The year 2020 was absolutely crazy. The world was hit with global Covid-19 pandemic which disrupted bicycle manufacturers supply chain completely. However, it did not stop big bike brands to release their new or updated touring bike models for 2021. After conducting an extensive research, considering many variables such as frame material, geometry, tyre clearance, gear inches, quality and durability of the bicycle components, chainstay and wheelbase length, rack and water bottle mount options and many others – I have picked Top 5 touring bikes you can buy in 2020 and 2021.
For $1499 you get a lot of bike if you decide to go with Kona Sutra. This ultimate long haul touring bike benefits of Kona Chromoly steel frame with long chainstays, very generous tyre clearance, so you can run 40mm tyres with fenders (comes with 700c 40mm Schwalbe Marathon Mondial tyres), Brooks B-17 leather saddle (one of the best touring saddles known to humans), rear rack rated at 40kg maximum payload, TRP Spyre cable actuated disc brakes which again, are probably the best disc brakes for a touring bike.
But the biggest selling point of Kona Sutra 2021 is the gears. And they are excellent! With the triple 26/36/48t chainrings and 11-36t you get 19.9 gear inches which really stands out of Sutra’s competitors. It also has Shimano Deore 10 speed groupset which you will normally see on higher end touring bikes. I also like the fact that Kona Sutra has bar-end shifters instead of normal STI shifters. These are much more durable, easier and cheaper to replace and service which is what you want if you’re going on a long bike tour.
Priced exactly the same as Kona Sutra ($1499) Salsa Marrakesh is also one of the best traditional touring bikes money can buy in 2021. It comes with premium steel frame, long wheelbase (adjustable!), Brooks B-17 leather saddle, bar-end shifters, rear rack (rated at only 20kg), even wider tyre clearance (comes with 42mm Maxxis Roamer tyres) and 3 x 9 speed gearing (Shimano Deore 48/36/26t chainset and Shimano Alivio 11-34 cassette) which still gives you very good gear ratios.
In my view the biggest selling points are Salsa’s premium steel frame with high quality paintjob finishing (lots of clear coat). It also has a kickstand mount (Kona Sutra doesn’t), the variety of mounts on the frame and forks. WTB tubeless ready rims and flared Salsa Cowchipper drop bars which get raving reviews. Oh, and did I mention it has spare spoke mounts?
Bombtrack Arise Tour 2021
Classic looks, yet entirely modern design. This touring bike has everything you need to cycle around the globe. Priced at $2250 it comes with very carefully selected components and accessories. Steel frame with sliding dropouts, decent tyre clearance, spare spoke mounts, fenders, Tubus front and rear racks (one of the best racks money can buy), KT dynamo hub and Supernova front and rear dynamo lights which are really nice piece of kit.
Most traditional long haul touring bikes comes with either 9 or 10 speed cassette and triple chainrings. Bombtrack dared to be different and went with a double sub-compact 46/30t chainrings made of steel and Microshift 10 speed 11 – 42t cassette which gives you 19.6 gear inches which is even lower than Kona Sutra! If you want a touring bike with really low gears but don’t like an idea of having triple chainrings – Bombtrack Arise Tour is your bike.
Trek 520 (retailing at $1680) is a steel touring bike made for the open road. It’s the longest-running model in our line-up. Rack and mudguard mounts, a wide range of gearing for climbing (19.8 gear inches to be precise) and a stable touring geometry make it the perfect choice for loaded multi-day trips and comfortable all-day adventures. It comes with rather interesting and versatile front rack which has been a signature feature of Trek 520 for a long time. This touring bike also comes with STI shifters, so if bar-end shifters isn’t your thing – consider Trek 520. I also like the fact that it’s equipped with Bontrager tubeless ready wheels which do have a reputation of being quite strong 36 spoke touring wheels.