (40.23kph) with minimal effort. It is also possible to maintain speed on flat surfaces without breaking too much of a sweat. 

Durability

The components, such as the frame, are made of highly durable materials, like carbon fiber, steel, and chromium. Because they are so expensive, road bikes are also built to last. You won’t have to worry about broken frames or snapping chains as long as you stay up-to-date on maintenance.

Tricky handling

The skinny design makes them less stable than the city and touring bikes, and the narrow rims and tires don’t help with the balance either. Riding at low speeds can be challenging, especially in traffic or narrow paths. 

Costly

Road bikes are rather expensive. Even the cost of an entry-level road bike is significantly higher than other bikes. In fact, there are road bikes out there that are more expensive than some cars.

On average, a proper road bike costs between $2,000 to $4,000. However, luxury brands can cost as much as $10,000.

Additional accessories

Many first-time road bike owners are shocked to learn that road bikes often come as bare bones. A typical bike comes with just the frame and a few essentials, meaning you have to buy fenders, lights, and even pedals separately.

Hunched riding position

Road bikes are not the most comfortable bikes out there, especially if you have back issues. Since they’re designed for speed, require a hunched posture, and have little suspension, you’ll feel every bump in the road!

What Is a City Bike?

City bikes are also known as utility, commuter, or urban bicycles due to their versatility. City bikes are the most common bikes on the road, as they are designed for moderately short distances with a flat bar. Unlike most bikes, city bikes don’t excel at any one thing and are average across the board.

City bikes are designed to be comfortable and practical. Due to the upright and slightly curved handles, riders can comfortably cycle in an upright position without hunching over.

Even better, you don’t have to wear any special clothing when riding a city bike. That’s because features like fenders, chain guards, and skirt guards protect your everyday clothing while on the bike.

Key Features of a City Bike

Comfortable

Riding in an upright posture is easy on the back and more natural for most people. Anyone can comfortably ride a city bike, no matter how athletic they are.

The large padded saddle makes it easier to ride the bike over relatively long distances, and the large wheelbase makes the ride smoother and less bumpy.

Easier handling

Thanks to the larger wheelbase and heavier constructions, the city bike is easier to ride even at low speeds.

There is less chance of toppling or sliding when going around tight corners, making them relatively safe. Better handling makes it easier for beginners to enjoy riding a bike without worrying about staying upright.

Cost-effective

City bikes are the cheapest bike options out there. Expect to spend between $500 and $1500 to get a good city bike. If you can’t afford one, take advantage of the affordable bike-share services in most cities. Day rentals cost between $5 and $50 depending on your city. 

Safety features

City bikes are made for everyday use by casual riders. As a result, they come with more safety features, such as chain guards and skirt guards. These components are added to prevent the rider from getting dirty on the bike.

Other safety features include lights for illumination in the dark and reflectors for easy visibility.

What Is a Tour Bike?

As the name suggests, touring bikes are designed to be comfortable and reliable for long-distance travel. In addition to covering long distances, touring bikes can haul cargo over rough terrain. They are comparable to a truck in that respect. Touring bikes thrive in nearly any scenario, including recreation, racing, and bike packing.

A touring bike features more geometric construction than the other two options. A typical tour bike has a high rail, slack seat post angle, and a long head tube. They also have a long chainstay that provides ample heel clearance.

Most tour bikes come with a large base for stability and confidence while pedaling.

Key Features of a Tour Bike

Comfortable

The touring bikes is designed to ensure comfort over long distances, and they are far more comfortable than city and road bikes. Some even come with a full suspension for an even smoother bump-free ride on roads.

However, the best way to ensure maximum comfort is by choosing a bike that is sized for you.

Stable

The extra weight of a touring bike makes them more stable, so balance is less of an issue. The extra-large wheelbase provides additional grip for stability even when carrying a heavy load. And you can comfortably ride a touring bike even under wet conditions.

Extra cargo space

A touring bike is generally longer than ordinary bicycles, with the rear wheel positioned much further back. This allows more room at the rear for carrying everything you need for bike packing or touring. There are also multiple attachment points for strapping on panniers if you need extra storage.

They are slower

Without a doubt, a touring bike is not built for speed. The large frame and additional attachments make the touring bike unusually heavy.

To accelerate, you might need a little more lower-body strength. The riding posture also adds to drag, requiring more effort to maintain a consistent speed.

Poor maneuverability

The extra weight and length make tour bikes a challenge when taking tight corners. It takes serious skill and strength to ride a fully loaded touring bike over long distances.

The load must also be balanced; otherwise, you risk tipping over on your journey. Don’t attempt a long adventure unless you’re confident with your skills.

