Adventure cycling is one of those loose terms that covers anything from a ride into the local hills for a wild-camp overnighter to our Stuart’s month-long American west coast trip as described in this blog.
For a flavour of what it’s like to get into adventure cycling closer to home, we hugely recommend you watch Tom Allen’s account of his first bike-and-bothy adventure in the Scottish Highlands.
Adventure Cycling has inspired creative companies to introduce bikes built to cover every road or track you’re likely to encounter on your adventures from smooth tarmac to technical off-road singletrack.
If you’re relying on your bike when you ride in the back of beyond, reliability is a key factor. That’s why every adventure bike featured here shares the following characteristics/
- Rigid CrMo steel frame and forks, which are lighter weight than the lightest suspension framesets and intrinsically maintenance free.
- Everything else being equal, a steel frame is more likely to survive a hit than an aluminium or carbon frame.
- Large volume tyres – still the simplest and lightest weight suspension you’ll find on a bike.
- High power, low-maintenance disc brakes.
Genesis Longitude ’16 £1,199
The Longitude matches a CrMo steel frame and fork with 27 x 2.8-inch tyres. Combine these plus-size tyres with a Shimano Deore 3×10 transmission and you have a super comfortable bike that’s fit for near-anything rideable. Its Shimano hydraulic disc brakes are probably the best stoppers you’ll find on a bike this price in terms of stopping power, modulation and low maintenance reliability. For all its chunkiness, the Longitude comes in at a very respectable 13.4kg (source, Genesis website).
Genesis Vagabond £999
Tribute to Genesis’ ambition to offer genuine choice, the Vagabond is a drop bar alternative to the flat bar Longitude, while its wider diameter 29×2.1-inch tyres make it potentially faster rolling. To underline its low-maintenance adventure bike vibe, the drop handlebars sport a pair of extra-robust bar-end shifters to operate the Shimano Deore 2×10 drivetrain. Perhaps most impressive of all, building the Vagabond frame with lighter weight road bike-gauge CrMo tubing keeps the bike’s weight down to a quoted 12.25kg. Not bad for a 29er.
With its light-sprung double-butted rigid CrMo frame and fork; its plus-sized 27.5×2.9 inch tyres; its Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and its up-to-the-minute, single-shifter Shimano Deore 1×10 transmission with 11-42 cassette, the Pine Mountain makes a strong case for being our best buy in 27.5-plus tyre-equipped adventure bikes. 14.8kg.
With its CrMo frame and fork, its full-length mudguards, its Tubus Cargo CrMo steel rack and its super puncture resistant Schwalbe Marathon GreenGuard 700×35 tyres, the Tour de Fer is built along more traditional touring bike lines, but with flat bars for maximum steering control on singletrack. Plus you get that welcome 21st Century upgrade – disc brakes for enhanced braking power and lower maintenance compared to cantis or V-brakes. 15.3kg.
Adventure Cycling Equipment
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Touring cyclists have been enjoying adventure cycling since the 19th century – traditionally on bikes kitted out with panniers and/or saddle bags packed with camping gear.
Self-sufficient cycling has evolved in recent years with the evolution of bike-packing bags, which can be quickly fitted to near-any bike – even if your bicycle doesn’t have a rack or rack mounts.
Bike-packing bags open up the possibility of temporarily converting your favourite mountain bike or road racing mount into a two-wheel pack horse that can expand your horizons.
Blackburn Outpost Frame Bag from £44.99
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This expandable frame bag is mounted below the bike’s top tube and can take a surprising amount (up to 6.9 litres) of cargo.
Genius feature – a tube port makes this bag the perfect way to carry a hydration reservoir if you like to drink on the move yet be spared the burden of carrying a hydration pack on your back.
Blackburn Outpost Seat Pack W/Drybag £69.99
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In a world of 1 litre seatpacks, the Blackburn Outpost shows its serious intent with its 11 litre capacity and its reinforced design, comprising a relatively rigid ‘holder’ and a waterproof drybag that slots neatly into it.
Blackburn Outpost Handlebar Roll W/Drybag £79.99
Unlike regular bar bags, this Handlebar Roll is large enough to carry a lightweight sleeping bag. Like the Outpost Seatpack, this two-part pack comprises a waterproof dry bag that mates perfectly with its holder.
More kit to consider for adventure cycling
Revolution Tune Up Multi 15 Multi Tool £13.99
Park IB3C I-Beam Mini Folding Tool £17.99 (RRP £19.99)
Chain Links from £1.99
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Adventure cycling is about being self-sufficient so remember to pack a spare chain link along with a multi tool that includes a chain rivet wrench for fixing a broken chain.
Giant Control Puncture Repair Kit £2.99
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Giant improve upon the humble patch kit by producing one that offers you the choice of glueless patches for fast fixes, and patches and vulcanising adhesive for permanent repairs. What’s more the repair kit is made complete with a pair of tyre levers and a strip of sandpaper in the box.
High Volume Mini Pumps
Standard mini-pumps are no match for plus-sized tyres. You need a high-volume pump that delivers twice as much air per stroke, such as…
Specialized Air Tool Big Bore Pump £30
Lezyne HV Micro Floor Drive V2 £37.99 (RRP £41.99)
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Ride in comfort
Brooks Cambium C17 £104.99
When thinking of saddles that conform to the demands of adventure cycling, we recommend the latest Cambium saddles which match all-day comfort with long-term durability and, unlike Brooks leather saddles, don’t mind being left out in the rain.
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