Bicycle Touring Tips, Bike Life And Travel Advice From A Decade On The Road

The distilled wisdom of ten years of bike touring life, cycle touring tips and travel advice from hard-earned miles around the globe

This article documents my bike touring tips from extensive bicycle travels around the world.

Whether you’re a veteran long-distance cyclist or a bicycle touring beginner, this blog post is here to provide you with invaluable bicycle touring tips, bike travel advice, and bicycle touring inspiration from a decade of bicycle trips.

From getting started as a cycle tourer to choosing the right gear. Overcoming fears and avoiding common mistakes, we’ve got you covered.

In particular, the bicycle touring tips we’ll cover include:

  • Beginners Guide To Bicycle Touring
  • Bike Set Up for Cycle Touring
  • Unsolicited Bike Touring Advice
  • Reasons To Go On A Bike Tour
  • Who Goes Bicycle Touring
  • Is Cycle Touring For You?
  • Bike Trips We’ve Tried and Loved
  • Common Mistakes and Bikepacking Fails
  • What To Pack On A Bike Tour
  • How To Travel With A Bicycle
  • How To Budget For A Bike Trip
  • Overcoming Fears (Just GO!)
  • Inspirational Bicycle Touring Tips (Final Checklist)

But first things first – let’s dive into how to get started as a beginner in cycle touring.

indian road sign humour
There are two pats you can go by but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on

Bicycle Touring Tips And Bike Touring Advice

Getting Into Cycle Touring As A Beginner

Getting into cycle touring as a beginner can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. But fear not, because, with the right mindset and a few key tips, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a seasoned cycle tourer in no time!

Start by choosing the right bike for your adventure. Look for a sturdy, reliable bicycle that is comfortable to ride for long distances. Consider factors such as frame material, tire size, and gear options based on the terrain you plan to conquer.

I chose the Dawes Galaxy because we got a great deal from Spa Cycles. I chose steel because it’s tough yet flexible and easy to repair anywhere in the world with a basic fabricator. Also for our charity bike ride around Europe, we knew it would be the best type of touring bike.

Get fit on the bike

Next, it’s important to gradually build up your fitness level before tackling longer tours. Start with shorter rides close to home and gradually increase the distance over time.

This will not only help prepare your body but also allow you to test out different equipment and make any necessary adjustments along the way.

I commuted for years before I got near a heavy touring bike. I tested kit and found stuff I liked and got used to long hours in the saddle.

Remember, cycle touring is all about embracing the journey rather than reaching a specific destination. So take it slow, enjoy the scenery around you, and most importantly – have fun!

osh guest house - the beginning of the M41
A compact bicycle touring set-up that’s been trimmed and tested all over the world

Our Bicycle Touring Tips For Bike Set Up

When it comes to bike touring, having the right set-up is essential for a smooth and enjoyable journey. Over our decade on the road, we’ve fine-tuned our bike set-up to meet our specific needs.

Our bikes are equipped with sturdy Tubus racks that allow us to carry all of our gear without compromising stability. We also use Ortlieb pannier bags that attach securely to these racks.

Front and rear panniers provide ample storage space for clothing, camping equipment, and other essentials.

Additionally, we have invested in comfortable bicycle touring saddles and double-wrapped bar tape to ensure long hours on the saddle don’t leave us sore or fatigued.

A well-thought-out bike set-up can make all the difference in your cycling adventure. So take the time to find what works best for you and your needs before hitting the open road!

hero cycles - the finest bikes in india
Pro bicycle touring tip: pose like a badass

About Cycle Tourers And Unsolicited Bike Touring Advice

Cycle tourers come in all shapes and sizes, from solo adventurers seeking solitude to couples sharing the journey. Some are experienced riders with years of bicycle touring under their belt. While others are newbies looking for a thrilling escape.

What unites them is their love for the open road and the freedom that comes with pedalling through picturesque landscapes.

You’ll meet bicycle tourists from all over the world. Each one with a unique story and reason for embarking on a two-wheeled adventure.

They share a common passion for exploration and a desire to experience life at a slower pace.