Road Bike vs City Bike vs Tour Bike: Which Bike Is Best for You?

Each bike has its strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, the choice lies in what you intend to do with the bike and where you plan to venture.

For instance, it’s unusual to tour on a road bike or race on a touring bike. It’s worth considering a hybrid bike or a mountain bike if you are looking for utility. 

Below is a direct comparison of the three bikes based on four essential parameters.

Which Bike Is Best for Speed?

By a mile, road bikes are the best for speed among the three options, as they were designed specifically for that purpose. A professional racer can go as fast as 28mph on flat ground.

An average rider can manage as high as 13mph. In comparison, city and touring bike max at about 11mph. The exact speed will depend on your weight, skill level, and terrain.

We recommend the Schwinn Fastback Tourney AL Adult Performance Road Bike. This bike comes in all sizes, ranging from extra small to extra-large, making it ideal for both beginners and expert riders.

Durable aluminum alloy is used to make the frame of the bicycle. The 14-step gear ratio provides a seamless transition of gears when riding for a smooth journey. Fortunately, the bike is shipped 95% assembled, so pump the tires and go!

Which Bike Is Best for Exercise?

One of the biggest benefits of riding a bike is that it helps you stay in shape. Studies done on cycling have shown that biking stimulates the heart, lungs and builds muscles. So, almost all forms of cycling are beneficial to your health in one way or the other. 

However, some bikes are more effective due to their construction.

Road bikes are generally better for exercise since they are performance-oriented and you can cover long distances much quicker. The hunched posture ensures that you burn calories from both the upper and lower body.

However, it has to be a bike you are comfortable riding to reap these perks. We recommend the Vilano Diverse 3.0 Performance Hybrid Bike. It combines both performance and comfort in one package.

Which Is the Best Bike for Bikepacking?

Bike touring involves cycling for weeks or even months. That means you need a comfortable, reliable bike that can survive such a long outdoor adventure.

In addition to comfort, you will also need space to carry all the extra luggage needed on your journeys, such as food, clothing, and camping gear. Fortunately, there is a bike specifically designed for this purpose.

We recommend the Schwinn Wayfarer Adult Hybrid Bike Retro-Styled Cruiser. It comes with a 7-speed drivetrain that helps you overcome steep slopes with little effort.

The bike also comes with a classic rear carriage for hauling your gear. But if you need a larger carrier and more storage, you do have the option of removing it or replacing it.

Which Bike Is the Best for Daily Commutes?

You can gain more from your bike and save on gas money by biking to work. However, navigating through the busy city streets requires a specialized bike.

You need a bike that is easy to maneuver, balanced, lightweight, and fast. City bikes are made for precisely this purpose, as they are comfortable, reliable, and don’t cost a fortune.

If you are considering biking to work, we recommend the KESPOR K7 Folding Bike. It is made of durable aluminum with a folding mechanism, meaning you can easily carry it into the office or apartment instead of leaving it outside.

You don’t have to worry about your bike getting stolen or rusting in the rain. Even better, it is fully assembled on arrival and ready to ride.

When to Choose Road Bikes?

Road bikes are designed for speed. You should get a road bike if you want to get into racing or crave an intense heart-healthy workout.

However, road bikes are not for everyone since they are a little uncomfortable and may be dangerous for people with back and knee problems.

When to Choose City Bikes?

City bikes are a safer choice for your everyday cycling needs. They are designed to be comfortable, reliable, and practical. They are not as light as road bikes but are significantly faster than a touring bike.

Riding a city bike is also much easier on the back and leaves you in a much more natural position. The saddle is shorter, larger, and better padded for comfort!

When to Choose Tour Bikes?

A touring bike is designed to go further than most bikes, but it’s crucial to choose a bike that’s comfortable with a solid suspension and padding during off-roading adventures. You also want to prioritize extra storage options for long travels!

You can also consider hybrid bikes or mountain bikes if you are interested in more than one form of biking.

Final Thoughts on Road Bike vs City Bike vs Tour Bike

There are a growing number of bicycles available on the market right now. They are specifically designed for specific needs. When deciding on which bike should you get, think about:

  • Your fitness goals
  • Your riding friends and their bikes
  • The place you live in
  • Your previous experience with different bicycle types
  • Speed of the bike
  • And finally your budget

Road bike, city bike or commuter bike and tour bike all have their advantages and disadvantages over each other. It would be best if you get the bike that serves your needs the most. Happy Biking!

Alex Anderson
Lead technology analyst, Alex Anderson, has reviewed hundreds of smartphones, tablets and other gadgets in more than 10 years. He a journalist, software trainer, and sometime Web developer. Alex writes news stories, columns, and reviews for us and other technology sites and publications.
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