As part of our mega guide to the best bikes on the market, we talk you through what to look for if you're keen to go on big riding adventures.
Words: Adam Macbeth
Remember when you first got a bike, as a kid? I do. For a long time it was hard for me to really pin down what it was about those early years of riding that really sold it to me. What it was though, was the new found freedom. The ability to see new things quickly, under my own steam and get home again with an experience that was my own.
This kind of cycling still exists, and there are a lot of very cool bikes available to help you explore your backyard, or the world. Welcome to adventure riding.
The beautiful thing about this genre of bike is also the aspect that makes trying to find the right one for you so difficult. Versatility.
Whereas many of the other styles of bikes we’ll look at in this issue have a quite clearly defined purpose, the adventure bicycle needs to do a lot, and it needs to do it all pretty well. From tarmac to gravel, carrying some load for bikepacking adventures and even shredding a bit of proper mountain bike trail. Ticking ALL these boxes is a near impossible task. – Adam Macbeth
Adventure bikes checklist
Carbon bikes have become much better value over the last few years and the reliability has improved out of sight. Carbon also allows the creation of some funky shapes for better tyre clearance, ride quality changes, improved cable routing and frame bag mounting. If you really are thinking about bikepacking as your main focus, some of it remote, then steel is still your friend from both a comfort and reliability point of view. And those on a budget will be amazed by the value on offer on alloy bikes these days.
Whereas a lot of other styles of bike are designed with great standover height for sprinting and climbing clearance, as soon as you start exploring longer and further you realise one thing. There’s a lot of room, even on a small bike, to store stuff in the front triangle. As a result, you’ll find a lot of models with a more horizontal top tube that you are used to seeing on your road or CX bikes, and some models even go so far as to add a curved downtube to create more space. The accompanying longer seat stays also add a bit of comfort as well as allowing for bigger rubber.