Bicycle Touring Tips From Around The World

Whether you’re cycling across continents or exploring your own backyard, being part of this vibrant community will open your eyes to new cultures, forge lifelong friendships, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Every bicycle touring tip you get is from a personal experience. In that context, my unsolicited bicycle touring advice is to make up your own mind.

Treat bike travel tips and cycle touring advice as a kind of recipe. Enjoy the useful, disregard the rest.

top bicycle touring tip: do it to see the world
Wild camping is a pro bicycle touring tip

Reasons To Go On A Bike Tour?

Cycle touring offers a unique and exhilarating way to explore the world. Bicycle travel enables you to immerse yourself in nature, connect with local cultures, and experience a sense of freedom that is hard to find elsewhere.

One of the reasons why people choose to go on bike tours is for the feeling of adventure.

There’s something incredibly thrilling about embarking on a journey across vast landscapes, relying solely on your physical strength and determination. Plus, being able to cover long distances at your own pace allows you to truly appreciate the beauty of your surroundings.

Long-distance Bicycle Touring Is Fun

Another reason why bike touring is so appealing is its simplicity. With just your bicycle and some basic gear, you have everything you need for self-sufficient travel.

The minimalist ideals of bikepacking and bicycle touring make it easy to plan and organize your trip. Enabling you to focus on what really matters – enjoying the ride and connecting with both nature and yourself.

So if you’re looking for an unforgettable adventure then consider going on a bike tour. It’s an experience like no other!

cycling superman and jo skeats at the Dushanbe end of the pamir highway
Who goes cycle touring? Cycling Superman and Jo Skeats that who!

Who Goes Cycle Touring?

Cycle touring is not limited to a specific group of people. It attracts adventurers of all ages and backgrounds, from solo travellers seeking self-discovery to couples looking for a unique bonding experience.

Young backpackers, retirees in search of new horizons, and even families with children are among those who embark on bike tours.

The beauty of cycle touring lies in its versatility. It appeals to both experienced cyclists and beginners who want to try something new.

With the right mindset and preparation, anyone can enjoy the freedom that comes with exploring the world on two wheels.

So whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or simply someone yearning for a slower pace of life, cycle touring welcomes you with open arms.

women on wheels with lucky pete in wakhan valley
Cycle Touring Is For Everyone!

Is Cycle Touring for You?

Cycle touring is not for everyone, but it can be an incredible adventure for those who are up for the challenge. It requires a certain level of physical fitness and mental resilience. You’ll be spending long hours on the bike, pushing yourself to new limits.

If you enjoy being outdoors, exploring new places at your own pace, and immersing yourself in different cultures, then cycle touring might just be your thing.

Bikepacking and cycle touring offer a unique perspective of the world that you simply can’t get from any other mode of travel.

However, it’s important to consider factors like weather conditions, terrain difficulty, and personal comfort levels before embarking on a bike tour.

So if you’re willing to embrace uncertainty and step out of your comfort zone, then cycle touring could very well be the adventure of a lifetime!

sharing a joke in sary tash
Scary Tash is an advanced level bicycle touring destination

Bike Trips We’ve Tried and Loved

Over the years, we have embarked on countless bike trips that have taken us to breathtaking destinations around the world.

From cycling through the rugged landscapes of the Pamir Mountains to pedalling along picturesque coastal roads in Morocco, each journey has left an indelible mark on our souls.

One particular trip that stands out is our adventure through the stunning countryside of Vietnam. The vibrant colours, bustling markets, and friendly locals made this a truly unforgettable experience.

Another favourite was our tour through Wainwright’s Coast to Coast, where we were captivated by rolling hills, ancient valleys, and mist-covered moors.

Why We Travel By Bike

These bike trips not only enabled us to explore new places but also provided a unique perspective on each destination. They allowed us to immerse ourselves in local culture and interact with people from all walks of life.

There’s nothing quite like feeling the wind against your face as you pedal along remote mountain trails or cycle past iconic landmarks

In short, these bike trips have brought us immense joy and fulfilment. They have taught us valuable lessons about resilience, adaptability, and embracing new experiences. It’s why we travel by bike!

