Introduction to adventure cycling

[-] Choosing a bike

General points

Technical guide

Converting an MTB

Mid-range tourers

Expedition bikes

[+] Carrying your kit

Camping gear

Spares, repairs & tools

Where to go


Bikes on planes

Enjoying your tour

Safety and security





Top-end expedition bikes are designed, and in most cases made-to-order, by a small number of companies that really understand the needs of adventure cyclists. These are robust, well-made bikes that will happily carry you and all your gear around the world on the roughest of tracks and still be ready for more.

Adventure Cycling Guide example of a heavily loaded expedition Bike
Somewhere under all that gear is a fine expedition bike.
What you get for your money is: The only downside with these machines is the price - from around 1,200 to 3,000+.

In choosing one of these bikes, the main decisions you will be faced with are: You also need to consider, how much equipment comes as standard, e.g. water bottle cages, pedals, pumps etc and how much is extra.

Adventure Cycling Guide Thorn Exxp Expedition Bike
Thorn eXp Rohloff

Thorn Cycles

Based in Bridgewater, Somerset, Thorn Cycles makes a range of touring bikes and tandems. Top of their range is the steel-framed, Rohloff equiped eXp, a full-on expedition bike which comes with a 2,899+ price tag (around 1,800 if you go for the derailleur version).
The derailleur equipped Nomad, a less full-on, but equally capable tourer, is a more manageable 1,200. A large proportion of British long distance tourers, have used Nomads and have been delighted with the bikes.
Thorn also has an outstanding reputation for supporting their customers, at home and while they are on tour.

Adventure Cycling Guide Koga-Miyata World Traveller Expedition Bike
Koga Miyata World Traveller


Koga Miyata are a Dutch firm making a range of highly regarded touring bikes. Their 26" wheel expedition bike is the aluminium framed "World Traveller". In the wilds of Central Asia or on Patagonian tracks, you see more Kogas than any other single brand of bike. The World Traveller comes very well equiped with high spec components and all the bells and whistles, e.g. prop stand, pump, water bottles etc. The bike sells at around 1,400.

Adventure Cycling Guide Roberts Roughstuff Expedition Bike
Roberts Roughstuff

Roberts Cycles

Chas Roberts is a frame builder of almost legendary renown, one of the best of in the UK. Each frame is bespoke, so you will have to visit their show room to get measured up before they start. Their 26" expedition bike is the "Roughstuff" which sells for around 1,700. Cycling author Josie Dew rides a Roughstuff.

Adventure Cycling Guide VSF Fahrrad Manufaktur T400 Expedition Bike
Fahrrad Manufaktur T400

VSF Fahrrad Manufaktur

The Fahrrad Manufactur T400 is a robust, well-specified trekking/expedition bike. Like most german expedition bikes, it comes equiped with hydraulic brakes. For a big trip you would probably need to fit a front rack and bar-ends, but otherwise at around 700 it is good value for money. A Rohloff equiped version is available for 1,350. In the UK, T400s are available from www.bikefix.co.uk
and www.chrisbikes.co.uk www.fahrradmanufaktur.de

Adventure Cycling Guide Acid Extreme Expedition Bike
Acid Extreme

Germans Cycles

Another German expedition bike I like the look of is the Germans Cycles Acid Extreme (ACID stands for Advanced Integrated Cycle Design). As yet I haven't been able to find out that much about it other than it's a well equiped bike based on on a good steel frame and a couple of German lads used a pair of them for a trip round Pakistan and Tibet - see www.chouca.net

Tout Terrain

Germany's Tout Terrain produce some innovative designs with integral rear racks. As well as the racks, the bikes have some intesting features such as asymmetric forks, to take account of the disc brakes, and a handlebar stop to prevent over-rotation. The Silk road is available from 1,300 for the derailleur version and 1,900 if fitted with a Rohloff. The Panamerica is a novel frame design that may well represent the future of expedition bikes. I would be a little concerned at taking all that suspension on a long tour, but I'm sure it makes washboard tracks a lot easier to cope with. The Panamericana (frame only) sells for around 2,000.
www.tout-terrain.de. UK outlet www.bikefix.co.uk

Adventure Cycling Guide Tout Terrain Silkroad Expedition Bike Adventure Cycling Guide Tout Terrain Panamerican Expedition Bike
Toute Terrain Silkroad Panamericana

Adventure Cycling Guide Bruce Gordon Rock N' Road Tour-Ex Expedition Bike
Bruce Gordon Rock N' Road Tour-Ex

Bruce Gordon Cycles

As well as proving this site isn't completely euro-centric, Bruce Gordon deserves a mention for the unanimously postive feedback his bikes get on US cycling forums. Based in Petaluma, California, Bruce uses a thorough understanding of the needs of touring cyclists to produce some well-designed and well-equiped bikes. The frames are handbuilt by Bruce, as are his own design racks, which also have a good reputation for reliability. The 26" Deore XT equipped Rock N' Road Tour-Ex sells for $3,000 including racks, excluding delivery. The bike is shipped disassembled, so unless you have the appropriate skills and tools, you'll have to get your local bike shop to assemble it for you.

Copyright © Tim Barnes 2007