Touring Bikes Under $1500

March 20, 2010

Purchasing a new touring bike is as exciting as it is intimidating, and one of the most intimidating factors can often be the price tag of the bike. To help ease the process, today I would like to quickly go through some touring bikes that are under $1500, and ready to hit the road when you are.

Before I jump in to the list, it should be noted that all of these bikes include a few common touring features, such as a full set of eyelets for racks and fenders, as well as sturdy 36 hole spoke wheels, and 700x32 tires.

Jamis Aurora ($1025): The steel frame and fork are decked with all the eyelets you need for racks and fenders, as well as a pump peg on the headtube. The triple crank and 11-34 cassette combine to give you plenty of gear range for long climbs, with Shimano Tiagra STI levers handling the shifting. As a bonus, front and rear fenders are included.

Surly Long Haul Trucker ($1095): One of the more popular bikes we saw come through the office last touring season, the steel frame and fork offer a very smooth ride. Aside from the rack and fender eyelets, the frame also includes a pump peg, three bottle cage mounts, and spoke holders on the rear chain stay. The traditional bar end shifters are complimented by the triple crankset, and 11-34 cassette. (Read a full review of the Long Haul Trucker.)

Masi Speciale Randonneur ($1145): The steel frame has a very nice classic geometry and paint job. The compact double crankset coupled with an 11-25 cassette make the gearing a little bit hard for heavily loaded touring. Some extra bonuses include a pump peg, front and rear fenders, as well as pedals with toe clips.

Kona Sutra ($1199): This bike is pretty much ready to go out of the box. The steel frame has a sloping top tube, which makes it a little easier to mount and dismount the bike. Mechanical disc brakes are easy to service, and provide a lot of stopping power, and the triple crank gives you a lot of gear range. Included are a full set of racks and fenders, however, pedals you will need to supply your own pedals.

Trek 520 ($1319): Ever since I've been able to ride a bike, there has been a Trek 520. The steel frame incorporates a sloping top tube, and includes a third set of bottle cage mounts. Shimano's bar end shifters and drivetrain are reliable, and Trek includes a rear rack, in addition to front and rear fenders.

Fuji Touring ($1100): The classic appearance comes with a pretty classic build offering a large gear range and steel frame. It does display some modern technology with Shimano's 9spd STI shifters, but aside from that it, keeps things simple. Rear rack and pedals are included.

Cannondale Touring 2 ($1449): Unlike any other bike mentioned on this list, this one uses an aluminum frame, which brings the weight down a bit. The steel fork and geometry combine for a smooth ride, and you get three sets of bottle cage mounts, and a rear rack.

Novara Randonee Touring Bike ($999): This bike actually dropped in price from last year's model, and still includes some really nice features, such as a triple crank, Shimano 9spd STI shift levers, rear rack, and third set of bottle cage mounts.

GT Peace Tour ($850): The least expensive bike in the bunch, the steel frame is reinforced using GT's triple triangle technology. Some nice traditional touches can be found throughout, such as bar end shifters, triple crank, fenders, pedals with toe clips, and a classically styled GT saddle. Mechanical disc brakes are a nice modern feature that will improve your stopping power.

For more information on any of these bikes, be sure to check out the manufacturer's web page for complete specs and sizing information. For more information on deciding which style of bike is best for you, keep a sharp eye out for the upcoming April edition of our Adventure Cyclist magazine, where John Schubert will discuss what to look for when purchasing a touring bike for yourself.


TOURING GEAR AND TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling's member services department. It appears weekly, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead.


D. Alan Nash March 2, 2011, 3:50 PM

another resource

veterinary medicine November 18, 2010, 2:52 AM

Nice bikes but its quite pricey.But also it depends what kind of touring or activities you plan to do.

Bike Workouts July 25, 2010, 12:24 PM

Yes, they're all good, but if you can get a carbon-frame that's even better. You'll really appreciate the weight reduction after a bunch of steep hills :-)

Josh, Gear Reviews March 22, 2010, 4:55 PM

Hey Steve,

Thanks for bringing up the Bruce Gordon Taiwanese BLT! That's a great bike that deserves some credit.

Josh, Gear Reviews March 22, 2010, 4:53 PM

Hi Hollis,

The Salsa Fargo is one bike to check out. At around $1600, you get a steel hardtail with a rigid steel fork, built up with Shimano XT components, drop bars and bar end shifters, as well as Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes (

Hollis March 22, 2010, 12:48 PM

Any off road bikes even if they exceed $1500? I'm wondering if there are any more to add to the three mentioned here:

Hoyawolf March 21, 2010, 9:54 AM

Two other bikes I think worth mentioning are the REI Novara Safari and Randonee. Both are pretty well made with good components and wholly dedicated to touring with an attention to detail on som eof the smaller details.

I currently have a Safari and am more than pleased with it (08 version). My previous touring bikes are a Jamis Nova and Trek 520 - both of which were extensively ridden in Europe.

A huge criteria for picking a bike is what kind of touring you plan to do. In my opinion if you are going to Europe something like the Safari makes sense because you are more upright for the amount of urban bike bath riding you will be doing and the likelihood of making 100 mi days just to cross Kansas is not there! I wish I had my Safari when I was touring Europe but I will make up for it when I move to Tanzania this summer.

RJ March 20, 2010, 2:23 PM

Here's my review of the Trek 520!:

In short: LOVE IT.

steve March 20, 2010, 1:30 PM


You missed what would be my choice in this range, the Bruce Gordon Taiwanese BLT, $1499.

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