If there’s one thing we can say for certain it’s this: if you’re looking for a thrilling way to discover the world while staying active and connected with nature – bicycle touring is worth considering!

the headhunters of the konyak tribe in nagaland
It’s easy to get mixed up with a cannibalistic headhunting tribe on a bicycle trip

Common Mistakes Bike Travelers Make

One common mistake that many bike travellers make is overpacking. It’s easy to get carried away and want to bring everything you think you might need. A heavy load can quickly become a burden on long rides.

I had to give away a laptop, a heavy-duty bike lock and 15 pairs of socks on my solo Hippe Trail by Bike trip. Instead, focus on packing the essentials and being prepared for different weather conditions.

Another mistake is not doing enough research about the route and terrain ahead of time. It’s important to have an idea of what kind of roads or trails you’ll be riding on.

A general understanding of any political unrest, armed conflicts, or national uprisings can inform your route planning. This will help you plan accordingly and avoid any unnecessary surprises during your journey.

By avoiding these common bikepacking mistakes, bike travellers can ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience on their tours.

So remember to pack light and do your homework before hitting the road!

sleeping outside requires no special equipment
Bicycle touring tip: only pack what you feel is useful

What To Pack On A Bike Tour

What to pack on a bike tour can be a daunting task. This cycle touring and bikepacking kit list can ensure that you have everything you need without carrying unnecessary weight.

First and foremost, it’s important to have the essentials: spare inner tubes, a pump or CO2 inflator, tire levers, and basic tools for any potential repairs along the way.

Additionally, packing lightweight camping gear such as the best tent in the world or bivvy bag, a super lightweight sleeping bag, and cooking equipment is crucial for overnight stays.

Don’t forget to bring weather-appropriate clothing including rain gear and layers for varying temperatures.

Remember to prioritize items based on necessity rather than convenience to keep your load light and manageable throughout your journey.

bicycle touring tips for beginners - wear sunscreen
Bicycle touring tips for beginners – wear sunscreen

What To Wear On A Bike Tour?

Cycle Touring Clothing

When it comes to what to wear on a bike tour, comfort and functionality are key. Opt for moisture-wicking clothing that will keep you dry during long rides. Lightweight and breathable materials like merino wool or synthetic fabrics are ideal for regulating body temperature.

Layering is important, as weather conditions can change throughout the day. Start with a base layer that wicks away sweat, add a mid-layer for insulation, and top it off with a windproof and waterproof outer shell. Don’t forget to protect your extremities – invest in padded cycling shorts, gloves for grip and protection, sunglasses for eye protection from debris or UV rays, and sturdy cycling shoes with cleats for efficient pedalling.

Remember: pack light and practical!

bike travel nutrition advice- take one of everything
I’ll take that one, over there…
Camping & Cooking Kit List

When embarking on a bike tour, having the right camping and cooking gear is essential. We’ve learned this through years of experience on the road.

Do you really need a stove and cookset?

While for ultra-long bicycle expeditions, a stove and camping cookset make for a useful companion, it may not be essential.

I barely used a stove on my solo multi-month bike trip. In Southeast Asia and India, it’s easy and preferable to eat at the side of the road. Dry foods, salami, nuts, seeds, fruits and jelly sweets are handy to carry as snacks.

However, in Central Asia, I used the stove at least daily to prepare an evening meal. Ingredients were hard to find but given the expansive distances from settlements, it was a bonus to have a hotel meal on the fly.

a touring bicycle in a CTC recommended bicycle bag
The CTC recommended bicycle bag is a fail in my book

How To Fly With A Bicycle If You Have To

Ideally, you’ll leave from our front door fully loaded and ready to go. Cycle to a ferry port and you’ll access the next available landmass.

Alternatively, there are various options available. If you have to fly, a bike bag or box for air travel is handy. A cardboard box is best to protect your bike in transit. The see-through bags are liable to damage the bike in my experience. A new box can be found on the return leg.

Make sure all loose parts are removed or tightly secured. Remove the pedals, tuck the drop bars under the frame and remove the front wheel. Store the wheel next to the frame with a cable tie. Leave the bike in the lowest cog on the cassette. This leaves the derailleur compact for travel.

Don’t forget to pack essential tools and spare parts for any potential repairs that may arise during your journey.

Once abroad, it’s possible to put your bike on all kinds of transport. Huge trains in India, speedboats in Europe, and big trucks in Tajikistan.

bicycle touring packing tips
Bicycle touring packing tips: protect your rig with luggage and compact folding

How To Budget For A Bicycle Tour

When it comes to planning a bicycle tour, budgeting is an essential aspect that can greatly impact your experience. So how do you go about budgeting for a bike tour? Here are a couple of veteran bicycle touring tips to help you get started.

Consider your daily expenses such as accommodation, food, and transportation. Research the average costs in the countries or regions you’ll be visiting and factor them into your budget. Don’t forget to account for any visa fees or travel insurance costs as well.

In Asia, I travelled on $10 a day which at the time was about £6. Most of that was spent on food.

Think about one-time expenses like purchasing or renting gear and equipment. Determine what items are necessary for your trip and research their prices beforehand. It’s also worth considering any potential repairs or maintenance that may come up during the tour.

By carefully planning and estimating your expenses ahead of time, you can ensure that you have enough funds to fully enjoy your bicycle tour without breaking the bank.

Remember, every cyclist has different priorities when it comes to spending money on their journey – so find what works best for you!

bike travel tip for camping anywhere in the world
Wild camping is a common fear for bike travellers

Overcoming Fears: The Ultimate Bike Touring Advice

When embarking on a bicycle tour, it’s natural to have fears and doubts. Will I be able to handle the physical demands? What if something goes wrong?

But here’s the thing – fear is just an illusion that can hold you back from incredible experiences. Pushing through those fears is where growth happens.

Fear is just an illusion

One of our last thoughts before setting off on each tour is always gratitude for the opportunity to explore new places by bike.

It’s a reminder to savour every moment, even when faced with challenges or setbacks along the way. Embrace the unknown, push past your comfort zone, and trust in your abilities – you’ll come out stronger on the other side!

bike touring proverb- the road is your friend
Old bike touring proverb: the road is your friend

Inspirational Bicycle Touring Tips Before You Go

Bicycle touring is not just a hobby or a vacation; for some, it’s a way of life. It opens up new possibilities, pushes boundaries, and connects you with the world in ways that other forms of travel simply cannot match.

As we come to the end of this article, I hope that my experiences and bicycle touring tips have sparked your curiosity and ignited your wanderlust.

Here are some final words of bike travel advice to inspire and guide you on your cycle-touring adventures.

Bicycle Touring Tips Checklist

  1. Embrace the journey: The true beauty of bicycle touring lies in the unexpected moments, chance encounters, and serendipitous detours along the way. Be open to new experiences and embrace them wholeheartedly.
  2. Take it slow: Remember that cycle touring is not a race against time. It’s an opportunity to savour each moment at your own pace. Enjoy leisurely rides through picturesque landscapes, stop for coffee breaks in quaint villages, and take time to immerse yourself in local cultures.
  3. Connect with fellow cyclists: The cycling community is vast and supportive around the world. Whether online through cycle touring resources or on the road, reach out to other cyclists. Bike travel advice, camaraderie, or even potential travel companionship is possible.
  4. Stay flexible: Inevitably things won’t always go according to plan – weather conditions may change abruptly or unforeseen circumstances may arise – but adaptability is key when bicycle touring. Embrace these challenges as part of the adventure!
  5. Keep learning: There will always be more skills to acquire and knowledge to gain when it comes to bike travel – from basic maintenance skills like fixing a flat tire to navigating unfamiliar territories using maps or GPS devices.
  6. Take care of yourself: Remember self-care during long days in the saddle – stay hydrated, eat well-balanced meals, and give your body enough rest to prevent burnout and injury. Listen to your body and know when it’s time to take a break.
  7. Leave no trace: As responsible travellers, it’s important to leave the places we visit as we find them, if not better. Dispose of waste properly and respect local customs and cultures.
bicycle touring tips inspiration
Bicycle touring tips & inspiration: get outside and do summit!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from our decade on the road, it’s that bicycle touring is as much about mindset as it is about physical stamina.

Cycle with a smile and the world will feed you noodles, get you drunk on xeo and offer you a bed for the night.

Magick happens on the road. Embrace it with an open heart and you’ll be grand.